a new day dawns

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ok, I know that there is still a lot of work to be done. Because Robin Vos. Ugh. But, oh what a lovely morning! Tony Evers is being sworn in as our new Governor here in Wisconsin, along with an excellent team of elected and appointed officials. It hasn't really sunk in yet. But for those of you who don't live in Wisconsin, just imagine how you feel about Donald Trump, bracing each day for the ways that he is going to undermine this place that you love. We've been bracing ourselves since 2011. 

But along with preparing/reacting to the worst over the last 8 years, I have been so inspired by all the people who stood up and spoke up, some people who got involved for the first time, some who dug in and did more of the work that they've been doing all along. I cannot say thank you enough. I am really in awe.

There is a deep love in this state. Not to brag or anything, but people regularly come from out of state and exclaim that they have never seen so much state love as they see evidenced in the merch that we carry. It surprises me, because doesn't everyone have such love for their state? but it also doesn't surprise me because, well, Wisconsin IS great. At his core, this is a belief  that I have never seen in Scott Walker (nor in Donald Trump at the national level). I won't spend any more time enumerating his faults, I only mention this to emphasize what I see that binds us all together and will help us move forward into the work that has to be done.

Growing up in Madison gives me a particular privilege, I realize. We are the children of a UW medical researcher and a UW librarian. Our two closest childhood families growing up were of the Department of Natural Resources and City of Madison Parks Department. So all my life, I have known and loved people who work for "big government." I see their work and their passion and I have no doubt at all as to their commitment to this place. I think that's why it has been particularly unsettling for so many of us to have someone leading the state who seems not to share this commitment and furthermore casts doubt and suspicion on its employees at every opportunity. And I know I haven't even felt it that strongly, given my couple degrees of separation from government employment. 

And, no, I don't think business can do better. I say this even as a business owner. I think we face many issues that are big and unwieldy, and yes, it takes institutions that are big (and even sometimes unwieldy) to deal with these issues. Well, I believed that before we were business owners because I am a liberal. But before we were business owners, I took Republicans at their word when they said they were the party of business and I believed that there were some merits in their ideas of efficiency and...whatever. I still believe there are merits to free markets and small government. I just haven't seen much evidence that Republican legislators actually adhere to those ideas except selectively as it applies to campaign donors. Because, let me tell you, we have all heard stories about government waste and fraud perpetuated by Republicans in the last 8 years. Transferring tasks from government to business doesn't at all guarantee efficiency or thriftiness, and it certainly doesn't guarantee the transparency that is owed to us as taxpayers. And, I don't know, how is there an approach to Capitalism that is so short-sighted? There seems to me to be a clear connection from business success to employee/environment well-being. I used to believe the myth of the rugged American Capitalist, forging their way in the business world, if only government could get out of its way. But then we opened our business, and I never felt so connected - to our customers, and to ties that extend beyond them, to their jobs, their agencies, their institutions, OUR institutions, OUR roads, OUR schools. Everything depends on everything else. The good news is that we now have a governor who believes that, who understands that one of the core underpinnings of what we love about this state is how we serve all of our children. The good news is that we have a state filled with people who love the state and have dedicated their lives to the work that enriches it. Oh, what a relief it is.

 

 

 


ready for the new year

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So, right, we moved. I had a feeling this was overdue by at least a year and we certainly planned that moving into a larger space would help us grow, but we didn't really expect immediate results. But what a busy holiday season it has been! Whew! We are so tremendously grateful to all of our customers, thankful for all the ways that the big leap has already paid off. We handily leapt past a benchmark that we've been hovering under for about three years and I think both sisters are reinvigorated by the new possibilities that more space gives us. We'll be going to the National Stationery Show and New York Gift Show in February so we'll see what inspiration we find there.

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We are so happy to remain on the 200 block, a decision reinforced by all the holiday treats that our neighbors brought to us. We are amazed by the work that Isthmus Tattoo and Social Club did to transform our old space at 218 State Street. In all, it feels like everything is growing up. While our old space served us well, it was time for us to give a better home to all of our great product. I'm particularly enjoying the new ledge shelves to display prints. The space that we moved into was the Fanny Garver Gallery space and although we didn't really think about it at the time, the former life means many advantages, such as the picture rail alls and the excellent lighting. Unlike the old space, the window is not set back at an angle from the sidewalk and we had many people come into the store who never even saw us in our old space so the increased exposure is certainly a plus. The increased size of the window didn't really sink in until I was installing it - it uses up a lot of prints and other products! - but it has been a treat to have a larger canvas. 

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The holiday window was back to my favorite blues and purples, with a constellation/science/witch emphasis. I had a New Year window all planned out but about a week before Christmas, we were asked to put together a coloring book for the Kids' Gala for the Governor-elect's inauguration weekend. (No small thing... Hooray for Tony Evers!!!). This led Sachi to new drawing and led me to scrap the window plan... because, OF COURSE, we need to have an inauguration window. How wonderful it is to have a celebratory inauguration window instead of a protest inauguration window! Sachi's design will be the cover of the kids' coloring book but the Governor-elect also asked for a bigger file so they can make some larger prints. Meanwhile, we've sent it off to our screen printer so we'll have a print for our window.

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(naturally there will be a little nod to the protest which, new Gov notwithstanding, goes on)

 

2018 involved a lot of looking backwards and looking forwards as we celebrated our 10 year anniversary, and then a lot of furniture shopping and paint chip shuffling. We spent some time marveling at where we started in 2008 and all the intentions (some unfulfilled) and unexpected directions that we set out on. We are looking forward to a new year with new room to grow.

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we moved!

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(but not far, don't worry).

 

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We still have some boxes to unpack, but we are settling into our new space at 230 State Street, stop 1. It's about triple the size, including the basement and upstairs area for crafting. We are exhausted but very happy. We were just about bursting at the seams in our old space - it served us well for our first 10 years but some change was necessary for the next 10. We hope you'll stop by and see us soon.



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counting down the days

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The last day in our old space is September 15th.

Less than 1 month before the big move. Eek! I have always felt that my life is like that little game of plastic squares you have to move around and get in order, and all you have is one square free. It's even worse than usual. Every box that comes in, I unpack, put new goodies on display, then repack, then put on the hallway shelf where the items used to be. Today I tacked some of those miscellaneous boxes which I'm pretty sure have not been touched since we first moved in. Soon we will get the key and I will be able to shift things into our new basement. So exciting to get storage space! 

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There are a zillion ideas rolling around in my head. At least the paint colors have been decided upon so I can stop pestering everyone with that. I just have to go around the space and mark all the walls with the color changes. We've started talking about what to do with an expanded craft workshop space and pondering new directions of products. That said, we also remember our business plan when we first started - some of the good intentions we had which were replaced with good implementations based on customer feedback. I'm already envisioning a bit of a rearrange in January once we see how traffic flows for the holidays. Now that we have more storage, we don't have to store everything on the sales floor so there will probably be some gradual replacement of dressers and other fixtures. Generally, gradual, that is, unless situations arise as they did this summer, with Capitol Kids retiring and creating the opportunity to purchase what is perhaps the cutest fixture ever - I mean, it's a boat! We couldn't resist, even though I have no idea where it is going. It's very functional though so I don't think it was a hasty decision.

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Anyway, time is going quickly and I continue my blog lapses, however if you want to keep up to date, there's always Facebook and Instagram. For progress on the new space, you can check out #anthology230 (get it? We'll have moved from 218 State Street to 230 State Street).


heart rocks

A little preface: From time to time, I deliver the children's sermon at our church - no big deal, other people do as well but I think it is a nice thing to recognize that the Spirit doesn't speak only through one designated person. I'm not the greatest at public speaking so while I appreciate the chance to share my thoughts, there's always the racing heartbeat and the fumbling with the sound system to contend with. There's also those days leading up to Sunday, the trying to shoehorn my thoughts into the planned service or make my words match the liturgy. I do like matching, and I do like things well-planned out but the best sermons are usually those that leave some room for serendipity. Whether I stop trying so hard to match the theme of the week or when I don't cling so hard to whatever plan is rolling around in my brain, usually that's when something magic happens.

For this week, the theme of the service was planet earth and interconnectedness, but I went off on my tangent of rocks and geologic time. I've been thinking about it all week - first marbled some paper to make paper rocks, but then dumped out some bowls of rocks to find some to bring to the service. It was only on Friday night that I decided on not just any rocks but on heart-shaped rocks. So I go merrily along my way, only to find out after the fact that one of the matriarchs of the congregation, who died on July 22, collected... wait for it.... heart-shaped rocks. For real?! I love it.

Well, anyway, here's this morning's sermon:

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I couldn’t believe my luck when Pastor Sonja told me that the focus of our Creation Liturgy this week is Planet Earth. Because you know what I studied in college? EARTH Science. And I know that a lot of times we talk about Planet Earth and we think about the plants and flowers and trees, the wind, the air, the oceans, the birds and bugs and cats and dogs and all the living creatures. But honestly, when I think about the earth, I think about the rocks.

It’s a funny thing, I suppose, because rocks can bring a lot of difficulty into our lives. Like, have you ever been walking along and you get a little pebble stuck in your shoe? and you don’t really want to stop and take it out so you just try to shake your foot around to get it out but it is stuck there and you are trying to walk but it keeps poking your foot? 

Rocks are hard. cold. sharp. uncomfortable. unyielding.

People throw stones and it is not a nice thing.

But have you ever been walking along looking at rocks and found a rock like this? It really looks a lot like a heart to me. And it feels like a message of love that’s coming to me across time. Imagine all that had to take place or not take place in order to come to standing on a path with a heart-shaped rock at my feet.

Because when I pick up a rock, there’s so much that I think about. 

about little particles that coalesce into big solid rocks, 

and big solid rocks that tumble and rumble and turn into little particles, 

about hard edges that turn into round pebbles

about the way that little drops of water can wear away even the hardest stone

about the immensity of time that passes as lava cools underground, is lifted to the surface, and then breaks it down into just the right size of a stone to fit in the palm of your hand.

So much time. More than anything, rocks give me perspective on time. Rocks make me feel both really small and really special. When you go about your regular day, sometimes it can seem like time is going quickly and sometimes it seems like time is going slowly. But that is NOTHING compared to the amount of time that a rock sees. That is NOTHING compared to God’s time. In God’s time, we talk about the first day, the second day. But all that happens in one of God’s days? It clearly can’t be just 24 hours long.

This moment that we are in is just the tiniest smidgen of a moment in all of time, it’s really nothing to a rock or to God, and yet somehow this moment is ours. Here we are, out of all the possible paths and twists and turns, out of all the time that has passed since a rock first started out as molten lava or particles condensing in the ocean, out of all the time that has passed since the first day.

We are. You are. I am. What will we choose to do with our moment? 

So why don’t you join me in a prayer:

Dear God, as we walk along our path

help us watch for the rocks that are hard, sharp, smooth, sparkly

help our hard edges be worn down by water and time

help us to see the hearts that lie open at our feet

help us open our eyes to see the world in a grain of sand

help us remember the smallness of this moment in all of time

help us remember the preciousness of this moment in all of possibility

 

Amen.