Saturday, February 25, 2006

Art of Gracious Living #11

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #11
When Diana, Jocelyn and I "played beads" this past week it made me think about resources.

I noticed each of us did the same thing - we got out the beads we had so we could examine everything at once. It was only when we had everything out that we could consider different combinations.

I was struck that this is something we must do in all areas of life - understand our resources, talents and energies - know what we have to work with.

Click here for the Art of Gracious Living PCN #11

Mailboxes and Beads

I went to the post office this morning for the MHA and also picked up my own mail. Now, you might be asking yourself, why would that be? Well, because since my mailbox disintegrated a few weeks ago, I have had my mail held and picked it up at the post office. You'd think this is a great solution. And it would be if the postal service cared about customer service at all.

They will hold your mail for only 30 days. After that, they will return it to the sender. If you're having your mail held, they will delight in pointing out the power that they have to return it after 30 days each time you pick up your mail.

I love the postal employees here who work at the counter - well, with one exception - but overall they're great. Friendly, charming, pleasant - I love to visit with them when I pop in. They're really nice. The carriers have become another story. Their favorite pasttime seems to be putting slips in the mailbox saying to not park on front of the box. Do I look like a person who controls public parking? What leads you to believe that I possess this power? Do I have rights of which I'm unaware? It's an old neighborhood. Lots of people don't have driveways. Of course they're going to park on the street. Where else would they park? I have graciously offered to put my mailbox back on the porch, where no one is EVER parked. But, they're already so lazy they don't want to walk up to the porch, which is why they want to be able to ride along and stick the mail in the boxes. My neighbors have never put theirs out at the street and I remind them to not do it. Once you do, you're screwed.

I purchased a new mailbox just a day or two after mine fell apart under suspicious circumstances related to the people working at my house. I wasn't there when whatever it was happened, but came home to the handyman announcing that it had "fallen over." That may be true, but it seems odd that gravity suddenly overtook it with no provocation. The fact that people were parked near it was probably more related to its demise.

I wasn't too upset because it needed to be replaced anyway. The wooden post had split and been repaired, the box had been banged, etc. etc. etc. If I'd had ANY idea what an ordeal this would turn into, I would have raised hell when I found it on the ground when I got home.

This is the fourth time I've had to do something to the mailbox since I've moved in. Ask me if I enjoy it? OK, don't. It will just remind me of how pissed off I am at the whole process.

The new post I purchased - plastic, which supposedly lasts longer than anything else - was impossible to assemble. Three of us tried at various times. Yesterday I took it back to Lowes and told them it was not possible to assemble this. To top it off, its design flaws were so numerous I don't have the fingertip power to type them all. Lets just say it must have been designed by people at Rubbermaid who have never been in the wind - much less Kansas wind.

Lowes took it back without blinking an eye, as if they'd done this very thing a few times. I went back to purchase something else that was more durable. I didn't want another wood one - they rot - in a pretty short amount of time. This left me with one option - a metal post. So, that's what I got. At least it has some materials in it that seem a bit sturdier. Greg helped assemble it and pound it into the ground. Yes, pounding. Lots of pounding was involved.

What I've learned is that all mailbox posts readily available on the market in Hutchinson, Kansas are crap. They're poorly designed and complete crap. Crap. I have NO experience designing such things and I'm certain I could do better. Parts that fit and are made of sturdy materials would be a good start - not to be too obvious.

Finally, before 6 p.m., the new mailbox was in place. I was so relieved. I had told them today when I picked up the mail to resume delivery, so I had to have a box to put the mail in tomorrow. I'm sure my carrier has been counting the days until she could send my mail back.

When I picked up my mail today, I had two wonderful surprises in it. It was just as well I got it at the postoffice because one of them was something that couldn't be bent. Well, shouldn't have been bent. Although, for all my complaining about my carrier, she is good about that sort of thing. She has never bent anything that shouldn't be.

Anyway, it was this big envelope - more than a foot square. I had no idea what was inside.

When I opened it up, it was a beautiful Scotland calendar from my friend, Trevis. It's gorgeous and I now want to visit Scotland - if only the exchange rate weren't so awful between the dollar and the pound.

Trevis and I met through GAMIAN conferences and we just bonded immediately. I really adore her. We didn't get to see each other this past year and I really missed her.

This was completely unexpected and just made me smile.

Looking at the photos of Scotland make me really want to visit there. I'm sure the photos are "the best" of course, but there are 12 gorgeous views. Plus, if I were in Scotland I'd get to see Trevis, which would be a huge bonus.

I had another surprise in the mail, too. It was a package from Chacra Music. I wrote on here a few days ago that Chacra music had given me permission to use Tino Izzo's music in my podcasts. Today was the first one I did with music at the end of the show and it really adds to it.

Many podcasters just use music without permission, but I wanted to make sure I had permission so there was never a problem. They were very generous in letting me use the music. I'm using "Elusive Memories" from the Foreign Skies CD. I have had that CD for many years and loved it from the first time I heard it. When I was looking for music for The Art of Gracious Living, I knew it would be on that CD. I'm so tickled they gave me permission to use it.

The owner told me he wanted to send me Tino Izzo's other CDs in case there was something on them I wanted to use in the future. That's what arrived today. It was so very kind of him to do that. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but "Four September Suns" is in my laptop right now.
I always enjoy seeing French, and being able to read a bit here and there so the packaging was an additional treat for me.

After getting the mailbox up this afternoon, Greg and I went out to get something to eat and then went to the hospital to see Terry's mom. They had just given her some pain medication so we didn't see her but did visit with Terry and his sister and brother in law.

Diana and Jocelyn were coming over tonight to play beads again. We had a nice evening and actually accomplished something tonight. I made three pair of earrings. Jocelyn did about seven pair, although she still has to put the wires on them. Diana made a couple of necklaces, including the one she's wearing in this photo.

Mia, Greg's girlfriend, who is a beader extraordinaire, emailed tonight that she thinks the rocks I showed the other day that Diana has are turquoise. I told her they're not heavy, but apparently the density of turquoise can vary depending on where it's from.

Jocelyn is making things for an upcoming show in mid March. She's taking stock of what she has as far as paintings, jewelry, etc.

I made brownies tonight and we had some tea. We have gotten out of the habit of gathering for creative nights and we need to get back into it. We learn from each other and it also helps all of us to get started on new things.

I was thinking tonight that I didn't even know how to make jewelry until Jocelyn taught me a year or two ago. I bought some lapis a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure what to do with it but I've always loved it - it's very Egyptian - so I need to think about that.