For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas day today, filled with family, good friends and good food!

May 2013 be a year of peace, happiness and prosperity for you and your loved ones.

This is one of my favourite Polish Christmas carols.  I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

An overview

It's been ages since I've done a proper blog post!  My bad.  This is supposed to be where we keep track of our homeschool activities, too.

Speaking of which, we had our facilitator visit just a few days ago.  Very late for this, but our facilitator has had some pretty harsh personal issues to take care of that involve traveling out of province, so we've got nothing to complain about.  Our visits with him are always awesome and something we look forward to every time.

So.  Here's a brief overview of what's been going on for the past few months.  A sort of "what I did during my summer holidays" assignment. *L*

The biggest activities have involved Eldest and her blossoming art career.  She took part in a local 3-day art festival for the third year in a row.  Not as successful as last year, partly because the third day got rained out, but also because the spot she ended up in was in the far back corner, and not as many people bothered going that far.  She still did fairly well.  What was even more encouraging was the fact that she actually had people seek her booth out!  One person had seen a painting of hers last year and was hoping it was still there.  She ended up buying more then one.  Eldest actually has several people collecting her art now!

She also took part in another festival in another town just outside our city.  This was an event that took place every Sunday, beginning in June and ending on the last Sunday of September.  Her first day was on Canada Day.  As it didn't make sense for me to drive all the way there, help her set up, then leave for a few hours only to come back and do it again, I joined her for the whole thing, bringing along my project bag and working on some crochet while keeping her company.  This way, there was also someone to watch her booth while she had lunch or went for a bio-break.  After a couple of these, the organizer that helped out (who was awesome, I must say!) invited me to set up as well, so I ended up with a little table of my crochet for sale in the back of Eldest's booth.

This event was, unfortunately, a bit of a disaster.  The primary reason was that no one knew about it.  It was the first time it had been held, so that was to be expected, but they apparently did a lot of advertising.

The physical location was a strange mix of perfect for the venue, and disastrous for the venue.  Perfect, in that there was lots of space for artists to set up, shelter if needed, indoor bathrooms available, lots of parking, and just plain pretty.  It was disastrous, in that no one could find the place.  It was part of a new facility that includes a very popular new library, space for community events, and some government facilities, a bistro, coffee shop, and more.  You'd think everyone would know it was there, but no.  The plaza we were set up in was in the back of the library section, actually in between two wings of the facilities.  In the biggest space where community events are held, they hosted the Canada Day free pancake breakfast.  Thousands of people showed up, yet less then a dozen made it out the back and saw the artist booths.  The area has some new condos across the street from the front entrance of the library, and we ran into people who lived there, yet had no idea this plaza was there.  The library itself was closed on Sundays all summer - normally it's open in the afternoon on Sundays - and we had a few people who found us because they were going to the library, only to find it closed, so they wandered around trying to find information, stumbling on us, instead.

The other problem was one of promotion.  It was promoted as an art event, rather then an art market.  Some of the people that did come out specifically to see the art had come with the expectation of displays, not sales.  This led to a problem.  Since the few people that showed up were not there to buy, there was no incentive for artists to keep coming back every weekend.  With no artists coming back, there would be no incentive for people to come and check it out. We kept coming back, simply because we were willing to be part of the experiment and it was good experience.  A couple of others became regulars as well, but they were also local, so it didn't cost them much to be there.  For some who lived farther out, it was simply not worth driving all the way out, spending all that time to set up and tear down, without any reasonable expectation for sales.  For one artist friend, it cost her about $25 in gas alone to be there.

None of the artists did well at this event.  It was really horrible!  There were simply no people.  Most didn't bother coming back after only 1 or 2 weekends. I sold more crochet items then most of the artists.  It was a shame, because there were some really talented people who'd given it a try.

We did, however, make some new friends and did some networking, which is always good.

On top of this, Eldest was able to set up her work as gallery displays in a local tea house and a local coffee shop.  The tea house accepts 2 or 3 artists a month, each hanging several pieces.  Eldest was able to hang 4 framed paintings, partly because one was small enough to fit in a very small space. When one sold, they let her know so she could bring another to replace it.  By the end of the month, another had sold, so that turned out very well for her. 

The  next month, she had a display in a trendy coffee shop, and for this, she had the entire place to herself.  On two levels, that was about 18 or 19 paintings.  For this one, when someone was interested in buying, the coffee shop contacted Eldest and she finished the transaction herself.  When we came in to take care of that, however, all her paintings were gone and the walls were newly painted!  She found out where the paintings where and her customer walked out happy, but the paintings never made it back up onto the walls.  That sort of worked out for the better, as the day she normally would have had to take them out, she had to set up somewhere else...

There was another event, somewhat related to the 3 day festival.  It was marketed as a "garage sale," and a lot of merchants had sidewalk displays.  There were several competitive events hosted by a fitness company that was a major sponsor, live entertainment, food trucks and quite a few artists.  There were lots of people coming out for it, and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun.

Yet there were almost no sales among the artists!  The businesses that had sidewalk displays seemed to be doing well, but all the artists were set up in one block and, while there was plenty of foot traffic and lots of people stopping to look and talk to the artists, I know of only two that made any sales at all, and one of those was to a family member!

Eldest did have several people stop by who recognised her work from her coffee shop display.  One person came back several times, each time bringing someone else to look at Eldest's work.  Still no sales, however.  Talking about the event with some other artist friends, everyone had the same sense of oddness about the whole thing.  A very strange disappointment.

That was the last event for the season, but there is one last Christmas event coming up this very evening.  Even I have my own space now, as sharing a space with Eldest was not encouraged.  I'm not entirely sure I have enough inventory for my own display, but we'll see how it works out.  My space is right next to Eldest, so we can help each other out as needed.  One of our new artist friends from the summer will be on my other side, an another new artist friend will be just a few spaces away, so it will be a bit of a reunion!  I hope it works out.  Eldest fully expects it to bomb.

It's going to be held in the same complex the summer event was at, in the same room the Canada Day pancake breakfast was held.  Since it's part of an established farmer's market, I do hope it will turn out better, but we shall see.

Aside from that, Eldest and I have both joined up with a new art related company, run by a home school mom, and we'll be teaching.  I'll be teaching crochet, and Eldest will be teaching two classes related to comics.

Speaking of comics, Eldest's online comic is now up and running.  It was supposed to start back in March, but there were technical difficulties and she ended up moving it completely.  It was very frustrating for her to try and get it working.  This first comic is her learning experience.  Once it's finished, she's got a short story planned, and then another major story.  The next one is something that's meant to be print-worthy.

So she's got things pretty planned out!

Youngest, meanwhile is doing her own thing.  She's still taking guitar lessons, though not practising as much as she ought.  She says she enjoys them and wants to continue.  Once in a rare while, I even get to hear her play!  She's enjoying these lessons a lot more then her voice lessons from a couple of years back.  That turned out to be rather disappointing.  She learned lots and her singing improved, but by the end of her first year, she wasn't enjoying the classes and didn't really want to sing anymore.  Part of the reason is that, while things started out with things geared towards Youngest's musical interests (which is pretty eclectic to begin with) to her singing what her teacher - who is a local country singer - liked and performed.  Youngest likes country, but not *that* kind of country.

With her guitar instructor, things seem very different.  When she's ready to work on a new song, she comes up with some that she likes and he'll actually go and find them for her, and that's what she learns.  Right now, she's learning Babel from Mumford and Sons. 

Youngest has also picked up soap making, has been crocheting up a storm (she's planning an Iron Man sweater design at the moment) and is teaching herself how to knit right now.  She's at a bit of a loss when it comes to interests, though, and seems to be drifting a bit.  We've found some information for an apprenticeship program our province has, and there are a few trades that catch her eye and we need to learn more about.  The ones she listed as possible choices are Auto Body Technician (which has several sub-categories), Baker, Bricklayer, Cabinetmaker, Carpenter, Landscape Gardener and Motorcycle Mechanic.  We'll see how things develop as we look into those.

In other areas, we've had to work around Dh's health issues.  He's taken another turn for the worse, mostly involving his back injury.  He's now developed a herniated disc, which is protruding into a nerve root.  That explains why his leg's been going numb.  Getting treatment has been troublesome, as our family doctor disappeared - he went on medical leave and never came back - and we've had to find someone new.  Since we didn't have the luxury to wait to see the doctor that had been recommended to us, his primary caregiver is a Nurse Practitioner.  We were going to just go with the same caregiver for all of us, but that didn't quite work out.  I wrote a letter of complaint after my own issues and have since seen the doctor I'd wanted to see originally, but Dh has too many issues to allow him the luxury of bouncing around between practitioners; he takes what he can get.  The NP had been focused a lot on his diabetes and kept adding more prescriptions - including prescriptions to protect his kidneys from all the prescriptions he's on - but I'd mentioned that a bit in my letter of complaint, and the last time we were there (and the first time I'd seen her since I sent in my letter), she focused on treating his pain, while avoiding eye contact with me as much as possible.  Dh is due to see a specialist in February and is considered a good candidate for surgery, but the surgery would fix his problem with his leg, not his back.  Apparently, there's nothing they can fix about his back.  Or his knee.  His knee gave out, quite badly, and he's walking with a cane most of the time.  He has an indoor cane that he uses to go up and down the stairs, and an outdoor cane with the teeth on the bottom to prevent slipping on ice.  He had another scan done on the knee, but apparently there's nothing wrong with it.  Go figure. 

Well, that's most of what's been going on with us.  The big stuff, anyhow.  For now, we're getting ready for Christmas.  As we're running around less frequently, and I've finished NaNoWriMo this year (yes, I did complete the 50,000 words in 1 month), I am hoping to be able to post a bit more often.