Monday, November 14, 2016

The Burnt Camaro...

I've been decluttering again...and I have a tale to tell.

Today I encountered this picture:
This is my dad harvesting parts off my Camaro that got stolen by teenagers one October 1993 evening.  They took it for a joyride and then torched it.  It was found abandoned in a grassy, vacant lot in the heart of Kansas City KS.  While it sat there, the neighbors stole the mag wheels off it's charred remains.  The kid that did this was caught, charged and then spent the next few years slipping in and out of juvenile detention, never paying for his crime.  It took me a year to get a new car and the whole thing was traumatizing to say the least.

That Camaro was my "fun mobile'.  I'd just used most of the money I'd made on a job to get some repairs done, plus new shocks, tires and a radio installed...I'd filled it up with gas and remember looking at it as I went inside thinking, "I love my car".  Anyone who's had a car stolen knows that sick, empty feeling of walking out your door to see the oil spot on the ground where your car once was!

The weird part is that I'd had a startling dream that night that woke me up.  I saw a faceless figure standing in the doorway whipping flowy black fabric all about it, and it disappeared into thin air.  I wonder in retrospect if it was my Guardian Angel saying, "Hurry!  Get up!  Look outside!"  Or, it was Batman.  Either way, I felt I was being warned...had I only known.

Nevertheless, every time I get the bug to declutter and start going through papers, I come across all the legal documents surrounding this incident and it rekindles dark feelings.  I've always felt like I couldn't or shouldn't let it go, so I would tuck the papers away only to find them again the next time I decluttered for more emotional rekindling!

Usually they would stop me in my tracks and I would sit and read through each document...reminiscing and wondering what I could have done differently, always wishing I'd kept after this kid to force him to pay the court ordered restitution.

Today, I tore them up and threw them away.  I didn't even shred them, just ripped them up with my hands.  I'm ready to stop chasing my own tail and let it go.  The answer to "why do some people pay their dues, and some seem to always escape?" is obvious...they don't escape justice.  I just may never see it happen, but God evens things out in the end.

I scanned this picture of my dad to save because although it does remind me of the incident, it's more that it shows him doing one of the things he did best...recycling!  Also, I'm reminded of how hard he would work for people and a cause dear to him.

When the car went missing, the police had no answers and obviously weren't looking too hard for the car.  Three days after it was stolen I got a phone call saying it had been burned and was taken to an impound lot.  My dad started making phone calls and found out where the car was retrieved from and went door-to-door in this little Kansas City Kansas neighborhood talking to people and getting names and eye witness accounts!

He discovered the name of the kids that stole the car and one neighbor told him that they knew these kids personally and that they were planning more "stolen car bonfires" that very evening.  We passed all of this information to the police.  The next day I got a call from an investigator confirming that the kids did it again, just as we told them, but this time they tracked them down and boy, were they in trouble!!

My dad should have worked for the police department, I'm tellin' ya!  He was not going to let some "punks" do his daughter wrong, and even though he couldn't fix THIS car for me (ha!) he sure wasn't going to stand for what happened next.

Dad called the impound lot to inquire about the Camaro and the owner "copped an attitude" with him and tried to convince him that the car was a complete loss and that we should just leave it there.  That didn't smell right to my dad at all, so he went down to look at it and saw that the engine was perfectly fine.  We paid the nominal fee to get the car and he turned around and sold the engine for $500! And then he took the burnt shell to the scrap yard and made a little more.

Somehow, dad knew this guy was trying to deter us from getting the car because he knew how much the engine was worth.  I'd bet on the "takes one to know one" two-of-a-kind concept...imagine two dueling, industrious men caressing their mustaches while contemplating the dollar value of the heap of junk that lies before them! 

After selling the engine and confirming his suspicions about the impound lot guy, he then threw his head back and laughed with victory and said, "Can't fool a smart Indian!"  That sort of victory always energized him.

A picture that I tore up and did not scan was one of me, covered head to toe in black stuff, sitting on my destroyed car doing the "Rosie the Riveter" was my way of trying to have a good attitude about dealing with the charred remains of my "fun mobile". 

As I declutter these papers and pictures that tether my mind to this unpleasant event and are not beautiful or useful, I know that I'm freeing space up in head and heart for better things.   And as I go about this task, I've found that it's necessary to take some friends with me...those who have done this before.  Here are The Minimalists talking about Sentimental items. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Being a Finisher...

For as long as I've been a female, which is since birth, I've been a "starter".  Ideas come to me like flies on roadkill...and while that may sound disgusting, it's appropriate.  They arrive out of nowhere, are plentiful and persistent!  

This relates to a skill of mine which I am proud of and simultaneously loathe...I can kill a fly, ANY fly, ANY where, ANY time...with my bare hands.  If I want to. Sometimes I "miss" because I get grossed out and don't give it my all, but usually, I'm a sure shot.  Yes, my family will attest, I'm a notorious and ruthlessly accurate fly killer.  It's disturbing to feel so victorious and at the same time, repulsed.

Back to what I started talking about...see, I started and took a detour!  

Starting projects (as long as they're inspired ideas and not "drudgery items") is my milieu.  Thank you, spell check...I can never spell milieu without you. 

The problem would arise when I'd hit some sort of catch point, like I needed a certain material...or life would get crazy...or I'd start something new that I was more interested in than the last project!

Well...I've not only turned over a new leaf, I've pulled the tree out of the ground and replaced it roots up!   Finishing this piece made me feel so fantastic, it made me finish another...and then I've jumped on yet another long-standing project that needed completion.  Let the dominoes fall.

This is a design challenge embroidery "sampler quilt" I started with a friend on the first of January.  Every square was worked off of a prompt chosen by one of us and it was so much fun that we literally raced through and had mostly finished in a few months.  

Then...some other projects came got got put on the back burner, same old scenario.  It was hanging from a clothes line in my studio and I'd bump into it for a daily reminder of yet another incomplete project. 

The "how and why" of  this happening is essentially a by-product of decluttering my house and being a "budding" minimalist. Freeing up my visual space from junk has made the important things shine.  One day, out of the blue, I just grabbed it and finished it...totally on a whim.  

The quilt is mostly about my obsession with the desert but is also a collection of many other tiny, personal loves.  The leather straps are made from one of my dads' old belts...and the cholla cactus spine is from our New Mexico honeymoon nearly 8 years ago.

A few days later, I finished this one...which has been sitting unfinished for a lot longer than the first.  Yet another "desert love" embroidery of an ocotillo cactus alone in the desert.  The fabrics were dyed with red cabbage and homemade walnut ink, and some were rusted with metal wires.

It feel so good to finish.  I've now switched to painting on 3 large crucifix bodies that have been waiting for me since March.  They're due this weekend.

After that, I'll continue to search and destroy the un-finished-ness in my life so I can feel clear and ready to take on my next idea which came to me as I was falling asleep the other night.  My best ideas sneak up on me when I least expect them...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Don't trash my DREAMS...

It's official...I posted my first Instructable today...a gallery "canvas" made from trash that I've lovingly called, "Don't trash my DREAMS".

I entered it into the "Trash to Treasure" contest and while it would be fun to win, I am just so pleased to have gotten it done!  It was a learning experience and now I'm hooked.  I've got 5 days to enter two more projects...better get busy!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Getting back to art...

Whew, June was a whirlwind month of decluttering!  I've taken a slight break in the dejunking-fest to get back to art projects.  My muse tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey...remember me??"

One thing I accomplished recently with the help of my darling Etsy shop is finally up and running.  It will be a vintage shop for a while until I can stop purging junk long enough to rollout some art.

When it comes to art...I love a good challenge.  That's why I was giddy when I saw this contest on  Trash to Treasure!  You know I'm ALL about a good dumpster dive!  

No diving will be necessary given the sheer volume of "treasure" in my basement and attic. Materials are a mere flight of stairs away. 

I'll report back here soon with my gloriously trashy entries!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moths and rust...and ceramic dust...

We interrupt the Minimalism 30-day purging for a nostalgic roller coaster ride!

That's what I get for venturing into the attic to nonchalantly find something to get rid of!  Papers.  Pictures. Grade cards.  Newspaper clippings.  Letters to Santa...apparently I wanted a basketball?

As I dug through a box in the stuffy, 105 degree attic, I could feel the life being sucked out of me.  The heat got to my brain and with decision fatigue setting in, I became overwhelmed and started ripping things to shreds.  When it got too hot to breath, I brought as much as I could carry to the first floor where I continued the task.

As I mindlessly and ruthlessly tore up a paper I wrote in a college class called, "The Human Experience"...I saw the words, " are a true romantic!"  Oh, darn.  (slump over)  Do romantics destroy any part of their own history?  Maybe I'm just tired of feeling buried under the weight of physical things. 

This is where the nostalgia gets "really old".  These are my grandmother's sea sponges that she used for her pottery.  One was full of clay, the other with glaze.  (Lord knows what sort of toxins they contained seeing as most of the compounds they used back in the late 60's are now considered poisonous and not used anymore).  

They seemed old and crusty at first and I was about to toss them, but as I washed them out I realized they were fine...just full of material from the very last time my grandmother made pottery back in 1971 before she died from an aneurysm.

It occurred to me that even though I never met her, never got to see her make pottery or enjoy her company...I just got to do a chore for her by cleaning her sponges.

Even though I'm disposing of some of my own "now forgotten" past, I will keep her sponges and use them in my own art making.   The best part of nostalgia is the part that lives inside of you that moths and rust can't destroy and thieves cannot steal.  I believe that does make me a true romantic.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Purging in the studio...

Come and get it!!! (Actually, it's gone...things don't last long on the curb in our hood!)

Sometimes I just can't wait for Saturday to take donations to the thrift store...I open my own little shop right on the sidewalk.  Everything on that curb was either given to me, or purchased at a thrift store.  Easy come, easy go. 

What hasn't been so easy is purging my art studio(s).  There are 3.5 rooms in our house dedicated to my love of art...metals on the back porch, a sun room and adjoining "kitchen" are my main studio and supply "dump"...and then half of the bathroom we had slotted to be a huge walk-in shower, well....that's my sewing room!  

As I go through things in these areas I've realized that where I once thought of myself as "multi-talented" (and I still may be...but...) I now see myself as scattered.  I've never been able to decide on one or two genres of art, and my tools and supplies reflect that wildly.  

I have, however, recently decided that I'm done with two departments....tiny beads...and magazine collage.  I've spilled more beads than I've ever used, and although I will one day face the daunting task of sorting and deciding which beads to keep and which to hock, the tower of beads stands erect and abandoned in my studio beckoning my 2 year old to open each drawer and fish for treasure!

And magazine collage?  I've decided to ONLY keep my grandmother's American Home magazines from the 40's and 50's...the rest of the paper bits waiting to be collaged are, well...a fire hazard at best!  I'm over it...and the recyclers will get their arm workout on Monday because 90% of it is going curbside.

My studio might just hover off the ground this weekend from the unburdening! The downside I'm experiencing is...even though I've been purging like mad, it doesn't seem to make a huge dent?  

Drastic deeds are in order...I might just have to...MAKE ART!!!  That's really what I want to be doing with my time and materials. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So many books...

I'm still purging like crazy for the Minimalism Game, as well as the Joshua Becker "Uncluttered" course.  June 16-20, I discarded 90 items...37 of them were books from my studio about art forms I'm not really interested in anymore, or that I know well enough to NOT require a whole book on the glass bead making, bead weaving and dough craft?  Not an appropriate genre for a gluten-free household!

I purged 15 blank reward certificates from when I taught 4th grade back in 2007.  They were as old as the kids were in my class at the time....those same kids graduated from High School this year.  What a spiral.

Indeed, I've been "spiraling into the location" of minimalism.  It's not a straight line by any means...the clutter moves and I chase it around the house, but I'm slowly getting down to essentials. Today I heard an echo in my dining room!

The other challenge is avoiding garage sales, thrift stores...dumpsters.  I'm discovering that "free" items often come with unseen costs.  They require a manager and a cleaning lady too!

More purging has included blank journals with 4-5 pages used in the front of each.  I've tossed at least 10, shredding those old pages or tearing them out and inserting them inside of a different journal.   I need a program called "unScattered" for my artsy brain...something to help me gather thoughts and ideas into ONE journal instead of 4.

If I were to execute merely half of the ideas that actually survive the path from my brain to a piece of paper...I could open my very own curio shop!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Junk galore...

For the past 5 days, I've been purging like a mad woman.  I've placed a table right outside the back door of my kitchen and I dump items out there if I'm trying to see if I miss them.  So far, nothing has been reclaimed.  I'm so far beyond the 65 items I needed to purge for the Minimalism Game this week, I've completely lost count.

And besides this trash pile above, there really hasn't been anything worth photographing.  I've tossed dried up paint, broken toys, old sheets, dried up markers, crunchy rolls of tape...seriously, JUNK!   As I purge these things, I feel a great lightening of my visual space and my mind as well.

Many items I hold onto likewise hold memories.  Lately, I've started to feel that memories, even good ones, are better when they're NOT attached to a physical item.  5 years painting for the Des Moines Metro Opera isn't upgraded by having a company mug!  A jar of hot green chili sauce that expired in 2010 doesn't make or break our New Mexico honeymoon!  And a heavy ceramic bowl made by a friend...feels too heavy now that that friendship has dissipated completely.

As for my wardrobe, which I'm also purging..I've got a strange problem.  From what I've seen, most people have tons of unworn clothes jammed into closets...or they have a shopping addiction and continually add to their wardrobe.  I have neither of those problems.  What I have instead is...I have about 4 pieces of clothing I like, the rest I tolerate.  

I'm also a clothing "under buyer" according to Gretchen Rubin.  I will stock up on art supplies even though I have plenty, but when it comes to clothes...I'd rather trim the toenails of an angry wolverine than go to a mall or other such place.  

And my kids?  Well...they have holy socks.  I've been taking so much stuff *back* to the thrift store lately, I finally "splurged" and went into the store and replaced some of our holy frocks. It took me an hour to spend $36...meanwhile, the kids happily played with every dirty little toy in the place!  That's cheap fun.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seven, Eight, Nine...and Ten...

As the June days grow higher in number, it becomes more apparent that I have too much stuff because it's easy to find 8 of something, 9 of something 10 of something!

On the 7th day I did NOT rest.  Instead, I trashed 6 vintage Ice Capades shirts from the 70's.  They've been in a damp steamer trunk and even though they were sealed in plastic, there's mildew and rust stains on them.  I've tried washing that sort of aroma out of clothing, it just doesn't come out, even with sunning.  In the trash they went.  That leaves a 1 item deficit for the 7th.

There's an art genre that I'm just not versed at, clay.  It's in my bloodline, I appreciate the art form...I'm just not a clay person.  We all know if we're "clay or not"!  I'm not.  Time to part with some tools and supplies like this vintage letter press mold.  It's in the future Etsy sale bin.


Day was easy weeding through art books to find 8 "fantasy art self" books to part with.  Beadweaving?  Figure drawing?  Not my usual art adventures nor ones I dream of.  And parted with 1 of 3 papermaking books...I had two of the same book!

Day 9...9 glass supplement bottles I'd cleaned up with intentions of filling them with homemade walnut ink to sell at a Christmas Bazaar last year. Tired of keeping them, easy to replace.  I thought of the Minimalist's "20/20" rule.  If you can get it for $20 or less in 20 minutes, kiss it goodbye. 

Day 10...10 frames.  Old ugly frames at that.  The sheer "what if" supplies in my studio is overwhelming.  It's definitely buried my creativity.  The studio gets lighter and lighter as I purge, and a miracle has also occurred....there's now an AC unit IN my studio!  This will not be my 10th summer of sweating like a pig (suffering for my art) as I try to make jewelry or paint in my hot-as-the-dickens studio.  I can dejunk in comfort now...even though it is symbolic to sweat out toxins as I declutter my life!

Happy 111th birthday to our old may have Google Fiber...but it's never had AC!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Three, Four, Five and Six...

The Minimalism game continues, I'm trying to keep up so I can get my 30-Day decluttering badge of honor! 

Today, I found 6 items in my studio to part with.  It's a high clutter area because I save EVERYTHING.  I parted with; Three journals with a few pages used in each, two mannequins that have been sitting in the window of my studio for years and a strange print that was given to me as a gift and I was told "If you don't like it, you can reuse the frame."  Well, NO...I don't like it...and NO, I can't reuse the's hot glued together.  BYE.

On June 5th I parted ways with 5 lbs. of can find your marbles and still be out of your mind.

June 4th, we de-owned a giant wok and it's base.   One could throw this over a firepit and make fajitas...for 20 people.   Must go.  It gives me a flashback to the time I was almost kidnapped by gypsies, but hey, hasn't everyone??  We also parted with 2 kid-sized folding chairs that got soaked in the rains last month.  A friend at church happily accepted them, squishy seats and all.

June 3rd, we decided to sell 3 wooden director's chairs that were in the basement collecting dust.  We never use them.  There are 6 chairs and a bench outside to sit on...plenty of seating especially since we aren't party people.
The catch on the chairs was that I washed the fabric parts to "freshen them up" before selling them.  They were red, and I washed them (in hot) with my husband's faded jeans.  Not only are the jeans skin tight now, but they're also PINK.   He's such a good sport to think that it's funny and still be willing to wear them!  <3