I am practically hoarse. My voice is completely shot. Flu? Strep? Head cold? Nope. I just got back from a girl’s weekend.Nonstop talking (and listening) for three straight days.
These are girls of my way back past. I won’t admit to the number of years but we met in elementary school. And although we are nothing alike, we are exactly the same. Communication past holiday card swapping is rare but every few years we gather together to catch up. So we talk. And talk. These are real conversations, not the social small talk of cocktail parties and acquaintances. And it isn’t gossip or networking because we aren’t unkind housewives of the television type nor corporate ladder climbers. Certainly secrets are shared but you won’t hear them again. As one friend coined it, this is ‘pinkie swear stuff’.
The location and scenery were beyond gorgeous and the food and drinks rated five stars but you could give us peanut butter and diet cokes most anyplace and we’d be happy.
All good things must come to an end so after the weekend, bags we packed, hugs exchanged, trunks loaded. Lucky for me, I carpooled, so the three of us were able to continue the conversation over the long ride home. As one pal joked, too bad we couldn’t think of a thing to say.
My family has a tradition. On the first day of a new month we say ‘rabbit rabbit rabbit’ for good luck. This month, for the first time in thirteen years, I did not owe a landlord a rent check. That feels pretty lucky already.
For awhile now, my cute husband has had an idea about building a studio in our yard. So in January the idea turned into a plan, construction started and by early spring we had a finished ‘New World Headquarters’ for Visual Treats. I think the port-o-potty in the front yard was my favorite part. I can’t officially say I work from home but my commute of a few short steps makes it pretty close.
Work began the instant the door opened and we hit the ground running on card orders and planning for upcoming shows. It’s still a heap of unpacked boxes but I promise to share some photos as soon as we put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Rabbits or not, I’m thinking thirteen is a lucky number and unpacking? That’s a luxury problem.
So it’s tax season again and as any self employed person knows that means time to get the checkbook. And I’m not talking about a deposit slip. Years ago a tax accountant gave me some great advice. If you’re feeling resentful about paying a chunk of your income into empty calories for the tax man, go to the library where you’ll find your tax dollars hard at work. Everything there is free- because you already paid for it! I’m not smart and neither is my phone, so I ask the reference librarians all kinds of questions. They can always find what I’m looking for, from that thing I heard about on NPR to the names of all seven of Snow White’s dwarves. They really ought to put out a tip jar. So plan a trip to the library, and while you’re there be sure to visit my latest artwork. It’s hanging in the atrium gallery at the England Run branch until the end of March.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot resist a photo booth. Something about the straggly curtain beckons me over and I must obey. The combination of the spontaneity and the location makes a photo strip the perfect souvenir marking the people, place, and time in a capsule of 4 pictures. Likewise, finding a vintage photobooth picture while hunting and gathering at the flea market or antique store is a must have purchase for me. So touching and sweet, I automatically begin to speculate about the subjects and the situations. Even now, in this era of constant picture taking with phones and digital gadgets, the lure of a photobooth is irresistible. And always cut down the middle to share like a cherry popsicle with your bff!
Anyone who complains that you can’t get good help these days has never met mine. If you think you can do it all yourself, you’re wrong. Over the years I have been incredibly blessed with some of the smartest and most talented helpers on the planet. Currently, Heidi is my creative genius. She has more ability in her pinky toe than in any ten fingers of mine. And makes it all look effortless. Donna is my wolf in sheep’s clothing. She doesn’t even want you to know how talented she is and will hide from any compliment or credit for her work. Jen is like having a movie star around the place. She dresses up the joint with her serene beauty and gracious charm. In addition, all are mind readers. They know what I need before I can think to ask. And are ever patient with my tantrums, quirks, and complete slobbery. Can’t neglect to mention the web guru, Chris. Able to interpret my secret language of ‘Joan-ese’, a crazy jibber jabber of talk that he somehow translates into website pixie dust and magic. So now I’ve confessed. I don’t do it all. And I’m warning you, if you’re looking for good help, stay away from mine!
Long after my formal education was over, in a miraculous turn of luck one summer I discovered Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Too busy suffering through Beowulf and Shakespeare in school, I somehow managed to miss them both. But as fate would have it I found In Cold Blood and To Kill A Mockingbird at a library sale and read them back to back. It was only afterwards I discovered the great friendship the authors shared as children and into adulthood. Like so many others I became a big fan of Harper Lee and glommed onto any bit of news or gossip about her reclusive life. The same for Truman Capote, but his descent from grace in the disco years was hard to watch without wincing. This past week, the PBS American Masters program ‘Hey Boo’ brought back my fever. Take it from me, forget chick lit and beach reads. Put both of these authors on your summer reading list and be amazed again or for the first time. Then, conduct your own Fiction into Film class and watch the movies in glorious black and white. The Quincy Jones music for In Cold Blood is spot on and the title squence for Mockingbird will draw you right in.
Vintage themes that are still news today prove that it’s never too late to learn from the past.
A couple of weeks ago a young gal came into my shop and looked around in wonder at all of the crazy stuff for sale. Wide-eyed, she asked me”How did you start this business?”. I waved my hand in dismiss and told her, “oh,you don’t really want to know” but then it dawned on me, maybe she really did . So welcome to the Vis Treats blog- chapter one.
It started with birthday cards. Like most art school grads I waited tables for years. In the late 1980′s I worked in a restaurant with a tight group of pals and we made a big fuss over our birthdays.We celebrated into the wee hours after closing time with champagne and our favorite cakes. My budget was slim and the birthday parties were getting closer and closer together so I put some creative energy to use and started making custom cards for each co-worker. Using snapshots and funny found materials like matchbook covers, canned goods labels and food photos from vintage cookbooks I glued together collages. Treasured as keepsakes, I began replacing the glue with sewing to preserve their future. After repeated cries of “You should sell these” I put on my girl scout cookie salesman hat and approached the owners of the card shop in my neighborhood. My sales technique was something like, “You don’t want to buy these do you?” and viola! I was in business.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m proud to report that first store is still my customer and some of my best friends are from my days at that restaurant. But it was years before I quit waiting tables!
Hey Pal, Welcome to the Visual Treats blog! Stay tuned for more info..