frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Project Number 2

So I figured that I would get that mantle stripped on Saturday and have Sunday and possibly Monday to work on the Garage. Why did God make me so delusional? I have not stripped a piece of furniture in maybe 28 years. I am kind of remembering now that I vowed never to do it again. Yes, that memory is coming back to me,
My first mistake was painting the entire mantle with stripper. Like as if it would be done in one day. My second mistake was buying this wimpy little package of steel wool. I will need a bale of the stuff before I am through. Kate helped me a little. We were in the backyard with the mantle laying horizontal on four 5-gallon paint buckets. First I was using an old paring knife to pick out the paint between the little tiny crevices in the carved designs, then I switched over to a straight pin. I worked like that... I don't even know how long, but it became too dark to see. My reward is the revelation of the most exquisite design. Little flowers and ivy leaves and roses, and the circle in the design has an oriental design to it and finally, a stylized shell at the bottom. There are acanthus leaves running down the sides, and some more little flower clusters on the front. I will finish this, and it will be gorgeous, but what a job! I'll post pictures today.

I've got to run over to Home Depot this morning. A 24 mile round trip. Our local hardware store is closed for the holiday weeked. Imagine the nerve? (joke. of course the devils at home depot never close)
Right now Joe is taking apart our coffee maker. I consulted the Consumer Reports website when we were buying a new coffee maker to make sure I got a good one. Now, about six months later the bitch won't work. It keeps saying, "pour water" when there is water in there. I am this close to buying a perculator like my mom and dad used to have. That stuff is so annoying!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finished Brick Walkway

Finished walk!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remember the Hurricane?

I suppose you can tell that the hurricane was no big deal for me, since I almost forgot to mention it. It rained like hell on Saturday, and the power went out around 3am. I always forget that losing power is a big deal. You can hardly do anything! We have an electric range, so we could not even make coffee. Our grill is gas, but the side burner is shit. You should have seen us driving around Sunday morning looking for coffee. First we had to find a town with power. Every road was blocked, wires and trees down, one road was blocked by a mudslide. You don't see that too often. Finally we ended up out on the highway at a truck stop.

The other thing about no electricity is that our sump pump won't work. Our house is OLD, and the foundation is made of stones. Water just comes right in. This is the case all over town. Since we live just under 2 blocks from the river, water in the basement is a fact of life.We all have french drains and pumps, but no one has a rec room in the basement. We ended up with 3 inches of water down there. Just enough to make the place smell bad. Once the electricity came back on, the pump worked and the water was gone. Now the floor is even dry.

Here is the picture of the Delaware River from the Frenchtown Bridge. The water had not crested yet, it did get higher. Still, not enough to cause major flooding in our town. We enjoyed watching entire trees float down the river toward Trenton. We fantasize about getting a canoe and riding it all the way to the Delaware Bay. I wonder if you could really do it?


Joe and I have been trying all summer to get someone to lay a brick walk in our back yard. It is to replace the old cement path that leads from our deck to our garage. We always have a hard time getting contractors to do work, because we are a pain in the ass. We want them to do it the way we want them to do it. We are picky about the brick we want to use, and most contractors want to use their own material. We already have our brick. Long story short, we finally found someone to do it. Joe also bargained to tear up the old walk himself, saving a couple of hundred bucks. The day the guy agreed to do it, Joe came home from work and went nuts tearing up that cement. I could not believe it. I wanted to take a before picture, but I never got to it, because it was half gone by the time I got home. He put up with lights outside, so he could keep working. Oh, if he could put his mind to my attic studio that way! (This labor day weekend marks year 2 since it was started and no where near finished.) I believe the walk will be done when I get home today. I did manage to get a picture with the old walk torn out, before the new one was in.

In other news, our garage needs painting. You can see the garage in the picture. I bought scrapers and five gallons of outdoor primer. I will begin sometime this weekend.

   When I was buying the primer, I saw a bottle of that citrus stripper stuff. It reminded me that I want to strip this mantle piece we have. The mantle is not attached to a wall, there is no fireplace involved. It is just decorative. It is painted white now, the paint job is kinda shabby, which I know is chic, but I'm just not into it. I had a piece of tape stuck to it at one point, and the tape took the paint right off. I've been going at it with my fingernail, and in the space 2 days I have taken most of the paint off. A lot of it came off in big sheets.There are decorative parts of this mantle, and the paint is not coming off that so easy, so I will still use the stripper.

So, I have plenty to keep me busy this weekend! What are you doing?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Small Measure of Freedom

I just submitted my final essay for my history class, so that makes me free as a bird who is not taking any courses next semester. Now I can just sit around and wait for hurricane Irene to hit. We have done virtually nothing to prepare. I expect we will get a lot of rain and wind. It is pretty common to get tropical storms around here this time of year. By common, I mean, I guess, every couple of years. Or house was flooded by a storm named Doria in 1971. The next real big one that flooded my parent's house was Floyd in 1999. There have been others, but I don't remember them. I am really really glad that my parents sold that house.

It's raining now, but there is not even any wind yet.
Hey, want to see my essay? It isn't too long, and you will most likely learn stuff about the 14th amendment. I would say it is the most important amendment. Many Supreme Court decisions are based on it. I really was not too familiar with it until now. Here, check it out:

The 14th Amendment Then and Now
As a result of the Civil War the slaves were set free, but blacks in the South still did not have any civil rights. Southern states had no intention of giving them the same rights as whites, but Northern states considered it essential, as so many had fought and died for it. At the time the North had total control of congress since the defeated states had no representatives yet. (Des Chenes, 2009)
The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress June 13, 1866. It was ratified July 9, 1868.
The 14th amendment brought about a huge change in the government of the US. Some scholars call it the “second constitution.” It has come to ensure that all Americans have equal protection under state and local laws and guarantees civil rights for everyone. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Section 1 states that everyone who is born or naturalized in the United States, except members of Indian Tribes and children of foreign diplomats, is a citizen of both the US and the state they live in. (The exception for Indians was overridden in 1924.) No State can make or enforce any law that deprives any person, not just citizens, of life, liberty, or property. Furthermore, every person within a state, not just citizens, must be treated equally by law without arbitrary discrimination.
Section 2 says that a state that denies the right to vote to any male citizen over the age of 21 will have their representation in the government reduced. This provision was intended to penalize Southern states if they did not allow blacks to vote. (The 26th amendment changed the voting age to 18.)
Section 3 states that no person who has previously pledged allegiance to the US government as a federal or state official is eligible to hold such an office again if they have participated in an insurrection against the US government.  This section was intended to prevent officials in Southern states who fought against the Union from holding office or military command in the future unless they were individually permitted to do so by congress.
Section 4 states that  the US must pay all of its debts, including benefits owed to members of the Union army or civilians who performed services. However, the US government is specifically forbidden to pay for any debt incurred by the Confederacy and will not compensate slaveholders for slaves lost because of emancipation.
Section 5 states that the Congress has the power to pass laws to enforce the provisions.
Today we think of equal rights as minority rights, but in many parts of the South after the Civil War blacks were in the majority. This was one of the reasons Southern states resisted giving blacks the right to vote. The whites would likely be voted out of office and blacks could hardly be expected to pass laws favorable to their former masters. Laws known as Black Codes were passed to restrict the rights of black citizens. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Congress needed to amend the constitution in order to have the power to regulate what the states did in that regard.
The main author of the 14th amendment, John Bingham, had a vision of an ideal republic in which everyone would be Equal. He said, “The equality of all to the right to live,  the right to know, to argue and to utter, according to conscience, to work and enjoy the product of their toil, is the rock on which the constitution rests, it’s sure foundation and defense." (Des Chenes, 2009)

Some people who argued against the bill were able to see a time when having this amendment in the constitution would lead to more rights for black men than anyone could imagine at the time. The Supreme Court has been arguing ever since about what the amendment implies.
In 1886 the Supreme Court case Yick Wo v. Hopkins, ruled that equal protection applied to everyone, including Chinese immigrants. This was the first time the law was acknowledged to apply to anyone besides black people. (Des Chenes, 2009)
The extent of the rights protected and the categories of people protected have continued to broaden gradually over the years. In 1896   in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided that it was ok to provide separate accommodations to blacks and whites, as long as they were equal. In the 1954 decision  Brown v. Board of Education, it was struck down, In this decision, the court ruled that in the modern era, the mere fact of segregation had a detrimental effect on the education of black children. (Des Chenes, 2009)

In his book Marriage, Loving, and the Law, Kermit Roosevelt writes that the equal protection law does not ban all discrimination, only discrimination that is intended to oppress a particular group or brand its members as inferior. If there is a rational justification for discrimination, it is not unconstitutional. There was a time when most people believed there was a rational justification for banning interracial marriage. Social attitudes change, as we can see now in respect to homosexuality. At some point in the future, attitudes may change enough that if the Supreme Court validates same sex marriage, we will say, "what took so long?" just the same way as we say that now about the decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down state laws against interracial marriage. (Des Chenes, 2009)
Currently, a number of states have enacted laws requiring voters to show an unexpired government photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. Some are saying that the push for photo identification cards carries echoes of the Jim Crow laws — with their poll taxes and literacy tests — that inhibited black voters in the South from Reconstruction through the 1960s. Election experts say minorities, poor people, students and older voters are among those least likely to have valid driver’s licenses, the most common form of identification. While defending its photo ID law before the Supreme Court, Indiana was unable to cite a single instance of actual voter impersonation at any point in its history. (Alvarez, 2011)
Also, conservative legislators from five states have opened a national campaign to end the automatic granting of American citizenship to children born in the United States of illegal immigrants. (Preston, 2010)
Recently, the White House ruled out the possibility that President Obama would cite the 14th Amendment to disregard the debt-limit law during the recent battle in congress as to whether to raise the debt limit. (Calmes, & Steinhhaer, 2011)
It looks as though the 14th amendment will be revisited again and again as the US Supreme Court continues to interpret situations based on it.

Des Chenes, E. (2009). Amendment xiv: Equal Protection. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Preston, J. (2010, August 11). Births to illegal immigrants are studied. The New York Times, Retrieved from

Alvarez, L. (2011, May 28). Republican legislators push to tighten voting rules. The New York Times, Retrieved from
Calmes, J., & Steinhhaer, J. (2011, July 29). Rejecting the 14th amendment, again. The New York Times, Retrieved from

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 5 O'Clock Train is Leaving

As you might imagine, people are pretty discouraged where I work. It has gone from fear to anger in pretty short order. Individuals are realizing that the extra hours and dedication they had previously displayed are for nothing, and they are finished. Now at 5pm we say, the 5 O'Clock train is leaving, and we get up and go.

I am so busy right now it is crazy. It is hard for me to take it easy. If someone does not get their work done, who suffers? The giant Corporation? No, it is the fellow ant I work with, who is scrambling like the rest of us.  Just the same, I am not killing myself anymore.

The department down the hall  is going through this. They have a slightly different version. They got e-mails informing them that those who are employed as "Strategic Thinkers" would remain employees. Those who are "implementers" would become contract workers. Translated into normal English from Bullshit Corporate Lingo, Implementors are those who actually do work. Strategic thinkers come up with words like "Rebadging." We asked the person who was reporting this to us what category she falls into, and she wasn't sure. She'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Bit of Information:

At 9:30 am we had a teleconference at work, our whole department, at all of the sites. (New Jersey and Pennsylvania) The short version is this, at the present time they are investigating 4 different agencies that we could be outsourced to. They will make a choice by end of September. From there, the transition will take 2 months. Merry Christmas.

After the meeting was over, we had our own meeting, to discuss the whole thing. One of the managers was there, and told us some of what he had observed. He said he had been involved in some of the negotiations. He said that most of these organizations had no intention of giving us any paid time off. Here we are worried that our big fat vacations are going to be gone, but really they will not even give you a paid holiday! This manager said he was fighting against this and thought we will end up doing better.

I think that white collar work is the new sweatshop. Of course there is not really any comparison, but we are really being squeezed, My husband said he would not blame me if I quit. I will wait the thing out and see how it goes. The problem is they really have us over a barrel. Everyone knows that the economy blows and it's hard to get any job. When the meeting was over I went right back to work, but I find it difficult to concentrate. We are all talking, trading rumors, grousing, cursing. Later in the day I made my appointment at the photo studio to have my picture taken. I told you, right? How we are doing a new campaign to promote our department and we are all having our pictures taken for the website. We will be bringing in props that show our personality. I may have mentioned that I think this is rather insensitive to do this at this time. Joe said to ignore it, which I did for a while, but they started to hound me. I figured that I might at least get a nice picture out of it. I decided to bring in a bunch of my books, since they would represent all of my interests. I am going to lay on the floor and read with them all around me. So I am talking to the photographer about this, and generally complaining about our situation, when 2 guys ran into the room and said, "Did you feel the earthquake?" We did not feel any earthquake. We were informed that the building had been evacuated.

I went back to my desk, and sure enough, the place was deserted. There was a 5.5 earthquake in Virginia and we had the after shocks. How do I manage to miss these things? And like I was not already distracted enough. Plenty of people felt it, but many didn't. Joe says that he was driving and didn't feel it. Kate was working in the supermarket and did not feel it.

At the end of the day, the manager I was telling you about called me into his office and shut the door, He said, "Don't lose hope, you may not lose your job." Immediately my heart sank. He said, "They will most likely keep one person to lead each department. You might lead your department." I don't know what to think. If I end up staying, things have got to change. I started mulling it over and thought, to hell with it. We'll see how it goes. I am so ready for change.

My Job Has Become Toxic

It really does feel that way. Upon arriving at work this morning I could just feel the waves of anxiety roll through me. As I read through the e-mails I could feel the adrenaline filling me. I have done this job for years, 15 years. It is everything that does not come natural to me. It is fast paced, it requires a lot of organization, I have to deal with all kinds of people, most of whom are also way stressed out. Everything is ridiculous and a waste of time and blown way out of proportion. How have I done this for so long? The person I work with everyday is so completely opposite to my personality, and that in itself is taking a toll on me. This is a person who will tell you every detail of her health regardless how humiliating or disgusting. She is a person who will find endless amusement in the fact that we have worn the same color shirt one day. She will laugh like a hyena over any reference to a penis, breasts, ass or poop or any other stupid childish thing. And her work sucks.

You know when you have to pee really bad, and when you get near a toilet, when relief is in sight, it becomes especially unbearable? That's where I'm at with this job. I'm finally near a bathroom. It ain't funny.

And tomorrow morning at 9 am everyone in the department has been invited to participate in a teleconference with the big cheese. Please, please, put me out of my misery.

Meanwhile, I have stopped drinking. Here is what I miss about it. It is actually an activity. It was a thing my husband and I did together, an after work ritual. "Honey," he would say. "You want a drink?" and I would say yes. He would either get a bucket ready, fill it with ice and water and open a bottle of white wine, or he would mix a cocktail. Now, after work feels a little disjointed without this ritual. But what also has happened is I have a lot of energy. I am up late (It is 12:03 am) I am agitated and thinking a lot. It may seem counter intuitive, but I feel that I want to be wide awake for all of this. I don't want to be sedated. You might think this would be an ideal time to work in an art journal, but I can't do it. Yesterday I picked up a quilt that I started last year. I had it and some strips that I had sewn together, that needed to be attached, hanging from a clothesline in the basement. I sewed together those pieces and spread it out over the bed. This thing is not nearly wide enough. What was I going to do? What was my original plan? If there are more pieces to sew to this, where are they? I believe my concentration may have been ruined forever.

Which reminds me, I am dropping my college class. Fuck it. I got a bill from the college, and I had already paid it. So I called the bursar and argued the point, until it became apparent that I had not paid it. That was last semester. It seemed like yesterday. That's because it takes so long to submit the paper work and get the thing approved, that it had just been completed on August 8. You can see why it felt like I just paid it. I'm just doing too many things. I really need to let go and chill out. I was feeling bad, because it is my last chance to take a college class. See how diligent I am? So that's it, I'm going to be a giant slacker and NOT take a college class. Evil! Slut! Bitch!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fertile Void

I'm reading this book called "50 is the New Fifty" It's a book that makes you understand that your life is at a crossroads, everything is about to change, you have no idea what's coming, hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride. It is perfect for me right now. The author's name is Suzanne Braun Levine. I recommend it if you are a certain age and you really do feel like... what I just said.

I had some "women's trouble" surgery on Thursday, right after getting home from a little weekend in Cape May. I had been fretting about the surgery, even though this is a very common procedure and they kick you out as soon as you wake up. Part of what was freaking me was the anesthesia. The last time I had it was when I was 8 years old and I had my tonsils out. I think it was ether, and made me throw up later.This time I had an IV in my arm already, and the anesthesiologist said he would give me some Ibuprophen and an anti nausea medicine along with the knock out juice. As the medicine was going through my vein, it was hurting. The doctor could see i was uncomfortable, and rubbed my arm. At that moment I felt something wipe across my brain. It was the stuff. I said, that works fast. A few minutes later they roused me, I guess they were going to give me some further instruction? No, the operation was done! I laughed. 

I was a little groggy, but I just felt better as the day went on. I sat my ass on the couch and watched DVD after DVD of Ken Burns the Civil War. I felt so indulgent, wicked almost. I had Friday off, and by then it was like it never happened. 

I am making this event, or non event, kind of the beginning of a new phase in my life. As Suzanne calls it, my Fertile Void. I would say that very soon I will know my fate as far as my job goes. It seems very real that we will be made contractors. Get this, they call it being "re-badged." How's that for a giant load of crap? I was expecting to be bridged to retirement, meaning that I will get my pension somehow, either in a lump sum to be invested, or monthly when I become retirement age. Most people elect to get the lump sum. Who knows if there will be pensions when I finally retire. The other thing you can count on is severance pay based on your years of service. For me, that's like 6 months pay. Not a bad consolation prize. But wait! They've made a new rule. If you get laid off, that is the case, but if you get RE-BADGED, then it is 50%. Hey, wait a minute, rip off! Those bastards. This went into effect as of August 1, although we did not hear about it until just this week. 

Meanwhile, my department is re-branding itself. We are changing our look and out colors and our mission statement. W are supposed to have our picture taken and bring along props that show our personality. Can you believe they are doing this in the middle of this turmoil?? 
I really want to quit. I want to try my hand at voice over work. I would gladly be the person who reads books on tape. Everyone is so scared. Everyone says, they are glad we will at least still have jobs. But I already work so hard at this job, do they expect me to do this job the same way with reduced benefits and likely new pay? At least I would like to do something different. I really can't take it any more. 
So that is where I'm at. and I have suddenly quit drinking. Seemed like a good idea. I think I need to purify myself.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Should I Take a Web Class?

I've already signed up for a class for the fall semester (possibly the last one my employer will pay for) but I have always thought it might be good to take a web course. If nothing else, I can figure out what I am doing with my blog. I just tried to look at a comment someone made here, and it told me I could not view it and that I had to change my java script settings. I clicked on this help button provided, and it was help for any kind of thing you could think of. I started scrolling through and after a couple of minutes just thought, "Hell with it." I can access the comments from the dashboard.

I forget what class I did take. Let me look it up...

Organizational ethics: This course focuses on the application of ethical theories and principles to organizational systems and decision-making. Emphasis will be placed on how ethical principles affect and are applied to organizational policy-making, leadership behavior, systems of communication, technology use, and other systems of organization. 

  This class, by the way, is listed under Philosophy. I have so many classes left to take for my Bachelor's degree. I was saving all the shitty classes for last, namely math, thinking that I could die before I finish and maybe never get around to taking Calculus. But I had a number of other options, I could take an Anthropology course, Political Science, Sociology, Linguistics. I looked under everyone of those subjects, and I had either taken a similar class, or I was not interested, or there was nothing. I moved on to my core Communication classes. Intro to Journalism? It's a writing intensive class, but probably useful. They are not offering it this semester. so, I ended up with Organizational Ethics. Drexel University is an expensive school, and I will not be able to continue without my tuition being paid. I think it would be pretty crazy to take on student loans at my age. Back to the web course, maybe it would make me a touch more marketable.

Yesterday I sat down to watch a documentary about the reconstruction. I turned on the TV, and the news was on and they were telling me that the credit of the US has been downgraded for the first time in history. Gee Wizzz, how interesting.  I wonder what that will be like? They say interest rates will go up. Does that mean that the interest on my saving account will go up? Or does it only apply to money I want to borrow?

I think I will make an appointment with my financial advisor this week. This is another free service provided by the company I work for!

Here is a comment I had on yesterday's blog: "Chris at least you have a great attitude. Working isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm racking my brain on how we can make the break and move to an island or Costa Rica or the Yucatan in Mexico." 

I hear that. Work sucks. I really want to make some changes. I would not mind living somewhere different. I'm not sure if that is a midlife kind of dissatisfaction thing or what. Joe and I want to live in Italy. Too bad they are now falling to pieces, plus, I don't think Italians have an easy time finding jobs either. Any kind of wonderings like this are always punctuated by the "What about Kate?" thing. I can't leave her behind, and if I don't really know what i would do in Italy, what the hell would Kate do? Start learning Italian?

 More later. I'm going to try to make art today.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Poor Neglected Blog

Hey, check out these postcards. These are ones that I have sent:

I'm up to my ass in the civil war, but that's OK, pretty interesting.Summer is moving quickly along, like it always does. Next weekend I am going to Cape May for 4 days, always good fun.

Meanwhile, the world economy is falling apart. Just before the debt ceiling fight was resolved, I chucked a bunch of money in my 401K into a money market. When they were done, something told me not to take it out. The stock market has been going down ever since. I may be able to retire when I am 80 years old. Just to add a touch more excitement, the company I work for, which became gigantic after they merged with another company, announced they are cutting 12,000 jobs. I did not think that they were finished with the layoffs they announced last year. Right after that announcement was made, the Vice President of my group sent an e-mail warning us that we were going to get hit. Right after THAT, my manager sent an e-mail to say that surely we would be affected.

I always knew this day would come, but really, I don't exactly know how it would go down. I'm in the graphic art department, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the core business of this company. Pretty much since I started here in 1997, the idea has floated that they could eliminate us at any time. Maybe we will revert to contractor status. Meanwhile, I have accumulated 5 weeks vacation, a pension and probably 6 months severance. Yo, it's the vacation that really has me down.

When this kind of thing happens, you see the people you work with fall into 2 camps. Those who freak out, and those who don't. I am happy to say that I am not freaking out. It is not because I am such an amazing person. It's just my personality. Last year, the company decided to shut down for Christmas week, meaning that every one had to use vacation days for that. Some people freaked out because they were being told when to use their vacation. Not surprisingly, these are the same people who are freaking out now. They just don't deal well with change.

We should know what is going down by the end of October. I know it's looney, but part of me is excited. What will I do next??? Possibly rot on unemployment until it runs out. I hope that is not the case, but what I do know is that I am not "screwed" as the freak out people are describing themselves. I would guess that my good paycheck days are over, but they aren't going to kill me. I can still enjoy life. Joe and I were talking about how much we could live without. Plenty. Glad I went to Italy when I did!

Joe is at a motorcycle rally this weekend. I don't have a whole lot to do apart from turn in an essay about how Philadelphia should promote tourism during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. (I'm struggling, because Philadelphia is pretty much all about the Revolutionary War) I have been unable to sit down and make art for a long time. A couple times I sat in front of a bunch of half finished Journal pages and pretty much just spaced out. I need a lot of time to get creative. Maybe I will drink a lot of wine tonight and stay up very late.

The person I work with has been on vacation all week. I am here doing all the work by myself and it has been heaven. She really stresses me out. If I lose my job, one big plus would be never having to hear her bitch again. I'll have to hear an hour of why things went wrong during her time off when she gets back Monday.

Hey, check out these postcards. These are ones that I have sent:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Postcards from the World

from China


Sunday, July 17, 2011

At Least I am Getting Postcards

I'm sitting here on a beautiful summer morning, contemplating my life. Why would anyone do such a thing? I'm doing it to avoid doing my US History homework. I am such a jackass for taking a course during the summer, that I can't stand myself. I skipped a semester in the spring when I went to Italy, so I figured I had better take one now. I'm stuck in some terrible ruts in my life. I ask myself the same questions over and over and never come to any conclusions, I can see the way to make my life easier, but I'm loathe to take action. I just hate disappointing people. My husband has encouraged me to take these college classes, my boss is happy that I decided to go back to school, and the company I work for pays my way. The final clincher is that I ENJOY the learning experience. But, it's killing me. Am I being a baby? Should I just tough it out? I will get a degree, when?  I'm not even sure, but it is many years. I am 50 years old now. GROAN!  I have been over this so many times. It's horrible.

Meanwhile, I am having fun with Postcrossing. A great diversion. I find the group to be divided into 2 very general catagories: Those who are in it because they collect postcards, and this is a way to get more of them, and those who think it is neat to get postcards from any random place in the world. I think I might enjoy sending them slightly more than receiving them.

Postcrossing has what I consider a very sophisticated website.  It's an interesting combination of snail mail and current technology. Every participant is registered. You can supply an avatar and write yourself a profile where you let the community know what kinds of things you are interested in and what kind of postcards you will like to receive, You cannot make any demands and other Postcrossers are under no obligation to send you what you ask for. Despite that, I have seen many people write long lists of what they don't want. Most people seem to hate homemade cards. I guess home made could mean almost anything. I am imagining collaged and rubber stamped creations, but I have read on forums that some folks will cut a picture out of a magazine and glue it to a piece of card stock and send it. I actually find that idea interesting. To see what clipping they chose to use. Also, people hate ad cards. I think I mentioned this before, some of them are pretty interesting. As I have no expectations, I guess I m happy to have some anticipation of what will be in my mailbox when I get home. I do look at everyone's profile and see if I have anything that matches what they like. I came into this with a very big collection of cards. I just love postcards and would always end up with extra ones after a vacation. Sometimes I would buy them  jut because I thought the picture is cool. I seem to be having no trouble letting go of them now. Of course, I am also buying new ones. I am buying what ever local ones I can find. Frenchtown is not a big place. The local drug store has this one view of the Frenchtown Bridge over to Pennsylvania, that's it. Of course there are historical landmarks all over the place around here. I just sent someone a Washington's Crossing postcard.

Anyway, here is my favorite postcard so far. It is a handmade one from the Netherlands. This guy just cut the top of a candy box and used it as a card. On his profile he specifically asks for that kind of card. It is his way of being green, plus, again, I think it would be cool to see what people come up with.

Well, here is what this guy managed to get through the mail. It was in very good shape, too. Wouldn't you think that it would get bent or crushed or something? I requested his address so I can send him a similar card. Understand that your address is not just listed on your profile. When you are eligible to send a postcard, you are given a random address to send a card to. At this point in my membership I am allowed to have 5 postcards traveling at one time. When someone receives their card, I am "rewarded" by being allowed to send another. Each address comes with a number. You must put this number on your postcard. When the person gets your card, they go to the postcrossing website and they register it. At that point your address is in the pool to be given to someone else. Currently I have 5 postcards traveling. One of them has been on it's way to the Ukraine for 24 days!!!! for cryin' out loud!

Here is the question I am not answering right now:
Question #1: Slavery existed in North America for centuries before the founding of the United States, and for many most of a century afterwards.  Many of the "founding fathers" owned slaves.  The United States before the Civil War was truly a nation "half-slave" and "half-free."  How do you explain the longevity of slavery in America?  What were the forces that kept the system in place?  What events before 1861 signaled that the end of slavery might be coming, or that a serious national conflict over the issue was more and more a possibility?

I know the answer t this question, but I need to formulate it in to a coherent answer with citations by midnight tonight. Crap! I really think I am not going to take classes anymore after this. Maybe this would be somewhat feasible if I did not have a disabled child to deal with. Life is too short to be so frustrated all the time.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Minor Obsession

I'm kind of addicted to Postcrossing now. I am allowed to send out 5 postcards to start, then I have to wait for people to register them. When the postcards are registered, my address will start popping up for people who want to send postcards. I have sent 3 cards, and I have a 4th address. Every day I am requesting one address. Tomorrow will be my last address, and then I have to wait wait wait. Here is what I am obsessed with. When I get an address, I click on that person's profile and read what they have written about themselves. Usually they will tell you some basic info about themselves, but then they usually write extensively about what kind of postcards they want to receive. It can get very specific. So many people want lighthouse cards. Also, cards with specific animals (Cows are popular) and cards with food. Many people say they don't want ad cards. Have you ever seen racks of those cards, say by the entrance of a restaurant? I think some of those cards are cool. Some folks request stamps, lots of them, making sure they get canceled, some people want their cards sent in an envelope. There seems to be just 2 minds about hand made postcards; people love them or hate them. I said i would be happy to get any card. I don't especially collect them, for me I think it is more about contact with the world out there.
After you read the profile of the person who's address you have, you can look at the wall of postcards they have received. (Members can scan and upload the pics of their postcards, if they want to) From there you can click on any postcard and read the profile of the person who sent it. Then you can look at their postcard wall, and click on one of their cards and read another profile. Repeat again and again until you have wasted a lot of the day, and finally you have to get up and do some real work.
Here are the countries I have sent cards to in the last few days: Netherlands Ukraine, Sweden and now Belorus. I wish I could get cards from Italy, but it is random.
I have a big stack of postcards hanging around. I'm hoping I can use a lot of them up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I've been all about Art Journals lately. I was looking at a website for the 1000 journals project. Someone has 1000 journals wandering around the globe. Should you be lucky enough to get one, you are supposed to add to it and then it gets sent back when it is finished. A lot of them are AWOL, no one knows who has them. The person who started the project says they would feel fortunate to get 50 of them back.
There were other links on the site, one of them for Postcrossing. It is a site where you exchange postcards with random people. I used to be involved in a pen pal zine a long time ago. I don't remember what it was called. Anyway, since I have nothing else to do (joke) I signed up for it and I have sent my first postcard. Once that card is received and registered, I will be eligible to receive postcards. A nice diversion.

I also started my American History class (1815 to 1900) yesterday. Looks like that will keep me busy. Tonight Kate has some kind of tie-dye class, I will chill at Borders while she is there. I am at work, and I can barely stay engaged. Someone put me out of my misery here (I know, be careful what you wish for) I've kind of given in to my ADD for now. No point in trying to stay focused on any one thing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth, NJ

On fathers day my family and I went to see the reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth. It was cool because, not only does my dad love history, but my son has joined the First NJ regiment. My son is the guy in the tri-corner hat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Journal #2

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Great Hamster of Alsace

I'm not kidding, there is an article in the NY Times today about this. It is about a very large wild hamster (10 inches) that is losing habitat in the Alsace region of France. France has been ordered by the courts to do more to protect this hamster.

It's a classic summer Friday where I work. Most everyone participates in the summer hours program, where you work an extra hour every night, but then get a half day on Friday. The nature of my job requires that someone be available in the department at all times, so my workmate and I take turns having Summer hours. It is her turn today, but I've had a whopping 5 e-mails so far today, so I'm just chillin' over here. This is why I have time to blog.

This morning I took Kate to the College of New Jersey so that she could compete in the Special Olympic Summer games. She's been doing this since she is 13. (She will be 28 this year.) I've given myself the Saturday of Summer Olympics off for years now. I'll go back on Sunday morning to watch her play her last matches and then hang for the awards before we all go out for lunch afterward.

My extremely social husband has already lined us up to go to dinner with a couple we know. I personally would rather just hang around, maybe make some art, but, whatever.We don't get a lot of Kate-free time. I would like to finish up an art journal I have been working on. My method is to prepare a number of sheets for the journal, and then work on filling both sides of those sheets. When they are done, that's a journal, and I bind it together. I have finished one other. I generally don't enter contests or try out for juried shows; it usually is a lot of work and I get hopeful but it ends in rejection. I did send my first journal to "Journal Arts" Magazine. Maybe they can use a couple of pages. We'll see. The thing is, I bent one of their many submission rules. I was supposed to send a check sto cover the cost to return the journal if they didn't want it, but instead I sent a pre-paid UPS envelope. Is that acceptable? Will they now throw it into the trash with no comment?

At any rate, I hope to take pictures of the journal I am working on now, this weekend. I've been meaning to do that for weeks. How does time pass so quickly? Why do I feel so busy all of the time? I haven't been bored in 20 years.

Joe went riding too fast on his motorcycle, a couple of weekends ago, so Kate and I went to NYC. There isn't a lot of Joe-free time, either. We went to the Museum of Folk art and saw a great quilt show. They also have a lot of other stuff in their collection, such as some of the coolest weather vanes you are likely to ever see.  One thing we do every time we go into the city is go to a store called "Conway's." Conway's has the cheapest clothes I have ever seen. It is a giant guilt trip, because you know slave labor made these throw-away clothes, and, like I need anything? One thing that helps me not buy nearly as much as I might is that they have no dressing rooms. You are flying in the dark there. I did manage to buy a Indian style skirt in bright orange. I was really struck by the color. And the fact that it was $7. Now I spend my spare time looking for shirts to go with it. Dumb, dumb, dumb. After that we went to China town, just because we had not been there in so long.  Kate and I both bought $3 sandals out of a bucket there. I bought soap just for the wrappers. (The soap always smells terrible, but the graphics on the wrappers are so cool.) I bought the plastic for shrinky dinks. I always wanted to mess around with that stuff. (I haven't done it yet) Maybe I can do that this weekend?

Well, when I start writing stream-of-consciousness-style, I know it is time to give it a rest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Work on Etsy

For what it's worth, I put a couple of things on Etsy. These items have been finished for months. The art journal work I have been doing is notably darker... in content. Pictures of that tomorrow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today is a Good Day

For one thing, it is sunny! That's a big deal in NJ right now. I've completed 3 journal pages. I have, I think, 3 more and this journal is done. My journal method is to prepare a set number of pages all at once, but then wok on them until they are used up and then bind the whole thing together. I managed to salvage the messed up journal page, and did 2 more. I am mostly using things from italy: photographs that I have taken, wine labels, cheese labels, pan forte labels, business cards, stamps, etc. I'll take a couple of pictures.

That reminds me. I have 2 items that I need to photograph to put on Etsy. I haven't added anything new in months. (Etsy, charming hobby, right? Is anyone selling anything there? Actually, I just sold a $4 collage. I guess I'd better dig that up and ship it out, too.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

You Women are So Awsome

I blog in spurts, but just the same my followers hang on. And when I manage to post, they Comment!!!  Thanks for the comments coming from the following fellow bloggers: Idaho Beauty,  Kim Hambrick and This Girl's Art.

Thanks for your words of encouragement and commiseration. I guess life is just a bunch of crap most of the time. It's 3 pm at work, 2 more hours and I am out of this hell hole!  I had a little surprise yesterday when I got home. Kate said that social group had been canceled due to the weather. It was raining. I guess it was raining pretty hard, but, it's been raining pretty much since March, so, big deal. I ran with it, though, and did a whole journal page. I desaturated one of my Italy photos, (the angels with the flaming heart. Didn't I post that yesterday?) and I went over it in pen and ink, and journaled over the negative space. When I was finished, I really liked it, but I realized that I did not leave a margin on the side for binding. I hate do-overs, but I think I am going to do this over. Also, I was using an old nib pen, I could not believe how badly it was performing. I kept using it for the sake of consistency. When I was done I threw it out.
Your reward for listening: More pictures! This time, it's Venice. I am posting views from our hotel room. The guy, of course, is Joe.