Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Garden Turmoil

So I had planned for a nice, quiet holiday season after the frantic activity leading up to the craft show at the beginning of November. I was going to work on a quilt for my daughter, decorate the house for Christmas, make lots of cookies, and generally enjoy the season. All that flew out the window the Sunday after the craft show. My husband and I don't typically make snap decisions, but we made an offer on a house two weeks ago. Our offer was accepted and we go to close on the house in the middle of December. We weren't really looking for a new house, but I saw an ad in the newspaper that caught my eye on Sunday, November 8. We looked at the property Monday afternoon, did a walk-through with the selling agent on Tuesday, and were in her office on Wednesday morning. The seller accepted our offer that afternoon.

It's a beautiful house with large rooms, an open floor plan, and approximately 3 acres of land. Steve can have his own office in the room above the garage and there's plenty of space for Ally to play in the finished basement. I'm looking forward to having an upstairs bedroom to myself as a combined office and craft room. And there's lots of land for a sizable vegetable garden.

However, I must admit that I've been on the verge of a panic attack more than once since we heard our offer was accepted. You see, we'll start moving in January and then put our current house on the market in late winter. That's a lousy time to dig up my garden and transplant it to our new home, and this has me in a turmoil. I know I'm nuts, but I have a lot invested in my garden. Not just time and money, but an emotional attachment as well. There are the rose bushes I received at my bridal shower and those Steve has given me for Valentine's Day and our wedding anniversary. There are the peonies from my paternal grandmother and the ones my mother-in-law gave me when my maternal grandmother passed away. There are the oriental lilies that have finally begun to produce ginormous flower stalks, the perennial sunflower that has taken years of coaxing to bloom, and the hardy lavender I planted the very first year I started my garden. I've already written about how my garden saved my sanity back while I was a grad student working on my doctorate. No, I really can't leave my beloved rhubarb or the Chinese foxglove I started from seed last year and haven't seen it bloom yet.

On a more practical side, I realize that I could easily get more black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, and daylilies from any garden center, but why should I buy more of them when I can save hundreds of dollars by dividing the plants I already own? Had I known earlier in the year that we'd be moving relatively soon, I would have potted up many perennials, started slips of the butterfly bushes, and collected seeds instead of just scattering them in the flower beds. Of course I can insist that we include a "digging clause" in the contract of our current house which would indicate what plants I plan to remove before the buyer takes possession of the house, but I'd prefer to move my plants long before we put the house on the market. Technically plants and shrubs in the landscaping are considered real property that conveys with the house to the new owner unless their removal by the seller is specifically written into the contract, and writing out which plants I plan to take and where they are currently located would be long and tedious. If only we could keep our current house until spring, when things are coming back up and moving plants would be so much easier, but keeping an unoccupied house for months just so I can save all my plants is an obvious folly. So here I am, at the tail end of November, potting up what plants I can find, cursing the lack of light at 5:30 pm, and hoping that the colder weather please holds off for just a little while longer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Craft Show

Last Saturday Mom and I had a booth at the annual craft show at the Shawsville Middle School. I'm just glad she's still speaking to me after 9 months of preparation and eight hours of craftapalooza.

MomTree, edited

Actually we had a great day. It was the first craft show we've ever done, although we've done a number of yard sales and flea markets together. Somehow back in January I got a wild hair up my butt about doing a show and was able to get on the list at Shawsville. The months since then have been filled with felting sweaters for material, planning and cutting out designs, and stitching items together. I've made wreaths, painted treat buckets, fashioned brooches, and wired bedsprings into hanging lanterns. I've caulked, glued, epoxied, stitched, and tied. I've stained fabric with coffee, glittered felt posies, glued ribbon on clothespins, and wrapped rag balls. I've spent hours cursing at the sewing machine only to be filled with glee when I was able to fix the problem. (Who knew stitch length could be so important?) I scoured the local Goodwill store for votive candle holders on a weekly basis and the nice ladies at the local JoAnn's Fabrics must think I'm a closet hoarder of clearance calico.

Needless to say, our booth was pretty full of stuff for sale.

RightSideBooth, edited

LeftSideBooth, edited

AllyBooth, edited

In the end, the house has been in shambles for months and I'm probably certifiably deranged, but gosh it was fun! And *hoo-eee*, talk about a learning experience.

The Top Ten Things I've Learned While Crafting

1. You should consider getting a tetanus booster shot if you're going to work with rusty metal springs.
2. Glitter will collect in every crack and crevice of a hardwood floor. Vacuuming will not remove it, even weeks later.
3. Some industrial craft adhesives should really only be used outdoors.
4. You won't be able to match colors between dye lots.
5. Profit margins on craft items should always include the value of the time you put into making the item.
6. Never calculate the value of your time while crafting unless you enjoy being depressed.
7. You probably will never sell all of your merchandise at one show, thus requiring the need to sign up for another show to move the merchandise. You will then create new items between shows, thus initiating a vicious cycle.
8. The wise crafter specializes in lightweight items or has a moving team of many, many people to help set up the booth.
9. If you have a unique item, many of the other vendors will spend much of the day scoping out your wares and planning on making it themselves next time.
10. Unsold merchandise makes fabulous Christmas presents.

I also realized that antiques or vintage items are easier to sell in the sense that you might do a minor repair or clean the item, but it's not like you're making that Empire buffet or crazy quilt from scratch. Most craft items require a lot more time to make than you originally thought and you're liable to put more money into the item than anyone is willing to pay for it.

But despite all this, I really enjoyed making my items, preparing for the show, and receiving feedback on my work during the show. It's great when someone really, really likes your work and actually buys some of it. I think the greatest compliment came from the woman who inquired if I had a shop somewhere else. Will I do another show? I'm not sure. I've signed up for a two day show in Floyd next October, but I haven't fully committed to it yet. I think it will depend on who I can rope into working the show with me (seeing how Mom came to her senses during the middle of the Shawsville show and declared that, with God as her witness, she is not a crafter) and what inventory I create between now and then. But for right now I can relax and truly enjoy the holiday season because all my Christmas "shopping" is done for once.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall in Southwest Virginia

Went for walks in Riner and around Pandapas Pond outside of Blacksburg last week. Most of our trees have lost their leaves now, except for the red oaks that still flame red in the sere landscape.

Pandapas Pond, edited

A lonely feather on a misty afternoon.

Lonely feather, edited

I love the color in these late berries.

Not grapes, edited

I suspect this is the exotic, invasive Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.), but it's still pretty.

Bittersweet, edited

I'm always looking for interesting seed pods and plant architecture at this time of the year.

MilkweedPod, edited

FluffySeedHeads, edited

Sometimes the commonest of roadside weeds become sculptural masterpieces at the end of their existence.

Teasel, edited


I always enjoy taking pictures in the spring when everything is fresh, green, and new, but I think I'm about to find fall just as much fun to photograph.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chandelier dreams

We're big fans of the Pumpkin Festival out at Sinkland Farms in Riner, Virginia. It wasn't until our last trip that I realized that the farm has an old barn available as an event center. It's a nice, big structure with a stage at one end of the building. The concrete floors, sheet metal roof, and wooden beams give it a very rustic feel.

But the funky chandelier inside is stunning. It's a massive light fixture made of all kinds of glass bottles and jars attached to graduated iron rings with scrollwork and tiers of electric tapers on the outside. The glass is clear, frosted, and aqua colored. There are Mason jars, patent medicine bottles, soda bottles, and a wine bottle or two.


Underneath is a Japanese glass fishing float with the netted covering.

Chandelier underside

Standing underneath it and looking up into the chandelier....the whole thing makes me think of a big jellyfish.

Chandelier underside 2

I want to rent the center for a dinner party one early summer night just to see it all lit up. I bet it's beautiful.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hello, November?

Seems like I just greeted October yesterday and now it's November. November in all its "I don't want to see another miniature candy bar for awhile and no kidding, winter is definitely on its way" glory. November with its bare trees, frosty mornings, cold rains, and gloomy skies. November with its warm fires, flannel pajamas, and much good food to be eaten. Early November gives you just enough time to finish up the leftover Halloween candy before plunging headlong into the winter holiday season. Late November barrels past you in a rush.

This year I want to make the effort to truly enjoy the change into winter, the holiday season, and the end of the year. I have much to be thankful for but rarely take the time to appreciate it the way I should. This year we'll see the holiday season through the eyes of our two-year-old daughter, and I'm hoping she'll remind me of all the magic and fun this season really holds for us.