Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Musical Life

So, it happens a lot. You meet a new person and you are making small talk and, as they try to get to know you better, there is always the one question they ask.... What kind of  music do you listen to? It is even one of the questions on the profile list on blogger, which I did answer with a few of my favorites. My real answer to this question is YES!!
 This is a picture of 'The Record Wall' in my house. There are roughly 75-80 albums in each 13" square and I have no idea how many lined up on the floor. So, yes, I love show tunes (one of those boxes is nothing but Broadway and musicals) and disco is one of my all time favorite styles of music. I actually just received an album that is The Wizard of Oz score, disco style! I grew up listening to folk music and my affection for it has not waned. Punk, rockabilly, big band, jazz, blues, electronic, spoken word, and albums so unusual I would not know how to categorize them. They all have amazing sounds and lyrics and feeling. 
These are the sounds that keep our household moving. Cleaning is more pallet-able, beadweaving is dreamy, cooking is choreographed, and even the occasional night of the abundant consumption of spirits becomes more entertaining. This is the attraction to musicals - that my whole life can have a score and you never know when I might break out into song and dance!

Well, what kind of music do you favor? I love suggestions!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A very long story about my 'other job'

I do not usually talk about my 'day' job here or on the internet at all. It makes me feel exposed and uncomfortable. It also makes me uncomfortable to share my feelings. So today I am going to do both. Not for any self growing exercise or anything but because a recent news story has inspired me to talk about why I work for the company I do.

I work in retail. In the fall of 2008 I had been working for the same arts and crafts supplier for more than seven years. I loved the staff, the customers. and most of the product. What I did not love toward the end of my time there was that the company had started junking up our stores with very cheap, non-craft related fodder (although I know artists can relate anything to craft when the mood strikes them). The company was also never interested in being community involved at all. They even went so far as to post a sign that listed the charities they donate to at the corporate level and that is how they 'give back' so please do not solicit for anything more. My favorite example of the complete disregard for the communities where they placed their stores is their annual 'Wedding Event'. This was a huge deal to the company. We basically threw a wedding party in our store with all of the decorations, cake, hands on activities, and employees dressed up. Great idea, except that I live in Kentucky and no matter how many times we asked to change the date of the event in our store and failed to bring in half of the customers expected when they said no, year after year we dressed up and threw our lonely wedding party on Derby Day. The last straw for me came when they implemented a uniform. I could not stand the idea of dressing alike in a place where creativity is supposed to be sparked. So I set out on a mission. 

I was not just searching for a new job, I was searching for a company that cared about the community where their employees and customers lived (and still being able to wear jeans and tennis shoes every day was a plus). I chose to go with home improvement because it fell in with the DIY realm that I love. There are two major home improvement retailers in my area, Lowes and Home Depot. I heard a rumor that Lowes was employee owned. After a little research it seemed that it had in fact been employee owned at one time but that had changed and there were a few other things changing that made me a bit uneasy about the company. A little research into Home Depot uncovered what I thought I was looking for. They had employee stock purchase options and Team Depot, a group of employees in each store that actually go volunteer in the community backed by Home Depot. So it looked like they were taking care of their employees and the communities where they lived. This is why I sought employment with Home Depot.

Fast forward two years. I had learned that Home Depot does in fact take care of it's employees and not only supports the communities surrounding their stores but pushes their associates to be involved and has an all inclusive diversity policy. That year the AFA called for a boycott of The Home Depot for allowing some of their stores to participate in Pride Festivals in their cities. I held my breath and waited for my company to disappoint me with a public apology. I was so proud when they instead announced that the company has a policy to support and respect the diversity of its employees and customers and would not change their views on this to appease the AFA.

This made me realize what a great choice I had made when I chose my employer. This week, that feeling of pride in my company and comfort in knowing I made the right decision three years ago was reinforced when I read a news story that Lowes, despite having their own policy of acceptance of diversity, pulled their ad from a television program about American Muslims in response to complaints from a small group in Florida.  

I wanted to share this story with you today because when you work for a company as large as The Home Depot, their actions and policies do reflect on how people you know view you as a person. I am happy to say that I and the company I work for share the same views on equality and community.





Thursday, December 8, 2011

SnailMailART

Several months ago I blogged about an Artist Trading Card group that my sister, Risa, and I started up. Since then our group continues growing and the whole process of creating and receiving the cards gets more fun and exciting each time.  

I am once again inviting anyone interested to consider joining the group. If you are unfamiliar with what an ATC is here is a great web site that will have information and inspiration. My sister also explained it well in her initial letter when the group started...

The only limitations are that it is roughly 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size, that it can be mailed, and that it is an original artwork by the sender.  The "card" can be made of any medium:  paint, fiber, paper, wood, metal, written word, macaroni - you name it.  If you are a photographer or a print maker you can issue an edition. 

 If you are unsure of yet another commitment to add to your busy days, keep in mind this is not yet another obligation that you must wade through less you face dire consequences.  It is meant to be a step back from those very obligations - a creative sigh.  If you decide it has become one too many things to attend to and you bow out you will not be fired, dumped, chastised or banished.  You will not have social services come and take away your art supplies.  And you can always come back to it.  

The cards are traded every other month so that all of the already busy members can participate without feeling overwhelmed. Each member gets a turn in choosing a theme for each round. To see the interpretations of these themes from the different minds and mediums is super awesome. 
 
If you are interested in joining this group you can contact me here  and I will provide you with full details or answer any questions. Until then, enjoy a few examples of some of the ATC's that our group members have created in the past several months...
'Translucent' by Amanda Land  
'Hot' by Jessie Yost (me)
'Transitions' by Rhonda Kincaid
'Fear' by Risa Yost
 The next theme is 'Snowflake' and if you join now you will have almost the full two months to complete your card. So have fun and feel free to contact me here or in the comments below!


Please note that while these cards are made for trade, the art and designs pictured above are still the artists' copyright and posted here only with the artists' permission. Thank you.
 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Cheer?

Well, if you can't ruin their holiday cheer then join them, and so I have. There are so many things that I dislike about this holiday. The whole month is a constant grating on my nerves, but, as I said, I have not ruined anyone's cheer yet so this is not a post about how much I dislike the holiday. There are a few shining things about the holiday that I enjoy and so, as the Grinch's heart grows, so I am trying to use those shining pieces to grow my affection for Christmas. I sit here going so far as to type out the word Christmas instead of insisting on calling it x-mas, I have not said foul things about the Christmas decorations at work (only the music because, come on, clearly some of these songs were not intended to be listened to more than one time each year), and this year I have made a Christmas Ornament to list in my shop.

Now I have made ornaments before for friends and family but this is the first year I have added to the crazy Christmas hubbub on Etsy. I feel like part of a group and a bit dirty all at the same time. The beadwork did turn out nice though and I love these sparkling crystals and hang them from my ceiling year round to reflect light into rainbows all over my studio. I don't know if more will follow (one step at a time and all) but this is a start to my trying to enjoy the holiday more and bah humbug it less. That being said, red and green remains my least favorite color combination.

Along Merchant Row, shops outdid themselves (and the churches) in decor, with displays of fashionable clothes, and useless and expensive trinkets.
                                                      - Gregory Maguire from Wicked