Friday, May 28, 2010

Help Etsy for Animals Help the Berkeley Shelter's Fire Recovery

Last week, the Berkeley East Bay Animal Shelter caught fire, killing twelve cats and destroying their facility. The cause of the fire is unkown, and the surviving animals are searching for foster homes.
Being on the East Coast, (and already having a house full of adopted pets and foster animals) fostering isn't really an option, but I had to do something other than sitting here feeling helpless.
Luckily, I belong to Team Etsy For Animals, an organization of Etsy shop owners who work together to promote and donate to animal causes. Many of us got together and decided that we would donate some of the proceeds from the sales of our stores to the Berkeley shelter's recovery. Some stores, like mine, have special items earmarked for the cause, with 100% of the money from the sale of these particular selections going to the shelter. Other stores are contributing by offering a percentage of their month's overall take. Either way, what this means for you, dear reader, is that you can help the Berkeley shelter recover while raking in some excellent handcrafted goodies.
Among the items in my shop that benefit the shelter are cardsets and copies of my Yummy for Dogs cookbook for dogs. The more of these benefit items sold, the more I will make and put out for sale, so keep checking back throughout the month of June.
I'm happy to say I'm not alone in this cause, and I hope you'll visit the shops of my teammates who are also devoted to helping the Berkeley shelter recover. Click here for a full listing of participating stores and links to them.
Thanks for clicking. Have fun shopping for the animals!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free (or significantly reduced anyway)

Scott hates closeout stores, to begin with. There is no doubt about that. You must remember this or nothing that follows will seem wonderous...

(Photo: Scott toting my treasures to the car. Aww!)

Yes! I finally made it to Ollie's, a Big Lotsyish store filled with near-expireds and overruns. I adore these places, because I love a good treasure hunt, and you have to sort through a lot of horrible crap to find the nearly-free diamonds in the rough.

Scott hates these places because he sees these finds as something akin to blood diamonds--the gems found tempered by the knowledge that someone worked long hours making the useless junk we dug through to find them. I can definitely see his point, but hey, Martha Stewart Stamp Sets $1.49! It's Martha, people!
Purty bird stamps are not to be scoffed at, and as I mentioned on the Fiskateer message board, I'm sharing some of my treasures with my loyal fans. I picked up an extra set of these wee little avians and will be giving them away to someone who takes the time to leave me a comment on this post. Don't worry, I'm not going to force anyone to push my blog all over hillanddale, foisting links on your friends, message boards or blog followers. I just want to know what species of bird is your favorite (I'd love to know why, too, but that's not mandatory). Mine is the cormorant, thanks to a freaking fabulous poem by Richard Brautigan:

The Castle of the Cormorants

Hamlet with
a cormorant
under his arm
married Ophelia.
She was still
wet from drowning.
She looked like
a white flower
that had been
left in the
rain too long.
I love you,
said Ophelia,
and I love
that dark
bird you
hold in
your arms.

(Ha ha, I got you to read poetry!)

If you have loved and read Hamlet as many times as I have, and you have seen cormorants with their awkward, teenage bodies and their near suicidal drop into frigid, black waters, you can probably also understand what I love about this poem. Anyway, I was going somewhere with this. Oh yeah, free stuff. Name a bird you like. I will draw a name in a week and one of you with win these stamps* and a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax**.
There is one thing Scott does enjoy about these stores and that is playing a game I like to call. "I can see why this was so popular." in which we find the least appealing item in the store. The winner this time?

3-C Cranberry Sauce: The Industrial Strength Cranberry Sauce
I made up the slogan, but not the name. And look at that photo. Food always looks great when you photograph it with an instamatic! Mmm.
So that's it for now. Give me your birds, and if luck is with you when I pick a number next week, I'll let you know.


**Not really.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Socks and Pajamas

Nope we didn't adopt a pair of new cats with these names. Keep reading.

I had a feeling things weren't going to proceed very smoothly last Saturday, when I woke up at 8, blinked at the clock and realized I should have been at the airport ten minutes ago.

Scott has a learning disability that cripples the part of his brain that's in charge of boarding and takeoff times. I know this. I've known this for more than 15 years now, and yet I listened to him the night before when he said, "oh, we'll have plenty of time if we leave the house by 8:30" (to leave the Earth's surface at 9:20). In a lineless, security-wandless fairyland, sure. At RDU, it's right on time to shoot Ms. OCD into crisis mode.

But wait...there's more. As we dive into the car and sail toward the airport, my phone makes the dreaded dee-dee-dee sound I know so well. Battery is dead. I hear this sound at least once a day because of the age of my phone and my reluctance to stand around the AT&T store. Sure, I can amuse myself, poking at different phones and flipping through the various photos people have taken of themselves in line, but it's something I seem to forget about doing until something like this happens, when I don't have time to charge my phone, let alone trade it in.

And more? Oh yes. The minute I watch Scott drive away into the sunrise, I realize I have no photo i.d. None. It's in my jacket pocket. The jacket I didn't wear on this balmy May morning. And my now dead phone won't allow me to call to see if Scott can get it here before the plane takes off. Sigh.

The woman at the counter is so nice, it's almost scary. Do I have a Sam's card? Nope. Anything with my photo? A credit card? Nope. I put a photo of my dog on it instead (how was I supposed to know it was supposed to be used for i.d? I thought the picture was akin to having kittens on your checks.) I wasn't sure if I should be made nervous by the fact that they let me through with a social security card and an expired health insurance card, but I decided to just be glad I wasn't grounded and slipped through the line.

Now, I thrive on routine and organization. I know it doesn't look like it from a distance, but it's something I not only thrive upon, but require to survive. All of this rapid-fire chaos was making my brain rattle around in its casing. I thought I was being halfway normal, but even the wheelchair driver zooming me around was like, "Breathe, it'll be okay." Until she looked at the time. Then, she started running, making the world a rollercoaster of flickering butts from my point of view.

Well, I did make it, and though the trip was sprinkled with broken airconditioners, sweaty seat-mates and non-existant flights. Really. I was informed by my mom upon my arrival that the flight I had just exited did not exist. (If I had a spookier effect than itallics that I could use right now, I would.) It wasn't listed on the boards. The airline, when asked, knew nothing about it. My luggage even arrived on the carousel marked for some flight from Philadelphia. (Yes, I will sell my story to you, Twilight Zone 2000 producers. Email me.)

Finally settled into the hotel, and after a lovely mojito, mom decides it's pajama time while I parouse the hotel's instruction manual. I am probably the only person who reads these cover-to-cover upon arrival, but I like to know the layout of the place, what kind of things I can have sent to my room, where the pool and fitness center are in case I want to take a quick jog on the treadmill or do some bench presses, and what time my sleep will be interrupted by the cleaning crew in the a.m. since I'll forget to put the sign on the doorknob like I always do. There isn't a housekeeping employee out there who hasn't seen my look of confusion when I wake up in the midst of their keeping house. They usually don't notice I'm there till I sit up and say hell0, and I'm so used to this routine by now, I'm asleep before they can go "Oh my god I didn't see you there" and leave the room. Incidentally, this has contributed to my belief that I am invisible while asleep. Must plan more experiments. Anyway...

I notice that the included map does not highlight fire exits, and I am nerdy enough to demand knowledge of such things. I look at the door and think about getting up to check, but I decide to just ask mom if she noticed. Being used to my sky-high level of preparedness she says something about it being just a couple doors down. I decide if anything untoward happens I can just follow her and promptly forget about it. Not thirty minutes later, the fire alarm goes off. We both grab sweaters, I grab my shoes (high-tops as always, so there's no slipping them on quickly) and exit the room. Both of us have been in hotel fires (no, we don't start them, we just travel a lot), so a) we know the routine and b) we have a strong aversion to catching on fire.

In the hallway, lights are flashing and the fireproof doors are closing to encapsulate the hall into managable segments, should the fire be on our floor. We don't see smoke, and I have the worst sense of direction ever so I immediately dart in the opposite direction of the fire exit mom had seen. I'm darting down the hall, touching doorknobs carefully before opening (I think I learned that handy tip from Mr. T between Saturday morning cartoons. You can touch his jewelry the same way to acertain if he is on fire.) and for some reason, we can't find any stairs, just lots of people poking their heads out of their rooms asking what the alarm is about. Finally, waaaaaayyyy at the end of the hall, we find a thin little door and behind it, a very creepy stairwell. We take the stairs as fast as we can and finally there's a door leading outside, just four little steps away. Four of the freakin' cockroachiest stairs I've ever seen leading to the cockroachiest landing ever. Seriously, the floor is carpeted with dead roaches. Dead is better than live (Ow! My karma!) but I'm standing in my socks and for a few seconds I have to seriously consider whether my life is really worth having to walk across the cockroach valley of death in my socks. If my mom had not been standing behind me, I may not have done it, but I plow through, squealing all the way, out the door and...

into the middle of Royal Street. Seriously. There's no handle on the outside of the door and here are Socks and Pajamas standing in the middle of Friday night bar traffic, no less confused and out of place than if we'd been randomly teleported there. For several minutes we stand slackjawed and frozen. Then I see several black suited CIA looking guys with Hotel Omni Royal logos on their nametags shouting into walkie talkies that some drunk just broke the fire alarm box for the hotel. Which for some reason is located in the bar next door, apparently within brawling range.

The second we realize our lives aren't, and never were, in danger, we start feeling darn silly as people in eveningwear shove us aside, mom in her full-length romance-novel nightgown, me standing in my roachy-ass socks holding my shoes on the tips of my fingers like I'm trying to display them to the crowd. Mom, in particular, has a lot more dignity to lose than I do, and her expression rapidly changes from amusement to horror. I'm not a shy person, I can deal with a little public humiliation. She practically invented modesty, so for her sake, I try to escort her back to our room as quickly as possible knowing that the poor girl will likely be sleeping fully clothed from now on.
Did I say try? After hopscotching over the many wet spots and mysterious stains on the flagstones of Royal Street (I handled my socks with plastic bags over my hands when we got back that night.) and halfway up the steps leading into the hotel lobby, I notice that the Jazz band playing at the top of the stairs didn't seem to have bothered to evacuate when we did. Then I notice that they're coming toward us followed by a parade. I kid you not. Apparently, there was a huge wedding going on in the hotel and the alarm gave them an excuse to pack up and lead the bridal parade into the streets. There are trumpets and clarinets and hundreds (seriously) of people waving napkins and umbrellas and they all have us trapped in the middle of the stairs so we can't move in any direction at all while mom desperately tries to hide behind me. I hold up my shoes proudly and smile at the passing crowd because what else can you do?

Poor mom. She was blanched white (she's much darker skinned than I am, for those who know me and know that I would have to blanch clear) and embarassed beyond belief, worried that we'd ruined the girl's wedding. I assured her that we were hardly the weirdest thing they'd seen in New Orleans and even if they did notice, I'm sure they just leaned over to the person next to them and whispered, "Ol' Socks and Pajamas over there must be from his side of the family" and never gave it a second thought.

So, we didn't burn to ashes and had a bit of an adventure. Not a bad way to start a vacation. I don't know if mom will ever fully recover, but that's what red wine and hurricanes are for, and we were in the right place for it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fiskateers, Etsy, and Inlaws: Blend Well and Serve

Very pleasant weekend. My Etsy sales have picked up again following the post-xmas slump and I'm kept quite busy filling orders and working on custom items. I love my customers because they never let me get bored. I've got custom projects featuring photos of a flock of birds (the love kind, the cockateil kind, and some others too), an adorable black lab mix who is fond of showing off his belly, and stamped images a raven or two. Not everyone gets to work with such a menagerie. Pretty nifty.

Birthday cards and doxies have been on my desk too. I love this rattie jumping out of a cake (though if it happened in real life, it would probably be downright horrific.) The stamp is by In 2 Stamps, which makes lots of uber cute rat stamps. I don't understand the name though. Am I missing something?

Just returned from New Orleans to discover this unfinished, unposted post. So, this is what you get today. Tomorrow, I've got a ton of nifty things you'll want to check out. Heck, I've got enough finds and pics to keep this blog busy all week. So tune in next time...same rat-time, same rat-channel. Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh RATGIRL!