Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Harbor Days

This weekend is the Harbor Days Arts & Crafts Fair in Olympia. This is a brand new show to me, so I can't give a personal description of the show. But here's what they say:

33 Years of Tugboats and Maritime Heritage celebrated on the beautiful Olympia, Washington waterfront.

Ahoy! Welcome to Olympia Harbor Days! If you are a tugboat enthusiast, a history buff, an arts & crafts lover, or simply someone in search of lots of fun, mark your calendar for September 1, 2 & 3, 2006.

Harbor Days is an annual festival where tugboats return to the southernmost tip of Puget Sound for three days of entertainment, food, art, history, and a last farewell to the summer. Vintage, working and retired tugboats are moored at Olympia's Percival Landing. Many of them are open for tour on Saturday of the festival. Be on hand at noon Sunday as the tugs leave shore to participate in the Annual Harbor Days Tugboat Races, out in the deep channel of the bay.

Extra attractions include a children's area, model tugboats, and the Lady Washington (star of the Pirates of the Caribbean) & her crew.

Hope you can join us and experience the South Sound's classiest event...with a little something for everyone in the family!

Dates: September 1, 2 and 3
Hours: Friday 5pm-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-7pm
Location: Olympia's waterfront, Percival Landing along Water Street
Booth Space: #39, right along the tugboat landing, a few booths in from the corner of Water and State streets

Link: Harbor Days Yay for tugboat races!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Saturday in the Country

Wow, the weather has really turned today. After a run of such glorious, warm days with dazzlingly bright blue skies, the chilly grey stuff is a bit disappointing. We truly are headed into fall, and I guess I'm not quite ready to give up summer. Mostly it's just that fall turns into the holidays so fast, and like a snowball headed down the mountain, everything just picks up speed so quickly and you get caught up in that avalanche of go-go-go activities. Before you know it, it's Christmas. And I'm usually so overworked, overstressed and zombie-like by that point -- without even realizing what hit me. Hmm, can't think about that today. It's just a couple of days of cooler weather. And then Thursday will be back to warmer weather. For the record, I WILL be in Tacoma for the market Thursday. And it will be my last day of the season. September is the start of the Puyallup Fair. And while I sometimes can add a day or two in September at the market, this year I cannot manage it, with the huge commitment that the fair will be. So hopefully I can catch anybody who needs to stock up before the season is over.

And this weekend, for Labor Day, I'll be at Harbor Days in Olympia. Selling my wares next to the tugboats at the waterfront. I need to gather all the details for that show, which I will post tomorrow. But if you're in the area, or want to check out a little maritime fun, set aside some time Friday afternoon through Sunday for the Harbor Days show.

Craven Farm's popular antique show last Saturday was quite a pleasant day. Sales were great for some, a little slow for others, but it's brand new this year and we're figuring out how to make it work for everyone. However, the day itself was so very beautiful. The hot air balloons gracefully floating overhead in the morning. A raucous air show, with little bi-planes doing loop-di-loops, figure 8's, and formations in the afternoon. I'm not sure if they were scheduled to entertain the gigantic soccer tournament nearby at one of the other farms in the valley. But it almost looked like they were there just for us. So, to stretch out a little bit of sunshine, here's a few more pics of Saturday at the farm. I tried to post them yesterday but couldn't get a connection while I had the little window at the computer.

Finally, just for closure, I feel like I need to mention that my wonderful, sweet, most beautiful cat in the world, lost her battle on Sunday. We are completely heartbroken and missing her terribly. Took the day yesterday to leave the house, try to distract ourselves from the loneliness and crying, and spent a few hours outside -- at the beach watching the waves, picking at lunch, just taking in the beauty of Puget Sound. The loss of my little beloved companion will be hard to take, as everyone who has ever had a pet knows, and especially because we spent almost every minute of every day together here at the home studio. Today I am moving forward with work, and things will be ok, it just takes time.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fresh Air Country Market

Tomorrow is the Fresh Air Country Market at Craven Farm. Sue Van Gerpen, who organizes the fabulous Country Crafts shows at Lord Hill Farm and Vasa Park, is starting this new craft and handmade goodies show with the Craven Farm folks.

This brand new outdoor show will be held in tandem with Craven Farm's famously wonderful Primitive Antique Show -- their 12th year. An admisstion will be charged at the gate ($7) which gets you into both outstanding shows at the same time. Handcrafted treasures, garden plants, reclaimed and refurbished items, antiques, furniture and more -- from country elegance to farm junk! Come enjoy a day in the country as you browse, shop and delight in a gathering of handmade collectible folkart in a festive farm setting.

Where: 12525 Old Snohomish-Monroe Road, Snohomish
(here's a link to their map)
Dates: Saturday, August 26 only
Hours: 9am - 4pm

Link: Country Craft
Link: Craven Farm

This is a super popular show -- and all the little barns and outbuildings are filled with antique vendors. The crafters and such are in tents, scattered among the trees outside. Such a lovely setting at the edge of the corn maze and pumpkin fields. Can't wait!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yes, Tacoma Market

Yes! Yes, yes, yes. I WILL be at the market today. I have turned over the feeding of the precious cat to my sister for the day, so I can finally head out and show my face at the market after being missing in action for the last three weeks.

Hips, hips, hooray!

Oh my gawsh. I'm almost nervous. Did I remember to pack everything? Will I remember how to set up? And what to say? I feel like it's been so long, and I'm out of practice. Will I pull it all together? I'm sure it will all fall into place - just like riding a bike. Sheesh, it's been 10 years. I know how to do this. Still, little baby butterflies. I've been holed up here at the house too long, I guess.

And Saturday is the Antique Fantabulous at Craven Farm. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. But if you like antiques, collectibles, vintage bling, and garden junk . . . plus a bunch of cool artistico handmade stuff too, you won't want to miss this show. Save a few hours on Saturday to drive out to the country and hunt for treasure.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Goat Milk Soap

Yesterday I tried my hand at making goat milk soap. I was determined to not go the easy-peasy route and just add a little pinch of powdered goat milk to the regular recipe. That's kind of cheating. And I'm not convinced that it will make any noticeable difference in the feel of the soap. I wanted to go whole hog (or whole goat) and use the unpasturized, raw, whole goat milk. Fresh from the goat.

Yum. I hadn't ever really tried goat milk. Or at least that I can remember. It's tasty. Like liquid chevre cheese. Well, duh. That's what the goat cheese is made from. And I love that stuff. So why wouldn't I like the goat milk? I'm not a milk drinker. But I tasted a bit. Then decided that since I had way more than I could use for a batch of soap, I needed to do something with it. I'll just say that it makes a very nice mashed potato. A tiny bit tangy, and extra creamy, just like adding chevre to the potatoes, which I am wont to do sometimes. And it added a little extra yumminess in the boxed mac-n-cheese for lunch. I'm glad that I measured what I needed before I got started with the cooking and drinking, or I wouldn't have had much left over to soap with!

So the upshot. The soap turned out great. After all the warnings and complicated directions that I had read about, I decided to make is really simple on myself. No freezing the milk into little chunks and adding it to the lye for a mini science demonstration of Mt Vesuvius. I just added it in while I was mixing. So far it looks great. Gelled nicely, no streaks or mess, and has turned a pretty caramel color, which is exactly what is supposed to happen. Still in the molds this morning, so hopefully it won't end up too sticky to remove, or not get hard enough later. I think it might work out. I added a pretty scent of almond and lemon sugar together -- and it kind of smells like cake. It's making me hungry.

My most favorite things in the garden right now -- big, ripe clumps of juicy sweet pink grape tomatoes, and the sunny Black-Eyed Susans, gathered daintily around the feet of the towering tomato plants.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shea butter

I'm squeezing in some more experiment soap batches here this week. Adding ingredients and switching up recipes that are different from my standard bars. I am really strongly being drawn to some of the nutrient oils and additives. Maybe because I'm getting older and when I look in the mirror nowadays, the face that looks back is more pruney than rosey. And I've noticed dry skin in places that weren't dry before. Skin creams are great and all, but a soap that does double duty as a moisturizer? -- that's the ticket!

Ok, so shea butter is not really new to me. It's lovely stuff -- super moisturizing and rich, very light and absorbent. You can use this stuff straight, right from the jar, and many people do. I use it in all of the lip balms and my foot balm too. It's purported to be incredibly elegant when added to a soap recipe. Lots of unsaponifiable fatty acids, which means lots of leftover oils in the soap bar, making it rich, creamy and nourishing. The ideal treatment for dry and mature skin.

Yesterday I made a batch with quite a big chunk of shea butter in it, scented with that beautiful essential oil blend of bergamot, rosewood, geranium and other yummy stuff -- the fragrance that I came up with last month and sold out quickly. So far, it's gelled gorgeously and looks perfect, but it's still in the molds. Can't wait to try it. I'm hoping it's fabulous beyond words and will be a regular before the year is out.

I also did a small batch of peppermint eucalyptus soap. I've wanted to do some kind of herbal/minty thing, and have been playing around with scent combos, tweaking it a bit to find something really nice. It came out really wonderfully too. Translucent light mossy green color, the transparent gel phase was perfection. Again, still in the molds, but looking good, and I'm really anxious to see how it develops. Sometimes the essential oils will change a bit, or fade a bit. But sometimes they marry into something even better as they age a little bit. Fingers crossed.

Today is goat milk soap -- supposed to be a bit messy and persnickety. And I've just caught up on my bookeeping for the last two months. Big relief. Moving along on a few other things too, now that I'm able to focus on work again. Kitty is eating a bit more. Gaining miniscule amounts of weight and strength each day. So for the first time in a couple of weeks, I am not ferreting her out every single hour to see if she's alive, or able to eat. More big relief.

Finally, that humungous moonflower that has been amazing me all summer? Just thought you might want to see what the seed pods look like, now that they are developing. I can't remember if this turns out to be one big seed thingie, or if it becomes a pack of billions of seeds. I suppose I could look it up. But the anticipation and surprise are more fun.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


The things that make you truly happy aren't things. (or so says a billboard I saw recently . . . from a bank. indeed)

Well, we're still in limbo with the cat. I can't put into words how frustrating it is to go from a good day, to a downer day, to a fabulously hopeful great day, to really scary bad day, back to a good day.

So what else, besides the pet situation, is new? It's clear that the seasons are changing. Which should be very inspiring for me, as I begin to write my fall newsletter. Which neeeds to be done this weekend, pretty much. I can string it along for maybe a day or two into next week, but there are real deadlines here, dude. If only I could string a coherent sentence together.

As I've been bustling around the yard, tidying up and staring at the sky for long minutes, it appears as if the plants are starting to take notice that the light is fading. The mornings are darker, the evenings earlier. It's been pretty darn chilly overnight, and the windows that have been wide open for months are now being shuttered up when the sun sets. Even the scent in the air is different. It should shape up to be a nice, warm, sunny weekend, full of the final hurrah summer activities before the back-to-school onslaught. But there is no mistaking that our glorious summer is making its way out the door.

Whew! I was able to get a whole paragraph in about the weather. To be honest, I am totally fried. Haven't had enough sleep in days. Schedules all mixed up. Nothing but stress, worry, house cleaning (yes, still) and furiously trying to be productive in the little hours in between all the cat care. So I've been unable to actually write (or type) out anything focused in a few days. I've tried, but really nothing would flow. So this morning I thought to give it one more go, sort of a practice run for getting to work on the other tasks at hand.

I'm re-looking at everything in the house lately too. Do you do that when the seasons change? Start staring at the furniture and the accessories and wanting to re-decorate the whole place? I spent a chunk of time yesterday morning putting away the little beach postcards, seashells, summer doo dahs that were laying around. The fireplace mantel gets updated for each season, and it's too early for the October pumpkin theme. It's even too early for the September sunflower type stuff. But I'm going ahead and starting the transition. Maybe it's a little bare for the moment. But inspiration will strike to fill up the holes. A vase of olive branches. A new string of twinkie lights that are copper colored. Greens and golds rather than blues and whites.

Chugging along.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


This is a photo of thousands of paper lanterns which were lit and sent out over the Andaman Sea in remembrance of the tsunami victims at the first anniversary last December. Hard to believe it was more than a year and a half ago that the tragedy happened.

And it's now the 5-year anniversary of September 11th. And the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It seems that time has passed so quickly and it was oh so long ago. Yet at the same time, it all still feels so fresh and awful. I guess we never "get over" the really bad stuff. That's about as prophetic as I can get at the moment.

The kitty is back at the vet's today, for another round of tests, because she has definitely not been cured. We had a really rough night, and nobody slept. There are no answers yet. On the brink of hopeful and great despair.

I've cancelled myself at the Tacoma Market yet again tomorrow. It's worrisome and bleak, and I need to be here for care, medicine giving, small amounts of feeding, water with a syringe. Don't know about next week -- one day at a time.

And probably everyone is sick of me talking about my cat. And why I'm not showing up for anything the past week or so. So I'll just duck out for the moment and take care of the things at hand.

No weekend show this week. No big appearances anywhere. I'm quietly working behind the scenes on the fall newsletter, the new fall products, the next show at the very end of the month, the upcoming holiday preparations, and the immediate orders and necessities. It's mostly productive. And still really clean around here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The kitty is recovering. Still pretty zonked out, but getting up for food and water at her usual schedule, so that's encouraging. I forgot to mention, that the giant moonflower plant that has been producing at least one, but often two or three blooms every night for half the summer, went completely dark the night we brought her into the vet. Both nights that the cat was in the hospital, and not here, the plant had no blooms whatsoever. And Sunday night, the day she came home? FIVE gigantic blooms appeared. Cool, eh?

I made a bazillion lip balms yesterday while I was tethered here. And spent a rather embarrassing amount of time surfing the internet in between flavors. Which is actually good. Ran across some other really creative soap folks and bath stuff sites. Always inspirational. Found a few new suppliers, I think. Gathering info and prices, and imagining up new ideas for either later this year, or next year. I often don't get enough time to really do that, so it's fun.

And meandering the links, also found some truly great communities of folks in the same business. Style Bakery is a fun site which highlights hip, trendy new website and products, linking to all sorts of goodies. Found lots of great stuff there.

The Switchboards is a community of other like-minded indie creative women with business, who have formed a great little network to share information, help each other out, trade links, etc. In spending just a short time there, what a wealth of great stuff -- a wonderful resource for gals just starting out, and even me, who's been doing this for quite some time. There is always something new to learn. And with the rapidly changing world, internet, and ways of doing business -- it's great to be able to tap into what other folks are doing. The energy and enthusiasm of gals just starting out, experts in areas which I may not have much experience, and just a kick in the buns when I start to get a little too complacent with the way things are.

I found a forum for fragrance reviews, which had a couple of great insights too. I tapped into a new flavor site, and want to add a couple of seasonal flavored lip balms this year. And just generally, realized that my little world of soapmaking had gotten a little insulated -- there is really so much more out there, that I didn't even know existed. I had so much information overload and new stuff bouncing around my head last night, it was hard to sleep. But that's a good thing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Good Housekeeping

I've spent the last couple of days obsessively cleaning my house and organizing my office. Trying to give myself the illusion that I have some control over my life and surroundings, I guess. With all the hustle this summer, I had sort of let the place go to pot. So now the piles and dust bunnies are gone. And I've started a couple of projects that I had been wanting to work on, now that I had a little unexpected time off. I felt the need to be productive and proactive, rather than just wander around pathetically feeling sorry for myself.

The cat is home. She was perky and hungry when she arrived. And then slunk away to sleep like a log for hours. I'm sure she didn't sleep much at the pet hospital, and she really needed it. We had a little kerfuffle by dinner time, trying to roust her for medications and a little food or water. Got the medicine in, and she was gone. Crept out a couple times over the course of the night for a midnight snack, which is a great sign and to vomit, which is a bad sign. She is sleeping in the darkest little hiding hole she can find ever since. So it's a little up and down. I think she's on the mend, but we've got a lot of recuperating to do. One step at a time.

So I'm a little housebound. But working steadily on moving forward in every area. With no show next weekend, and my inventory all ready for the market Thursday, I can focus on other things this week.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Biting my nails

Quick check-in. My universe has been a little wonky this week.

I had to cancel my appearance at Coupeville this weekend, at the very last minute Friday night. My sweetie pie kitty -- I've mentioned her before -- has been a bit under the weather for the last couple of weeks. Up and down, but this week she got suddenly worse. In a panic, I took her into the emergency vet Friday night. I think it was the nick of time. They thought it was kidney failure and curtains. But were taking tests and wouldn't know if she would make it through the night. I couldn't just leave, I had to be here for her, and to know what the outcome was on Saturday.

Turns out to be some kind of infection, nobody knows exactly what. But she's in the hospital getting IV's of fluids and antibiotics. I've been to visit her twice today, and she's a teeny bit better, but not much. We thought she might come home tonight, but no. She needs another night of care, at least. I'm hoping I can get her home tomorrow, but it's scary, though they keep repeating that it's all treatable and she should be ok within 48-72 hours. She's older though, and completely terrified, and this is really a rough patch.

I've never quit a show at the last minute like this. Not in the entire 10 years of business. So that is weighing on me heavily too. I feel so badly about letting down the folks who were counting on seeing me there. It's a big loss of revenue too, plus the lost booth fee. But there was no choice.

* * * * * *

Next topic: the credit card fraud that I hinted at earlier. I've been targeted. Someone has hacked into somewhere and gotten my business credit card number. And through the wonders of the internet, tracked down all my other particulars. It's not so secret . . . my name, phone number, address. All are publically available, through the web site, a google search, the local phone book. And ahem, maybe this blog thingie wasn't such a great idea. It lures you inter over-sharing personal details that could come back to haunt you. (Don't ever post your birthday, or family names, or pet's names, or anything else that can be used.) In case you are still under the impression that we are anonymous individuals in a free society? A couple of clicks can get let anyone know (hello, when you graduated, where you went to school, what year you graduated etc. A few more clicks can get you almost any other record - DMV, property, marriage licenses. If they spend a few more minutes (and it's all charged to your account anyway) they may find your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your pet's name. You are toast.

These folks were focused. They tried the usual routes. The account is closed of course, but not before endless hours of frustration. Endless phone calls. Major fraud investigations going on with a big list of companies. My credit history flagged. Why? Because they set up an online account to do web calling. Overseas. And then tried to wire money to that little country, whatever they call themselves, in the Gaza strip area where the Palestinian rebels are fighting. Erm. Uuuh. !!!!!!!!!

They have now labeled me as a terrorist probably. Because in this age of fear, war, and security at all costs, people lose. All innocence is lost. Everyone is a walking target. Nobody is safe.

I used to think that the wire tapping and plugging into people's personal bank records was over the line. But if they weren't doing that? We would not have had the raid in England that shut down the latest bombing plan. And I might be an even bigger victim in the whole game. I am now fighting for my own identity and safety. As are we all.

* * * * * * *

My sister is flying to London for business. The amount of aggravation, frustration, inconvenience . . . I guess it's worthwhile if we are actually safer? I don't know. Because there is truly no way to protect yourself from it. Bombs can be made in pill casings, quarters, a set of keys the detonator. Don't they watch "Alias?" Bombs have been made in fabric and eyeglass frames. We can't all fly naked. And if it ever does get that ridiculous? "They" will always be one step ahead.

I can't even tell you how much stress, how much time was expended, how much worry, how much pure trouble the whole thing has become. And it's clearly affecting everyone. On the planet. The world has truly changed.

* * * * * * * *

So, I've been taking a little "time-out" while I deal with my personal crises. And to be honest, sharing my personal day-to-day in the blog has lost a little bit of its luster. I know, intellectually, how dangerous the internet can be. I've tried to be smart and safe in all my dealings, feeling a little bit savvy and smug about how things work in cyberspace. And still, in retrospect, anything at all can be used against you.

The alternative -- hiding under the covers and living in total fear -- is worse. I refuse to operate that way, because that's not really living.

In the 13 years I've had my cat, I've never spent a single night without her. This is night number two. Alone. The house sort of echoes with emptiness. Maybe I can take her home tomorrow. And maybe there will be another day, in the not so distant future, where I will find her dancing along the fence top again, thinking she's a squirrel, and watching the goings on. It's her favorite thing. We call it "riding the rails." And she used to leap herself up there every night right after dinner, roam the entire back fence, and sit under the tree branches, using her ears as satellite antennae to hear the birds, the squirrels, the pelting apples next door, and neighbor car doors slamming. Wah.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Juggling as fast as I can over here. Trying not to let any balls drop. Another show this weekend, big deadlines coming up, fall is approaching all too fast.

It feels a little "up a creek without a paddle" this week. And the little gears in my head are working so hard, the smoke is coming out my ears. So the blog will probably be a little sparse for the next few days as I work through this fog.

The whole place is a mess. Piles of stuff in transition. Overwhelming is the word of the day. I'm going to eat ice cream and get back to work.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Checks and Balances

The universe may not always send us what we want, but it always sends us what we need, and sometimes a little bit more to make us stronger.

-- Julia Butterfly Hill

A little topsy-turvy. Anacortes was the best sales for a show that I've done in my entire 10 years of doing business. By a lot. Which was fabulous. And scary. Because combined with the almost record-breaking Bellevue show the week before, I'm tapped out. I would really be enjoying this if I weren't fretting about how I'm going to swing the next few months. I'm so low in inventory. I've added that big Puyallup show in September, the month where I usually have pretty light shows and spend my time soapmaking like crazy in order to be prepared for the crazy-as-hell October through December Holiday rush.

Partly I'm just exhausted, and not quite recovered from the grueling marathon. But today was a huge challenge, just to get through the day.

I sold out of everything practically, and need to start from scratch this week, just to get enough inventory ready for Coupeville this weekend. I'm sure if I get a good night's sleep, it won't look quite so desperate tomorrow morning. But I'm still working through a few crises. Like the huge increase in olive oil I faced yesterday when picking up my order. The discontinuation of the tulip and pansy bags which I have had such huge success with. The end of the organza bags which make the perfect gift wrap for a single bar of soap, and have been so very popular, especially during the holidays. I haven't figured out how to work around those yet. Road blocks left and right. I can't even begin to describe all the other stuff I wrangled with today. Merchant account trouble, credit card dispute wrestling, online order circus acts, and customer service that wasn't anywhere near as helpful as it was last week.

I had to cancel the Tacoma Market this week. I'm sure nobody is really checking here. So I hope I don't disappoint too many of my loyal friends who are looking for me there this week, after two weeks away. I've never been this AWOL. Ever. And it's been 9 years at that market. I hope they still remember me. I have promised to be there next week. I have no shows the following weekend, so I shouldn't have any more crises. I'll bring whatever I can. But I will be there. I feel awful about it. But I'm just against the wall, doing the best I can to fulfill my commitments, starting with the most important ones, and working my way down.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dandelion Fluff

Whoot! Big day Friday in Anacortes. Not an actual record breaker, but up there frolicking in the tree tops. So I'm quite happy, but quite tired. And raced home to spend a few hours making up more stuff to bring for Saturday, which is usually the bigger day. Out of bags, out of sachets, out of about 8 kinds of soap, and the scraps are down to the bottom of the barrel. Ran out of there so fast last night that I didn't get to check with anybody else. I hope everyone else did great too. Money should travel around like weed seeds, floating little bits of fluff up and down the street, depositing prickers on everybody's pant leg.

I'm probably the only nitwit who drives back and forth each day to Anacortes instead of getting a hotel room and just staying up there all weekend. Well, except for the folks who live in that area. It's an hour and a half drive each way. Which is bad, but not that bad. Some people spend that much time in their cars commuting to work every day.

Since I am usually alone, I don't really like staying in hotels. I'd rather spend an hour in the car to get home, to my own kitchen and bed. And the kitty needs me. :) It's a lot more expensive too, which just takes away from your profits and bottom line. Sure gas is more expensive now, but it's still cheaper than all those meals and rooms. But probably most importantly, I never know exactly how much of any item I'm going to sell, and don't have a big enough car to take the whole damn studio over there. So every night I'm packing up re-supplies of something and re-stocking for the following day. Sometimes it's an awful lot. Sometimes I'm up for hours after I get home, tying little ribbons around another bin of lavender soap. Or making some emergency sprays because I didn't get the inventory right. Packing more little sachets up, like last weekend and again last night. So I've convinced myself that the only way to do these big shows is to commute back and forth. I know, it's dumb. Limits me from doing bigger shows, in say Idaho, Arizona or Oregon. If I had a spouse/travel companion and we could take an extra day or two, have a little adventure and fun, maybe I'd re-think this thing. Nah. Doubt it. I'm so stressed out before hand getting ready. And then I'm so exhausted and drained afterwards, that I'm not sure I'd be fit to party. So there it is.

Anyway, today I am racing home after the show ends at 6pm, so I can be back in time to run over to the lake and watch the night-time air show and fireworks display -- new this year at Seafair. They have a concert too, but it's paid admission, and starts too early, and who cares. We can see the combat plane do acrobatics with music and fireworks from almost any hilltop. And an even bigger fireworks show after that. Did I mention that fireworks are one of my most favorite things in life? They are. When I die, I am stipulating that I get blown up in a firework (well my ashes, not my whole lumpy body). I want to explode in a flash of brilliance and beauty and then get scattered in the wind. I'm pretty sure it's done from a ship too. So I don't mind my bits floating away in the ocean. I'll have to check into this. My relatives can then party on the yacht to disco tunes and drink too much. It should be great.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blue Angels

I work out of my house on Beacon Hill. If you're not familiar with it, it's the hill that begins at the cross-section of I-90 and I-5, and heads south, sandwiched between Boeing Field and Lake Washington. At this particular weekend each year, that's a pretty hopping place to be. Seafair happens this first weekend of August, with hydroplane races and air shows. Up on the hill we hear the roar of the boats, we get all kinds of fun airplanes roaring around the back yard, and we get our roofs taken off during the Blue Angels shows.

You can spout all your politically correct arguments about why the Blue Angels are 10 kinds of wrong -- from the obnoxious display of pompous military might, to the extreme waste of fuel, to the snarling traffic inconveniences and public safety issues. But when they arrive in town, screeching overhead and leaving a thunderous wake, it's heart-stopping and exhilirating. We all run out onto the lawns, climb out 2nd floor windows onto roofs, stand out in the middle of the street -- because almost all the maneuvers, circles and dives happen right over our heads, closer than anywhere else. Since we're so close to the lake, ground zero, we see it all. And as they let loose the smoke, zip off around downtown, shoot like rockets straight into the air, we can practically see the pilots gritting their teeth. Ok, slight exaggeration. But it's really low and really loud over here. And I love it.

I used to work at Seafair, so I have a special fondness for it. I worked for Gretchen's Of Course catering for years, and we did all the food concessions, VIP tents, barbeques for the pits, etc. And not to brag, but a couple of those years, I managed the whole shooting match. It was months of advance planning, about 2 weeks of solid prep, meaning 12 hour days. And then the actual weekend. I think we slept about 10 hours in 4 days, working from 4am until midnight or something ridiculous. We had our little "camp" off to the side with 2 refrigerator trucks and a couple of equipment trucks (semi trucks!), a fleet of golf carts, and hundreds of walkie talkies. Sorta made you feel important. That one year, the air show had a Harrier jet, the plane that can hover in mid-flight like a helicopter. Swooped in, stopped over the water and demonstrated a rescue maneuver, whipping up a froth of waves. Really incredible. I'll never see something like that again, probably.

Anyway, those days are long gone. And now I'm at Anacortes each year when the fun comes to town, and in Tacoma on the Thursday before. So I've been missing all the action dreadfully.

But yesterday I took the day off from Tacoma and went down to the lake to see the Blue Angel practice runs, not content to just see the drive-bys here from the house. I wanted the full-on show, the view of the white tents scattered around the park, the bustle of the pits. So me and the parents headed over in the morning, but the planers were mostly just doing wide circles, getting familiar with the geography. I took a ton of pictures, which are either blurry or look like little specs. We came home, and had lunch while they finished up, beginning to do a few formations and screeching through the back yard. The battery to my camera was dead already, after having been on high alert, zooming in and out for an hour.

The afternoon practice started promptly at 1:30pm. I raced outside to try and get a perfect photo of the underside of the plane 6 inches from my rooftop. I really wanted to post the ultimate picture for you. I got blank sky. Electric lines. A whiff of smoke. The formations were happening right over me. The racing back and forth, upside down, wheels out, the giant circles in the sky. It was breath-taking. And I didn't get a single good photo. I have excuses too. The shutter speed was too slow. The planes were too fast. The sun was in my eyes. But truthfully, every time they came around and thundered overhead, I flinched and ducked, thinking they were going to part my hair. So the picture here is the best I could do. Aaaah, but it sure was fun.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's Thursday

And I'm on my final countdown to Anacortes tomorrow. I'm in pretty good shape, but still have a full day of work ahead. I'm hoping to have lunch with the Blue Angels, who are in town for Seafair. I'll tell you all about it when I get back.

A reminder -- I will not be at the Tacoma Farmer's market today. Probably a little late for that announcement. Forgot to mention it earlier, but it's been in the calendar and I announced it last week too. And my pals Nicole and Paula, my neighbors at the market, know my schedule and have been so sweet to let people know who are looking for me there. I will be back next week. With bells on.

Yesterday was a parade of delivery men. Miki sent me an emergency box of her gorgeous crocheted washcloths. The tons of lavender arrived, bags as big as I am, perfuming my dining room at the moment. A new box of soap sacks, foot tools and soap dishes arrived too. The shea butter sailed in. Two more deliveries: some packaging samples I ordered -- tins and pump bottles to play with for Christmas stuff. They just kept stomping up to the porch and dropping off boxes with a loud thud all day. It makes me jump each time I hear it, and I have to drop everything and run up to see what showed up.

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I have to marvel at the technology -- that sets up cameras in the remotest wilds of Alaska, in rushing stream that's a favorite haunt for a gang of brown bears, and relays those round-the-clock live videos through several networks to right here in Seattle, which streams them across the internet for anyone to sit around watch. Like you are sitting on a rock out there in the middle of nowhere, bathing with bears, right from your own chair. It's fascinating.

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One more thing. A rant about all the cheaters, liars and fakers who think they can get ahead by fraud. I'm looking at Floyd Landis, who's used every excuse from "maybe it was the beer I drank" to "it's natural testosterone" (yeah, 11 times! more than normal) and now that it's been found to be synthetic testerone, is trying to skewer the lab and the UCI for leaking the results. I'm looking at Justin Gatlin, who's trying to make us believe a masseuse with a grudge snuck some testerone cream onto his legs when he wasn't looking. Hoo boy, that's a good one. And the jerk who is using my credit card number to make long distance calls over the internet. What, I'm not going to notice $30 worth of calls? Each and every day?!? And the fishy business I found in my email this morning -- I am not interested in wholesaling my soap to Nigeria, especially if it means setting up some sort of courier service, bank information, etc. Once I get over my general pissiness, and the aspirin starts working, I am pretty sure I will have to deal with some boundary issues. Questions about whether all this sharing has made me a target for predator types.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Anacortes Arts Festival

Ooops, I promised the details about the Anacortes show this weekend, so you could plan ahead.

The Anacortes Arts Festival is HUGE. One of the largest art fairs in the Pacific Northwest, with a juried fine art exhibition, over 250 juried booth artisans, two music stages, international food court and beer garden, a hands-on youth area, fiber boutique at the Depot, a fine art exhibit, a working artist area, poetry reading at the port and more. The artists booth cover 6 whole city blocks, both sides of the street and a row down the middle too. So much to see and do. It's my best show of the summer, each and every year. So I'm looking forward to another fabulous weekend.

Dates: August 4, 5, and 6
Times: Friday and Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Location: Downtown Anacortes, on Commercial Ave between the port and 10th

Soapworks Studio booth location: same spot as last year, directly in front of La Vie en Rose Bakery, near the corner of 5th street, on the West side of the street. Yum - so many breakfast goodies to choose from.

For more information, maps, directions, etc: Anacortes Arts Festival

I am bringing all the soap scrap bars I can possibly find here to the show this weekend. All the dings, dents and dropped on the pavement. All the leftover bars of discontinued frangrances. Some of the usual suspects which came out with a streak (beauty marks?) or seem a little off kilter. There will be a tub of soap seconds for sale at $1.00 each. "Come early for best selection." Ha, that means that the best ones will go fast and if you wait til Sunday afternoon, there will be just a few ugly bumpkins left.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Press 2 for Spanish

Hooray for real live customer service people at the other end of the phone line! I can't tell you how many calls I had to make yesterday. There was the credit card dispute -- someone has hijacked my number and is making web phone calls daily and charging it to me. The credit card people were so helpful and nice, and reassuring to boot. It's all handled. Then about 4 different calls to Verizon to see if I could figure out whether it is just an accounting mistake or an actual identity theft. All of them were so understanding, helpful and personable. Not automated, or cold, or disinterested. Such a revelation -- although we haven't figured out what's going on yet. And the folks at 3 different supply companies -- about late orders, back orders, order confirmations, making sure that I get the supplies I've ordered for this week in time for the coming show. I can't sell lavender sachets without the sachet bags or the lavender -- and I practically sold out of them in Bellevue. All of them were efficient and helpful. No pushing endless option buttons, listening to crappy tunes, waiting on hold for the time it takes to boil an egg. Just a friendly voice on the first ring, and a real person to help me with my issues.

Usually I'm an online person. So after dropping my jar of fabulous face cream for the umpteenth time, and cleaning up a big gob off the floor, I decided I needed to jot off a little note to the cosmetic company about how lousy their packaging is. Sure it's eye-catching and classy looking, but the lids suck and the huge-o jars don't fit on my shelf. I've never seen a more impractical jar in my life. They don't have an address or "contact" button on the web site. They have a phone number. While still on my customer service high, I decided to call. And was answered immediately by a very pleasant gal who listened to my rant, made sympathetic noises, wrote it all down and promised to share it with the marketing team. I mean she actually said a number of times that she "really promised" to pass it all on. I believe her. And again, I'm amazed. When did all this personal customer service thing happen? Hasn't it been automated phones and Muzak forever? Or little "comment" boxes on web pages that only allow 40 words, and produce a meaningless auto response, leading you to believe it all goes into the round file unnoticed? This is brand new, or more like what's old is new again. Somebody finally bought a clue, it seems. People like to have their problems handled by actual people. A voice that hears what they say and responds. And not a robot that responds, "I'm sorry that is not a valid response. Please hang up and try again."

Whee! Who else can I call and solve all the problems of the world? Do they take calls at the White House?

P.S. I think I've finally hit the Big Time -- anonymous advertisers are posting links to their shizz in my comments section. I've contemplated turning off the comments capability, since nobody seems to be interested in chatting back anyway. I could also "moderate" the comments, but that feels like baby-sitting and more time than I want to invest. But I feel a little squicky about having advertisers dumping there under stealth headings which everyone is going to click on due to natural curiosity. If you guys want to leave an occassional shout out, I'm a little giddy that anybody would want to talk back to me, so I'm going to leave it as is for now. What to do. Suggestions? Anyone? tap tap tap Hello? Is this thing on?

P.P.S. My sister tells me that the "Big Time" is really much bigger than a couple of anonymous linkers. Sigh. I'm still officially "Small Potatoes." But still. Bigger than "No Man's Land." So there. I guess I'm going to just keep an eye on the ads dealie. Please don't spoil the party by posting your massive linkage to advertising lah-de-lah in the comments section. We're just hanging out around the water cooler here. But if you want to comment on the chatter, just say hi, tell us about your own similar site or blog, that's totally cool. Make sense? Personal stuff always welcome.