Nov 30, 2006

What is the universe trying to tell me?!

See those wires? They don't look good, do they? Know where those wires are located? In our living room. A few days ago I smelt the unmistakeably toxic smell of burning plastic in the living room. I inspected the heater for any stray pieces of chewed up plastic (something we have a lot of in our house) that might have lodged itself in the heater...nothing. We had a house fire three years ago so we are still pretty skittish when it comes to weird burning smells. Even wood smoke can still spook us. At some point you have to trust that you have investigated everything in your power and must move on. Must believe the world to be fairly safe. Otherwise you will end up in a worse cycle of anxiety than you are already spinning in. So we sat back and trusted that we weren't going to be forced to go through that awful hell again. There are so many new hells the universe could throw us into. Why repeat one?

Can you see the charred wires, the heap of ashes that used to be our heater wiring? Can you understand how come I never want to turn on my heaters again? What's scarier than that? The burning went all the way into the wall. The Gormley guy couldn't fix it. And wasn't qualified to tell me wether it could still be smoldering. Though he did indicate that the chances were slim. Right before telling me a terrible unsettling story of a fire he couldn't detect in an office building that started in the wall. The end was OK. But the wall had to be busted open.

This house has been getting cold at night. In the morning. All day long. I LOVE cold weather, but that doesn't mean I want it to be 30 degrees inside my house. I'm not crazy! Geeze.

OK, I lied a little about the crazy part. But even crazy people want to stay warm. The Gormley guy that came today is not the estimates guy but he guessed that putting in a new efficient heating system would cost us between six and nine thousand dollars. Just drop a couple of bricks on my brain and be done with it. It would be a lot cheaper if we already had a duct system. But we don't.

So here we are, no income, new store, a second mortgage to float us for a year so long as we don't need big things like new heating systems. What the hell is the universe trying to tell me? Is this a wake-up call about our heating that if ignored will land us in a hotel for six months while our "new" house gets rebuilt? Or is it just trying to see how bad we want to stay in business, just how much we're willing to go without before we get scared and apply for jobs at JoAnne's Fabrics? Is it testing our frugality? Is it telling me we need real jobs to make it in this world? Is it telling me that I better Bergdorf-up my shop windows ASAP and get people in the store? I can't think what I can do to make people come in besides maybe stand outside naked in the thirty-degree weather and tell people I won't come inside until they've all done their shopping with us.

Yeah, that doesn't sound crazy, does it?

To be honest, I don't think I'll feel safe again until we have a new heating system. I really want my life here to work out well. I'm following my dream, but what if it never pays? What if I suck at what I've always wanted to do? If we were really good at this, wouldn't more people be coming in? Wouldn't people be shopping on our website? I've got to admit, I have not been scared at all by this whole venture of ours. Six months of this and I haven't wasted time asking too many "what-ifs" and useless questions like "will we ever earn money again?" But today, right now, this minute, I'm going to admit that I am suddenly really fucking scared.

Scared enough to say the "F" word. Scared enough to want to cry. Everything has felt right, the path we're on, the life we're living. It has felt so right after all those months of not knowing, before we left California. All those months of bad breaks (both literal and figurative) and confusion. Of wanting what we couldn't have. We left, we took the unmapped road. We trusted. We followed our guts. We came here and have found ourselves amazingly happy here.

As is always the case, there is no one to advise us on whether or not to spend thousands of dollars on a new heater system. Everyone would (rightly) like to advise us to be frugal right now as we are starting a business. At what point does safety demand rights over frugality? There is no one who can know if our business will succeed given enough time and investment. No one can tell us if our heaters are really safe or not. No one can tell us how to proceed. Only we can make these decisions.

I don't know. I don't think I will sleep quite as well tonight. Frugality also dictates not drinking expensive beer by the case, but beer I am not willing to give up right now. Is that the same as deciding to live on the streets and beg for change for forty-ouncers? Is it going to come down to beer versus success?

Look, at least I'm not a crack addict. There's always something to be thankful for.

BBQ Bob and BBQ Sue: reprised

So here they are, a man and his mail order bride. The man is barbequing their holiday turkey on the Webber charcoal grill in the snow outside their cozy home. His bride comes out to beseach him to return to sanity and cook their turkey inside like most other sane people do.

This is the note we have put at Bob's feet to explain his activities.

This is the sign we have propped up at Sue's feet to explain her activities.

Here is the little window which now has my paper quilt hanging in it. I spent several hours on this project. I machine stitched the white paper with the writing on it onto cream colored card stock using silver metallic thread. Then I hand stitched all the individual sheets of card stock together using a platinum metallic embroidery thread. The result? I don't know. A bit of a let down in my opinion. Philip likes it. It's just that somehow, in my idea stage, it looked so much more impressive than it does in reality. Plus I may be committing carreer suicide by hanging signs that say things like: "make quilts not weapons" and "be glad Santa Claus isn't your father".

Most of the directives are pretty unexceptionable. I mean, who can argue with: "make wishes for others" it practically screams "Precious Moments". Or how about: "we wish good health for all of you" and "Exquisite happiness is right here, right now." C'mon, doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Doesn't it practically erase the questionable ones in your brain, like: "if your family drives you to drink, at least let it be the good stuff" and "May your children eat more veggies than mine"?

Here's an upclose shot. See the pretty stitching? I think it might be more impressive if I'd taken a week on this instead of a day and really spruced it up with glitter and fancy stitches so it looks more like a work of art and less like a photocopying nightmare.

I know these are my first two windows ever. I know I'm new at this, but how long will it take to know if I've got any skill at this? I want interesting cool windows, but I'm not sure the townsfolk are appreciating my Bob and Sue tableau. It leaves more questions than it answers, such as: "what the hell is up with that turkey?" In my head it was so funny to picture Bob out there in the snow determined to keep the BBQ season open even if he has to lose a few fingers to frost-bite doing it. But now I'm not so sure.

Now I wonder if I shouldn't just put a giant Christmas tree in the window beautifully decorated. But I don't do things beautifully. My friend Lucille can make magic out of quirky collections. She makes everything beautiful. So does Ulla. But me, seriously, everything I touch turns into a weird kind of alternative world where no one's quite sure what's going on. Where there is always a strange mixture of pathos and the kind of humor one develops when they've spent a lot of time alone. Or a lot of time alone except for the community of cockroaches that they have developed a relationship with. I'll bet the roaches are laughing.

I'm not trying to be down on myself. I'm not. I'm not feeling the least bit inferior to anyone else. I just can't quite figure out if my own style is universal enough, interesting enough, and pretty enough to lure strangers into my world. I'm concerned that my own twisty kind of view of the world and what's attractive might be too off-putting to translate into magic windows.

In some ways I think I need to decide what kind of window style I'm going to have and then stick to it. My thought is to try for a really elegant look. But following that thought is that while it may draw in a few spendy customers, it sounds like it might get really dull after a while. Believe it or not, my tastes do actually run to the simply elegant. Classic. I'm more comfortable in a store that displays everything as though it were a relic than in jumble stores where everything is stacked and crammed to the cieling. Do I have to decide on one look? Can I get away with being eclectic?

I guess I'm having a style crisis. What the hell would I call my style anyway? Is there even a word or two to describe it? Uh oh, this is beginning to sound like a shallow existential nightmare. Someone get me out of this grave I'm digging...take my shovels!

What if the problem is that I'm a Wendy Addison type of gal in a Precious Moments type of town? (Actually, I must confess that I'm not exactly a Wendy Addison type of gal, I just wish I was. It's what I'd be if I wasn't already who I am. I love her work, but it's much more fanciful and pretty than my tastes run when not being influenced by her gorgeous decorations. Plus, strictly speaking, I'm not a decorations kind of person. Between Lucille and Max I am developing an appreciation for decorations, but before those two went to work on me...I was more of a functional beauty type gal.) That was the longest parenthetical in history. (It's possible that Gertrude Stein still holds that title, I'm not sure.)

Alright, so why don't some of you describe your style to me. How do you capture your personal as well as decorating style in words? If you had a store, what would your windows look like? What kind of window displays draw you into a store?

Note to lurkers:
Hello out there. I know some of my friends read this blog (because they've told me) who don't leave comments. (Lisa, you're off the hook since you can tell me what you think quite easily in person) But please, the rest of you, come out of the wood work and tell me what you think. just this once. I promise I'll leave you in peace after this. Promise. Cross my heart and hope to die...stick a needle in my eye...who the hell made up that sadistic shit anyway?

Nov 29, 2006

They took my meds away and surrounded me with pit bulls

This is the new window in progress. I was just wondering if I shouldn't keep mum about my windows until they are done so as to make more of an impact on anyone who might be reading my blog.
But one of the things I particularly enjoy in life is seeing things come together. I like the process more than the finished thing. It's all a part of being a curious human being. I want to know how people get from point A to point B. I want to know if they eat ketchup secretly. I want to know how often archeologists brush their teeth while on a dig and do they have to do it in a river, and if they spit their toothpaste in the river, does that mean someone else downstream is going to get some Colgate in their soup? I'm an inquiring mind who wants to know.

I'm making a kind of paper quilt with all kinds of messages on it like: "Only three drinks before caroling this year, OK?" and "Spread cheer until you really feel it" and "Let 'Peace On Earth' really mean something this year" and "Stuff your stocking". Directives for the festive crowd. Too bossy? Too political? This paper quilt will hang behind the current display of stocking stuffers on the laundry line. If I'm going down in a ball of fire, I'm doing it meaningfully.

Not that I'm going down in a ball of fire.

About the meds and pit bulls...that was my dream last night. I was at someone's house and they had a pack of pit bulls and Chick joined up with them and suddenly looked more Pit than Lab and scrambled around like a happy little wild dog. Amazing thing? I wasn't the least bit scared. Unfortunately for me, I had an in-house nurse visit to renew my prescriptions to my meds and the nurse informed me that I could continue taking Paxil for another eighteen months and then they would have to cut me off. As though I was some kind of crack addict. And then I behaved like a crack addict who just found out that no one is making it in their basements anymore: I started explaining desperately to them how if they take the Paxil away I will become an awful mess of panic attacks, how I will cut my hand off in the Cuisinart, and will scare the populace with my unfiltered thoughts...and still they shook their heads and told me it was time.

I'm a little surprised I didn't start clawing at the walls or something. I kept trying to explain to them how mental illness doesn't just go away in eighteen months because you stop taking meds. I tried to explain all the years I had survived without them and how hard it was and how facing the rest of my life without them was unthinkable...they shook their heads and I woke up completely worried that it was all true.

Oh yes, and there were skunks in the yard with all the pit bulls and I tried to corral the dogs into a seperate area so as to avoid a huge stink and I knew I was dreaming at that point because they were all so well behaved and did exactly as I told them to.

About American Bull Terriers versus Pit Bulls; now, I know they are seperate breeds of dog technically, but somewhere along the line I got the impression that both those breeds were created as fierce fighting dogs. So why is it OK to have an "American Bull Terrier" but it's not OK to have a Pit Bull? Are Bull Terriers not aggressive? I really wish drug dealers and other nasty pieces of work would stop adopting and breeding Pit Bulls and treating them bad and encouraging them in all of their most dangerous tendencies. This whole prejudice against that breed has gone too far. I have never met a mean Pit Bull yet (luckily) but until I met Chelsea's old Black Lab named Lady, I had never met a nice Black Lab in my entire life and have been threatened and chased by them on more than one occasion.

I like Pit Bulls. I would never approach one I didn't know if it's people weren't right there. Our new neighbors across the street have a Pit Bull named Pepper and she's the cutest dog ever. She is so sweet and playful and non-menacing. Though, to be honest, I wouldn't try to come into her yard without her people there until I know her better and know if she's protective of her turf. Which most dogs are. Chick's Pit Bull and Bull Mastif genes are what makes her beautiful in my opinion. Her head is more wide and square than her mom's. She is stockier and more densely muscled than pure bred black labs are. (Her mother is a papered pure bred black lab.)

Has anyone else noticed how I started off capitalizing all the breed names and then suddenly stopped? I got tired.

Dogs Dogs Dogs...I'm not even a dog person. I don't love dogs the way some people do. I don't love how much like children they are. I don't know if I will ever get another one. But I have to confess that when it's cold as the north pole in your living room because your wall heater broke after emitting an awful burning plastic smell, and you're shivering in your layers, it sure is wonderful to have a dog who can't imagine a heaven more complete than draping herself across your lap for hours on end. That's a pretty sweet compensation for all the flying fur drifts, the constant need for exercise and walks, the chewing up of anything handy that you will need five minutes after it's been destroyed, and the constant appetite. I do love my dog.

Evidence of snow is scattered around in little left over clumps but the world here is just cold now. Which is fine. I love cold weather. I love walking in it. I love wrapping myself up against it. I love drinking coffee on a freezing morning. Well, I love drinking coffee every morning, but it's especially wonderful when it warms bones that are chattering. This reminds me that I meant to take a bath last night and instead drank beer and watched the Gilmore Girls again.

I have a hankering for a hot bath with salts. I also have a hankering for a tea-bath. We have a formula borrowed from an old herb book that has herbal recipes from the middle ages through more recent times. This one recipe is based on an herbal bath used by a famous courtesan who lived to be eighty, which in the seventeen hundreds is like living to be five hundred. Supposedly she remained dewy and gorgeous her whole life. (I'm assuming she managed to keep many of her teeth, which leads to the question of how she managed to do that at a time when dentistry was a new, mostly mocked, art?) She was also french. Damn her.

I have a recipe box now and I'm really excited about it. Mostly I'm excited to say to Philip: "Put on your damn apron, man, and make me some grub! You'll find instructions in the metal box." I was writing some recipes out while drinking beer and watching the Gilmore Girls. While not taking a bath. One of my other missed professions, incidentally, is being an Apothecary. That's right. Back when I had my first apartment in San Francisco without room mates I had a lot of alone time. I was nineteen years old and that apartment is where I first learned to bake bread, cook more than just split pea soup, and where I made potions. It's not surprising, really. My mom has a certificate in herbology. She's been interested in herbs and teas my whole life. I bought a book that had recipes for shampoo and other cool things. I had so much fun.

I'm a full disclosure type of chick, so I think you should all be aware that I also wrote notes to the many cockroaches that failed to be killed by the noxious fumigating the bug-men applied to my building frequently. They creeped the shit out of me, yet after a while I felt like I wasn't really living alone, since I really shared my space with the roaches. So in the end, because I was in need of meds long before this, I spent time communicating with them with notes writ large on colorful construction paper. I didn't have a lot of visitors while I lived there, which may be because I generally forgot to take the notes down. That may have scared a few people off. That also may explain how come I didn't have a boyfriend or any dates.

I really don't understand boredom. My sister is very annoyed with me over this issue. She has been bored many times in her life, I can't remember any times in my life when there weren't fifty things I wanted to do. I'm not trying to be a smug bastard about this. It's just that I have a hard time believing that boredom is anything more than an atrophying mind. If your mind is alive, doesn't it automatically want to know more than it already does? I don't expect everyone to want to do the same things I want to do, but there are hundreds of millions of things out there I'm not especially interested in that other people are completely excited about. So go find them. Explore. I just don't get it. I guess this is how Born Again Christians feel about me and I should try to see it from that perspective. I just don't feel worried about hell and it makes serious, earnest, Christians crazy.

It's time to get on with the day. I am toying with the idea of making myself a dress. But here's the question, do I go ahead and adorn my super-fat-ass with joyous unashamed flower and polka dot prints, or do I cloth myself in black? It's a dress much like the peasanty one from Threads. (I'd put a link to it here if I knew how to do it). I will look like a big flowery boat, but isn't it better to cheer the masses (myself included) than to try to hide my own masses? I know, I've already talked about this. I'm sorry to get dull on you. I'm going to look fat, so the question isn't how to pretend I'm not, the question is a little more like: do I flaunt it or try to hide? I'm leaning towards wearing the cheerful prints. It will give skinny girls a real boost to see me float by in my colorful bounty, and why not? Why shouldn't they feel good about themselves? At least if I wear the colorful prints I will look down and enjoy the dress.

You all have a super good morning!

Nov 28, 2006

Snow Bird

Snow Bird

Through the maddest hours
I could hear your brushing wings
through the attic burst to flame
sharp white through thick smoke
north-winds calling me back home

Snow Bird, take me home again
wings bent in arctic reach
soot-black against imagined frost
I called you through this hell of heat
you answered me with flight
like midnight church bells
happiness this loud
will wake the damned

Through a haze of pain
against the weight of breaking bones
I heard you tapping at warm windows
leaving me in frozen drifting dreams
rushing up the long road home

Snow Bird, lead me home again
where naked branches break with cold
where silences grow weightless
I called you through a crushing noise
you answered me with flight
every mile brings me closer
to the spirit I left behind
let's grab the wind before it dies

Through the painful exodus
on the tortured path that led
three hundred miles from home
leaving ghosts like breadcrumbs
so I could never lose my way

Snow Bird, fly home with me
numb breathing into drifts
my wings no longer burn
footsteps deep in buried sound
let's shout, let's peal the bells!
I hear the north-winds call us home
we answer fast with flight
trailing ghosts against the light
rushing up the long road home

Nov 27, 2006

It isn't sticking, but it keeps coming down!

It started coming down in huge floaty flakes and I rushed outside with just my sweater and Chick followed, bewildered at my excitement, but willing to jump on board with me. I fed the chickens and then started dancing around the yard in the huge flurry of cold white sky to "Like A Prayer" which came on just then. I am playing Madonna REALLY LOUD.

The most awesome noise? I heard the kids at the Max's school ground shrieking and hollering with excitement. His school is only a block and a half away. Maybe he's out there dancing in the snow too. I feel so giddy I might explode. (In the best possible way)

Chick looks put out here, but she was trying to catch the flakes in her mouth and caught the whole excitement thing from me because she's a young dog, not a thirty six year old serious business woman. She started racing around frantically looking for a toy to cash in on my sudden departure from the boring cleaning chores I was doing before which prevented me from playing with her. I almost lost a finger to frostbite, but who the hell cares? What a wonderful day!

I've only called Philip at the shop thirty times so far to make sure he noticed the snow falling.
A Good Trip Was Had By All
(our trip to California in photos)
We stayed at my mom's house with her and her two young shih tzu dogs who looked exactly like Ewoks from Star Wars. And no, I probably didn't spell ewok correctly, and I'm not going to look it up like I did "Shih tsu" because it probably isn't in the dictionary, being fictional creatures and all. Chick and the little dogs got along pretty well after some initial fear on the shih tzus part because Chick hopped around them like an amped up tar-black beast sent from the devil to torment them. As soon as they figured out that that's her way of asking them to play they had a good time. This lovely succulent/vase arrangement is typical of my mom, she has a way of making everything around her gorgeous. I envy her her ability to outshine Martha in so many ways.

This is my mom. I love her. She's a nutty lady and we've had a lot of ups and downs, but she's also been a tremendous inspiration to me in my creative life. Plus, she's made lots of mistakes with her own life so that I don't have to make the same ones. (I don't rejoice in those mistakes, in case you think I'm some kind of evil ingrate. Also, she didn't make them for my benefit. When you live largely and colorfully you are bound to make more mistakes than someone who lives quietly and timidly). She's a daring, creative, fun person to call mom. She graciously let us take over her house for a whole week. Thanks Mom!!
Unfortunately my mom does not control the universe or things like this would never pop up. Does anyone know what the hell kind of fungus this is? It looks like vomit oozing tang. I actually think it's magnetically fascinating which is how come I took a picture of it to share with everyone. That nature creates so many really vibrant fungi never ceases to amaze me. I think this one would probably kill you if you ate it.

This is Myra. We had a great time haning out at their house which is just a block and a half from our old house which is just a few blocks from my mom's house. Myra and Adam have two boys that Max is good friends with. They've been busy this summer growing lots of great vegetables in their garden and pickling their own home grown cucumbers! I got a jar of them and they're quite good. I wish I could have done some pickling with them, that would have been fun. I know that next year I'm going to find out they've dug a root cellar.

This is Adam with Dylan, their oldest son who's a Capricorn just like me.

Philip kicking back at their house in the warm sunshine. Why go to Mexico for sun when you can visit friends in California?

I love the garden that Myra and Adam built. So much prettier than the one I grew this summer. It inspires me to plan out a pretty garden this year. Will I have time to do anything? My very close friend Sid, her husband Dennis, and their wonderful kid Joschka might be coming for a visit in April and Sid says she's hankering for some time with a power drill and some earthy I'm thinking she and I can build some raised beds while the guys hand us beer after beer to slake our hard earned thirst. We are women of grit. I kind of feel like we will need some peasanty outfits to compliment our farmy activities.

This is Sharon and Ben who are the wife and child of Norman who I've known for over sixteen years. Sharon has become a very close friend with whom I garden and swap home canned goods and share tea with. She's an exceptional artist (you can check out her work at her website: But right now she's in the middle of creating a brother for Ben to bicker with. Her new addition will be coming along sometime around the new year. Another Capricorn...Yay!)

This is Ben's camera face. You know what I'm talking about, all little kids develop a face they think is appropriate for every photo-op. Always they look so funny and they don't know why.

Sharon teaches art for little kids at a kid's center in Sebastopol. I love how these pumpkins look a little bit like voodoo squash. I want to make some next year. Do you think they would let me take the class too?

New sock/shoe combo. Makes me happy.

Sharon has been caring for my rare Kaiserin Freiderich rose (plus some other barrels of goodies) since we fled the state in April with only the things we could carry on our backs and in a huge semi that wouldn't allow barrels of plants in it. My rose is super healthy, and I think this picture explains the true power of petrolium. Who knew?

Boys are so hard to capture on film without blurring them. Action. Constant movement and action. Sometimes I like pictures of them in movement even though they aren't crisp, they capture the real spirit of these beings in constant motion. This is Arthur, a very good friend.

This is a baby quilt I made for Ben. I still really love it. All of it was hand pieced and hand quilted. The machine was only used to sew the batting, front, and back together. It took me a few months to complete.

This was my house. It's not mine anymore. I'm just waiting for the new owners to paint it a really uninspiring beige color, or perhaps restore it to its previous fleshy band-aid color. Personally, (I'm about to say something so obvious it's going to knock your socks off), I love the pink. It's not an original combo, check out Monet's house in Giverny. Same paint job. I couldn't paint my current house the same way because it lacks the mediteranian thing that makes the pink seem so warm and good. Do I feel sad not to live in that house any more? Not really, though I am kind of jealous that we had plumbing difficulties for the four years we owned it and then had to bless the new owners with brand new plumbing two days before moving. We barely got two or three worry-free flushes in before handing it over to the new people who I'm sure take it for granted the black sludge does not ooze up into their tub. I really think the least they could do is send us a fruit basket in thanks. But no, my new house is extremely boring in comparison, but it has a lot going for it and once we actually have a steady income I hope to improve on it's good but boring bones.

Max's sixth birthday party was so much fun for him. He was like a wild little heathen shrieking and hollering with all the other boys up and down the stairs of my mom's house. Present opening can be a group activity. I had to face something finally, at Max's party, that's been creeping up on me for quite a few years now. I hate parties. I like small calm gatherings. A busload of screaming children all in one house makes me feel like collapsing in a heap of camille-like weakness. I have a lot of involuntary anxiety over throwing parties and going to parties. I have been doing my level best to ignore the on-set of this annoying little problem but my body is getting seriously involved now so that I must face it. Not just palpitations, but also knotted stomach, and worse yet, no, I try to be open about the whole being crazy gig- but some things I just can't say outloud. Suffice it to say that I either need to do some serious work on myself to be able to face parties, or I need to stop having them and going to them. The main thing is that Max had a great time and so did his friends.

Max and Sam have known each other since before they were born. They met in-utero in the natal-nautics class his mom and I met at. Sam lives in the woods where lots of ticks hang out waiting to attatch themselves to me. That's right, they are all waiting specifically for me. And they almost got me this time.

Sophie is Sam's sister and a little tough cookie who doesn't lack for beauty, charm, determination, stubbornness, and talent. She was doing some dances for me. And practicing flying like an angel.

Kid sandwiches are so funny. Until the tears come. But I love the crazy things kids get up to.

Wait, more party pictures. I thought we were done with those. Weird how I can surprise myself like that. I love this picture of Max with his balloons.

Grown ups waiting to put out the sugar-amped fires that flare up amongst children when allowed to roam free and graze endlessly from the bounty of the sweet life.

Just for the record, I don't sing "Happy Birthday". Also for the record, because this was my boy's birthday and he's been looking forward to it avidly for an entire year, I did actually try again for the first time in a couple of years. I had to stop for two reasons. 1) I can never stay on key with this tune so I hate hearing the grating notes in my own ears which sound sour when they should sound sweet. and 2) I always start to choke up which embarrasses me.

That's Nicole in the purple. We went out drinking afterwards. I agreed to go to the Russian River Brewery, which I never go to because there's too many people there making way too much noise. Anyone surprised that I don't like to go to hip places where people pack themselves in like a bunch of pickles in a jar? Luckily it wasn't too crowded for once and I enjoyed hanging out with Nicole who is a really funny lady.

This is Black Butte. A sharp steep volcanic peak which always strikes me as intensely formiddable and yet every single time I pass right by it's steep base which practically touches I-5 I want to get out of the car and scramble up it's sides until I reach the top where I would probably immediately die of a heart attack. I'm not sure why I find it so compelling. But now again, as it did for seven years of my youth, it points the way home. When you pass this spot you are really close to the Oregon border and it always felt so good to get to that place on the road as a kid coming back from California. Only now my home isn't just an hour and a half away, it's still seven or eight hours away. Who cares. One of these days I'm going to tell Philip to stop the car, I'm going to get out, and I'm going to climb until I can go no further, where the air is thin and metalic and I'm going to feel it swell in my blood as I look out over the landscape like the lording goat I am.

You all know how scared of heights I am, right?
Snow Snow Snow Snow Snow Snow Snow
(and how it's already almost gone)

I am an optimistic realist. Sometimes I call myself an optimistic pessimist. Which basically means I simultaneously hope for the best and plan for the worst. It means I look at my glass as half full but know that I'm still drinking which means it won't be half full forever. So I woke up this morning and was immediately transported to see that it had snowed between three am and seven thirty am (I know this because Max woke up around two thirty and couldn't get back to sleep and the last time I looked outside was three-oh-five am.) I LOVE SNOW. But it merely dusted McMinnville. There's not enough here to last through the weak winter rays more than another hour. I can hear scoffing in the midwest where people are routinely buried under six feet of the stuff.

For some reason, people always assume that if you say you like snow what you really mean is: "I like to have twelve feet of snow dumped on me and my house so I'm trapped for a week with whatever paltry food selection I have in my pantry. I like to shovel snow for six hours a day and get in accidents on the road on my way to work." What I really mean when I say I love snow is that I would like to have a few gorgeous snow storms a year that leave me with at least six inches of snow to play with so it doesn't melt under my warm loving stare before I even have time to eat a fist of it that isn't filled with twigs and dirt.

I interupt myself to say that at this minute it is snowing! It's so beautiful! I just tried to capture this elegant display on my camera and it didn't really show up. I want it to snow all day long. And then I want it to snow all night long too. Because the perfect amount of snow stays with you for a few days and the perfect amount of snow invites snowman building.

The natural retort to all this is "well why the hell don't you move to a place where it always snows a lot? Like Montana or Colorado." Believe me, I've heard this often enough. First of all, I'm a west coast gal. I truly am. The high mountains of the rockies, the plains of the interior, and the east are not for me. So I chose to move north of Ashland Oregon, where it generally snows satisfyingly a couple of times a year. I figured that I'd get even more snow if I moved six hours north. But apparently I have a talent for finding the little warm non-snowy pockets of valley where everyone is happy with more temporate weather than people just five miles north get. Sometimes hidden talents can be annoying.

I'm snow greedy. It's stopped snowing again and the sun is out. Damn. Oh well. At least the snow didn't melt before I woke up. At least I got a little snow. At least it's just the beginning of winter and there are two more months in which it could drop a load on me. At least I only live two hours away from Mt. Hood where there is a little snow on the peak all year long. See my half full glass? Right at this second, outside the office window, there is a spruce tree on which a chipper little bird is sitting, fluffed up against the cold. So obviously there are other things as gorgeous as snow out there. Time to get more coffee and do a different post to follow up on our trip south where there is NO SNOW right now.

Nov 25, 2006

Learning The Ropes (not the tight-rope kind)
(a visit to Strawberry Creek in Healdsburg, CA)

This is Dionne (the owner of Strawberry Creek, in the stripes) and Jeanette. Dionne bought some of my wholesale goods for her store over the past year and a half. She was really helpful when I was doing just the wholesale, giving me names of reps, tips on what other stores I might approach, and being very open about her side of the business. Not all store owners are as open and friendly as Dionne. I have really enjoyed doing business with her. Now that I have my own store (and since it's in another state than Dionne's is) I visited her store while I was in California to take some notes on some of the goods she carries. Strawberry Creek is a wonderful store that my friend Lucille took me to as a possible place to sell my cards. Lucille always knows the magical places to shop.

I have to say that I hardly expected Dionne to stop what she was doing for an hour to give me advice on window displays, merchandising, and finding good shows...but she did. It's always so wonderful when people are willing to share their business experiences with new people in the same trade rather than shoving them into shipping boxes and sending them back to where they came from because they might be competition. I don't want to have a store identical to Strawberry Creek, but Dionne and I certainly share the same taste in many ways and I would like my store to have the same effect on people as hers has on me: you walk in and immediately lose track of time because there is so much to explore that you have never before seen, lots of sparkle, and lots of color. I feel like I'm being mentored. No, I didn't say MENTAL, I said mentored. Everyone knows I'm always mental, sheesh, don't need to tell anyone that anymore, do I? Anyway, thank you for the great visit to your store Dionne! And if you make it to McMinnville Jeanette, please stop by!!

While in California, the land of the harried people, I spent a little time with my friend Lucille, the genious behind the company "Forest Whimsey". She makes these very unusual stylish felted fairy dolls trimmed with pretty vintage bits and bobbles. I must note that she sheds a lot of blood making these so they are graced with a bittersweet aura. (To prevent them from being too precious.) I've perched these gals in a few places around the store, here a fairy lounges on a baby doll quilt.

Philip stayed up late last night to merchandise the store, finish moving the rest of our stuff from the old location to the new, and to hang things up on the walls. I think he's made some big improvements.

This table is now all Lucille's hand crafted goods. The old blue head is wearing a fairy crown, the basket holds gnome trinket boxes, and there is also a basket of mushroom christmas tree ornaments. I've already sold four of the ornaments!

Waiting for us when we got back was our order from Anvil papers which Philip re-arranged against this wall. The buckets were my doing. We also got journals from the same company, gift enclosure cards, and gift tags. Also new are gift packaged sets of cards from our friends' company Furlong Flowers.

This apron is one of Chelsea's finest. Chelsea is busy putting her own company together called Chez Lulu. This apron won first place in it's category at the Harvest Festival. I have to admit that I seriously covet it myself and would buy it from her but it makes me look like a russet potato. It would make most women look like a fiery sexy sirens. Trust me. It's HOT. You should know that in my circle, Harvest Festival and County Fair awards are something to be proud of.

The front windows are enjoying some improvement. I won't claim they are fantastic, but give me time. This is a whole new skill I'm building. I have ZERO experience doing it. Until now. I feel like I should have tried doing this when I was much younger, (this isn't a regret type thing where I WISH I WAS YOUNG AGAIN SO I COULD DO THINGS OVER...I don't believe in that crap.) I just can't help thinking that I could have been having this much fun all these years. What was I thinking trying to become a respected poet and writer? (head banging on the table...) Why was I such a serious youth? (I'm using a wooden spoon now...) Lord, being in my thirties is SOOOO much better than being in my lousy twenties. (Actually my twenties were pretty good, I was just way more serious than I needed to be.)
Can you see the wax turkey? Can you smell it? (Ugh.) Thank god it isn't scented strongly enough to make the whole store smell like fake wax turkeys. I think BBQ Sue is looking particularly fetching in this headscarf. I'm worried that she's still bare-foot. She isn't made to wear high heels (very surprising in this strappy-spikey-six inch heel-craze that swept the nation in the nineties and never went away.) I have to find her some modestly heeled shoes. Unless I can work her cold bare feet into the story line.

I hung sparkling snowflake ornaments behind BBQ Sue and Bob. I won't say it was easy, but I like the way it looks. I just wish I had the patience to hang about fifty more. Unfortunately I had to stop because the sensation of them getting caught on my clothes while hanging the others was making me grind my teeth in annoyance.

See the turkey baster? I love mannequins. They are so surreal. I think this is a pretty nice scene. I have only to print out a story for passers-by to read. The explanation, the punch-line to my strange little world of fiber glass people.

Yesterday really wasn't very busy. Which turned out to be a good thing because we had a lot of pricing to do, and more setting up. Today was different. I can't say we were swamped exactly, but we got close in sales to our best day in our last location and there was a really good flow of foot traffic for most of the day. This is how keeping a store is supposed to be!

Quite a few other store keepers came to visit which made me really happy: Nancy from "Found Objects" who is really a fun lady to hang out with (and to drink wine with!) and she's also very open and free with dispensing advice when asked. Linda from "Hopscotch" came in and bought some of Lucille's felted mushroom ornaments because her family is very mushroomy (plus I have to say she came to check up on us yesterday which is so awesome because she was really slammed with business!).

Laurie from "Redfox Bakery" came in to see the store and chat and she's one of those people I can lose all sense of time talking to because she's so interesting and funny, Patti Webb (who doesn't own a store but is the manager of the Downtown Association) also came in and had lots of nice things to say, and also Lori from Ranch Records (who is the owner of Ranch Records with her husband Kit and also is our new landlord) came in too which really pleased me because she's such a casual, helpful, and nice person to work with.

Right now I feel like we are being so supported by other business owners downtown, and by McMinnville in general. So let's just hope I can manage not to alienate anyone in the near future. Surely some terrible gaff is waiting to be played out in my court. Whatever... I had a great day! I sincerely hope we succeed because I'm really enjoying the path we're on. The only thing missing, besides an income, is a couple of acres to farm. Wait, didn't I just say that the other day? Well it's still true.

One other really awesome thing: the weather report says it might snow on Tuesday. Did you all hear that? IT MIGHT SNOW ON TUESDAY!!!!!!!