Friday, April 20, 2018

Brush With Fame - The Makings of a Maker - Third Friday Post - April 20th

Summer 2003?  I was driving around Portland when I got the call.  On of the wonderful people who worked at my coffeehouse there called and I answered, thinking they probably needed me to pick something up while I was out.

"Nicolas, you won't believe who is here in the coffeehouse right now!" a very excited voice said in an, I'm-trying-to-whisper-but-I-am-too-excited-to really-whisper, voice.

"Umm,  don't know" I said, "who?"

"HEDWIG!", came the reply.

Hedwig

You may recall back in the late 1990's there was an off broadway show called, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which then became a feature film and which then continued to run, off Broadway and on, with various performers in the lead roll over the years, from Neal Patrick Harris to Ally Sheedy.

Hedwig.

There was also a local theater production of it in our city at this time and I assumed, as anyone likely would, that the "Hedwig" the not-so-whispery voice referred to was the guy playing the role in that production, whom I already knew.

I said as much.

"NO Nicolas!" the voice barely able to contain the excitement now, "THE Hedwig!"

The Hedwig. . . John Cameron Mitchell

Now, truth be told, at that time I had only recently seen the movie because of a good friend's unrelenting persistence.  When it first came out, I do recall hearing about it and seeing the box at the video store (remember those?) but I was in a very bad place in life then and I think my initial reaction to the synopsis on the box was something along the lines of "Oh great, another bad rock opera."

It was easily forgotten.

Then a year later, my friend brought it over to the house, the first place I lived in Portland, where I was trying to figure out, well, everything.

I'm not sure a movie, in any single place and time, could be more perfect than that one was at that moment for me. The story, the silliness, and ohhhh the music. . . Maybe the most original of movie soundtracks, with songs in styles that were all over the place though almost all are sung by a very understated, but emotive lead, Mr. Mitchell.

To this day, "Origin of Love", "Wicked Little Town" and "Midnight Radio" are still among my favorite songs. I  just listened to them all as I sat down to write this and got the same time warp, sentimental feeling I always do. They define a time and place.

A turning point..

The movie/show is, above all else, about finding peace and comfort with who you are, after all the choices you've made and all the roads you've travelled. The things that happen to us, especially the ill-fated but also the dreams that did not work out as we might have wished. Circumstances too. Where we are, how we are raised, what falls where and how. . . out lot in life, so to speak.

So, it turned out it WAS John Cameron Mitchell sitting in the coffee shop. He had made an apartment swap with a friend who lived right up the road from the coffeehouse. We had the pleasure of his patronage for a few weeks that summer.

I won't go into the whole course of that time, but several of us got to know him over the weeks that he spent there with us (he was finishing his next screenplay at the time) and we also kept his identity as safe as we could so he could work.

How this relates to my Makings of a Maker series is this:

One night during his stay a bunch of us went out for a drink and I had to excuse myself early since I was scheduled to open the coffeehouse at 6 am. As I was saying my goodbyes, John tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could give him a lift home. I was, of course, more than happy to.

Now, I had avoided, as much as I could, talking about Hedwig or anything relating to it but in that time, I had one burning question that I really wanted to ask him

See, when we come across something creative that has affected so many people, it's natural, I think, to believe the people who created it, whatever the skill set required, are somehow that much more gifted or talented than we are. That they knew, straight away, that they were going to make something that would affect people on that scale or, at least, had set out to.

So when we pulled up to the curb that night and we sat and chatted about random things for another 20 minutes, I decided to ask.

"When you were making Hedwig, did you know as it was coming together that it was going be such a great success? "

He thought about it for a little bit, then said:

"No, not really, when you're in the middle of making anything, you're just in it, sometimes at the exclusion of everything around you, you tune out all the outside influences and distractions and just sink into the work that's in front of you. There's no time or even the desire to think about what comes after because until you finish it, there's no after. And you're not even sure there will ever be an after because maybe it will never be done or ever see the light of day. You do it because you believe in it."

Exactly.

His response, though it should have been obvious, was a key component to helping me find my way, creatively, by showing me how to NOT get in my way before I even begin. I was always thinking I had to do BIG things. Create some masterpiece that would say something important or change the world.

Now, some 15 years later,  it all seems so strange to think back to those times.

I won't say that conversation changed my life immediately because I had heard various similar decrees several times before. But not from someone I truly admired creatively. and not in person, and not when everything in my own world was spinning out of control. Not when giving up on ever finding out who I was or where I fit into this world creatively, was right at a crucial point.

Of course, it took time. Years in reality. But those words stayed with me.

I kept at it.

Through the progression of poetry, music, music production, digital photography and finally into the mediums that I now call home.

And it's funny because deep down inside I ALWAYS knew that the "impact" our work has is not measured in awards or ticket sales, or name recognition by any stretch.

It's measured in the hearts it touches, the minds it eases and the like-souls that it resonates with.

I couldn't ask for more within my creative world. It's just the absolute best, right now, right this moment. And I'm still not looking ahead. Not thinking about what happens when my work is "done" because, I know now, my work will never be done.

THAT is how I know I am on the right path.

I'm a maker of things. There is no end to that path. . .


Here's a link to The Origin of Love an absolutely flawless mix of ideas and imagery taken straight from Platos' Symposium and a wonderful arrangement and performance.  (and remember, it IS a rock opera!)

"It was the sad story how we became lonely, two legged creatures, the story of the Origin of Love."


And finally,  Wicked Little Town  because, haven't we ALL, at some time in our lives, been there?

"The fates are vicious and their cruel. You learn too late you've used two wishes like a fool."




Thank you, as always, for dropping by!

Nicolas XO









Friday, April 13, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - April 13th, 2018

Does Friday the thirteenth mean anything to you?

While that particular superstition holds little meaning for me, I did grow up with a whole host of little self-created superstitions, mostly rituals and to keep my young self safe from the things that went "bump in the night'. Especially when watching scary movies. I'd lay on the couch, completely wrapped in one of my grandmother's crocheted afghans, no part of my body other than my head exposed. At commercial breaks, IF I wanted to get up for a snack, I had to be back on the couch and fully covered when the movie resumed . . . or else!!!

 I look back now at them all with a sense of nostalgia. The power of the mind, the strength of a young spirit to fight the unseen in the shadows and to believe he could prevail.

From those days forward, I have always been a lover of folklore, superstitions urban legends and strange beliefs.

The last year or so, it's been a blast diving into the world building of writing a fantasy book that allows me to create some of my own folklore for the world of the Bewildering Pine. Beyond that, for me, the real treat has been uncovering the folklore and superstitions of other cultures as I've taken that dive in again through reading and research.

A few of the things I've unearthed that have stuck with me are:

Celtic:

The plainest girl will be beautiful if she rises early on May Day and bathes her face in morning dew at sunrise. 

Estonian:

Frost is regarded as an ill spirit named Morozco and frost-cracks or breaks in a tree are attributed to him. The cracking sound is the snapping of his fingers!

Romani:

A moth hovering around a candle flame, means a letter will arrive in the morning. 

Scandinavian:

The new Year was an auspicious time for healing. Deemed the "seam of the year" it was considered the best time for ritual curatives. 

Do YOU have any favorite folklore or  old beliefs you love?


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Inspirations and Oddities!!!

I couldn't choose a single story or video that captures the whole idea but, in Catalonia Spain, they participate in these amazing festivals. 




"A person dressed as a demon shoots off fireworks during a correfoc, meaning "fire-run," a traditional party in which participants dress as evil mythical creatures and delight in wild pyrotechnic displays."



> I stumbled upon this inspiring sculpture and in-progress making-pics. AMAZING!

Big Fish!



> I LOVED this article and the accompanying images of

"Flying Foxes"



> And finally, I'm looking VERY much forward to the release today of Netflix new Sci-Fi-Fi series, "Lost in Space", a reimagining of the late great 60's show ( who could ever forget the guitar playing robot!) .  I got to watch the original in syndication over the years of my childhood and it inspired many wonderful adventures and one or two cardboard box, Jupiter 2's.






I'm hoping to be taken away yet again with the new series. . . and without seeing anything more than the trailer. . . Parker Posey in the role of Dr. Smith???!!! COME ON! That alone makes me quite happy.   Looking forward to starting the adventure this evening!



I hope YOUR week has been inspired and at least a little odd!

Nicolas
xo




Friday, April 6, 2018

A Book, A Bug and a Bit of a Revelation - First Friday Post - New Work - April 6th

Hello all!!

It's been a month since I've posted and, as many of you know, I 've been away for much of it.

The month started with a cross country train trip home to PA to see my mom. She's doing well all things considered. Still able to live on her own, drive etc. I cooked a lot, laughed a lot and learned a lot. (Family stories that you just never get as a kid or even as an adult, until you ask!) More on all that as time goes on. Anyway, that was where the first two missed Fridays went. I was off-line almost the whole time and LOVED it!

On the return trip, the train had to sit on the siding as a freight train passed. . . and that left us right outside the entrance to Glacier Park at sunrise! 

Not for everyone but I have always adored the landscape of the Dakotas. This is North Dakota.
I love the sparseness and the extremes. 


The Book: While away I finished a wonderful and inspiring book, The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay. I love a good period piece and this one set in the Victorian era of spiritualism in NY is filled with amazing scenes and characters. Its beautiful, full of magic and dreamy. . .  but gritty and relatable and I highly recommend it. I just have to say, where can I get a pet raven?!







The Bug: The last two weeks of March were spent recovering from my trip and from getting sick for the third year in a row, after my return. I don't know what I expect. It's a terrible time to travel with so many people sick and the trip, in all honesty, is exhausting. Physically (it's hard to get good sleep on a moving train) and emotionally with being both home (childhood home)  and away from home (Here, where my entire life and future are) all at once.  It took the last two weeks to get back to normal and so I let the posting of blogs slide.



The Bit of a Revelation - While away I've thought a lot about time and how I spend it.

I am fortunate, beyond my wildest dreams, that I get to make a living being creative. At the tail end of last year, and maybe this is human nature, I began thinking of how I could make things "better". I'm not even sure what that meant really. But it led to me thinking I should do more of this, or try more of that, or create new online presences etc etc.  While away, I realized that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, Every single day. So why did I think I needed to do more?

I'm still not sure really.

On the train rides I talked to many people from all over the country and what always strikes me is how many (nearly every single person) react the same way when I tell them what I do for a living.

Their response falls along this line. . . "Oh, you can really make a living doing that?"

It's always stated, it seems, with a mix of exasperation and true joy.

It jars me to remember just how difficult that is to accomplish and also, when I set out to do it, that I never thought of it that way at all. It was always just going to be the next thing I do for a living when I sold the coffeehouse.

I was certain of it. Had no doubts. I was determined and willing to put in whatever time it took to make it happen. Never giving up.

The thing is, I never stopped in the last eight years to think about what I would need to do to continue it. I thought about that a lot this last month and the answer was pretty simple.

Follow the exact same path you always have. For me/us that means making and listing new work every single day and just letting it carry us where it will, trusting that the critical mass of listings, the continued desire to improve and the exposure will bring the customers.

In a sense, I'd come to allow the thinking me to overtake the intuitive. It's easy in a world where you can feel so "out of touch" if you are not on social media or connecting somehow when it seems everyone else is.

I kept feeling I should branch out, try new venues or promote my work more. The truth is, we have never done or had to do that and I cannot see why we would take time away from making and listing new work to do so at any point unless what works for us now stops working in the future.

Inspiration is always one reason to venture into those waters, I know, but I've come to think that there is such an overwhelming amount of visual out there to inspire and that too much of it is, for me, not good.  If I take in too much I can lose my way because, YES, I want to do SO many things! Try new ideas and go down rabbit holes at every turn. So I try to limit my inspirational online dives too.

All that is to say that I came back seeing clearly that the focus for the rest of 2018 is just this:

Create, create, create!

My shops currently have less than half the stock they "should". That is, in part, because I have been selling items as fast as they make it in there but I have always thought that a shop with 80 items is more attractive to a buyer than one with 20.  Especially as the holidays approach. (Yes, I said it, the holidays are NEAR. lol)

A long time ago I used to love to toss around a saying that I picked up in my old, urban/city-hardened art days:

"There are only two kinds of artists, talkers and doers. The talkers rarely make the time to do their art and the doers rarely have time to spend talking about it."

I've always been a mix I suppose and in those early days of my adult life was I was certainly more the talker. I didn't say that type of thing to rouse or poke others, only to light a fire under myself.

It was a reminder.

It's easy to talk about what we want to do and far harder to put ourselves on the line and just take action and do them.  Somehow though, when it came to creativity as far back as childhood, I was more the doer, never the talker.

So I am going back to those roots.

My shops and my "Ledgerkeepers" book

That's it. At least for the rest of this year. . . and, honestly, it's quite enough! :)

So I'll be putting off some of those new outlets and inspirations for now and getting back to what got me here and allowed me to become a maker-of-things

And that is, simply
The Making

Which I have been doing since getting past the flu bug and below are a few of the newest pieces. :)

Thank you for coming back and I look forward to posting weekly again and to catching up on all of your blogs in the days ahead too!

XO Nicolas

I love the idea of using large flowers with a tiny house!!

I just wanted to come up with a house that had a mushroom "feel" without being a mushroom.

When I was home, I reconnected with the root of my love of ancient Egyptian/Kemetic Art.
I never tire of making Sekhmet lioness pieces and these busts have been very popular lately. 

A request for a red and gold Anubis led to this. I LOVE the colors and may make more like it going forward too!
It feels very elemental and warm. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Magick! New Work - First Friday Post - March 2nd

Hey everyone!

A week to go before I leave for my cross country train trek! Just going to stick to new things for this post, new work and few notes to share.

First, I am finally going to be getting my Instagram up and running. I have made the switch to an iPhone and the app loaded. I wanted to try and make it happen through my iPad but it was just not working out and then, as if by fate, my old flip phone dies. Luckily we had a spare, older version of an iPhone laying around here from the last time Sophie upgraded hers sooooo Yay!

I'll keep you posted and/or come find you when I get the first post up there!

For now, here's a sample of some of the newest work from the last month. Enjoy!!


I've been a lover of magick and ATW (that's All Things Witchy) since childhood. It comes and goes but it's really strong right now for some reason. . .

I got to thinking that Magick might be a fine theme for March, especially for my inspirations and oddities post later this month. So I want to present a selection of new work that really speaks to that part of me and the child within!



Let's start with Anubis or Anpu, one of the most magical of all the ancient Egyptian deities to me. I think of Him as more a guardian through transitions and change rather than an underworld figure.

I've been working on a series of bust icons recently and this is the Anubis / Anpu version. 


Tiny scenes never disappoint when it comes to inspiring magick! I am looking forward to making more detailed scenes like the large cliff tower that I showed last month and this smaller N scale one I wanted to feature this month. 

N Scale Tower on a Cliff

Gargoyles. . . oh they took my breath away as a child! I want to expand my gargoyle universe in 2018.  I was recently reading about "get lost" boxes which are a form of old traditional magick.  In days gone by, you might put a representation of the thing you wish to be rid of in a special box and bury it at a crossroads. I decided it would be soooo much better to have a gargoyle keep it for you and watch over it.  This guy comes with his own little box and tiny slips of paper for you to write what you'd like to rid yourself of down and let him do the rest.  Names are VERY important in both Gargoyle society AND Magick. . . His name is Baztertu, a Basque word for banish.

I am SO excited about expanding my gargoyle world!

 After not having made mini Moai statues for some time I got back into them this month. I sold a half dozen I think and am really enjoying working with them again. They have a certain Magick to them as well, these sentinels of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and yes, as a child I made these out of bunches of aluminum foil too! : )



I love old world architecture. Especially European and Medieval architecture. I don't usually make very many buildings that are true to those aesthetics but when I do, I always find them to have a bit of that elusive Home Magick in them. . .  or Inn Magick as it may be!


A dear customer requested a red and gold Sekhmet Lioness statue. Why not? I LOVE how She turned out and this Lady of Light is even more fiery in these colors! I stumbled upon that Golden-finish freshwater pearl in my bits and bobs and it was the perfect topper for her headpiece.



This Sekhmet feels VERY fiery to me! 

Little shoppes are potential magnets for odd fee, gnomes and the strangest of Magical items! 

Description from this listing is below:

Owned and operated by Myrrea Plumgeisse, an ageless and well-travelled gnomess and lover of all manner of things arcane and strange, the Quill and Ink shoppe provides the folk of the Pine wth a variety of implements and supplies for all their letter writing, scroll making and wax seal needs.

These include many curiosities and ephemera associated with magical use of paper and ink to peruse.

Folks in the Pine speak with joviality and awe of the uniqueness of Myrrea's vast collection of supplies, from the vials of natural ground pigments for inks that are mined from the Little Rock Hills to the large, handcrafted cabinet of curiosities which contains 48 drawers each with a plethora of various quills, nibs, grinding stones and blotters.

Folk love to browse the handmade paper section which includes sheets made from local plants like Geminanna or Wallroot for spell casting or the ever popular meadow lace leaf paper which is used as a healing device. If one places a tiny slip of it upon the tongue, it removes the symptoms or ailments that were written upon it as it dissolves.

Don't miss the special inks made from grinding up the Mood Sphere's of Tolos. Little smooth, round black stones which, when ground, create an ink that changes color when the paper it is written upon is held in the hands.

Of course, there are the less fantastic of supplies such as quills fashioned from the feathers of the Pine’s birds, an array of sootstone and many carry satchels for the most important of writings.

You’ll find a few other bits and bobs around the shops counters that have little to do with the written word but are just as enticing!  All throughout the Pine there are many folk who drop by the diminutive Quill and Ink shop just to say hello and take a gander at what Myrrea has brought back from her latest travels and adventures.

One of her best known sayings, when folk ask why she does not refer to the shoppe as a “Stationary Shoppe” is, “My dears, there is simply nothing stationary about the written word and what it can do!”


And one last one for March, a very special little Faery Windmill upon a Star!

Fashioned after a windmill found in Estonia I believe but I m not sure. . .

Thank you for dropping by and have a MaGiCkAl DAY!!! ;)

nicolas

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nostalgia #1

Hello Everyone!!

I know I missed my usual posting on Friday. I am less than two weeks away from my train trip across the country to visit my mom and I just couldn't fit in a post before the weekend with all the encroaching deadlines.

Instead, today I am going to put up the first post of a series I have been thinking about for some time, which will be called, simply, "Nostalgia".

It's been inspired by my childhood days and experiences, of course.

While I have already detailed a good bit  of the inspiration that came thru those years, all of which are part of my creative life now, there remains a lot that I do not often talk about.  Maybe because they are smaller events that seem less important or just negative things I would rather just leave behind but as I get older i realize that they all have played their part. All need to be honored for how they've shaped me. And some are just little pieces, glimpses and fragments of the whole that I never want to lose. . .

As you might expect, a trip home is fraught with memories, old patterns and sights and sounds. Being in the house/yard/woods/neighborhood where so much of who I am was formed is both a joy and also a melancholy time

So at random times, often between  Fridays,  I will post little bits and bobs of those days. I'll try to warn you when it is going to deal with the dark times, not that there were that many, This will, I suppose, be a selfish record of things I never want to forget and many that I have never before written down.

Nostalgia #1

My Winter Olympics

In the years between 10 and 16 I really only had two friends who I played with on a regular basis. I'll talk about them another time. One of them still lives down the street from my mother and seeing him each year is a chance to revisit some of those good times we shared from the past.

But much of my time then, even with two good friends, was spent alone.

In truth, it was preferred. There were so many ideas. games, stories in my head that I knew no-one else would understand or add anything to if I tried to include them.

One of those exploits was my love of the winter olympics. I could not get enough of the wonder of nations from all over the world coming together and competing in events that were so wonderfully strange to me. Luge, bobsled, biathlon, speed skating, etc We all knew about ice hockey and downhill skiing of course. I was 10 the year the olympics were held in Lake Placid, NY. The US hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" is, of course, the prevalent memory of those games for most of us in this country. But what the entire olympic spectacle inspired was a series of years, snow days permitting, where I recreated the Olympics in my back yard. I won't go into too much detail but it was one of those things that I just had to do alone.

What I remember most of about it to this day is that I took an entire day as the snow fell to make small, paper flags of all the countries for my "luge" event. I drew them with markers I think.  I had an old encyclopedia that had all the flags of the world (one of my favorite things to look at as a child!) and I meticulously tried to do them justice with my paper and markers. Then they got wrapped around craft sticks. I made medals out gold and silver foil.  I was ready.

The "luge" was just on an old red flyer wood sled. The "track" was hardly dangerous or Olympian by any standards. . . a gently sloping hill, maybe 60 or 70 yards in total length from the back porch of our home, down across a concrete lot and then a final dip down a hill past the neighbors house.

Instead of timing the sled runs for speed, I was trying to see how far I could get the sled to go.
The last ten yards or so the sled would slow to a crawl, the weight of my body the only thing pushing it forward until it came to a crunching stop in the snow.

The little flag representing the country I had just pretended to be representing would be stuck in the ground where the front of the sled ended up. Then I'd get up off the sled, haul it back up the gentle slope and do it all over again. Dozens upon dozens of times. With the exception of a rare misstep out of the "starting gate" most of the trips ended up in a very small area, within two feet of each other. Mere inches separating the best from the worst of the runs.

I can still recall, vividly, the feeling of the falling snow in my face as I went along and the internal "broadcast" of the announcers that I ad libbed in silence.

I made dozens of runs and, as the track iced over, it DID become little faster and more fun.

When it ended, I would go inside have a medal ceremony and return the next day for "ice" hockey or biathlon (FYI, plastic bb's are NOT going to be accurate in 20mph whipping, winter winds!) and some events, downhill skiing and speed skating, I had an old Atari Game system to play those out on when it got too dark outside.

The feeling I get when I think of those days is both precious and bittersweet.

I played so many games like that and I'll talk about them more in future Nostalgia posts. I just preferred those solo hours.

I still do in many ways.

When I created the "My Antarctica" photo series a few years back, those memories of cherished events and a few stark turning points from childhood were the impetus for a number of the images.

Most of those, I have never shown, including this one below which was inspired by those childhood Winter Olympics. . .






And while there were many bad moments as well, I never hesitate to say that, given the offer, I would not hesitate to forfeit up a year of my life to go back and live one day in that time (minus the negatives of school, family arguments etc) :)

When I go home, I try. A little at least. So much of it has changed, especially the outdoor landscape. But I still find that if I am very quiet and open. . . it comes back to me.

Thank you for reading!

nicolas

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Gift from the Faery Postal Service - The Makings of a Maker - Third Friday Post - February 16th

It occurred to me that I meant for these weekly Friday posts to allow for a little more freedom as far as what I am posting and writing about and I've been sticking to the format pretty tightly so far.

This was originally going to be a post about my packaging for the Bewilder and Pine Etsy shop but I've decided that this little tale I have to tell, a true story, was far more enchanting and fits the bill for the Makings of a Maker theme.




The Fairy Postal Service Creed- Neither ogres, nor trolls nor wayward customs officials stays these Fae couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.



In the first week of the new year I received a message thru Bewilder and Pine from a prospective customer in France. His question was how long would it take for a package to arrive in France as he was hoping to have a few things in time for a child's birthday party on February 10th.

This, to understate it, tickled me greatly! I do not think there is anything I love more than knowing my little fairy pieces are going to be in the lives of children (of ANY age, of course) and that they would be going off to France? Well, that was all the more thrilling.

I once spoke French fairly fluently. Enough to get around without a phrase book on my three trips there in my late teens and early twenties. Enough to carry on conversations with people I met in Paris or Nice or Calais. Enough to get around on the metro, or on foot with a map. Enough to sit on a park bench with a sweet, white haired grand-mère in the little picturesque town of Menton on the southern-most part of the Riviera and talk about life in our two countries as well as receive a lesson in French profanity!

Whenever I get a message from someone in France, I try to answer it at least in part in French. These days I have to look up certain conjugations and phrases and I confuse one word for another quite often. I forget the placement of accents and simple sentence structure. But I still try.

All that is to say this meant the world to me to be able to send a package of faery magic bound for France.

All of my shipping experiences within the EU told me that the package would certainly arrive in plenty of time. I wasn't worried in the least nor did I even consider suggesting we use Priority Mail International to expedite the shipment.

Four weeks was more than enough time.
I was certain of it.

It ended up being a rather large order of eight different fairy houses and towers. I stayed up late to pack it all up and the following day I shipped the package off.

Then, I forgot all about it.

For some reason, which I cannot begin to fathom even now, on February 7th, I suddenly thought of the package. Certain it would have arrived by then, I went to the order and clicked on the receipt for the shipping. The tracking loaded slowwwwwly and when it finally showed on my screen, I was more than a bit surprised. . .

I shipped the package on January 12th
It left the US Customs in LA on January 19th (an unusually long time for that transfer)
It arrived in France on January 21st
It then, for some reason, left France. . . and went to ISRAEL. . . on January 22nd

And that was it. There was no further tracking for it either on Etsy or thru the USPS sight.

I was, to say the least, devastated.

I wrote a very heavy message to the buyer explaining what I thought had happened while hoping that, against the odds, the package had perhaps arrived in France without any further tracking having been recorded. That's would not be so unusual for a returned or redirected package

It had not arrived.

The customer wrote back and while he was very understanding that it was not my fault as he could see the strange tracking information, he was terribly disappointed. It was, after all, meant for a birthday party.

I felt so badly about it. I asked him to let me check with my post office on the following day just to see if they could offer any more assistance.

They could not.

So, on February 8th, I sent one final message. I told the buyer I would refund the purchase amount in full and asked if he would refuse the package if or when it arrived in France.

I apologized again and sent the message off feeling rather defeated.

Then something, I have no idea what, nudged me to check the tracking one last time.

I did, and would you believe just as I was sending that last message to France a brand new entry showed up on the tracking list, the first in almost two weeks, and it said:

February 8th - Attempted Delivery Abroad - France

I know this generally means a package was attempted to be delivered and, a note should have been left for the recipient. I wrote again to the buyer asking him to let me know if this was correct and if he was going to be able to get the package in time.

I received a very happy message informing me that, yes, he would be able to pick up the package on February 9th just one day before it was needed!!! If the story needed any more of a happy ending, after all that traveling and bouncing around, everything inside was in perfect condition! The customer was thrilled!

Now, I don't share a lot of my personal beliefs here but let me. say that I don't usually do anything special to ask for favors from the kind folk or the faeries. Some stories, after all, say the Fae folk do not like being thanked. . . it actually is an insult to them.

I have, since I was a child, simply believed — no, I've KNOWN— that they are with me. Watching over me. There have simply been too many instances and encounters, one of which was life saving, for me to deny it. It's been a thread in my life.

I like to believe that all of the magic I put into the world through my creations are the reciprocations of that fateful connection. They are my end of the deal. One I intend to uphold with all my ability for the rest of my days.

And that deal? Ohhhh there's so much more to tell you. . . .another time perhaps?

Thank you for dropping by!
XO
nicolas

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday Post - February 9th

It's time for Inspirations and Oddities, my monthly, second Friday post.

I am hoping you all are well in Blogger Land! I look forward to catching up a bit more on my favorite blogs in the coming weeks. A busy time ahead for us that culminates with a train trip home for me in March. I love the 2-day cross country train experience. This may be the last time I do it though (time/cost etc) so I am going to make the most of every moment!

So on with the oddities and inspirations for this month!

From the book world I wanted to recommend "I Kill Giants" which, I just found out is being made into a movie! This really caught me by surprise. It's a story was originally told in graphic novel form and it was a story that really touched me. I am such a fan of comics and yet I am still amazed at the difference in the genre from my own childhood. More and more are being turned into movies and shows it seems and this one will be wonderful I am sure.

Here is the trailer for I Kill Giants

What I like best, having read the graphic novel, is that this trailer gives away NONE of the true depth of the story but still looks pretty amazing!

And this is the graphic novel cover. The art inside is all black and white and borrows from the Manga style quite nicely while still being very original.



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Nature never lets us down. . . Perfect for almost any story where you'd like a bird to be used a snitching plot device, I give you Australia's Superb Lyrebird (that's the actual name, I'm not giving it extra praise with the addition of superb, but it earns it I promise you!)

The Lyrebird of Australia

And one about beautiful and mysterious Lichens!

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Ok, and lastly, an odd inspiration for sure. . . I have mentioned before that Sofie and I are always on the lookout for that perfect, magical place/house/cottage to buy. We can't afford many areas of the country and we are picky, only wanting to do this once in our life. . . all of which have pushed us to widen our search. Even if we aren't planning to move to many of the places we may peek at, I have to say they can be very inspiring. There is a lot of enchantment out there. A LOT! And, of course,  we're in no hurry as we love where we are at but the dampness is proving to be a bit troublesome for finding home that isn't affected by it. Also I'm starting to feel the lack of snow and it's making me nostalgic as I'm still a Northeast, 4 distinct seasons kid at heart.
Finally, the cost of housing here is making us both blue. When the perfect place comes along, we think we will just know. It helps to be able to do what we do from anywhere just as long as internet is available and a post office and decent grocery store are within reach.

Some of the towns we have put on our watch list are:
Elk Horn, Iowa
Otttumwa, IA
Berlin, NH
Weiser, ID
Burns or Baker City, OR
Wiscasset, ME
or just about any town in NH, VT, ME really as we both love old farmhouses :)

But really, almost anywhere that is not too near a major city and where the weather is not too hot for too much of the year and the houses are truly affordable. And, of course, it must be magical. . .

Anyway, the first house I posted here, the one in Tennessee, already sold!

In it's place I've decided to post one that likely will not sell but that gives you our ideal of "charm".

We like to call it the "Witch House", and it's more than a bit out of our price range. . . and it's in a remote part of Idaho in the Sawtooth mountains where the last 40 MILES of road to the town is gravel soooo, yeah, that wouldn't really work either!!

But who wouldn't want to live in a Witch House?

This one in Crumpler NC almost fits the bill. we would just prefer a large work space instead of all the small rooms but that scenery!!

Our priorities for a home are: a large workspace that's well it by natural light, access to nature (if not our own land), garden space and charm.  Also, a shop/garage space would be great to allow us to try some of the creative ventures we cannot do here like soldering/jewelry, casting, high temp firing, acid etching, wood burning and more. We've little to no concern for entertaining, putting up guests and the like if it means sacrificing any of our creative desires. Besides, we still want to have that "fortress of solitude"feel around us as we do now :)

Well I think that's it for this week! Back to a post on packaging next week and then world-building/mapmaking the following week!

XO

Nicolas