10… No, 12 Turkeys.

Pink Turkey ink drawing by Robynie on Etsy, $35.00 - Click to view listing.

I don’t think I’m officially qualified for days like today.  Mind you:  it’s only 7:23am and I already feel completed blindsided by all the good things and the not-so-good things in life.  Observe:

At 5:15 this morning I got a text from my coworker (and friend) that her baby had arrived an hour earlier!  She wouldn’t be in to work today.  😉  I could barely get back to sleep for the remaining 45 minutes before my alarm went off, but somehow I managed after fighting extreme joy and also a little sadness that I hadn’t quite come to terms with spending the next few months without her hanging out with me all day.  Apparently I’m 4 years old and don’t understand that being pregnant ultimately results in an actual baby.  Regardless, the happiness was way bigger so I finally snoozed until the cats were scratching the crap out of the bedroom door (which they do exactly 5 minutes before the alarm goes off).

At 6:50 this morning, my usual ‘get in the car and go’ time, I exited my apartment only to see all the CDs that had been previously stored in the car’s console were now all over the street.  Serves me right for not joining the 20th century and having a nice portable iPod.  Hmm.  And my window, which was previously stuck about 1-inch open (damn motor broke, haven’t fixed it yet but now I’ll have to) was gaping wide.  Oh good!  A stranger was in my car, rooting around, stealing stuff.  The only thing they took was was the iPod-to-Cassette adapter that boyfriend put in the car when his was hit-and-run a month back, also right outside our house.

Some people cry when they’ve been violated, some people  get angry:  I do best when I really try to see the irony in things.  “O.K., Guy (or Girl):  You got the rush of adrenalin when you broke in to my car and ruined my window, but it wasn’t like I was going to fix it anyways.  Also you had fun rooting around in the trash, food containers, and receipts I leave in my car.  Did you see that 50-lb tub of bottle caps in the backseat?  Thank you for not screwing around with that.  So basically you committed a felony for an iPod-to-cassette adapter which probably won’t even work in your car if it was made after 2001.  Then you threw my crappy CDs (all our good music is on records) all over the road in a grand gesture of frustration that there wasn’t more than trash, bottle caps and receipts in the car).  Good job, kiddo, you win the prize.”

I wasn’t even bothered on a logical level, more of a philosophical, boundaries-related level.  Anyways I’m getting renter’s insurance today because if people don’t mind smashing in to boyfriend’s car or breaking in to mine it’s only a matter of time before someone tries something even more ridiculous.  I’ll also probably get an “ADT” sticker for the door, I think that’s a deterrent, right?

So then I get to work, only after stopping at Tony’s Donuts for a creme horn and a coffee… because I was celebrating… and licking my wounds… all in one pastry.  The guy there was like “Have a great day!” and he really meant it, so in my head I thought “Yes, OK, I will, regardless,” because it had already been 50% wonderful and 50% horrible, all before the sun really rose.

And I get to work, park in my spot, and saw a meeting of turkeys (that’s the proper noun of assembly, p.s.) walking across the golf course that abuts our parking lot.  Oh!  I cut the engine so I could hear them.  They were talking, and one was making a real ruckus behind the neighbor’s fence.  I counted them as they moved across the wet asphalt, I see them walking this path sometimes in the winter but not the Spring.  They were big, adolescent turkeys:  their talons clicked against the ground and several of them rustled their feathers, wet from the morning mist.  7..8..9..10.  They made their way in to the thicker woods when all of a sudden a loud screech and the beating of wings brought two more turkeys flying over the fence to join their friends.

Because I’m a dork, and just slightly on the perimeter of believing in ‘new age stuff’ I had to search animal totems since it was such a poignant ending to such a strange morning.  Apparently, after searching several slightly sketchy web sources, the turkey reminds us that things are ever-changing, of the value of ‘having enough’ and of course, sacrifice for the greater good.  Having watched that PBS documentary about the guy who ‘imprinted’ unhatched turkeys and raised them through a year I think those big birds were just a reminder of the forward movement that we must inevitably take.  They all walk together, slowly, on an invisible path that cuts through industrial parks, golf courses and deep forest.  This morning my path was a big rocky, with ultimate highs and lows, but what else can you do except keep on walking it?

A Brief Hiatus – Based on a True Story of Music, Event Organization + Bottle Caps

Bath Salts (the band)

Hey internet, how’s it going.  I have been on a brief hiatus from posting new Etsy listings, making “Little Eye” products and being a good businesslady.  That’s okay:  the ebb and flow of the creative process shouldn’t be fought.  In fact, to do a good job sometimes you have to act like an anti-business to maintain your happiness and freshness – that’s what I’ve been doing.

What’s been keeping my hands busy:

Big Thaw applications just closed, so now begins the process of learning everything about the vendors and posting article after article online.  I love that part.  I think we’ll be doing some raffles/giveaways through the site this year and I’ll try to amp up marketing.  Anyone know anything about that?  I sure don’t!  Well actually I know a little… what I really need to know is someone on TV or someone who writes for local press.  Hook it up!

Also, I’ve been chugging away at a large wholesale order for a lovely wine and beer supply company out of Seattle, WA.  There’s nothing like filling your kitchen with a stockpile of bottle caps, washing them, poking holes in them, beading them, packaging them and shipping them to really get your heart racing!  Actually, it’s fun and totally satisfying to complete a huge order and to do it with some kind of process.  But it’s definitely taking up some serious creativity time!

Lastly, our band Bath Salts has been writing, recording, practicing songs like nuts since September.  It’s so much fun.  We just get together, make loud sounds, work until the sounds are good together, then find some people who want us to play at their venue and pack it up in the car and go there.  You can view a couple of our songs here on Bandcamp, but there’ll be about 6 more in the next coming weeks.  Check back!

Alas, Groundhog: Let’s Think of the Warmer Days

That dumb groundhog ‘saw his shadow’ although apparently he’s been ‘wrong’ 39% over the last 100 years or something like that.  Still – it’s discouraging news.  Though the winter has been mild, the mildest I can remember for a long time, I’m longing a bit for green grass, barbecues and warm, summer breezes.  Here are some pictures from last year’s Memorial Day barbecue that made me particularly happy tonight:

The Backyard: Kristina and Derek front and center

Dudes w/legs crossed

Handsome Rondo, the Wonder Dog

twilight

Monday Cat Stories: The Chase

Not actually my cat, but pretty accurate

Apparently, while JR and I were at work today there was some kind of massive cat event that took place.  I can only work backward from the clues they left, but here is as much as I know:

-I had to give both of them a bath last night.  

Giving cats a bath is simultaneously horrifying and hilarious.  They look ridiculous, but they are still really sharp at five or six major cat points.  Just five.  Hm.  I had to wash them because they’ve had a mild case of the fleas for the last couple of weeks, which subsided for awhile but they were still super itchy.  So I filled up the sink with lukewarm water and plunked cat #1 (Cash, the brown cat) in to the water.  She was shocked, but docile.  She is most hilarious when she’s wet because she’s such a tiny cat.

Yuna (the gray cat) was watching this from his food dish the entire time thinking “Ahh, yes, the brown cat is pretty dirty.  Good call.  I am sure I’ll be safe over here.  Meet me in the living room in ten for some good cuddling!”  But he was next.  And this was SCARY.  He’s HUGE and his claws are like razor-sharp velociraptor talons.  He’s basically a miniature lion, and about as dumb as an ox.  So he quickly forgets that the evil monster throwing him in a sink-full of warm water is actual his human-mommy, who loves him, and wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for a damn good reason.  The howling, screaming, wailing, thrashing, hissing, coughing that ensued was a bit much for all of us.  Eventually he was so stressed (even as I was trying to get a towel around him) that I just let him jet, soaking wet, through the apartment.  Hardwood floors be damned:  we had both had enough of each other.

I thought they forgot about it by this morning when they were happily munching on their breakfast, both of their coats fluffy and clean and free of itchies.  Until…

Fast forward to 4:30pm.  The evidence is as such:

Exhibit A:  Huge pile of papers knocked on to the floor.  Various mail, folders and receipts.

Exhibit B:  Recipe folder and all recipes strewn around the floor.

Exhibit C:  Glass vase tipped over balancing precariously on the seat of a dining char.

Exhibit D:  Potting soil spread all over floor under table.

Exhibit E:  Pennies all over kitchen floor, all the way to the sink about five feet away.

Apparently while we were out the Cat-Olympics were held in the dining section of our kitchen.  I’m guessing some kind of relay race or death-defying cat chase was the main event.

Cash, The Brown Cat

 

Or maybe they just don’t like recipes…

Yuna, The Gray Cat

Or maybe they are saving up to buy some tootsie rolls at the corner store.

Or maybe they’re just really good at holding bath-related grudges.

Hey, at least this isn’t as bad as the last Monday cat debacle

Night Farming

night farmers

Last night, on the way to band practice, I was thinking about how it’d be nice if we could live somewhere rent free.  Some people can – like live-in nannies, farm ‘apprentices’, homeless shelters.  Hm.  But not a lot of options for people with day jobs other than tilling the soil or cleaning up baby pee.  So then I was thinking if there was a kind of farm that worked at night I could do it, because I get out of work right at sunset.  Immediately I was like “Uh, no, Audrey.  No one farms at night.” …  “…wait, are there people who farm at night?”

We discussed it a little at practice.  I kept on coming up with outlandish solutions like people who harvest those fishies with the lightbulbs on their head, or during birthing season since cows don’t care if they’re giving birth during the day or at night.  Enter:  internet.

Turns out in California, it’s much better for workers to start the grape harvest in the wee hours (4am) of the morning.  The workers are less physically stressed because they are not working in extreme temperatures, they can get more done in the same amount of time, they can also work longer if they need to and the energy spent cooling the grapes to their ideal temperature is no longer spent, amounting to lots of savings for the vineyards.

So there you have it:  a practice in free association results in some kind of inspiration.  I think the best medium would be a story, maybe a children’s book, about night farmers.  I wish I could paint better, because it would also make a great painting.  Well, whatever it is I’ll be sure to share it here when I’m done.  🙂

Oh, so that’s why wine’s so cheap at Trader Joe’s!  Or not.  But I’m noticing more and more cheap wines at all the grocery stores.  Not a bad thing, unless they taste bad, then yuck.

The pictures at USA Today are pretty inspiring.  I’d like to be there when the workers are harvesting.  The article says that some places don’t even use flood lights, they use head lamps.  I think that’s more energy efficient, just as effective, and way more aesthetically pleasing.  I just get this mental picture of dozens of tiny headlamp lights in a field of grape vines.  Like little grape mines in the dark.

CATS: Even though it’s horrifying, it’s actually funny.

This is Bath Salts' logo, actually. But it's like what happened this morning.

I’m sorry, I just can’t not share the magic of my Monday morning with you today.

I’m someone who has lived with cats, by choice or not, for a good 24 years out of my total 28 years of life.  Considering the frequency of my exposure to cats, my exposure to gross cat things (i.e. fleas, tape worm, poo-poo, pee-pee, hair balls, dead animals being dragged home… the list goes on…) is pretty remarkably low.

Besides the errant hair ball or the random turd nuggest flung from the litter box in a fit of post-BM cat joy I’ve only had one major incident.  Until now.  Until this morning.

~~~

The year was 2007 and I was living in Watertown, MA with a rather large group of people in half of a house.  There were two cats there (one mine, one belonged to my roommate) and his cat was a major, ornery pain-in-the-whiskers.  She was this massive thing with a big, fat head and not the kind of big cat that is endearing, no — the kind of big cat that laid in wait to attack feet and other kitties just to pass away the fatty fat days until it’s time to go to cat heaven.  She was miserable – and my first introduction to a cat that I ‘didn’t like’ (although secretly I liked her, because for the two or three pats you could get in before she hissed at you she was still a sweet thing.  Sometimes.  Way down deep in there.  Plus I kinda pitied her…)

Anyways – I had just gotten a job at a furniture company in Framingham and I was super excited for my first day.  Not like any other job I’d had (ahem… it wasn’t in food service) I was just super psyched to not have the threat of ketchup stain and espresso machine burns FOR ONCE in my ding dang life.  So the night before my first day I laid out my outfit and hung it on the bedroom doorknob:  an angora sweater and a pretty, shimmery silk skirt that I had just gotten that holiday season.  Simple and understated, yet true to my need to wear comfy fabulous things whenever possible.

So I put the outfit on in the morning, drive the insufferable 10 miles on Route 9 out to Framingham, and spend the first half of the day kinda sniffing around – something wasn’t right.  Was it me?  Was it my new coworkers?  Was it my pits?  When was the last time I washed this sweater?  Pee-ew!  Something was subtly, horribly wrong.

Fast forward:  lunch time.  With more opportunity to investigate I found my skirt, which had been hanging on the doorknob outside of our bedroom all night, had been brutishly DEFILED by this big monster of a cat.  I didn’t even know lady cats sprayed.  I dunno, maybe she was a boy and I just didn’t know it.  In any case, I’d smelled like sickly ammonia cat pee for the first half of the day and would have to suffer it gladly for the second half.

Horrified, embarrassed, but seemingly undetected by my coworkers (it was a pretty subtle smell, surprisingly) I sat in wait until I could get the hell out of there.  P.S. if you are wondering – no, you can’t get cat piss out of silk:  you just have to throw it away.

~~~

Monday, January 2nd 2012:  A stinky start to the New Year.

Last night, I got super excited about seedlings.  It happens sometimes, and rarely at the right time in the year, but this is the closest I’ve been in a long time.  I whipped out the seed collection while JR was out-n-about (I love doing house-y things when I have the run of the place) and gleefully decided what I could start early, without confusing the hell out of the poor little plant.

We have a rocky patio outside that our landlord said we can use – most things will be growing in pots, anyways, so I decided to start my rosemary in two, small terra cotta pots (should be about two bushes by the time September gets here!)  I also started a really nice tray of habañeros and poblano peppers and cilantro.  Whoa!  Was I excited:  a south-of-the-border medley to ensure delicious, fresh salsas all summer long.

With my kitchen table full of promise for the future, I shut the lights and went to bed.

This morning, when I woke up the bed was so super comfy and the blankets and comforter so warm.  I didn’t want to get up!  So I procrastinated a little, set the alarm a couple times, had a really lazy go of it.  When I finally got up I did the usual routine:  teeth, clothes, splash splash, collect random items that migrated from the purse, breakfast.

So I go in the kitchen to get breakfast and while the rosemary pots are in tact, the tray of delicious, spicy salsa is DESTROYED.  My cats have dug in my plants before, usually in the middle of the summer when they’re on the deck and pretty easy to save.  However!  Seedlings that say they need to be 1/4″ from the surface mean exactly that – once a kitty goes digging around in there there’s little hope of that seed doing well.  In attempt to save what one of my cats (I’m pretty sure it was the gray one) obliterated I kind of tried to push the soil back where it was supposed to be, in hopes that maybe the seeds would go back with it.

OH GOD.

Cupped in my hand, within the layers of upturned soil, was a big, steamy CAT TURD.

OH MY GOD, OHMYGOD.

I was TOUCHING IT with my hand.

Apparently when I had laid out the seedling tray (of mouth-watering salsa ingredients) this big dummy thought that I was being a super-nice Cat Mom and putting together an entirely new litter box for the two of them.

He’s all like “Whoa!  You’re putting MINE on the kitchen table, Mom?  I love you so much!  Thank you!  I will poo in it now to show you how much I love it!”

I don’t normally talk to myself at home but I was carrying on big time as I ran over to the sink and began furiously washing my hands:  about 7 times or more.  As the water poured out of the tap, though, and I thought about it my swearing turned in to uncontrollable laughter.  His little feeble cat brain logic was spot-on, it was totally my fault my hands were covered in dookie right now!

So, my salsa seedlings will have to wait.  No big deal.  New Year’s resolution:  swear less, laugh more.  I think next time I’ll put them on top of the fridge…

Inspiration: Heartfelt Gifts , Playing Cards and Calendula

Calendula Salve recipe from Barnacle Bags Blog - click to view!

Beautiful, beautiful.  It’s Christmas-time and having had the very recent experience of battling crowds at our closest Toys R’ Us (and almost not surviving to tell the tale) I feel it’s very, very very (very very very) important to share the importance of giving a gift of time, effort and love over price tags + capitalism.

Every year as the crowds get crazier, and more pepper spray-ier my opinion on this matter gets stronger and stronger.  Our economy is driven almost entirely by a paradigm that seems to say “disposable is good, more is good, spending money equates status and I don’t care where this item came from, as long as it’s cheap.”  Whoa, whoa, whoa America.  Let’s take a step back!

Buying locally, from skilled tradespeople and artisans ensures there is a face and a name to go along with the product you are buying.  If there’s a problem with it, if you have a question about it, or sometimes even if you’d like to know how to make it these people are right there for you, happy to help.  Lissa, from Barnacle Bags, posted this amazing salve recipe (part 1, part 2) for her readers, even though it is a product she’ll presumably be selling.  How can she afford to do this?  Well, most of us DIY-ers turned entrepreneurs have the Achilles heel that we’re actually just super-psyched about the things we make, and want others to experience the happiness, too.  Try it next time you’re at a craft fair – ask someone about their method – usually they’ll tell you WAY more than you want to know!  Also, here’s a super-duper tutorial on playing card notebooks from Malaika at Hand-Me-Down Designs:

Playing Card Notebooks by Hand-Me-Down Designs

I get so sad when I am talking to people who are experiencing major holiday anxiety because of the pressures they’re feeling as a result of living up to ‘tradition.’  Like, they’ve married in to a family that is big in to gift-giving but said family is also really in to procreation so people are taking out big loans in December to cover their ‘tradition.’  That’s not a good tradition!  In our house, BIG Christmases were the way to go when we were growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, we’re all adults now, and have shifted our gift-giving traditions to more family and food-oriented ones.  Every year we get together and eat like crazy on Christmas Eve, special foods we don’t normally cook.  On Christmas morning we do a little gift-giving (stretch it out as long as possible!!) and then we watch some kind of family friendly movie and eat some more food + cookies we don’t normally have.  This year we’re going to add-in some song-singing because the little one (she’s 2 1/2) really loves music.  What’s more special than quality time with family?  Definitely not iPads and Xboxes, that’s for sure.

This year, almost everyone’s getting something handmade.  The money I’ve spent on Christmas presents for the whole family won’t exceed $50.00, but the time I’ve spent making everything is probably pushing 40 hours of ‘after work, TV-watching’ time.  While I know not everyone can knit or crochet, everyone has the ability to do something that someone else can’t.

Are you good at fixing cars?  Making cookies?  Babysitting pro bono?  Building bird houses?  Even if you can’t make a THING to give to someone, consider drawing up a nice ‘gift certificate’ for services you can offer your friends and family in the future.  

And, if you’re lucky enough to have enough income in your budget to really go nuts this time of year, showering out the contents of your wallet at local shops and at craft fairs giving directly to the artisan is going to do WAY MORE for your quality of life and the American economy than waiting in next year’s Black Friday lines at 4am.

If I don’t get to the bloggy-blog before the big man is shimmying down the chimney:  MERRY CHRISTMAS, internets!!

Quiet Awhile

Just sorta need to get away and get quiet for awhile.

October is so gorgeous, even in the rain, that I may just spend most of it with my back to the computer.

The Big Chill applications are now officially open.  December 3rd (a Saturday) we will all be partying big time, while selling our goods.  Why don’t you join us?

Although I have always ‘occupied’ Maine, I am not officially considering myself as doing so.  Maybe you might like to spend an hour, or two, or twenty occupying Maine as well?

Now, I’ve begun writing on (hopefully) a daily basis in a less ‘professional’ (ha ha, yeah right!) forum.  You can check out mise en place, Maine here.

Off to spend the evening playing music.  Isn’t that nice?

Peaches in the Summertime, Apples in the Fall

If I can't have the one I love, I won't have none at all

That’s the boyfriend, about two years ago, picking apples with me at Apple Acres in South Hiram, ME.  We went again, today and apropos to those “Shady Grove” lyrics, there was a bluegrass festival happening at the orchard, and the apple festival in Cornish, ME.

And it was annoying!

The more I’ve come to know myself, the more I love solitude in places that should be solitary (apple orchards, mountains, beaches) and I love streets teeming with people where they should be (cities, lines at city hall, grocery store deli counters).  So, our day trip west to the rolling hills of Hiram turned in to more of an epic walk from a satellite parking lot, a mad dash to get our apples, and a disappointing wait for apple pie in a line that snaked around the gift shop.

15 lbs. of Apples!

Enter:  good news.

The apples we bought (15 lbs give or take) were a LOT cheaper than we were anticipating – so that was good!  And we had a really excellent drive around route 160 through the hills and along the Saco river, which you really can’t shake a stick at.  And I managed to get some awesome shots of apples before my camera’s battery died:

Dangler

Bumper Crop: Everything was pick-able

Cortlands!

 

So now, a few hours later (ohh, just 11:40pm) I have an apple pie in the oven and still, an enormous bag full of apples for various sauce, butter, crisp, salad, sandwich and more purposes.  So despite the crowds and the mad dash for apples we’ve got this year’s supply in hand and have officially begun the ‘summer winding down’ process.  Although it was warm enough today for the beach, I’m already unpacking and folding my autumn sweaters for these excellent, crisp days that are coming our way.

Hiking Log: Speckled Mountain

A sunny hello to everyone!  I’ve been quite busy climbing mountains, preparing for location shoots, going on location shoots, filling orders and designing new products this week — I wanted to recap a little from last weekend.

We climbed up Speckled Mountain last weekend to kick off a series of Autumn hiking trips.  Ahh, the perfect season for sweating your way up a mountain.  As I type, I’m watching a squirrel hide something yummy in my neighbor’s flower bed.  Definitely getting colder!

Speckled Mountain is about 1.5 hours away by car, and be sure to bring $3 with you to donate/get a parking pass for the day.  The elevation is not bad at 2,906 feet, but the first hour or so of the hike is GRUELING.  I’m a good long-distance hiker, but endurance climbs over steep rocks and lots of leg-lifting is NOT my thing.  Ouch.  Once we made it past that point, though, I about stopped swearing and was able to enjoy the exercise, pace myself, and stop for delicious blueberries on the trail.

At the top of Speckled Mountain we were joined by some hungry/curious gray jays (see end of video!) that will eat out of your hand if you stand really still!  Rondo (the dog) doesn’t stand very still so that was an issue.  We were also joined by a friendly couple from Maine at the summit who just passed through, and a homophobic man and two pre-teens he had brought with him who were also fans of the other ‘f’ word and one of whom was referred to as a ‘Nancy’ when he got scared when a gray jay flew at him.  Nice parenting, guy!

As usual, the walk/run down starts out awesome until your neck starts to hurt from watching the ground and your knees start to weaken from the impact.  Don’t forget to stop for water on the way down, even though you don’t feel like you need it as much.

The hike was 8 miles covered in 6 hours (or a little less) and T and B had a crock pot full of chicken and goodness waiting when we got back to Portland.  Yessss.