Wednesday, May 30, 2012

People Who Live in Glass Houses.....

 Amazing! The internet can certainly lead one on a wild goose chase sometimes. The other day I went around my new neighborhood and took photos of a couple of bottle trees. These are a fun tradition in the southern U.S. though anyone anywhere could build one. It's pretty easy to do (I think)- just make sure that it is firmly in the ground- you wouldn't want a big wind to come along and knock it over!

So, I posted a few bottle tree pics on facebook, and one of my friends (yes, I really do know her- we've even shared a hotel room!) came back with a picture of a wall made of bottles.

She didn't know where it was, so I had to go on an online fishing expedition to see if I could find it. Well, I did not, but boy what I did find! A wonderful blog that has marvelous photos of glass houses from all over the world- 'Glass Bottle Walls'. I also found instructions on how to put one of these babies together. Wow! It's just astounding all of the ways folks have used bottles in construction, and they've been doing it for along time too.
As for me- I'm gonna get to work on drinking a lot of something- anything- as long as it's in a glass bottle!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where Y'at? (a treatise on giving directions)

Today is the day that I give my unbiased and totally correct opinions about giving (and receiving) directions. Since I'm a world class expert on this subject (!), and pretty directionally challenged, I thought- why not?

What, you need proof that I've got direction problems? Well, when I was 7 years old I loved to ride my bicycle around our very large block. One day I decided to go around in reverse- didn't cross a single street- in tears, I asked a stranger where my street was (I was on it) and how to get home. Put me inside a building any day of the week, make me turn a corner and then see if I can tell you where anything is outside the building- nope!

Several years ago, a BIG part of my job was giving directions to anyone who called from anywhere to where I was. And here's what I learned- there are pretty well three reasons folks call for directions-
1) They've never been where you are.
2) They don't know how to get where you are.
3) They are hopelessly lost.

So my advice? Remember- They have no clue (None!) how to get from wherever they are to where you are. They've never been there. They don't know the landmarks. They probably don't have a pencil and paper in hand. They barely know where they are right now. Here's what you, as direction giver, must do:
1) Ask where they are- yeah, they probably didn't bother to tell you that.
2) Know the street names, exit numbers, landmarks and approximate distances to get to you from elsewhere.
 This was drummed into my head one day when the man in charge tossed a piece of paper on my desk (because one of my minions was being flaky) telling me that if the customer missed the exit they would have to drive another 7 miles or so before they could turn around and make it right. (Time to change the office workers manual to include that!)
3) If the directions are complicated (and when are they not?), make sure the person is capable of writing them down.
4) Be clear, don't use the back route if the regular route is easier to explain. Concentrate on simplicity!

My best direction story? The day someone called me from the parking lot where I was working and asked how to get back home- true story! And yes, I did give them directions!

As a direction receiver, what should you do?
1) Have paper and pencil at the ready.
2) Listen. Do not cut the direction giver off unless you aren't keeping up with the writing part.
3) Read back the directions.
4) If you're calling from a cell phone- pull over if you're the driver- know where you are!

OK- that's all I've got for now!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lucky Elephants

When I first started making elephant beads, I was told by a number of folks that the trunks needed to be upraised to make them lucky. As a matter of fact, many people did not want them unless their trunks were in this position. Now I have never tried to attach meaning to any of my beads. Though I know some folks use them as amulets or talismans, I feel that attributing value to them is a personal thing. But- my elephants do all have their wee trunks pointing up into the air now- just in case!
But where did all of this begin? Why upturned trunks? What's the big dealie bobber (as we used to say)? Well, as it turns out, it looks like it's another American-ism. Though the lucky elephant charm idea most likely originated in India, it was a combination of the Indian elephant charm and interest in the white elephants of Thailand that somehow led to the US decree that only elephants with upraised trunks were lucky. It's all a part of popular culture folk-magic. And who knew there was such a thing?
Want to read a bit more about all of this? Here's an interesting little article with links to more info about elephants and other lucky charms.