Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blurry Photos

I apologize for all the blurry photos...hate flash..camera is dying, and if Nelson Staffing ever pays us..I get a new camera!!!

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Remember that old saying....well...here we are..on the home streach...only problem is..the staffing agency is not paying us...I have been tearing my hair out...The ultimatum is; if we don't get checks today, I am calling a work stoppage..there are three more stores to do, and if we don't get paid by tomorrow, we will not finish them. Otherwise, we have no leverage..We've worked very hard, and I've spent almost as much time dealing with the staffing agency as decorating trees..sheesh...
This is the last style of tree: "Forest Naturals", and I think, my favorite...I love the colors...sadly, it reminds me of my beloved backyard deer and friend, "Shadow", who was murdered by my neighbor as revenge for calling the Animal Control people, after their dog (for the fifth time) came into my property, chased the deer, and then, chased me, trying to bite me.
One of my other neighbor's saw him do it, and told me. I have been crying for two days...I can only think there is a special place in hell for people like that...

I will be so glad when this is over...hence, the "Be careful what you wish for"....
Also wished for rain, and now, we are gettng floods...
Okay, I'm finished complaining now...off to adjust my attitude.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I know I've been this tired before....

But, I don't remember when...another week of rising at anywhere between two am and four am...driving in torrential downpours, (remember when I used to pray for rain)...working for twelve to fourteen hours...driving home...drinking two glasses of wine,and falling into bed. Getting up the next day, and doing it again....it goes on and on...

The good news is my two "elves" are fantastic...the bad news is the "staffing company"...yes, that's you Nelson staffing, can't get their act together enought to actually pay us.

I have spent hours on the telephone, asking why my "elves" aren't getting their money...I have backup..a husband..they don't have back up...I am angry..tired and angry...nearly told a very badly behaving little boy, who was shaking my ladder and breaking ornaments, that Santa was dead...but, I pulled back at the last moment... That's how bad it is...

I am off for three days...sleeping for two...enjoy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ho Ho Hum...so very old and tired!

Well, here I am...back from the front....feeling about a hundred and twelve...
Day one seems like a year ago...rested up a bit the next day - went to the doctor and got a Cortizone shot in my wrist (hurt like hell - they have to give you a numby shot before they give you the big guy) it does help, but the doc says this is the last one...next time, surgery. I told him that as a surgeon, they often feel like they have a hammer, and everything looks like a nail. He didn't laugh.

And off again to San Antonio, North Star....more trees, they just keep on coming...Notice my scathing wit is dulled to a drone? This is what happens when you get up at 4:30 every morning and drive over a hundred miles...climb up-and-down ladders, and make things pretty! When I was thirty,this was a piece of cake...my body keeps reminding me that I am now 61, and what the hell do I think I am doing?

I brought chicken for us to eat, and assured J that I didn't think I could blow a chicken out of my nose...just wanted to reassure him after the unfortunate root beer and cream explosion. J has turned out to be a very good worker, but he's the quietest person on the face of the earth. No complaints here...he's very nice, and is from Vermont - M asked him if everyone in Vermont was this quiet, and he answered "pretty much".
I am not going to show you every single tree we did, as we did 13 at one location and 14 at the other...lot's of repitition...but, will show some of the "varity", along with some of the "stunners", and some of the "not so much".

We spent the night at a LaQuinta (J in his room - I in mine) M lives in San Antonio, so she met us the next morning, to drive the 137 miles to Corpus Christi.
The rooms were booked in advance, but the moron at the desk insisted that I pay for them...I insisted that my employer already did...this battle went on for awhile. Long story short, called the employer, and he was supposed to take care of it.
I went to my room, at my take out mexican food with my fingers (too tired to find utensils)...drank a glass of wine (I brought my own), poured the rest of the bottle out (didn't want an open bottle in the car - what a waste), dragged the refridgerator (in a cabinet) away from the wall and unplugged it - it sounded like there was someone in there with a jack hammer), and fell into a deep coma.

Four-thirty wake up call - go down to check out- have battle with new moron at the desk, who insisted I had to pay for the room...screamed (well, quietly) that this was unacceptible (got the room comped)...he just wanted me to go away.

We got to Corpus Christi, and faced off the fourteen trees....

Now, this first tree is a Martha Stewart tree, called "Lily Pond"...really quite pretty...(of course, this is on an island, so I suppose it counts as a Christmas tree)...I actually love the ornaments.
Click on the photo to see it in more detail.

"Swell Noel" arch from hell....it takes forever, and we worked for hours on it...then, we were finally informed that it can count as two trees ...much happier.

Golden Santa....M did this one...I fell in love with some of the glass ornaments.

A bit of confusion here: is this the "Jeweled Angel" tree angel, or is she the "Russian Angel"? Noone to ask..the stock is put out, and then everyone who works there disappears. They don't want to be around as people come by, and shout at us that "it's September, for God's sake"..this is too soon! Lot's of those comments...but then, some just oooohed and awed....
Russian Tree?????? Looks so much better with lights.

"Deck the Halls"...peace, love, psychidelic, and far out!

"Teen Diva"............nuf said
J did the Ballerina Tree...it's spectacular, but reminds me of a Las Vegas showgirl.....

Closeup of the "Arctic Explorer" tree...I do love this one...polar bears, snowy owls, all those endangered species trees...

I did this "Arctic Explorer" tree....I must say, the cuddly animals were, well, cuddly...and I had fun with this one....
We finished around 6 pm, and headed back to Austin...where J lives, and I had another 45 miles to go after that. J offered to drive, and I was pleased to have a break...however, the rear window on my car decided it didn't want to go back up after J accidentally lowered it...This happened last year to the other window, and it cost $400 to fix...sheesh!
We take off, and the window is driving us crazy...it's hot...and the noise! So, we pull into a service station, and J tries to fix it...Then, I remember that Aunt Lily (this was her Buick, which she so kindly gave to us when she couldn't drive anymore - poor Lily has Alzhiemer's)...anyway, Aunt Lily ran four corporations in NYC in the fifties, and was always ready for anything...which is why there was a box in the truck with: A can opener, flares, a hammer, water, first aid kit, and YES, duct tape....so, we taped that baby closed and continued home.
Thinking we were seconds away from a clean get away by the time we reached Austin...not so...road construction...traffic jam...nothing to eat, screaming headache, feeling rotten..sat for hours.
Finally, dropped J at his house, and limped on home...ate a piece of cheese, drank a glass of wine, and fell into bed...a 22 hour day...just horrible.
So glad I scheduled in three-day weekends..that's about how long it's going to take for me to recover - for Monday, and the next salvo...
I so love everyone's comments and encouragement.
I do want to go to the other blogs I follow, but first, I suppose I should get out of my robe, take a shower, go to the grocery store, and then,...maybe a nap?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day One, The Adventure Begins

And so, it begins...
Twas the night before the Christmas tree gig, and all through the house, not a creature was sleeping...especially, not Jess (okay, the cats were asleep).
It's 10:30 p.m, and she must arise at 4 am, but suddenly, all heck breaks lose, as emails are flying in, with all kinds of attachments, bearing photos of prototype Christmas trees...and they just keep on coming.

It's a time zone thing...the photos are coming from California, and Jess is in Texas..and she's getting tired of opening files, and printing, and printing, and printing...

There's every kind of "theme tree" imagined by "three angry, middle aged women" (that was my answer, when I asked who designed these trees. Okay, some were Martha Stewart trees, but I don't think Martha actually designed them..well, maybe.

I will "unveil" the different themes, as they are decorated...I didn't use a flash, because they are really ugly that way, but perhaps I should...hey, I'm the one who loves candlelight, remember (it does so much for aging complexions).

So, got to bed at midnight, and couldn't sleep (my cat, my nerves, my insomnia)...got up at 4 am, and packed everything into the car...drove 45 miles to pick up my first elf (did I mention I have two "elves", thank God)...you didn't think I was going to do 114 Christmas trees alone, did you...even Santa had elves...(I do have the tiny reindeer, though)
Picked up "J", and we drove to San Antonio, stopped for coffee, and bought the new, rereleased "Abby Road" cd...thank God, "Elf J" has a GPS system, or I would still be driving around San Antonio...(did you know it's the 4th largest city in the country?)...

Arrived at Macy's River Center (drove by the Alamo - remember?), and we met elf number 2 - "M" (I wouldn't use their names without their permission)...after running around, trying to get in, we went to work....

Here is the first tree, Which I did..."Western Tree" Second Tree - "Swell Noel" (hey, I don't name them) which J and I did...he did most of it...I think it should count as two trees, as we get paid by the tree...don't you?
J did "Santa's Picks", which is more like a merchandising rack, but a pretty one....

This is a close up of the "Cherub" tree, which is more like "The Christmas Tree From Hell", as the branches are very weak, and the ornaments are beautiful, but very heavy, so they either fell off, or dragged the branchs down to the ground..a little breakage here....

We finished River Center in great time, and headed for South Park, where we ate our lunch at the Food Court...I had my most embarrasing moment of my life (well, in many years)...I am on Atkins, and I love to put a bit of cream in Diet A&W Rootbeer..yum..anyway, I usually use a glass, but brought the bottles instead..Poor J was sitting there, and I was bragging on my "invention"...I poured the cream into the plastic bottle, and it ERUPTED...I thought, okay, it's just going to run over a bit, so I put my mouth over it....creamy rootbeer spurting everywhere; out of my mouth, my nose, (if it could have, it would have come out my ears)..all over the table, the floor, J, me...sheesh...I don't think J thinks I am very cool...oh well...moving on. One has to learn to laugh at oneself...doesn't one?

This is the Cherub Tree in South Park...a bit more heavily laden....

This is the Cherub Tree in River Center...very pretty, but we had a rack from which to display overstock..the other place didn't..people will buy off the tree...I don't even want to think about what it will look like as the stock goes down.

Here is my beautiful elf, M, showing off her Western Tree at South Park...she's adorible.

Here is my handsome elf, J, also adorable...(and thinks I'm a moron).

Dropped J off at his house in Austin, drove the extra 45 miles, at a bowl of stew, took a bath, and fell into bed..slept 12 hours...
Day off today...then, another, similar push..except this time: San Antonio again (it's 240 miles round trip from my house, and didn't make sense to turn around and drive home, when we have to be in Corpus Christi at 7 am the next day, so we have rooms - M lives in San Antonio, and J and I have rooms (separate, of course)...the thing is - 13 trees in one day in San Antonio, and 15 in Corpus...should be interesting....
Ho, Ho, Sheesh

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And She's Off (her rocker)

I have this photo on the front of my design portfolio...pretty much sums up who I am...nuts!
I was so excited to see that I have nine followers: In fact, I told my husband, "I have nine, whole followers", and his response was, "As opposed to 18 hole followers" (he's a golfer)...I may smother him in his sleep with his own pillow. Don't quote me on that. HA.
Four am, up and atem...the Magic that is Christmas begins.
I will return with photos...
Meantime, thanks so much to all of you for your loving support.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Forever Yours"...My Friend's Pet Portrait Business

My dear friend, DJ Prince (I refer to her as Doris Jean), is a wonderful artist, who is in Atlanta, and starting up a pet portrait business.

"Forever Yours", pet portraits by DJ Prince - She does graphite, pastels, and oils, but I love her pastels...I mean, if you want the best pet portrait to cherish forever, she's your girl, and I recommended that she stick with pastels and oils...whatever..she's wonderful.

I love the personality she captured in "Little Bear"...just look at those eyes!

You can contact her at dorie_prince@yahoo.com ....I would do it soon, as she's going to be very busy as soon as she is "discovered".

What Would it Be????

Besides the kids, the pet, the family photos, the diamonds (I only have my wedding rings, and I wear them all the time), what would be the one thing - okay, a work of art...or not...a prized possesion, that you would grab when the house (God forbid) was: on fire, about to be flooded, blown away...etc.?
This is my most prized piece of art. I have paintings and photographs that I have done over the years, but let's face it, a five x three foot painting isn't going to fit in the Buick.

This is what I prize most.....It is a Wall Bracket, and it's by Michelangelo (really)...I am not sure if this is a man or a lion, but he is wonderful...

Here's the story: Over twenty years ago, we lived in Boston, and I was a Designer/Art Consultant (mostly Art Consultant in those days). I had a client, who wanted some large pieces of sculpture, and it had to be Classical....I stumbled across the most wonderful gallery of reproductions I have ever seen and have yet to see...
Here's the quote from the catalog:
"The quality of a reproduction is of the greatest importance. In an original work of merit there is a subtleness of treatment- a certain feeling which, if captured in reproduction, places the finished piece within the realm of art itself.

Florentine master craftsman Pietro Caproni practiced the art of creating quality reproductions. During the last two decades of the 19th century, he traveled through Europe making molds directly from masterpieces in museums such as the Louvre, the National Museum in Athens, the Vatican, the Uffizi Gallery, and the British Museum.
Considered the greatest craftsman of his time, Caproni was one of the last to be allowed the freedom of casting directly from museaum pieces.

In 1900 Pietro Caproni constructed the Caproni Gallery building, at 1920 Washington Street in Boston, to cast and house his reproductions. He made them available to museums, schools, and private connoisseurs throuigh an illustrated catalogue which listed over 2500 casts, including such extraordinary pieces as the full-size Winged Victory of Samothrace and Michelangelo's head of David. The Caproni Gallery became the leading art gallery of it's kind in the world.

To the Present: Some of Caproni's original molds survived to the present day, and many of his catalogues can still be found in the great libraries of this country. His methods, too, have survived, as the Caproni tradition of a fine sense of artistry was carefully passed down to the hands of his successor."

You need to double click on this image of Leno Giust in his gallery...it will enlarge, and you can ooh and ahh at what is there...

I literally stumbled across the Giust Gallery. Leno Giust was the successor, and when I met him, he was an old man...well into his late seventies, and I fell in love with him.
The Gallery had shrunk...Washington Street was a rough neighborhood by then, and his gallery was in the back of the original gallery, and could only be reached by passing through a locked, wrought-iron gate, and several other locked doors...He was a secret.
His catalogue can be sent to you, but you can go on line to http://www.giustgallery.com/ and see all the wonderful things that have survived. But, I must tell you, when I saw the Michelangelo piece (there are a few others), I couldn't keep my hands off it...I ran my fingers over that face, and knew that, even though my husband was a starving graduate student (in his 7th year of grad school, getting a $5,000 a year stipend), I had to have this piece. Leno was a sweetie, and even though today it is only $300, I bought it for much, much less from him.
As soon as I get a baby grand piano (which probably will be never, as we down-sized our home, and neither of us play piano), I am going to get this bust of Beethoven.

When we bought our Texas house, there was a niche in the hallway, and I have painted it Midnight Blue. I love to light the candles, and close off the hallway, and see it the way HE would have seen it...touching it reverently....I am a candle fanatic, and I have discovered that in the Hispanic section of the grocery store, I can get these wonderful, tall votives for $1.50..they used to be $1.05, but they've gone up...I have so many of them, many on the mantle, that if I light them all, I have to open a window, as it sucks the oxygen out of the room! I found these wonderful sconces in Wisconsin, and bought four, different styles...They hang in my hallway, and I love the reflective backgrounds and the shapes.

Often, I take a chair into the hallway, and sit at the far end...I close off the doors, and put on Beethoven, and just meditate on how beautiful it is...It's like being in my own church....

Friday, September 11, 2009

A New Dawn, A New Day

I hope I didn't bum too many people out with my tribute to my friend, Ginna, but she was a dear friend, whom I will miss for the rest of my days. That said, she was also the queen of "The Show Must Go On", and so it will.

I painted this bowl (I call it my version of "the Rose Bowl) and am donating it to an auction for the local animal shelter.

It's raining!!!! This is wonderful!!!! We have had a terrible drought!!...I have to believe this is yet another of my dear Ginna's signs. (okay, so I'm nuts).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

For My Ginna

Tomorrow is Sept. 11...a terrible day in history for our Country...so many mourning their losses.
I lost a friend on Sept. 11, but it was four years ago that day, that my dear friend, Ginna, lost her battle with cancer.

I first met Ginna when I lived in Boston so many years ago. I was an Art Consultant and Interior Designer, and she was my client...she had an insurance company, and bought a great deal of art from me. Then, I helped her with her house...We bonded immediately....

This woman had a heart of gold, and a wicked, wicked sense of humor...we could laugh at the most inappropriate stuff..
I moved to North Carolina, and I was so lonesome there...one day, the phone rang, and it was Ginna: "Jessica, go to the airport, pick up your ticket, and get on a plane for Boston"....She had a ticket waiting for me...picked me up in a limo, and we went to the Rolling Stone's "Steel Wheels" concert...front row...I could have spit on Mick Jagger (but, why would I?)...Next day, I went back to my Cinderella world.

I moved to Wisconsin, and we didn't see each other for years...we talked on the phone constantly...laughed alot, and sometimes, cried together.

Then, I got the call: "Jessica, it's not good...it's cancer"...She said, and I could hear her take a drag on her cigarette, and knew she was drinking her tenth Diet Pepsi of the day...."Please come see me while I still know who you are."

I went...She picked me up at the airport, sporting a beautiful, auburn wig..."I went to the transvestite wig store," she said in her wonderful, South Boston accent..."They have the best ones"

I spent a few weeks with her, and we talked, laughed, cried...held our breath, waiting for calls from the doctors...I had to go home...
Three months later, I went back...she called, and asked me to come and spend some of her last days with her...This time, I took a cab to the hospital, and was shocked when I saw her...Her hair had grown back white, but she was still beautiful...I told her she looked like Vanessa Redgrave...
She wanted out of the hospital in the worst way.."Nurse Rachet won't let me have my cigarettes or my Diet Pepsi", she complained....Her family was angry that she was still smoking, but being a smoker myself (I quit after she died), I understood what an addiction it was.
I and her siblings went to her house, and we emptied the living room, got a hospital bed, and tried to make it as comfortable as possible for her..She was devestated..she wanted her beautiful living room back..but, at least, her wonderful, funny dogs, (who all lived in kennels in the kitchen), were able to come and tell her "welcome home". I teased her about her tan...Ginna worked hard on her tan...it was a matter of fact thing...always tan, always beautiful; perfect hair, nails, makeup...right up to the end.

"Send me a sign," I asked her, when I finally had to go home..."I will," she said, and I kissed her goodbye on that tan cheek...
I left via the kitchen, and Stanley was in his little doggie/doll bed...he seemed to know....
Ginna passed on September 11th, four years ago - I think of her every day.
One day, not long after, I was taking a walk along a wooded path in Wisconsin...It was a crisp, lovely, Autumn day, and as I approached a bridge, a shower of golden leaves cascaded down on me...it was a Ginko tree, and they shed their leaves all at once..."Nice sign, Ginna", I whispered...