Sugar and Pith is Official in the Eyes of the Law

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Sugar and Pith is now officially a business in the eyes of the State Board of Equalization. I filed my DBA as well but today I need to get the announcement set to run in the papers for 4 weeks.

I’ve had a lap full of purring kittens and good coffee. Now it’s time to do a little photo set design and be dressed and eat something and take pictures. I suppose I should also comb job listings because even though I’ve just made my business official, the money doesn’t instantly appear. If I knew for a fact that Philip would land a job in time (before another month is out) I wouldn’t bother. I’d just commit to this business full time. I think Philip WILL get a great job, but I’m definitely scared.

I’m trying hard to trust that everything will smooth out and be stable again instead of freaking the fuck out that we’re going to have a repeat of the tough years in Oregon.

I’m keeping this short today. I’ve got a lot to do and if I keep myself moving then I’ll have less chance to fall apart.

My hair is still a mess. I’m going to let it grow out a little before getting it fixed. I’ll just keep it in a barrette at all times. No one need know it was cut by an incompetent doofus.

Here I go.

No really.

Why feel like a hag when you have rejuvenation in a little bag?

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Making a Solid Plan of Action for Sugar and Pith

happyI have heard people say many times that whatever it is you want to be doing you should be working at it every day and you will eventually get where you want to be. I find this frustrating as hell because it assumes that you don’t have bills to pay and that to pay the bills you have to do other stuff too because it’s an amazing fact that money doesn’t flock to whoever is doing what they truly want to be doing with their lives. Money doesn’t know when you’re doing what you’ve always wanted to be doing. Bills still come due. It’s also a fact that you can toil away at your dreams for your whole life and never get where you want to be. It’s also a fact that working jobs that aren’t what you really want to be doing can tire some people out to the point of sapping them of all will to work on the things they really want. People like me.

I got a really bad haircut yesterday. I haven’t had one in 8 months because the last one I got was dreadful too. Both haircuts I’ve gotten this year made me cry. I’ve also been working really hard at keeping positive for my whole family while we’re in an employment crisis. I didn’t get called back for a job I really wanted that I should have heard  back from yesterday. Keeping the barking dogs of anxiety and depression at bay is exhausting and extremely difficult for me. It requires that I not really pay attention to anything closely. I took a real dive yesterday. I’m still feeling the effects today. To be honest, I’ll feel it for days but after writing this I’m going to pretend I’m 95% better so no one worries about me or is dragged down by me. It’s how many of us function in a world that we don’t function well in. We pretend. My friend Sonya wrote a brilliant post “Depression and the Writer” about what depression feels like yesterday and talks about this. I think everyone would benefit from reading it.

What I want to be making a living at (a REAL living, meaning it pays the bills) is writing novels and making potions. Ultimately I just want to write. But selling novels is a notoriously hard road to build so if I have to sell something else, do something else to make money, I want to sell my apothecary goods because I’m damn good at making healing and luxurious body care. Being in business for yourself with body care products is just as difficult a road to build as selling novels.

I know, I just know that if I could get my stuff visible I could make a decent living doing this. I don’t want to sell my stuff wholesale because doing small batch as I do isn’t as viable that way. My label would be seen, yes, but then I’d have to make twice as much product for half the profit. I want to be direct to consumer. That’s what I want. Small batch high quality body care.

This is what I want. Now, how to make it happen? Marketing. I need to become savvy at marketing. Always the thing I’m not. Can I change that? Can I develop this savvy? It seems antithetical to who I am. How can I turn that around? Like, yesterday.

First step is to go and get my official resale license. Which means filing a fictitious business name first. Time to commit. Time to move. Time to DO IT.

Marketing ideas:

Get myself included in the farmer’s market (might be a waiting list)

Research local bed and breakfasts and send them tiny sample packs that could be given to patrons (a mini kit including a single use of lip balm and wound salve for example).

Enter gift sets in raffles (suggestion of my friend Amelia who has a raffle for me to enter my stuff into)

Get my goods into subscription boxes of body care products (suggestion from my friend T’Hud)

Get my goods into the hands of a celebrity. If any of you know how to go about doing that, please tell me. (This is a suggestion from my friend Laurie F.)

Get my products reviewed by a body care website with high traffic. (This is a long game as it can take months for a site to review your stuff IF they even decide to do it)

Get an article in Willow and Sage (another even longer game because even IF I can get a submission accepted it can take a year to get printed – but this kind of attention can be a huge boost to business)

So, those are some good ideas, I think. But I need shorter turn around ideas to work on too.

I’m going to go eat some breakfast and head over to the office where I file for a fictitious business name. Then I’m going to get some supplies to photograph my Skin Polish so I can get that listed. Then I set up my photograph staging so that tomorrow morning I can get started taking pictures immediately. Next I develop sample packs – figuring out what to include and how to package.

The next thing after that is to make new business cards or post cards and then brochures to include with every sale.

Oh crap. I’m getting overwhelmed again. Deeeeep breaths. Steady on.

Go!

 

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Letting the Light In One Morning at a Time

Noon day light

I’ve got jasmine essential oil on my nose. I’ve been mixing Sugar and Pith’s signature scents and taking stock of what I need to order. I’ve tried out a few different jasmine oils and it’s hard to pick the best one. The one I accidentally got on my nose is pretty good.

I don’t know why,  but in spite of our rather dire employment situation right now, I feel optimistic. That’s not usually how I feel at times like this. Is this a strange secret perk of middle age?  That I can be optimistic in spite of the depression, anxiety, and serious situations that generally provoke both into overdrive? Or is it because Haring the ex-feral kitten keeps climbing into my lap and blissing out just being near me? His medicinal purrs do seem to be extra strength.

He’s in my lap right now making it hard for me to write. He keeps looking up at me with his beautiful face full of – I don’t know – do cat’s feel love? Cause his face is full of whatever the equivalent of love is for cats. Sweet sweet boy!

I applied for three jobs yesterday, so today I’m working on Sugar and Pith. I’m going to set up my stage set, write notes on what things I need to make, get organized, and set the shipping on the website, blah blah blah.  You know – I need to spiff everything up big time! So many little details need tending to. But I’ve finally got the time to do this and it’s what I really want to be doing anyway. So now’s the time.

On that note, I’m going to go get my breakfast, get dressed, and get back to the work at hand. Notice how I’m getting more disciplined about writing every day? Soon this will extend to the Suicide for Beginners writing as well. I have to keep the whole writing rig oiled until I can sit down and concentrate on it fully. The first step is sitting down every single day to write. To write whatever. Which reminds me, I have writing to do for Sugar and Pith too. Ideas are flowing in! Must capture them before they evaporate.

 

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A New Pep Talk

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How come flies are always coming into the house but never go back out? When they get into my office they spend all their time buzzing at the windows. But when the windows open, they don’t leave. Humans are like this too.

I haven’t had a haircut since the end of 2015 because it was so traumatic I cried for 40 minutes afterwards. But now I really need one and I’m still avoiding it.

Last night I figured out that I wouldn’t need part time work if I could sell 21 wound salves a week. I need to make this happen. I’m also thinking of concentrating more on the self care items than the things like syrups. Though, I have them and can make them. I’m thinking that I want my focus to be on self care, particularly of the skin. I really want to finish perfecting my embalming creme* and package it. I definitely want to produce the Moisturizing Skin Polish I’ve been working on that a few of my friends have tried and loved.

Anyway. I have to get ready to go to my new job. When I get home I will work on ordering more tins (I’m almost out of the salve tins and need to make a new batch). I’ll strategize and list all the steps I need to take to make this shit happen. It’s time. My products are great, I feel completely confident in them. I just have to learn how to market them. I need to go from sucking at marketing to succeeding at it. Time to cross that line and make it a skill. I can do that, right?

RIGHT?!

*My very rich, thick, and healing body creme. Dudes, it’s amazing stuff! Not for all skin types necessarily, but really amazing stuff.

New Adventure Begins Here

scenic drive

Today is the first day at my new job. All I’m going to say is that settling into new jobs can be so nerve wracking. So I need to get in a nice calm mental space before I head out. I’m drinking my coffee and will water the garden soon. That will help.

Meanwhile I’ll imagine that I’m standing in front of my beloved childhood home smelling that gorgeous lavender. (My own is over now and not so aromatic, as this clump suredly isn’t by now either as I took this photo over a month ago). I don’t wish to live in Ashland ever again, but this house still has a spell on me. It’s so much prettier now than when we lived in it – but I loved it. I mean, lots of bad shit and unhappiness happened in that house with my family – but I always loved the house itself. Good things happened there too. It had a walk-in pantry! I used to go in there just to smell it. In the summer it smelled like warm wood and spices. My mom filled it with home canned goods. Plum butter, spiced peaches, apple butter, concord grape juice.

My current kitten fosters (Jasper, Haring, and Georgia) are super attracted to my coffee. And my laptop.

Time to get going. I need to eat something and water the front garden. Then I’m off!

Toodle-a-noodle.

(That sounds like a terrible sexual perversion)

Writing Crap to Get to the Good Stuff

morning with Sarah

(Coffee in my friend Sarah’s dining room, taken on our trip to Portland in June 2016)

Our vacation seems like it happened so long ago now. I just went through all my photos from it and processed them.

I’m trying to write and I’ve got two kittens who are continually disrupting me by walking across my keyboard and getting in my lap. This isn’t a complaint, by the way, just something that’s keeping me from finding a flow. It doesn’t help that I’ve been writing so little lately that I feel rusty even writing a post. I mean, it’s easy enough when I’m full of beer and it’s midnight, but those posts usually must be eradicated later anyway. While those posts are extremely emotive, they basically just say the same thing over and over and over again and don’t constitute good writing. Once in a while something good comes of that, but not often.

This is why so many well-known working authors say you have to write every single day. Even if it’s total crap. Just write. Keep the gears oiled and turning. When the inspiration isn’t there you still need to be keeping your writing mind flexed and ready for when inspiration does come. You need to be ready to take it on.

So this is me writing crap. Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap. Writing crap is how you uncover the good stuff.

We have no bread this morning and only three eggs. I think it’s going to be a potato morning.

It sounds like there’s a cicada outside. But I’m pretty sure we don’t have them here. I would love to hear that all day long. I’d feel like I was in the south of France. I’d have the urge to go and find some wild thyme and a game bird to roa- wait – what?! I want to make ratatouille today. Again. I can’t get enough of it. I need to make enough to freeze it. I could eat ratatouille every day for a year.

I think I’ll go do Imwalle Gardens and get the supplies.

I’ve got so much blackberry jam/sauce* that I think it’s safe to move on to some other food preserving projects. I’d love to make some peach jam before it’s too late. Tons of ratatouille to freeze.

I’m feeling so soul satisfied having finally, after years of not doing it, found the good blackberry picking in time and made jam. I think I need to make bread today. I haven’t made bread in a million years. That’s definitely something I miss doing.

Philip was laid off on Thursday. I’m not panicking yet. I start my new part time job at the art store tomorrow. It’s a really nice art store and being a cashier is nothing new for me, but still, I’m nervous about settling into a new place with new coworkers.

This is definitely the start of a whole new chapter. I just hope it’s a really good one.

*Some have set perfectly, but the batches I made on Friday have not. They’re more like a thick sauce. Who cares? I’ll pour that shit on toast and LOVE it.

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Church of Perpetual Volunteers

wild mint

Field Mint

If my garden and wild fields are my church, then if I were to name it I think it would be:

CHURCH OF PERPETUAL VOLUNTEERS

This is because I don’t try to control my garden that much. For many people gardening is a constant battle against encroaching weeds and disorder. They employ all kinds of tactics to prevent plants from going wild or proliferating too much. If you listen to the language of most gardeners they’re constantly cautioning other gardeners against plants that “take over” or “spread” or “can’t be controlled”. Most of the plants I love the most are notorious re-seeders such as cosmos, parsley, calendula, borage, mint, comfrey, allysum, and yarrow. Any time I tell another gardener how much I love cosmos they feel the need to say something like “Oh, but if you’re not careful that will take over your whole yard!” to which I find myself saying “What could be more wonderful than a yard completely covered in cosmos? LET IT GO MAD!”

I will admit that there are a few plants famous for going rampant that that I don’t want going rampant in my yard. Mostly it’s because I don’t like them, because they do nothing for me personally or are pure evil (such as privet and arum italicum).

My style of gardening is to put up some structured beds and then encourage everything I love to seed freely. I love volunteers. When something pops up that I don’t recognize I always let it get big enough to ID before deciding if it stays or goes. Watching something mysterious pop up in my yard is a joy. I have a volunteer purple aster that started off as a tiny 1″ seedling and is now this:

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From nothing, I got this beautiful aster that has stuck around for 3 years so far. It’s also growing in the crappiest soil that we’re working on amending. I didn’t buy this plant. Someone probably grew this years ago in this garden or a garden near-by and the seed waited until conditions were perfect and it popped up. Or a bird pooped on my yard and left this gem. If I’d been madly pulling up everything I didn’t plant myself that could potentially be a weed, I’d never have this plant in my life.

Another plant that pops up absolutely all over our garden is sweet alyssum, seen here (the little white ones) with another loved volunteer always welcome in my garden – nasturtiums.

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What I love about volunteers is how I can let them pop up where they will and then pull the ones that popped up where I don’t want them. My garden is never barren because of these. Should I be laid up for a long time, unable to do anything with my plants, I’ll still have calendula, valerian, alyssum, asters, and California poppies gathering colorful light right outside my house.

I don’t want or need hygienic order in my life. I mean, I could use more cleaning and order inside my house, because I still suck at laundry. I would still rather write than mop my floors. I’d rather watch Miss Marple and daydream than dust the woodwork.

I just realized that my garden is the only place I like to be surprised. Haha!

I’ve planted a cultivated variety of purslane and it’s very happy in the bed we put it in. I just harvest a huge bowl of it. Most of it is trying to flower right now. I cut most of the flowers off yesterday because I didn’t want it to stop producing leaves, but I’m going to let it flower eventually and see if we get a ton of volunteers of it. It’s a pretty rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrto3 <—- that’s what Jasper the ex-feral kitten has to say about purslane.

I’m turning to my garden a lot more lately and thinking about it (and now talking about it) because it’s helping me combat this horrible dark global malaise of human invention. It’s helping my mind focus on good things and hope rather than the dark pit it so often and so easily gets mired in. I’m so tired of everything I write about being from the pit. I’m going to have to focus on the dark enough as it is to write Suicide for Beginners. Rampant purslane and calendula is definitely the antidote.

I know I hit a low point recently when I made a pun and wasn’t even sure it counted as a pun. My only anti-pun ally (and future award winning illustrator/science fiction author) Sonya Craig had to yell at me to shake me free of the encroaching darkness.

Purslane and New Achievement Unlocked

herb purslane rice salad

Herb and purslane rice salad: tons of purslane and parsley, just a bit of mint, cucumber, tomatoes, a tiny bit of everlasting spinach and red orache, rice (obviously), dressed in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.

Purslane harvest

The people you spend the most amount of time with are bound to affect your morale, whether for good or ill. The quality of people you spend time with has a distinct influence on the quality of life you’re living. I have just emancipated myself from two master self-delusionists* and already my shoulders feel lighter. Today I will not be lied to or disrespected boldly by people I have no real power of rebuttal with. Walking out on them was the only power I truly had.

Today my psychic house is clean and fresh. A new chapter begins. My coffee tastes better, my outlook is more hopeful, and I have the space to evaluate what lessons I have learned from this past experience spending time with people not practicing at being Good Humans. I can either be shaped negatively by it all or be shaped positively by learning something and working at improving myself through it.

My first few minutes home I spent in my garden. Hahaha. That’s a lie. I was really upset so the first few minutes home I spent on my couch staving off a panic attack and also easing my anger back down my throat. THEN I went out in the garden and picked some purslane. I picked a lot of purslane. Turns out purslane is thriving in the bed we put it in and doesn’t mind the heat or dryness. I picked some tomatoes too, then I staked up my rudbeckia as I’ve been meaning to do for at least a week. I did a crap-ton of dishes and then I looked for purslane recipes.

My wonderful Canadian Twin who writes the blog Soup and Sustenance, and is half of the design team Winter-Hebert, suggested I make tabbouleh with it. I have traditionally not liked tabbouleh particularly because I don’t love bulgar wheat. So I thought I’d make a rice salad inspired by tabbouleh. In the end it was almost just like tabbouleh, texture and all, but I LOVED it. I even put some mint from the garden in it. I don’t generally like mint in my food. I like it in tea. Maybe it’s just what I needed. I don’t know, it was so good. I did not put feta on it. NO CHEESE. And still it was fabulous.

I’m going to end this post reminding you all that in any endeavor, you build a good reputation by practicing being a Good Human and you keep it by continuing the practice of being a Good Human to all the people you work with/deal with in life. If you find you need to do a lot of damage control by limiting what the people around you are able to SAY about you, that says A WHOLE LOT OF SHIT ABOUT YOU. And it aint good shit. A person who is always behaving well to other humans doesn’t have need of damage control.

And here’s a truth even the self-delusional must realize at some point: you can’t gag every person you encounter, work with, know, or deal with. The truth about your quality of behavior WILL get out. Plug a leak in one place, it will come out through another crack in your carefully constructed facade.

So don’t be lying douche-nozzles who treat other people like crap.

 *Obviously, I could be talking about ANYONE.

Gardening is Like Religion

Echinacea Purpurea

I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God(s) or Deities that are imagined in the likeness of human beings. I don’t believe in higher powers with lists of rules and regulations that must be followed to avoid spiritual stagnation, or worse, damnation. The idea of a higher power with a thirst for blood, vengeance, and world domination seems like a shabby reflection of humankind rather than an elevated and evolved energy/being/power. Most depictions of Gods and Devils bear a striking resemblance to the emotional maturity of a human toddler.

Every time I talk about my garden, about gardening in general, about how I feel when I’m in the thick of my plants, I’m talking about my version of religious practice. In my garden there is no plant that is lord of all the plants, there is no law that is the law of all beings, and the idea of virtue is egalitarian. I give dandelions pride of place just as I give roses pride of place.

My garden is a small ecosystem, a universe constantly expanding and contracting with the seasons, with new information, new ideas, established roots, thick bark and thin. Within the small ecosystem of my garden there are micro ecosystems and all of them reflect the greater universe all around it.

When I finally got myself a diagnosis for my mental illness it was clear that I needed the support of medication to keep myself safe and healthy, but my psychologist asked me what I do in my life that is calming, that makes me feel good, centered, and happy. I told him that deadheading my roses always pushed my anxieties aside, that it brought a quietness to my brain that I rarely experience otherwise. I told him that one of my keenest pleasures was to cut roses to place around my house. He suggested I make my roses part of my daily self-care, part of my mental health-care routine.

This morning I watered my front and side gardens and then deadheaded my roses. I brought my cup of coffee out there with me. I was still in my pyjamas. When I’m out there with my plants I’m not an infirm obese middle aged woman, I’m just another spirit among kin. The plants speak to me in color, in shade, in density, in volume. They speak to me in shattered petals, old scabs, and new sap. When I’m in my garden I make sense, I belong, I am never shunned nor judged. I am not lord of my garden, I’m part of it.

My garden full of wild sproutlings, sudden inexplicable deaths, and regal insectary towers reminds me at all times simultaneously of my insignificance and my influence on the outcome of universal truth. I matter here, I just don’t matter more than anything else does. I am equal with the plum tree and dandelions alike. When I’m weeding I know what’s truly bothering me the most because nothing amplifies my worries more than total silence and the bitter tears of false dandelion smeared across my hands. I can’t make my brain stop playing the endless tapes that cause it so much distress, but when I let them play while I’m buried waist high in my wildflowers, their power over me is diminished as everything is leveled among the plants and the locusts chewing on them.

I’m struggling pretty hard right now to be okay with humans, with BEING human. I’m struggling pretty hard right now against my own brain that doesn’t exist peacefully in the world in which it must function. Even with medication I can’t shut out all the noise of all the pain others are going through, all the spirits being crushed  by systems that oppress love and celebrate hate.

My garden is my religion. My religion is the smell of hot blackberries hanging heavily sweet on the summer air. My religion is camouflaging myself among the Lacy Phacelia as though I grew from a winter seed up into a six foot tall flower that looks like a synchronized Busby Berkeley number performed exclusively by purple caterpillars.  My religion is trial and error, accidentally thick pasta, opera playing full blast over a bowl of rising bread dough, my accordion playing Amazing Grace into the golden hour. My scripture is knowing to deadhead roses to a 5 leaf set.

It isn’t my place to give benediction, it isn’t my place to request favors of a God I don’t believe in. What I CAN do is let my plants breathe with me and you and the stars above.

My garden is my religion. It’s a place of healing, belonging, and perspective.

Pro-Tips for Hilary Supporters Trying to “Unite” the Party

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I have some pro-tips for Clinton supporters who want Bernie supporters to vote for Hilary:

Stop talking to/about Bernie supporters like they’re big babies having a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way. It’s condescending, it’s alienating, and it makes you sound like big babies having a tempter tantrum because the other kids don’t like your rules and aren’t playing your game.

Listen to the way you tell Bernie supporters to “tow the line” and “do the right thing” and “unite the party” and my personal favorite “do your duty”. Talking to intelligent conscientious adults like their duty is to stop thinking or having a conscious because the party line is more important than trying to make lasting change is really drawing a thick line under the reasons Bernie supporters loved Bernie in the first place and reminds them how fucked the two party status-quo IS. Also, it makes you sound like mean stupid schoolmarms with rulers suspended over everyone’s knuckles who disagrees with you.

Ditch the fear-mongering as a means to getting Bernie supporters and other outliers (such as alienated Republicans) to vote for Clinton. One of the reasons you claim to hate the Republican party in general and the Trumpster Dumpster in particular is because of the rampant fear-mongering they engage in. You do not make a good case for Hilary by saying “She isn’t Trump”. First of all, we KNOW she isn’t Trump. Saying it like no more discussion is necessary, that not being Trump is all the virtue that’s necessary to vote for someone. Ted Cruz wasn’t Trump either and no way in hell would I ever have cast my vote for that wet pancake. One thing Bernie supporters hate is fear mongering and the status quo. So if you want them to vote for Clinton, act like you actually think they’re intelligent human beings who desperately want to change the way things are done in this country and tell them how you think Hilary will get us closer to that kind of change. When you use fear tactics, you are piling more shit on the shit-pile of fear that got Trump the popularity he’s riding on right now that has you all foaming at the mouth. I mean, keep using them if you like, but at least understand how ineffective it is as a means for meaningful and positive change in this country and in the minds of Bernie supporters.

Stop treating Bernie supporters like the illegitimate children of our “democratic” system. What Bernie supporters want isn’t a rainbow farting unicorn. If that’s what you think, then you’re part of the conservative establishment we want to abolish that doesn’t even understand that Democratic Socialism isn’t an instrument of the devil and definitely isn’t a hindrance to personal freedoms such as Americans imagine they can only have with the constitution stashed in their butt-pockets. We aren’t the bastard children of the democratic party that need to be brought back into the family. Many of us ditched the democratic party a long time ago, in spirit if not in actuality. Many of us  never belonged to it in the first place. We aren’t yours to own or command. If you want us, yeah, you need to talk to us like you aren’t a fear-mongering automaton of the Democratic party upholding the two party system like it’s a princess in need of protecting rather than a broke-down trashy trailer barely road-worthy.

We wanted big change and Hilary’s campaign is not the ticket.

The whole time Bernie was running I assumed I’d vote Hilary if/when he lost the nomination. Then I heard Hilary supporters acting like bullies and screeching condescending assholes and I backed the fuck up and withheld my decision. Which I’m still withholding until closer to November.

I don’t actually want to be romanced by Hilary supporters. I don’t expect them to try and get me into their camp. I expect everyone to vote their conscience. But I offer up these pro-tips for those Hilary supporters who ARE trying to get Bernie supporters to join them. You really want to do that? Start with respect (most Hilary supporters haven’t got any for Bernie supporters, that much is clear, so maybe do a better job pretending). Talk to us like YOU’RE intelligent adults. And for god’s sake, stop being major assholes.