Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Update :)

It's been a crazy but productive week so far, with the completion of another "black cat charm" piece (shown here, and listed on eBay), a commission in progress, another ceramic pie plate completed, and several goodies waiting in the wings for upcoming eBay group "challenges".

On the home front, John is feeling increasingly tired and increasingly impatient for next week's surgery, and I can't say that I blame him. Three months is just waaaaay too long to feel exhausted. I've made arrangements for the furkids to be taken care of the first couple of days he's in the hospital, allowing me to spend as much time there as necessary, but after that I'm not sure. For now, the plan is pretty much like the rest of my life, in that there IS no plan, and I'm trusting the universe will provide a solution. Wish me luck with that. ;)

I hope to keep a few things listed on eBay next week, but I'll apologize in advance if I'm a little slow answering emails and such. I'll be taking my cell to the hospital, so any friends wanting a phone call after the surgery, send me your #, and I'll add it to the list. Thank you all again for the prayers and positive thoughts - and please keep them coming. I know John will sail through this, but it's still scary stuff, and we'll both be glad when it's over, and life can return to normal....or at least as normal as it gets around here. :)

~ Carolee

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Magic Elixir

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims

I love tea. I love everything about it; the ritual and accoutrements, the tastes available to suit my every mood, the wonderful aroma, the warming, soothing feeling of that first, steaming sip. Truly, I can't think of anything more relaxing than curling up in a comfy chair on a winter's day, feet up, throw over my lap, with a good, long book and a pot of my favorite brew on the table beside me - absolute heaven.

I'm a tea drinker from way back, but it wasn't until I met my husband - and his family - that I was introduced to tea as an afternoon ritual, and I took to it like a duck to water. The British by the way, consider tea to be a panacea for whatever ails you - a fact John shares here in this excerpt from an email he sent to our daughter Courtney, who was spending a semester at Oxford at the time:

"Before I sign off, let me leave you with some tips that might help make your stay in England more enjoyable. Use the word 'brilliant' often. The Brits use it the way you would say 'cool' or 'neat' or 'interesting'. I don't know why. Also, a common British greeting is 'How do you do?' The correct response is not 'How do you do what?', but rather 'very well thank you.'

There is an extensive underground subway system in and around London, but they don't call it the subway, they call it the 'chewb'. I don't know why. Oh, and lastly, the British feel that tea is a cure-all for whatever may ail you, so if you are in need of medical attention, be very forceful about it, or you may have an exchange like this: You: 'Excuse me nice British apartment lady, I have severed my index finger slicing a crumpet.' Nice British apartment lady: 'Cuppa tea then?' You might then bleed to death while she's deciding whether to brew up Earl Grey or Constant Comment.

Well, that's all for now. I love you and miss you.


Yeah, I know, my husband is a smart-a**, lol....But he pretty much nails the importance of tea in British culture. :)

And I must say, I've come to agree with them. Whether taken alone - a solitary tea to relax and unwind, or a social tea, taken with a friend or companion, it's a magical elixir, good for whatever ails you. Our own home reflects this, with a collection of teapots filling the china cabinet and corner mantle over the woodstove hearth, not to mention about half a very large kitchen cupboard filled with assorted bags, boxes and canisters of tea. And my living room chair has a small table at the side and knitted throw over the arm, always at the ready for an afternoon 'cuppa'.....

And one of these days, I'll paint myself a tea chest like the one shown above, offered now on eBay (something I say every time I list one for auction, hehe).

In the meantime, I'm off to the kitchen to brew a pot of lemon-ginger tea and toast a piece of cinnamon bread...Can't think of a better way to face the day. :)

Until next time,
~ Carolee

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Soooooooo Excited!!

The date has been set for the second annual Ghoultide Gathering, in Northville Michigan: October 4th, 2008!!

Last year's show was beyond amazing, and it was such an honor to be in the company of so many wonderful Halloween artists. You could just feel the energy in the room...Truly overwhelming to see so many Halloween treasures in one place!

Aside from showing my work and just being in such stellar company, the absolute BEST thing about the show was the chance to meet so many collectors in person! Although we were so busy I barely had time to breathe, much less chat, but I'm hoping to find a way to remedy that this year - get a bit better organized by delegating all the packaging to my better half. :)

Anyway, if you can possibly make it, this is a DO NOT MISS event for Halloween lovers, and the perfect chance to browse for a one of a kind original to take home. I already have several goodies in mind, from small pieces to really large showpieces....

But do come early! Last year's show saw collectors lining up well before the doors opened, and I expect this year will be the same.....

I can't wait!

~ Carolee

Monday, January 21, 2008

Commission Work

After a very long break, I've decided to accept a few commissions again. Although I suppose I should qualify that, and say I'm accepting commissions again on a very limited basis.....

The goal with commission work is to create something that is both FUN to work on, and pleasing to the collector. So I'm admittedly pretty choosy. The commissions I tend to accept are those with vague preferences rather than specific; basically those pieces that still leave me room to create freely. The piece shown here is one such creation - an antique milking stool painted this past week with a couple of small requests, but also with the client's complete trust in the process; that these things tend to evolve on their own. I was really pleased with the way it turned out. :)

With a few other orders already pending, scheduling and completion dates are now running into March, and will continue through the spring and summer, ending in August so as to give me time to prepare for fall shows (show info to be posted soon!). I should also stress that completion dates are an estimate. With John's upcoming heart surgery, the next few months are likely to include some unexpected scheduling changes, so I won't be accepting orders with strict time limits, etc...

If this all sounds very fussy, it's because I know myself, and just don't work well with restrictions and deadlines. Or rules. Or structure....or - well, you get the idea. ;)

But if you're OK with that, and want to "be the muse" in a vague sort of way for your very own creation, drop me an email.

In the meantime, there are several works in progress for eBay auctions this week; a tea chest, another black cat piece, and a sign or two. One of which is calling my name as I write this, so I'd better get started.....

Wishing everyone a happy and *creative* Monday! More in a couple of days.....

~ Carolee

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucky Black Cats!

Those of us who are fortunate enough to share our lives with a black cat (or three or four, hehe) know that contrary to popular belief, they are not unlucky in the least. In fact, in many countries black cats are considered VERY lucky. :)

In England and Australia, if a black cat crosses your path, it brings good luck. Fisherman's wives kept black cats in the house, believing that they offered protection to their husbands, who were out to sea. And in the early seventeenth century, King Charles I kept a black cat he considered so lucky he ordered his guards to watch the cat 'round the clock. The day following the cat's death due to illness was the day the king was arrested (and subsequently tried for high treason and beheaded.).....Interesting stuff.....

So why do black cats have such a bad rep here in the States? I'm guessing it has something to with the old belief that they are witch's familiars (and what's wrong with that anyway, lol?) or with the old interpretation of the color black as night, or evil....Which has unfortunately resulted in some awful abuse, and also makes adoption of these beautiful creatures more difficult. When we adopted our Merlin and his brother Arthur through the Catworks organization in Reading, PA, we were told that black cats are the hardest to find homes for.

At any rate, as one of many people out to change the black cat's image to a *lucky* one, I just LOVE some of the old English charms associated with them. The piece above is bordered by a verse which is supposed to be repeated on the occasion of a black cat crossing your path, while stroking the cat three times. Look for another black cat charm piece to be completed soon too, and yet another with one of my favorite poems....

And while we're on the subject of cats, I have to give a shout to ginger cats as well....Look for a piece inspired our big boy Arthur to appear in the coming weeks too. :)

A few more Black Cat links:

EHAG, wherein lies some of the most wonderful black cat art on the net.
Black cat lover and collector Lyndy Ward, who's writing a book on the subject.
Whimsical black cat art from Becky Federico.

~ Carolee

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dream Doll

Just had to share this beautiful pink dream dolly, created by Mica of Garb-oodles Whimsical Dolls. She held a drawing a couple of weeks ago, from the visitors to her blog, and I was the lucky winner! Isn't she beautiful? Many thanks, Mica - I'm thrilled to have a piece of your work for my very own and I'll treasure her!!

~ Carolee

Saturday, January 12, 2008



Here it is, the one I've been promising for weeks now....The Witch's Herbal Pantry, titled "Herbal Blessings". :) I just about went blind with this one, taking the bifocals off, putting them back on again, taking them off....But it was soooooooo much fun! I really love the chance to work in fine detail, so once I started this piece, it was hard to stop, hehe....Some of the items on the shelves are from my imagination, and a few are from my kitchen - like Merlin the cat, the bunches of dried herbs, and a couple of the canisters. :)

I don't usually set a reserve on my auctions, but this one took so long (and looks pretty amazing in person if I do say so) that if it doesn't go on ebay, it will go with me to a show later in the year.

On a personal note, but further to the subject of details, is an upcoming change in John's surgery date. Since he's becoming more symptomatic, the doctor put him on disability yesterday, and is trying to re-schedule surgery for sooner rather than later. We should know in a couple of days, and I'll post an update.

In the meantime, I'm painting every minute I can, so when the time comes, I can take a few days. Works in progress include a couple of signs, a black cat piece and a new tea chest, so stay tuned.....

Right now I'm off to my own herbal pantry to whip up a quiche for dinner (spinach and artichoke with mushrooms, made with some of last summer's dried herbs - yummmmmm!)

Have a wonderful weekend, all!
~ Carolee

Awarded :)

Lori of Retro Rudolphs was kind enough to bestow this award on me yesterday, for which I am truly touched. By way of explanation....

"This little award is called The Daily Dose - and here is all the important info to tell you what it is about and where it came from. This is a tribute to all the blogs that you've discovered that you can't possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected every time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog". From Xandra: creator, The Daily Dose Award."

Thanks so much, Lori, and right back atcha! I'll pass this on just as soon as I have a few minutes - so many wonderful blogs out there!

~ Carolee

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heart Day

We finally have a date.....

After what seems like an endless round of tests and consultations, John's mitral valve surgery is scheduled - for Valentine's Day. How perfect is that?

We were fortunate to have a friend hook us up with a surgeon in the Philadelphia area who's doing a new, less invasive type of valve surgery. Rather than opening the chest cavity, they go in through the patient's side. It's still an hours long operation, and still requires the patient be put on a heart-lung machine during the procedure, but the recovery will be easier than with the standard surgery: five days in the hospital instead of seven to ten, and an approximate six week recovery at home instead of eight to ten.

In the meantime, John is doing well on the meds (if more tired than usual) and I'm painting every hour God sends in an effort to catch up a bit before all this happens...

I'm pretty sure we have a friend coming to stay with the menagerie the day of the procedure (Thursday), but any friends in the area willing to come over on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday to walk the Aussie kids would be greatly appreciated! The hospital is a good hour and a half's drive, which makes frequent trips back and forth difficult.

Many thanks to those of you who've sent messages and emails with prayers and positive thoughts - they're much appreciated, and I'll continue to post post updates as we know anything new. :)

For now, it's back to work on that Witch's pantry I've been promising....

~ Carolee

Monday, January 7, 2008

Herbal Magick

I know, I know, it's still winter...but the New Year always finds me looking ahead to spring.....

Seed catalogs start arriving in the mail, and my thoughts turn to the annual planting of the herb garden. Now, I'm not much of a gardener, lacking both the time and the physical stamina to spend long hours planting and weeding. Most of the flowers and plants around here are low maintenance perrenials, roses and climbing vines, or are of the water garden variety and pretty much take care of themselves. My herb garden is the single exception, requiring a bit of tending and weeding, but well worth the small effort.

Although I like to mix it up a bit each year (trying new varieties of sage and mint and so on) the basics remain the same: Sweet basil, lemon thyme, greek oregano, rosemary, lavender, sage, cilantro, tarragon, dill, chamomile and mint. Although the mint, planted in patio containers, is technically not part of the herb garden.

If you're into cooking, I can't recommmend herb gardening highly enough. There's nothing better than stepping outside and snipping a few basil leaves for a pasta dish, a bit of cilantro for fresh salsa, or a few mint sprigs for a big pitcher of iced tea - absolute heaven!

I'll post photos here as mine progresses this year, but in the meantime here's a little birdhouse I just had to share. Listed now, it's the Witch's Herbal Cottage, complete with broom and cauldron, potted herbs around the sides of the house, and black cats in the windows....I had a lot of fun with this one - as I'm having with yet another herb inspired piece to be listed soon - the Witch's Pantry. :)

In the meantime it's still winter; still time for cocoa and candles, ear muffs and mittens and so on...but the beauty of these cycles is not only enjoying the moment we're IN, but anticipating what comes next.

So I'll sign off today wishing everyone a happy and blessed season now, and another to come....

~ Carolee

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Magick and Possibility....

"Hearth Magick" - the first piece of 2008

Much as I try to tell myself that there's nothing all that different about one day later, the New Year always seems to mark the beginning of something grand - a time to re-assess and set new goals, a fresh start, and a world of unending creative possibility.....so with umpteen notebooks full of sketches and notes, and a head spinning with images and ideas, I'm looking forward to a year of wonderful, wicked, wild creativity!

Goals for 2008 include an update to my website gallery, advertising in a national magazine, further experimentation with sculpting, and perhaps getting my feet wet with fiber arts as I consider a rug hooking class this winter.

I'll also be spending time preparing for the Ghoultide Gathering up in Michigan - soooooooooo excited about this, and I'd say I can hardly wait, but I have a LOT of painting to do first!

That's art.....

On a personal level, it won't be long until John has heart surgery, so I'll be doing what I can to make the experience as smooth and stress free as possible. That means an attempt at some kind of organization (did I spell that right? It's not normally a word in my vocabulary, lol)...And I expect a more than a few late nights in the studio. Which is fine. I just want him to sail through this and be well, and able to fully enjoy life's adventures with me. :)

But that's later....for now I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy and CREATIVE year, filled with your own adventures and endless possibilities. 2007 was absolute *magick* and I know 2008 will be better still!

Many Blessings,
~ Carolee