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... 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.

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