Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Car is Dead. Long Live the Car.

Well, I’ve certainly had a lot of things to say about my driving habits. I’ve been influenced a lot by the car I’ve been driving for the past ten years. Ten HARD years, too.

Sally is… was…. a black Mustang convertible, with more power than was really necessary. She had flair, and style. She’s the kind of car that Satan’s wife drives when she’s going out with the girls. Good for cruising down the road with the top down, looking over at the ocean and laughing like hell while you shoot through traffic like they’re standing still.

I drove her for many miles. Nearly 225,000. I thought I was going to get a quarter million out of the old girl, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Last night she started overheating during the commute home. I pulled off the road and Jesse and the dog came to my rescue – we let her cool down, filled the radiator, and babied her back to the home lot. We poked around under the hood, which is total fakery on my part because I know nothing about cars, and decided that I’d go back to taking the train. I’d been pretty good about the train, but stopped after Bander injured himself; it was too hard to take care of him while dedicating the extra time to the commute. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you know the dog gets the top spot in my schedule. (There’s a “top dog” joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to dig it out.)

So we reasoned that I could limp my car back and forth to the train station. Just five or six miles each way. That should work for a while, right? I have some other stuff in the works that isn’t quite ready yet, and I could really use a few more months out of Mustang Sally.

Well, at 7 am the following day, I found out that both Jesse and I are stupidly optimistic. I did manage to get to the train station, and as I stood there and watched my engine billowing steam, I made a mental list of the things that are wrong with her. Poor thing.

1. Tires are bald.

2. Water pump has given up.

3. Several different fluids are leaking. I have not bothered to sort out which ones.

4. The thermostat is obviously not working. (hiss, billow, steam.)

5. The rear differential slips. A lot.

6. The transmission has developed a nervous tic.

7. The cruise control is dead. It hasn’t worked for the last hundred thousand miles.

8. You can’t roll down the driver’s side window. This makes fast food runs a horrifying ordeal.

9. The engine stutters if your speed is between 40 and 70. I solved this one by driving eighty all the time.

10. Something is odd about the suspension. I can’t put my finger on it, but it sort of feels like the right front tire might fall off one of these days pretty soon.

11. Jeez, even the wiper blades are rotted and useless.

I’ve loved Sally, I really have. But it’s been a hard life for her, and I have certainly gotten my money’s worth. As I walked away from the steaming hulk to board the train, I realized it was time.

I spent most of the morning combing through Craigslist, and shortly after lunch I became the proud owner of a Ford Explorer. Used, of course, since a car loan is NOT part of my plans. Ten years old, in fact – but it’s been a kinder ten years with whoever owned him last. He wears it well.

He’s a much bigger and more muscular guy than I’m used to, and I immediately noticed that he doesn’t corner the same way Sally did. There’s less hugging the curve and more “keep this up and I’ll tip the hell over”. The back is nice and roomy, which the dog will like. The seats are comfy. All in all, a good purchase.

I haven’t yet decided on a name. Sally was fun and flirty. This guy is more staid and conservative. So I need to find something both stuffy and referencing exploration. I’m thinking maybe Stanley, after the Welsh gentleman who trekked through scads of African jungle before uttering the famous, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Most explorers are named things like Amerigo or Ferdinand or Erik the Red and my new ride is not nearly that exotic. And a lot of explorer-type names are ill-omened. I’ve been researching this for all of ten minutes, and I’m already surprised by how often I’ve heard the phrase “sadly, he never lived to tell the tale”. Quite a number or explorers have met untimely ends by… well, by exploring, and discovering waterfalls by blundering over the edge. Or by mutinies, from crew members who were promised things like fame and fortune and are now being dragged across trackless wilderness while the leader says things like “I wonder what’s over that hill, the one in the distance?”

As usual, I digress. I’m going with either Stanley or possibly Livingstone unless one of you suggests a better name.

Oh, and a local charity group is coming to the train station tomorrow with a tow truck. I’ll be there to sign paperwork and watch her go.

Go gently, Sally. You were a good girl.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Myth Perceptions

I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine, when somehow or other we got onto the subject of fairy tales. She loves Disney, and likes the sweet fantasy of happy endings.

I’m sure you’re all terribly surprised to hear that I favor a darker approach.

Before anybody starts forming any mental pictures, I’m not a goth.

Mostly because I’m too old, and while young men and women look lovely in goth clothes (and even lovelier in steampunk garb) older ladies just look creepy.

I AM creepy, and even sinister, but I don’t see any point in dressing to advertise it.

I keep the dark side hidden. But I believe that all things have a balance, and that to have the sweet glittery fluffy cupcake, there’s also the dark and terrifying clang of the oven door. Hope it’s not too hot in there!

Anyway, I’m a lifelong fan of fairy tales and mythology of the world.

It started at an early age. Talking to my mom a few years back, she expressed regret over something she bought – a set of children’s books, from a door to door salesman. My parents were young and struggling, and had very little money, but my mom saw deep longing on my face and spent more than she should have. In remembering the incident, she said she didn’t know if the books were worth it.

What she didn’t realize, until that conversation, is how dearly I loved those books. I remember them vividly. There were fairy tales of all sorts – The Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, Aesop’s Fables, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault. To my further delight, they included 1001 Nights (the tales told by Scheherazade), extensive Greco-roman mythology, the Rudyard Kipling Jungle Books and all of the Just So Stories, all of the Alice in Wonderland books, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson….
THAT’S how you get a child with an active imagination. To this day, it’s pretty hard to mention a fairy tale or a myth and not hear my opinions and comments on the origin and meanings. I’ve added to the book collection, somewhat – it now includes The Golden Bough, Bullfinch’s Mythology, and Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces.

I love the early, truly grim versions of the classic fairy tales. They weren’t written for children – society in those days did not think of childhood the way we do, as a safe, warm, fluffy place. They were stories for the whole tribe to nod over and discuss, and they contain some damn good advice:

If you talk about fairy tales, I’m likely to have an opinion. I have so much of an opinion, as a matter of fact, that I’m going to break this down into a series because nobody, not even my nearest and dearest (I’m talking about the dog) has the patience to listen to the whole damn thing at once.
So… if you like going into the woods, if you feel sorry for the wicked witch, if you think that the Prince is late all the time and quite frankly not all that charming, come sit by the fire with me. I have a story to tell.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Say Anything Sale.

Jackie said that we should post a sale, just for our blogging buddies. (Really, did I just say blogging buddies?) So here's the deal:

Today, if you say anything silly, crazy, admit to an inner truth, reveal a veiled mysticism, deny the existence of spoons, or just say that Jessie sent you, we'll give you 10 percent off your order. That's in addition to our Etsy sale, later today. So leave a message in your order notes and we'll simply refund you the difference.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Driven to Distraction

I hate these moments.

See, most of my posts are me bitching about other people. But sometimes, dangit, I’m the problem.

A couple of weeks ago, Jesse and I had some errands that required us to rent a car – neither one of ours were suitable, or up to the task. To be quite frank, I drive an overpowered Mustang convertible with 225,000 miles on it, with bald tires and a slipping rear differential, so it’s isn’t suitable for very much but I can STILL suck your doors off while passing you in the slow lane.


We went trotting down the road to [Star Fleet's Finest] rent-a-runabout, where I had reserved a more reliable (and slower and more boring) small SUV. Everything was fine until I got to the counter and had to show my driver’s license. Which, as it turns out, is expired. It expired on my birthday, nearly four months ago.

I had never noticed.

I never get tickets because I’m sneaky and who the hell writes checks any more? It’s all about knowing to slow down before the blind hiding spots where the motorcycle cops lurk, and using the debit card.

I kept a straight face, and said, “Huh, must have left it at home. Go ahead and put it in his name, it’s just as easy.” Inside my head, I was doing more wild screaming “aaaaagh! I’m a felon! I’ve been driving around illegally for months! Wait, he’s looking. Be cool.”

So technically speaking, Jesse rented the car, and off we went.


My next thing was to figure out why I hadn’t gotten an automatic renewal. I always get an automatic renewal. So I called the DMV. Since I have to do this during office hours, there’s always a chance that I’ll get interrupted for work questions or rush projects, and the hold times are looooooong.

For several days, I did the following:
1. Phone the DMV.
2. Go through the endless menu of buttons to be pushed.
3. Get connected to the hold system.
4. Listen to the Muzak version of “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” and don’t I wish I was kidding about the song selection but I’m not.
5. Wait 45 minutes.
6. Get an incoming call.
7. Put the DMV on hold, answer the other call, and see the hold light go off because that very second was when the DMV picked up the farking phone.
8. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally I got to talk to someone.

He agreed that I should indeed be eligible for automatic renewal. He mentioned that sometimes things get lost in the mail. He explained that I would have to go to the DMV office and handle it in person. He agreed that it did, in fact, suck to be me. Then he said thank you and hung up.

Next step: Find a nearby DMV office.

This is not hard because there’s a big cloud of misery over each such office. You can see it for miles. Then I start checking hours. The DMV system here in California has an appointment feature, which is great except that you can only use it for setting times at least one month away. They list wait times at the various offices: with appointment, 3 minute wait. With no appointment, 1 hour 40 minutes.


I spent several days trying to guess a pattern, like if I scheduled my lunch at 2:15 and drove to Fullerton, could I save twenty minutes? After much watching of wait clocks, I realized that the only thing to do was to show up first thing in the morning, before the line got long.

So today, I left early for work and went to the DMV office nearest my house. Then I went inside (wait time: 1 hour. DAMMIT). While standing around feeling my life ebb away, I realized that I probably had to have my proof of insurance card. I know I’d emptied all the extra crap out of my bag lately, into my trunk, so it must be in there. I go outside and start rooting through all the bits of paper.

Guess what I found.

Go on, guess.

My updated extended driver’s license. Good until 2014.

This means I have no memory of the following things:
  1. Getting the renewal form.
  2. Completing said form.
  3. Writing a check and mailing said form, or going online and making the payment.
  4. Receiving the license.
How the hell have I forgotten FOUR steps?

Having a middle-aged brain bites.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Early Lead...

We're just about half way into the voting, and the Cherish'ers of the crazy cat calling contraption cartel are in the lead. Have we forgotten Ben and his pleas to be remembered, or is it that Jen's ex-boyfriend truly too weird to vote for?

Vote, and vote often!
Shave your beards and vote again!
Or put a fake one on, and vote again!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


You all have spoken, and the Leader of the Pack has won round three.

And Now for the biggie:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crazies Among Us, Volume III

Voting will be open until the 15th. Vote early, vote often.

In case you want 'em:
Crazy Cat Lady
Hot Dog
Leader of the Pack

On the 16th the winners from all three contests will meet in:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Common Scents

Well, it’s that time of year.

Everyone else is thinking of the dog days of summer, and the last lazy time around the swimming pool before Labor Day and me…. I’m locked in a hot hellish kitchen getting ready for the Christmas rush.

Generally, when I’m making soap, I do scent “groupings” – like if I just soaped jasmine, I’ll do gardenia and vanilla and sandalwood. They go together, see? And the four different kinds of soap sit on the curing rack together, getting along nicely. In a similar grouping, if I just did pineapple, chances are good that orange and mango are on the list.

Right now, though, you know what I’m making?


I (and by me, I mean Jesse) even added more curing racks in every nook and cranny throughout the house. And while he frantically builds shelves, I am setting up wholesale customers, taking new accounts, making custom orders, and stocking up on our own stuff. I have soap curing on just about every flat surface.

The only problem shelf is the custom order one. This contains soap batches for several different clients. It has rosemary/mint, tea tree/eucalyptus, peppermint/menthol/eucalyptus – so far, so good, although if you breathe deeply in there you don’t have to brush your teeth that morning, and your sinuses are nice and clear. But it ALSO has black raspberry, vanilla musk, pineapple/grapefruit, and ginger/lime. The two elements together are … not nice.

It smells a lot like a koala horked into a bag of Skittles.

If you wander into what used to be a walk-in pantry and is now a curing room, you will hit a wall of peppermint, pumpkin spice, cider, and sandalwood, topped off with a big batch of beer soap which is still in the early stages – stale beer funk crossed with cat pee. It takes beer soap a little while to settle down and stop smelling like a frat boy on Sunday morning, and we’re not quite there yet.

Tonight I will be making two different batches, I can’t even remember what, but I bet they smell godawful together. Probably Cranberry and North Woods – I won’t know until I get home and read the little scrawled notes I left myself.

This is the torture I put myself through for you guys.

I hope you appreciate it.

blogger templates | Make Money Online