Friday, February 22, 2008

Give Away at O&L

We're hosting a give away at the new blog. Follow the link for your chance at a goodie packet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Originality, communication, and other issues

I woke this morning, feeling troubled. One of my favorite lists erupted yesterday, with some comments becoming heated, others placating, and leaving the sour taste of behind-the-scenes conversation. It's so difficult, this flatness of the written word, coupled with the eagerness to get out there, to communicate with others of a like mind, the need to drink in a feeling of community, and the wish to feel we are part of something, we share and share alike, and it is appreciated.

Frankly, I'm ignorant of the ways of those who steal other's ideas and pawn them off as their own. I don't understand the jealousy that is sometimes generated by the creation of a stupendously, movingly, beautiful piece of art. I mean, I know it's out there - I know that the theft of ideas, patterns, formulas, and that horrible jealousy of others' original thought DOES occur - but I have always, always believed that there are more who are appreciative than jealous, more who are giving than taking, and I get blind-sided every time this kind of issue occurs. I find such joy just knowing that I live in the same world where someone can create such beauty, how could I turn it ugly with jealousy and competition?

It's happened to me in the past, I know. It happened a lot, both during the establishment of my soapmaking business and the opening of our brick & mortar store in 2001. Although I will probably never forget the woman who had the store next to ours, the one who paraded around town as some sort of lost southern socialite, and announced to our mutual customers that she knew for a fact that I didn't make my soaps, and she had located the maker of the soaps and was also carrying the same ones, I don't expect people to act like that. That one shop owner alone "got" me a couple of times, hurt me severely, and deliberately went out of her way to impact my business. The same is true of another shop owner in that small town. Despite the wild and varied number of gift supply sources, he would come under the guise of friendship and commiseration, and then "lift" the sources I had worked so hard to find. It was so unexpected to me, that it felt as though I'd been thumped in the back, had the wind knocked right out of me, and then I felt further betrayed when I found that the town's regular customers had lined up and taken sides. It was ugly. It convinced me that I wasn't cut out for retail work, and it broke my heart. I thought I was making a difference, that I was providing joy and hope and outlets for artists - and I was - but that angered some people.

What causes the kind of heart in that fellow shop-owner that, when asked "Isn't this store beautiful?" the response is "YES! And it makes me sick!" followed by storming out the door? How in the world can you create beauty, set a lovely table, make a window vignette, when your soul is cancered with jealousy? And when you do your best to copy that neighboring vignette, right down to the cluster of tea cups on ribbons suspended in the window, do you really feel any joy over what you've created? Is your sole source of joy that little voice that says "I showed HER! I made something that looks exactly the same, she thinks she's so smart..."?

So now I find that this occurs in some quarters of the online art world as well. The tempests have been there before, and I've known of them, but I forget them. My heart wants to believe that those creativity thieves, those who have nothing original of their own to claim, are an infinitesimally small minority...and once again, the tempests, and the name calling and the soul scorching catches me by surprise and leaves me saddened.

As an aside, I know the friendship manipulators are out there too. I saw it way back when I was a sysop for INN - the people who pretend to be someone or something they are not, the people who stir the pot and sit back and watch the cat-fight. I know they are out there, but I also believe you can only hide your true nature for so long, and that your personality does come out in your writing eventually, and so I will continue to hope for the best in the development of my cyber pen-pals, as well.

I believe in online friendships, and support, and community, and a meeting of the minds. I think that all we can generate and create is magnified by a meeting of the minds, and I hunger for those meetings. I want to believe the best in people, no matter how many times I'm proven wrong, or I swear my soul will fry and wither. I don't want to waken feeling this saddened again; I will focus on the beauty and joy and thought-provoking discussions I've found, and do my best to nourish and support.

PS - See my reading list there, off to the right? Read Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, and remind yourself of all the things that are wonderful about real girlfriends.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Apothecary jars - a birthday gift from my daughter.

I've recovered enough from the flu to once again putter about the house and enjoy my nest-making.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

I woke this morning to a frigid, monotone world, with one of the dogs barking outside, but finally, thankfully, the wind quieted. I thought we would all blow away yesterday, the wind was so fierce. The kitchen window has frosted over, so I have no clue what the outdoor thermometer says, but the Weather Channel says it is five degrees above zero, with a wind chill of -10.

When I was a child, probably the year I was in second grade, I woke on my birthday to a sparkling world of icy crystals covering everything. It had been foggy, or slightly misty, during the night, and all the moisture in the air attached to tree branches, dried weeds, telephone wires, creating a glittering glass-like world. My mother told me that the outdoors were all dressed up for my birthday, and of course I believed her!

My daughter and granddaughter arrived last Wednesday evening (after a horrific ordeal of a travel/flight day) and have been in cahoots with Oldtimer for celebrating my day. It's such a treat just knowing that they are snugged up in the guest room. So far, Baby O and I have painted and colored and played in the button dish, and I haven't had to go to the office since Thursday morning. It's delightful.

I found my email full of birthday wishes today, and now I'm off to prepare for my other birthday event - my annual mammogram! What a way to celebrate, huh?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Soap Blog Post

New post on the mystery of soap ash on my soap blog, here:

The face...

Okay then...
You asked to vote, you asked to see the face, and here it is - along with the current hair options. Leave a comment, please, telling me which you like best.

Mohair locks in mint green

Marabou feathers in bright green

White Tibetan lamb

Black Tibetan lamb with white tips

Remember that the Tibetan lamb will be cut into a wig shape and applied to the head. The white could be made to have green tips, too. Or can you think of another option? Please leave your "vote" or suggestion as a comment.

The Button Jar

My brother and I are six years apart in age - he being the younger. Besides our age difference, we have many other aspects - personality, interests, appearance - that could not be more un-alike if we'd been born into separate families on different continents.

As children, he wanted to be with me and my friends whenever possible. As the big sister, I didn't want him trailing around with me, and I didn't want him playing with my toys - he had a tendency to cause damage to my dolls, or to tell me the "right way" to play with them. My father always said "Tim would be your best friend, if you would just LET him." I couldn't see it. There's a huge difference between a 10 year old and a 4 year old when it comes to play-time and interests.

We also bickered a lot. He teased me mercilessly, and I squawked. He spied on me and my friends, and I squawked. It was endless...our poor mother used to say things like "Why don't you just throw each other down the basement stairs and get it over with?" Of course, that shocked us enough to stop for an hour or so.

There were a few activities in our lives where we did get along. Occasionally, our mother would let us play in what was then a button box. This was a large old tin box, with a floral chintz print painted on top and bottom - navy blue with small flowers. My brother and I would spread a blanket on the living room floor, and sift through the buttons, sometimes playing "bank" or "store" and other times just sorting out our favorites.

When our mother passed away we were charged with dividing everything absolutely evenly between us. There was little or no conflict between us on the division; as a matter of fact, my Oldtimer said he'd never seen anything like it - both my brother and I went so far overboard trying to make certain the other person had things they wanted, to be absolutely fair, you could hear us saying "you take it, no you take it..." for days.

There were only two items in all of our mother's belongings that became issues (and I use the term "issue" lightly). One was the button jar (she had given up the tin in favor of a very old blue canning jar years before), and the other was an ornament Lolo LOVED that she had made of clear plastic medicine cups, dipped in gold glitter and formed into a ball. Neither one of us wanted that blasted medicine cup ball, and tried our best to foist it off on the other. And both of us wanted that button jar. Ultimately, as the "girl" in the family, I prevailed on the button jar - after all, as the "boy" in the family, he got our father's WWII medals.

Later, when discussing the button jar, I found that my brother wanted it because it contained so many happy memories for him of the times we got along, and the times we played together. His comment touched me deeply, and though I still have the jar, it is even more meaningful to me because of his remark.

As to the medicine cup thingy... I won - or so I thought. I simply forgot to take it to my house every time I worked on emptying Lolo's apartment, and ultimately, my brother couldn't leave behind something she loved so dearly. Of course, when Oldtimer & I married, despite the notation on the invitation of "No Gifts Please," my brother showed up with a very large, square, gift-wrapped box. Inside was the medicine ball decoration.