Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life is a bowl

Lawdy, I've got a lot to catch up on today. I decided that I needed a day off yesterday. A full day off. No work. Like at all. Usually my days off still include a couple of little work type thingies. Even if it's email replies and paper shuffling. Or stuffing a couple of quick orders before I head out for a day of real life errands and such. But yesterday I wanted a clean break.

Well, this morning I have such a huge pile of orders, it's going to take me all day to swim through them. Tuesday I thought I had gotten the orders from the weekend out. But I guess I missed a couple that were buried on the desk in the mail I had set aside. And a few more came in, and then more in the mail yesterday, and a couple popped up on the web site this morning. And there were a couple of special custom orders that I promised for this week. And well, now it's pile. But doable and still going out this afternoon. Soap of the month club packages are going out tomorrow. I'm getting those together too.

I sweated and over-exerted out in the garden yesterday. I am working on another little section of rock wall and steps that I wanted to do. Shoveling, digging, hauling big rocks. In the record heat. I guess it wasn't the best day. But it was gorgeous out there, and it was something I had wanted to get started, so that feels good.

And I want to tell you a story that I heard from a woman at Folklife last weekend. She used to work in a commercial soap factory . . . fair warning, it's gross. But I need to spend a bit more time typing and adding links, so I'll get that posted tomorrow. Cherry-o. Have a fun day sunning and enjoying our glorious early summer out there!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another day, another tree

The cats think they are squirrels. This morning, the little one decided to follow a twitchy tail up one tree, across to another, and kept climbing higher and higher until we almost couldn't see her any more. She was on such a mission that there was no calling her down. Frolicking among the branches she started to realize that she didn't know how to come down. And since the ground below is totally covered in brambles and weeds and jungle, I couldn't get close enough to show her the way. Or catch her. But the fall would have been pretty soft - so much undergrowth to slow her down.

But we talked her through it. And a half hour later when I was finally able to grab the little mewing mess out of the lower branches, she ran off, pranced around and rolled herself silly in the catmint, just like it was any other morning and nothing had ever happened. Her sister, who had been pacing down below, and running laps in the tunnels they've made in the jungle over there, gave her a little "knucklehead" slap on the head when they were reunited. Looks like a fun summer ahead.

They've taken to lounging in the back garden on the chair cushions in the sun. And hopping the fence to watch the neighbors cats and dog. The two girls roam together, shoulder to shoulder, like a little girlie gang, making their rounds of the yards on either side of us. I'm hoping to get some work done quickly today so I can hang out with them and do some putzing in the garden later today.

The recap of Folklife is that it was incredibly disappointing as far as money goes. So I'm just fantastically relieved that the month is over. It was one long, super hard, no money, exhausting month that I can close the book on. If I think about it too much, the disappointment and discouragement would overtake me. So I won't. I'll just move on to June. No shows for a couple of weeks. Much less hectic. More time to just enjoy a little bit of summer and do other real life stuff. The poppies and peonies are in full bloom this week, it's supposed to be 86 and sunny today, and there might be a picnic for dinner - what could be better than that?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Stuck in the tree

Two cats. Got all excited by the watering of the plants and decided to run straight up the trunk, racing each other as high as they could go. And then didn't know how to turn around when the little branches started to sway and crack under the double weight. A little scrambling, a lot of grabbing and they are earthbound once again. Nutters. That was my morning before I left for the festival.

Folklife is a such a wide variety of music and sounds coming from every direction. I've never heard so many types of music. And what seems like a million people, all dressed in their their favorite funky wear -- tie dye, flowy skirts, funky hats, fairy wings, striped socks and hot pink shoes. People who are there to let loose and have fun, tap their toes or shuffle their feet or just shake their groove thing to whatever beat strikes a fancy. For one day, or a few days, they get to lose their inhibitions and do what comes naturally - leave the grown-up world at the office and be a kid again.

So it's most excellent people-watching. And great music. I wish my pretty little booth was busier, but it's an enjoyable way to spend the day anyway. We're not quite half way done. At this point it's too hard to figure out how it will end up, or why, or what happened, or whatever. So I'm just going to show up again tomorrow and smile at the passersby who are all smiling back. And drumming their fingers. And movin' to the groovin'.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another chance

The last time I participated in the Folklife festival it was 2001. That was a good year for shows. Pre- 9/11, when times were still pretty good. Nothing's been quite the same since -- shows either. I look back on those numbers and sigh.

Anyway, it's not that I haven't tried to get into Folklife. That was a fantastic show for me. The biggest amount of people and product and display, the longest days running, and the most money I'd made at a single show up to that point. So of course I tried to get in again the next year. But I was rejected. And the next year too, and the next. At some point I gave up. Rejection hurts and I felt jipped out of the jury fee I had to pay each time.

It helps to have someone you know, or someone who knows you or likes your product on the jury. I have no idea how it all works, but I know that in 2001 there was a couple who were very loyal customers of mine that were on the jury. They stopped by at another show to say that they put in a good word for me and hoped I made it. That was the year I did.

Last year I tried again. There was a new woman in charge and maybe change would be good for me. When I dropped off my products to be juried, there was such an overloaded table of soap and smelly stuff, a million other people's work already there. My heart sank, and while I hoped really hard the whole time, I was not surprised when I got the rejection letter again.

So this January I looked at the application and just about tossed it out, thinking "why bother?" But I realized there was no jury fee this time, and thought well, what do I have to lose? You can't get in if you don't try. So I trudged over. Maybe? Possibly?

And YES! I finally got accepted again this year. My friend Marissa who does such fabulous pottery stopped me at Best of the Northwest a couple of weeks ago to mention that she had been asked to be on the jury for Folklife this year. She said some very nice things and flattering stuff about me and my products. So again, it must be very important to have a pal on the jury, huh? I can't thank her enough. I'm sure there is more to it, and sales matter too since this is a commission show. But it certainly helps to have somebody on your side.

At least I get another crack at it - the elusive Folklife. And see if I can possibly come close to what I did before. I'm so much more experienced now. Wiser, more efficient, ready for all the little hassles. This is truly old hat now, and I can pack and prep shows in my sleep now. I won't need my whole family to look in on me, help me write receipts and trundle stuff over. I've got so many shows under my belt now, that nothing fazes me. Is that good? Maybe it's bad. I don't know. But I have had shows as big and bigger since then.

The one thing that will be hard to overcome in all this is my location. I could not have had a better spot in 2001. Right at the top of the walkway, near the fountain, with a gorgeous corner booth in the most well-travelled area of the whole fair. This time I'm in a little courtyard, a tad away from the beaten path. And it's not a corner either. But it's in the shade of some nice bushes, with a little open space behind it for breezes and friends to hang out in the guest chairs I brought. So it should be comfortable and pleasant, and I imagine that with 250,000 people there, at least a few will stop by :).

Snacks packed, cash box under arm, it's going to be the warmest and sunniest weather today - even if it's the slowest day. I'm off!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Final preparations

Final day before the whole Folklife festivities begin! I think I've got myself pretty much ready to go. I'm sure I'll be doing some last minute packaging as the weekend goes on. You never know exactly what will sell, what won't, what you'll need more of, etc. I expect a few hours of work in between my days over there, getting a few more soaps labelled or sachets made up. But that's fine. I'm excited to get over there and begin setting up this afternoon.

And it's the last day for orders before the long holiday weekend. I'm finishing up a few orders that need to go out today. And everything else that comes in will wait until Tuesday. I want to have my desk cleaned off by noon, bills paid, mail and packages shipped, all my emails and phone calls returned. So I'm finishing up all those little work items this morning.

What a beautiful, sunny day. The forecast this time is for dry weather - all four days! Even if it's not supposed to be really hot or very sunny, at least it will be pleasant. So it looks promising, and I'm encouraged that I might actually have a good show this time around. So even though I'm going to miss the usual barbeques and activities of the holiday weekend because I'll be working long days for the entire time, I'm especially looking forward to a little prosperity and a bit of free time on the other side of this hectic month. It's all good today.

One other note: my June Collage schedule is up on the calendar. I'll be there full-time as of June 6. We'll rearrange and set up the full display that morning, and I'll be working 4 days per month at the shop from June on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and the ong-standing tradition of the Folklife Festival here in Seattle.

It's our annual free celebration of ethnic, folk, and traditional arts activities produced by Northwest Folklife. The Folklife Festival is Seattle's unofficial leap into summer, with four days of jam-packed excitement. Artists from the Pacific Northwest along with special guests from throughout the world create an ethnic extravaganza embracing music and dance performances, visual arts and folklore exhibits, hands-on ethnic children's activities, symposia, dance and music workshops, crafts, food, imported goods, demonstrations of traditional arts, and more.

Over 250,000 people attend over the long weekend, with 25 stages and hundreds of groups performing. You can check out the schedules HERE. Admission is free, although they are asking for donations at the gates to help sponsor all the activities. There is also the Musical Instrument Makers Showcase which honors Northwest and West Coast artisans of handmade instruments. The exhibit includes music accessories and books, instrument repairers, and more. The Uncommon Market displays a wealth of folk and ethnic imported and domestic products. The International Food Village tempts the palate with 35+ booths serving delicious international cuisine. Open every day, 11:00 am to 9:30 pm.

The CRAFTS MARKETPLACE highlights crafts made by 116 of the Northwest's finest artisans. That's where I'll be. It's open from 11am-8pm on Friday-Sunday, and 11am-7pm on Monday. The artists are scattered around the International Fountain and walkway, plus the courtyards on the other side of the fountain. My little courtyard area is closest to Key Area - Alki Court. It's a little off the main path, but not tucked away in a far corner - so head over to visit me and see what's happening!

Monday, May 21, 2007


The U Dist street fair was a bust this year. Saturday was windy, blowy and occassional showers. Large crowds, but sales weren't that great. And after sitting out in the damp breeze all day, I lost my voice by the end of the day. Just a mere squeek was my response to everything.

Sunday was a solid downpour of rain and even colder temperatures. We had one hour of no precipitation all day. A big "Thank you" to the makers of Gore-Tex. I myself don't have any, but for all those crazy wonderful folks who donned their gear and came out Sunday. I have no idea why we had crowds, but we did. Smallish groups and not as willing to shop or carry bags, but neverlethess, it made the day somewhat worthwhile. All in all, however, as I said, Big Bust. Worse show I've ever had there. And I'm D.E.D. today. That's the dramatic spelling for dead. I've upgraded from a squeek to a hoarse whisper, with squeeky accompaniments. Or is that horse whisperer? Yesterday I sounded like a chipmunk, now I'm more like a horse.

It was still raining so hard, I had to leave the entire sopping wet mess in the car last night when I got home. I hated to open the doors this morning. I expected huge, creeping mounds of molds, moss and street dirt. The still-dripping bins and tarps and tablecloths have now made it into the dining room. And the rest of the day will be unpacking, cleaning off, making piles of everything that needs to be re-labelled, re-packaged, dumped, trashed or otherwise dealt with. I've got only 3 days until I'm setting up the whole lot of it over at Seattle Center for the Folklife Festival. So I can't waste time this week.

But I'm sick. Of it all, at the moment. And too tired to think. Sure, it could have been worse. We could have had the thunderstorms, lightening and possible hail they talked about. It was just rain. And lots of it. Like record breaking, I think. And I'm pretty sure most of my stuff is salvage-able. Even me. There's your bright side.

Friday, May 18, 2007

U District Street Fair

On the scale of things, having a cold is a pretty minor nuisance. But it's annoying! I haven't been sick for at least a couple of years now with anything. So I'm bummed to be slowed down by this crappy virus. Yah, yah, I should be counting my blessings for so much health - nobody is immune from everything. But the glass is half empty today. I keep spilling it over with the ridiculous clumsiness that seems to accompany this bug.

For anyone who's tried to talk with me in the last few days, for the record, I am not chatting from the bottom of my sock drawer. It's just all this snot in my head that makes my voice sound funny. And rather dumb and out of focus too.

I have no idea what is really happening at the El Stinko factory over here, because my sense of smell is kaput too. Hopefully nothing has gone terribly awry. I've tried to follow all the usual recipes, but you never know. And obviously, with no nose, there is no taste. Which explains why I was able to mindlessly down half a box of Cocoa Puffs cereal while surfing the computer. I couldn't actually taste all that sugar I was eating like a robot. But the sugar buzz later truly hurt and cannot be repeated. Yowtch.

So back to business - this weekend is the U District Street Fair. Oh my gosh, I have to keep this short. Every sentence needs to be typed about 3 times to correct mistakes. For some reason, I can't get my fingers to work this morning either.

This is the first big outdoor show of the year, and it's always very popular. Hopefully the weather won't be as bad as I've been hearing. Even so, there will be sunbreaks between the possible showers, the usual spring stuff we have around here. Here are the details:

Dates: May 19 and 20, 2007
Times: Saturday 10am-7pm and Sunday 10am-6pm
Location: University Avenue in the U district

Booth Location: Booth #339. A large corner spot on University Way, between 42nd and 43rd streets. Just a few doors down from Finn MacCool's bar, on that side of the street.
For more information: U District Street Fair

I'll have my new gift sets too. Here's the Gardener's Gift Set ($25) which is the perfect little item for all your garden loving friends - any celebrations or parties coming up? Need a hostess gift?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dead Sea Soak

I'm just starting to get a few of those pictures of the new products up on the website today.

Here are the Dead Sea Soak jars. Really cute. It's 16 oz of the most luxurious Dead Sea salts ever, in yummy flavors. If you're tempted, I'll have them at U DIst this weekend, and Folklife next weekend. That way you can skip shipping. And you might find something else you like too. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summer Newsletter

The brand-spanking new Summer Newsletter is being whisked away today to little mailboxes near and far. Just to cover all the bases, I'm re-printing it here with links to all the new stuff. The web site has been updated with all the new products, and the calendar is up-to-date with as much as I know this very minute. What is missing is the new photos. I am trying my best to get the photo shoot done in the next few days for all the new soaps, sprays, sea salts, etc. But I'm up to my eyeballs in show prep, orders and taking to the covers with a most nasty cold which is radiating pain in my sinuses. I know, TMI. I had no idea I would be hit with this snot during my busiest weeks, but I suppose I should have expected it. Life is tricky that way. Like today's weather is a good 20 degrees colder than it was yesterday and feels like winter. Here goes:

Dear Friends,

Ahhhh, SUMMER! The whole world kicks off their shoes and runs outside to bask in the warm sun, soaking up every last drop of it. Glorious bright mornings are musically enhanced with the songs of a million birds chirping happily away in the flower gardens. The soundtrack to a lazy afternoon in the cushy lounger chair is the distant hum of lawnmowers and children laughing and giggling merrily. Jazz tunes on the radio, overlapping conversations from tvs, neighbors chatting , and dogs barking as they make their nightly rounds, pepper the seemingly endless evenings. Food tastes better when it’s grilled outdoors and eaten on the patio or deck. Everyone looks sexier with a little copper glow of sun on their skin. And it seems impossible that we should ever have to head back inside when there is just so much life to be lived outside during Summer.


It’s a fact -- the only constant in life is change. Some of my favorites are sunrises, sunsets and the cycle of the seasons. Rather than resist change, I've decided to embrace it -- consciously and thoughtfully re-creating some of my products to reflect the styles and tastes of the moment, dancing in step with each changing season's special magic. These unique soaps or products are available only for the current season and are made in limited production. ($4.00 ea or 4 for $15.00)

JASMINE MINT: A marriage made in heaven, with sweetly floral jasmine blossoms paired with fresh mint leaves. It’s light, cool, and perfectly lovely – my favorite new fragrance and wonderful for summer.

BALI WOOD: Deliciously spicy tangerine, ginger, vanilla and black pepper cuddle up in a hammock with rich, exotic sandalwood. Like a Tiki hut in some Indonesian paradise, it’s warm and sultry.

BEACH HOUSE: Throw open the windows of your little beachfront cottage and let the sea spray caress your face. A gorgeous sky blue colored soap, this is a much loved favorite each Summer. Scented with delightful Pacific rain, salty sea waves, and fresh marine air notes, it’s refreshing and cool.


Just for the Summer season, I’ve added JASMINE MINT aromatic spray, a companion to the soap fragrance, and such a charming , refreshing partner for our gorgeous Northwest summers. Take one of our lovely sprays with you everywhere this season – Lavender Lemongrass and French Lavender are perfect warm weather pals too. Splash yourself and your little summer sun dresses, freshen your rooms, liven up your sheets, spritz the car seats, and squirt the dog. These are not luxuries, they’re necessities! ($ 6.00 each)

I also have the ever-popular BUGGER OFF Spray, an all-natural bug repellent that really works! Essential oils of cedar, bay, orange and eucalyptus mask your human scent and repel all kinds of irritating little critters – mosquitoes, fleas, and gnats. Safe for kids and pets, this spray works best when sprayed on clothing or bedding so the scent lingers longer. It’s clean, woodsy and pleasant to wear, with no strong citronella that keeps the people away too. Bugger Off Spray comes highly recommended and is amazingly effective. ($ 6.00 each)


Big, beautiful jars of bath salts! These rustic, chunky salts come directly from the Dead Sea. Pure, fresh salts with a mineral content that is 7 times greater than other types of sea salts, they work wonders on purifying and detoxifying, improving circulation and moisturizing skin, soaking away stress, and relaxing muscles, aches and pains. These bath salts dissolve in water almost instantly, with a lush, silky feel – no gritty bottoms, and safe for jetted and Jacuzzi tubs. What we know for sure is that when you finally drag yourself out of these glorious bath waters, you are left with unbelievably soft, silky smooth skin that seems brand new. For little foot baths or long evening soaks, these are the best bath salts I’ve ever tried. To capture the essence of summer, there is COCONUT LEMONGRASS - an exotic blend of lush coconut and warm, spicy, lemongrass breezes . TAHITIAN BLOSSOM is a profusion of sultry tropical flowers, including plumeria and hibiscus, floating in a pool of soothing green tea. PINK CITRUS LILY is a glorious fusion of refreshing pink grapefruit and lime, sensuously dancing with an elegant floral bouquet of white calla lily, orange blossom, and gardenia. (16 oz glass bottle - $8.00)


There are so many celebrations, holidays and special events during the summer season that I’ve put together a lovely array of special gift sets. The FOOT CARE SET is continued from last year, a darling little tote sack with soaking salts, a pumice and brush foot tool, and the Foot Balm ($15.00). There is a new LOVE LAVENDER set, with the ever popular Lavender sachet, French Lavender soap and spray , and Lavender lip balm in an adorable dark wood bucket ($20). And a GARDENER'S SET in the same bucket, with all the necessities for garden loving peeps – the Citrus Basil Scrub Soap, the Healing Salve, Bugger Off Spray, a super handy nail brush and a charming set of gloves ($25).


After 10 straight years, I’m not participating in the Tacoma Farmer’s Market this year. It’s been a blast and I’ll miss all my friends, but I needed to shake the dust off and try new things. I’ve joined COLLAGE, an artist’s co-op and gift shop at Carrillon Point in Kirkland. I have a full time display there and will be working a number of days there each month as well. So for everyone who has requested a local shop to run in and grab the necessities, it’s finally here!

I get so excited each year to pop up my tent and start another season of street fairs and markets because I get a chance to meet and talk to all of you. For more details on the shop and street fair schedule, including booth locations, check out the CALENDAR SECTION.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


It's 81 degrees this afternoon. SUMMER!

copper river salmon
farmer's markets
overflowing gardens
cocktails under the stars
grilling on the patio
flip flops and short skirts
floating on the lake
buzzing mowers and fresh cut grass
watermelon salads
endless blue skies
windows open all night long
fresh corn
cherry tomatoes hot off the vines
drive-in movies
outdoor concerts on the grass
bare feet on the hot sand
ferry rides just for fun
picnics for dinner

Monday, May 14, 2007

Silver Lining

My friend Kim calls it "artist lockdown." It's the few days before a big show. And in order to keep her brain focused and organized, and have the time she needs to prepare for the event, she turns off the phone and shuns the outside world, just working away frenziedly in her little studio.

I don't do that. Maybe I should. But I have a different type of business, and I need to answer the phones promptly, work on mail orders, putter around on the blog and web site. I spent last week doing all those things, and finishing up my summer newsletter (it's ready to ship out tomorrow, fingers crossed), running errands for all kinds of things. But I felt organized and ready for the show by the time I headed out the door Thursday to set it up. I didn't even need to stay up late the night before on last minute things. Instead, I relaxed with a glass of wine and went to bed early - ready to be daisy-fresh and perky for Friday's opening day.

Which turned out to be a bit disappointing as far as sales go. But I met a bunch of fun new people, caught up with old friends, adored the beautiful talents and gorgeous displays there. And forgot my camera. I seriously intended to post a few pix and encourage anyone who hadn't been there, to go, go, go. It was such a nice show.

Friday night was a wonderful little wine and cheese reception that PONCHO hosted for us artist peeps, so we all hung out afterwards and partied a bit. Such a pleasant alternative to the way shows usually go - where everyone races home to eat the same potato chips and carrot stick dinner that we got as freebie appetizers at the shindig. Anyhoo, it was really flattering to be honored by a party from such a prestigious group, and it felt special, even if it was pretty simple.

Saturday I remembered the camera. The above picture is the display garden, which featured all kinds of garden art stuffs from a lot of the artists there. But again, disappointing day, and it was supposed to be the rather largest attended day, so the grumble was getting louder - so many frustrated artists who needed to cover at least the booth fee (rather large) and were doing such a small business. A few artists were doing great, but most were wandering around idly with glum faces. And I began to get sick. By the time I raced out the door to head over to break down the Maltby show that evening, I had a sore throat and was feeling puny.

I meant to come home, post the photos, write a charming little post about how lovely the show was, etc. And instead, unloaded the car and almost fell face first into bed the first moment possible. Hoping to sleep off the little virus that was threatening to take me down. It didn't work. Up at 4:00am the next day, I was fuzzy, achey, and depressed. It was all I could do to get myself to work on time.

And then Sunday was worse yet, for sales, attendance, struggling with sniffles, and making my way through the day. Again, by the time I got the whole show loaded up and groaned the car home, I was only able to make my way straight to bed.

So today, finally, I have uploaded the photos. And they are pretty crap. But the booths, trust me, were gorgeous. And if you didn't make it to the show, you should definitely try to go next time. The stuff is really, really good. And maybe Mother's Day wasn't the best day to have an art show. Or something.

And the silver lining, is that I'm feeling a tad better, but still a bit sniffly and tired. Which is to be expected given the pace of the last week (and thinking about my schedule for the next two weeks scares the pants off me). But since I didn't sell a whole lot this week, I'm pretty much ready for U Dist this coming weekend. And can spend just a bit more time stuffing the mailing tonight, mailing it out tomorrow, working on the web site updates, and getting a jump start on what I'll need for Folklife the following weekend.

I have high hopes for the next two weekends. And high bills too. Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Shows this week

I'm at a couple of shows this week - perfect places to find great garden stuff, spring home decor and wonderful handmade gifts for Mother's Day.

Mother's Day at Maltby
Maltby Community Club
8711 - 206th Street SE, Maltby
Dates: May 8 - 12, 2007
Hours: Wed - Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm
Link: Starving Housewives

"Best of the Northwest", Northwest Crafts Alliance
This event will feature a display garden utilizing garden art, plus many of the top artists and craftspeople in the entire Northwest. This is my first time at this show and I'm so excited to be a part of it. So much great stuff to see here.

Dates: May 11, 12 and 13
Hours: 10am - 6pm, all days
Location: Hangar 27 and Magnuson Park, Sand Point Way
Admission $6 with free re-entry. Free parking!
Link: Best of the Northwest

One final note: I still have a 6 free giveaway tickets to this show. If you know you are going to the Best of the NW show this weekend, and want a free ticket to get in, call or email me quickly. Get them while they last!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes

I'm fuming today. And so I'll write a rant. This is big, the first rant I've typed on this blog since I started.

It's show organizers. Basically they don't get how hard this is for us on the other end and have no respect for the artists in their show. They are just bodies and/or booth fees and completely replaceable by the vast, huge quantity of schlock sellers out there. Or at least that's the version I've made up for them.

The story is that I'm trying desperately to finalize my show schedule for this summer. And the delay is delaying my getting the newsletter finished, printed and mailed out. Which delays any order money coming in. And makes me scared about what the summer finances will be, etc. But basically, all the notifications are late this year and I've been making dozens of calls to get answers.

Since the little vacation was timed smack in the middle of all this, I called one show a couple of days before I left to see if I could get the scoop -- in or out. They were supposed to be mailing letters the following day, and I would miss the mail while I was gone, so I thought I could just get someone on the phone with the final list. I mean it was done already, right? So they finally return the call over a week later, two days after I get back. I had gotten the letter (yay, good) in the mail by then. But when I explained the reason for my call -- newsletter, calendar, promotion, good for everybody, vacation, printer, just one day before letters went out, blah, blah -- you'd think I had asked for some royal pardon for a heinous crime. And to tack on a question about whether I could expect the same spot I've had in that show for the last 7 years? Aghast! They just couldn't possibly say. Whatever. I'm in the show, and I don't even care where the hell they put me. But I'm thinking it's my last year. The sweet old gal who used to run that show and turned it over to these rules and regulations folks would be astonished.

Then the other show that's got me even more steamed. Again, new organizers this year who have no idea how things have been handled before, only that they obviously want to turn it upside and start over. Truthfully, the show had been taking a decided downturn the last couple of years, so it needed a little fixing. But tossing out virtually all the artists who had so loyally stuck with it when times were getting bad and you couldn't fill the booths? Dumb. The show artist world is small and we like to talk to each other. Ahem, a bad reputation sticks with you forever. So to email out a slew of rude, abrupt and dismissive messages to dump out said artists? Bad. But here's the thing. I didn't get one. I'd heard all the angry rumors, waited a few days, and then left a message. No reply. Emailed. After almost a week, the gal calls me to "go over" my application. Apparently the brochure I sent along with all my contact info, my whole list of products and prices, the description of my process etc, was just too much paper to hold onto and they tossed it. So could we talk it all through by phone. We did. I gave her the web site too, for more photos and information. It would be a few days before she could run it all past the committee and let me know the middle of the following week. During vacation of course.

I got home, nothing. I called. Nothing. I called again a couple of days later. Nothing. I emailed. Nothing. The messages were getting more anxious and desperate. This is not a little summer side cash money maker. This is one of my best shows of the summer. And it's on a weekend of a million other shows that I could have done instead, but all those deadlines are long gone, the juries finished and the shows full. I know because I've called virtually every one of them. And yes, I'm still waiting several days later for some of them to call me back. Because apparently returning phone calls is something that a show organizer just doesn't think is that important. Sheesh. Isn't this a business? I can't possibly imagine delaying a phone or email response that long in my own business.

The upshot is this. I'm fuming because I heard her description of the vendors sound like a band of carnival gypsies who descend on the virtuous little town and steal all the hard-working citizen's money by selling snake oil (commercial crap). And apparently they put us all in that same pot - assumed guilty until proven innocent. No respect for full-time craftspeople. Complete disregard for how we make a living. Her version is that if you can just work these festivals for 3 months a year and make enough money for the year, why not? Um, because it's impossible. I don't know a soul who can possibly do that. Every single one of us works the entire freaking year, more than anyone with a real job, and still makes barely subsistence money. They have no clue.

The rub? I can't seem to find a replacement show. It's one of my better shows and many of my customers head over there each year especially to see me and stock up. What to do? Wait another day? Delay the whole thing further?

So I'm fuming. And writing about it. And I can guarantee that there will be show changes this year, and more next year. I'll have it tied up by tomorrow, one way or the other. The newsletter is going to the printer this week. And the mailing is going out early next week. I guess if they aren't willing to work with me, and respect my participation, loyalty, promotion and money, then we ain't doing business again. Phooooooey.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Mother's Day Baskets

Yeah, it's a little late to be announcing this . . .

But I'm working on a few custom order Mother's Day Baskets today, and decided to post a photo in case anyone else is trying to figure out at the last minute what to do for Mother's Day this Sunday. Yes, this Sunday. It's upon us.

I found some darling little cream colored wire baskets a few weeks ago, and I am making up a couple of them to mail off tomorrow for one of my very best customers in the world - she's ordered them for her mom and mother-in-law. You can too. They can be in any dollar amount. You can choose each item or I'll do all the work and pick out a nice assortment of stuff. It can be tied up in the organza wrap, or just left open. I'll include a gift card with your personal note. And it will go out ASAP Priority Mail so that it arrives in time for Sunday. But you need to think about this quick and order no later than Wednesday. Ok, maybe first thing Thursday morning if you're mailing within the Seattle area. That means before noon, please. I am so darn swamped this week with show prep that I need just a few hours advance notice, pretty please.

And after that, you'll have to come to one of the shows to get something. I'll be at two this week. All the deets on those tomorrow. I'm rushing out the door now to set up the Maltby show. But keep your calendars open for the big garden-themed extravaganza at Best of the Northwest too. It's going to be a blast!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Operative word: Lush

I know I was only away from home for less than a week, but so much happened in my garden while I was gone. It's like the whole thing exploded or something. A total jungle in the back yard, with grass about knee deep, tendrils and vines stretching their fingers out to grab whatever they can. Bleeding hearts that are bigger than Rhode Island. Peony bushes so full of buds that they've fallen on their faces in the mulch below. And the little basket filling starter plants are round chubby babies instead of scraggly twigs. It's amazing how fast things grow here in May.

After my little adventure in the dry, dusty, uninhabited desert - returning to the overwhelming lushness, the awe inspiring number of different shades of green, and the riot of blooming flowers here, everywhere you look . . . you just can NOT be bowled over by the sheer abundance of life and living stuff that surrounds us. I think it's the month of May that inspired the moniker "Emerald City."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Shards of Pottery

They have the most beautiful pottery in Mexico - bright, colorful, cheerful designs. It just makes you happy to see them all lined up on the shelves. I bought a couple of small dishes to bring home. They are pretty much decorative only, being a bit on the fragile side. But I thought I could put little things in them and brighten up my desk or bathroom. The slightly bigger, nicest one arrived home broken. I guess it was to be expected after all that mucking about with the transportation. The two smaller ones are good though, one currently holding almonds next to the computer for munchies.

I had heard that Cinco de Mayo was more of an American festival, and that we were the only dopes who spent the day swigging margaritas and eating our Americanized Mexican food. But it turns out that in Mexico it is a 3-day long affair of parties. Which comes immediately on the heels of the Dia de los Ninos (last Monday night). Every kid in the whole town was feted - streets closed, a stage with an entire evening of puppet shows, music, dancers, entertainment. Plus about 5 long tables filled to the brim with sheet cakes, tubs full of soda, baskets of candy, bags of toys. So much sugar and excitement it's a wonder the kids ever slept that night. Someone told us it was for the last day of school, but another told us that they all had school the next day and classes didn't end until June. I guess it doesn't matter. Who needs an excuse to have a good time with all the kids for one special day?

Viva Mexico. Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Underachievers unite!

It was quite a push yesterday, but I got all the phone messages returned, the emails replied to, the orders out, raced off to the work shift . . . and even a bit of laundry started. It feels like too much.

Today I started slower. Took some time to snuggle with the cats who have been so very lonely. Ate a leisurely breakfast. I was thinking that the pace I have become accustomed to is maybe a little pushy. I make these huge lists of work, obligations, committments each day, lists that are almost always unachievable. And it's often because I never even count the numerous other tasks that are just part of living. Like groceries, laundry, putting things away.

So today I'm going to just do the stuff on that invisible list that keep my life in order and balance. I have a pretty busy working weekend ahead, so since it's dark and grey, and I'm tired and woozy, I'm going to underachieve. We really push ourselves so much harder than most other folks in other countries. I'm not sure why. And maybe comparing my lifestyle to a sleepy village in Mexico isn't really fair, but it certainly gets you thinking about what the heck you're actually doing with your life.

Anyway, I'm self-employed. Which primarily means that you work twice as hard for half as much money, no paid benefits or vacations. The only perk I have is setting my own schedule. And today I'm utilizing that little perk by slowing down the gotta do this nows. There's always tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mechanical Difficulties

That's what they originally called it. Then they said it was vandalism - gum in the smoke detector, plus some other mysterious mechanical difficulties. They had to fly in a mechanic from Cabo. Then the pilots timed out and had to have a night off. Anyway the flight back from Mexico was cancelled. An overnight stay. A gorgeous resort (for some of us), a very late meal plus drinks, too short a night's rest, and many more hours in line only to find out that a stewardess just timed out. They had to fly in another gal from Cabo. Then there were problems with permits that needed special permission from the Mexican government or some nonsense, all while we were fully loaded and sitting on the tarmac. Insane. We finally left, chaos in Los Angeles with connecting flight arrangements and amazingly I have returned home.

I feel a little underwater this morning. I'm catching up a day late and it's all a bit overwhelming. Missed calls and appointments. A work shift this afternoon at Collage. I'll do what I can to get back to everyone, get a few orders on their way and generally re-orient myself. Maybe there's still a little too much desert and sand in my hair to put more thoughts into words. But it was nice to get away, and maybe nicer to get back.