Jun 30, 2007

Cherry Season!

On the east coast and in the Midwest sour cherries are not very hard to find (from what I hear), but here on the west coast they are like rare birds who can't fly and are therefore dying off because it's evolutionarily less useful to have wings that don't work. I guess no one sees the point of growing sour cherries because you have to preserve them or cook them in pies to get the best out of them and who has time for that? You'd think, what with Washington state dripping with cherries it wouldn't be that hard to track some down.

You'd think.

When I lived in Sonoma I went on a mad sour cherry hunt. I actually tried to find mail order sources here on the west coast as I have heard there are on the east coast. No luck. I tried every local farm to find out if they had a Morello tree hidden on their back acre that I could pick from. No dice. Even though the west county in Somoma used to be full of cherry orchards. This was long before it was all vineyards and long before it was all apples which were mostly chopped down to make way for the grapes. Now there is almost no evidence that they once dominated the agricultural landscape. I heard about it from old farmers.

There are lots of cherries here in Yamhill county. Cherries everywhere! This is something you never see in California. Roadside cherries. Cherries in front yards. However, they are all sweet.

Lisa E. has begun a new hunt for cherries. It seems she's found a possible source here in Yamhill County. On Sunday we are going cherry picking. Of course we're going to pick sweet cherries. But besides eating them there isn't a lot you can do with the sweet ones. They lose their flavor when cooked and doused in sugar so pies, preserves, and other deserts don't shine with the sweet cherries.* Here's what we'll do with the sweet ones: we'll eat a ton of them fresh, we'll try oven drying some and dehydrator drying some others (to make a quality comparison), and we might make a little ice cream. We might even try making one of the recipes for preserves made with sweet cherries just to see how it turns out.

At this same orchard there is a sour cherry tree, but the owner has informed Lisa that the cherries on it are very small. We're bringing her cherry pitter to see how easily they pit. If they pit easily we will pick sour cherries and make sour cherry jam because it's one of the best jams on earth to those of us who like our jam with a little tartness. My all time favorite is made by the company Bon Maman. Philip bought it once a long time ago and since I don't like to try new things very freely, he had to convince me that it wouldn't kill me to take a taste. You see, I had only ever had cherry deserts and preserves made from sweet cherries which basically just taste like cooked sugar. Oh boy! I am so glad he made me try it. It tasted like cherry candy, the kind that is bright red and made with artificial flavorings...except that it was a gorgeous deep red and 100% natural.

I seem to have developed a habit of planting sour cherry trees wherever I live. I planted two at my last house and two at this house. I keep thinking that it isn't enough. Morello trees are quite small naturally. What if I never get enough from them? I'm not as sure about the Montmorency trees which is the other variety I planted. I kind of think I ought to plant at least one more. Another thing you can do with sour cherries (better than with sweet) is make liqueur. I haven't had tons of luck making good liqueurs but once you've tasted a really good one it's hard not to want to keep trying.

I've made an excellent plum liqueur and my friend Sharon has made an excellent cherry liqueur. I have to note that she used sweet cherries but didn't use as much sugar as cherry liqueur usually calls for and it turned out excellent-but she didn't write down what she did so it will remain a mystery forever.

The bowl of cherries above is this years Morello harvest from the front yard. Not a lot you can do with a tiny bowl of sour cherries except look at them and dream about what you'll do with them next year when you have enough of them.

So cherries are going to kick off our farm and preserving adventures for the season. I'm so excited! Now I have to start looking for an extra freezer. I needed one last year but didn't get one. I've needed one for a few years but have not wanted to make a rash choice. I don't know whether I should just get an extra fridge/freezer combo-but then I probably still wouldn't have enough freezer space, or get an upright freezer, or get one of those chest freezers? Which is best? The upright seems the easiest to find things in. The chest freezers are cheaper. There's all this talk of frost-which ones are frost free? Anyone have suggestions?

The one thing I know for sure is that I'm getting one with a low energy star rating which means I won't be buying locally unless my Sears can order a low energy Kenmore. Around here the only ones I've seen in person are the ones that eat up the most energy possible-are we trying to use up all the fossil fuel right now on purpose? Please! On line I've seen a lot of models that are very efficient compared to what I've seen around here.

For anyone else wondering what to do with a surplus of local cherries, here's a list:

dry them (sweet)
pit and then freeze them (sweet or sour)
preserves (best for sour)
ice cream (sweet)
syrup (sour)
liqueur (sweet or sour)
sauce to put over ice cream or other deserts (sour)

*This is my opinion possibly not shared by anyone else. That's alright, I'm used to it.

Jun 29, 2007

It's finally (mostly) done!

I think moving is the kind of activity that never quite feels done, which is why most people try not to do it too often. Even after everything is moved out, it's never completely moved out. When we moved into the house my parents bought in Ashland Oregon there was all kinds of minuscule detritus left behind such as scrap wood, vintage receipts on closet floors, and the best treasure of all: a tiny antique doll tea cup. Moving makes you face your crap both literally and figuratively, and for many of us, that's not very comfortable and involves copious shots of ouzo.

I'm sitting in a (mostly) empty store front. A space all at once magical to enterprising imaginations and crying out that another business has bit the dust. Because that's what most people are going to think: that we went under in a flash. We have become another cautionary business tale. Young hopeful couples with stars in their eyes are going to tell their friends that they want to start their very own little vitamin boutique and their friends are going to shake their heads and say "Remember what happened to that store that was here before, you know, what was it called? The one with the weird name...Tinpan Alley? They were only there for a year and they tanked. It is so hard to make it in business these days!"

How sad it would be to become a cautionary tale for entrepreneurial spirits. It's not what I want at all. As I sit here in the emptiness that used to house my colorful vision of commerce what I'm thinking is that it's been one hell of an adventure. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I didn't learn that I will fail at running a store; I learned how to run a store pretty darn well. My business was increasing. I had finally developed a reputation and people were seeking us out because they had heard about what a cool shop we had. That isn't failing. That's succeeding.

The money was getting super tight but if I had thought I could run the store and be a healthy person with a healthy family life, I could have gone further out on a limb to keep it going. And I'm confident we would have become financially successful. The highest cost wasn't in loans (though those are fairly daunting) it was going to take too much of a toll on my mental health, on my relationship with my son, and probably with my husband as well. So I'm happy we cut it loose.

It bothered me a little that some other shop owners might be watching us move out with a little smug "I told them so" kind of thought tramping across their brains. I no longer care. I don't have time for annoying smug people who get satisfaction out of predicting failure for others and enjoying being right. Especially when they're actually wrong. So I've let it go. I feel benevolent toward all feeble minded smug people right now.

It must be the beer.

What would the world be like without people willing to go out on a limb? For themselves or for others? What kind of dark grey life would we all be living if no one ever took chances? If we all listened to cautionary tales and meekly followed the advice of the jaded, scared, conservative, or negative people who love to shred enthusiasm wherever they find it? Life would SUCK so bad we'd cease to have souls!

I may be overstating myself just a little.

What I want everyone to learn from my adventure is that it's always worth following your dreams-just be sure to let your dreams evolve and change to fit the reality of who you are and what you need. Don't be afraid to shift gears, it doesn't mean you've failed. It just means you're wise and getting wiser.

*Don't forget to enter the drawing for the fancy tea towel in the previous post! The drawing in on this coming Monday. Go on-leave a comment.
A Dustpan Alley Giveaway!

I know you want this Funktion Home fancy tea towel. Who can resist such lush pom poms and colorful chicken embroidery? Not you, that's who!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and a way to get hold of you should you win. On Monday I will write all the commenters' names on paper and put them in some kind of vessel and will have Max draw one lucky name out.

And just so you know: I plan to do other give-aways in the next few weeks so if you don't win this one, don't worry, there will be other chances to win cool merchandise.

So what are you waiting for?

Jun 28, 2007

Farmgirl Power!

If you enjoy any traditional domestic arts like cooking, needle work, gardening, or keeping farm animals, you will probably enjoy this Mary Jane's Farm book of ideas. There's a lot of farmgirl philosophy in it such as the importance of community and the importance of using what you have on hand. I love this book!

However, I must say that it's a bit overly gentle to completely satisfy me. It's incredibly spunky of Mary Jane Butters to drive a pink Mercedes which she runs on home grown fuel, and I can't even tell you how gorgeous and stylish this woman is and how I wish I looked like her...there's plenty of personality in Mary Jane Butters' every endeavor, but it's just so gentle it occasionally gets under my skin.

Someday I'd like to write a book for urban homesteaders, farmgirls and farmguys who don't necessarily have access to twenty-or even two-acres of land. A book for edgier sharp witted people who like a little dark humor with their stitching lessons. A book with projects as much for the new housewife looking to keep house stylishly in suburbia as for people in cities, towns, or rural areas who are learning to homestead without acres.

I wouldn't write a book with the idea of replacing Mary Jane's Farm book, because I love her work, it would be to compliment her books on the bookshelf. She's an inspiration to me.

I was rereading her book from cover to cover the other evening because I really needed to dive into a gentler world for a while. I needed to be coddled a little in clean cotton, sweet people and a wholesome atmosphere to take the edge off of my own toxic thoughts and feelings. The most valuable thing I got from it was something I missed the last time I was going through it.

Mary Jane talks about her farm and her company (she produces all kinds of organic food mixes and other cool farmy products) and how it has evolved over the years. She talks about how many times her whole endeavor has nearly sunk, and then been saved with the help of others and with the tweaking of her focus. The end result is that there is no static idea of what Mary Jane's Farm is going to be, because it keeps changing according to circumstances and need. The way she talks about it is as though her business is a flexible living organism that has become successful because she's been willing to let it become what it needs to become.

This is good to hear for a person redefining my own business. What Dustpan Alley is right now, and what it might become, is not something I can completely know. What I do know is that if I hold onto one notion of what it should be, if I am adamant about sticking to one single vision, Dustpan Alley will not make it. Obviously. If I thought that the only thing I wanted for my company was to be a retail store, I'd be beat, right now.

So even though I think Mary Jane's use of gelatin-style deserts paired with chocolate shavings sounds about as good as pairing okra with creme anglaise, she's imparted something much more important to me right now: the courage to let life unfold in surprising ways, to let my future be flexible and to be willing to let change in.

Food Note: As a matter of fact, I have to admit that there aren't very many recipes in this book that tempt me at all. The food style is much different than mine. I am not a fan of sprouting every bean and seed on the planet, this is something my mother did that I didn't much appreciate, something that Mary Jane seems just as keen about. Also-I don't hate chilled jello-type deserts either, but only if they are clean and fruity...jello salads mixed with any dairy, chocolate, vegetables, meat, crusts, or cookies are very retro in a 1930's way, very kitschy and interesting, but not meant for me to eat. Ever.

The other food I'm very skeptical of is the concept of her bakeOvers. It's like a savory tarte tatin that you make for dinner. She says you can use almost any vegetables and such but I'm suspicious of the cooking times. Three to five minutes of sauteing vegetables followed by twenty minutes in an oven at 425 degrees is not enough time in my experience to really cook most vegetables to a pleasing texture. I'm not a fan of al dente potatoes.

The idea seems pretty cool but I'm a very experienced cook and unless you parboil vegetables, they don't usually cook that fast in the oven. Unlike the jello-style deserts in the book which I will not be trying, I think these bakeovers deserve a test run. If I do one, I'll report back. If you have made one to her instructions or using one of her mixes, please share with me what you thought about the results! But you better tell me if you're one of those people who like their vegetables to remain crunchy.

Jun 27, 2007

Random Harvest
(and how it isn't distracting me from my other problems)

I guess it isn't a random harvest if you purposely pick up a trowel and dig in the dirt looking for something to pick. These are the little treasures I came back from the garden with. The potato plants are beginning to die off which means I could just dig them all up now (a very satisfying activity) or leave them in until I need them.

Chick has her longing eye fixed on the egg.

Pulchritude is a word that kept coming into my head last night and not sure of its meaning, I just looked it up. It means "physical beauty". I ask you, how could a word that means physical beauty sound so much like a simmering vat of rancid bog water? It really is funny how a word can sound so much the opposite of its meaning.

I have the problem of the furniture weighing quite heavily on my shoulders. My original intention was to try to make a little money to get us through this transition. The furniture is good solid and quite collectible. I mean, it isn't trash you can find anywhere. It's furniture with amazing details and we didn't get it for free. At this point though I am considering giving it away for free. Friends and family are gasping about everything I have been giving away, feeling bad that I'm not trying harder to get some cash. But what can I do? I don't have the magic touch, or any time left.

I used to think that the great thing about real jewelry is its resale value. You can always get some money for diamonds and gold. I am now thinking that I could own the most coveted piece of bling in the world and should I find myself in need of money I would not be capable of unloading it. Where are these places you can unload fine jewelry anyway? Pawn shops? Not likely! E-bay?

Will I at least reap some good karmic points for giving my valuable furniture away for free if it comes to that? Will money find its way to us through other avenues? Will our future be paved with work and paychecks?

Or should I rent another storage unit big enough to house all the furniture and take my time to try to get someone to buy it for closer to what it's worth? But I'll have to pay at least a hundred dollars a month to store it, and what if I'm right and no one will ever buy my things for even half of what they're worth because I am a walking money repellent? Then I'm out more money and still have to unload my furniture for super cheap or free.

My shoulders and neck hurt with the worry.

I have been scheming to use my dining room deco set in my studio. I could use the dining table to sew and draft on if I got a leaf made for it. I could then have pretty things in my studio. But they aren't as practical as plain shelves and that huge 5,000 pound composite table I was planning on using. But then I wouldn't have to sell them and I could continue to enjoy them. But where will I store them while I work on getting the studio room ready? The garage is awfully full with the rest of the crap from the store.

I don't usually have difficulty making decisions. Decisions usually come fairly easily to me. It's annoying that I cannot solve this problem nor settle on any kind of compromise that feels right. What are the best choices here? I feel damned every way I turn. What choices would all of you make?

My compass (the gut I'm always trusting) is askew. It has not weathered well the 365 days of stress and circuit over-loading that having the store created for me. I will end up being just fine. But having my compass be out of order is seriously inconvenient at a time when so many crucial decisions need to be made.

On the other hand, in the big scope of life, how crucial are any of these decisions? None of them are life or death. None of them are going to change the fabric of my life. I already did that by deciding to close the store. A decision that I know was the right one, and I made it not a moment too soon. Right now, if we were still trying to run the store, I would be checking myself into some kind of facility with padded walls (if any still exist). I came that close to wearing myself down beyond a simple fix.

So, having written this all out, I see that I'm no closer to knowing the answers or having any solutions.

Jun 26, 2007

Don't Look At This Post!
Seriously, you're eyes will hurt.


I can't believe you looked anyway. I can't believe you don't listen to me. It's almost like you're my kid or my husband. That pile of trash is really worrying me. I have to deal with it. We have exactly five days to vacate and clean the store. I have to say though, that our landlords are the best kind of people ever and they will hardly throw all our stuff to the curb if there's still a few things left on Sunday, nor will they likely charge us a huge penalty for taking a day more than planned. However, the funny thing about really easy going super nice landlords is that the more accommodating they are, the less I wish to impose.

This is the growing pile of stuff to fit into my house. Somehow. Maybe with my incredible detritus shrinking ray-gun? Suddenly my house feels VERY TINY.

There is definitely something very sad about a store denuded of it's merchandise so that all you see is it's bones. I have to say though that some of this store's bones are pretty shiny. That card rack cost me a whole sky-full of pretty pennies and I'm loathe to part with it so soon after buying it. Plus, I know that no one will want to buy it unless I try to sell it for five dollars. So I'm putting it in my tiny storage unit for the time being.

Here it is. My 10'x7' cyber store back room. Is it weird that I really love it in here? I didn't really want to leave it when I was done last night. Look how orderly it is. All that Mrs. Meyers in a small enclosed cell makes it smell so good too. So calm and quiet in there with no pets or people or garbage or weeds. Just calm quiet.

A quiet that could be ominous knowing that there is a very stealthy fawn colored doberman pincer on the property ready to rip my head off. Those dogs are really highly strung. They actually radiate tension. The owners of the storage unit love this savage sleek bit of fur like a child. The husband came sauntering casually by walking his child-dog and directs her attention and direction using a large walking stick. I can only assume it's a walking stick. I hope it's just a walking stick. Anyway, I spent the majority of my life deathly afraid of dogs. I have been overcoming this fear quite well in the last ten years and for the most part, as long as a dog comes accompanied by it's owner, I'm pretty mellow and ready to have a good dog experience.

I have a lot of bravado to make up for any lapses in my new steadiness around canines. I used this yesterday when faced with this tense sniffing cautious fawn colored creature with yellow eyes. Her tail and ears were clipped in that way that dobermans get clipped to accentuate the fear factor. I asked if she was friendly and the guy tells me that as long as he's with her she won't hurt you. Thanks, I really needed that boost. He then proceeds to tell me that this huge devil doesn't like black people. Do you know, I'm as uncomfortable with people revealing their racist asses to me as I am finding out that their pets are racist. I really didn't know how to respond without revealing how awful it was to hear about how his dog-beast wanted to maul a black man in his office this week. I'm renting a storage unit from people with a racist dog. What can you say to that?

So I asked if I could pet her.

Which is like asking to pet Satan.

I couldn't do it. She looked at me and seemed to say "go ahead, I'll decide how I feel about your hand on my head when you put it there. Maybe I'll be fine with it, maybe not..." She totally dared me, the bitch!! Ha. I let her sniff my hand and then I very calmly went back to doing what I had been doing. I trust pit bulls way more easily than I could ever trust a doberman.

Does that make me a racist too?

So my storage unit is being watched over by a little fawn colored racist beast with vicious teeth and very pointy ears.

Even so, I love my small calm organized oasis of good smelling merchandise. May many people order from the website so I can visit it often!

Well, hell keeps rolling forward and so must I. Hopefully you are all in a calm peaceful space right now.

Jun 25, 2007

Food Then Frills

There is so much to write about at all times: my studio move, my apron pattern project for the apron book, and my garden. Oh, not to mention chronicling my craziness* and how hard I find parenting... Today the garden gets top billing because I can barely stand to think about the awful work of moving everything from the store without wanting to crawl under a rock for a month and only come out when the tomatoes are ripe.

Why have I waited so long to grow tomatilloes? I love them. Yes, I L-O-V-E them for their delicate paper lantern appearance. I love the way they look so empty yet are going to fill up with tangy fruit. I love the purple veins on this variety, which if I was any kind of decent gardener I would have remembered it's name so I could share it with you. I had wanted to find a purple tomatillo variety but none of my local nurseries had any.

The lanterns dance around when you brush by them to get at the bean bed behind them.

Does anyone remember my feelings about wind chimes? How they fill my heart and soul with dark emptiness and make me want to throw hot sauce on my eyeballs just to distract me from their tortuous noise? We had a garden fair downtown yesterday. Since I was busy packing my store and building lego race cars for Max to keep him happy, I didn't get to spend a lot of time there. But let me tell you, there were chimes. Of course there were chimes, because ALL gardeners LOVE chimes. It is required that you love all tinkly noises if you're already airy-fairy enough to be all into plants and flowers.


In spite of my strong desire to rip the wind-chime tent to shreds and feed all the chimes to a fire breathing dragon, I restrained myself and with very good manners (not even a glare at the thoughtless seller of Angelina torture devices).

Instead I talked to a new acquaintance named Kieth who makes adirondack chairs painted in gorgeous cheery colors like lime, melon, and cherry. Since I am in no condition to buy yard furniture right now (though his prices are very reasonable) I probably wouldn't have met him if it weren't for my mom who purchased a set of two chairs and a little side table. As it turns out, Kieth is an avid baker, cook, gardener, dahlia enthusiast, and he and his partner are really into canning food. (Is it possible he's a long lost brother? I wouldn't rule it out considering that I do have at least one other long lost brother in the world).

It's always so much fun to talk to people who love doing so many of the same things that I do.

This is the first of my three Zinnias to bloom. I should have six of them (which I planted for my mother's enjoyment), however, due to several very sad run-ins with various garden dangers such as my recalcitrant hose, and some oozing legless enemies, I now have only three.

Here is another of the survivors opening up. Uncurling very slowly. Even though I prefer dahlias to zinnias, I can't deny that they are beautiful and strong.

Penstemon is a must for attracting all those thirsty winged bugs who do so much work for us in the garden. You might say that penstemon is like a little snack bar for bees and wasps. Not that I would say that.

Finally...my border collarate dahlia shining bright. I think it's trying to tell me something. Perhaps it's telling me I need to believe that life is going to loosen and open up in unexpected happy turns and that this week is going to fly by in absolutely no time at all. July will be a time to work on (and send in) my book project, nest for the first time in a year, organize, and yes...yes...yes...tune up the brain and body. Shed the fat suit and work towards being a happier me. Doesn't it look like that's what this dahlia is saying?

More likely it's saying "Hey lazy-ass, what the hell are you still doing on the computer? Get gone! Go pack and unpack! If you eat lots of crap and drink lots of beer you'll get through this week no problem... Fat ass." Flowers can be so mean.

*Yes, I realize that my mom and a couple of my friends dislike my free and frequent use of this word to describe myself. Seriously though, I think if you crawled inside my head this week it would be a great time to find out why I use this word so much. Personally I think it's a great word and totally harmless. If you still think craziness is a bad thing, then obviously it will make you uncomfortable. Oh well. It's not like I'm comparing myself to Sybil or anything. Crazy comes in all degrees.

Jun 23, 2007

Red Ridge Farms
(why you will wish you lived here)
Last summer I took off on my scooter one afternoon to get out on the open road like a real American and waste gas for the fun of it. The open road, as it turned out, was a curvaceous affair with a high wind factor and even though I could keep up with the traffic just fine, every time another vehicle passed me on the road I could feel the sheer power of them shake up my little 150cc motor. When I want thrills I move to a whole new state, I don't look for danger. I got just past Lafayette when I started looking hungrily for a turnoff to a country road. The kind of road that no one goes on unless they have to. I found it right before Dayton.

I drove down a road surrounded on both sides by high banks of blackberries which I could smell ripening in the sun even as I buzzed past them breaking the pretty quiet like the scourge I am. I climbed the road as it headed up a hill covered in vineyards. Near the top I saw a sign for Red Ridge Farms and it was so charming, I had to stop. I must note that the driveway was loose gravel and I almost hurled myself, vehicle and all, off the edge of their driveway down into the valley of lavender they had planted below. Not exactly an elegant entrance.

I spent an enchanted forty five minutes exploring their nursery and their store which is filled with wonderful books on cooking with herbs, wonderful home accents in aged iron (I know, very predictable to fall for aged iron, but so what?) They have gorgeous soaps, cards, tea pots, and even some teas made by the farm itself. Very posh, very relaxing, very much a warm and wonderful place to daydream.

When I told my mom about it she said she had to see it. So today, after an hour of working very hard packing up merchandise in the store, we headed out to Dayton. It didn't disappoint her I'm happy to say. It's one of those places that make you glad you live here, if you do, and wish you lived here if you don't.

One of their big projects is growing olives here in the Pacific Northwest. They only grow Arbequinas and I was naturally very interested in this since I come from Northern California where it was my dream to grow a couple of olive trees for curing the fruits. I let go of my olive dreams when we moved to the Pacific Northwest because olives like it hot and DRY. While it does get quite hot here, it is only dry for a few months. Some people like to say it is never dry here, but those people are mean and just don't want you to move here because it's the best place on earth. Apparently Arbequinas can tolerate our cooler wetter climate.

They had some olive oil out for tasting made from Arbequinas grown in California. It was very green and grassy. I prefer my olive oils to be buttery and rich. We got to talking to the very friendly staff (and possibly one or two of the owners...who can tell?) and they really didn't have their olive-speak down. We asked what Arbequinas are like to eat cured? They had no idea how to describe any olive flavor let alone one olive compared to another one.

I don't hold it against them though. You can't really hold anything against anyone in a landscape like this, can you? I know I can't. This is their knot garden full of herbs and flowers. They had a huge bed of echinacea, an even bigger bed of calendula, and (of course) lavender.

You have to breath deeply in a spot like this. The flowers make you do it whether you are an anxious person prone to shallow breathing or not. You do it because when your eye takes in this incredible color and beauty your lungs, heart, and blood want some of the action too.

Don't you love what a zoom lens will reveal? I really enjoyed seeing these weeds cropping up into the gorgeousness because too much beauty and order in one place is obnoxious. I always love the little element that delivers me back to earth. There's the ugly squished in with the gorgeous, which is exactly as life is in my opinion. Better to see the evils than have them be silent and invisible.

I bought a jar of Arbequina olives cured in brine, a bath sachet (for study and for use), and a bar of Pre De Provence soap- one of my favorite brands.

Now I am plotting how I can make my own garden just as nice. I am guessing it will take a few staffed slaves to keep the weeding down and do all the watering. Ah well, my own herbs are gorgeous even if they are being swallowed by bindweed. Luckily for me, bindweed is beautiful while it's choking the life out of other plants. The bindweed flowers are like little alabaster morning glories that remind me of the moon.
The Other Smock

This smock wasn't my favorite of the two I recently made from men's shirts. Partly because it made me look a tiny bit pregnant. I already look kind of pregnant so I don't want to emphasize this fecund appearance. But partly it wasn't my favorite because I'm new to making my own appliques and I'm disappointed that my hen doesn't look more like a hen.

I wish I could completely attire Headless Helen in the appropriate corresponding outfit, then you could see how charming this smock is in my head. Although, if you could see inside my head you'd be able to see other things too which I'm not very comfortable with. Like the image of me permanently shackling Paris Hilton to her prison cell.

(Supposedly she's said she has "nothing left to live for". Is she fucking kidding? Why?, because she only has to spend a measly 45 days in prison for a DUI? If she did say this, and I'm not saying I automatically believe she could have said such a ridiculous thing, then she is much more stupid, spoiled, and childish than I thought was even humanly possible. Now you see the image of me bitch slapping her. You understand why I'm so uncomfortable with you in my head? Go on, get out before you get really scared!)

I could have made the smock functionally button down the front like I did with the other one. However, the classic element of a smock is it's easy removal. Not to go roll in the hay with your beau at a second's notice, but to enable to you rip off that smudgy smock to answer the door looking clean and prim when the UPS guy brings you all that great swap mail.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love words? I used to look a random word up every single day in high school and write it's definition in my journal and then try to use it in conversation or in writing. I wanted to be sure I was using "fecund" properly so I hauled out my trusty ENORMOUS unabridged dictionary to look it up and the tome flipped open to an "e" page and guess what word leaped out at my surprised glance?

ejaculatory incompetence

Dudes, that is so harsh. I never knew it existed. Want to know the definition? OK. You asked for it*: inability of a male to achieve orgasm and to ejaculate during sexual intercourse despite adequacy of erection.

Seriously, couldn't they have called it "ejaculation-challenged"? Because calling it an incompetence implies that the male in question is too stupid to know how to complete the mission. I have yet to hear of a single male out there who doesn't know how to seal the deal. Just because the equipment isn't working well doesn't mean the man himself is incompetent.

Isn't the dictionary awesome?

In other news...most of my sewing studio is now in my garage. If I could do as I pleased, I would now concentrate my efforts on emptying the studio of Philip's things and start the whole studio make-over. I'm thinking about painting the plywood sub-floor as suggested by friends. I have to have a look at it again. Unfortunately, time waits for no man...(or woman)...and the clock is ticking on getting everything else moved and sold and all that really fun stuff. Thinking about it all makes me want to crawl back in bed and not come out until it's all over. Why isn't that an option? I have some serious inertia I'm working against. This is partly due to the depression I'm fighting and the exhaustion that running the store for a year has left me with.

So, in order to not sit here and whine away the time, I just keep reminding myself that it will all be over in a week and my life will be a little bit more simple. Not stress free**, obviously, as there is the question of a living to be made, but certainly simpler, which I welcome. I will be able to concentrate on more of the things I love; Max, my garden, cooking, designing, and most obviously? Writing.

*Well, you didn't actually ask for it, but you know you wanted to!

**People with clinical anxiety are NEVER stress free. Important thing to realize. It's an unpleasant fact of life that many people don't understand. If all the stress factors are gone, then shouldn't one cease to stress? Yes, if one is not afflicted with a mental disorder that feasts on irrational fears and worries, sure.

Jun 22, 2007

Scooby Doo Vs. The Olsen Twins
(and what ties them together)

There are only two things that will link Scooby Doo and the Olsen twins in my head forever: they both annoy me so much my skin crawls when I have to see either of them, and their absolute infantile appeal. The picture above has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

Even though Mary Kate and Ashley are supposedly almost 21 years old(that's two people, not three, for anyone who's been living under a rock for the past fifteen years), they still look like children dressing up in Grandma's furs. Sycophant writers keep referring to the Olsens' great fashion sense and their iconic appeal...are all the interviewers getting paid extra for this pap?

That reminds me, how come PETA hasn't gone after those two? They wear more fur than Ivana Trump and look just as bad in it. I don't hear any whisper of protest in the magazines which is interesting since many other stars have been targeted in the past. I also notice that designers have all gone back to free use of fur in their lines; I actually thought fur had become incredibly unpopular but now I must concede that I'm mistaken.

If ever a pair of people could use some curves, it's those two. Until they let their womanly curves develop, they are going to look like children. Won't they get tired of that? Aren't they already tired of that? It would help if they didn't always purse their lips for photos just like Kiera Knightly does. They must have all gone to the same Public Relations coach.

The only "celebrity" that looks worse than the Olsens is Velma from Scooby Doo. And I'm not talking about the live action version. I'm talking cartoon here. I have a message for Velma: For god's sake-take off those ridiculous knee socks and take off that stupid ugly turtle neck that you've been wearing every day for the last thirty years!!!!! Contrary to what you hope, turtle necks and knee socks don't make anyone look brainy. And by the way-you're hairdresser hates you.

Speaking of Scooby Doo, which I could easily be an expert about since I have seen nearly all of the episodes and movies in existence both live action and classic cartoons since it's Max's favorite EVER...I'm really tired of Velma saying "This mystery is starting to make sense" which she does every single time we arrive at the climax of the "story".

Message to Shaggy: stand up straight dude! You will never sleep with anyone but your dog if you don't get a haircut and stop talking in that awful painful squeaky way. Not only that? Cords are not sexy and shave that sprout of a beard while you're at it.

Can someone please tell me how these guys have been hunting down thieves and bad guys masquerading as ghosts for thirty years and not realized that the ghosts always turn out to be someone completely obvious and are never actually real ghosts? I also want to know how this "gang" ever got to be friends in the first place and how they managed to find anything in common enough to remain friends.

I hated Scooby Doo as a kid and now I get to relive every painful episode because Max adores them. He can watch the same episodes about forty times each and not get tired of them. So guess who else gets to watch each episode forty times? You guessed right! The only thing worse than Scooby Doo is "A Pup Named Scooby Doo" which is an unbelievably stupid cartoon in which we see the gang as kids, back when Velma wore round glasses instead of square ones and always carried a magnifying glass to detect the presence of clues. For some reason they always seem to be in their pyjamas. Daphne, who always seemed stylishly vapid in the past is suddenly shown to be an insufferably spoiled wealthy child with her own butler.

One last thing: how on earth does Mystery Inc. finance their frequent round the world trips?

Jun 21, 2007

Between the trenches

I am having a lot of trouble keeping myself organized enough to make the store move. My mom is helping out by listing our furniture on Craig's list. I don't understand how come more people haven't been banging on the store doors to get in and shop, doesn't everyone love a sale? Especially a really good one. Why is it that when we have a sale, (with signs hugely posted in our windows, the door, and also all over the store) people don't get more excited? Are we putting out the wrong vibe. Are there vibes radiating from our store that go something like "these people aren't serious about their sale...move on...move on...."?*

Anyway. It just means I have more stuff to move. Don't want to move more stuff. Must sell the furniture that's not coming home with me. I can only hope that Craig's List will do it's magic for us. Because if it doesn't, I'm going to have to conclude that unlike other people, no matter how collectible or valuable my things are, something in the Universe refuses to let me make a single cent off of my discards. I'm the kind of person who could spend all day trying to sell my cool stuff cheap at a garage sale and end up making five dollars.

I consider this a curse. This is why I never try to sell my discards. I just donate it to the Good Will. But this time I am motivated by the lack of money in our accounts and the lack of jobs which underlines the slim bottom line. We can pay July's bills, and then, we're up shit creek. So if you are an editor in need of a new daring columnist willing to pay a salary, will you please stop dilly dallying and give me the damn job already?!

I got a storage unit yesterday for all the back stock for the on-line store. I opted not to get a large storage space because I decided that I 'm not moving furniture into it. It must sell. My mom immediately gets freaked in the inimitable urgent way she does and told me it won't be big enough. Too bad. Too bad. It has to be.

She's really trying to help me out in this whole transition and I need it. She picked up tile samples for my studio. I was thinking I might like Mexican tiles in there. (They didn't have any because this is Yamhill County). After she made the effort to do this and bring a couple of samples home for me, I realized that I can't afford to put tiles in there anyway. No matter how ugly the carpet is (and it's ugly-though not as ugly as orange shag would be) I can't afford new flooring. Here's what I can afford: paint, curtains, and demolition of the ugly built in 1970's desk. But only if I do it all myself. That's it. This is remodel on a budget of nothing.

I'm going to admit here that I am filling up with pictures of us all holding up cardboard signs asking for food in front of Walmart since that's where most of America is spending their money for total crap. I used to always assume that I could find a good job, or that Philip could. After two years of Philip not finding employment with anyone besides ourselves, I have less faith now. I'm finally really feeling the panic of this depressed economy. How will we ever make a living again? Philip has been getting lots of free-lance work but it's a lot of work and not coming close to paying the bills yet. I don't trust that it will, either.

It's kind of weird planning to set up my design studio at home again while not knowing if I will have to put my house up for sale in a month or two. I'm so tired of not having the tiniest bit of security.

While all this dire uncertainty is dogging me, milestones are being reached. I am getting included in a book for the first time in my life which feels like the beginning of something; the post with the announcement about my being included in the book got the most number of comments for one post that I've ever received; yesterday marks the first time the traffic at my blog has reached over two hundred visits in one day (and only 50 of those were me!); and I finally have the material for a whole book.

Can one write a book while pan handling? Do agents ever sign up homeless people?

So if you all have any prayers left for non-religious people after all the knee bending you've been doing for the truly deserving such as all the orphans and widow of the senseless war, and all the people already on the streets starving to death, and all the people losing their homes because the economy has been plunged into a deep depression from which only the very rich will come out alright, then please, if there's any prayer left in you: could you pray that my furniture sells so that we can pay a few more bills and not have to move them or give them away for free?


*Incidentally, this also brings up the question of why almost no one from our mailing list has come to get great merchandise for 40% off. And why all these people who come in and express how sorry they are to see us go didn't spend more money in our store and why they aren't shopping for the sale? It makes their words meaningless. The reason we are closing is because all these sad sacks didn't love our store enough to spend money in it, just to make me feel bad for taking away their browsing fun.

I feel betrayed. Except by a few very loyal and supportive customers who always came to us to buy presents and I will treasure them forever: Louise, Susan, and Carol!!!! Lots of love for you guys.

Jun 19, 2007

Confounding Strangers: the little joys of life

A lot of people ask me about my Vespa. I see a lot of looks of longing (because, HELLO!, it's totally flippin' fun to ride one and everyone can tell...) yet they often feel the need to explain to me how come they could never drive one. It almost always boils down to how many groceries they have to buy or the kinds of errands they have to run. I'm not going to argue that it would be challenging to shop for a large family and haul five kinds of mega-jumbo-supersized cereals along with five thousand juice boxes and all the other amazing things us people eat.

And yet...yet I always remember my good friend Sharon (who rode a scooter in Taiwan for several years) telling me about entire families piling onto one small scooter to get places in Taiwan. She would tell me that there really wasn't anything the Taiwanese weren't willing to strap artfully to their beat up scooters. Things like freezers and beds and five children all hanging on where ever they could. It makes me feel like we make a lot of excuses for ourselves and what we aren't capable of doing without Titanic sized vehicles.

This here picture is one example of the interesting things I can drag home from the garden center. I have practiced the art of strapping cargo to my scooter and know the joys of confounding strangers wherever I ride with the image of me surrounded by interesting bags and sticks, boxes of beer and the scooter trunk propped open by intriguing collections of bottles and loaves of bread. I remember people in the parking lot of the Santa Rosa Trader Joe's actually stopping to stare while I would pack my scooter full of five bulging bags of groceries.

I always kind of enjoyed giving them such a curious show.

These are Morello cherries, the classic "pie" cherry. (Some people might argue that Montmorency holds this title. They can argue, it's alright.) They look pretty normal sized in this picture but they aren't. They're tiny. Morellos are small anyway, these ones are almost all pit. They make a damn fine tart cherry sauce to pour over cocoa meringues. I'm not actually sure I'll have enough to do anything with them this year. These make me think of Pam Kitty Morning.*

That is the most lush lettuce I have ever grown. I'm thinning it like crazy but everywhere I have made space it is immediately filled by the growing heads. Oh my, it's so sweet and good.

Don't you kind of feel you could dive into that bed of greens and sleep like the dead? I can't stop looking at it. I'm hypnotized by it's green glow. As the weather warms I fear it's going to do a quick bolt for the sun. What an incredible waste that would be. Salad for lunch an dinner every day is called for.

Finally, look at this little Casserta Mexican zucchini. So tiny, so delicate and fuzzy. I haven't been able to spend much time in the garden this past week so the weeds are almost large enough to choke out a colony of people, yet everything is still thriving. I staked tomatoes, tomatillos, and watered everything. I'm not looking forward to the heat, but the dinners it grows are worth it.

I hope you're all having a great garden week so far!!

*I'm so relieved I'm going to be in a book, because even though Pam pretends to love all her peeps equally, I'm convinced that she has a thing for her published friends. It was all for you my friend!!

Jun 18, 2007

The Winning Ticket

This is a new design I worked on to submit to Lark Books for consideration for their upcoming Apron Book. I know there must have been tons of other sewing bloggers out there working feverishly on the same project. This one didn't make the cut. So now I get to show it to you! I have to admit that I love it.

It's been so long since I've had the time to sketch and draft new designs. I knew I had to submit a few designs for this book or I would really regret it. So I cleared the decks. Let the kid starve, the dog go unwalked, the garden grow six foot weeds, and I hunkered down with my rulers, dot paper, and muslin and got my elbows deep in thread and pencils.

I loved working with a new fabric and playing with buttons and trim combinations. My work space was not Marth-neat. It was a whirlwind of scraps and pins and patterns and mock ups. It was so bad a pocket walked away. But this isn't the design I'm most proud of.

One thing I absolutely love about so many of the crafting bloggers out there is the deep commitment to recycling and the clever use so many people are putting to discarded items. However, when I try to think of cool ways to re-use things my mind goes blank. It takes a special tweaking of the brain and a slight blurring of the eyes as you look at something to see it new and differently.

When it comes to clothes, I also have a fear of tearing them apart. It's counter intuitive for me. How an architect probably feels about demolition jobs. My training is in building garments from scratch, not fixing them, not re-doing them, not taking them apart. People are always wanting me to do alterations for them, as though I must be good at that sort of tedious meticulous work which requires that you very carefully unbuild a garment until you get to the point where you can adjust a seam. It's like plastic surgery for clothes. I don't do that.

But I've always wanted to get my hands dirty with re-purposing because it's just so cool.

So I made smocks out of men's button up shirts. I thought this was so clever and original it was kind of deflating to discover (right after submitting this) that someone else had already been making half aprons out of men's shirts. Which leads me to wonder: is it even possible to come up with a single completely original idea?

But this isn't the design I was most proud of

I can't show you the design I'm most proud of because it got accepted for the book!

Technically speaking, I got permission from the editor to not only talk about getting accepted, but to show pictures of the design that will be included in the book as long as I don't give anyone instructions for making it until at least six months after the book is out. (It's a book of apron patterns for those of you who haven't already heard all about it.) So I could show it to you. But I'm not going to because I'm superstitious and I'm afraid that if I show it to you I will somehow blow this amazing opportunity.

I went to Fabric Depot yesterday with my mom to collect swatches to show the editor of the book because they need the fabric for my project to work well with the other accepted projects. (The fabric I used for my submission is a delicate cream silk fabric with thread thin black pinstripes. The other projects are all much bolder in print and color.) In San Fransisco I would have headed right to Britex and I would have found a whole floor full of silks. Not just bridal silks, but a whole range of silk shirtings and silk suitings. Silk for fashion. Fabric Depot has a tremendous selection of cotton quilting fabrics but their fashion fabric selection was very limited, as it is in most fabric stores these days.

When I asked if they had any other silk besides bridal silks, the employee who was helping me asked me what kind I meant. Like, what would I be using the silk for? I said I needed to find silks meant for more casual clothes like shirts. I swear she looked at me like my tongue had just forked itself in four. Can you imagine how she might have looked at me if I'd told her I needed the silk for a hostess apron?

Today my mom is taking us back to Portland for more swatches, only this time we're going to Bolt, and to Mill Ends to see what we can find there.

There were two things I was made to do: write, and design. Right now I'm doing both and it feels like coming home.

Note: The panic is still with me but not directly a result of anything going on. I mean, it's more a result of the building stress I've been under managing the store and all that that entails. Yesterday was particularly bad with my stomach full of adrenaline all day long. This morning, however, my body feels calmer.

Jun 17, 2007

PDX Zoo In Two Views
(no caged animal shots)

#1: The Family View:

Today is Father's Day and in all the hubbub of the Store closing and my brain malfunctioning I didn't have a present ready for Philip. This is the first time I have come to his day empty handed. However, it occurred to me that one of the things Philip always wants to do and I never let us do is take family day-trips. Things like going to the beach, a road trip, or to the zoo. It's not that I don't love my family, it's just that going to these places with a kid really stresses me out.

So I thought how lovely it would be to set the anxiety issues aside, bite the damn bullet and go with my men-folk to the zoo. They've been before and loved it. I actually generally hate zoos because I think they're depressing. Philip has been to the same zoos I've been to as a kid and assured me that this one is really good. So we headed out to the zoo.

Max really does love it. It's wonderful to see him brimming with excitement over the prospect of seeing the monkeys play with their feces again, to see him race ahead to show me where we're going. I thought to myself "why do I avoid these places? This is cool!" The first thing we did was ride the train.

A peacock and a peahen were hanging out by the tracks. Does this mean that in the peacock world they are "the wrong sort"? This guy was strutting his stuff. Very exciting sudden show for us all to enjoy. Max made me take about fifteen pictures. I have to admit that I was pretty impressed even though I realized that if this flashy bird was a man, he'd be wearing a disco suit, huge ropey gold chains, and be exposing lots of chest hair.

We sat in the back as per Max's decree that the back was the only place to be so we'd have the best view of everything. The ride takes you through the woods of Washington Park. Beautiful trees and ferns everywhere; you can look up through the skylight and see a lacy umbrella of branches and glowing greenery.

It was a pretty fun ride with Max getting more and more amped up as we rode. By the time we got off the train I could almost hear the dynamite fuse burning in his head. We let Max lead us around and we smiled at our gorgeous growing bairn with his hair like a beacon in the darkness of the aquarium. This is why we had a kid. To have adventures in the world together; to see new things so that we'll have something to talk about over the long dull winter nights. Family life is good!

#2: The Other View:

The thing about anxiety is that you can't just set it aside. It's always there with you; muted at its best moments; at its worst it's rising in your blood, stealing your breath until you're so choked for air you pass out.

A zoo is a place filled with families which means hundreds of children all running amok with expectations, excitement, sugar, weird parents, snotty noses, banging at the penguins through the glass, leaning over railings, pulling at fences in spite of warnings not to, shrieks of happiness and discovery, shrieks of anger and shrill piercing little voices demanding immediate attention like powerful little despots, animals stinking, animals looking dolefully out at the eyes staring in, limbs reaching across each other, people crowding, people bumping other people, talking, incessant talking, camera light flashes like diamonds against glass- the monkey paparazzi, my child running ahead beyond my sight, image of him snatched by pedophile, life changed forever, him climbing rails, image of him mauled by pacing tigers, him pulling at my arms, climbing my legs though he's too big, jumping at me, grabbing me, out of my site again, then in my face, whining, needing, other kids whining, needing, bodies moving in a flow like slow lava down the pathways snaking in and out of exhibitions.

That's what the PDX Zoo was like for me.

But I have to admit that it is one of the nicest zoos I've ever had to visit.

I'm not the least bit sorry I went. My guys really enjoyed themselves and it was a rare treat to have me along with them enjoying the adventure. I just wish it didn't cost me so much to do it. I wish I could flip a switch to become a mom who relishes these little journeys and is energized by time spent with her family out in the world. I'm uncomfortable with myself right now because I feel the tendrils of agoraphobia creeping ever so slowly through my nervous system. Wending it's way to my head, like the slow onset of some inevitable disease. Even now, hours after our return home to relative quiet and calm, my heart is racing. I have to concentrate very hard to breath deeply.

People who've been checking with my blog for a long time now may wonder how come there is so much more talk of my anxieties lately. I know that every other post at least touches on it, skirts around it; circles it like a hungry dog. The reason for this is that I am in need of a head adjustment.

I have also begun to suspect that my medications have been decreasing in their effectiveness which is quite typical after five years of service. It's happened to a lot of friends of mine. I don't want to have to change them, because they worked so well, and because I'm afraid of trying new things. New things with possible side effects. What if my head returns to the place it was before medication because the new medication fails to work?

The more I'm feeling my mental inefficiencies the more I need to talk about it. When I'm feeling balanced and normal I don't need to talk about it unless someone else wants to. But lately, it's there all the time. Obviously part of it is because I'm under a lot of stress. But I went through a house fire, Philip's job loss, a broken hip, selling my dream house, an earthquake, and moving to another state where we knew no one at all without feeling quite as unbalanced as I feel right now.

I hope people who know me, know by now that while I need to talk about these things out loud on my blog (and you can all leave whenever you feel like it-the joy of blog reading!) it isn't my way to sit around complaining without trying to DO SOMETHING to make positive changes too. The complaints, the chatter about these issues comes charged with action. Well, for one thing: I am closing my wonderful store because it's not a healthy arrangement for me. That's a huge change. (And obviously there were other motivations for it too.) I made calls to a recommended psychologist last week and failed to get through. I will try again this week.

I often debate whether to share the head stuff. In the end, I do it because this is my journal and this is a huge part of my life. Lately I've been remembering when I was sixteen and made a friend cry from a poem I wrote. I remember thinking that if I had the power to write something that could make someone cry because I made them feel understood, then maybe I could become a good enough writer that I could help someone like me get out of the dark alive. I thought that if I could just help some disenfranchised suicidal teen feel like someone out there actually knows what they're feeling and give them the strength to arrive in their adulthood with a sense of hope, then I would have done something deeply useful.

There's nothing a Capricorn loves more than being useful.

*Yep, there is stuff in my head that I don't think anyone can handle who isn't either just like me or is a trained professional.

Jun 16, 2007

How To Give A Perfect Cocktail Party

Use persuasive signage to draw people in from the street.

The language should be fresh and have a sense of imperative.

If it has a charming element of child-like innocence, even better!

(Translation of text: Come in now!)

The novelty of such raw new language will make everyone want a drink instantly.
(Translation of text: Are you gonna come in or not?)

Everyone knows that repetition really gets a point across.

Post a child at your thresh hold to lure women in. Women always fall for the dubious charms of rowdy sugared-up sassy loud boy children.

See how well these methods work? You can barely move around in there it's so full of people. In fact, it's so full you can barely see anything at all which is why it appears to be empty.

But it's not! See, there's my mom, Philip, and our friend Jim.

Jim and his wife Ericka just moved to McMinnville in December. He's one of those people who will help you move heavy furniture before you've even exchanged names. We know this because when we were moving into this location Jim saw us moving and since he didn't have anything else to do he offered to help. I didn't know there were people like that around. So it's only fitting that he would happen to be passing by last night and have the time to let us ply him with vodka tonics. It was great having a chance to get to know him better which having the store has made difficult. We've had no time to cultivate new friendships.

I found out that Jim and Ericka like to can food!! One of Jim's passions, besides doing fine woodwork, is cooking. So you see, we have to get to know them better. Plus, they have a garden going with lots of fresh herbs and flowers, and vegetables. And they love beer.

Plus-Jim's a Capricorn like me.

Dominique and Stephen* also came by to enjoy the "party" which I would now call a gathering of friends rather than a party. I'm not going to be all coy and say I was disappointed that no one from our mailing list came to drink with us, because I've already told you how much I hate parties. It ended up actually being quite nice.

Although, truth be told, there was a brief few minutes where it got roaring load with just us and I started getting panicky and wanting to turn the music off or have us all not talk for a minute.

We did get a few walk-ins. We got this funny couple from Vegas who loved our shop and especially wanted Chelsea's mini dress forms that I won't sell, and a super cute couple from Portland who had bicycled down for a couple of days. Damn, they were cute in that way that I wish I could have put them in amber to preserve them for all time. If they read this they will be forever creeped out and avoid ever coming in contact with us again. But I mean it in a good way. They were charming and the girl had the cutest outfit on and a headscarf, and...and...I wish I could rewind my life a little and preserve my own spot in that amber. I guess that's what photographs are for.

I think I'm going to have to put an ad in the classifieds and on Craig's list to unload the extraneous things in our shop.

I also think this is a sign that we don't have the magic retail touch. If Found Objects had a party and a big sale they would be swamped. Nancy and John know how to promote themselves and they have what it takes to get it done. We don't. We don't have retail magnetism. This doesn't make me feel bad about myself. Why should it? We aren't retailers; Philip is an artist, I am a writer and designer.

What's coming next is going to be better. A whole season of canning and gardening and writing and designing. Getting my house in order and charmed up at last. (Unless Philip doesn't find enough work and we have to sell it. I don't really want to think about that, though.) A whole lifetime of having my week-ends back. (Unless I have to get that job at JoAnne's. But I don't want to think about that either.) A whole lot more time to concentrate on getting my body and health back.

Life is about to open up again. That's always a good thing.

*Stephen is also a Capricorn but is still coming to terms with the fact that this means he has to be like a brother to me. He want to deny the kinship. I will prevail!