Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Cupboards Are Bare

Just a quick note to anyone who has visited either of my sites lately – yes, I’m out of everything.

I know.

I’m making, curing, wrapping, whatever I can. I swear it will be back soon, whatever it is.

What's wrong with this picture? No, it's not the dog desperately trying to get in before the rain. Oh, I know - sixteen flat-rate boxes of boxes and only one box of essential oil.

And a confidential message to the lady who called today to make sure she had a custom wholesale order ready to go in a week or two – HA HA HA HA HA!

Actually, I guess I should be grateful that you didn’t call on Christmas Day. Or as I intend to call it, National Nappie Time.

To my family, who I know for a fact haunts this blog in case I say something bad about them, I really did mail your presents. They’re going to be late, of course, and they have weird soap combos because I was out of everything, so when you start to run low I’ll restock you in the middle of the year.

Mom, I know you wanted the other kind of lip balm, so I’m going to make a batch and mail it to you in the next week or so.

Try to remember who your favorite child is.

Just one day off with a cup of strong coffee and I’ll have my whole spring line planned out.

Just wait.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Light Up Your Life

I know, I keep posting about being busy and tired. But life isn’t all work and no play, even though it seems that way some times. I get to do fun stuff now and again, too. Here’s what I did that was fun last week: went to my neighborhood boat parade.

This doesn’t sound that funny unless you know that I live a good eight miles inland and the only water is in the gutter from the guy up the street washing his car. Still, we’re fairly close to the ocean and to some inland lakes and rivers, so people have boats – and they have a boat parade, with big pickup trucks and powerboats on trailers.


I’ve asked a few neighbors who’ve lived here a while, and here’s how it started. Five or six years ago, a couple of guys were sitting in the driveway at one of their houses, finishing off a case of beer, and one of them said “We oughtta have a boat parade. I gotta boat.” Then they piled into his fishing boat, and got a third buddy to drive the truck pulling them around the neighborhood while they hung on and yelled “Merry Christmas” and drank beer.

The following year, it was two or three boats. Then it was six boats, and they added lights and generators and PA systems and nobody was drunk because they planned for a week to get the lights just right. It’s the holiday season EXACTLY the way Tim the Tool Man would have done it.

Anyway, it keeps on growing. We have an odd little pocket of residential streets, on the edge of town, and none of them are through streets – you only get off the freeway here if you live here. No stores, or shortcuts to other freeways, or anything like that. Just a bunch of houses. So there aren’t any permits or official driving plans.

If you want to enter, you show up at the grammar school with your truck and your trailer and your boat and your passengers and your lights. First guy to arrive gets to lead. Some people have big boats that carry 20 people, and they throw candy and yell and wave. Some are more modest – like the El Camino this year, pulling a JetSki and a guy in a Santa suit.

I think we had 42 boats this year. There was also a marching band, and collections for Toys for Tots. It was a pretty big deal. The dog went with us to watch, so I lost count; he couldn’t decide whether it was fantastic or horrifying or just a big twinkly monster to bark at. He spent most of his time hiding behind my legs and poking his head out to bark.

I know these pictures are hard to make out, but it’s kind of rough to photograph a moving boat covered in Christmas lights with a canine assistant. You’ll have to just trust me, it’s a boat parade.

I hope your holidays have been just as entertaining so far!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm too tired to post

There are two shopping days left before the USPS deadline for mailing priority items, for Christmas delivery.

I have giant bags under my eyes. I look kinda like a bassett hound, to be honest. Two more nights of more packaging than sleeping, one last post office run, and then I should have a couple of days off for sleeping. Well, except for the day job and the last minute local orders.

I’ll be back to random complaints in a couple of days, promise!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sweet Revenge

You know what the best kind of revenge is? It's the kind that's self inflicted. Yesterday, after writing about the dog, I had the following conversation at work.

(ringing phone)
Me: Hello, this is Jackie.

Woman: Hi, this is Chirpy from Big Company That Provides Obscure Legal Services. We here at BigCo have noticed that you've recently moved your account for the XYZ Corporation from BigCo to our competitor, OtherCo, and we'd like to know if there's a reason for the change - maybe something we can improve on.

Me: Hi, Chirpy. I moved all our accounts from BigCo to OtherCo because your billing system is terrible, and I was constantly getting past due notices for services I'd cancelled, and I even got collection threats for accounts that weren't ours. So I moved all my accounts.

Chirpy: Well, I don't see any collection actions for XYZ Corporation.

Me: It doesn't matter. See, I have nothing to do with XYZ Corporation, and my name and phone number shouldn't be linked to their account. So that problem I described? You're doing it RIGHT NOW.

Chirpy: You don't recognize XYZ?

Me: No. I have hundreds of corporations to manage, but XYZ is NOT ours.

Chirpy: Sorry, I'll make a note in the file. I apologize.

Me: No problem. *click*


Five minutes pass. The phone rings.

Me: Hi, this is Jackie.

Chirpy: Hi there, I'm calling from BigCo about the ABC Corporation, and we noticed that you recently moved ....

Me: (Interrupting) Hi, Chirpy, it's me again.

Chirpy: (sadly) Oh.

Me: Guess what?

Chirpy: ABC Corporation isn't yours?

Me: Right. You're doing it again.

Chirpy: Um. Could you tell me which corporations ARE yours?

Me: Nope. See, I told BigCo over and over in writing which ones are mine, and they didn't listen. So I moved them. So it really isn't your problem any more. It's all cleared up.

Chirpy: Oh.

Me: Am I on the list for any other corporations?

Chirpy: (reading list under her breath) You're listed for the next seven, eight, nine.... *pause* Would you excuse me? I have some research to do.

Me: Yeah, it sounds like you do. Best of luck. Oh, and if you could put my number on your "do not call" list, that would be GREAT. Thanks!

I may never stop laughing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Going Walkabout

So I’ve been reading my prior posts, and it looks like I should have called my blog “A Million Little Things That Piss Me Off”. So, perhaps I’ll talk about the dog again, because he never makes me mad. Well, ALMOST never. Well, not so much mad as … cranky.

I have a very high standard of what it means to be a dog owner. You have this creature who utterly depends on you to provide a decent life, and to meet his needs. I knew about that when I was out looking for a dog to adopt, when I was selected by my current four-legged companion. (It was very clearly his choice, not ours.)

We asked a lot of questions to make sure we were compatible and could provide a good home. One thing about our house is that we do not have a yard – we live in a condo, with a small rear patio, largely covered in concrete. We told the dog rescue lady that we should have a relatively inactive dog. I’m pretty sure we used the phrase “couch potato”, because we wanted him to fit in.

She assured us that Bander was indeed a couch potato, and that we were a perfect fit. He needed a home so badly and had already started bonding with us that I’m sure she would have said anything to make it work. I think she also said he pooped Krugerrands, which turned out to be another lie.

Anyway, the things that were true were these:

1. He’s a great dog.

2. He was in desperate need of a home.

3. His house training is perfect.

As it turns out, he regards the patio as a room with no roof, so it’s a little bit too perfect. Here’s another piece of truth – couch potato is a relative term. He does sleep a lot, but he needs the rest because this dog seriously needs to be walked for MILES every day. The schedule looks something like this:

(click for a big pic)

8:30 – dog insists on walk. Husband declines.

8:32 – Husband gives in.

Lather, rinse, repeat; all day.

The schedule includes a long afternoon walk – by “long” I mean a couple of hours. When I come home at night, I walk the dog and give my husband time to inspect his blisters. After dark, we take him together around the block. The final walk of the night is generally around 11pm.

I’ve considered hiring a dog walker, but I can’t imagine what it would cost to have somebody here all damn day. Luxury for us is renting a cabin up in the mountains, that has a large fenced yard, and letting the dog run in and out all day while we lie on the couch and complain. Maybe January or so we’ll do that. Until then, I think I’ll probably solve it by... ...Whoops, gotta go. The dog wants a walk.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I’m Naturally Crabby

I spend a fair amount of time frequenting internet forums. Some are related to specific crafts, some are general interest, some are tied to selling venues. All are interesting.


I saw someone say this, not so long ago:

Well, holy hell. I had no idea that safety was directly tied to this person’s reading comprehension.

Of course, you can’t SAY “You’re an idiot, and you’re not about to follow your own advice. I know you can’t pronounce theobrama cacao and I bet you still eat chocolate.” That would start a big war and everyone would pounce on you for being mean to the person who is standing up for “natural” things.

Uh-huh. Natural, simple ingredients, with short, easy-to-pronounce names. Like “mold” and “germ” and “crap”. All short and sweet. Natural also includes death cap mushrooms, arsenic, and cobra fangs.

People who espouse this sort of crap also tend to claim they are using things like “eggnog essential oil” or “ocean rain essential oil”. I wish I was making that up, but I swear to you I’ve seen it with my own horrified eyes.

Bath and body products are not something to mess with if you are not at least willing to acquire a little scientific knowledge. If you can’t do math, won’t read up on chemistry, don’t like science, and failed organic chemistry, perhaps personal care formulation is not for you.

Is it just my natural cranky tendencies, or are these people overlooking the obvious? If you don’t like heat and can’t figure out fire, don’t blow glass. If you think electricity is caused by little demons running along the wires, don’t choose a career in electronics repair.

And if you can’t pronounce big scary words, don’t proudly announce it in a public forum.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Shout Out for Lowered Expectations

Today is my favorite day of the year. My own personal holiday that I like to call "Leftovers Day".

It's an awesome holiday.

First of all, your relatives have come and gone and you've had a little time to trash talk about each one of them. Try not to think about what they may have said about you. Today, no guests are expected, and you don't have to dress up. You can sit on the sofa all day, in sweat pants, with a bad case of bed head, and it's perfectly okay. I know there's Christmas shopping to be done, but this is why god made the internet.

Secondly, the big cooking is done - you cooked enough to feed an army, and now you have glorious leftover food. You don't have to eat the strange casserole your mother-in-law brought (mine always brings green beans mixed with a big helping of spite); you don't have to make sure the guests get the best part. Your dinner can be three kinds of pie. There are no rules.

The meal of choice at our house is a turkey sandwich. Homemade egg bread, mayo, sliced turkey breast, a little bit of stuffing, maybe some gravy mixed into it, and a generous slather of cranberry sauce.

I love holidays where nothing is expected.

Some holidays can't keep up with their PR, so they automatically suck. Like Valentine's Day. If you don't arrive at the restaurant in a carriage drawn by white mice, it's already ruined. Have to wait for a table? Bad. The object of your affection wore an ugly shirt and forgot to make reservations? Massive FAIL. It sucks, because it's just too easy to get it wrong.

New Year's Eve is another one. If you don't have a party to go to - and I mean a hall of fame, get out the bail money, par-taaaay, you're boring and you suck. At midnight, you had better be doing something that will set the tone for the entire year - like, god forbid you need to pee and can't really focus, or that they're playing a song you hate, or your shoes are pinching your feet. I like to stay home and be bored and cranky for New Year's.

But glorious Leftover Day - the only thing you're expected to do is eat things that might not be on your diet. You get to wear your old comfy sweats - the old ones where the knees got all big and baggy - and watch movies that have never ever been considered for an award, but you like them anyway.

I invite you all to celebrate Leftover Day, this year and every year. Don't make a big deal out of it, though, or you'll ruin it and I'll hate you.

pic1: tednmiki
pic2: mtsofan

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And the winner is.....

This was hard to decide, there were SO many good suggestions. If I ever have kids, you guys get to name them.

Congratulations to Tracy - it shall be named "Alabaster".

Friday, November 21, 2008

At a Loss for Words

So I made a new soap recently. Special request from a repeat customer – it’s a lovely salt bar for people who are sensitive. It has no scent and no color, but I did add a touch of silk and some coconut milk. The lather is creamy and fluffy, and the bar itself is pure white – looks like whipped cream. I’m quite pleased!Except that I can’t think of a name!

Purity – no, a fellow soaper has a bar by that name. She’s a friend of mine, too.

Simply Soap – taken, trademarked, and another person I’m on good terms with.

Snow Angel – well, that implies cold, which makes a lot of people expect minty, and this isn’t minty. It isn’t anything.

Ether – sounded good until I wrote it down, now looks stupid. Besides, it makes me think of chloroform.

Seafoam? Sounds like it ought to be green.

Wahine – Hawaiian for young girl or maiden. Hubby says it sounds like “whiny” and is too obscure.

Angel – Lush makes a bar called Angels on Bare Skin. So, nope.

Mist – ha ha, gorillas in shower caps… crap, I ruined that one.

Orphan – I’m just grasping at straws, here.

I have beat my head against my desk all afternoon, so I’m throwing this one out to you guys. I have about another week before I need to have these all labeled for shipping. Either post to my thread on Etsy, send me an e-mail, or comment here on the blog with your ideas. I’ll pick the winner – just based on my own personal preferences. If you win, I’ll send you a free bar of the nameless wonder. Ready?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What’s in a name?


My last post is a long babble about pilgrims. I’m probably not getting the right vitamins.

Well, as long as I’m going to just blab, I should probably explain some more about me. Like my name.

I make soap. It has a big hand, our logo, stamped into the bars:

People at my outdoor market used to always say “Ooooo, hand soap!” And then laugh like crazed jackals. Yes, that was HILARIOUS, much funnier than the last four zillion times I heard it!

Then they’d see my massage booth. And nod wisely, as if they now understood where the name came from, and clearly I meant the magic of healing.


I’m not that easy to figure out.

The name came from one of my earlier careers. I did close-up magic, strolling performances for street fairs, private parties, and such. I even did a tour of Japan, doing card tricks and rope tricks with a Wild West show during the Oban festival.

Now, think about the 7 of Hearts.

I realize that this sounds like complete bullshit, so here’s a tiny bit of proof:

This is my passport visa for the tour. I wandered around ritzy expensive hotels in Osaka for six weeks, snapping the ace of spades out of the air with a bullwhip. I had some other routines planned, but I had neglected an important bit – I don’t speak Japanese.

This had never occurred to either me or the promoter who booked me, because magic is largely a visual thing, but when you do card tricks you have to talk to people. To be truthful, during card tricks, 99% of the time the entertainment is in what you say, because nobody is amazed that you finish by going “Is THIS your card?”

I used to alleviate the boredom when I did strolling gigs in Vegas by stealing watches and wallets from people, then finding a dramatic way to return them. This is easier than it sounds; men in Vegas really don’t pay too much attention to some woman putting her hands all over them, and they really don’t notice when you have your hand in their pockets if your shirt is cut low enough.

This is all well and good, but I tried it once during the Japan gig and the guy thought I was a thief, because I don’t know how to say “Sir, please don’t call hotel security, I swear I am not a pickpocket, and by the way, is THIS your card?” I think since I was wearing cowboy drag, including hat, boots, spurs, and fake guns, he assumed I was one of the foreign lunatics who were running through the hotel lobby. He just took his wallet back, counted the money, glared at me, and stomped off.

Anyway, that’s where I came up with Magic Hands. I’ve been using it in various forums and incarnations around the net for quite a while now. Hubby even calls himself Mr. Hands. If we ever meet in meatspace, feel free to call me Magic.

I’ll answer.

Is this your card?

Pic 1: The Rocketeer
Pic 2: Palmea

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November Thoughts

It must be the impending Thanksgiving holiday, but for some reason I’ve been thinking about Pilgrims lately.

Did you know that the whole story about Miles Standish and John Alden competing over Priscilla Mullins was taken from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and probably isn’t true? I swear I learned about this in third grade or so, as a true story from the life of the Pilgrims. I bet a lot of other stuff I learned was a big lie, too.

Longfellow’s poetry is part of a good well rounded liberal arts education, of course, although the damn thing was written in obscure meter and vocabulary and is damn near unreadable. It probably cost thousands of dollars for me to remember it, misfile it in my memory, and have no use for it now.

"Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody."

Ah, THAT was money well spent.

I also just recently figured out that the Pilgrims and the Puritans were separate groups. There was apparently a HUGE religious divide, although they’re way to boring to figure out. I’m sure it was enormously important at the time.


When one of the most exciting groups in a story are the Calvinists, you’re not in for a rip-roaring good time.

I have some serious doubts about the big hats with the buckles, and they probably didn’t have pies. In fact, it was supposed to be a day of fasting and prayer, which in typical American fashion we have turned into a day of overeating and football.

Most of my mental images of pilgrims look like this...

...so it looks like all of grammar school was a waste of time.

Sorry, Mom.

Pilgrim Dolls from Alden Kindred of America's, Aunt Polly's Gift Shop

Friday, November 7, 2008

Public Transportation is Making Me CRANKY.

Well, of COURSE I want to be eco-friendly. I’m having my patience tested, though.

I have a day job – same company for ten years now – in Irvine. I live 60 miles away in Oceanside. Driving back and forth has always been a problem, and gas prices made it into a HUGE problem. Recently, and just in time, the City of Irvine started up a free shuttle service that will allow me to get from the train station to my office.


So now I take the train to work. To be exact:
  1. I take my car to the first train station near my house and catch a train.
  2. It takes me to a station where I switch train lines, and take another train for nearly an hour.
  3. I get off the train and take a bus.
  4. I walk for a couple of blocks.
Transit time… two hours, each way, or four hours total every bloody day. I can handle that. It’s a long time, but I can nap or read or stare out the window and actually get a little personal time.

Here is where I start to get peevish.

The first train was late today. So I got to the station just as my intended commuter train was pulling out. Leaving me, a woman built like the Hindenburg, running behind it. I was on time! I got up early! And now… no train. I waited another hour for the NEXT train, drinking nasty fast-food pseudocoffee and growling. I was very very late for work.

Also, you, sir, sitting across from me? Your Bluetooth does not include a cone of silence. Your phone is not a damn PA system, and I’d appreciate it if you quit YELLING into the damn thing. Especially since you are talking baby-talk to your apparently brain damaged spouse. Since you are in your early fifties and look a lot like Les Nessman, it is not. Appealing.

And would it KILL the Metrolink people to buy seats with padding? My tailbone is sore. I can’t get comfortable enough to nap, and I’ve been getting up a lot earlier lately.


Other than the noisy, uncomfortable, tiring, late, cranky parts, it’s fantastic.
Pic: LA Wad

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eat Fresh, buy local

There are definitely some perks about living in San Diego County. For one thing, the weather is outrageously nice, and for another, the produce is fab.

Our nearby farmer’s market recently expanded and was finally able to add some new booths, and I’m really grooving on some of the stuff we found on our last visit. I should start by saying that this trip was made Saturday, November 1.

First, we have a big table of persimmons. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I didn’t get any – I can always pick some up next week. Notice the thongs on the shopper at the right of the picture. Those of you in some frozen wasteland can curse me if you want to.

There are also some REALLY GOOD GRAPES that are still in season. I got a couple pounds of these. Yum!

I also got some fresh guavas, a few oranges, and a couple of passionfruit.

There were two other major scores for the day – some homemade jellies (apricot, plum, blackberry and fig) and tomatoes for Jesse’s secret pasta sauce. This is what our tomatoes look like, all year long.

I should have taken more money.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sleep of the Damned

I love nappie time.

I rarely get enough sleep. Actually, I don’t need a whole lot – I get pretty darn restless after about six hours and want to get up, like I’m bored lying there. I get tired and burned out, though, like anyone would, and thus my weekend treat: naps.

I like to zonk out for a couple of hours in the afternoon. My husband, a preposterously kind and indulgent man, sees my eyes glazing over at around two pm and drags me off and puts me in bed. This is always accompanied by me crankily announcing that I’m fine and I can take care of myself and I don’t WANNA lay down, even while I’m walking into walls. He ignores all this and tucks me in. And of course I really do wanna lay down, so I stop arguing eventually and drift off into a lovely, lovely nap.

There’s only one problem.

Afternoon sleeps are when my dreams really get rolling. I get virtual reality dreams, I talk in my sleep, I have horribly realistic nightmares. Beyond nightmares – I get something called sleep paralysis.

There was one episode, a few years ago, that made a lasting impression. I was alone for the afternoon, sleeping blissfully, when I heard the door open. I tried to open my eyes, but I couldn’t move – I couldn’t get up, or scream, or anything.

Someone walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed; I could feel the mattress sag under the weight. I was still unable to move.

Slowly, I felt them pull the blanket away….. I was absolutely terrified, trying to scream, and hearing only pathetic squeaks.

And then the paralysis released.

I woke up, opened my eyes, and saw (drumroll)...


Everything was perfectly normal.

The door wasn’t open, no one had come in, and the blankets were still in place.

If I hadn’t found out about sleep paralysis, it would have made a hell of a ghost story.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I have a lot of very vivid dreams (more on that to follow tomorrow). There is one unusual sort of nightmare I suffer from, and those are the ones my husband has.

Get this.

A couple of months ago, I’m lying in bed, when Jesse shakes my shoulder and says “Honey, slide out of bed RIGHT NOW – there’s a giant spider over you. Get out of the way so I can kill it!”

He makes sure I am wide awake by yanking my pillow (!) to safety while my head thuds onto the mattress and I consider what he has just said. He has my complete, undivided attention, of course – as a matter of fact, I am buck naked, wide awake, and standing in the doorway ready to make a run for it before he finishes the sentence.

I know there are those big honking orb spiders in our back yard, and I am in constant fear that one will *shudder* crawl on me and I will die from a fatal attack of the willies, so I am more than speedy at running away while he kills it to save me.

He uses the purloined pillow – which I will be expected to sleep on after this – as a weapon. (His term is “pimp hand”, because apparently I live with Snoop Dogg or something.) He’s really swinging it, whacking the holy hell out of everything on my side of the bed.

I’ve had a little time to think, while this goes on. As a matter of fact, now that I really consider it, it’s 3am and pitch black. I ask, “Honey, can you see the spider? What kind was it?”

“Um, it’s gone.”

“Okay… how did you see it in the dark? How did you know it was going to land on me?”

Slowly, using the interrogation method, I uncover the fact that he DREAMED there was a spider coming to get me. I find it very endearing that he saves me in his dreams, but on the other hand it’s 3am and I’m wide awake with kind of a headache from all the whacking sounds and the willies have arrived and I’m not sure I want to get back in bed EVER and certainly not right now.

My husband is snoring. I’d kill him, but then there wouldn’t be anybody to save me from the actual giant spiders.

Pic 1: Ivan Makarov Pic 2: Mimpy

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Daily Grind

I am way behind in posting, clearly.

I’ll try to catch up, but my day job has been hella busy.

I suppose I should be grateful about that, because there were some layoffs at my company earlier this year, so it’s not a good time to be sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

I work for a decent sized real estate developer in Orange County, California; I’m their in-house paralegal and transaction manager. I handle all the escrow closings.

Those of you who have been reading the headlines are now going “ha ha ha, WHAT escrows?” and I am compelled to agree with you. But there are some tweaks and snips to existing loans, so I’m earning my keep. Mostly.

Anyway, the day job is way too boring to blather on about. I’ll be interesting tomorrow, I promise.

Even if I have to make shit up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Don’t Mess With Sea Monkeys

I see a lot of people posting in various forums about craft shows (‘tis the season). I don’t think I’m going to do a single flipping one this year – maybe revisit my original market, but I haven’t even decided about THAT yet. I’m seeing lots of advice handed out, and I just laugh, because I’m a battle scarred veteran, baby, and what I know is that NOTHING is ever what you expect.

Here’s one example. We’d been doing a lot of regular markets, and Hubby and I were getting pretty good at marketing, display, closing the deal, etc., and we were getting pretty smug about our expertise. We got an invitation to a midweek multi-day show – and though our weekends were damn crowded, our weeks had gaping holes. So we did a little investigation, and off we went.

It was a college show, on one of the University of California campuses. I know college kids aren’t our biggest demographic, but I spoke to the organizer extensively about this, and she assured me that faculty attended the show, and that the student body had a reasonably large graduate and adult population, and that booths with similar products had historically done well.

Ok, fine. We arrived on day one, at the proper time, to a space along a lovely tree-lined walk, and set up the booth.

Next to a man selling brine shrimp.

Brine shrimp are little miracles of nature, lying dormant as eggs for years until a water supply arrives and allows them to hatch. The big deal about this, for marketing purposes, is that you can slap a bunch of brine shrimp eggs in an envelope and mail them, along with a sad little plastic aquarium thingy, which the user fills with tap water and sprinkles with the envelope of eggs. Then they pop to life as unattractive little crustaceans.

I thought they were unattractive, anyway – I clearly recall being terribly disappointed as a young Magic, because they were just nasty little nearly microscopic bug-like shrimp and all they could do was swim and dirty the tank water.

Whereas the ad on the back of my comic book had clearly shown girl Sea Monkeys in little blond bouffant wigs, kissing their husbands goodbye as the boy Sea Monkeys sped off, carrying little briefcases and wearing ties. In case you think I am lying, here are some Sea Monkey products:

I hope you notice that they have a Sea Monkey Dog as part of the family. These are all part of a kit called My First Pet, which is a lousy trick to play on a kid who probably wants something he or she can cuddle. I would also like to point out that the ads are lying, and I was completely unsuccessful in trying to train my sea monkeys to build a castle.
Anyway, my point is that Sea Monkeys are a stupid product. A stupid, stupid product. Which the man next to me was selling. His were from Hawaii – like it matters where you fill the envelope – and had a “controlled microclimate” which is just fancy Tupperware that looks vaguely aquarium-ish. And you know what? People were lined up to buy them. They were yelling and waving money like they’d just learned that Sea Monkeys could cure cancer.

Not only did nobody look at our wonderful products, they couldn’t even get close to our booth, because there was an overwhelming mob of people DEMANDING to have Sea Monkeys. It was a completely demoralizing money-sucking week.

So when you read about craft shows, take all the advice with a grain of salt. Because we’ve been at this for a long time, and we’re pretty good at it, and we STILL had our asses kicked by Sea Monkeys.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I had an incident earlier that had me all up on my high horse. Filled with righteous indignation, I was.

Ranting! And ready to post about it!

Putting the final touches on my pissed-off masterpiece!

Except that it turns out that I misunderstood, and things have been clarified, and I have nothing at all to be angry about, and now I’m slowly deflating and I have nothing to blog about. I still have the ‘tude, of course – that never leaves.

But I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I’m nearly as pissed off about the loss of my cranky manifesto as I was about the imaginary incident. Except of course that only a deranged person would be pissed off because they found out they had no reason to be pissed off, unless they had BIG PLANS on how to use the angry energy.

I think I’ve stumbled on the secret to international politics.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Husband is My Wife

Lemme ‘splain.

He takes care of the dog. He does the laundry and the dishes and the housecleaning. He has built much of our furniture, and is working on upgrading some of the existing pieces. He’s remodeling our bathroom. He bakes fabulous artisan bread. He makes my lunch and sends me off to work every day.

I, on the other hand, have a full time job with a long commute, massage clients on some weekends and evenings, and the soap business that I run in my ha ha ha free time. I’m glued to the phone and/or computer. I probably work 75-90 hours per week, every week. (I’m older than he is, too.)

So we kind of reverse the traditional husband-wife roles. When people first meet us they can’t wrap their heads around it. Hubby always introduces himself by saying “I’m a housewife.”

Ya know what? Custom furniture, clean clothes, gourmet meals… I’m telling you, everyone should have a wife. I don’t know how I ever got along without one.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cucumber Fug Update

Whadda ya know. It came out not so terrible. Not the usual aqua blue - more of a cadet blue shade, but it works fine.

I know that using those particular colorants in bath salts skews the final color toward the blue end of the spectrum, so I can only assume I escaped purple bars with green blobs by the power of the salt.

I hate relying on luck, but it saved me this time. Yay!

Cucumber Fug

So. I haven't posted since Friday, because I'm up to my garters in gators, here, trying to get ready for Christmas and making sure I've got plenty of stock. For the past couple of weekends, that has meant salt bars.

I had most of them made already. I thought today, to finish off the restocks, I'd add some Cucumber Mint. I have just enough Cucumber to blend for this batch, so I'm off to the races. I measure everything, melt the oils, dissolve the lye, line the molds, and weigh out the salt. Notice that I forgot to pull the colorant and prep it.

Cucumber Mint salt bars are aqua, with a slight green swirl. I put a swirl in because I'm a smartass. Salt bars tend to get thick quickly, and a swirl isn't the easiest thing to do, so I wanted to show off. This is always a bad sign.

I mix everything, and it's looking fine, except that I realize I didn't get the green ready, so I stop and do that. Back to my soap bucket - huh, starting to thicken. Oops, better grab the aqua.

I normally mix the aqua myself. But I'm in a hurry, and I have some premixed colors that I use for bath bombs. There's the bottle of bright blue - I grab it and dump some into the pot. Oddly, it looks a bit gray, so I add some of the green I have ready for the swirl. Still a strange color. I add more blue, but it doesn't seem to help much.

Then I realize that I have two bottles of bright blue. One of them turns pink in soap because of the pH changes. I'm pretty sure I grabbed the wrong one. So I grab the right one, and frantically add a bunch of that. My soap is getting way to thick to stir, so I add some water. Now it has lumpy parts, runny parts, pink parts, blue parts, greenish parts, and a lot of nasty gray parts.

I stir it all together - don't arm wrestle me, you'll lose - and cram it into the mold. I actually get a somewhat green swirl. It isn't level, so I slam the mold onto the counter several times, scaring the daylights out of the poor dog. It looks reasonable, so I slap it into the oven, where it is now lurking.

Colors change during the gel phase, and I won't know what this looks like until I get it sliced. I'm betting it's going to be clown puke. I'll let you know later.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No dignity

So, my dog loves Halloween. He’s positive that everyone is coming around to see him, and that that candy doesn’t have a darn thing to do with it. Every year he sits at the front door and wags his fool butt off, getting head pats from all the kids. Adults are generally afraid they’re going to lose a hand, but kids aren’t scared of him at all.

So, after the first year, to keep from freaking out the Mommies, I started putting him in a costume. Last year it was a big pair of wings and I told everybody he was a bird dog. (I thought I was hilarious.)

This year, I got him this.

Bander’s looking pretty cute in his collar, no? I got it from an Etsy shop, mias closet – check out her stuff!

She even made a special one just for him, because as you can see from the pictures my beloved boy has a BIG GIANT HEAD.

He’s totally comfortable in it, too, just hangin’ out in the yard. She just might be dressing our dogchild for every holiday.

I can’t WAIT for people to come to our house.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cool Hand Twitter

So, an Etsy friend of mine (you know who you are, yes, I mean YOU) has invited me to join Twitter so she can track my daily activities. I am seven different kinds of confused by the whole thing.

First of all, my day job, damn them, keeps me from getting directly to Twitter, so I’d have to post by sending messages to my husband via e-mail so he could post. (Don’t laugh, that’s how we handle the blog.) We’re operating a very short step above carrier pigeons, here.

Secondly, I am not all that interesting, and I spend oodles of time doing the same things, day in and day out. I have a long train ride to a desk job and a long train ride home, so my schedule looks like this:

7:00 a.m. – getting on the train
7:30 a.m. – on the train
8:00 a.m. – still on the train
8:30 a.m. – STILL on the train
8:35 a.m. – on the bus
9:00 a.m. – sitting at my desk
9:30 a.m. – still sitting at my desk
10:00 a.m. – would you be surprised to hear that I’m still at my desk?
10:30 a.m. – pouring a cup of coffee
11:00 a.m. – back at my desk

I was going to type out the whole thing, but it makes me painfully bored. Let’s just say that there are another six hours at the desk, and more time on the train. If I had to keep admitting, repeatedly and publicly, that my life was that boring, I’d hang myself.

Thirdly, during a recent evening at home, post-train, while I was running around making soap, Jesse was watching Cool Hand Luke. So thinking of Twitter makes me flash back to the chain gang scenes, like this:

7:00 a.m. – getting on the train here, Boss
7:30 a.m. – riding on the train here, Boss
8:00 a.m. – still on the train here, Boss

Yeah, it actually translates pretty well. Depressing, right? I might not Twitter just yet, because I’m too busy at the moment to make up a whole list of glamorous stuff I’m not really doing. (8:30 – board private jet bound for Monaco.)

Twitter: Admitting to the entire world that your life is like prison time!

"Post this please, boss."

"Posted the post, Boss."

"Hey, Who's in charge here?"

"I don't know, boss."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fire Update

Looks like we're out of the woods. The fire has been pushed back from the city edge and is burning back on previously burned areas - last news reports had it as 25% contained, but that was a while ago, so it's probably better now. There's a lot less smoke than we had earlier.

I like my house, I really do. When we bought it, I looked out over the empty land and thought "cool, we have so much open space!". I never thought "wow, I bet wildfires rip across that really fast." Funny how hindsight works.

Anyway. A big shout out and thank you to the people who sent along well wishes. We appreciate it a lot.

Now I'm off to make salt bars.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Even Iller

I spoke too soon. My mom called earlier today and asked if we were anywhere near the fires. I said no.

I lied.

A new fire has broken out on Camp Pendleton. These pics were taken from my backyard, about an hour after the fire started. It was 100 acres then.

Now it’s roughly 1000 acres, split into two heads. My husband, Jesse, has been checking Google Earth, and he says the fire is about three miles away. That’s good news to me, because it looks like I could toast marshmallows if I had a slightly longer stick.

I probably won’t be headed to my day job tomorrow, because I’m going to sit up all night and make sure we know what to take when we evacuate this time.

The same thing we took LAST year.

October in San Diego bites.

An Ill Wind

The Santa Ana winds are blowing today, and I am miserable.

For those of you who live in different areas, and have never experienced the joy of this weather, let me describe it. It’s a hot, dry, very intense windstorm. High pressure channels wind across the desert, where the moisture is sucked out, then down the mountains, where they pick up speed and get compressed so they get nice and hot. Then this hot dry demonic gust heads straight for me and turns my contacts into cornflakes.

It’s like standing in front of a big giant blowdryer for 72 hours or so.

The section of the desert it crosses must contain something I’m allergic to, because in addition to the crazy hair, parched lips and crispy contact lenses everyone else gets, I also get sinus problems and wild sneezing fits. And my head hurts.

I suppose it could be a cold. I haven’t had a head cold for five or six years now, so I have one coming. I’ve taken drugs to try and compensate, but they’re not working, except to sedate any brain cells I had left. There’s a shower room here at the office that has a nice armchair. Maybe I can lock myself in and take a nap. Hmmm…. I’m going to go hunt down a blankie. I’ll see you all later.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tell Me Where It Hurts

In addition to the other things, I’m a massage therapist. I specialize in deep tissue work. That means I do the kind of massage that feels AWFUL while I’m at it, but when I finish you feel a whole lot better for a couple of weeks. Most of my clients are people with chronic pain issues. I usually see them regularly, trying to undo a lifetime of knots. (Just a quick tip here – if you just spent the last thirty years making sure your neck is horribly jacked up, it will probably take me more than one hour to fix it. I’m good, but there are limits.)

It’s a wild and underappreciated skill to be a hands-on healer. I’m hesitant to make claims I can’t back up, or to guarantee results. There are times you want to be in the hands of a good surgeon, and I’ll never advocate a massage as an alternative to appropriate medical care. I’m keenly aware of my boundaries and limits. Within those parameters, though, I’m a freaking miracle worker.

I can take away pain. I can fix that limp you’ve been noticing. In an extreme case, I saw a woman last year, for a single session, who complained of constant migraine-level tension headaches. I haven’t seen her since, because she hasn’t had a headache for a year. Apparently I cured her.

(It doesn’t always work that way. Some people I can’t help; or, most likely, I can ease muscle tension for a few days, and make them feel better for a while. It’s still totally worth it.)

It’s a strange and lovely calling. The power of touch is amazing. Make a point of touching somebody today, would you?

Tell them I sent you.

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