Apr 30, 2007

It's raining babies!

So, about my trip to Martha-ville... here is the decoration I was so proud of. Now that I see it in the official blog context, I have to say that there is a slight funereal air to the black crepe paper. I'm pretty sure no one else at the baby shower mistook it for funeral dressings. The main thing is that Dominique liked the decor of her shower and that's a huge relief. She is a person with immaculate taste and her house is the kind of place where crumbs don't get stuck on the bottom of your bare feet as you cruise through her kitchen.

She's the kind of person who has cream carpet and doesn't ruin it in the first week. I can't even blame my kid for this, but cream carpet would not survive in our house for a week. Not even if I diligently carried a bottle of carpet cleaner with me at all times. The sheer number of spills would wear me down in a matter of days. I have to confess that I'm kind of scared to stand on Dom's carpet because I just know I'm going to be the person who ruins it.

You probably are noticing that the attire appears to be distinctly bed-roomy. That is because this was a pajama baby shower. I have to say that it attests to the great love I feel for Dominique that she got me to wear pajamas in front of other people. Dominique can get people to do things they normally wouldn't do even if they were paid a trillion dollars. It's because she's got fantastic green eyes with impossibly long lashes and the prettiest teeth EVER. That's her in the curlers. Yep, she can wear curlers and pajamas and be the prettiest most charming person you have ever met.

I'm really glad she doesn't use her powers for evil.

I have to say that this was a really fun baby shower and the women gathered here were way more gracious than I generally encounter: not a single one of them tried to coerce me into playing the games! Another thing I liked about it was the absence of husbands. I know it's much more enlightened to have co-ed showers, but honestly, a baby shower seems like such a perfect time to bond with other women.

A wonderful package came in the mail a few days ago, all the way from the UK! Jo from French Knots sent me some really interesting Easter egg decorations that I had asked about on her blog. But she also sent a pretty card that she made, a gardening magazine, gardening gloves, and to top it all off: a little something for Max!

Max loves his fridge race car and says "Thank you Jo!"

I love the cards Jo makes. She does a lot of stitching with fabric on them and how could I not love cards that use fabric and buttons? Thank you so much for the wonderful thoughtful package Jo!! Yours will find it's way into the mail this week.

Here's a little random something for you:

I am really annoyed by the characters in Sonic the Hedgehog. I hate their names. Like the long haired typical loner creature named "Knuckles". But worse than that is the "bunny" and blob duo named "Cream" and "Cheese". Uh huh. You heard right. Cream and Cheese. The weird blob which makes baby noises is the one named Cheese. WTF?! And the villain? "Egg man" Yeah, that is such a scary name for a villain I almost pee my pants every time they say his name.

Well, I am going to go shower and try to figure out whether I should clean my house or rip out carpet. We have friends coming for dinner so I should probably clean the house, but they are the kind of friends who won't notice that your house is in disarray...I mean, they'll NOTICE it, because they've got eyes, they just won't be bothered by it. I'm leaning towards carpet ripping because there is really no good time to do it. It's an icky job. It's a big job. It will never be a convenient job. But when it's done the awful creepy germ/vomit/blood/puppy poop hiding carpet will no longer be available to trap life's disgusting messes.

Dudes, I'm going for the carpet!

Apr 29, 2007

A rare glimpse of a reclusive author
(aka: America's next top-ish model)

I am a woman of my word. As promised: me wearing what I would wear if I was cute enough to get away with it. By which I mean ever so slightly less ample. (Mom, I am being honest here, NOT MEAN) So I fearlessly donned the outfit I had previously put on BBQ Sue. It occurs to me, seeing us stylish gals standing next to each other that if I gave her a quarter of my size we would both be rather perfect. She doesn't know it (because she's a mannequin, duh!) but she's very unsatisfied with herself.

Seriously, I'd wear an ensemble like this, not only every day, but everywhere. As in: out in public. I was sartorially fearless before I achieved my current form. I would like to tell you that looking at these pictures fills me with the pride and roar of large lady solidarity and a new-found determination to wear whatever the hell I want regardless of how it looks on me. That would be very noble and prideful, but I'm not feelin' it ladies.

However, I do kind of look like a kick-ass Polish farm gal. I also remind myself of the grandma in "The Secret Of Roan Innish" which isn't bad at all because I thought she looked great. But what am I in the context of 30's and 40's films? I am the brash lush-figured woman in the farm-house where the heroin has crash landed her plane in the Midwest and I stuff her with potato pancakes with sour cream because she is wasting away with useless frailty. I rub my large floury fists on my calico apron and talk in a really thick, totally FAKE, Polish accent.

Then in a fit of fiery jealous rage at never having made it on the Broadway stage I strangle the life out of this delicate flower of a female that has fallen from the skies into my little corner of rotten earth where there is no one to hear her cries for miles around...

Just kidding.

So while I'm at it I may as well put on my favorite apron in the whole world that I am going to wear the next time I serve a nice dinner at my house. My friend Chelsea made this apron and I still owe her some money for it. I haven't worn it yet because it isn't the most flattering for my figure (also because I haven't paid for it yet). On the other hand, fuck it!

By the way, Bitter Betty: no cookies were consumed yesterday. I was also pretty mellow at the baby shower and only ate a very few chips and mostly just chowed down the fresh strawberries sans the marshmallow/sour cream sauce. Now, if only I could get some exercise today. How perfect it would be! You and your awesome figure (which I admire in a totally non-lecherous way) are inspiring me.

Oh yeah, I wore a new shirt the day before yesterday that actually made me look pregnant. Seriously. NOT KIDDING. (Also not saying this to be mean. Philip will attest to the truth of this.) Now, I definitely think that the pregnant look is really warm and fuzzy when you're carrying an actual baby in your womb. Really, I think pregnancy is charming. But there is something so deflating about people thinking your pregnant when you're not. I also find it really uncomfortable being the person who brings shame on hapless strangers who congratulate me and then get the glacial response "Thanks. We're so excited to be giving birth to beer."

So I've been thinking about making a couple of garments that have a banner sewn on that reads "NOT PREGNANT" on it. Informative don't you think? I will do it to amuse myself. Plus, then I will be free to wear garments that might make me look "natal" without having to worry about misunderstandings out in the world. What do you think? If one can wear clothes with huge logos on them that pretty much scream out "I am an ass!", then why not?

This brings our little fashion-for-the-deranged segment to a close. Enjoy your Sunday!

Note: no fake people were harmed in the filming of this episode.

Apr 28, 2007

The Hopefuls

In my gardening fever, brought on by that languid warm weather, I bought a little flat of peppers, winter savory, chard and pansies. I didn't end up having time to get them in the ground right away, as I intended. So here they sit, on the patio table: The hopefuls. I walked past them yesterday evening as I was going to water the potatoes and the tomatoes, and they had a reaching sweet demeanor. The longing in these little starts was palpable. (Maybe not to the naked sane eye, but to an alert crazy eye...) I stopped. Suddenly it came to me that they were like the chorus girl hopefuls in 1930's films about showbiz; hanging out by the stage door hoping someone else would break an ankle and give them their chance to shine...

You might even say that this Rudebekia and Scabiosa (slightly hidden by the oregano) are understudies. One of my favorite cut flower combinations is Black Eyed Susan with Grandmother's pincushion. Here they are: hopeful.

Which is interesting because yesterday was one of those awful days, directly following a really good one, when your whole bubble is burst by looking at your bank statement. The one you have been studiously avoiding. Because the only way to get through to the successful end is to not notice how close to failing you really are. Eventually you have to look. It's like looking down a very deep grave. We are perched in the maw of failure. Waiting for the beast to keel over suddenly, releasing us to a brighter future.

OK, I was letting myself get carried away there. Businesses can fail or succeed by the narrowest margin. I had been hoping that Philip wouldn't need to look for work until the end of August, by which time I was hoping he wouldn't need to because we would be doing spectacularly well during tourist season. Time has run out sooner than I anticipated. So our choice is to drift along and hope to god it all comes together and if it doesn't: liquidate. Or, Philip can get a job and Dustpan Alley can stay open until it reaches that critical mass needed to ensure it's success. If Philip does get a job (and I can't bear to consider what will happen if he can't) then Max will have to go into some kind of day care.

It is not my intention to be critical of choices that other people have made, but I have to admit that this seems like one of the worst things I could do to Max. Some children are very flexible in their environments and their needs. Max is not such a child. I also didn't have a child so that I could put him in the care of other people. I realize that sometimes life demands that you make choices that you aren't happy about. There are a lot of parents out there who have had to put their kids in daycare in order to pay the bills, which is rather an important duty of parents. Without money, it doesn't matter how nurturing a parent you are, your children will not thrive. Before we give them education, or positive discipline, or ideals: we must give them food and shelter.

The question all business owners must ask themselves at some point is: what am I willing to do to make this enterprise succeed? How far am I willing to go?

This is all coming up at a time when things are actually beginning to take off for our business. It just isn't taking off fast enough. Timing is everything. I am pretty sure that if we can hang on for another six months we will be there. Not making profits necessarily, but paying the bills.

None of this is anyone's business of course. Generally speaking, businesses don't advertise how they're actually doing. The general wisdom is that you keep your business concerns on the hush. Keep your cards under the table. Don't let 'em see you sweat. Not only is this not the way I operate in my life EVER, this blog has been a place to record the ups and downs of starting a new business. So I keep on keeping on with the cards on the table for all to see. In some ways I kind of hope it's helpful to everyone else out there starting their own businesses similar to mine.

What I could really use right now? Some advice from someone who has done exactly what we're doing, and was successful. That's right: Posie Gets Cozy. This is when I really wish Alicia Paulson had already written a book about the nitty gritty of opening a brick and mortar store and also running a web store. What were her best tactics? What were her most effective ways of getting the word out? Was she ever anxious that it wouldn't be successful? Did she go through a lot of ups and downs? Was it slow at first in her store? She's really a star to me, not because she's neat and tidy (because we all know how much I care about being neat and tidy), but because she built a great unique business and even though she decided to close the brick and mortar, she's still successfully selling her amazing crafts online. How does she do it?

I don't want to read books written by empire builders. I don't want a business primer written by a financial wizard. I want to read about how someone an awful lot like me made a business successful. If Alicia isn't going to write one, then maybe I'll have to do it myself. Except I may need to title it something like "How not to build your business" or "The seven laws of growing a business too slowly..." or how about "They were right, you CAN'T build a business on less than a million..."

I admit that I'm worried. And scared. We are so close to becoming successful, or failing. There are a ton of scenarios that are running through my head in which I am forced to deliver pizzas on my Vespa for minimum wage while Philip becomes a logger and loses a limb because so many of them do and we all move into a trailer park and all my teeth rot out of my head because that's what happens when you start living in a trailer park with other people whose teeth have rotted away on that amazing diet of Pepsi and Swanson dinners.

That's not really a very likely scenario. I am tenacious if I am nothing else, and Dustpan Alley will continue to evolve. If we end up having to shut up the shop, we will move operations to our house and keep the website. Dustpan Alley is far from over. See, Donald Trump and I really do have a lot in common. He didn't give up when he was "bankrupt", and look at him now, with that amazing comb over that everyone admires so much they're secretly growing one themselves.

The reason I am not huddled in a corner in tears is because I have a gut feeling that things are about to really come together. I think it's important, when you own a business, to plan what you will do when things fall apart, but at the same time, never give up the fight until you have to if you're passionate about what you're doing.

What I kept thinking about yesterday is that McMinnville needs us. Or at least, they need a store like us. What we have to offer is different than everything else here. We have practical goods, we have beautiful handmade goods, and we have edgy funny goods. People are responding really well to what we offer. Who would move into our space if we don't make it? Another wine shop? Would La Bella Casa open a third store? Then I couldn't help but feel certain that we will make it. But probably by the skin of our teeth.

We are the McMinnville hopefuls.

Apr 27, 2007

Transportation: what to do if you're not Sonic The Hedgehog

This is my old trusty bicycle and my Vespa. The Vespa has been out of commission since November of 2006 because the head light burnt out. It's illegal to drive a scooter without a headlight. Even during the day. I am nothing, if not law abiding. I don't even jay walk. (Ask my family. They will affirm that this is true and then tell you how ridiculous it is to have to wait at the curb with me for the light to change when there isn't a car in sight for miles.)

I find it hard to believe that not every town has a Vespa dealership and garage, but this is a true fact. No one here in my town sells the bulbs for my head lights. So when we went down to California to visit my mom at Thanksgiving, before we stashed her into our extra bedroom, I ordered (and paid for) a couple of headlight bulbs from the Vespa dealership in Santa Rosa where I bought my stylish ET4. It is now the end of April (in case no one noticed) and I still have not received my bulbs.

We actually made a special trip into Portland too to the Vespa dealership there to get the bulbs but on the particular day we went to the service garage, it was closed so that the mechanic could attend a lousy wedding. So here we are. My Vespa battery has since died. Philip charged it up but apparently not enough to start the engine.

I love riding my bicycle. Especially since it doesn't require gas. Which is annoying to get into a scooter here in Oregon where you can't pump your own gas, because a lot of the attendants do not understand fractions. As in: "Could you give me one and a quarter gallons of premium please." Gas attendant: "huh?" Me: "You know, 1.25 gallons. My engine only holds 1.5 so if you fill it more than 1.25 it might splash out." Gas attendant: looks longingly at the muscle car that just pulled up at the next pump. Clearly wants to run from fractions. Muscle cars don't require fractions, you just fill that deep tank the hell up with dead bodies a whole barrel of oil and you're good to go.

However, I miss riding my scooter. As far as gas munching vehicles go, it is extremely efficient. Plus, Jesus!, they're so stylish it just kills me. I've never driven a car*. I've never had my car license until Oregon graced me with one by accident**. I still mostly think I don't ever want to drive a car. They're useful. I'm not a jerk about this, I'm glad Philip drives. There are a lot of times when having a car is a god-send. But I'd be happy to spend the rest of my life zipping around on the power of my own two legs, and my Vespa. If it ever gets fixed.

I clearly need to call the dealership in Santa Rosa. But haven't I mentioned yet that among the evils of being me is a pathological need to avoid phone calls in which I am either requesting that I receive services already paid for, or trying to return anything. I am aware of how stupid this is. But that's what makes being me so much fun.

Max is watching Sonic The Hedgehog now. This morning as I snapped this picture, I realized that my alter ego just might be "Angelina The Flame Retardant Human". Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? It just came to me in a flash.

Wouldn't it be cool if I could teach Chick to ride on the back of my scooter? Oh my god, I can totally picture her ears flapping in the wind! She has been a very naughty dog for the past few days. Chewing up everything within reach. I think her legs are growing because she's reaching things she didn't used to be able to reach. I haven't told Max that she ate his tooth brush last night because Max is not a kid who takes these things lightly. In fact, he usually sentences Chick to a life in jail every time she gets hold of one of his toys, or when he thinks she might have gotten hold of something of his. Max doesn't insist on proof.

This kind of thing used to disgust me down to my bones. Being licked by dogs. Dogs eat things like cat feces. They also eat all kinds of rotted goods. I like to think of my change in attitude about dogs as "The irony of the black dog". Chick changed a lot of things for me. I still don't actually enjoy being slobbered on by animals (or people). Saliva drippings just don't do it for me. Which is funny because almost all the dogs in the world I'm most attracted to have droopy lips from which copious amounts of drool leaks all day long. Chick doesn't drool much though. Only when she's sees her lunch (or our cats) coming. But she'll cop a lick any chance she gets, like any other normal dog. Wouldn't "The irony of the black dog" make a great title for something, like maybe a book?

Maybe I'll write the great American novel after all. Naturally it will have to test the outer limits of my vocabulary and be full of really maladjusted characters who have really twisted relationships. I'll probably have to commit suicide after it gets published if I want to have it be really successful. Or just fall apart spectacularly.

Yesterday was brilliant. I want to say a HUGE thanks to a few marvelous people who put the spark in my day: Alice at Future Girl for making me a button to put on my blog to link to our web store. Check it out! She wasn't the only one to offer to do this for me, by the way. Michelle from Green Kitchen also offered. I can't even tell you how much I appreciate having such amazing women helping to support our endeavor. Not only that, we sold another Futuregirl handbag and this time it wasn't to a family member either. YAY!

But that's not all. We also got our first two orders for Peace aprons from two people who also read my blog. Plaidshoes (who doesn't have a blog at this time or I would link to it) bought a blue Peace apron which will be sent out today, and Karmyn from Dreaming What Ifs bought a yellow one and a blue one which should also be sent out today. Thank you so much, ladies, both for supporting Dustpan Alley, and also (somewhat more importantly) Peace!

*Not strictly true. In fact, when I was sixteen I drove my mom and my siblings over Mt. Tam and almost killed us all. I've also driven cars in a multitude of parking lots during the time I was still pretending I wanted to learn to drive.

**True fact. I don't blame Oregon for not noticing that my California license was for motorcycles only. Who only has a motorcycle license in this country? Me, that's who.

Apr 26, 2007

Top Secret Martha-style Enterprises

I don't know what it is about the Pacific Northwest that has so much epitomized what I need from my own place on earth, but it's always been the PNW for me. I will readily admit that having gotten used to being able to grow lemons and tangerines in California I do occasionally pine for a lemon tree that I can put in the ground and know that it will thrive. I did, once this season, look at pomegranates in the nursery catalog and wish I could ripen them here in the Willamette Valley. But those are Mediterranean plants and this is not the same climate.

But these longings for climatically challenged fruit pass pretty quickly underneath the quick-change skies of Yamhill County where we can see the sun bust out of the clouds in a great flourish, feel the rays for two whole hours before the clouds roll across again in a big precipitous display that ends in five minutes of sleet followed by some gentle sprinkles which are then finished off by the most vibrant unbelievable sun set.

We've been here for a year now. A whole cycle of seasons. This has been a year of incredibly hard, but fun, work. A year of coming home. A year of scaring off potential new friends. A year for forging new connections. A year of healing from the incredibly dark months that led up to our northerly migration. In fact, I think we're still healing. Philip still has surgery to look forward to on his arm. (That pesky bone grafting fun he gets to participate in because his bones have not healed even though they're bolted together with sixteen pins and a sheath of titanium).

We thought that by now we would know if all our work building a business was going to pay off. We're still not sure. We've been in this funny limbo for a year and a half now. The limbo of having no idea where life is headed. What we'll be doing in six months. Whether we'll be living in this boring but good house or renting an apartment here in town. Whether we'll both be working for JoAnnes or Wilco with matching mullets, or if we'll be paying all our bills with Dustpan Alley, our labor of great passion. We have been scared at times, and at others so certain that whatever happens we are on the path we need to be on. We have been on a great roller coaster of depression and excitement, anxiety and confidence. It's hard to know the difference between our elbows and our feet which are always bent, always moving.

The only thing I've been sure of in the past year is that moving back to the Pacific North West was the same as moving back home where my spirit belongs. Right here. It's something about the quality of the air. The nature of the climate. Almost no one can resist pairing the words "Pacific North West" with "rain" and also "wet rain" and sometimes even "endless fucking rain". I don't even notice it. Is it raining all the time? Is it grey all the time? Really? Are you sure?

Personally I think the whole liturgy about the Pacific North West and it's dreary weather is something people spin out to discourage others from moving to this region of sparkling earth. No, you can't ripen pomegranates here, but in the end, who the flippin hellety hell needs them when we are living in the place where blueberries grow like WEEDS. LIKE WEEDS WITH CANDY ON THEIR BRANCHES.

And nothing on earth is better than riding down highway 18 on my Vespa to Farmer John's to pick up twenty pounds of tomatoes to can on a scorching day, with the hot air hitting my skin like a sand blaster rushing all my irritation away, and passing through thick clouds of wild blackberry scent, a scent so peculiar to Oregon* in my mind that every time I smell it my soul settles in a little deeper, committing just a little more to the moment at hand.

Oh yeah, about the title of this post... I almost forgot to tell you all that I made some totally cool decorations yesterday for my friend Dominique's baby shower this week-end that I can't show you yet because she reads my blog and I want her to be surprised. For a person like me, who doesn't do parties, who refuses to play any kind of parlour game, or pretty much ANY GAME**, and who is a lot like a grumpy old man with a half smashed cigar hanging out the side of my mouth and perpetually mumbling curses out the other side of my mouth, I was surprised at how well I channeled the decorating hero of the world. Yep, I really did. But now that I've said all that, you will undoubtedly be disappointed.

Oh, you're wondering how I got involved in this party making fest at all if I am as I say I am? I mean, why plan a baby shower for a person who really loves parties and decorations and is sweet and light and full of baby joy...why step in with my curses? A-ha! Good question. You will all be relieved to know that there are at least two other people planning it. I am merely an instrument. The other two are not like grumpy old men at all and have (mercifully) taken on the task of setting up the baby shower games that I will alienate everyone by refusing to participate in. I am just helping out because I adore Dominique and want her to be super happy with her day. That's why I've crawled out of my cave to make like Martha.

Seriously, I can't wait to share my creation.

Right, so on an even less expected topic than the above, I just want to say that I am so tired of being a person with chin hairs. Not just a "person" with chin hair, a WOMAN with chin hairs. I don't have enough to sign up with the local circus as a bearded lady, but I have quite enough to mess with my view of myself as a dainty feminine creature.***

*Don't be worried, I know that blackberries grow in California too. I've picked 'em and canned 'em there too. But they don't permeate the air down south. The scent of blackberries doesn't rush out at you on languid walks from every nook, from every bank of the road, as it does here.

**Except for scrabble with Philip. This is one of those things that really irritates people, drives them wild with a desire to CHANGE my ways and then makes me into even more of an old curmudgeon because the more a person tries to get me to play games, the more they drive me into a fighting corner. Never a good idea. I always come out looking like a mean loser and an outcast. Playing games makes me so uncomfortable that I would rather peel a whole layer of my skin off than participate. I am unbudgable. (Rare exceptions are made for small children.)

***You've sniffed out a contradiction. No, see, I am really more like an old man the way I've described it, so the reality is that I've probably grown chin hairs because they are totally appropriate, but in my mind I imagine that I am a dainty delicate female with grace and gentle ways. (Until someone tries to coerce me into playing games.) Holy hell, I need to just shut up now, huh?

Apr 25, 2007

Peace Apron to cheer sad souls
(and to make happy souls happier!)

Hang on to your britches because there are lots of gratuitous shots of BBQ Sue in the newest peace apron... I'm just in love with this one! I brought home the blue one I made for myself (there are two more blue ones almost finished) so that it wouldn't get sold this time. I will model it, as promised, later this week. (I must dig up my stilettos first, don't you know!)

I have made an important decision: 15% of the profits for each Peace apron sold will be donated to MoveOn.Org which has done amazing work towards getting peace on the political agenda.

I can't afford to donate them money because my financial future is an enormous question mark, but if I simply take a percentage from this apron sold, then I can donate at the same time that I earn. I will be making Peace pot holders as well and those will also benefit MoveOn.org.

I have been working hard to get BBQ Sue to eat more pretend food. They starved her to death at the mannequin farm. Poor fake girl! When she sees me busting out of my own Peace apron she's going to realize how much she wishes she was chugging beer like me. (Mostly to soothe the shock I imagine.)

Oh crap, that was meanness I just threw at myself. No more mean self talk!

Yes, the thing is, my generous form has many advantages. As soon as I think of a few, I will report on my findings.

Rick Rack Rocks! These aprons have been more fun to make than the flower pin ones. Plus, I have to tell you that the amount of work I put into the flower pin one for the same price makes me work for less than minimum wage and doesn't have such great bust coverage. Why is that important? Well, even non-busty ladies like myself can have bust covering needs. When I am cooking, or canning, I tend to make a huge Mother-Loving-Mess!!!!!

You almost thought I was going to say something else, huh? As much as I do relish swearing, there are some swear words and expressions that I just can't say. Bet you're wondering which ones they are. I'm going to whisper them to you, OK?


(OK, that last one isn't really a swear word, but it sounds so dirty every time someone says it my skin cringes.) I realize that I have now destroyed every one's image of me as a refined delicate lady. Because up until this moment I have really only been showing you my gentle side. The shock must be terrible. I think you should go lie down for a spell and come back after sniffing some smelling salts...

Here is my mums with her new purse made by Future Girl. She really wanted to buy one of the more practical colors like the teal or brown, but in the end, this happy little blue bird who appears to be out of her cage reminded my mom of the freedom she hopes to enjoy after her left hip is completely replaced next week, allowing her to be able to walk without simultaneously wanting to die a little.* She loves this bag!!

By the way, I just want to say here that we are harboring a very potent anger at Kaiser for the way they have treated my mom. The doctors here have all thought it inhumane to leave someone in such dire need of surgery, as my mother is, to wait for almost a year to get it. She has exactly ZERO cartilage left between her acetabulum and her leg bone, so every time she takes a step the bones crunch together. The doctors here thought it inhumane for Kaiser to not operate on her just because she weighs more than is ideal for getting surgery. The doctors here consider her weight pretty trivial since it isn't accompanied by other dire conditions.

I'm not sorry that Kaiser basically forced my mom to leave California. A state that, once my COBRA insurance ran it's course, would refuse-across the board-to insure my health because of my hip breaking incident. I'm not sorry because I'm happy that my mom is closer to us now. We've missed her. But I think Kaiser has been cruel to my mother it makes me angry that they sat back and refused to treat her while her situation became more and more desperate.

I do know people who've had a good experience with them, but after seeing my mom get treated this way I can't help but hope they collapse as an institution.

Oregon has been a much better place to be for health care. Oregon has health insurance options for people like my mom and I who are uninsurable in California. (My mom would have been in the same boat as I was because she was about to start COBRA with Kaiser) Oregon health care is less mired in crippling bureaucracy. Doctors here (that don't belong to Kaiser) aren't so over booked that you can't get in to see them for months.

And now, for something totally unrelated to anything else... I just want to say that I am itching to rip up my living room carpet. There's hard wood underneath it. I loathe wall to wall carpeting. It traps the most awful grime. This week Chick let loose some really wet vomit and it will never come out. So I want to finally get rid of the blasted thing. This is essentially what motivated us to rip out the bedroom carpet, only that time it was diarrhea that prompted the quick gnarly rip out job. I've mentioned it before, and I'll say it again: I'm no Howard Hughes, but the thought of what's in my carpet, even after cleaning, really makes me edgy.

Oh, speaking of Howard Hughes type issues, we've been watching season four of Monk and I just want to say I love the Monk character! I love that a main character with OCD has been written and is successful. I'm not really OCD, I have only shadings, but still, I completely relate.

I was just about to reveal something that makes me relate to the Monk character, but, you know what? I think I've put enough of my crazy on this blog for a week. I think we can just enjoy today without taking a little dark plunge into my non-lobotomized brain.

Philip is out there hauling dirt to the garden beds. So, should I garden, or rip carpet up? Yikes, I just can't decide. Both of them will hurt my back, but the carpet will also bring on an allergic reaction (it always does). But if I rip the carpet out, the next time one of the animals throws up, or my kid leaves a trail of blood** I can just wipe it up. On the other hand, it's cool outside but not raining so I could get gardening done without over heating.

I guess I better go get some more coffee and read a few of your blogs while I decide. I hope you all have a fantastic Wednesday!

P.S. The Peace aprons should be on the website within a couple of hours, in case you're interested. They are $40.00 each and don't forget that 15% of the profit of each one sold will go towards achieving Peace. Who doesn't want Peace?***

*Not my mother's words, by the way. She never says such melodramatic things, that's really my territory. Suffice it to say that she has been in agony.

**Frequent trails of blood left by Max from bloody noses. Unfortunately, his new tactic is to let it drip on the floor instead of seeking out tissues. I want to be super mad by this, but then I have to recall that when I was sixteen and getting up to three of them a day, like he does, I got really tired of them and would let them drip into the sink. You can't expect a six year old to think of leaning over a sink. Are you all thoroughly disgusted now? Go get the salts!!

***This is a trick question because no one is going to admit to not wanting Peace.

Apr 24, 2007

Fresh straw at the ranch

Chickens, in case you didn't know it, used to be tree perching jungle birds. They are (or were) excellent foragers which explains how come all a hen needs feel completely fulfilled is to roam around looking for bugs. If only that were all I needed I could have stopped striving so long ago. (One great thing about being a hen is that because your life expectancy is even shorter than the average feline, you have no need for retirement plans. Your kids don't even have to worry about taking care of you because, frankly, they'll be lucky to out live you themselves.)

That's why, if you keep hens in a run, as we do, one of the most essential things you can give them to keep them happy is the sensation of constant foraging. Hens aren't rocket scientists, they don't necessarily notice or care that they are not perching in jungle trees. But they do start feeling listless if there's nothing new for them to scratch in.

We frequently fill our poultry run with fresh straw. The great thing about straw (in case you haven't discovered this for yourself) is that it makes a great deal of satisfying rustling noise when you scratch at it. (This explains why both children and chickens take such delight in romping around in it.) It gives you a feeling of progress as you kick it around and peck at it's golden spikes. It can really make you feel like a wild bird. There are other benefits too, such as providing more of a dry surface when all the dirt in your chicken run is wet with rain.

It's one of my favorite things to see: my hens tearing a new bale of straw apart looking for, presumably, (non-existent) grubs and bugs. They make contented little comments that sound like human babies when they're not crying. Little chirrups and low cooing noises.

Yesterday was gorgeous here. I almost just wrote some poetical trash about the smell of the soil warming in the sun, but then I realized that everyone would instantly lose respect for me if I suddenly turned all gentle and pastoral. So let's just cut to the chase: I got out in the garden and hang it all! if I don't wish I could spend a little bit of every day out there!! You may not want to know what I'm about to tell you, but I think you should know that if I could run around the world with a little bit of dirt on my skin at all times I would feel right at home. In fact, if it didn't dry out my skin so much, I would enjoy rolling in it.

You heard me: I would enjoy ROLLING in it. Dirt smells good. It's beautiful too. It's warm at the top and cool underneath. It reminds me of when humans were a little closer to the ground. It makes me feel slightly feral (but not dangerous). Inhaling, touching, digging, and scratching at the soil makes a lot of the world's troubles seem far away and even fixable.

Let me draw your attention to the fact that I have, for the first time EVER in my gardening life, caged my tomato plants right at the beginning. This is a minor miracle. No, wait, I will venture to say that it is a MAJOR miracle. Right next to PEACE ON EARTH.

My joy at having done something so conventional and exemplary in my garden is slightly mitigated by the fact that these tomato "supports" can barely support themselves. Like most tomato supports, they are about as useful as a car without gasoline.

In fact, I'd kind of like to administer a little Matrix-style kick-ass to the idiots who keep inventing these useless garden "aids" that just make you want to stab yourself in the foot with a shovel in frustration as you watch your tomatoes lean towards the ground in a kind of slow motion action shot bending the thin wire as they go down. Shit, I could cry just thinking about it. Because then you have to start the impossible task of supporting the supports with wooden stakes, or rebar, or use your children to hold up the plants all summer. It takes several wooden stakes to stabilize one of those ridiculous cone shaped tomato cages. So whatever you use, you better have a lot of them/it.

I keep meaning to make my own wooden tomato cages because I certainly have the skills now to do it, but I never have the time. UUUURRRRGGGHH! It is possible to buy tomato stakes that actually work well, but they are generally way too pricey for a person who plants at least fifteen tomato plants each year.

I'll bet you're noticing how closely I have planted my tomatoes. I'll bet you're dying to tell me that this is not a good idea. Go ahead. (I'm waiting right now, big pause in writing...) Now listen up: here's the sound of me pretending to listen...

See, in my family, we tend to buck trends. There is a trend I've noticed for gardeners to spread out all their plants, like, a mile apart. What we tend to do is to plant everything breath-takingly close together. Somehow both ways get good results for people. So I'm not going to tell you to close the gap between your tomatoes. No matter how much I'm aching to do so. My trap is shut on this matter.

Unless you ask me for some of my tomatoes at the end of the summer because you have too few of them. Then I'll probably say something.

Yesterday when I was mentioning my quest for more blogs with garden content in them, I failed to mention two very important ones. I would like to do so now. When I first started my blog and went looking around for people with similar interests I almost immediately found one called Her Able Hands which had such good writing on it about gardens and food that I was totally mesmerized. Not only that, but right away I knew I had to convince her that we were cut from the same cloth and needed to be friends.

She has sometimes written about parenting, juggling work outside the home with her desires to do work that matters to her even more like market gardening. But her main focus is growing food and eating it. Her blog made me excited to get back outside to grow my own food, then bring it inside to my kitchen to do something fresh and new with it. I've been reading her blog almost every day now for a year. I highly recommend that you visit her soon.

Much more recently my attention was turned to the blog of a commenter here called Zanthan Gardens. This is a wonderful garden site with beautiful photos of M. Sinclair Stevens' garden and the interesting plants in it. The writing is excellent, informative, and thoughtful. It was connecting with this blog that reminded me how much I love hearing people talk about plants and plant culture. I am a garden geek. If you are a garden geek too, this is a great spot to feed the muse. M. Sinclair Stevens knows all the Latin plant names. I know only enough Latin names for the plants in my garden to impress those who have never stepped foot in a yard.

Apr 23, 2007

Peace, rhubarb, and I think my pillow and bed are trying to kill me...

I did finally sit down at my machine and sew. But not without wrestling with it first. I secretly think my machine is alive and was messing with the tension just to terrorize me for not having sewn for over two weeks. I also secretly think that my machine gets up in the night to pee, but maybe that's something I shouldn't be saying out loud?

I know it seems silly, but just making peace symbols with rick rack was soothing. I suppose this is why humans love symbols, they remind us of important things like hope and peace. I can't wait to have my own peace apron and pot holders.

Bounty from the early spring garden. Herbs for quiche and rhubarb for crisp. We had a mostly seasonal meal which is always deeply satisfying. Especially when a good portion of it is from our own mini-ranch. Philip made the crisp (with some help from Mark) which turned out to be excellent. I used spinach and mushrooms for the quiche with lots of finely cut fresh herbs. Then I made a vegetable side dish with carrots and locally grown asparagus and seasoned it with butter, honey, and mustard.

It doesn't really get a lot better than having your favorite people come over to eat a good meal and drink some fine beers and wines. I don't enjoy having "parties" where you invite every person you know. I get easily overwhelmed and panicky. I actually don't enjoy parties at all. The last time I was a person who really loved a good party was when I was seventeen or eighteen years old.

Last night was the perfect gathering. Except that my mom could only sit up with us for a while because she was in so much pain. Other than that, it was perfect. The boys glued themselves to the computer and shed very little blood betwixt them, and Elena gave birth to several unicorns under our very watchful glazed adult eyes.

I think she may have been trying to demonstrate to Dominique how to give birth to magical creatures with no pain. This is very useful because Dominique has got herself in the family way and will be pushing her little watermelon out in another month! I can't be completely sure about this, but I'm going to take a risk here and say that I'm pretty sure she's hoping it's not a baby cyclops she's carrying in there. Because then she'll have to name it something like "Randy the Cyclops" instead of Truitte.

Now, I don't have any proof to offer up, but I'm pretty sure my bed is trying to kill me. The evidence? I go to sleep not completely a broken person and I wake up in agony with pains in my lower back, cricks in my neck, and tense shoulders. This is not an old bed and it's not a cheap bed either. So what gives? It's supposed to be firm yet with give. It's by Sealy, a "reputable" brand, as though that means anything. This whole 85 year old body thing is really bringing me down. It is a bright sunny day here in the Pacific North West and I've got about five more yards of amendment to haul into my garden beds and seeds to plant. I don't have time to be broken. This totally sucks.

But not as much as it would suck to have no arms or legs to complain about. It's important to keep things in perspective at all times. I'm pretty happy I'm not a part of a Siamese twin duo. I imagine that really puts a serious damper on life too. What right have I got to complain about a little agonizing neck pain when there are people out there joined at the head for life?

I spent a lot of time looking at new blogs yesterday and found some really great ones. I love all my crafty blogs, but I've been wanting to find some blogs with more posts about gardening, especially kitchen gardening. So through a tangled web of links I found one called Allotment Lady which is filled with pictures of her allotment, her lovely baby, and other garden projects. Just the thing! She also has some great links to explore of other allotment blogs.

I also found Snowflakes and Black Vampires through Allotment Lady which is a woman's creative blog on which she posts pictures of hers and other people's art, and also some poetry. The funny thing is, I have spent years making jokes about Bukowski and how his writing is brilliant but I can't read it because it's so depressing, and here on this blog I read a poem by Bukowski that was really good. I mean, I totally related to it. It's called "Ice cream people" and he manages to describe exactly how I've felt for so much of my life. (Like a curmudgeonly old lush of a man who is always looking at the bright squeaky clean shiny happy people as though either they, or I, am from another planet just observing the show.) So it seems I'm going to give Bukowski another chance to make a fresh impression on me.

Both of these bloggers visited my blog yesterday and I can only hope I didn't scare them off with my super dark post from a few days ago. But I suppose there's no time like the present to freak people out since it's bound to happen eventually anyway.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I just checked out a new commenter's blog called Cauldron Ridge Farm and really enjoyed it. Since Gina commented on the scary post, I can be pretty sure I haven't freaked her out. Yet. She's just had a beautiful baby and has some very honest worries about the world she's brought her boys into. I can totally relate!

One more new blog I have to mention is Cottage Magpie because it's a great blog with crafts, gardening, and house stuff. (I really like the word "stuff". It's such a great all purpose word.) Angela and I are connected by a series of strange coincidences and she's fully as spazzy as I am, which is very admirable. (Uh, not everyone values spazziness as I do, but I consider it a very fine quality in a person, whether they are quiet about it or loud.)

Well, I think it's time to take a shower, and hobble out to the mountain of amendment, and start shoveling like I'm impervious to pain.

Apr 22, 2007

The Rich Life

One of the many reasons I love my cat, Ozark, is that he is steadfast in his determination not to form a cat empire of ankle biters. He's so skilled at it he could easily gather feline followers to a boot camp just for teaching this sinister maneuver. Yet he prefers to keep his evil genius to himself and instead fill my (not so) fresh laundry with his fur. I just have to make sure that he and Donald Trump are never in the same room together. There's no telling what The Donald could convince my cat to do.

Don't be deceived by his air of calm sweetness. A more curmudgeonly cat you may never meet. This dude fights wild animals. (I'm not saying he wins, just that he fights 'em.) He may have kept his kittenish good looks but he's actually just about to turn 13 years old.

By some weird miracle I was the lucky 1600th commenter on Karmyn's blog Dreaming What Ifs.... I love her blog because she is curious about the same kinds of things as I am such as derelict buildings with suspiciously swanky cars parked in front of them, and also refuses to wear second hand underwear. No matter how much I want to support the re-use of things in order to extend the life of things, wearing second hand underwear is something I hope I am never forced by circumstance to do! This is the sweet (and sweet smelling!) prize she sent to me. I will be using this today. Yum. Thank you Karmyn!

Look what else came in the mail the other day! It's a clothes pin holder for making it easier and handier to hang your clothes on a line. Any guesses what seriously thoughtful person made this just for me and sent it as a surprise? Who in blog world is the most willing to support your endeavors, work for you for free in her spare time, leave comments even when no one else does, and posts the prettiest pictures of her garden so that no matter how rainy it is you can smell the Abraham D'Arby from a whole state away.

If you said Dooce, you would be totally WRONG and I would have to wonder if you got a little too botoxed on your last trip to the plastic surgeon! The only blogger I know who fits that description is Pam from Pam Kitty Morning.. I am inspired by and love how much she enjoys making things for people and helping them.

You know what else I love about her? She occasionally swears like a sailor and can totally side swipe you with her humor when you're least expecting it. Thank you Pam, for the wonderful surprise!

I recently ordered and received a gorgeous collection of Future Girl purses to sell in my store. I also bought one for myself. I've had it at the shop so I can look at it all day. I was afraid to bring it home because I am rather famous for wearing down everything I own into ragged piles of grimy rags. This bag is so beautifully made I am afraid of what will happen to it in my care.

This is not at all what Alice intended them for. These bags may look delicate in details, but they are quite sturdy and made for being used. I am definitely going to use mine, but not for every day. Future Girl bags have inspired me to make and buy a few more bags because although I love my grimy tough messenger bags, it feels good to have some lady like purses to use too. My mom and my aunt Lin will be especially pleased. They have been trying to pry my filthy unfeminine bags from my shoulder for a few years. (They did successfully convince me to retire my old army bag. But that's as far as they got.)

The home canned goods we made last summer are nearly gone. There are no more pickles left. There are very few jars of pears left. The tomatoes are nearly gone too. I do have quite a lot of blackberry jam left. I am actively plotting my canning activities for this summer and this fall. I've been thinking about all these efficiency issues and wondering how I can make it alright to have an extra fridge with freezer? Having one would allow me to freeze a lot more of the season's bounty, giving us many more quality meals through out the year. But it's yet another appliance. I really want to work on my frozen quiche project, but I need freezer space to do it, which I haven't got. What could I do to make up for the extra use of power? Where could I make up the balance?

This is the inspiration for the frozen quiche project. We get anywhere from three to five eggs a day. These little hens of mine (not really particularly small) are work horses! I am trying to share with friends but often forget to hand them a dozen as they leave. I have given a few to neighbors and can certainly share more. But, I don't want to give away all the extras if I can make something I can freeze with good quality results for meals we can whip out when we're really tired. Part of the whole homesteading spirit is to make good use of your bounty and make it last as long as possible.

It's been raining a lot here. I know I'm supposed to get all glum about it and complain. I just can't find any reason to object to it. I have really enjoyed it. Especially yesterday when I was making my version of tamale pie and some white bean soup. (We're eating a lot more beans now that I've got 125 lbs of them in my pantry.) Every time I opened the door for Chick to go out I would get this great burst of fresh damp air that smelled so good mixed with food cooking on the stove. Obviously I would like some dry weather so that I can get out there and plant in the garden and break my back over the huge heap of amendment which we then have to kill ourselves to mix with our native clay soil.

I have been having a ton of trouble getting back to sewing the peace aprons. Sometimes I get excited about sewing and sometimes I'd much rather sit around tying my leg hairs into knots than sit down and sew. I am determined that today I will do it. I will just do it. Without the aid of donuts. Or cheese. I've probably already gained back some pounds. Oh well. I will start fresh today. Maybe take the dog for a walk and get on the elliptical for a short spell and see if my legs fall off.

If my legs don't fall off I'll be really pleased.

Apr 21, 2007

Every once in a while I get the irresistible urge to eat donuts. Especially if I'm feeling at all low or physically gross. I guess the philosophy behind eating something with absolutely no nutritional value that has been deep fried in grease and slathered with sugar is that if you already feel low or physically repulsive, a donut or two isn't going to make you feel any worse.

Which is a patently stupid philosophy and no one is going to get their doctorate on this one. Just fatter and greasy smelling.

I've been craving a donut all week long and NOT eating them because I lost six pounds and I was trying to be strong and all that crap so I can eventually look like Pamela Anderson (right after I get my lip and boob job, obviously).

I broke down this morning. I ate TWO of those sugar and grease bombs. I am now kind of wishing I could go to the hospital to get my stomach pumped. I haven't once in my life eaten a donut and not regretted it. This makes me a lot more similar to my dog than I'm comfortable with.

I kind of wish I was one of my chickens. I wonder if anyone would notice if I just penned myself up with them and ate feed all day and curled up in a corner of the hen house? How comfortable and peaceful that sounds.

I think I'll go pretend I'm a figment of Andre Norton's imagination. Even though she's dead.

Apr 20, 2007

A Post Dedicated To Herb And Danette
(who didn't know each other)
May Your Crazy Vibrant Asses Rest In Peace

"Happiness isn't something you're born with. It isn't something lucky people bump into. It's a fire you light in your spirit and protect until it burns in spite of every wind that makes it flicker." from a journal, Angelina Williamson November 3, 2004

"Parenting isn't a sport or a hobby or a class that you take to enrich your mind. It's a function in life that your bones already know about. Most of it is instinct. You read the books to gain assurance, but without them you'd figure it all out anyway." from a journal, Angelina Williamson April 22, 2001

"I am wrestling with the heavy hands of the clock. Setting it back to the time it all went wrong. We cannot change the past. No, but by becoming that girl I used to be, long since dead, suffocated in the airless cloth of shame and disappointment, by resuscitating her I can relive the past now. Only this time that person I used to be will win. She has to. I have to.

Just like that other girl I used to be is also living inside, the one who was so used up she felt almost nothing for six months. The one who locked the bedroom door and made herself bleed. She needn't have locked her door because no body could see her anyway.

Invisible selves losing and lost. All dead. Yet now not dead. I've been grieving for so long. I feel it's time to wear black crepe for all the selves I've shed by the side of my long and winding road. Snakes shed old skin too but I wonder if they grieve?

I shed those selves to survive but life is full of twists. In order to survive now I must gather them up, their limp dejected bodies, and unite them with the spirits left behind. All for the purpose of setting them free-whole.

The sixteen year old left me with ash in my mouth. A bowl bull of cigarette butts still smoldering and each year I add to this, her grave, thousands more as though in homage. Like plastic flowers that never decompose, just fade to grey. Her monument was built of death. If I want to live I must disassemble her tower, shadow by shadow, before I become my own offering.

I thought it was only her I fought. I was wrong. They are all screaming the dark down now.

The insomnia has begun. It was nightmares first. Now the heavy aching waves of thought. Pleas to the universe to help. To listen. Because how much more of this can my family listen to? Because there is no one at school who can help or who will want to hear. Because my friends have already left the past behind. Because my conversational gambits are sure to deaden an entire room of revelers. My soul is the grim reaper come to scour the happy earth for the vulnerable. So I beg for help from no one, nothing, me, or the universe. My head screams with voices and I can't sleep.

This does not help anything.

Beneath all this roiling emotion there is self love. A small beacon light. Shines through storm. Shines through the dark. If it did not exist it wouldn't matter to me if I never quite smoking. It would not matter if I failed at anything. It isn't just pride at stake. It is love for my selves, the invisible losing lost. I want to give myself what I never gave myself before. I want to give myself wholeness. And when I become whole I want to give it to others.

But everything starts with self and works outward.

Pessimist. Optimist. Love. Hate. Lose. Win. I am a study in black and white. Stark contrast. Opposites attract. What were you when you were not you? What will you be when you cease to be what you are now?

I must find the end of this struggle soon for I am now exhausted. I have goals I'm afraid to say out loud. But they need saying. Yes yes yes it's back to the cigarettes. And the alcohol. I need to clean out my brain if I am to go back further. First make whole the sixteen year old and then travel back to that other person. The one who fought against tears in my French teacher's office. The one who fought back blinding panic.

First, the sixteen year old. I wonder if it wouldn't help to go back to Ashland? I feel drawn by old ghosts. Ashland. My graveyard. The first place I ever died. A place in which I died more than once. The first place I aged a hundred years.

Being a hundred and fifty years and also ten is not comfortable. Today I was both. So ancient. So young. How can people be so many opposites at once? What I wonder is: is everyone the same as me, just better at small talk and pretending? Is what I'm experiencing absolutely and completely a part of that mediocrity of which I'm so afraid?

When I go to sleep tonight I'll think on those brief moments centuries ago when lying on a warm hardwood floor I felt lulled and softened by the crackling of the wood stove, my bonny apple cheeks pink with warmth; brief moments of complete peace. That child was old but she was happy. She listened to the logs breaking down into ash and heard in the sounds of peaceful night the cry of sorrow to come. I know she did because I remember her feeling that strange far away pain and a compassion so deep she couldn't feel the end of it.

She spent love, then, on this unnamed sorrow, this mysterious pain out there, spent it unstintingly as children often do. Not knowing exactly where it went, but not caring either. She was sending love to me, in the present. The peace she felt was in the foreknowledge that pain would come. That pain had been. That she could feel me looking back at her, I know now. We felt each other in the overlapping of time. The peace came from knowing that this must be. She knew that the pain would also pass. Wise child.

She saw the future but had not the power to name it. She accepted. On those quiet evenings, cheek pressed against the warm hardwood reflecting the low lights. Feeling somehow watched over. She felt me then, I feel her now. What brave adult love she spread over the dark. Complicated love. It always cost so much, but she never counted. I count now. She wanted desperately to please. In her house of violence she secretly loved them all. So much it burned. Invisible girl.

She loved them all so much it hurt to see them hurt themselves and each other. To see them not love themselves. They never knew that she would love them no matter how much they forgot her or made her love for them less important than their own pain.

But on those quiet evenings she felt peace because they shone with all the goodness she knew hid beneath their veneer of anger. Five people, five extraordinary people, silenced at last by the beauty of being. She saw the future but knew then, at ten, that that was the way of life.

Invisible girl! She saw then what was invisible to others. And now I see her. As I go to sleep I will learn from her that there is peace in knowing pain will come, and that it will go. Ebb and flow. Maybe no one else will know how much she has loved them, but I know how much she loved me. I am no longer invisible to myself." From a journal, Angelina Williamson April 29, 1998

*Note: although I didn't see it for myself at the time, I wasn't particularly surprised when the psychologist I started seeing in 2002 stated "personality issues" in my psych assessment. When I asked him what this meant, he said that the fact that I experienced dissociative episodes, frequently didn't recognize myself in the mirror (especially in my teens), and seemed to have spent time separating my personality into parts, that I was-in my teens-apparently working hard at developing multiple personalities. It didn't happen. I don't have multiple personalities.

But I did spend many many years of my life not being a "whole" person, referring to different segments of my life as having been lived by other selves, usually considered (by me) to have died as I moved into new chapters in my life. I am not crazy in the sense that I am having psychotic episodes. I did not end up with multiple personalities. Nor am I schitzophrenic. I have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with (according to my psychologist) shadings of a host of other mental illnesses not fully realized such as Obsessive Compulive Disorder and Personality Issues. Though he didn't put it on my record, as my therapy progressed, he was also convinced that I had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

I offer this up because my mental illness is now not getting in the way of my quality of life, much, because I went through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, am taking appropriate medication, and write every single day which helps to clear my head of noise. Just because I am extremely high functioning, doesn't mean I am not crazy anymore. It just means I'm living a damn good life in spite of it. It's important to understand that sometimes it's what's in people's heads that they never share with you that is most dangerous to their own health. I spent almost nineteen years constantly on the verge of completely losing it. I took pains not to let too much of it show. However, rereading my journals is sometimes shocking, depressing, and frankly, full of scary ass shit.

I don't keep a lot of secrets in my life. But mostly, I keep the darker side of my brain from public view. I joke about being crazy because I don't want it to be a taboo anymore to be mentally ill and the only way to shake a taboo is to talk about it. There are surprising benefits to being mentally ill. But I have too many times scared the crap out of other people when I really let them in on the inner landscape of my head. Which in turn makes me feel like a leper. To protect myself, and others, I don't often tell the awful truth about what it has been like to be me.

Here on this blog I am beginning to reveal things slowly, with some humor (hopefully) and perspective. While being Schitzophrenic or having multiple personalities is a much more serious mental illness than I have, I want to point out that I understand the crazier element in my tribe. I know what their heads feel like inside. It's also important to recognize that one of the biggest problems with depression is that because you can suffer from serious depression and still be high functioning, it is easy to overlook those who are suffering close to the dangerous edge.

So I dedicate this post to Danette and Herb, both of whom were funny, smart, SUNNY AS FUCKING HELL, and made everyone else feel good, but who both felt the cost of living was too high. They both committed suicide. Instead of feeling angry that they couldn't hang on, I just feel sad that they couldn't get the help they needed to keep their light burning. If I can somehow make them heard, I will. They were part of my tribe and I just hope they've found peace where ever they are now. If I ever get the chance in my life to help someone like me keep their own fire burning, I will do it.

Apr 19, 2007

Am I Martha Yet?

My bank account doesn't lie to me. Martha, I am not. But look at these pretty labels my mom made for all of my bulk goods! I realize that Martha is the Empirical master of all label making arenas the world over (?) and that it will make some Martha hearts bleed to hear me say this, but I think my mom's labels are BETTER than anything Martha could have done. Plus, does Martha make people pretty labels when waiting for hip replacement surgery? No. She has her minions employees do these things for her when she's indisposed with a cold, or in prison.

Here's the million dollar shot! I know you are all itching to make your own potions and bath luxuries, so come on in and let's chat about witchy matters. We can do this even if you're a Christian and are supposed to not suffer witches to live because as you must have realized by now, I use the term "witch" rather loosely and I don't personally fly on a broom. Though, I have to admit that the prospect of doing so is somewhat intriguing. It occurs to me that to fly on a broom you have to have one hell of a skinny ass. If anyone knows any real witches out there or if any of you ARE a witch and know about these mysteries, please don't hesitate to sit down with me and have a mature discussion about frog's balls and cauldrons.

I promise not to report you to any fire and brimstone characters I sometimes run into. Although, you know, once you're already all into the notion of fire and brimstone, I kind of don't think you've got a moral leg to beat witches with. I mean, you're already believing in seas being parted, thousands of animals fitting on one tiny boat, and a man who walks on water. What I am wondering is, if it's OK for Jesus to walk on water, why is it not OK for witches to fly on brooms? Are the witches harming anyone? At least brooms don't require oil to fly. Not only that, but I really don't see what their big crime is except the whole bit about not worshiping the bible, but if you're going to burn someone for not believing in Christianity, holy moses, you're going to have to burn more than half the world's population at the stake.

You know what we modern people call that? GENOCIDE. (Oh my, how did I go from pretty labels to genocide? Sometimes I amaze myself with my ability to turn a really nice little subject into one of mass murder. If I didn't know better, I might suspect myself of possessing magic skills.)

My mom has a genius for getting things done fast. Unfortunately, when you're working with a person who's brain is preoccupied with questions about flying on broomsticks, proof reading is an imaginary activity. Because I missed the fact that the price says "per ounce" instead of "each", my mom has to re-do all these labels. Or make me re-do them. But aren't these labels the bomb?!*

No matter what happens with my store, I now know something that I never knew before: I can put together a kick ass store! Obviously with a lot of help from the family unit. I kind of not so secretly wish that I could make enough to pay my sister and my mom to work for Dustpan Alley full time. If I could do that, I would be raking up the dough immediately. I don't really want to tell them this, but I kind of think that if my sister and my mom ran a store together they would be better at it than me.

If we had enough money to see us through a few years, I KNOW our store would make it. My mom was reminding me how no one makes money with their stores for at least the first two or three years. This is kind of like uttering a blasphemy really loud while in church. It's the thing no one is allowed to say to me. It doesn't matter if it's true. I don't have a few years. To point that out to me is like confirming that I will fail. I think you have to take into consideration that usually what is meant is that no one makes a profit for the first few years. I'm not looking to make a profit, I just want to be able to pay all the bills, and be able to buy food too.

Wait, did I say I'm not looking to make a profit? I take that back. I totally want to make a profit, I just don't care if I make a profit right away as long as I can keep us afloat. With beer. Ooh, floating on beer sounds like heaven rewritten to suit Angelina: a witch without a broom.

Maybe if the store doesn't make it I can write a book all about what NOT to do when you're trying to build a small business on very little money.

Well, I have some other writing to do. A big window display to arrange. Aprons to sew. Pot holders to sew. Tedious orders to place. Dirt to haul. Laundry to ignore. And best of all? Anxiety to percolate! So you all have a great Thursday!

*Is it totally outre to say that now? I always discover the current colloquialisms after they have run their course. For example, I have only recently started saying "dude". But that's my friend Kathleen's fault, I only say it because it makes her seem closer to me than Willits. I think she might be popping out a second wee one just about now.