Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hummer in the snow, or why I'm thankful for warmth and light

It's a little bit early for a Thanksgiving post, but I'm going to take the day off from my computer tomorrow, and I just uploaded the pictures I've taken of Bob, the backyard hummingbird, over the past couple of days. We don't often get much snow here in the Seattle area, and the hummingbirds who winter over will get very protective of "their" feeders when we do. Bob decided to move even closer to the feeder than usual, and didn't move from his post even when I went out on the deck to take his picture. So I got some nice pictures and I also kept a close eye on the feeder so I could warm the solution back up when it started getting slushy.

Here's Bob, perched on a nearby maple tree, about 6 feet away from his feeder. You can see the white stuff below, and earlier, the evergreen in the background was covered with a very pretty layer of accumulated snow.

And here's a closeup of Bob, showing how fluffed up his feathers are to help him keep warm.

I suspect I'll be seeing Bob again tomorrow morning at 7 am. I've been bringing the feeder in at night so the sugar solution is nice and warm in the morning. And since the weather page I use said that sunrise was 7:30, I went out at 7 on Tuesday to put the feeder back. Bob was sitting on the metal hook that the feeder is usually suspended from, and he was not a happy camper that I was late bringing him his breakfast. This morning, he was there waiting again, and let me almost touch him before he backed off a bit while I put the feeder out. I'm going to miss living so close to the wildlife. It's been one of the things I've liked the best about this house. But I'm leaving the new owner some written guidelines for the hummingbird feeder so I hope she'll get as much enjoyment from the hummers as I have.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Bicycle made of wood, beauty and speed combined

I've always loved bicycling, and I'm really pleased at the new things happening in this field, such as electric bikes. Okay, my knees wearing out are the reason for that one. But, reading this article made me want to spend big bucks on a truly beautiful and powerful bike. There's a custom bike builder in Portland making bikes from hardwood. See the pictures and read the article here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Achieving Excellence

In my earlier post about my show entry system, there's a sheet on the wall next to the box with the file folders about "Achieving Excellence". I've gotten a request to share it. I did a google search using the phrase in the first sentence, and found the Harvard Business Review blog article I got it from. See the full article here. I just took out the six keys and printed that out for myself, but the full article has some interesting things in it about becoming what we practice. I find this relevant in all areas of my life, not just the studio.

Shows - entry tracking system

I'm being swamped with all the details of selling my house, and moving us to a new place, so my plans to blog about my perfect studio which will have to be dismantled are being chopped into smaller bits. Today, I'm going to talk about how I track shows I want to enter and make sure I don't miss the deadlines. My daughter, who has worked as a business manager/accountant for some artists in the Bellingham area, helped me set up the system and I have to say, it is working wonderfully for me. This year, one of my goals is to apply to at least one show a month, and with this system, I am doing well at organizing the show info, the dates and tracking how I'm doing with them.

Here's my little box, next to my computer, surrounded by the clutter on my desk. I have a three bin wall holder that I will put up in the new place, but this works for now. So, what's the magic? I use erasable labels on the file folders, that's the first step. When I hear about a show I'm interested in, I print out the prospectus, write the name of the show and the date I have to do something by on the label. Note: if the deadline is a receive by date, the date I write down is a week earlier so I'm taking action in time for it to get there. Then I put it in the box in chronological order. Usually, I'll write a little note on the first page of the prospectus saying which pieces I'm thinking of submitting. If I'm going to do a piece just for the show, I put a to-do item in my studio grasscatcher notebook (visible in the foreground on the desk). Then, once a week or so, I look at the next couple of weeks to see what deadlines are coming up, and I mentally plan out what I'm submitting. Once I hear back from the show, assuming I've been accepted, I erase the date on the file folder and put the ship date on it, then refile it in the box in the right place for the new date.

I'm not yet entered in so many things that I need a system to track which pieces are going where, but that's the next step. Right now, I use my inventory sheet, the long printed pages sticking up from the file folder box. It's a word document with a table, done as 8.5 x 14 size paper in landscape mode, with columns for Title, Date finished, ID#, Type of work, medium (I'm doing both paper and fabric nowadays), Height, Width, Price, Shows, Date photographed, and date posted to my webpage. For now, scanning down the Shows column is sufficient to make sure I don't double enter something. I pencil in a name on my hard copy when I submit it and do it in ink when a piece is accepted.

This seems so simple now that I'm explaining it, but it's such a delight to feel completely on top of all of this. And it takes only a couple of minutes of my time to add a show to my entry list. I share this because it's made such a difference for me and I hope it can help some others get on top of the whole show submission cycle.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bicycles and infrastructure

I'm not surprised to hear that there's finally been a pedestrian killed in a bicycle/pedestrian accident. Multi-use trails, while fine when there aren't a lot of bicyclists, don't work well if there's heavy traffic. I found this out when living in Venice, CA in the 80's when rollerblading was so popular. (Small digression: I would try to ride my bike on the bike path, and fantasize about ways to get the attention of the headphone-wearing rollerbladers kicking their legs out and blocking the whole path and completely oblivious to all others around them. Grrr! ) Here's an interesting article about some options for increasing bicycle use and decreasing congestion and accidents.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Radioactive rabbit poop - too funny not to share

I suppose it's not really funny, but the mental image I get from reading this story - the people with detectors going around searching for the radioactive rabbit poop... Well, alright, I have a twisted sense of humor. Read the full story here.

I'll return to my more serious posts next time with pictures of my perfect studio that will have to be dismantled when we move.