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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic


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Currently reading

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding
Steven K. Green
Progress: 67/328 pages
Significant Others
Sandra Kitt
Progress: 34 %
The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Progress: 10/383 pages
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
Nancy MacLean
Progress: 134/574 pages
The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
Northrop Frye
Progress: 43/200 pages
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
Progress: 17/157 pages
The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer

Undaunted, by Jackie Speier

Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back - Jackie Speier

Full review to follow.


A fascinating read about a remarkable life. Speier  has survived more than the Jonestown massacre, and I think it's a shame her full story isn't better known.



Reading progress update: I've read 67 out of 328 pages.

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding - Steven K. Green

This isn't an exciting or fast-paced book, but it's still interesting.


The first part of the book looked at the various forms of Christianity the original English colonists brought to America and the degrees of intolerance with which they treated anyone who didn't follow along with their particular brand.  Acceptance of other "faiths," including Baptist, Mennonite, Quaker, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Jewish, was less a result of lower-case enlightenment and far more a response to practical necessity:  "those people" had arrived and become part of the colonial economy.


But by the time the U.S. Constitution was being written -- and amended -- a century and a half later, a myth was already being used to provide a foundation for religious freedom.  In other words, the Framers kind of sort of ignored the vicious and often violent intolerance of the Puritans and the Pilgrims and some of the other colonial groups and instead credited them with espousing and encouraging "freedom of conscience."  Really, nothing could have been further from the truth.


It's going to be interesting to see how this morphs back into the whole Christian nation concept.



So I bombed on Halloween Bingo, but I'm not done yet . . .

Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back - Jackie Speier

Life has been chaos for three, four, five months.  A couple of days ago I stopped and took a fresh look at everything.


1.  I'm not doing any art shows or yard sales for the foreseeable future.  Not this week-end, not over Thanksgiving, not in January.


2.  I'm going to focus on online sales and reducing the inventory of "stuff" around here.


3.  I'm going to spend more time reading and writing.


4.  I'm going to work on effecting a super-major lifestyle change that will take some very hard work and discipline.


I remember when the Jonestown story broke back, and as horrible as it was, I understood how it could happen.  I had had two very brief brushes with cults myself and saw how easily people can be sucked in, especially if there's no countering message.


I had forgotten, however, about Rep. Jackie Speier's book.  The local library has it, so I'm going to pick it up and read it.

Halligan's Illustrated World of 1894

Emil Theodor Müller was born 5 October 1867 in Wilkau, Saxony, Germany.  He came to the US sometime in the 1880s and joined his older brother Richard, who operated a bakery in Chicago.  The last name was Americanized to Mueller.


Theresa Kohorn was born 8 February 1877 somewhere in either Germany or Austria.  Theresa arrived in New York on the SS Havel on 18 October 1893.  She settled in Chicago, where she worked in the bakery of Richard and Theodore Mueller. 


Theodore and Theresa were married 3 July 1895;  she was 18, he was 28.  Their first child, Richard Mauritz Mueller, was born 12 January 1896, six months after the wedding.


Richard Mauritz (later Americanized to Maurice) Mueller was my maternal grandfather, always affectionately called Pop Dick..


I have very few mementos from that side of the family, but one is -- surprise! -- a book.  It's a souvenir guidebook in German to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, otherwise known as the Chicago World's Fair.  Of all the lavish buildings erected for the Fair, only one survives, now housing the Museum of Science and Industry, which just happens to be one of my favorite places in the whole world.


The book is fragile and too heavy to place on my scanner, but I was able to take a few photos.




One of the photos of an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution.



Among the very few other keepsakes are the last few pieces of a set of doll dishes that belonged to my mother, Esther Elaine Mueller Wheeler, that came from Karlsbad.  There were more pieces when I was younger, and I never was allowed to play with them, so I have no idea what happened in the meantime.  (My siblings were much younger than I, but who knows?)  All that is left is a lidded sugar bowl, one cup, and four saucers.



There are no markings on the bottom.  "Karlsbad" is still clear on the sugar bowl, and faintly on the cup.




I have only one photo of me with Grandpa Theodore, taken when I was only a few months/weeks old, possibly Thanksgiving or Christmas 1948.



Pop Dick (possibly with the dog Topsy), Grandpa Theodore, my mom Elaine with me screaming, my dad Donald Wheeler, his father Nate Wheeler with dog Joey.  (My Wheeler grandparents raised Chihuahuas.)


My mother captioned this photo "Jailbirds."



Reading progress update: I've read 39 out of 328 pages.

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding - Steven K. Green

Disclosure:  I obtained this book through my local public library.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


As I wrote in an earlier quick post, this author lost credibility when he stated, on page 27, in reference to the "Pilgrims" -- Puritans by another name -- of the Plymouth Colony, "Baptists  were expelled, Quakers were whipped and hung, and witches were burned."


There were trials for witchcraft in the Connecticut colony in the 1630s or 40s, and some were convicted and hanged.  Nineteen persons were executed in connection with the Salem witch trials, of which 18 were hanged and one pressed to death.  I've never been able to find any reference to witches being burned, at the stake or anywhere else, in the English colonies.


So far, at just 39 pages in, I'm finding this otherwise interesting but not really providing anything new and unexpected.  Kevin Phillips' The Cousins' Wars contains a lot of similar and/or related information, though from a slightly different perspective.


One thing that bothers me about this book, however, is the author's use of the word "myth."  The subtitle is "The MYTH of the Religious Founding," with the emphasis on the cover.  But Green insists his use of the word in that context is not to imply a fantasy or falsehood, but rather a construction almost true but not quite.  Akin, perhaps, to George Washington and the cherry tree.  In spite of his explicit explanation, Green often refers to "myth" in its more common meaning, as a fantastical or clearly imaginary explanation or justification.  I wish he'd pick one and stick with it.

Yes, another arts & crafts show update!

Doing events three week-ends in a row did a number on my back, and I spent virtually all of Sunday lying on the couch with a heating pad, gulping ibuprofen, and trying not to scream with frustration, let alone pain.  It's now early Monday morning and I'm feeling better, at least well enough to sit at the desk with a real keyboard!


As I mentioned in my reply to Elentarri's comment, a bunch of new elements entered the picture yesterday that had a huge impact on my decision-making process.  The stress to my back was not the least of them.  Even though I could promise myself a full week of recovery time, and even though 90% of the set-up for a fourth week-end event is already done, I was worried that I might end up the way I did a year or so ago:  Having such severe spasms that I was screaming in my sleep.  After all, I'm a year older and I've already put a lot of stress on these old muscles.


A second factor, which may not seem relevant at first, is that I no longer have sufficient "yard sale" items to justify that kind of sale.  My remaining excess craft supplies barely fill half a small storage tub, and most of that is 30-year-old plastic pony beads.  What I have now is finished items, more than I have room to display.


Third, and maybe more important than anything else, is the artists' group.  I had considered having my own open studio event to piggyback on theirs, but revelations on Sunday afternoon made that not only impossible but unattractive.


The studio tour event that I envisioned back in 2007 when I resurrected it has fallen by the wayside.  The group was never able to grow the event much beyond what we put together that first year, either because they weren't interested in growing it or because they didn't have anyone who knew how.  (Or maybe this area just isn't really into art.)  I think we started that year with 22 studios and reached a high of 27 in 2012 or something like that.  I could go back and look at the maps but it's not that important.  What is important is that this year they have only 17 studios.  They are clustered in two locations:  six studios in the area northwest of  Apache Junction and eleven studios in Gold Canyon.  I didn't even look at the map to see where in Gold Canyon they are, or who the host artists are.  I didn't care.


What this means for me and this coming week-end is that there will be no "Studio Tour" roadside signs anywhere in my neighborhood, so there will be no piggybacking possible.


What it also means is that this group has apparently given up on the spirit of what an open studios event is supposed to be.  As one of my yard sale customers said to me on Saturday, "Why do they want a bunch of artists all at one studio?  Artists don't work in groups, they work alone. If you want to see how an artist works, then you don't go to a party."  He said some other things that aren't printable!  ;-)


All of that together pretty much made up my mind not to do an event this coming week-end.  What am I going to do instead?  Well, I had plenty of time to think about that yesterday.


Back in the 1970s and 80s, my Aunt Shirley and my mom held holiday boutiques in their homes leading up to Christmas.  Shirley was by profession a commercial artist who worked freelance out of her home and so she had access to all kinds of resources and promotion, as well as a huge social network.  She also worked on her boutique inventory more or less full-time. 


My mom, on the other hand, made smaller, simpler items in her spare time while working outside the home.  She was crafty and talented, but didn't have quite the range of connections Aunt Shirley did.  Nonetheless, when she opened the house for her boutique, she pulled in a sizeable supplementary income.


Those were my models for the studio tour.  Where Mom and Aunt Shirley, living in the Chicago suburbs, had to invite their customers directly into their homes because of the weather, I have the advantage of usually wonderful outdoor weather in October and November to bring people into my weird little front garden and enchant them with bizarre cactus and blooming fairy duster bushes and really neat rocks.


So, okay, why couldn't I do that with a holiday-themed bazaar like Mom and Aunt Shirley did?  And if I can't do it this week-end to compete with the shrunken studio tour, why not over the Thanksgiving holiday?  The art group is having their show on that Sunday, 1 December, but why couldn't I do mine here on Saturday?  (No, not on Black Friday.  No way.)


I have four and a half weeks to beef up my inventory.  Had I chosen to do the art group's holiday show -- it's too expensive for what it is and I don't always do very well at it, so I decided this past summer that I would skip it regardless what happened with the studio tour -- I would have enough inventory for a 10 x 10 booth space.  But for a larger event here at the house I would need more.  Much more.


The catch is that I already have much more.  Even without the excess craft supplies that I put out for my yard sales, I have more product inventory than I have display space.  I can't stand sitting around doing nothing, so I'm always making something, whether it's olive oil lamps or quilts, knitted scarves or crocheted blankets, origami boxes or wire-wrapped jewelry.  I sell some, I give some away, but I still have . . . . too much.  A holiday bazaar along the lines of what my mom and aunt did seems the perfect solution.




I don't have a lot that's specifically holiday-themed.  Some, but not a lot.  Instead of having a year to prepare, I have four and a half weeks.


Hmmmmm.............Let me think...................



I'm not sure when my mom started making the frogs, but she made hundreds of them.  This is the only one of hers I have, but I also have the pattern and all the supplies, including plastic pellets to replace the bug-attracting split peas used to fill the originals.


Years ago, an acquaintance of mine was trying to sell her hand-made Christmas ornaments for eye-popping prices.  Well, her ornaments were gorgeous!  Satin balls covered with beads and pearls and lace and sequins and rhinestones, they were unbelievable, and actually worth the prices she was asking.  In terms of the labor and creativity involved, not to mention the cost of the embellishments, they weren't over-priced at $50-$150. 


I'm not that talented.  And I don't have the supplies.


She didn't sell very many.


My mom, on the other hand, sold hundreds of her frogs at $4 each!  She sold little ornaments at 25-cents and 50-cents each, and all those little bits of change added up, forty years ago. 


Going back even further, to when I was about eight years old -- One of the teachers at my grade school taught her class how to make folded paper German bells.  I was enchanted by them, but no one could teach me how to make them.  Somehow, I learned the secret, and I proceeded to make dozens of them.  I decorated them with glitter and drew designs on them, no doubt with crayons since we didn't have colored markers in those days!  I still know how to make them, and now I have colored markers and glitter and rhinestones and all kinds of embellishments.  Plus, the selection of paper available is a lot more varied than the white typing paper I used then!


How much holiday-themed "stuff" can I make in four and a half weeks?  WHAT holiday-themed "stuff" can I make in that time?  I have a pattern for quilted cat ornaments.  I have fabric for Christmas frogs.  I just learned there's a Michaels store a whole lot closer than I thought.  It's cool enough now in the studio to sew.


I have four and a half weeks.  And my back is feeling better, too.


(And I haven't stopped writing.  Expect an update on that soon, too.  BF is gonna be gone almost every evening this week, so I don't have to cook. . . .





They didn't trash my new sign!

— feeling happy

I had customers and they even bought a few things.


We'll try again tomorrow and hope to do even better!


Lost me on Page 27

Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding - Steven K. Green

I'll do an official listing for this later, but because I'm reading a library copy and am not at a place where I can take notes, I wanted to record this.


Whatever else the Puritans did, and they did a lot of rotten things, they DID NOT burn any witches.  They hanged a few in Connecticut and a few more in Salem, Massachusetts, but they didn't burn any.


When a historian makes this kind of mistake, he tends to lose a LOT of credibility.

The power of omens even when we don't believe in them

The past several days have been pretty rough.  Yesterday, after dealing with Moby and then lifting the dog food out of the car, my back told me no more, no way.  I spent the afternoon and most of the evening lying on the couch with the heating pad.  Today I feel a little better.


I would like to have a day or three in a row where I have nothing to do but catch up on the things I enjoy doing, but that's not in the foreseeable future.  So I get by with what bits of time make themselves available.


Today I grabbed some time to do some thinking, and if my thinking tends to come back to the same important point no matter how I try to avoid it, it also reminds me that there are serious obstacles I have to overcome if I want to make certain desired changes in my lifestyle.


It's all a matter of how to get from Point A to Point B.


And sometimes you need a ferry.


He wore himself out

Moby likes to get in the car.  It's not easy for him, but he usually manages to hoist himself up and squeeze himself between/around the back seat to get into the back of the Blazer.  It's a 30 minute drive to the vet in Johnson Ranch, and Moby barks the whole way. 


He is a big dog.  He has a very big bark.


It doesn't do any good to yell at him because 1.) he pays no attention, and 2.) he's now almost totally deaf.


But, today he didn't bark hardly at all!


Moby doesn't like getting out of the car.  I always have to get one of the techs to help me with him.  Today, he at least got near the tailgate so I could push him the rest of the way from inside the car and the tech was able to then lift him down.


He walked very nicely through the parking lot and into the waiting room, where he promptly slid on the slippery tile and spread-eagled himself.  We got him up on his feet enough to walk to the scale, where he registered 80.5 pounds.  Then he collapsed on the scale and just lay there for ten minutes.


Without any help, he finally got up and walked over to the chairs, so I could sit down and he stood looking out the windows until we got called in for his appointment right on time.


They drew his blood for his regular tests and he didn't put up any fuss.  He got his vaccinations and didn't put up any fuss.  The doctor checked him all out, except she couldn't listen to his heart because he had finally had enough of this nonsense and just lay down again.  She had to make a sneak attack as we were walking out, because then he was standing up again.


His heart sounds good, she said, his pulse is strong, and his lungs are nice and clear.  His eyes are cloudy, but that's normal for a dog his age.  He's walking better than the last few times he's been there.  And everyone said he's in remarkably good shape for a big dog over 13 years old.


He was ready to get in the car when we left, and I only had to boost him a little.  As usual, he didn't bark at all on the way home.  But he didn't get all the way into the back of the car, so I had a real mess when we got home and it was time to figure out how to get him out.  He was wedged between the one upright back seat and the other one that was folded down.  I had to crawl in and extricate his back legs.


In the past, he has just sat there at that point, refusing to move in either direction.  The easiest way out is the tailgate, though that means lifting him.  He can get out the side door himself, but refuses to do so.


Today, however, he walked right to the tailgate and even though he's 80 pounds, I lifted him up and set him down and we were DONE!


Of course, the stress had worn him out.  He wouldn't even lift his head for a picture.


Lest you think I am all doom and gloom and whining . . . .

I gathered up some discipline and headed to the workshop to change out the tumbler barrels.


The two small ones are now on pre-polish for a week, then they will have another week on polish.  So they're coming along and there are a few interesting stones in there.


The large barrel just finished two weeks on the first, rough grind stage.  This batch has those lovely striped petrified wood pieces I showed a few weeks ago.  Yum, they are looking nice!


This batch also has three largish fire agates that my husband ground to shape 20+ years ago.  He never did any more because a.) the tools required are rather expensive and we just couldn't afford them and b.) he didn't have the patience required for that kind of tedious work and therefore c.) he just didn't want to do any more.  So those three stones sat in a small box, half-forgotten until I started on this campaign of getting things cleaned up round here.


I put the three stones in the batch for rough grind not knowing really what they looked like or how well they would turn out.  Rough grind reveals a lot, and then the subsequent four stages -- medium grind, fine grind, pre-polish, and polish -- bring out the true quality.


I should have taken the camera, but I didn't and was in too much of a hurry to walk back to the house for it.  So you'll have to take my word for it and wait until they're done.


These three stones are fantastic!

About those Yard Sale signs . . . .

I'm posting this here because I can put the pictures in order with the narrative. And because I remembered at 3:00 this morning that there's another facet (pun intended, but beside the point) to this whole mess.


First off, let me show you how the streets in my immediate neighborhood are laid out, thanks to Google maps:



Mountain View Road is a main north/south roadway through this part of semi-rural Apache Junction.  The small bit of yellow diagonal down in the lower left corner of this screen shot is US Highway 60, which connects Apache Junction and its environs to unincorporated Gold Canyon and then on further east to the mining cities of Superior, Globe, Miami, and beyond.  Mountain View ends at US 60.


My house is at the red bubble thing on Southern Avenue.  I'm the third house from the corner at Mountain View.


To the west of Mountain View Road lies a huge power line right-of-way, sometimes known as a green belt even though it's rarely green.  This ROW ranges in width from half a mile to a mile, and I'm not even sure how long it is.  Miles and miles and miles at least.  The ROW is fenced so there is no vehicular access allowed at all (other than powerline company maintenance trucks), but there is access provided for hikers and horses.


This is the intersection of Mountain View and Southern looking north, or as it would be seen by someone driving from US 60 toward my house.



Mountain View goes straight for several more miles until it ends at AZ Highway 88.  Southern Avenue goes to the right (east).


This is the view to the left (west) at that intersection.



I'm not sure how wide the space is between the edge of the road (white line) and the fence, but it's more than wide enough for two cars to park side by side. Maybe 30 feet? 40 feet?  At any rate, it's a sizeable area.  In this particular shot from Google Street View, there are no signs posted, but this is where yard sale, real estate, and political signs are frequently posted.  There are currently two or three real estate signs stuck there.


This is a closer shot of the fence. 



About a quarter of the way in from the left edge of the fence is a black rectangle with a slanted pipe beside it.  This is a rubber-padded access point for hikers and horses.  Most of the local horse owners ride from their homes to the access points -- the one at Southern is only one of many -- but they could just as easily bring a horse trailer and park in the space off the road.  There's more than enough room for a horse trailer or even two.  Maybe more.


I'm posting these pictures to give a reference as to how large this area is. 


Last spring, after the whole brouhaha about my not being allowed to be a solo artist studio on the March tour, I had a little yard sale the week before and put out a sign in that open space on the west side of Mountain View Road.  I had forgotten until this morning that that sign was also trashed.  I had left it up overnight Friday, and BF notified me in the morning on Saturday when he went out that it had been knocked down and ruined.  We thought someone had just run over it in the dark, perhaps trying to pass someone on the right.  Mountain View is only two lanes, and if someone headed southbound was trying to turn left onto Southern, someone coming behind them could have gone off the road to pass on the right -- illegal, but they do it all the time -- and hit my little sign.  He notified me about it Saturday morning, so I was able to fix it and had a reasonably successful yard sale last March.


The signs I put down there look like this:



It's just a heavy-duty wire frame with two pieces of posterboard stapled together on two sides and the top so the "envelope" can be slid over the wire.  I used the same signs this week-end that I had used last spring.



Normally, these wire frames would have straight legs to be poked into the ground, but out here the ground is so rocky and hard that the legs often won't go in far enough to support the sign.  So when AOTS began doing the studio tours back in 2007 and had to have dozens of signs put up in a short period of time -- you can't be hammering each sign in when you only have a couple of hours to set out 100 or more signs -- they had the legs bent so a few stones would hold the signs for the two days of the studio tours.


The original signs were printed and assembled in the same "envelope" style as my posterboard signs, though of course on heavier laminated stock that was supposed to hold up for a couple of years.  Even so, those first signs eventually wore out, plus the group's name was changed after the first tour, so somehow or other over the years I ended up with five or six extra wire frames.  I used them to make additional signs for the studio tour at my house, and some were picked up by the sign crew, so by last spring I only had two left.  No big deal; they weren't mine anyway.  I never used them for anything else; they just sat in my workshop.


I used those two frames for my yard sale signs in March, one down at the Mountain View - Southern intersection, and one at the entrance to my driveway.


I had a third wire frame that came from someone's abandoned political campaign sign.  I picked it up a couple of years ago.  This one does not have bent legs.



I have a spot inside my driveway at the beginning of the path to my exhibit area where I can poke the legs into the ground without encountering rocks.  So in addition to a bent-leg sign at the end of the road and another at my driveway, I have a third "envelope" sign on the straight-leg wire frame.


These three signs were deployed Friday morning for my yard sale.


Mountain View being the main throughway for traffic, I expected the sign there -- which has an arrow to point down Southern -- would drive traffic to my driveway.  But for some reason, not a single car stopped, not one, all day until about 1:30.  I thought perhaps I had made a mistake in having the event Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday, but I had had sales last spring on Friday, so I didn't understand.


When my BF arrived home from his breakfast socializing Friday around 1:00 in the afternoon, he said he saw the sign on Mountain View, but two hours later when I went to collect it for the night it wasn't there.  Was he mistaken about seeing it upright on Mountain View?  He insists he saw it, but I suspect it had been missing all day.


The wire frame was gone, but I spotted the posterboard "envelope" part lying on the ground on the east side of Mountain View.


As I said, the bent legs of the wire frames require either rocks or some other weight to hold them upright.  I had placed a small board across one of the legs to provide better stabilization along with  a heavy (10 lbs?) rock.  The board and rock were still there, but the sign had been thrown across the road and the wire frame taken.


We had had no wind all day that would have thrown the posterboard that far.  And the paper wasn't damaged in the way it would have been had wind flung it that far.


Had someone done this deliberately?  That was the only explanation.


Had someone from AOTS decided to reclaim the wire frame?  Okay, fine.  The signs they have now don't use that kind of frame, but . . . whatever.


Saturday morning I decided to make another frame.  I had some leftover PVC pipe in the workshop and it took only about 15 minutes to measure and cut three pieces the proper lengths, then assemble them, with a couple of smaller scrap pieces (the grey and brown bits were already cut) for "feet," into couplings to form a shape analogous to the bent wire frame. 



I took my newly-made frame and slightly tattered but still serviceable posterboard down to the end of Southern Avenue and put up my new sign.



You can see how the posterboard fits over the top, as well as how the board across the "feet" holds the whole thing upright when a heavy rock is placed on the board.


I thought, honestly, that someone from AOTS was pissed about the wire frame and was being super petty about it.  Okay, now I'm not using their wire frame any more, and I'm just having a little yard sale, and I'm not trashing them at all, so what's the big deal?


The new sign worked great!  I put it up at 8:00 and literally had customers waiting for me to open for business at 9:00!  For the next two hours I had constant traffic and sold a few things, too.  People came in, walked down the path, admired the rainbow obsidian, remarked on the weird spruce cone cactus, and everyone had a good time.  They loved the area under the big mesquite tree, raved about my view of the mountain.  We chatted about arts and crafts and rocks and cactus.


Some of my visitors had been on previous studio tours and actually thought this was the tour.  But I explained that no, the tour is still the first week-end in November, two weeks away.


Then the traffic stopped.  After about 11:00, I never had another customer.  Not one.  Was it because people only go out on Saturday morning?  Was it because they had other things to do in the afternoon?


BF was umpiring softball games all day, so I had no one to go check on my sign.  Finally, 2:00 rolled around and the show was over.  I packaged up my unsold merchandise in preparation for the anticipated repeat next week-end, then around 3:00 drove down to the end of the street to collect my new sign.


It wasn't there.


The board and rock were still in place just where I had left them, but the posterboard and frame had been thrown against the fence, at least 20 feet away.  Had there been a sudden gust of wind -- the entire day had been perfectly calm -- the rock would have been knocked off the board.  No, someone had stopped in the middle of the day and taken the time to remove the PVC frame and posterboard "envelope" from under the rock and then throw it out toward the greenbelt.


Why?  Why such petty vindictiveness?  Why me?


Am I really such a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good person that I'm not even allowed to have a little yard sale to sell some of my excess craft supplies?


Apparently I am.


Apparently there is someone -- or more than one someone -- who is perfectly willing to get out of their car in broad daylight on a well-traveled road and trash my signs to sabotage my little sale. 


Will it be worth it even to try again next week?  The posterboard is pretty well trashed for that sign, but I can remake it, though it will take time I really didn't want to spend.  I can even put the sign on sturdier backing to make it more durable.  But without some way of monitoring it, I have no guarantee the same thing won't happen again.  Maybe this time they'll just steal the whole thing.  Do I want to spend another five or ten hours sitting in my front yard waiting for customers who never show up? 


Last spring, when the AOTS board decided I wasn't good enough to be on the studio tour, someone else spoke up for me and defended my right to be on the tour.  The meeting was a catastrophe as a result, but in the end the decision was reversed and I was on the tour. 


No one spoke up for me this fall when they refused to let me be a single-artist studio.  I've already written about that.  They knew that would keep me off the tour.  Maybe they thought it would get me out of the group, too.


As BF and I have discussed many times, people tend to dislike me because I often don't hesitate to tell them when they're wrong, and sometimes I'm not exactly diplomatic about it, even though I try to be.  But the level of hatred and petty vindictiveness from AOTS is beyond anything I've ever experienced.


Until a couple of days ago, I had forgotten where it all came from.  Without boring you (further) with the details, the worst of it started three or four years ago with a studio tour visitor who couldn't find my studio and accused me of having closed up early.  No one else had ever complained that they couldn't find my studio, and certainly no one had ever accused me of closing early.  But the accusation was made . . . and it was believed.  Even when I provided personal evidence that it wasn't true, that I not only had not closed early but had in fact been open past the closing time because I was making a sale, the tale was repeated and the person who repeated it became vindictive.  I know who it is.  I know what they have done.


Are they the person responsible for trashing my signs and sabotaging my yard sale?  I don't know and I have no evidence to indicate that they were.  (Neither do I have evidence to support my own personal accusation against another AOTS member who I strongly believe damaged my car because she parked too close to me at a show several years ago.)  I never thought anyone in that group would be that mean, that vicious.


I'm not a wealthy person.  The income I make from my arts and crafts and from my writing fills a substantial gap in my retirement budget.  Without that income, I would have to make significant changes in my lifestyle, including selling my home and massively downsizing.  I'm not asking for hand-outs or charity, but I would like to be left free from this kind of personal vendetta.  I have no way to retaliate even if I wanted to, and I don't want to.  That's not the kind of person I am.


But at this point I'm not sure what to do.  "Get thee to a nunnery"?  Sell my house, move into a retirement home, and spend all day just reading and hating people?


I was never one of the popular kids in high school, and I learned to live with the fact that I was never going to have a lot of friends.  I never expected to be liked by a lot of people, but I also never expected to be so actively hated that people wold try to keep me from making a modest living.


Yesterday afternoon, after I had discovered what happened to the sign, I had to make a quick dash into town for some groceries and to run an urgent errand.  BF wasn't home yet, so I had to leave the dogs alone and suddenly I was frightened.  Would the person who trashed my sign try to do more?  Were my dogs at risk?  Was I at risk?  I'm home alone a lot of the time, and I have no neighbors who would watch out for me.  I took the precaution of locking the outside front gate, something we haven't done in five or six years.


I'm not entirely sure I feel comfortable going out to eat tonight; I may decide to lock the front gate again.


If you have friends or family members who would come to your defense if someone treated you like crap, show your appreciation!  And if you have friends who maybe need someone to stand up for them, do it!   


And if you're like me, without that kind of support, well, my DMs are always open and I will never tell you to just get over it, or just take a deep breath and move on. 


I thought I had moved on from AOTS.  Now I don't know what to do.





So I had my little yard sale this week-end . . . .

. . . . and nobody came.


Someone threw my signs away, so there was no way for anyone to even know I was here.


Friday, the vandal removed my "envelope" sign from the wire frame it was hung on, and then they stole the frame.


Saturday morning I made a new frame from PVC pipe and I actually had some customers Saturday morning.  That stopped around 11:00.  When I went down to the end of the road to collect my new sign, it had been flung against the fence. 


I didn't know I was that deeply hated, but I guess I am.

Art and Determination

 For the first time since 2007, I will not be participating in the Artists of the Superstitions studio tour, at least not officially.  This is not entirely by my choice.

When I moved to Apache Junction in 2006 and first heard about the Artists’ Studio Tour sponsored by the Superstition Area Land Trust (“SALT”), I couldn’t wait to go on it and see what it was all about.  I admit I didn’t get to see very many studios that first week-end in November, because I stopped to chat with a lot of the artists so I could learn more about the tour itself.

The following spring, a group of local artists decided to form a group, tentatively called the Gold Canyon Artists’ Group, to support each other in our creative endeavors, to promote the arts in general, and whatever else came to mind.  I believe our first meeting was in February 2007.  Just a few months later, we learned that SALT was not going to sponsor a studio tour that year.  I was heartbroken.  More than anything else, I wanted to participate in the event.

I proposed to our fledgling group that we take over the studio tour.  We had had maybe two or three meetings.  We had no formal structure, no officers, no money.  At most we had fifteen members, and no one wanted to take on the organizing of a major art event.

But I was determined.  And I had a few supporters.  Though most of the other members felt we as a group should wait a year before trying to put on an event of that scope, three of us (and one supportive spouse) forged ahead.  The first week-end of November, 2007, saw our first Artists’ Studio Tour.  It had its faults, and it was far from perfect, but we kept alive the tradition.

As a result of that 2007 Studio Tour, our group grew in membership and we had a substantial treasury, so that when it came time for the 2008 Studio Tour, we were ready.  We had some experience, we had learned from our mistakes, and we were determined to make the event better and bigger and build on a solid foundation.

I participated every single year.  A few times I was the chair of the event, but mostly I just wanted to open my “studio” so I could welcome the public to see more of my work than could be displayed at a typical art show, where each artist had a 10 by 10 booth and a few tables.

I do lapidary, which means I take rocks and turn them into jewelry.  I cut them on a diamond-bladed, oil-cooled saw.  Then I grind them to shape, then I polish them, and finally I wrap them in sterling silver or gold-filled wire.  My favorites are my “angel feather” agate pieces, made from one-of-a-kind slices of chalcedony I find myself out in the desert, but I also use local jaspers and other rocks that I’ve found, as well as materials acquired either at estate sales or rock and gem shows.  My focus is always on the unique qualities of the individual stone; I try to keep my wire work as unobtrusive as possible, complementing the stone and holding it secure without overwhelming it.

But I do more than play with rocks.  I do woodworking, mostly small lathe-turned bowls that my husband taught me how to make before he passed away.  He liked making larger pieces, and I liked the smaller ones, so he told me I needed to learn how to make them myself!  I wish I had time to make more, but unfortunately, our Arizona climate limits that.

I also make quilts, large and very small.  I come from a very long line of knitters and crocheters, and I learned to sew at a very young age.  And while it’s sadly true that there is no profit in hand-made quilts – they simply take too long to justify a living hourly wage in pricing – I love to piece smaller, functional items, from rugs for your coffee mug to reversible jackets to little pouches for your jewelry.

Though I was juried into Artists of the Superstitions for those media – and a couple more – most of our shows didn’t afford me the space to display my creations.  I sold online, but it was at the studio tours that I finally had the almost unlimited space to exhibit some of my wooden objects, and more of my quilting.  Not only display them, but explain to visitors what processes went into making them.

That was the whole point of a studio tour: Bringing the public into our creative environments. Where do we work?  How do we get our ideas?  As visitors came to my “studio” out in my front yard under an ancient mesquite tree, I could show them the view I have of Superstition Mountain as a kind of symbol for how Arizona has influenced my art.  I got to show them the larger rocks in my yard, the big chunk of obsidian that I had bought at an estate sale but never identified as having a huge rainbow iridescence for ten years, the big piece of chrysocolla that was the last from a deposit found by an acquaintance who was looking for gold (and never found any), the striped jasper and hematite rocks from near Jerome, the sparkling druzy orange and white agate from Bulldog Canyon.  Often my customers asked about the various cactus and other plants in my yard: several types of agaves and yuccas, weird spruce cone cactus, fairy dusters, chuparosas.

Whether they bought anything or not, I enjoyed welcoming them to my little corner of the Superstitions.

Everything changed in 2019.  After the 2018 Fall Studio Tour experienced a downturn in attendance from previous years, the Artists of the Superstitions board of directors decided to implement some changes.  Although there had only been two studios on the 2018 tour that had only a single artist – rather than a host studio with one or more “guest” artists – it was determined that customers declined to go on the tour at all because they wanted more artists at fewer locations.  Solo artists would no longer be allowed; if you weren’t willing or able to host other artists, you couldn’t be a host.  And you couldn’t just host yourself.

Because I can’t give guest artists access to my home for restroom or kitchen breaks because I have dogs, I can only do the tour as a solo artist, and that’s no longer allowed.

So for the 2019 Fall Studio Tour, I cannot have my studio in the event.  I could exhibit my work in a 10 x 10 booth at someone else’s studio, someone with whom I might or might not be comfortable, with other artists whom I might not even know.  I would not be able to share my view of the mountain or my weird cactus or my tree or my rocks.  My studio would sit abandoned, unattended, unwanted.  I felt the same.

I made the choice not to do the tour under those conditions.  

My studio will be open, even though it won’t be on the official studio tour map.  I’ll have my own hand-made signs out, and I will welcome whatever visitors drop by.  We’ll talk about the rocks and the cactus and the mountain, and I’ll have plenty of room to display my jewelry and woodworking and quilting.  I won’t be restricted to what I sell based on Artists of the Superstitions regulations, so maybe I’ll have some really neat rocks for sale, or some knitting and crocheting, or folded paper boxes, or beanbag frogs.  But everything will be hand-made, one of a kind; and if I didn’t exactly make the raw stones, I found them, cleaned them, identified them, cut and polished them, boxed and priced them, and put them out for folks to enjoy and ask questions about and maybe even buy.

All I ever wanted from Artists of the Superstitions was to be a studio on the studio tour.  They can do what they want, but so can I.


(I posted this text to Facebook, where some of the AOTS members may see it.  I have no idea what the response will be, if any.  For you guys, anyway, I will add pictures later.  I'm doing a yard sale this week-end and next, so I may have some fun pics!)

Gravetide by Carolyn McKnight - generic Regency semi-gothic 1978

Gravetide - Carolyn McKnight

Disclosure:  I acquired the paperback edition of this book somewhere along the line.  I do not know the author nor have I ever discussed this book or any other matter with her.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


To be honest, I'm reading to get rid of books. I thought maybe this would have a ghost or something to qualify it for Bingo, but no such luck.


Lady Lea Asher is your incomparably perfect Regency virgin widow. Married to the older but kindly Sir Harry, she has now inherited the house and estate of Gravetide. Among the accoutrements are Sir Harry's spinster sister Winifred, Harry's obnoxious nephew Nigel, solicitor Mr. Kerr, and brooding gothic hero Lord Dursten. There's also a hunt for treasure Sir Harry hid somewhere in the estate.


All in all, it was okay.  The romance was virtually non-existent, with little interaction between Lea and Dursten, and no development of any kind of relationship. It just happened.


The treasure hunt was kind of implausible. The clues made little sense, and since there was no way they'd have been found in proper order, there was no way to combine them.


There were a couple of apparent anachronisms. One was a reference to a Cheshire cat. Winifred is described as having a Cheshire smile (page 53).  Although my research says the phrase "grinning like a Cheshire cat" predates Lewis Carroll popularizing it via his fictional character in  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I couldn't find anything specifically referencing the smile without the cat. Carroll's book was published in 1865; this story takes place in 1817.


I forgot what the other example  was!


There was a lot of 20th century attitude going on, especially regarding class distinctions.



Bottom line: Not bad, but not good enough to recommend.




Crafts and arts and updates on art shows

Christmas With Jinny Beyer: Decorate Your Home for the Holidays With Beautiful Quilts, Wreaths, Arrangements, Ornaments, and More - Jinny Beyer

Disclosure:  I acquired this book from my local Friends of the Library used book sale.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


I thumbed through this book last night and found a few projects that I may consider actually making.  If I do, however, it won't be to sell at any events sponsored by my local art group.  That includes the famous/infamous Studio Tour that I've effectively been shut out of.

Here's the background, or at least some of it, for those who may not know what's going on:
(This one is short but has links to ALL the background posts.)
(This one is longer and has the more recent details.)

If I had any faint lingering hopes for a satisfactory resolution with the group, Artists of the Superstitions, a.k.a. AOTS, they were dashed completely today, and I can't say I'm heart broken.

A local printing company, Ray's Printing, puts out a small monthly magazine called Superstition Living. It's distributed free via USPS bulk mail to everyone in the Gold Canyon and Apache Junction area and comes out right around the first of every month. It's also available online, but the fact that it's a nice little "slick" with lots of colorful photos and announcements of upcoming events means that it gets a lot of attention, especially from the winter visitors who are starting to come back to town right now. There are also free copies available at various restaurants and other locations in the communities.

The big tourist attractions -- especially Superstition Mountain Museum and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum -- always have notices in Superstition Living for their upcoming events.

Last fall -- 2018 -- the AOTS publicity person, VP Julie, failed to get notice of the studio tour in the OCTOBER issue of Superstition Living. The tour was on 1 & 2 November and should have been promoted in the October issue. Julie didn't do it, so there was no big local promo for the event, and that's why attendance was abysmal.  And yes everyone who participated acknowledged that attendance was down and so were sales.

It wasn't because there were "too many" solo artists -- there were, in fact, only two of us who didn't host a bunch of guest artists at our studios -- nor was it because there were too many election campaign signs at a few major intersections. It was because Julie didn't do her damn job.

She didn't even get anything in the NOVEMBER issue, even though that would have been too late for the event, because in fact that particular issue wasn't delivered until the 5th. By then, of course, it was also too late to get anything in Superstition Living about the AOTS holiday show, which was slated for something like 1 December. THAT show should have been promoted in the November issue. It wasn't.

Essentially, NONE of the AOTS shows were promoted in Superstition Living last fall. The only person responsible for that is VP Julie.  She's in charge of ALL publicity and pretty much will not allow anyone else to even know what she does.

I brought this up in an email with Jennifer, the president of AOTS. She then took it to VP Julie, who at first admitted to me in another email that yes, it was her fault. But later, when everyone was complaining about the poor turn-out for the events, Julie turned around and blamed Ray's Printing. I knew the truth and Jennifer knew the truth . . . . and that's what started the real hate toward me. Julie had fucked up the PR for both events, the Studio Tour and the holiday show.

Attendance at the holiday show was terrible last year, partly because of cold weather as well as lack of publicity, and the price was so high that I think I only netted about $20 for the day. I decided I would never do that event again.

Then, of course, came the fiasco with the spring studio tour, when *I* was blamed for the low fall attendance because . . . well, you know that whole story.

So now here we are coming up on the Fall 2019 Studio Tour, scheduled for 2-3 November.  I've been told my home/studio isn't good enough for the event, so I've been assigned to another studio.  (I should point out that this has never happened to any other member of AOTS since its inception in 2007.)  Yesterday, 2 October, the mail delivery included the October edition of Superstition Living. I didn't get a chance to look at it yesterday, being too busy with other stuff, so this morning I sat down to do so.

Had Julie learned from her mistake? Had anyone paid any attention to what I told them at all? Had the board of directors made sure the studio tour got all the best possible promotion after last year's fiasco?

In a word of one syllable . . . . .


There's a very short little article about the AOTS show on 13 October, which I assume I'm participating in because so far they haven't told me I'm not, and the article is accompanied by a bunch of pictures (including one of a piece of my jewelry that I sold three or four years ago).


Even if the November issue of Superstition Living comes out and is delivered on Friday, 1 November, that's hardly enough advance notice for the event. The **October** issue that arrived yesterday has a big spread for a free, family-oriented event at the Museum on 2 November. Nothing for the Studio Tour. Not one effing word.

And if the November issue DOES have anything about the Studio Tour but doesn't come out until after the event, then the group looks . . . . stupid.

The only good thing this does is ease my conscience about making a stink about the issues last year. What happens this year if the event doesn't get good publicity and attendance is poor? Are they going to blame me again because the VP-for-life couldn't even learn from her mistakes? If the board of directors doesn't care enough to make sure mistakes are corrected?

In the words of Robert DeNiro, fuck 'em.  Fuck 'em.