November 2010


I Like Purple People Eating Fridays Myself

Crowd Of Zombies

This isn’t the blog post that is scheduled to appear tomorrow… as this particular post stood a 95% chance of never coming into existence.

Black Friday madness is a disease that retail associates encounter with dread each year. Knowing what bloodthirsty monsters lurk outside my door – the rabid and frothing crowds of shoppers, with sleepless glazed eyes and desperate frenzy reacting with high levels of caffeine – makes me grateful to be alive and well in my home.

The sales are tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me (to risk life and limb).

The children and I just kissed Joe good-bye, as he departs to serve his company in preparation for “The Event”.. i.e. working overnight as the head of security for our local Walmart.

Zombies looking for bargain brains on Black Friday - photo from Belch.com

I didn’t intend to have a sale for Black Friday… just to be rebellious.
Although I do have a holiday sale going on through December 31st, both in my Etsy shop and my website… I haven’t been actively promoting it.

But as the clock winds down, marking the end of Thanksgiving (…oh, by the way, I made chicken fried rice and a pumpkin pie for Joe and the kids), the excitement builds and everyone has “Sales” on the brain.
I’ve decided to host a minor one of my own, just to say “Thanks!” to everyone who has purchased from me this year. Every dollar counts around here… unlike Walmart, who will never miss me. ;)

Everything will be marked 10% off with free shipping in my Etsy shop… and 20% off with free shipping on my website. I accept PayPal, personal checks, and money orders on TaraFlyArt.com, and (unlike Etsy) I’m under no obligation to pay any “final sales” fees… so you can see where my loyalties lie. ;)

Green Kimono Cat Fine Art Print by TaraFly

Green Kimono Cat 8x10 Print now on sale!

My Purple People Eating Friday sale will begin at midnight tonight, and will run through midnight on Monday, Nov. 29th (EST).

Other exciting news for fans of Zazzle merchandise….

Zazzle is hosting a major Black Friday sales event, which applies to all the cool products in My Zazzle Shop – posters, greeting cards, shirts, mugs…! So here is a glimpse at what is going on:

Every two hours, a different product will go on sale! Four special sales have already begun:

These four sales are going on right now, until those designated times.

Mr Bennet Cat by TaraFly printed on Zazzle T-shirt

This guy loves his navy blue Mr Bennet Cat T-shirt...

Okay, the other sales which begin tomorrow (and last 2 hours each) are as follows:

For the final 2 slots, 8-10PM and 10:00PM until midnight, Zazzle is hosting something called “Friday’s Favorite Deal Repeat” … and I’m not quite certain what that means yet. Perhaps they’ll repeat whichever deals earned the most sales earlier?
When I find out more, I will post an update on my Facebook fan page (which automatically updates my Twitter status as well).

Red Kimono Cat by TaraFly US Postage Stamps Zazzle

Red Kimono Cat on a sheet of US postage stamps

U.S. Residents: Please note that Zazzle also has a Free Ground/Economy Shipping offer in place for purchases over $50.00 (before taxes). The offers ends on November 30th.

Whew! That was a lot to absorb, wasn’t it? If you’re totally confused, I wouldn’t blame you… I subscribe to Zazzle’s newsletters (which is a good idea, really, if you like shopping with them) and I had to re-read it a couple of times to clarify things. Hehe
My brain apparently shut down from sugar overload after digesting the pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip and a glass of freshly brewed iced tea.

But anyways… Cyber shopping on Black Friday is much safer, more convenient, and definitely the easiest way to get your sales-addiction fix without trading your pajamas for a heavy winter coat and braving the masses for hours of joy standing in line.

And best of all, you can’t catch rabies over the internet!

The snarling, foaming monsters are far, far away from you… trapped behind the glass or plasma walls of their computer monitors.
And you needn’t worry, because I don’t bite.

Unless you are that last slice of pie…
slice of pumpkin pie on a red plate

rural countryside autumn

This week, in lieu of the already-written rant regarding sleazy sales-reps that I planned to post, I will share a few images to celebrate autumn color.
Since I don’t feel like offering sleaze and sales today. :)

If it weren’t so blasted cold during this time of year, autumn would easily be my favorite season. Spring is lovely, certainly, but I prefer the rich colors of fall:
golden yellow and burgandy, umber and evergreen.

autumn fall tree red green yellow

Last weekend, the weather was unusually warm for November, and my children recklessly ripped off their jackets (claiming to be overheated from exercise) ….
I protested as a sensible mother, but I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures of their play.
These autumn days are too few, and soon the snow will encroach upon our back porch and make outdoor fun more laborious (for the adults, anyway).

TaraFly's son and oldest daughter

Tuesday required a trip to the post office, thanks to a wonderful buyer who purchased my “Queen of Cats” painting. I decided to walk into town, taking a few photographs along the way to document my journey, as we parted ways and bid her safe travel to Chicago.

wet rainy sidewalk autumn leaves

Tuesday was a typical November day – it was bitingly cold and it rained the entire afternoon. Everyone thought I was nuts to walk in that weather, even though the post office is a mere 3 blocks away. Three looong blocks.

white house autumn tree side door

I didn’t want to waste the car’s gas, which was very low, but secretly I wanted to explore Funkstown a bit.
We moved to the outskirts of Hagerstown seven months ago, currently living right on the border of the two “towns”, but I’ve only seen these streets through a car window while running my errands.

rainy day wet sidewalk autumn fall leaves

Besides, I’ve wanted to take some nice nature shots of autumn trees and so forth, and these rainy days are the best conditions for capturing true colors.

So off I went… with my little slippers on, a bulky coat given to me by a former co-worker three years ago (because I owned none), no umbrella, armed only with my camera and a very carefully packaged painting wrapped in layers of plastic grocery bags.

yellow autumn fall leaves cement steps

I began with the intent on snapping images of trees, brightly colored leaves, and maybe an odd weathered fence or two, but I wound up being distracted by the architecture of the houses I passed.

19th century 1800s stone house barn door basement

Funkstown was built in the 1760’s (originally named Jerusalem) and was the setting for one of our American Civil War battles. Of course, everyone who lives in this area knows that battles were fought everywhere!
In the three states where I’ve resided, there are monuments and signposts littered along the highways and main streets, proclaiming this or that is a historic landmark.
With Fort Frederick 30 minutes down the road, I’m sure this entire area of land was crawling with dying soldiers, and is now crawling with ghosts.

creepy old house in funkstown maryland

One house in particular looked especially creepy… and I took a detour, after stopping at the P.O., in order to get a better look at it.

I snapped a few pictures, and then realized the house is still occupied. Hehe oops….
That is, unless the resident spirits like to leave their living room lights on. Hopefully nobody saw me poking around with a camera. In the rain.
You see why my family doesn’t let me run loose in town much? ;)

Closer look at creepy spooky old house

Doubling back, I wandered down both sides of the main street – Baltimore St. – taking pictures, and admiring the molding and trim work of the older homes. I also passed a couple antique shops – and stopped inside to warm up and look around.
Browsing over the belongings of people who’ve been dead for centuries is food for the imagination… old travel trunks, rocking chairs, a baby walker from the 1800’s, a loveseat, clothing irons (made from real iron) with detachable handles, and plenty of handwritten documents under glass.

antique store in funsktown maryland

If I had a fortune, I’d furnish my entire house in antiques… except for the upholstered items, because a 200-year-old loveseat wouldn’t last 20 minutes around my cats.

Guten Tag gift shop funkstown maryland

I also discovered a quaint little gift shop, named “Guten Tag”, which is owned and operated by a fellow artist/craftsperson.
She only conducts business Thursday-Saturday (small towns are like that), so I’m summoning the courage to return and introduce myself and my artwork next week…. and hopefully I won’t make my initial impression looking like a wet mangy dog. ;)

terra cotta pots outside roostervane gardens

I know the brightness of these photos look deceiving, but I assure you that it was dark and raining most of the way.
I had the camera settings adjust the exposure to let in more light, but the sky looked more like this…

yellow streetlight in storm rain dark sky

You can see more photos from this trip here on Flickr.
Simply click on a thumbnail to browse them all.

brick steps wet rain autumn leaves

I encourage everyone to take a walk downtown in the rain. Leave your umbrella at home, and bring a camera instead.
People WILL stare at you, and you might find yourself labelled as crazy… or at least find yourself catching a cold. But there is nothing quite so exciting as setting off on an adventure in your own neighborhood, taking a few undiscovered side streets, and like every good explorer – documenting what you find.

yellow peeling paint cobalt blue door house

The best part: Coming home to a warm house, kicking off your soggy sandals, sinking into the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a dollop of Cool Whip… and sharing the beauty of where you are with friends.

rain water droplet on autumn leaves

Two year old Mia in green dress lying on floor

What are you thinking about?

I had a million blog ideas filtering through my mind last week… many of which were incomprehensible, induced by Tuesday’s feverish brush with influenza.

Tribute to the Demon Barber

I fell madly in love with the morbid humor of “Sweeney Todd” after seeing the stage musical in 1994, and thought it would make a perfect tribute to Halloween.
For many years, I was disappointed over the lack of attention Sweeney received, and hoped that someone would decide to adapt it for film.
That is, until Tim Burton and Johnny Depp got their grubby paws on it… and now I almost wish they’d left it alone, because the purist in me screamed over every altered syllable and omission. Okay, I suppose the movie was fair enough, in spite of the glaringly absent lyrics to the main theme. :P

Little boy wearing pink fairy wings

Fairy Jake sporting his manly pink wings

My TinkerBeau

Another Halloween story I almost told involved Jacob’s decision to wear the pink fairy wings that I originally purchased for his sister’s ballerina costume.
He insisted on wearing them all day, even while playing outside, as if the neighbors needed any further excuse to gossip about the crazy cat family.

His fascination with them didn’t surprise us, since he does occasionally like to cross-dress in Mia’s clothing. I humored him, once, by allowing him to wear the red dress he begged for, after seeing it hanging in her dresser. I assume his mimicry is a method of emulating her, as the two of them share a strong emotional bond. A mere 16 months apart, they look almost like twins, and Jake worships the ground Mia walks on.

Little boy wearing a floral shirt

Jake dressed himself today, in Mia's shirt.

When a Facebook friend posted a link to this blog post, which recounts a five-year-old boy’s desire to dress like Daphne from Scooby-Doo… well, I just had to read about his mother’s frustrations and leave a sympathetic comment.
Apparently, a few hundred other people decided to do the same…
I had forgotten to un-check the box marked “Subscribe to Replies”, and within 10 minutes after posting, my inbox was flooded with comments from other readers.
193 to be exact.
They were still pouring in as I hit the Unsubscribe link in my e-mail.

50,000 Twitter Followers

Which leads me down the treacherous path to a rant about blog marketing.
This is the time of year when businesses great and small are encouraged to connect with their potential customers by writing helpful, engaging articles such as “10 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Raise”
and “Tips for Cooking the Best Turkey Your Family Ever Tasted”.

Everyone knows that spamming with sales advertisements is O-U-T, so let’s cram relevant keywords into each attention-grabbing post and self-proclaim ourselves experts in the field of ___-Blah!

Admittedly, I subscribe to a few of these myself… but one such piece of sage wisdom, written by a business consultant, told a fictitious shop owner selling knitting supplies that she should only write about knitting, post some tutorials and tips, and god-forbid do NOT veer off into discussing how Tim Burton movies leave her unimpressed… unless she can relate it back to knitting somehow.
And how would you do that, exactly?

How do you form real relationships with people, and get to know the person behind the needles? Sure, thousands of people might follow her knitting tips… but would any of them think about her outside the knitting sphere?
When a wise-crack commercial comes on, or when their mother-in-law drops in for an unexpected visit, when they discover the best recipe for blueberry cheesecake…. will they excitedly rush to their computers to e-mail the Knitting Tips business owner? Doubt it.

I don’t care how many e-books she sells. I’m not interested in gaining 50,000 Twitter followers who are looking for advice.
If I want to sell you something, I’ll just say …click here and buy my art… otherwise, I’m just sitting here talking to myself. Or typing to myself rather.

For the record, I’m no expert… unless you want to read “10 Ways To Convince the Neighbors You’re Nuts”. (#4. Dress the entire family in pink fairy wings)

I’m the anti-marketing sort… not because I believe in the unsung success of “not marketing”, but simply due to the fact that most marketers come across as superficial, kiss-butt-to-get-a-sale zombies. Especially the sales reps I’ve met through working retail. Sparkling vampires, with the exception of one.

Tired little fairy boy in Mommy's arms

Tired from flying, he lands in Mommy's arms

Do Fairies Fall Down?

Ironically, yesterday I wanted to blog about vampires… although not the sparkly kind, of which I know blessedly nothing.
Rather, I was thinking about emotional vampires, and draining relationships in general. Those people who delight in tearing us down and making us feel worthless, and the people who place us on impossibly high pedestals and worship our golden images.

These are two sides of the same void – using us to bolster their own lack of self-esteem – and it’s best to avoid them both.

Obviously we wouldn’t want to surround ourselves with people who disrespect us, or cause us to continuously doubt ourselves, however we need to be
equally cautious around folks who refuse to recognize our genuine flaws and stubbornly cling to the belief that we represent perfection.
Unfortunately, as an imperfect human being, you are fated to disappoint them eventually, and your failure will devastate them. The tower will crumble, and you’ll find yourself bitterly rejected and abused, worse than if they’d held no faith in you whatsoever. It’s a long fall from Heaven.

We mustn’t ever lose sight of who we are, in the face of intimidation, seduction, or influence… a reoccurring theme on my mind this week.

Whether I blog about the faithfulness of movie adaptations, the self-confidence of a 2-year-old boy wearing pink fairy wings, or the pressure to be “relevant” and SEO savvy… it all boils down to “keeping it real”, remembering our strengths and weaknesses, and not compromising what makes each one of us unique.

Even if it means combining four separate topics into one post… although I’ll suggest that you read this accompanied by a 103 degree fever, wherein these ramblings will make perfect sense. ;)

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