Friday, June 19, 2009

ALL CREATURES BIG OR SMALL

This morning I went out on my balcony to water my potted tomato plants and observed how two very huge and loud-screeching ravens were circling overhead. I was quite surprised to see them as till now I have not had any ravens hanging around our rooftop/balcony. I later spotted a baby raven in the middle of the rooftop and realized why the two ravens were circling above me.

As usual, it was time to fill the bird feed, so I climbed over the rail and the ravens took flight, circled overhead again and became very loud. Believe me, I must have looked like a comic figure to the neighbor who happened to look out; saw me climbing over the railing onto the rooftop, looked up at the sky and then immediately turned around again to climb back onto the balcony. Oh gosh, thinking about it now, I was still in my PJs when I doing this great act! F a b u l o u s... how embarrassing...I must really look like an idiot. The whole incident - minus the neighborly act - reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and that was what made me climb back onto the balcony ASAP. I can tell you, I certainly wasn't keen on having the ravens land on my head!

I have been observing and obsessing about the baby raven the whole day, checking every couple of minutes to see whether it was still around. It was moving around the whole rooftop, I thought at one point, he would make it to the edge of the rooftop and take off. But no, the poor fella was going in a circle! I said to my husband, maybe I should put out signs with arrows pointing the directions he should take and avoid all the detours he's been making all day!!! Anyway, I held out till evening time when I decided I should call someone about the poor baby raven. Got a hold of someone at the Wildpark L√ľneburg Heide and was told that it was quite normal this time of the year for baby ravens to make their maiden flight and since they are not quite strong, they usually end up somewhere eg our rooftop and it could take anywhere from 1 to 3 days before they get enough energy to take flight again. As long as their parents hover around close by, the babies will usually be taken care of. Which means, we can't use the balcony in the meantime.

Today was a day of heavy showers periodically and the poor creature has been drenched several times. He/she reminds me of the cartoon raven characters, but I can't recall their names at all. Here's how the baby looks - isn't he cute? BTW, he still opens his beak wide open to eat and it's such a pitiful sight when his mouth is wide open but gets nothing to eat. I really felt awful and sorry for the poor fella.


Anyway, I am glad that I called up to find out about what to do about him. At least I can sleep tonight!

Our dog Sandy had a minor surgery on Monday to remove his fat glands in his right eye lid. He had this problem late last year and the vet had drained the clogged gland. Now a nearby fat gland is inflamed, so he decided it was time to remove the fat glands around that area. Dr Koeppel shaved Sandy's fur around his eye, even the eyelashes are gone! He sure looks funky, I tell you! This photo was taken right after we got home. He reminds me of the bulldog from the Rascals - what's his name?


I have a couple visitors to our bird feed. Here's a male great spotted woodpecker. We call him Hacker Sr. His son, Hacker Jr, has also started to visit on his own. I still haven't taken a photo of Hacker Jr. who looks like he's wearing a red base ball cap. His entire head is red, unlike his dad who has a red spot or bindi on the back of his head.



Don't know what this bird is called. He's beautiful but then again, all birds are beautiful, aren't they?


Here are some photos, courtesy of Leslie Felton, taken at the Bead & Button 2009 Show.


That's me in the middle demonstrating and teaching a lampworking class at the Bead & Button.



All the classrooms and equipment set up are done by Arrow Springs. They cater to almost every whim and fancy of each instructor, Arrow Springs is simply wonderful to work with!


That's Cara, my older daughter, on the left - she helped at the booth while I taught as well as when I took breaks. This is her 2nd year at B&B. I really appreciate her help, thanks Cara!


Flame-On demo - you can tell the propane's gone to our heads!


That's me, demo-ing at the Flame-On. Hey, I look serious!



Moral support from Cara and no, those are not knitting needles. One is a stringer and the other is a mandrel with the bead on it. I was applying dots to one end of the bead.


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I know, I have shown this before in the previous blog, but this is such a great shot!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SETTLING DOWN AFTER AN EVENT

I don't know how anyone else does it, but it takes me more than a week to settle down after any event. I am certain this has to do with the long haul flight as well as the stress I get with the German customs while returning into Germany. Whenever I do an event in the US, I am faced with the dilemma with getting my beads back into Germany at the airport without having to pay duty and customs. The German customs are very hot on collecting their duties from their citizens and permanent residents whenever they return from any non-EC countries. Me? I am just a permanent resident, trying to earn a decent buck by selling my beads with honesty. I declare all my sales at the Bead & Button Show to both the State of Wisconsin (where I have to pay them the sales tax by latest end of July or face a penalty) and to the Ministry of Finance in Germany for my income tax. I did apply for the return of my beads which I expected to bring home after the event, but apparently this time which is every time, I did not apply for the required export permit which I should have done online. Hey, people, I'd love to do just that, but ask the authorities and they send you all over the bloody place to their other colleagues/departments to get bits and pieces of information which you have to patchwork together and figure out exactly which documents you need to apply for!! No one at the customs office could tell me from A-Z exactly what documents I need for the purpose of export and re-import of remaining beads!!! Am I stupid or what?? Duh...who's working at these places, really trained civil servants or some layman plucked off the streets to fill the job space? I feel like a not-employed-by-the-state-but-must-know-it-all-by-myself person. I mean, log onto their website and try to dig out the info you need. The website is readable for those who are trained to understand and read German law - sure, if you are a tourist, you can find that 6-sentence paragraph telling you that you are allowed a maximum of 430€ value of items from your holiday outside of the EC. What about for people like me who only want to know what documents are relevant for my little business. I don't want to spend months sifting through legal stuff which even a German-born German can't understand, looking for what each customs officer must know off the top of their heads so that I can come into the country without feeling like a criminal.

So, you might ask why live in Germany then with all the hassle? Why indeed? I am married to a German who happens to hold his job in Germany and since he's the main breadwinner, I am living here. Sure, I consider it a privilege to live in any country except the war-torn and no-rights-for-women countries, to experience their culture and rich history. But come on, loosen up, will ya? I am only trying to make a honest living with my handmade beads!! Leave me alone.

Oh well, I guess I could go on and on but it won't make a difference unless I step into politics which by the way won't work since I only am a permanent resident - ahhhh... that term 'permanent resident' in my case is not quite right. I am 'allowed' to stay and remain in Germany as long as I am married to my husband. So, what happens to me if he kicks the bucket and goes down 6' before I do? Must I leave the country or what??? We have two kids who hold both German citizenship and Singapore permanent residency. Does that mean that my mother role ends when 'death do us part' and I have to leave Germany?

Ahhh...very nice to put my feelings into words, though believe me, I felt worse (pissed is the better word to describe my mood then) last week than now.

I promised photos of the Bead & Button event - in the meantime, I'm again the last in line to even show any photos. Quite a bit have gone up in Facebook and flickr, I'm sure. Cara, my older daughter, accompanied me to Milwaukee and these are the photos she had taken. It might look like an ego-trip I am showing off, I don't deny it!! But hey, how often do I show off myself in any photos? Bear with me, we both thought of a photostory from start to end, though we kinda forgot our 'mission'. Here goes...


Frozen custard, which Milwaukee is apparently famous for. Believe me, this sucker gives you the ultimate punch, it is delicious as well as filling!

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View of downtown Milwaukee

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Man in white suit, selling sunglasses - the coolest fella in town!

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Not sure whether this is the courthouse or public library. Taken by Cara while she 'toured' on her own and I was taking a workshop with Kate Fowle.

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Starbucks offered free Wi-Fi while the Hilton hotel guests had to pay US$10 for 24h of internet access. This Starbucks is inside the Hilton and I was in there daily to use their internet access. What a shame, the Hilton charges you an arm and a leg for their rooms but lack this service.

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Colorful Gumball machine, I love the colors, don't you?
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Inventory, each bag has a photo inventory and bagged accordingly so that I can whip them out to show the German customs that I am bringing out what I declare to them. They got a copy of the same b/w inventory photos.

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That's me, in a grubby outfit, marching to the Meet The Teachers' hall to set up for the evening

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Getting my beads out of their bags and onto the table

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My beads...

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Taj Beads with the Anna Karenina series in the 2nd column on 'skewers'

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Deep Summer focals

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Show has began. I did change out of my grubby work outfit! This year, I traveled light and decided to have my work laid flat on the table - which, well, is too flat. I should have had several levels on the table. Well, next time, I'd do it better!

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Meet The Teachers' reception, held in the Midwest Airlines Center's ballroom.

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My booth in the Main Hall. It looks like I carried the table with its contents from the MTT reception, doesn't it? Naaa, we had to pack up and unpack the beads again for this set-up. This year, everything was much quicker since I had prepared everything in advance. Totally efficient this year, believe me, I am amazed at myself.

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A section of the main hall

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'Flame On', we got to demo our beads which were then auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Foundation. Such a thrill, I sat next to Larry Scott again this year. Nice to rub shoulders with a lampwork biggie!!

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Nice to be watched over the shoulder!

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Patti Cahill, Jim Jones, Lani Chung - unfortunately it's not a clear shot, I can't tell who the 4th artist is. I felt that this Flame On was not as well attended as last year. Still, it's been wonderful to be asked to demo in this event!

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Madeline, the guide dog - in my opinion, she's the highlight of the Flame On! Such a sweetheart, the minute you start to pat her, she literally melts onto the floor, roll over for a scratch on her tummy!

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Self-portrait - Cara and I love the color of the taco-chip! Let's not think of the chemcials which went into the coloring...

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Our daily breakfast at a nearby diner's. Believe me, I can forego over-easy eggs and pancakes for the next six months.

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Yes, I did work in Milwaukee!

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Had to show this, B&B used my photo for their signage!! Wow, what an ego-trip!! Unfortunately for my huge ego, the angle of the signage was not quite optimal for phototaking - there is a constant light reflecting off the sign. Sigh...my ego is slightly dented...

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