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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Perils of Liquid Soap

I get asked for this all the time. “Why don’t you make liquid soap or body wash? Pleeeeeease?”


I don't currently make liquid soap, because ... okay, here's the story. Liquid soap gets made differently than bar soap - the chemistry is different, and you *cook* the beast, generally using a crock pot. Now, unbeknownst to me, my crock pot is hotter than the average.

So, as the glop that will eventually make soap is cooking, it boils over. And, secretly and unseen, gets between the ceramic pot and the hot metal part, soaking the insulation and the wiring.

Of course, I want to clean up after myself. So I grab a wet sponge. I am now standing on a damp floor, holding a wet sponge, with my other hand resting on the edge of a stainless steel sink, and I HAVE NOT UNPLUGGED THE CROCKPOT because I am a fargin' moron.

As it turns out, soap is a dandy conductor of electricity.

I hadn't even touched the pot yet, when I felt the oddest tingle shoot up my arm and then my brain made a noise like a bugzapper, I swear to god it did. I leapt backwards, called my husband to unplug the pot, and went into the living room to sit down and make sure I hadn't forgotten second grade or anything like that. My arm started feeling normal within several days, so I figure I'm okay.

So, I'm probably risking certain death if I make it. And I could probably only charge about six or eight bucks. I have decided that my life is worth AT LEAST a ten spot.

Nope, don’t make liquid soap. Thanks for asking!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Dog is in Charge

I’m a sucker for big brown sad eyes. That right there describes some of the more questionable decisions in my romantic life.

Here’s my dog, Bander.

He was, when we got him, the skinniest, saddest boy the shelter had. He’d been picked up in South Central Los Angeles, and was snatched at the last second from a high kill shelter. He had very nearly starved to death, and it took a while for him to be ready for adoption. By the time we met him, he was almost completely withdrawn. You can’t warehouse an animal for months on end without side effects; while the other dogs at the rescue place barked and played, he just sat and looked at the ground. I think he’d given up. But if you petted him, he’d lean against you…. I couldn’t possibly leave him there.

Now he sleeps with his head on my pillow. He’s a great dog, the sweetest boy ever, excellent with children, well behaved. He doesn’t bark too much, or dig, or counter surf, or eat shoes. He’s gained 40 pounds of muscle, and has a smile and a wag that I never thought I’d see. People stop me in the street to tell me how beautiful he is, and ask his breed.

He runs my damn life. I get up when he wants his morning walk, scoot over if he needs more leg room, and he gets the last bite of nearly everything I eat.

Between the dog and my husband, I’m putty. Somebody help me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Confessions of a Serial Crafter

A long time ago, I was gluing something. I don't even remember what, I'm a serial crafter - you know, like a serial killer, only with more beads and paint and feathers and stuff?

Anyway, I was working on the kitchen counter and spilled some ferociously strong glue, leaned forward to stop the forward edge of the puddle, and then found out I had glued the stomach area of my pants to the edge of the counter. Stuck HARD, too!

They had an elastic waistband, so I dragged a chair over with my foot and used it as a stepstool to climb out of my pants.

*That* was a long cleanup.

Gluing my pants to the furniture is not the only thing I’ve done that was bad. I’ve run the sewing machine over my thumbnail, more than once. I’ve burned myself with more hot glue than you can imagine. I’ve dunked my paintbrush in my coffee cup and then taken a big swig of paint water. My husband doesn’t help matters. Last Christmas he bought me a very nice knife set (!) because I’d never had the chance to try carving. That’s probably gonna be a bloodbath.

I made myself some sweatpants last year, bright pink with big yellow duckies on them. I don’t’ wear them outside, except for dog walks. It’s pretty funny to watch your dog pretend he’s not with you. “Lady holding the leash? Never seen her before.” He’s colorblind, and he still thinks the pants are loud.

My point – and I do have one – is that you might end up seeing and/or hearing about me making a lot of stuff. Like Martha Stewart, but with no taste or money, and of course no prison record. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The holiday season is getting started. It’s late summer, and my whole house smells like pumpkin pie. Not because I get to make pie, doggone it, but because I am making pumpkin spice soap.

Having a retail business, where you manufacture all your own products, throws the seasons ENTIRELY off. See, here’s how it works. I need to have all the Christmas products shipping from my site during November, to make sure that all shipments arrive in time. And most people start shopping early. So I’d actually better have everything up and ready by October. Which means my wholesale customers will want everything by October. Which means I have to ship to them in September. So I need to make everything in August – but I have to test the scents first. I’ll make test batches in July. So, June, I’m ordering stuff that smells like Christmas trees and cranberries.

Crazy. Now, holiday production in full swing, initial wholesale orders shipped out, re-stocks are going on, and it’s so hot outside that the concrete is sizzling and I am up to my elbows in Pumpkin Spice. The dog has bogarted the space in front of the fan, on the basis that he’s wearing a fur coat and needs it more. He hasn’t moved off the cool tile floor in six hours. My husband, lovely kind man that he is, has been bringing me cool drinks and telling me I’m insane. I am sweating like a Gatorade commercial. My shirt smells like apple cider and I have pine fragrance in my hair somewhere.

And you know what my brain is doing? It’s telling me I need to think about spring and wondering what Daffodil would be like in a soap. Easter egg pastel shades, delicate floral scents…..

I hate my brain and the things it says. I’m considering poking it with a q-tip until it shuts up.

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