30 March 2008

Lunch Date...

I'm having anxiety attacks about our impending separation. Mr. Man asked me yesterday if I would miss him while he was away. I almost lost it. We haven't really talked about whats going on in front of him. Three year olds are much sharper than we give them credit for. He seems to have a good grasp about whats about to happen.

Today he asked what his new bedroom would look like. On the up side, he is taking it very well and seems excited about the new adventure.

While Precious was working at the gallery I thought Mr. Man and I should go to lunch. I let him decide what we should have. He selected the Mariner Market. It's the local grocer in Cannon Beach. He knew exactly what he was after.

Foie Gras Pate with Truffles and Porto, Beef Summer Sausage, Aged Irish Cheddar Cheese, Sun dried Tomato and Basil Wheat Thin crackers, and an apple. He asked If I wanted wine with mine, but we opted for orange Gator aid and Tea.

I Love that boy.

We went to the park and had lunch on a bench. I used my swiss army knife to cut and spread. We watched kids play, birds begged for food. We could see the snow coming down the mountains. Elk were feeding across the park from us. The sun was shinning but there was a chill in the air. Rain and or more snow was coming fast.

After a quick lunch we had time to play at the playground for a few minutes before the rain started. We ran for the car. Mr. Man wanted to finish our lunch in the car and watch people. So we did. We talked about cheese, tennis, moving trucks, if he could have a blue bedroom, when mom would be home and several other things that were forgotten as soon as they were spoken. It's not easy to keep up with a three year old. But it is sure fun to try.

We are about to miss five months of his new life, and it's breaking our hearts. I'm hoping that he is young enough to not remember this years from now. I know I will never forget it.

26 March 2008

Don't Forget The Kid...

It's beginning to feel real. I started calling about moving companies today. All three of them here. Only two of those offer movers to do it for you. We booked a trip to go down south for week to look around. Hopefully secure a job or two and a place to live. Some friends have been kind enough to offer us lodging for as long as we need.

The mental lists have been started. It's making my brain hurt. About 4am this morning I was awoke by a dream that we forgot Mr. Man when we moved. I could see him sitting on the step waiting for us to come back. Horrible. I had to wake him up to snuggle. "Daddy..stop I sleepin".

I couldn't get back to sleep. More and more things that need to be done kept popping into my head. Getting a truck, packing, loading. When and how long to close the gallery to get things moved? What should I keep here with me? How will I get those things moved? I need another truck. How often will I get to see Mr. Man and Precious over the summer? I need to get things arranged with the artists. Where am I going to live over the summer?

It wouldn't stop. For the next 5 hours I had all of this clogging my brain and giving me ulcers.

This morning, we woke to snow. That's right, it's snowing. You already know what the locals are saying. "It's never snowed here this time of year."

25 March 2008

Mild And Stress Free...

It's Tuesday, which is our family day. We close the gallery and spend some quality time together. Both Precious and Mr. Man are still sick. Even though, we thought it might be nice to go out for lunch and maybe let Mr. Man play at the arcade for awhile. I found a great new game that I'm totally hooked on. (that's a different post)

After about an hour of mindless money wasting it was time to go. Mr. Man decided that this would be a good time to pitch a fit. The place was packed too. Spring break and all. He starts screaming, "I'm not happy!", and trying to get away from us. Of course it caused a scene.

Trying to explain to a three year old why he should be grateful that he got to go play in the first place, is like talking your car into not burning fuel. It just doesn't work. All he knew is that we had ruined his fun.

On the way home he decides that he hadn't had enough yet. More crying, kicking the seat and then he went for broke. "I HATE YOU GUYS."

That one was over the top. When we got home I escorted him to his room for a talk and a lengthy time out. Again, I might as well have been talking to his bed. I tried to explain again that getting to have fun is something to be grateful for. Thanking us would be a better move than getting nasty, and beyond that we will not tolerate the I hate you comments.

It's heart breaking. We knew he was sad. We try to cut him some slack for not feeling well, but we will not have an unruly brat for a child.

It amazes me how much this little person has changed me. I see everything differently. I react differently. I think differently. He can bring such joy one minute and have us at wits end the next.

It never stops. From the time he wakes up until he goes to sleep, we have to be on top of things. When he's sick, we're up all night checking on him and worrying. It's exhausting. Sometimes, being a parent makes me want to do something mild and stress free, like working for the bomb squad.

21 March 2008

Decisions...Part Three

Entering into the beginning of our third "Season" we have come to the conclusion that this isn't the right place for us. As much as I love our gallery, it's not working. We could get by, but we want more than just getting by. Or, if we are going to just get by, we want to do it some where we want to be.

We have looked to hire an employee. A person that could run the gallery and keep it open. It would not have to make nearly as much without Precious and I here. After interviewing almost 40 people I have decided that there is no one on the coast qualified, or trust worthy enough for me to hire. I can be a bit hard on people but this was ridiculous.

People showed up to interview drunk, high, un-bathed, in dirty clothes, no shoes, un-combed hair. I am willing to cut some slack because this is a small beach town with a laid back sort of hippy vibe, but come on. Let me share a couple of my favorites.

Remember, we are a fine art gallery. The average work is about 3 grand with paintings up to 40 thousand.

Woman number one shows up in a tie died shirt, dirty jeans and flip flops. She hadn't bathed in days. I could smell her from across the desk. When she opened her mouth to speak she was missing all of her front teeth.

Man number two came in well dressed. We knew him already. He had worked at an other gallery in town. I asked him to tell me why he left the other gallery. He spent twenty minutes telling me how stupid the other gallery owner was. That the other employees were jealous of him and conspired to get him fired. It went on and on and on.

Needless to say we wont be hiring anyone. Sooner or later we will be closing the gallery.

One of our problems is the lease on our house. It ends in May. The beginning of our alleged Season. It seems foolish to close the gallery at the beginning of what should be a time to make some money. Our house land lord is not willing to rent to us month to month with out doubling our rent. As cool as our place is, that is something we can't go for. So if we stay through the summer and then close, we would have to move for five to seven months, close the gallery and move again.

I recently spoke to a gallery director in San Diego just to feel things out. With out hesitation he told me that he would love to have both of us in his gallery and would hold jobs if we came down in the next couple of months. If we leave now we can't get any of our money back. If we wait through the summer we could get some of our money back but then we would miss out on the jobs available now as well as having the moving issues.

We have also talked about splitting up. No, not like that. We're all good. Precious would go to San Diego in May, stay with some friends and find us a place to live. As soon as she does I would hire movers to deliver all of our things. Mr. Man would spend some quality time with my parents. I would stay in Cannon Beach, work the summer at the gallery and milk it for everything I could. At the end of the Season or when I had made some of our money back I would close it up and head to San Diego. The mere thought of being separated from them makes my heart ache.

So far this is the option that seems to make the most sense. Neither of us are really willing or wanting to give up a chance to get a little of what were told we would get. Besides, bankruptcy doesn't seem like much fun.

There is the outside chance that we could have an April that is three to five times above our gaol. That would solve all of our issues. Some how, I don't see that happening.

20 March 2008

Decisions...Part Two

Even with business slowing as we finished the first year in our new gallery, I was trying to be optimistic. We knew that traffic would slow in the winter. Our first winter was hell. Everything that happened was the worst the coast had seen in more than 25 years. Or so all of the locals said.

They had never seen that much rain, or that much snow. It had never been that cold. The wind had never blown that hard. They had never seen it flood like it did. In January of our first winter we got trapped on highway 26 for more than 24 hours. Trees had blown down across the road. Hundreds of them. We were close enough to a place called Camp 18 that about 40 of us spent the night. The owner said he had never had to keep people over night before. Of course.

We made the best of it. An adventure like no other. Since the staff was trapped also, they kept the kitchen open so we could eat. Several of us had kids and pets with us. Even with the freezing cold and being trapped they would not let anyone bring their animals inside. It was against health codes. I was so pissed. But that's another story. Everyone helped each other. We played with one another's kids. Took turns on dog watch. I helped in the kitchen and we all bussed tables. As being trapped goes, this wasn't so bad.

The next morning a few loggers had cut a path through a side road back to town. Most of followed them back. At times they had to stop to cut trees that had fallen in our path again but we made it home.

The second summer was coming. Our second shot at "The Season". The local business owners kept referring to The Season like it was the be all end all. In a way I suppose it is. You have to make your money for the year, in a six to seven month period or you're screwed.

We tried a few new things to help business. We were still unsure how things needed to be done in this strange new world we were in. The rules of business we had come accustomed to did not apply here. Summer was lackluster at best. We had not made our years gaol by summers end.

Our second Season was in my opinion, a bust. The only saving grace was that we had negotiated a decent guaranteed salary. We were supposed to get paid so much, no matter what the gallery did. Our partners put up the money. We put up our time. We gave up some of the ownership for a larger guarantee and we didn't have to put in any cash of our own.

Only a couple of months in to our second winter, the gallery was behind. It wasn't bringing in enough to cover everything. I called our partners and told them it was time for them to honor our agreement. We needed some cash.

My messages and emails went unanswered. It became apparent that we had been abandoned.
The partners were not willing to put in any more money and eventually told us we needed to take a cut in pay. We had taken a cut when we left our old gallery. The coast of living was, we were told, much lower in Oregon than Californian so we should still come out ahead. Wrong again.

It ended up costing us more to live in Oregon. Even without sales tax, they made up for it every where else. Everything was more expensive. Food, gas, insurance, utilities were outrageously high.

With our partners not holding up their end of our deal we had to make a choice. If we wanted to stay and keep our gallery open it was going to be up to us. I had already become very attached to our gallery and wasn't willing to give in just yet. Say good bye to our life savings.

We started paying bills out of our own pockets. Taking a check when we could. The things that helped the most were my paintings selling. My work was all profit. No artist to pay. If I could only sell more of my work we would be alright.

Business stayed slow. We were paying rent equivalent to something in Downtown San Diego. Aside from Precious and I, rent was the galleries biggest expense. The landlord had become a friend. They are good people. As much as I didn't want to do it, we had to move to a cheaper space. He understood and even offered to help us move. That would have never happened in California.

We found a space just across the street. More space, half the rent. But upstairs. Usually death for a retail business, but this town had a different dynamic. We decided it would work for us and we made the move.

Our second winter would begin in a new location. I was still holding out and being optimistic. Or stubborn, I'm still not sure which. The first month went really well. We exceeded our new adjusted goal, and the bills got paid.

Then winter showed up. Again, the weather was the worst they had ever seen. Even worse than last year. More rain, more snow, more cold, more wind and my personal favorite, more power outages.

The coast of Oregon is unlike any where I have ever lived. During the winter the coast losses power every few weeks. This year the coast was hit by the storm of the century. Hurricane force winds along with heavy rain, flooding, snow and hail. The coast came to a halt for almost 9 days. We were trapped again. We could not get off of the coast. The highways were covered with water, fallen trees, sink holes, mud slides or a combination of them all. We had no power, no phones. Even the cell towers were down.

Another adventure. This time were were at home, which helped a bit. We moved the bed out in front of the fire place to stay warm. The fire place was our only source of heat. We had enough supplies to last a week. I cooked over a Coleman stove. Along with heating water to bathe. It was sort of like camping. Every morning we would listen to the local ham radios to get a report. On day four we heard that one of the highways to Portland was partially open. I looked at Precious and said, "How fast can you pack?"

In under 30 minutes were were on the road. Portland had no idea the coast was hit so hard. I had enough gas in the car to get us there. None of the stations could pump gas with no power. A few stations were pumping by hand. A five gallon limit at $10.00 a gallon. People were lined up for miles. New family rule: Never have less than 3/4 of a tank of gas in the car. A spare can might not be a bad idea either.

We made it to Portland, only having to stop for a land slide once. The next five days we would try to get reports about the coast. Did the power come back on? Did the phone works? Was our gallery still there? We stayed day to day waiting for some good news.

Aside from the power outage, the flooding and the downed trees, the coast was doing alright. no major injuries. We had heard the power was back on in places and should be up all over soon, so we decided to head home and look around. The devastation was unlike anything I had ever seen. Entire hill sides had been blown down or uprooted. A 750 year old tree, the Sitka Spruce was gone. Once the largest in the world was now just a big stump.

The next week we got back to the gallery and tried to go back to business as usual. By this time the entire country had heard about this storm. No one was coming to coast. No one. They were all afraid. The weather reports didn't help much. The news shows spreading their brand of fear mongering and doom.

Now, three months after the Storm, business is still slow. Peoples fears have gone back to the economy, the war, the elections. Consumer confidence is very low. Even lower here. The few people that are coming to the coast are still not spending money.

This is the first place we've had a gallery that was affected by the economy. In the major cities, there are enough wealthy residents that it doesn't matter. The rich will always have money and always spend it on luxury items. The coast doesn't have that kind of wealth. We have to struggle for every sale we make.

With spring approaching, we are hoping and praying that the tourists will begin to return. Even more we are hoping they will start spending money. Consumer spending can save the economy.

Now is when the decisions need to be made, and we have a lot of them to make. If we go there will be trouble. If we stay it will be double....

19 March 2008

Decisions...Part One

Our first reaction to this town was, "Why?" Why would people come here? When we looked it up online, almost all of the websites described it as a Carmel of the Oregon Coast. It was painfully clear, very quickly, that the people that wrote those words had never been to Carmel.

It was a cute little town that seemed to be lost in the past. We had stepped into 1950. To make matters more complicated, we had already committed ourselves to spend at least two years here and now we had three days to find a place to live and arrange a cross country move.

The doubts filled us. The coast was poor. Most of the year round residents lived on minimum wage. The home owners spent less than a few weeks a year here. Their homes were seconds, thirds or more. They used their homes for vacation rentals or an occasional getaway where they came to hide. The last thing they wanted to do was be part of the community. Supporting the local businesses wasn't even a consideration.

We went against our doubts anyway. Needing a three bedroom house we started the search. From Astoria to Tillamook there were seven places for rent that filled our needs. It took less than a day to find that all seven were in a sorry state. As we drove around questioning our sanity we came across a for rent sign that had just been put out.

As we pulled in the drive we could hear the roar of the ocean. The house sat on the cliffs of the cove in Seaside. The front yard was wilderness. The back yard was the Pacific ocean. We walked up to the front door and could see through the house all the way up the coast to the state of Washington. It didn't matter what they were asking, we wanted it. It was a dream home. In California it would have been way out of our range even as a rental. That afternoon we signed away a year of our lives and wrote a huge check. In three weeks we would drive our worldly possessions 1600 miles and start our new life.

The move went smoothly. An easy drive up the west coast. We emptied the truck, unpacked a few things and days latter started to open the new gallery. It all happened very fast and gave us no time to get settled.

Cannon Beach wasn't a place that we would have chosen on our own. We had partners. I had know one of them for more than fifteen years. He had been very good to me and I trusted his judgment. We still had doubts.

The first month the gallery was open went well. Better than I had thought it would. Our partners had set a goal of about 37,500 a month for a break even point. Personally I thought 25,000 a month was more realistic, but the first month we hit our goal. It looked promising. Hopefully we were wrong.

The gallery opened in May. This was a seasonal town so the summer kept us busy. Plenty of people came to the coast. They hit every single shop in town, not once but several times. The tourists came to town to stay for a few days to a week. With such a small town they went to all of the shops many times before they would make a purchase. It was odd for us. We were not used to such a seasonal touristy place.

Precious and I grew up in small towns. We kept telling ourselves that we would adjust. This was a great place to raise our son. It was just what we wanted. Away from the busy chaos of southern California, the long slow commutes and self obsessed crowds. In time we would slow down to the pace of Oregon. Two years in and I'm still trying to slow down that far.

The first year of the gallery was not quite what the partners had hoped but a little better than I had thought. It seemed to have potential. We had met some great people and made a few good friends. The house was a haven that made up for any short comings the community might of had. I spent hours a day staring out at the ocean, dreaming. I had a studio in the lower level. It was a great place to be creative. My paintings started to progress and grow.

Into the second year things slowed dramatically. The US economy had started to dive. The mortgage meltdown, the decline of the dollar, gas prices, the war, you name it. All of which spelled a big problem for a place like Cannon Beach and the coast. The only way to get here was to drive and tourists weren't driving. The ones that did were spending all of their money on over priced hotels and food. Very little was being spent on luxury items like art.

18 March 2008

Up Late...

I didn't get much sleep last night. Or any. Precious has a migraine. Mr. Man has a fever again. I don't know what they got into but they've both been sick almost a month now. This stinks.

While I wasn't sitting up rubbing their heads, I was in the studio painting.


This one is still under construction. I have a frame already for this canvas. It has a violet suede liner. I'm liking it so far. I have already named a Chadette Violet so I need help with this one. I guess I could name another one Violet.


This is "Rosetta", 16 x 20 inches. Almost done.


Dunes No. 3, 24 x 36 inches. Formerly Untitled No. 8.


Untitled 16 x 20


Untitled 12 x 16


Untitled 16 x 20


"Dark Seas No. 2", 11 x 14. Formerly "Dark Seas No. 1"

When I Was 14...

Would you want to be 14 again? I recently answered no to that question. As hard as life has been at times, it's only gotten better. I couldn't relate. Being a teenager was hard.

Or was it?

When I was 14 I got my first job. A gas station and car wash. It was where I met my best friend. He's one of the few I have stayed in touch with. He's more family.

I lived in Montana which meant that I was able to drive. Sort of. I lived out in the boonies and was allowed to to drive when I had to get to school or work. It was still really cool. Town kids had to wait another year.

The teachers went on strike that year. I missed the last quarter of the school year and didn't have to make it up.

When I was 14 I was contacted by a professional scout for the Cincinnati Reds. They flew me to several different cities to catch for major league pitchers. Very cool. I was going to the show baby!

When I was 14 I fell in love. She called me on the phone and asked me to the Sadie Hawkins dance. (The girls asked the boys) She had heard that some one else was going to ask me so she called. I said yes. She taught me things about being in love that I never forgot.

All of the sudden I remembered things that had long been forgotten and I understood.

With so much out in the world to see and do I never dreamed of wanting to go back. I look forward and follow my heart. It was when I was 14 that I learned how to follow my heart. 14 was a pretty good year.

17 March 2008

Remember...

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

16 March 2008

I Wish I Could Remember...

I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for all I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand - Did one but know!

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

13 March 2008

Ninja Skills...

Mr. Man and I were running around the house and yard playing. It is our favorite activity after all.

Through the living room, down the hall, out the garage door across the yard and into the woods. Then Mr. Man jumps up on a stump and says, "Hey dad, watch this move." He jumps in the air kicking his feet to one side while he punches the wind. "How do like my ninja skills? You have to practice your skills or the bad guys will get ya. Let me see your skills dad."

Believe it or not I have never let Mr. Man see Napoleon Dynamite.

I busted a few ninja moves that we both laughed at and agreed that I was in danger of the bad guys. My skills need some work.

The worst part of this is that I can't stop thinking about my skills. No, not my ninja skills.

I really have none. In my 40 or so years of earthly existence, 10 of them have been devoted to baseball. Although over lapping another 22 years have been devoted to art. Making art, studying art, selling art. 30 years of living in a fantasy world.

Precious and I have been talking about what to do with our lives, which is what brought all of this on. When we get where we're going, what do we do? Obviously I want to continue my journey in the world of fine art but what if for some reason I couldn't? What would I do?

I have pondered and puzzed til my ponderer hurt and my puzzler was sore. Then it dawned on me.

I've got no skills. I'm not really qualified to do anything. I have spent my entire life not really doing anything. I talk to people, I paint, I talk about painting and other people that paint. I can't sing, I can't dance and I'm too fat to fly.

I wonder if it's too late for me to become a pro bowler?

Calling Dr. Bob, I think I'm going to have an anxiety attack.


03 March 2008

Up Against The Wall...

This is where I've been the last few, or 18 months. Against the wall. Between the rock and a hard place. Exposed to the world. This and the next few Chadette, Nudettes, all have brick walls behind them. I guess they're metaphorical.


It's my own fault. At least I blame myself. I didn't do enough from the get go. I should have asked more questions. I shouldn't have been so trusting.

Confused? Me too.

The older I get the more I question myself and my abilities. Is that normal?

I remember applying for a job when I was 25. I was invincible. I knew everything. I could do anything.

I got the job. A management position. I had access to my personal file. The man that interviewed me made a note that I was arrogantly confident, to the point of being cocky. I'll never forget that. He was right. I was arrogant and cocky and I wasn't afraid to let you know.

Fifteen years later I've learned a few things, and until this year I still had no doubt that I could do anything I set my mind to doing. I'm just much more quiet about it.

I have never failed the way I have this time. I'm not dealing it with well. I don't sleep. I don't eat right. I drink too much. I know in my heart that I should most likely give in and move on. My head is too stubborn and doesn't want to admit that I was so wrong.

No matter how many times I go over things. Coming up with plan after plan to fix it all. None seem to work. The hole gets deeper and deeper. If I don't stop digging, soon I won't be able to see out anymore.