Previous month:
October 2012
Next month:
December 2012

25/25 Day 3: for the kids

Certainly our selection of items for kids are skewed towards the crafty end. And maybe this is just because I am remembering what kind of kid I was, but I feel our many notebooks, puzzles and craft supplies provide many choices for the under 12 set. And I'm certainly showing my age every time I think that kids these days have it so good. Do you remember the horrid paper we had to write on? Practicing your cursive on those wide-lined grayish sheets that tore at the slightest pressure? I don't know about you, but our family did not have a lot of money growing up. Plain white paper to draw on was a real rarity, so I would have loved any of our sketchbooks with paper for drawing. But paper seems so much easier to come by nowadays.

In any event, besides the aforementioned sketchbooks, here are a few other favorites:

1. Stickers. Seriously, does anyone ever tire of stickers? We have many different designs - some more artsy Moomah stickers that a grown-up might use in a collage, and then our very popular little Japanese stickers. And don't forget the scratch n' sniff scents!

Shop 1811

2. Mini color pencils. What is it about these little mini colors?! I totally remember being a kid myself and coveting such little sets. Is it the scale which is so much more child-size? Just the novelty of the thing? I don't know. In any event, I see myself repeated time and time again as kids point this out to their parents. I have also found myself thinking that they could be really interesting in some resined jewelry piece - totally something that Susan Lenert Kazmer would incorporate into her work.

Shop 1812

3. Art Kits. To be totally honest, in the craft world, it is sometimes hard to find items that are made in the United States. Rubber stamps tend to be made here, but there are many scrapbook papers and other supplies which come to us from overseas. These art kits thus are exceptional in their sourcing and their content - they come from right here in Madison! This is a sweet little company that puts together artful kits with quality materials and an eco-friendly approach.

Shop 1814
4. Shrinky Dinks! Ah, Shrinky Dinks. Apparently there are some people who missed this activity growing up but there are just as many who exclaim excitedly when they see them. My niece just turned 5 this year and we had so much fun making Shrinky Dinks for everyone for Christmas. I strung them on cord and added some beads so that each relative gets a necklace or bookmark. I love the opportunity to preserve some of her charming drawings.


Shop 1813 Shrink 001

And here's a little-known fact about Shrinky Dinks: They were invented right here in Wisconsin, and were first sold at Brookfield Square in Brookfield, Wisconsin. We still order them from right here in state.


25/25 Day Two: Gifts for the Crafter

I know, I know, I should have started out with this one. I was just so focused on what sometimes seems to be the hardest person to shop for. I don't know about you, but for years our dad asked for and got socks. Nice dressy socks that he only wore once a year and thus didn't really need more than one pair of and yet that went on for a long time.

Anyway, gifts for crafters naturally feel like the easiest one for us. Although it sometimes feels like cheating, we regularly give our mom crafting supplies from our shop (for some reason it seems like buying from one's own store is too easy, though I should include the effort of going out to find the item for the shop). If you don't consider yourself crafty, the prospect of finding a present for a crafty person might seem intimidating. After all, it is not as if you have an inventory of their rubber stamps and other supplies filed away in your brain.

1. Paper (paper paper and more paper). I love paper, so much. To my mind, this is a great gift because it is something consumable and is also a gift filled with possibility - it doesn't just get set on the shelf to collect dust. A person could use paper for card-making or collage, for wrapping, for gift tags, for decorating, there are many different options. Our paper comes in many different sizes, from the smallest little pads of scrapbook pieces in the card catalog drawers to assorted packs that we make up, to the large sheets of decorative wrapping/art papers.

Newwarriv 006

2. Washi tape. This paper tape is thinner than masking tape, and also a lot more decorative. Instead of hiding tape on the underside of collage elements or photographs, you can use this tape for borders and decoration. I use it to secure the attachment of pages in altered books (UHU glue underneath and a little tape on top for extra security and decoration). I loved using it in my travel journal last year. I realize that we often think of gifts in terms of what would be lasting or what is saved. That said, a person only has so much space. There is something nice about consumable goods, and for people like our mom (who just gave me a long spiel about how all of her friends are decluttering), something that will be used up is really not such a bad thing. We like to think that a person will remember us years later, and so I think we sometimes let material goods take our place and try to serve that purpose. But as our dad says, "what is permanent is temporary and what is temporary is permanent," meaning that what stays longest in one's mind is often what lasted the least amount of time in the material world (fresh flowers would be a perfect example). If you are on Pinterest, you can just search for "washi tape" and you will come up with zillions of options.

Oct 105

3. Sari ribbon. Perhaps not a present for the faint of heart, but these sari ribbons are so gorgeous! They can be used for knitting or crocheting projects, but also in jewelry making and paper crafts. The fall workshop that I took at Valley Ridge Art Studio involved using such ribbon to bind our books. And one of our artists often uses sari ribbon for bracelets and necklaces. There's something about the color and texture that is really quite wonderful.

Sari

4. Rubber stamps. I know, there are some people who have a lot of rubber stamps. For those people, this might not be the best choice, although anything purchased from our shop can be exchanged for something else without a receipt and without a time limit. A person might appreciate that you know enough about them to know that they would like rubber stamps. Sachi has assembled a great collection and the drawers are full of choices. We have a friend who journals and has a collection of small stamps that he just uses to mark the start of a journal entry. And I used rubber stamps to decorate my Christmas letter envelopes. I like to combine rubber stamped images with collaging and painting in my own work as well.

Shop 1808

I could go on, but I've saved that for another blog post. 25 posts in 25 days sounded nice but now I actually have to write them all. Of course, if you stop in, we are always happy to help you find a present for that special crafter in your life.


25/25 Day One: Gifts for Him

Believe it or not, we do have gifts for him. Granted, there are some guys (and not all of them are four years old) who take one step in the shop and then turn around and leave. But there are items that tend to capture attention, and have even been a great source of entertainment. I could make a long list but I'm going to try and keep these blog posts short and sweet, focusing on a few highlights.

1. T-shirts. We spent much of last year fielding questions about t-shirts and finally scouted out some new artists to build up a collection for this year. And now I see what everyone is talking about - because when I was at a cool indie store in Atlanta, a t-shirt seemed like a perfect gift for my brother-in-law. We have several styles to choose from. The best seller is probably the Very Many Varieties of Beer.

Shop 1796
2. Prints. We have greatly expanded our collection of prints and there are some specific artists who seem to attract guys' attention: Nikki McClure's prints of her papercuts, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.'s coffee prints, the Madison neighborhoods map, and the various charts created by a clever Brooklyn duo including the very many varieties of beer, the grand taxonomy of rap names, the illustrated omnibus of superpowers.

Shop 1798
3. Journals. I was thinking recently about how one of the interesting/challenging/good things about retail is that your assumptions are constantly being turned upside down. As someone walks in the door, a part of you is trying to assess what kind of customer they will be - yet how much can we really know? Even if we base our knowledge on prior experience, there is no guarantee that it will hold with the current experience. My stereotype is certainly based to a large extent on the fact that as we grew up, the only writing Dad ever did was an occasional postcard and his little scraps of paper with instructions and reminders. Defintely not a journal man, our dad. And of course, I've certainly seen the men who dismiss our shop based on our lack of sporting goods and hardware. So the pleasant surprise, over and over, is when a guy comes in looking for some really fine paper to write letters on, or exclaims over a particular kind of journal that we have. For those guys, and for lovers of books in general, these repurposed book journals can be great gifts. It is fun to see people sort through the various titles and come across the one that sparks a certain memory.

Journal


25 in 25

Ok, now the time is really fast approaching. Here's the plan: 25 blog posts in approximately 25 days, with suggestions for 25 gift/recipient categories. I'm making the list and checking it twice; we'll have some of our favorites for moms and teachers, hostesses, babies and college students, and more.

And, believe me, I'm having a long internal debate about the order and numbering. Do I count down from 25 or up from 1? Start with the hardest? the most popular? The reality is that the bulk of our Christmas shoppers come to the shop in the last two weeks right before Christmas, but I assume everyone is at least thinking about it. Random it is, then.

We've spent most of the year planning and gathering product for this season. So far we've had a strong start to holiday shopping and are so grateful to the many people who have chosen to shop small businesses. We do love the thought of people opening Anthology goodies on Christmas morning, or whenever you choose to celebrate. We hope to see you before the year comes to a close!


November's end

Acorn 002

I would be a bad shopgirl if I let the month of December go by at my current rate of slacker-blogging. I have a plan. We'll see if I can follow through.

But before I initiate the plan - 25 posts in slightly more than 25 days - let's see if I can catch up a little bit.

When I last wrote, I had just finished setting up our holiday window. Since that time, two weekends have passed, giving me some idea of how things are selling and what tweaks are needed for the window. Already a few things have sold out or sold down. Just today a customer told me there's no way I could pack anything more in the shop so there's definitely lots yet to chose from.

There are just a few last-minute arrivals to report. I keep saying that this is the last; I'm more certain at this point.

We are excited about our custom-made Wisconsin stamp. We left it blank so you can add your own messages, stars, hearts, whatever you like.

Wisco

We received lovely postcards and prints from Emily out in Portland (better known as the Black Apple).

Blacka

Oh, and fun felted mushrooms and acorns from an artist in California.

Acorn 001

The holiday sales season has started off on a strong note.  Black Friday isn't necessarily such a big deal for us - first because we don't have doorbuster deals (unless you count all the lovely things that our artists have made which you could never make for the same price if you counted all the time it takes to make them and paid yourself minimum wage). But also because even though the media makes such a big deal of it (and the stores too, hoping, I guess, to get your money before anyone else does), the reality is that the bulk of our sales happen in the month of Decemeber, and specifically the last 12 days before Christmas.

Nonetheless, there's a flurry of activity usually the week before Thanksgiving. Each year I manage to get sucked into the Black Friday hubbub, and spend time frantically straightening the store, restocking, cleaning up... as if it is going to have a big debut. Like having to clean the house before company comes. But the good news is that it forced me to deal with our pot of wilting mums that serve as our doorstop. I made paper flowers, using the rods that came out of the card catalog as stems.

Doorstop

And as far as the holiday season goes, so far, so good. We are so thankful for the very many people who are making a point of shopping local and supporting our small business, among many others. It makes us feel very optimistic about capitalism moving forward.

We received some nice press already, an article in the Wisconsin State Journal, and a short interview on TV. I'm thankful that I didn't sound too bad or inept and that there was some nice footage of the shop - nice free advertising, and thankful that I had the foresight to get a haircut the week before.

Our craft table is pretty full with holiday merchandise but we do have some room for garland-making which was a fun activity during the Downtown Holiday Open House.

TableMostly this week I have been preoccupied with mail-related tasks. I'm getting ready to send out my personal Christmas form letter, which always causes some debate over who wants to actually receive one, as well as the work of writing, editing, creating a collage of photographs, making photocopies, stuffing envelopes, printing labels and stamping. I'm excited that I was able to get those lovely aerial views of earth for my stamps, and I treated myself to a new rubber stamp to decorate the outside envelopes, as well as Martha Stewart labels (from Avery). And just when I was feeling like I should whittle down my list (it's just barely under 100 addresses), I received this in the mail, courtesy of my donation to Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.'s Indiegogo campaign. Sweet swag! I love mail.

Amos 001

The girl and I helped put up lights at my parents' house and had a fun time. Even though the pictures are blurry, I love the moments that were captured.

Lights 004
Lights 007

Perhaps that's a good metaphor for the season itself - quickly and a little blurry, but the darkness is warmed by the sparkle and shine of light and glitter.  I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the rest of the holiday season!


beginning to look a lot like....

Xmas 006

Phew! What a week! I knew that this was the week for the Christmas window to be installed and it has been on my mind. Although this might seem early for some of you, the MMOCA Holiday Art Fair across the street has always been our kick-off date. I know that some people are excited that Nordstrom's is not putting out their holiday decorations until the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I have to say that I was not planning on coming into the shop on Thanksgiving Day to do what ended up being about 12 hours of merchandising to get the window installed and the store back in shape (whatever gets taken out of the window always displaces something else and creates an avalanche of store moves). Additionally, we are already weeks late for the few customers who've been in asking about ornaments and cards. But don't worry, I don't start playing Christmas music in the shop until after Thanksgiving and even then it is on shuffle with non-holiday music.

I purchased many items for the window and had a rough idea of what it was going to look like but to some extent, you don't really know how it is going to come together until you start putting it together. So I was feeling a little anxious about the whole process. Once I started looking at my week, it seemed like Sunday might be the best day to start the process so after work and dinner, I returned to the shop and hauled everything out from the office and back hallway and drawers.

What a mess.

Xmas 001

I could barely walk from the office to the front window. I hadn't really thought it all through but it is a good thing I started on Sunday after hours. I don't think it would have worked so well to install the window while customers were in the store.

The only drawback is that I basically committed myself to working until very late on Sunday night. I hate to leave the windows in too much disarray for too long - it seems like inevitably someone thinks the store is closing and starts an unwelcome rumor. So Sunday night was for clearing the old window and getting the bulk of the new window in place, and then also not leaving too much of a mess for Monday. Despite what my sister thinks, I DID clean up for Monday. But since I had been in to work the Monday before that, I decided that I needed to keep the whole day off so I left Sunday night at 10:30 pm and didn't return until Tuesday morning. There was a pretty big pile of boxes that I left at the back of the store, but at least ther was a pathway. And there was a fairly good start of the Christmas window installed.

Xmas 005And then it was back to work on Tuesday. Hanging up Christmas ornaments, arranging note cards and other products. My niece asked me why I wasn't going to have a big Christmas tree at my house but, honestly, it takes so much work to fill the window, I just don't have energy for too much more. I was pretty wiped out by the end of the day so I haven't been good for much else this week.

Xmas 020Xmas 013Xmas 021

But I managed to fit most of the items in. I actually went to the gift show in July thinking about peacocks and wondering if they were going to be the next owl. But when I got to the show, it was woodland creatures that caught my attention, so I gathered together an assortment, from birds and nests to acorns and mushrooms. And, yes, owls, too.

Xmas 022Xmas 015Xmas 002Xmas 019Xmas 016

 

Besides the ornaments,we have a lovely assortment of Christmas note cards, rubber stamps and wrapping paper.

 

Xmas 023Xmas 014Xmas 024
Xmas 017Xmas 018

And other woodland-themed items that are non-Christmasy: stamped dishes from Milwaukee, bird and other natural necklaces from California and here in Wisconsin, lovely mercury glass candleholders in various shades of greens, Sachi's bird button picture frames, also journals and note cards with various woodland images.

Xmas 025Xmas 012

 

And, oh yes, Totoro. I don't know if you are familiar with this little guy, but my niece really enjoys the movie and I bought some little figurines with her in mind. But it turned out that they were popular with friends and customers and when I was putting together this woodland themed window, it occurred to me that Totoro would be a whimsical addition. The little stuffie/coin purse has been quite popular.


Xmas 011Xmas 004


The window is definitely on the full side; my former boss would have something to say about the lack of white space. But I'm hoping the theme and the color helps pull it all together to some extent. There will definitely be time to tweak it in the weeks ahead but at least I cleared out some space in the office.

Xmas 008Xmas 007


i {heart} Amos

Amos Kennedy Jr. prints

(I wrote as fast as I could, but the picture that I took at the Overture Center in Madison - above - no longer represents what is there. That said, you still have a chance to catch Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. of Kennedy Prints tomorrow, SATURDAY, during the Wisconsin Book Festival, at the Dane County Print Explosion... which in itself looks really cool, and I promise myself now that I will someday schedule the day better so that I can actually attend. I'm sure there will be some creative people and inspiring works on paper to be seen).

I'm trying to retrace my steps a bit here but the exact history is a little fuzzy. Do you ever have one of those things (artists, books, authors, exhibits) where people around you are talking about it but you're not really paying full attention, and then all of a sudden you start hearing the thing everywhere and then you get hooked just like everyone else? It happened to me with Brian Andreas' Story People - I remember seeing the covers but kind of dismissing them - for years, hearing a few people talk about them, and then, finally! actually picking up a book and totally falling in love. It happened to me with Michael Franti - several different friends raved about his music, even played it for me... and then months later I hit the tipping point.

And now Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. I believe I mentioned him in my last blog post and the infatuation has just deepened. I can't remember when he was here in Madison, but last year, maybe? Doing some printing and talking about his work. And, no, I still haven't seen the documentary, but I will. At the time, his approach to printmaking, specifically the accessibility of it, was intriguing. However, I'm not actually a printer myself. That is my sister's field, and I'm somewhat intimidated by the whole process. So perhaps I thought his visit wasn't for me? I don't know. In any event, at our weekly breakfast at Sunprint on the Square, I commented on the coffee print collection they had on the wall and learned that they were Mr. Kennedy originals acquired during his last visit. Hmph. I utterly missed that!

Then, last week, someone on Facebook posted this new fundraising campaign and as I read it, I suddenly realized that was Mr. Kennedy again, with a totally awesome plan for Detroit. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check it out and give some money if you are so inclined. I think it is a really amazing thing that he is trying to do and I hope that it succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.

And then another friend sent me an email about Mr. Kennedy coming to the Wisconsin Book Festival except the link didn't work and I started thinking that it was in reference to last year's visit which I missed. And then yesterday someone came in and said they were looking for Mr. Kennedy but all they saw across the street was a printing press. I ran over after work but there was no sign of him. But then today, a customer came into the shop carrying two prints that looked like Kennedy prints. When I asked them where he got them, he said from across the street just now....  Little did my sister know that I was going to drop everything this morning.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. print close up

Now, I did talk a little about Mr. Kennedy in my last blog post - his words have really stuck with me. "It's not about being so big that you have to maintain your bigness, it's about being just big enough that your craft can maintain you." I love that. a lot. Mostly, I'm hoping that will someday be available as a print even though I don't know how he'd fit all those words on one page. So for one thing, I'm really enamored with his Detroit fundraising project and his ideas of creating a business and community partner. It speaks to my hopes for how we in this country will start to move forward in new ways.

He also has an entire coffee series and a book series, some civil rights and politics prints - including a great series printed on Wisconsin highway maps with quotations from "Fighting Bob" LaFollette. So, I'm enamored because of my newfound political awareness from this past year, which, I believe, printmaking also speaks to in terms of the way artists react to and participate in current events.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

First, I went across the street with my wallet. Mr. Kennedy had a table full of stacks of prints and naturally I had to go through all of them because I kept running into a few odds n' ends. You'd think one pile was all the same series, and then there'd be something about art in the middle of the coffee pile. THEN I was going to send my sister over, but I started to think that his prints might be a great addition to the shop. So I went back and asked him. Now, in my retail/craft realm, sometimes when you talk to someone whose work you like, they are not at all ready to go into the process of selling at other people's stores. Quite frankly, most artists have their work priced rather low so they can't afford to split the cost between themselves and our shop. Mr. Kennedy was rather a dream to work with - this certainly wasn't the first time he was asked and he had clear ideas about his prices and about keeping our shop competitive with other shops (he has prints at CB2, for one); and he'll keep us updated on new prints.

So I'm also enamored because it is exciting to find a new artist for the shop and he's pretty much the perfect prospect in terms of being set up to do business. He's really all about getting his work into the hands of as many people as possible. He and my sister would get along really well (we have an ongoing argument about pricing. I still maintain that if all artists priced their work in line with the amount of effort that went into it, people would learn the actual cost of such pieces. Instead, in most cases, the amount of money you pay is way way less than you yourself would charge to do such work - which, I believe, causes us to minimize the value of work made by hands). The more I look at Mr. Kennedy's work, the more I think he is undercharging. I am in awe of all the layers and colors - as a non-printer, I can't quite wrap my head around how much went into these prints. I started with the retail price that I'd seen online, but he talked me down - I'm just telling you that so you can be enamored too by the way that he's looking out for you as a customer.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. print

For maximum selection, I really would recommend that you go to the Print Explosion at College Library tomorrow. It's pretty cool to look through the table full of prints. I can attest to this, because I did it twice. Yes, I went back with the store checkbook and picked out some for the shop. I picked out just 20, in rather a large range that even Mr. Kennedy commented on, but I can see different customers liking different ones. There was one "You're going to hell and the devil is my bitch" which really tempted me but I held back. That might speak to some side of me that perhaps should stay in my secret life. Still, the "up yours" print has been a favorite since I first saw it so I was glad to get one for myself, and one for a present for some lucky person. For the shop, there are some coffee prints, some book prints, some political prints.. and my lingering feelings of infatuation.


Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.



election eve, or thereabouts

 

As I was leaving work on Saturday night I was thinking to myself about blog posts that are overdue. To be honest, some part of me feels like whatever I say is a repeat of whatever anyone else says, but perhaps writing these things down is as much for my own sake as for anyone who happens to still be out there.

And then for dinner, Dad and I got take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant. (It's a little thing, but my Dad is really tickled that the owner, Chinese, comes out from the kitchen and is always so happy to see my dad, Japanese. In some circles, the Japanese are still being held responsible for their war crimes against the Chinese; my dad famously cites the example of a schoolmate of my sister who was not allowed to play with my sister because we were Japanese). After dinner, I opened my fortune cookie.

Sund 003It brought home what I've been thinking about a lot - namely, how do I personally respond and live my own life, regardless of what is going on at the state or national or international level?

Can you believe that election day is nearly upon us? Are you wrestling like I am with anxiety, hope, exhaustion... and any other emotions that run the rollercoaster gamut from high to low? I don't mean to be naive, perhaps this is just a function of the optimist that I am, but I'm feeling pretty calm. Don't get me wrong, I have serious concerns about how the world will be if Mitt Romney becomes President. I truly believe that he will plunder the wealth of this country (our human AND natural resources), that he is both unChristian and unAmerican and totally unfit to be President. I think that the United States, and the entire world, would be much better off with Barack Obama for President and I have no doubt that there will be lasting repercussions from the results of this race.

If Mitt Romeny wins, I will also have serious reservations about whether or not we have a functional democracy or if it has been completely sold off to those with the most money and if voter supression and tampering have managed to win out over my rosy-eyed view of the world.

Sund 005

And I don't at all mean to imply that calmness equals complacency or confidence. At the same time, I have confidence in my own actions, certainty in the path that I have chosen (well aware that I have much to improve in my own life even as I am satisfied in the changes I have made over the course of the last four years).

I think maybe it helped to go see Forward Theater's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. Perhaps a history lesson would be just as useful. In any event, it gave me a sense of larger history - even as we think that this moment and our lives are critical, so, too, have millions of people across hundreds of years. And somehow, life goes on. Maybe not exactly the way you thought it was going to but it goes on nonetheless. I also like to think of the British Empire, even the Roman one for that matter. There's no doubt those nations have had times of greater.. significance?... but I think that for someone living in any of those places right now, there is no more significant time. "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well," right?  (Julian of Norwich)

Yesterday morning a friend on Facebook posted this little gem, which I have seen before, but which is certainly apt. I have concerns about the sorrows and angers and fears that I see expressed and manifesting around me, and yet I also believe very strongly in creating and reacting to life out of love and hope and faith. I think that both Republicans and Democrats, and various other actors in our system, profit from playing upon our fears, exaccerbating the seriousness of the situation and getting us to respond to threats. I am not trying to diminish the seriousness of the situation, rather how we react to it.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Also, I have returned to my own little home after a week of house-sitting. There are always perks to borrowing other peoples' lives, but, like travel, there is the best perk at the end, which is the reminder that you love your little life. And, little, in many senses it is. But I recently learned about this fundraising appeal from Kennedy Prints and am struck by many things - chief among them is my strong sense of optimism in the way that other people are creating their own versions of the American Dream, but doing so in ways that are mindful, connected, communal... and really cool. Ultimately, I think that is what is so threatening to the certain people (GOP politicians among them) - they see the world that they know it, the world they have prospered in, is changing, perhaps they view it as under attack. But however hard they try to fight it, I have every confidence that the change in inevitable. This is a difficult time of transition, but I have confidence in our spirits, our strengths and our creativity. As a person who often bemoans the lack of creativity in the world, and the way the corporate world seems to stifle the individual, new movement in individual- and business- and community-building is imminently cheering. But what has stuck with me the most this week is the words that were shared on the fundraising page: It's not about being so big that you have to maintain your bigness, it's about being just big enough that your craft can maintain you.

Wow. Just sit with that a little while. As much as I complain about square footage at the shop, I do also feel like there has been a very American drive to get big, bigger, bigger... and to do so without much thought as to why. We are paying a price for that unrelenting drive, but many of us are starting to look at other measures of success and growth. This quotation, I feel, is perfect, because it implores us to look at our underlying goals - not to mindlessly aquire or grow just for the sake of bigness itself. 


Sund 006So to some extent, I think that I am weathering the campaign storm and the pre-election jitters by thinking small. Thinking of my little world, the things that are within my control, my gratitudes and my own riches.

I have to admit that I've been kind of rationing the number of articles I read and links I click through. It gets a little overwhelming at times, and I do believe there is fear-mongering happening from all sides. But I appreciate the words of other people, especially those who might fit into one category in my head, but whose words cause me to put them into another category. Case in point is Badger Blue, Times Two, "full time detective and SWAT cop": "I will end with this thought: patriotism is more than declaring your love for your country. It means electing leaders whose actions match their words. It means choosing stewards of our society that care for all of its citizens, not a select few. It means valuing the ideals of shared sacrifice and prosperity that made this nation great. It means rejecting those who view the citizens of this nation in terms of profit potential. In this week before the election, my individual sense of patriotism compels me to cast my vote for President Obama. I may not be in the majority among police and military circles, but I certainly have quite a bit more company than I did four years ago." I love that guy! And the works of OccupyMarines, who give me hope in the ways that we as citizens of this nation and of the world can find common ground and work together.

I am grateful that I have my church background, though going to yoga would also be helpful - sitting still, taking deep breaths, stretching, reaching. For me, my church home is a reminder of the way that I am both connected and important, and yet also in a world that is so much bigger and beyond me - it terms of its marvels and its troubles. It is also a reminder of a sense of gratitude, of all that our lives are blessed with and the ways that others are not. And, no, I'm not demanding that you go to church, just that I do believe there is a sense of grounding which I have as a result, which I am especially grateful for during this challenging campaign season.

At work, I have my share of little comforts. I'm easy that way, just show me a few inspiring quotations and I'll be good. And, of course, there are buttons to be made. Sachi has a new series of Bruce & Barack buttons in honor of Monday's visit. I have a little sense of just...waiting...  What kind of buttons will we be making on Wednesday?! The "deep breath on the edge of battle/calm before the storm" kind of feeling.Sund 004

Oh yeah, and I watched The Lord of the Rings last night. That always helps me.


Sandy Sandy

I'm really quite sure there is nothing to say about Hurricane Sandy that hasn't been said already. But then I was wondering if it is callous to say nothing? or trite to say something? You can see my dilemma.

We've been thankful to hear from several artists and friends, who weathered the immediate effects but now face the slog of cleaning up, getting power back, getting back to an everyday life. I am grateful for Charity Navigator, which is my go-to resource when it comes to the question of where to direct money. I have many concerns, political and environmental, about a future where such events are more common, where public efforts are privatized or profiteered, where everyday lives are disrupted...

but I think the words of Brian Andreas speak as well to my hopes that come out of events such as these. To the sense of American strength and togetherness that we seem to pull out in times of disaster, to connections, to creativity and ingenuity, and that's really all I have to say.

 

 

Promise

the water washed away everything
but the chance to begin again

so we came from cities & towns,
from long golden fields
& we stood side by side
until we made a bridge to dry land,

back to a place
we have promised to hold safe
for each other's children,

back to a place
called America

 


Imagining World

In my dream, the angel shrugged & said, If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.


Presidential Monday

Sund 001

The President is coming! The President is coming! We're all a little giddy. And, yes, I know he was just here. Someone commented that we swing states should stop hogging all the attention. I kind of assume that Hurricane Sandy caused some reshuffling of the schedules.

In any event, he will be coming, along with Bruce Springsteen.... have you swooned yet?  Our part-timer is a big Bruce fan so I'll be coming in on Monday to tend the shop while she and Sachi head up to the rally. But if Viggo ever comes to town, don't expect me to stay at work. We'll be open our usual hours, starting at 11 am. And, yes, there are buttons. You really just have to step out of Sachi's way when she's on a roll like this.

The rally starts early - Gates open at 7 am so people will be lining up before that. And they've already started closing streets and there will be limited parking. Personally, even if I was usually a drive downtown kind of person, I would find a bus stop close to free street parking, park the car, and ride in.... which is basically what I do every day. Riding the bus is SO much nicer and I think that driving and parking downtown is going to be a pain.

More information about the event can be found here and here and here.