Thursday, December 17, 2009

Handcrafted Christmas Gifts- some for me!!

Spoiler alert: Some of you out there will be opening these presents.
I found these at a show we did in September at LaSalle Academy.
All pieces are from the same artist. I asked her for her card, she didn't have one to give. I asked her if she had a website -'uh... no'. She told me her name and of course, I promptly forgot it. Let me tell you, it takes a lot to tear me away from my stand when I'm at a show. I have to keep fussing and moving soap around. I saw her stuff and just levitated toward her table. The weird thing is she didn't have a crowd around her. Can't explain that.
The necklace is welded glass with a vintage photo and scraps added. The cufflet is layered ribbons and scrap fabric, with pearl accents.

This Christmas doll angel is the sweetest little strange-ling. She has a little letter attached to her hand introducing her as 'Rocket.' She has real hair which is sort of off-putting at first, but perfect when you consider the tramp art mode.
I subscribe to a doll catalog and many dolls like this run in the hundreds of dollars. I paid less than a hundred, much less.
Rocket is currently gracing my mantle in the living room; up high, safe from the puppy.
The 'Unknown Artist' came over to my booth and picked up my Nag Champa soap and her eyes rolled back in her head. I love that reaction. Anyone who has a visceral response is OK in my book. She didn't buy it and afterward I thought I should have just given it to her as an homage.
Maybe I'll run into her again at a show. Maybe, she'll have been 'discovered' and I'll have to take out the checkbook to collect her stuff. I hope that happens for her- she's deserving of recognition.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Cold Outside

Getting ready for Pennsylvania winter is something I learned from experience is best done on beautiful fall afternoons. I was such a grasshopper in my younger days and ended up shivering in the cold trying to get plastic to stick to the windows, while sleet and wind played with the lawn furniture. Of course, there's always something left to do.
This morning I realized I put the ice protector upside down in the pond. The pond needs to have a hole in the ice so gases can escape that would harm the fish, while they are spending the winter in a hibernation mode. As I tried to get close enough to tug in the line, Layla pranced across the ice. It held her up exactly two seconds. She went down in the icy depths... In my drama-prone mind, I thought I should wisk her into the house and give her warm broth. I started running her up the hill, but she delightedly scampered around the snow, biting it and frisking around. The steam was coming up from her body. She is part Lab, after all. I just had to snap a photo.

Beautiful Calendula is one of my favorite herbs. It is so easy to grow, it's cheerful, most species are loaded with carotenes (vitamin A) which is great for rashes and itchy skin. Here it is finally sucumbing to the freeze on December 8.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Paying My Dues

I was supposed to go to the Farmer's Market today. I made my crunchy peanut butter and buckwheat honey sandwich. I limbered up for a day of stretching and hauling crates; punctuated by standing, talking and laughing. But the torrents of rain outside stopped me. The air temperature was just low enough to feel soggy. As I stood watching the sheets, Layla looked up at me waiting to see the day's direction. She's a puppy-- everything is just great with her.
Like so many times before, I made a choice. I weighed options and decided to stay home and make soap. And I mentally lectured myself not to torture myself and my family later with the wisdom of my choice.
Here's the rational I used to decide do I stay or do I go:
(Claudia's Voice of Rational Ego/Hell)- Hey, I PAID my dues all summer when it rained and dusted and oh yeah! how about two years ago when my tent blew over and all my soap was ruined, that might happen again... And --my van with the tempermental ignition coil probably won't start, cause it really hates dampness.
So I was thinking today while I made 16 pounds of White Tea and Ginger and 16 pounds of Toasted Coconut about... Obama.
Our young president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! This is the honor given to the individual who is beyond himself, who has transcended the ordinary in service to mankind.
It didn't take long for the talking heads to start channeling Morissey- "you just haven't earned it yet baby" The assumption being Obama hasn't put in seniority enough to deserve this prize. He hasn't suffered enough. More uppity? Or is it because he doesn't accept labels and limitations on himself. The trouble with seniority is it encourages the status quo. Protocol is stagnation. Do you have to have experiences to learn? I don't think so.
What is it about the shiny clean newcomer who hasn't got gravy stains on his tie that is annoying and makes us want to smack him down? When we feel small ourselves, we look at the world that way. Much better to be inspired, to integrate with the Hope-vibe Obama gives off.
Entitlement can take you only so far, then you have to think for yourself. Living in the moment-where the true power is (thanks homeboy Eckhart Tolle) When I mentally stack up all my past deeds and weigh them to decide today's action its like driving a car while looking in the rear view mirror. I love this metaphor cause it really shows the futility involved.
Oh, uh, speaking of motor vehicles... after a few hours of stirring, I could not stop myself from going out in the rain to see if the van turned over. It didn't. I was happy.

Steve's Cat

My friend Steve is not an animal lover.
He actually had never had a pet. The household he grew up in was animal-less. Food is expensive and should be saved for people, not furry, dirty, loud and useless animals who don't pull their own weight.
Steve is 6' 5" tall, with a wry sense of humor, a constant deadpan expression. He built his house himself and doesn't find that feat to be amazing in any way. I don't get to talk to him often. When he told me his cat story, my eyes were so full of tears I just kept blinking at him to see if there was a happy ending coming but of course he doesn't reveal that til he's ready.
Steve lives on a quiet street in a little town. He shares his home with his beloved bride, a second wife who appreciates him.
He told me last spring a little stray cat kept coming around the backyard deck. She wound around his legs and cried piteously. Something about her persistence and her lack of fear drew his attention kindly toward her.He put out bowls of milk- remembering from childhood books that was the food of choice for cats. He bought his first bag of cat food. Then he started reading the labels of the bags and eshewed corn-based products. Hooked, right?
In this way, the little stray was fed outside all summer, never staying around long. Some days she didn't appear, but Steve reasoned she was a wild creature after all, probably ate a few chipmunks that day. One day he heard a mewling and found a nest of baby cats under the deck. The little mother even carried a kitten to Steve... "to show me!", he said with amazement.
All this Nature was happening in front of him and he found it remarkable. He still didn't think of the cat as belonging to him, he was observing it, interacting with it.
Anyone who has seen the lion episode on the Nature Channel can't fail to remember what happens to unprotected baby cats. The babies were all killed by a tom cat.
This is where I verbally bellow--"Neuter your animals!"
Steve was moved beyond the clinical observation. He got it. But he didn't realize it yet.
He wrestled the lost soul into a box and took her to a highly recommended vet. He told the veterinary technicians he wanted her to be spayed " she didn't have to go through this again in the wild." They listened to him for a while, sizing him up probably.
They told him he was crazy.
"Nobody does this! This is a beautiful little cat and she is yours. We will spay her for you to take her home. To your house. Inside."
And now Steve has a cat.

Sugarloaf Herb Farm

Sugarloaf Herb Farm
Christy Matthewson Days