Friday, February 25, 2011
They are good thoughts
The eyes of Li Huā sparkled when she looked at me. She then glanced downward towards the tiny sculpted brown teapot that sat in the middle of the serving tray. Her name translated to English meant Flower and she was a beautiful one at that.
A smile grew upon her lips. They parted slightly allowing the tip of her small delicate pink tongue to just peek out and moisten her bottom lip. I could sense her breath quicken when she picked up the heavy black caste iron kettle. “This was my grandmother’s kettle,” she said. “My grandfather told me that she carried it all the way from Datong, in the north of China, when the Kuomintang was retreating from Mao.” The bowl holding the small eggshell porcelain teacups decorated with small blue flowers was soon covered with hot steaming water. The lid of the little brown Yixing was gently lifted off and the small pot was also filled to overflowing.
Her movement was smooth and without effort. She again glanced at me with that smile that always accelerated my heartbeat. She brushed her long black hair to one side and let her delicate fingers pick up a little ivory handled brush. She fondled the soft bristles, and then gently swept the overflow liquids into the small grill at the side of the tray. She glanced at me again; her smile full, captivating and definitely full of a child’s naughtiness. One minute her eyes were large round black saucers and then they would crinkle only to open wide again to allow the deep pools of intense affection and hopefully of love to flow across the intimate space that separated us. I wanted to reach out and embrace this Flower.
She knew that she was in control.
She grasped the small knob of the teapot cover, raised it up and placed it on the brim of the little brown teapot and with a slow delicate movement; she rotated it in a circular movement around the rim. After a few turns the lid was re-seated on the tiny pot. There was a definite pause as if this movement was the prelude to the rest of the evening.
Flower let her head tilt to one side as she reached for the small wooden tongs decorated with a carved relief of a dragon; the Chinese symbol of the power, used for hundreds of years to represent the Emperor.
“I am very happy you could come this evening.” She said, as she picked out two small cups from the steamy water bowl, using the tongs. The little cups were emptied and were then placed side-by-side, to show that they were a couple. The tongs were returned to the tray, allowing Flower the freedom to lift the elegant teapot, with a graceful movement, and empty its contents of hot water into the small translucent bowls. They overflowed. Again, using the tongs she emptied them and the liquid was swept aside. The small vessels were now ready to receive the nectar that was soon to follow.
She was looking at me as if to see what my reactions were. I was studied. Li Huā became quiet. It was as if she wanted me to say something. I smiled at her and waited for the movements that would ensue. I wanted to tell her how young she made me feel but thought the better of it. This tea service was her gift to me and I did not wish to take away the importance of it. Flower leaned forward smiling and at and at the same time she reached over and touched my hand. I closed my eyes and inhaled that sweet scent of her odor. Memories of her garden filled with bright colors and soft petals, filled my thoughts.
“You are quiet.” She said and then asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“No.” I replied.
Although I was intrigued with what she was doing, I could only envision making love to her. Images of her long black hair gently caressing my skin aroused my senses. The thought, of her dainty body floating above mine, an angel who knew how to please men, caused movement in my loins. The idea of making love with her kept my mind full of images of limbs entwined, locked in the grip of intense ecstasy. She smiled again and then gave a sideway glance. I was sure she could read my thoughts.
“Please tell me what you are thinking about,” she asked.
“Li Huā you are teasing me,” I said to myself. I was sure that she was able to read my body language and I was quite sure that she already knew the answer to her question. Surely she was playing with me.
I looked at her and grinned like a school boy, delaying my counter so that I could think up something that would bring her closer to my fantasy. I failed to do so. I replied, “I am thinking of you.”
She sat back and paused a moment. Her smile broadened only to relax and allow, her tongue to move slowly across her upper lip giving the surface inviting moist warmth. I could see that she was mulling over my answer and I was trying to gauge her response. I did not want to give away my feelings. My heart was beating in anticipation of her next question.
“Surely you have more important things to think about,” she replied, using her serious voice to project a sincere interest in my feelings.
I took a small breath to control my answer “No, just you.” I countered.
I was doing everything in my power to manage my emotions. I did not want to look like a lovesick boy suffering from his first crush. After all I was a man of a certain age considered too old for young activities. I really had no right to think that I could win the affection of this beautiful young woman. Nevertheless, I had decided that my age was not going to stop me from pursuing this fresh young life. I wanted her to be close to me and I was going to give my best to win the heart of this lovely creature. I knew that I was being greedy thinking about her as my lover but I didn’t care. I still had a life and I wanted to live it to the maximum.
“Are they good thoughts?” She asked, looking deep into my eyes to judge the sincerity of my answer.
“Yes.” I said, “They are good thoughts.”
She picked up a small round package that sat to the left of tray. It was wrapped in foil paper. The silver wheel framed a red label with black Chinese characters printed on it. Li Huā peeled back the metallic leaves until the dark fermented herb concealed in the wrapping came into view and with it came an aroma that opened a valley of green freshness and morning breezes. Her hands worked without effort as they broke off small buds of organic material. She was smiling again with the anticipation that only comes when one knows that they are about to bestow pleasure upon a lover.
The small teapot was quickly loaded with the fermented tea, called Puer, and then filled with boiling water. The liquid again overfilled the small Yixing and my sweet hostess picked up the lid and again encircled the lip of the teapot before allowing the lid to find its place. She then poured that light brown liquid into the waiting porcelains, well past over flowing; until the teapot was completely empty, only to refill it again. She paused a moment and asked “Have you tasted Puer tea before? It is comes from this area and it is fermented for about twenty years.” At the same time she picked up the lid and again rotated it against the lip of the Yixing. She seated the lid then proceeded to empty the small bowls.
She waited a moment allowing the liquid and leaves to steep. “This tea is supposed to give us good health, "she said." It is also touted to be a natural elixir for a good love life.” She smiled when she spoke the last words and continued, “But you surely don’t need the tea to improve your ability in that area.”
She looked at me and smiled. Picking up the newly charged teapot, she completely emptied it into a small glass pitcher. The liquid was a rich color of amber. Wisps of steam wafted upward filling the air with sweet bouquet of the tea. She then filled our cups from this vessel, after which she used both hands to pass one of the small bowls to me. One hand held the rim of the teacup and the other supported it.
I was about to reached for the cup when I was drawn to her fingernails. They were a bright red with small gold filigree drawing of a rose on each one. The vision of her digging these nails into my back during lovemaking filled my head with erotic images of both of us in a room filled with soft silks and lighted candles.
She broke my thoughts. “Terrance! Are you OK? You seem so far away. Do you not feel good?” I smiled. I couldn’t believe a young lady as beautiful and gracious as she would ever be intimate with and old guy like me.
“I am just in love.” I responded. I could no longer hide my feelings. She smiled and bowed her head to hide her blush.
Flower placed the small bowl of the hot rich red brown liquid in front of me. She waited for me to move to pick it up and as I did, she reached for her small cup of liquid. It was as if she was an extension of my thoughts. We looked deeply into each other’s eyes as we sipped the elixir. We both caressed the rim of the small vessels with our lips. It was as if we were kissing each other. We were savoring a flavor and a freshness that had to wait in the dark for so long before we asked it to pleasure us.
Once empty, the small bowls were placed in front of us and again filled from the small glass pitcher. The teapot sat at the side of the tray waiting for the ritual of the small lid to be rotated once again by the delicate fingers with nails of scarlet and gold.
Li Huā was a beautiful creature. The act of the tea service was accompanied with a smile of love. She was, without speaking, inviting me to partake in another sip of the rich delight and to once again let my imagination fly free.
The ceramic articles were created by the author.
Monday, February 21, 2011
The Survey about Etsy February 2011
A survey was prepared by zalt57, who is a shop owner on Etsy.
A survey was prepared by zalt57, who is a shop owner on Etsy.
It is anonymous, so the respondents can answer candidly.
The aim of the survey was to try and find out if there was real discontent with Etsy's direction during the past month plus.
It is a short survey but I believe it reflects the feelings of the Etsy members both seller and buyer. The Survey was carried out over a six day period to give Etsy members sufficient time to discover that a survey was underway and to give them the opportunity to participate.
The collection graphs shown below give a visual description of the results. I have made them xlarge for ease of reading. I am not a statistician nevertheless; I will add my comments where I feel that more information is needed. Readers are also invited to comment on the results.
Looking at this graph to question number one, I am inclined to say that Etsy has shown a continuous growth over the past three to four years.
It also tells us that approximately 64% of the respondents are members with of two or more years of Etsy loyalty, with 84 percent of the population having one year or more as an Etsy member. This tells us that the respondents are experienced with Etsy past operating methods.
The Etsy administration should find a way to consult with the members of Etsy prior to making major changes to the operation structure. They should be aware that their decisions affect the revenue of a large number of people whom have shown a loyalty to their organization. Major changes without consultation could result in membership loss.
The data from question two tells us that 88% of the respondents are both buyer and seller.
This fact points out that Etsy has been successful in developing a synergy of return business. Disruption to this cycle could result in revenue losses to both the Etsy seller and the etsy administration.
The administration needs to study the interaction of both seller and buyer prior to making major changes to the way of doing business.
Retiring the Alchemy affected about 20% of the population. This may not seem like a large figure however it does show that there Etsy had cultivated many of if its members to use this tool for revenue generation. It was also a major source for Etsy members to find custom items. The administration has talked about making etsy more of a social site yet they removed one of the stronger networking applications that were a part of the social life on Etsy.
The administration should look at reintroducing the Etsy Alchemy application soonest and to make it a major part of Etsy’s marketing devices in order to encourage a great participation of its membership.
One way of increasing the use of the Alchemy would be to have a way for the respondents to be able to present a portfolio of previous Alchemy projects to prospective clients. Clients would then be able to make a more knowledgeable decision. There would be a cost involved but this could be recovered though a fair pricing system.
The administration changed the Forum structure. They continually talk about making the site more social when they already had a strong social network with the way the forums were set up. It is evident from the above graph that the previous Forums were visited by the members at least once a week but more often daily. This was the true social page of Etsy. The changes to the Forums were such that it caused a significant migration of members to what is called the UEF web bulletin board. The social fabric of Etsy was diminished due to this decision.
Rethink the recent changes to the Forum structure with the possibility for a return to the previous structure.
The majority of members 75% would like to see a return to the old Forums structure, 9% do not want a return and 16% couldn’t care less. This graph also helps to confirm that the previous forums were the social hubs of the Etsy members.
The same recommendations as in question four are suggested.
It is evident by this graph that the Etsy membership is not fully behind the team structure proposed under the new Forum structure. The membership is trying to figure out how they can best cope with the recent changes. Combining the yes with maybe tells us that the members are trying to decide how best arrange the new structure to resemble the old forums structure. The discussions on the remaining Forum structures are often diverted to rants about the loss of the old forum. This in turn can cause new members, buyers and sellers, to look at Etsy in a negative light
Etsy should Re-evaluate their direction with teams and forums.
The membership believes that the administration has lost touch with them. The 67% of the members are firm with this response while 18% are undecided. The figures show that the number of changes taken place on Etsy during the past month have caused difficulties for the members resulting in revenue loss, loss of social interaction with other members and angst about future sales.
It is suggested that Etsy review their original Aim, Goals, and Strategies in order to ensure they do not lose any more of the trust that they have built up during the past years.
The main thrust of this graph shows that the administration has lost the confidence of the Etsy members. The contentious areas are The Forums Format: 56% feel that they are not good, 37% feels that the monitoring of the threads needed improvement, 38% feel that the help response time needs attention due to slowness in getting the answers to their questions, promoting the site shows a very high negative rating of 57% and Maintaining Harmony was also a point that received negative feedback.
The areas of contentment were: the Checkout system, the ease of listings, the documentation, the confidence in purchasing and selling venues and the overall Service.
It is evident from the above results that there is a better need for the Etsy administration to interact more positively with the members. The social network that is being planned should be packaged in total and proposed to the members for evaluation and acceptance. The Etsy membership is the revenue generator for Etsy. They should have some say in major re alignments of the site.
This question was proposed in order to find out if there was a real trust in the direction that Etsy was going. When one is confident of the leadership of a company that makes revenue they tendency to purchase shares in the company increases. This graph shows that there is about a 50/50 split.
This information is more for information only. Nevertheless Esty must be aware that the confidence level is not really that strong amongst the respondents. See recommendation for question 7.
This graph shows that there is a strong desire of the respondents to participate in the direction of the Etsy administration. Etsy is a business and the membership is the partners in this activity. They want their voices heard.
Etsy administration should run similar surveys from time to time to gauge the feelings of their partners.
The Etsy Website is a private organization that can make its own decisions and thus disregard this survey. They would however, benefit from the information in the document before they make any more major changes.
It is also important for them to review their original mandate in order to determine if they have strayed from their original goals.
This survey came at an expense in both time and money. The size of the survey required that I subscribe to the company collecting the data. If you feel that this survey was important to you and that you wish additional surveys in the future please consider a donation. The amount is up to you.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
With Valentine's Day coming tomorrow, I thought a poem for my wife would be a special gift.
I also added a dozen red roses.
I walk in peace and run in war
Sleeping the night and working the day
Seeking places too far to see
Looking for paradise to play
Where I am going and what I am going to be
Is insignificant you see
I must still find out what is behind that door
Following the herd of men
I hope life will give the gift to me
That will allow me to rise
The see the clouds and to ride the tides
Reach beyond the reach, teetering on the edge
Taking what is too far to touch
Holding close what I have gained
Following my dream and holding my thought
I grasp tight to my carpet
As it takes flight
My destination far and away
I cannot see you clear
But there you are
I know it is
So I go forth without fear
Through wind and storm
And days on end
Looking for the gift special rare indeed
The few real joys far and true
The reward I seek is a treasure trove
The gift is special much like the morning dew
The gift my dear, is you.
Terrance Frank Lazaroff, CD
Monday, February 7, 2011
I guess I am getting old and soft.
I just finished watching the movie Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts. I am sure my eyes were moist five or six times during the film. Julia really touches my heart with her acting. She played the part of a young art teacher who set about to influence the young girls in a private well to do college. She wanted these young people to think for themselves rather the just regurgitate the traditional way of thinking.
The movie also touched me because I always wanted to teach art at a small college somewhere near a small town. I wanted to be a part of the forming and training of young aspiring artists and craftsperson’s. There is something special about influencing young and watching them grow and create. Perhaps I am just a romantic.
I could never find a position at college level as I was fairly along age wise when I entered the art community. I had just graduated university shortly before my retirement from the military. I was fortunate to be offered a position at a local leisure art school teaching basic pottery. It was a great experience yet I still longed for the teaching at a higher level.
Now I am not complaining. I was fortunate to have the opportunity during my military career to command a training school. It was always a moving experience when the young people graduated.
The Mona Lisa Smile was a good movie. There was young love, mature love, hatred, egoism, power and rebellion. It was a movie that played with themes that life throws at us. Maybe that is why I enjoyed this film. I think the scene that touched me the most was when Julia took her class to visit a gallery in the city. They arrived just as a Jackson Pollock painting was being uncrated. I like the art of Pollock. He was the subject of numerous papers that I wrote during my art history classes. So I agreed one hundred percent with Julia’s when she told her class to just look at the painting.
Now we can all search for the art of the great artists, but really now is it necessary? Etsy’s art community is so vast it is practically impossible to not find a painting, sculpture or a hand crafted item that is pure art in itself.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Well…….. I finally took a shot at the duck hiding behind the read stilettos. For some reason, I assumed that shop was into some sort of erotic sales. I think it was because the red shoes set my hormones at work. I was surprised however, to see that it was a shop specializing in vintage apparel.
I am not into this market but I could not help looking further to see what the shop had to offer. After all I am an artist and they say that shoe design is truly an art form. As I scrolled down through the listings I began to reminisce about my studies at Art school. We studied an artist was one who was deep into women’s shoes.
His name was Andy Warhol. I smiled to myself as I tried to envision my senior year Pop Art Professor standing in front of the class wearing these striking red shoes discussing Warhol’s famous Norma Jeane, (Marilyn Monroe) silkscreens. Marilyn would wear these shoes but my prof; she was always dressed so conservatively. She knew art and art history but I don’t think she would fit the template necessary to wear these luscious ripe delicate sculptures.
My Art class was a not like a regular Art History class. It was a symposium. I believe our professor was preparing us for a life of marketing art. We had to role play for many of our projects. One time we were all required to research a given artist in order to advise her the best time to buy the artist’s work, as an investment.
Another occasion we were all assigned a character that was in the six degrees of Andy Warhol’s activities. We were to dress the part and to give a presentation on how we came to know Andy. It was make believe but we still had to research all the facts as to when the character was in contact with Andy. I was assigned to be Tennessee Williams. I remember looking up photographs of how he dressed and read much about his writings and plays. We gave our presentation as a press release and the students in the class in turn acted as news reporters. They asked questions to the characters and we would do our best to answer, as if we were really the character.
It was really interesting. Other students were given characters such as Jacqueline Onassis, Tom Wesselmann and Judy Garland. Everyone showed up dressed the part in vintage clothes. That class was a real blast. I also noted that in our class of about thirty students, there were only two people who lived the era of Andy Warhol. My professor and myself. I realized at that time that I was no longer a spring chicken.
Back to Andy Warhol, He knew about shoes because he had to work as an illustrator drawing shoes for a department’s store. His duties also required him to do the window dressing with shoes. I remember seeing a large coffee table book on shoes that Warhol had written. It was a collection of all of his drawings of shoes. So shoes are import in the world of art.
The duck in the red shoes would surely be Andy Warhol’s best friend. She has a great selection of vintage fashion. I would place most of the pieces in the category of Haut Couture. I am sure that some of these fashions were worn by the major history makers of the sixties and seventies. The clothes are still fashionable today. I can hear my wife’s words in the back of my head, “quality fashion and workmanship will always be in demand.” I think she is right.
Shoes and clothes are a real art form that will be displayed in major museums well into the future.
Why not wear a bit of history, a bit of fashion and a bit of flash. Just think of those red shoes and the little duck behind them.