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New Routines

What brought me here today:

One of the things that there is just no way of getting around is that the move to Delaware has turned my regular work schedule inside out and upside down. All of the routines that I had when living and working in Finland are gone. POOF! New routines for work have to be created. Establishing those new routines is going to take some time and planning.

During the two weeks leading up to the actual move, and then the (I had to look and count) month since we’ve moved into our new apartment, my daily schedule has just been all over the place. I find it incredibly disorienting both mentally and physically. Presently, I’m only set-up to work on my computer. And with social media platforms I use to promote my artwork. I’ve not been able to create any kind of artwork yet.

To begin reestablishing my work routines, I’m starting with my daily journal and the re-opening of my online shop.

Daily journal:

A big part of how I stay organized is my daily journal. I’ve written about it before here. The current daily journal that I’m using will be finished at the end of July. Prior to moving, I found a larger format bullet journal at Flying Tiger. I’ve never used a bullet journal before because I found them too small for my personal liking. I decided to give the larger format bullet journal a try.

I was so pleased with the larger format bullet journal that I purchased a second one. That may sound odd to some. My daily journal has become such an integral part of how I work, plan, organize, and record the track of my small business. I wanted to have an extra on hand so there wouldn’t be an scrambling to find a new daily journal.

I begin my work day with my daily journal. There are specific tasks that I have noted for each day, as well as specific days. Checking things off on my lists of regular tasks helps me get into the groove of my work day. Right now, all of the work that I’m doing is centered around what I can do on computer. Writing blog posts, taking photos, doing research, and creating Go Marielle posts are what I’m currently set-up to accomplish right now.

Online shop:

I re-opened my online shop just a few days ago on the 19th of July. Now that we’re living in the US again, I’ve had to update the shipping for all items in my shop. This isn’t easy, whether your working in Finnish or English. It’s a lot of incredibly un-fun monotonous computer entry-type work. Point. Click. Find. Change. Save. Repeat ad nauseam.

For any customers within North America, shipping will cost less. My European customers will be paying a little more. I’m researching boxes for shipping my artwork, a postal scale, and how to print my own shipping labels to streamline my entire shipping process too. I will start with US domestic shipping first. Then add North America, Europe and the rest of the world.

This whole process may take some time. Your patience is greatly appreciated! As always, if you have any questions about an item(s) in my shop, shipping, etc., please contact me through my website Contact form. I’m still in the process of deciding what pieces I will return to my shop. There’s also a lot of planning going on for what new pieces I want to create for the shop in the upcoming weeks.

So, now what?

Working without a proper desk, chair, and lamp can be severely limiting. At the time I’m writing this post, some of the new equipment, furniture and other items have been purchased, or are in the process of being delivered. There seems to be quite a few of our new neighbors that have deliveries from all kinds of different stores. My hopes are that our shipments will go smoothly too. Until then, I will just be patient, and do what work I can, with the set-up I currently have.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Frugal Pursuit

What brought me here:

I sometimes stop to look around and compare what my life is in real life to what I feel has been modeled to me by my culture and upbringing. At my age, I thought that I would have a more settled life. Settled in things like my career, home and car ownership, children (maybe) and my perceived place within larger society. These were the expectations of a very young, inexperienced version of myself.

Moving from Finland back to the United States has brought many of the aforementioned thoughts back to the forefront of my mind. For me, this is just part of readjusting to living in the US again. The intense messages of consumerism and a certain degree of societal conformity are hard for me to ignore. Part of the reason I want to write this blog post is so that I can clearly explain myself and my reasons for living the life that I have freely chosen.

Okay, what gives?

Yeah. I know it sounds strange. It’s as if I’m making some huge, life-altering declaration. It’s nothing as dramatic as that! Perhaps I feel I need to explain myself because the way in which I’m choosing (along with my husband) to live my life seems to be in almost direct contradiction to not only the culture of the US, but in some manner, the ways in which I was raised. Heck, it runs contradictory to being an artist and an art teacher as well.

Stuff:

When my husband and I moved to Finland, we sold, donated, gave away, trashed and recycled most of our belongings. There were some boxes that I had moved from apartment to apartment and had never really gone through them. I couldn’t understand why I kept things in boxes that I never used or even looked at. It didn’t make sense to me at all. I was just moving these time capsules from place to place for no good reason.

While we were in Finland, I did get better about sorting through and getting rid of things that I knew I wouldn’t use. But in all honestly, the last year or so saw me concentrating more on my artwork, and much, much less on sorting, donating, and recycling my ‘stuff’. This made the act of packing up and moving just a little more stressful for me. And I’ve decided I don’t ever want to do that again.

What’s the plan?

Well, in a nutshell, not to buy as much stuff. But let’s face it, that kind of explanation is as infuriating as the doctor who tells you to simply eat less to lose weight. I’m not trying to say that I’ve found some magical plan that is super-easy and lots of people can duplicate. I’m also not talking about some Marie Kondo kind of solution either.

The over-all plan is something that my husband and I have been talking about for about a year. It dove-tails nicely into each of our own business plans. And will help us get to the next stage in our goals to build our businesses.

What we buy:

My husband and I are both in agreement that we want to put money into each of our businesses so that we can grow in the directions we have planned. For me, this means that there need to be some equipment purchases, including a new computer, lights, and a camera to start. My husband also has a list of equipment purchases to make as well.

We also have decided that we owned too many clothes that we did not use. Working from home doesn’t place the same sort of clothing requirements on us as it does for a public school teacher, or office worker. A capsule wardrobe is something that we’re working towards as well. It reduces our impact on the environment, and our budget. This was an easy adjustment for us to make.

We’ve decided to purchase less furniture too. What we do purchase is targeted to assist us in building our businesses. A good bed and mattress, along with sheets, pillows and comforters is a must for both of us. Neither one of us can work if we’re getting bad sleep. A nice kitchen table has been left for us by the previous tenant. So we only need to buy two chairs for it. There’s no immediate need to have four chairs.

Frugal or cheap?

There are some people who might say that we’re not being frugal, we’re just being cheap. To that, I just roll my eyes and shrug. This is how we are choosing to live. We’re not pushing it onto anyone else. Our credit scores are good and we have money in the bank. That’s something I find so much more satisfying than buying objects that I will just have to schlep with me when we move again.

John Wesley has been an influence on both of us regarding how and on what we spend our money. One of the things that Wesley did that my husband and I both admire is a simple calculation for managing his personal money. If he earned 10£, but only needed 5£ to live on, the extra 5£ went into savings. If his earnings rose to 20£, he still lived on 5£ and saved the rest.

In a way, that is what we’re attempting to do by purchasing fewer things like clothing and home decor. We want to spend our money as precisely as possible on the items that will help us to attain our entrepreneurial goals. I personally don’t feel as though I’m being made to sacrifice much. I will have the things I need to be content. What else would I need?

Walking contradiction:

Having written all of the above, there may be people who say, “But wait a minute. Didn’t you spend a chunk of cash to ship your artwork to your new home?” Yes. I did. I also taught several art workshops to pay for the shipping to do so. That had been decided upon when I accepted the offer to teach the workshops.

From an emotional standpoint, I didn’t want to part with my larger pieces of artwork. But, when looked at from an entrepreneurial stance, those pieces of artwork are also needed so that I can begin establishing myself as an artist in the city of Wilmington and surrounding areas. So, when looked at from a different angle, spending the money to ship the artwork will be worth it.

So, now what?

As I’ve said in several of the previous blog posts, I’m working on the floor with my computer on some plastic bulk candy containers (that presently contain some of the artwork that will be for sale again on my website). Again, at my age it seems like a strange, really poor thing to do. But then I remind myself that I am firmly a Gen-X-er and suddenly feels rather punk instead.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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Shop Open!

Open shop!

This is just a short post announcing that my online shop is once again open! There are presently a limited items currently available for purchase. I’m still making decisions regarding what items will be returning to the shop, and which items will be permanently removed.

Currently, I am only able to ship purchased items domestically within the United States. During the next week, I will be adding more shipping options so that I may ship internationally again as soon as possible!

All of the downloadable patterns I have listed are available for purchase from my shop. You can look through the online patterns here.

New items:

I’m slowly getting my new studio organized so that I can begin creating all the new artwork I’ve been wanting to start. The new items will begin appearing in the shop in the next few weeks. To see what I’m working on, make sure that you’re following me on Instagram @Katie_Kinsman_Artist and on Twitter @KatieKinsmanArt.

If you have any questions, please contact me here!

Thank you for visiting my website!

 

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New Digs

What brought me here today?

When we moved to Finland, I was entering as a university student. We lived in student housing. Our very first apartment came furnished. It wasn’t extravagant or even mildly fancy. We had a place to eat. A place to sleep. Desks to work at with chairs to sit in. We spent only one year in the furnished housing. When we moved to our last apartment, we spent about a week without furniture while we waited for the Ikea order to arrive.

This time around, we’re spending a little longer without furniture. We do have an air mattress loaned to us by a friend. And the previous tenant left her couch and kitchen table. Other than that, we’ve been working without desks, chairs, lamps, etc. Presently, I’m working at a desk made of four plastic bulk candy containers from Prisma with my computer on top. I’m sitting on the floor with a folded blanket beneath my rear-end, with a cushion from the couch against the wall.

This isn’t ideal, but I know it’s not forever.

New apartment:

It feels strange to say that this apartment is ‘new’. It’s actually the second floor of a house built in the 1880’s. The interiors remind me of the first apartment I had when I was going to art school in the early 90’s. I lived in an old Victorian that had been cut into four apartments, and had previously been used as a Montessori school.

Our new digs are bigger than our last apartment in Finland, and they are a lot more funky and unique. The living room and hallway are carpeted, as is my small studio, There are hardwood floors in the bedroom, and linoleum in the bathroom and kitchen. We really didn’t have a separate kitchen in our old apartment. My husband is happy to have a more separate space for cooking.

There are also two window mounted air conditioners. One in the bedroom and one in the living room. I don’t know that I have lived in an apartment that had air conditioning of any kind, ever in my life. In the southwest, I always had a swamp cooler, which usually did little in the way of cooling my apartment. We’ve had some super hot days here, and the air conditioners have been used. My husband and I both prefer to have windows open for cross breeze though.

Neighborhood:

One of the reasons we chose Wilmington was because of it’s smaller size as a city. There are several different neighborhoods in the city, each with a distinct vibe to them. We both like that where we’re living is mixed with home owners, renters and apartments. It all just looks like a cohesive neighborhood though. We hear kids playing, people walking around. There are lots of porches and small front gardens where people sit and work too.

Jyväskylä is a very ethnically and culturally diverse city. That’s due in part to the international students studying at the university. After living in Jyväskylä for seven years, we wanted to live in a place that was as diverse as possible. Wilmington so far is a nice fit for where we want to be right now. The people here are friendly and welcoming. What more could I ask for?

Finding a place to live:

I mentioned it in my last blog post that our new landlord is a Finn, didn’t I? It sounds so strange to have moved from Finland to the US and have a Finnish landlord. I honestly thought in the beginning that maybe we were getting played, but then I heard our new landlord speak. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After more than a month of fruitless apartment searches, we were starting to get concerned that we were having little luck in finding a new apartment in the US. We had been looking for quite some time, and all of our inquiries were met with total silence, or a form letter that asked us to “drop by for a tour“. Other times, they asked for a chunk of money just to submit an application. With no guarantee that we would even get an apartment.

My husband stayed up late one evening looking at apartment listings and came across the apartment we have just moved into. He sent the landlord a short message inquiring about the apartment, and was quickly answered by a man who said he didn’t usually answer out of country messages. But he had to answer this one, because it was coming from his home country, Finland.

New landlord:

Honestly, everything happened so quickly. We had signed our lease within a week of that initial email. Our new landlord understood our difficulties in finding a new place to live in another country. He did want a friend of ours to come and meet him and tour the apartment first. We were so fortunate that a friend of ours could do this on the way home from work!

Once our friend gave us a thumbs-up, and several short videos showing the apartment, we were positive that we wanted this apartment. Our new landlord worked with us through email and phone to sign all the paperwork and finalize the deposits, first and last months rent, etc. The new landlords understanding of how Finnish banking works helped out so much too.

So, now what?

We’re quite content in our new apartment. I must admit, it will be nicer once we have some real furniture! Finland taught me many important lessons. One of the most useful to me is that nothing is necessarily forever. Things are always changing around you. Adapting to that change makes the transitions easier to work through. Yeah. I’m sitting on the floor typing this on an old MacBook Pro, but in the coming weeks, I will have a new desk, chair and computer to work on.

I just need to roll with it for now.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Planes, Trains, and Governmental Agencies

What brought me here today:

I’ve always liked traveling. Exploring a place, culture and people that are not familiar to me is something I enjoy quite a bit. It’s almost a surrealistic experience for me. All of the experiences that I have while traveling have to be incorporated into every other thing that I know, or have experienced. As an artist, I’ve always loved smushing-together things that seem different. Things whose only connection is me.

But there is a distinct difference between traveling for fun/pleasure and traveling because you’re moving to a new city, and in our case, another country. Every aspect of the travel takes on a distinctly laborious aura. Missing a connection, or being held-up by various governmental agencies are somehow more stressful when you’re trying to get through an airport with all of your possessions in four suitcases.

Flight plans:

Without giving too many details, we had several flights to get to our final destination. My husband and I were divvied-up the travel tasks. My husband handled the airline reservations. I handled the busses, trains and hotel reservations. We were both well-versed in bus, train and taxi travel within Finland. So I had little difficulty with my tasks.

Neither one of us enjoys being on transatlantic airline flights, but we had no choice. It was going to have to be done.

Checked baggage:

I’ve written in a previous post about how I had to break apart my artwork to get it into shipping containers as well as my luggage. When we moved to Finland, we had four large suitcases that were all well over the weight limits for checked baggage. I think I remember that we paid close to 400€ in overages alone. I attributed this to the two of us taking so many things with us because we didn’t know if we could find similar items in Finland.

With this move, we knew where we could find replacement items of clothing, technology, cosmetics, etc. We weeded out any items that we could replace in future. This made a lot more room for my artwork and art supplies too.

Weather and holidays:

When the airplane reservations were made, we hadn’t thought at all about Juhannus. It’s a huge part of the Finnish summer. And it was happening smack in the middle of when we clearing our of our old apartment, and moving back to the US. We were incredibly lucky that the formal business holidays didn’t occur on the actual solstice, 20 June.

Accidentally coinciding with Juhannus was a heat wave that just about killed my husband. It was close to 30° C (86° F). I know that doesn’t sound bad, but Finland is built for cold temperatures, not hot ones. Most homes don’t have air conditioning. This is one of the many reasons why Finns head to the lake cabin or out into nature once summer temperatures arrive. It’s just too hot indoors!

Many years ago, my father (a former Marine) told me to always pay attention to how much I drank and urinated (gross, sorry) while being physically active in extremely hot, humid weather. It got a little scary during the last week in our old apartment, because we were constantly drinking, but going to the toilet maybe once a day. This was not good for our health.

On the move:

Once the apartment was cleaned and vacated, we still had a lot of travel ahead of us. And the temperatures just kept climbing. I know that travel causes a considerable amount of anxiety for my husband. I wanted to make sure that any possible sources of stress were eliminated beforehand. Staying in three hotels seems extravagant. But the good beds and air conditioning helped my husband manage his anxiety levels.

When we arrived via train in Helsinki, it was already 32° C (89.6° F). The city felt like it was closer to 38° C (100° F) with the heat from all the stone and concrete, plus the humidity. It was exhausting to be dragging 50 k (110 lbs.) of luggage around in that kind of heat and humidity.

We wanted to walk around and eat in a park, but we were just exhausted from cleaning, packing, wrangling out suitcases and checking in and out of hotels. We hit a good  R-Kioski. Bought food and drinks. Then headed back to the hotel to rest and chill out. We had to be up at 3;00 to catch a train!

Planes:

Getting to the airport in Vantaa was super easy. We bought two tickets at an automated machine and found our train. It was one of the first trains departing the main Helsinki train station for the airport that morning. Our flight was leaving at 7;00. Traveling early in the morning was part of the plan.

I cannot tell you how happy we both were when we checked our bags! FREEDOM! I felt…well, around 110 pounds lighter! We also didn’t have to pay any fees for our luggage at all. Three of our four bags came in at around 23 k (50.7 lbs.). YES!

We had a short connecting flight to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It was uneventful. I actually fell asleep during the flight.

Governmental agencies:

We had an incredibly strange interaction with passport and border control police at Schiphol. I went first in line and was asked a few questions then was waived through. For some reason, the police detained my husband. They seemed upset that neither one of us had a Finnish identification card. When we told them that we had to turn them over to Finnish immigration prior to leaving the country, they didn’t seem to believe us.

At one point, they seemed to think we were lying about coming from Finland, or that we had even lived in Finland. They kept trying to trip us up by asking us “How long did you live in Sweden?” and “When did you decide to move to the Netherlands to study?” When what I told them didn’t change, they kept on questioning us. At one point, I was getting a little pissed. One of the officers turned to me and said to me in a very condescending tone, “Why are you so upset?“. I bit my tongue.

I could not help but notice that all of the other people passport and border control were detaining were not caucasian. Part of me wondered if they were trying to make it ‘look better’ by stopping the two of us. In the end, one of the officers took our paperwork and went to call Migri in Finland. He came back a few minutes later (too quick if you ask me) and said we were free to go. One of the officers tried to joke with me and I stopped him. I was in no mood to joke around with someone who had jerked us around for absolutely no good reason.

Flight across the pond:

Apparently, the Universe wanted to make it up to us. When were seated for our flight, the person sitting in the aisle seat noticed that there were a lot of empty seats on the plane. They asked a flight attendant if it was okay to move to an empty seat. It was totally okay with the attendant. So my husband and I had a much more comfortable flight.

I slept. Watched movies. And periodically, the attendants came through and gave us food. Pretty good food for airplane cuisine too. I stuck to drinking water and hoped at some point I would return peeing normally. (Sorry. It’s really gross, but true.)

Oh wait! More governmental agency hoops! Wheee!

This wasn’t incredibly pleasant either. Re-entering the US as a citizen was a breeze compared to getting through Schiphol. The only thing I hated was having to go through the wierd, rushing, screamy search of my carry-on bag and the removal of my shoes. I found it incredibly humiliating and de-humanizing.

Aaaaand again, I had to get felt-up because I wear a bra with an underwire. At least this time, the woman doing the pat-down was much more gentle. She asked permission before touching me. And, just one look at her communicated to me that she knew exactly what an underwire was, and why some women need to wear bras with them. She was quite a nice woman who joked around with me easily. She knew that no one likes getting felt-up by a total stranger.

One more time for each:

Our last flight was delayed three separate times. We were so tired that we didn’t care a whole lot. A friend had arranged transport for us from the last airport to our last hotel room. And I cannot tell you how much I appreciated that. It’s one of the nicest and most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received in my life.

The hotel was pretty good. But when you’re so flippin’ tired from traveling, any place with a toilet, decent shower and comfortable bed is going to feel like a five star accommodation. The next morning we walked to a Starbucks one street over and met the nicest baristas who made us feel incredibly welcomed and at ease in our new city.

We had the hotel call us a taxi to take us to our new apartment. We could have easily walked up the street to our new apartment, but the thought of dragging our luggage was not something either of us wanted to do. The driver and taxi were lovely. We made sure to get his card, because he’s a one-man business, and we want to give him our future business.

So, now what?

We met our new landlord and got the keys to our apartment next. One of the strangest coincidences of our whole experience of moving back to the US is the fact that our new landlord in Finnish. But that’s a story for another blog post.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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What Did I do with My Artwork?

What brought me here today?

The largest and most difficult task for me during the move was what do to with all of my artwork, supplies and materials. I had little difficulty going through my clothing and personal items, weeding out what I would keep and what I would donate. At one point, very early in the entire process, I burst into tears at the thought of having to leave all of my artwork behind. Or worse, having to just throw it away because there was no way anyone would buy it. (Yeah. I am completely aware of how weird that sounds.)

Long story somewhat shorter, five boxes of my artwork were shipped from Jyväskylä, Finland to our new apartment in Delaware. The shipping charges were…(insert eye-rolling and a lot of sighing here) more expensive than I had planned for. But I needed to have them for my future small business plans.

(Edit: All five boxes arrived in Delaware about a week and a half after we did. I honestly thought that it would be closer to a month before they would get here. The packages are in my studio right now. Waiting to be opened!)

Let’s start with the crying:

I surprised myself by how incredibly emotional I became at the thought of not being able to keep the vast majority of my large paper mâché pieces of artwork. My life if constructed around the creation of art. The thought of being without that artwork made me  feel mentally and physically incomplete. Realistically, it felt like a hard punch or two to the gut.

Yes. I’m attached to my artwork. As well I should be. Art is a huge portion of my personal and professional identity. The rest of my possessions don’t mean that much to me. All but a few are replaceable. I had no emotional attachment to them. I hadn’t created them. My winter coat, dress shoes, hairdryer and iron were just objects that I could, in time, replace.

So yeah. I cried. Then decided that I needed to figure out how in the hell I would get my artwork across an ocean in one piece.

Procrastination or…?

Then what I thought was procrastination hit me square in the face. I organized all of my art tools, materials and supplies. What was going to come with me was quickly and easily chosen. I put together donations for several people and art educational groups from the gargantuan remainder of my tools, materials and supplies. While I worked, I kept looking at my large paper mâché pieces and wishing that I they would somehow magically pack themselves into boxes.

I procrastinated about packing my artwork for a few week. I actually did not pack my artwork until about two days before we left Jyväskylä. My poor husband didn’t want to push too hard to make me pack the artwork either. He sensed that there was something else going on, even when I didn’t totally realize it myself. Yet.

‘In one piece’ was the problem:

The thing that was stopping me from packing up my large paper mâché pieces was the fact that I had to break them to get them into their shipping containers. I know I’ve made jokes about piling-up my artwork and lighting it all on fire when I’m frustrated or angry. But the thought of actually doing that makes me cringe. I’m very firmly a creator, and not a destroyer.

Most of my larger paper mâché pieces were designed to come apart, at least partially. This was helpful, but didn’t solve all of the problems of getting my artwork to fit within the containers I purchased. I had to break most of the pins holding on arms and legs. And I ended-up pulling the heads off of other pieces. Some pieces had smaller components that had to be carefully broken-off too.

The whole experience just suuuucked. I did not like having to purposefully break my artwork. It felt so incredibly wrong. While packing the pieces, I kind of turned on ‘auto-pilot’. I didn’t allow myself to think too much about what I was doing. Otherwise, I might have started crying. And that wouldn’t have been helpful in the slightest.

Repair work:

I use wooden dowels and bamboo skewers to attach movable arms and legs to the large, paper mâché pieces. I can repair the damage that I inflicted on my artwork over time. Several large pieces, including Pink Paddle Doll , Shirley, Agnes, and Kiddo had have parts intentionally broken-off of their surfaces so that they could be packed for shipping.

Kiddo and Pink Paddle, and several pieces that were already under construction were packed in my suitcases along with my clothing and other personal items. My husband and I didn’t want to have to pay un-godly high baggage fees, so we were extremely careful in what we packed in our luggage. My large work almost all paper mâché which is lightweight. The trade-off is that the pieces did get bashed around a little bit.

Repairing my artwork won’t be incredibly fun, but I like it better than the alternative of not having them at all. My husband thought that the repair work would be a good way to get settled into my new studio space. Working on something familiar will be comforting to me. And a good way to christen the new work space.

Now what?

As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, we are waiting on our furniture. Remember earlier, when I said that I wasn’t too attached to things like a winter coat or a pair of heels? Well the same goes for the furniture we had. Almost every stick of furniture we had in Finland was from Ikea. Including my desk, shelves, chair and lamp. I’m getting a smaller desk. And I don’t need any shelves. I am upgrading my desk chair though. But all of that is for another post.

Once I have a functioning workspace, I will begin to repair my broken artwork. I have several pieces that once repaired, will go right back up on the wall. I also have several small dolls that are waiting to be finished as well. Hopefully I can get back to more of a normal creative work-flow by the end of the month of July.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.

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Where We Landed

What brought me here today:

This post is meant mostly to reveal where my husband and I have settled after leaving Finland. I know that it might have seemed a little strange that we didn’t say anything about where we were going prior to moving. Part of that has to do with wanting to have a certain amount of anonymity during the planning of, and actual physical move to the new residence.

When making a large decision, I’ve learned to keep most of the details to myself until I’m committed enough that no amount of criticism or cajoling can make me change my mind. My husband has a similar type of mind set regarding big, life-altering decisions. In reality, the only two people who really needed to know about when and where we were moving to were myself and my husband.

That’s not to say that we told absolutely no one where we were moving to. We told a small group of people, when we thought they needed to know. To be completely honest, I accidentally told a friend of mine in a DM chat on Instagram over a month ago. Then I promptly swore her to secrecy. She’s a busy woman and has little time to bother blabbing about me!

Is a drumroll needed?

My husband and I have moved to Delaware. I must admit, it was not a state that I thought I would ever live. But here I am, sitting on the floor of what will become my studio, typing the words, “…I have moved to Delaware…“.  My husband is two rooms away, working away in his new work space too.

The question you may be asking yourself is, “So….why Delaware?” We wanted to move to a place where neither one of us had ever lived. My husband was raised in a small town near Philadelphia. So, he has a degree of regional understanding and comfort here that it’s been interesting for me to observe.

Yeah, but why Delaware?

Yeah.I can understand why there may be people who will still not understand why we didn’t return to the southwest. Or why we didn’t move closer to family. Well, on the first count, it’s just too bloody hot! I lived in New Mexico for 19 years. And while I miss the friends I made there, I was not moving back to that kind of heat on purpose, ever.  As for moving closer to family, that would no be a good idea for many reasons.

When we were deciding on where we wanted to move to, we had a lot of things to take into consideration. Most of my sales are made in North America. The shipping will be less expensive for my customers too. We’ve positioned ourselves close to several large, cosmopolitan cities. The hope is that I will have more opportunities to show and sell my artwork too.

While I’m loathe to admit it, there are some art supplies and materials that I can locate and purchase more easily within the US. .62¢ for DMC embroidery floss! SWOON! There are other supplies and materials that I may have to do a little more digging around for. We haven’t found a second hand shop where I can purchase materials for my artwork like the ones I grew to adore in Jyväskylä.

But, seriously…Delaware?

Okay. I know. Delaware isn’t exactly flashy or trendy. But then again, do I strike you as a person who wants to live in a flashy, or trendy manner? That ship sailed for me in 8th grade, with parachute pants used as the main sail. No city, state or country is ever going to be a perfect for us. We chose where we’re living carefully and purposefully. This particular place is where we want to be right now.

The people in the city we’re in are friendly. There’s decent public transit, as we’re still don’t want a car. It’s an easy city to walk in. And it has some beautiful public parks that we’ve been enjoying quite a bit. I’m pleased to see so many homes in our neighborhood have small front porches and plots that are loaded with flowers and interesting plantings. I’m adjusting slowly to our new home, and hope that when I begin to create artwork my adjustment will solidify.

So, now what?

There is still so much to do. We’re still recovering from the move. The whole moving experience seems to have taken place three months ago as well as two days ago, simultaneously. We moved during a heat wave in Finland, and moved right into another heat wave on the east coast. 35 degrees with 80% humidity is just miserable no matter how you slice it.

Hopefully we will have furniture soon. Fingers crossed that it’s at least ordered by next Friday’s blog post. As much as I love my new little studio room, my backside is not happy about having to sit on the floor to work!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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Relocation Update

What brought me here today:

The move has been completed! Well, okay, wait a minute. At least the hardest parts of the move have been completed. No more strangers riffling through my artwork, art supplies, and clothing. No luggage was lost. The flights have all been completed. There will be no more asking about my current vaccine status by said total strangers. Which is nice because I’m kind of done with people for at least a little while.

It feels as though I’ve been away from everything that was my personal routine for either a split second or ten years. Traveling huge distances can do that to a person I suppose. Everything just feels all wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey right now.

Flights:

Two thirds of our flights went well. One that I was dreading, was actually quite pleasant and comfortable. One flight was delayed three times. That sucked big time. But it was the shortest leg of the journey. So, I don’t think it was that horrible. I have way, way more to say about the flights and some of the experiences we had in airports. But that’s a post for a later date.

Apartment:

Everything is good with the new apartment. Well, there was one tiny over-flowing toilet mishap. But it’s all fixed now. The toilet is now working like a champ. 10 out of 10. Would recommend.

Currently, I’m in what is going to be my tiny studio. I’m sitting on the floor with my computer balanced on four clear, plastic, art-packed, bulk candy boxes from Prisma as I write this short update. It’s around 2 x 3 meters-ish by (7 by 10 ft-ish). There are shelves on one wall and space for a work table, as well as my tools, materials and supplies. Right now, it looks like a rummage sale.

New everything:

Currently, we’re doing what people do when they move to a new place. Setting up all the things that need setting up. Learning the new, and to me juuuust slightly confusing bus system. Getting used to things that are so incredibly different than what we’ve ever experienced. Which is cool and somehow annoying at once.

Berin seems to be adjusting a bit better than I am, but part of that could be due to the fact that I’m a huge, whiny house cat who does not like her routines changed. It will take another two weeks or so before my mind and body are over the stress of travel and moving. By then I will remain a huge house cat, just slightly less whiny one.

Now what?

There is still so much to do! Like I said, I’m sitting on the floor of what will be my studio. We need to order some furniture and start fluffing-out this new nest a bit. And I still have so much more website and shop stuff to do before 19 July! I think by then I will be champing at the bit to actually create some artwork too!

Thanks for reading, and I will see you again sometime soon!

 

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Big Badda BOOM!

What brought me here today:

This is my last regular, biweekly blog posts until. We’re going through a lot of changes, including a big move. Then re-establishing ourselves in a completely new place. There will be sporadic blog posts between now and 6 July 2021. I wonder what kind of stories I’ll have to tell by then?

Accumulated detritus:

I’ve moved around a lot in my life. The first ten years I lived in Albuquerque, I moved at least once a year. Then, when I was teaching elementary art, I had to pack up and move my entire classroom once a year. Twice a year when I began teaching. It’s never been something that I have enjoyed. It was a thing that simply had to be endured.

When we moved from the US to Finland, I was embarrassed at the amount of stuff I had accumulated over the almost twenty years I lived in Albuquerque. There were times when I was packing when I looked at an object and thought, “Why do I still have this? I never use this. Ever.” We donated, gifted, and sold almost everything we owned. It was a liberating process. Both mentally and physically.

This move:

This time around, we are again donating and gifting many things. Many of my art supplies and materials have been donated, along with some of my artwork as well. We chose not to sell anything this time around for a few reasons. The first being, that we wanted to help out people who will be looking for good, second hand furniture, clothing, housewares, etc. The second being that we’re still not quite sure about having people we didn’t know in and our of our apartment, with the pandemic not being over.

The second hand place that is coming (in about an hour) is one that I worked with. In fact, there are many items that I purchased at there that are now going back to be sold again. I don’t see any problem with that at all. In fact, I kind of like it. It reduces my footprint on the environment. The clock I bought for 2€ will now go back and be sold again. Not into a landfill (yet).

Remaining tasks:

I still have to pack up my artwork. Surprisingly, I’m not taking many art supplies. I’ve gotten myself whittled-down to a few key tools and materials that I use every day, and that’s it. I have several boxes that I will pack my larger artwork in. I haven’t packed them up because the apartment has been so messy! Everything that was inside a closet, drawer or shelf is now in a bag or box waiting to be taken away.

I think that there’s a part of me that is not looking forward to packing-up my artwork for some reason. I’ve not been able to pinpoint why exactly it’s bugging me. I suppose that I’ll figure our at least part of it while in the actual act of packing-up the artwork. Some of my smaller pieces, as well as a few pieces that aren’t finished will be packed into my luggage. Remember, I have far, far fewer articles of clothing than I do artwork!

What happened next:

I had finished the above portions of this blog post prior to 12;00. That’s when the second hand showed-up to pick up our donations. It did not go as well as I had hoped. I had scheduled the pick-up several weeks ago. Telling the person scheduling the pick-up that we had a lot of items. Bookcases, desks, chairs, living room chairs, a bed with mattress, etc. I stressed to them that we were donating an entire one bedroom apartment of furniture.

The whole fracas that happened just makes me feel awful. I totally lost my cool with one of the second hand’s staff, when he kept insisting that he would not take the bed, my desk, the living room chairs, and other pieces of furniture because they were essentially junk. “Broken! No! No!” and “See, stain! NO!” was what he said over and over again.

Added to this, he was bossing me and my husband around. “Hurry! Pick this up!” and “HURRY!“. He bullied my husband, attempting to make him help to carry a bookshelf down the stairs. My husband has a bad hip (hit by a bus as a young person). And I just lost it completely. I looked at the man, pointed at my husband’s hip and loudly said, “RIKKI!” The man then backed-off and apologized.

Insult, I’d like you to meet injury:

Along with the items they refused to take, like books. “NO BOOKS!” I got the distinct impression that the reason he was saying no to items was because he didn’t want to move them. The constant insinuations that my belongings were broken, crap-stained, garbage, is still bugging me all these hours later. He was very interested in our TV, which we had promised to a friend. And several times seemed to be trying to get us to say, “Oh just take it!” We never did, and the TV has been picked-up.

About a half an hour after they left, we got a text message from the second hand shop saying they were very sorry they couldn’t take everything. Their van was full. And then offered me another number where I could have the items picked-up and taken to a landfill, for a price.

Okay. Let’s unpack this. Perfectly good, single-owner furniture will be put in a landfill because…they didn’t have room in the van? Or was it because their staff kept telling me my furniture was broken pieces of crap? I’m going to need someone to explain this to me better. Maybe using sock puppets. To make this even more suspicious, we did see their van before they closed the doors, and guess what? There was room in it for a lot more items.

Balm:

After the second hand staff movers left, a good friend and her daughters dropped-by to visit for a bit and pick up some items that I had for them. I had put aside a lot of art supplies and materials, plus a lot of just weird and quirky stuff that I thought they would enjoy. Talking with them and joking around did a lot to settle my jangled nerves. Even though I cried a little.

After our friends left, my husband and I walked down to Keljon and ate a huge, much-to-bad-for-you meal at Hesburger. We even got the ‘iso ateria’! We stopped at the K-Market and picked-up a few groceries to tide us over for the next few days too. I hadn’t even thought of how long it had been since either of us had eaten anything. It was past 14;00, and we’d eaten at 7;00.

So, now what?

Once I finish posting this blog post. I go back to packing-up my artwork. My husband is taking out the items that can be put into either the trash or recycling bins. It was about 25 here today. And we were both just knackered after getting home from Keljon. I took a long nap. Now I’m here procrastinating a bit. Man. I need to go pack that artwork!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again in July!

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Last Art Workshop and More Dolls

What brought me here today:

I taught my final art workshop before me we move. It went extremely well, even though I say it myself. The students enjoyed themselves. They participated a lot in the presentation conversation. And they made some incredible artwork. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.

Well, I did ask for a little more. I asked if they would like some donated art materials. The answer was an enthusiastic “JOO!” I left my wheeled suitcase that I used for art workshop tool and material traveling, fully packed with materials and supplies. One of the directors will also be dropping by our apartment to pick up the rest of the art-related things I’m donating. YAY!

One of the reasons this makes me happy is that I know that the supplies and materials I donate will be used by young people to make art. And through making that art, they will learn more about themselves and who they want to be in the future. Win-win-win!

Teaching art:

I honestly did not think I would enjoy teaching students older than elementary school aged. Teaching art workshops here has made me change my mind completely. Putting my finger on what changed my mind has proved difficult. But I think it has something to do with working with people who have a bit more life experience, and their own creative wants, needs, and goals.

Small children are fun to teach because in many cases, I was introducing them to an art supply, tool, material, or technique that was a completely new experience for them. Getting to see them learn and grow is amazingly gratifying as an art teacher. It’s as if you’re in the instant in which a child (perhaps) forms a long-term memory. And in a way, become a small part in their unique life story.

Will I teach in the future?

I hope to teach art workshops once we’ve become more settled in the new apartment, and surrounding city. I’ve already begun looking for community programs that an art teacher like myself might work. Teaching art workshops would allow me to continue teaching, while at the same time continue to create my own artwork. And grown my art business.

More moving stuff!

A few days ago, I was looking for a specific doll that I had made several years ago. I looked everywhere in our apartment, and found nothing. While expressing my exasperation, my husband said, “Have you checked the storage unit downstairs?” I looked at him like he was nuts. I got the keys and tromped downstairs to the storage unit. Guess what? There were four large-ish boxes of dolls.

Needless to say, there was quite a lot of cursing done as I carted the boxes upstairs. GAH! When did I create so many dolls!? Long story longer, I spent part of yesterday evening going through every single doll and sorting them into different categories. Keep, Give-Away, and Donate.

I’ve not touched the dolls again today. I was too busy. I’ll go through the piles again, to make sure that they’re going to the best place for them. My husband, many weeks ago made the suggestion that I use a lot of small dolls as packing for the larger, paper mâché dolls that I’m shipping through the post.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again on Friday.