Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butter to my Bread and Breath to my Living

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.
-- Pope St. Gregory the Great

My dear Readers,

I have to admit it. During the past couple of months, I've been a Class A Whiney-Butt (what with getting sick over Halloween, putting a ton of work into my lace mountain only to have a precious few things sell, and my vertigo/insomnia coming back with a vengeance), but when it comes down to it, I just need to put on my Big Girl panties and deal with the trivial issues that come my way (Halloween comes every year, I can use the snowflakes and lace for all sorts of stuff, and my vertigo, even at its worst, at least has some entertainment value. I can sit on my bed, tilt my head back and pretend I'm on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride).

Even though it has been a bit tough, I can still look back and say that these past two years have been the happiest of my adult life.

I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that God has constantly been there, holding my safety net as I balance on the never-ending high wire that is my life. It's fair to say that I've been going through one of Screwtape's "Troughs" (anyone who has read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis knows what that is), but even so, compared to my college days and childhood, I'm feeling closer to my Lord and Savior now than I ever have. 

God has blessed me in so many ways. I know that I have MASTERED the art of complaining. But when I take time to reflect, meditate, and spend some time with Christ, I can't help but shrink a little and blush in embarrassment at the spoiled and childlike thoughts that go through my head.

I have absolutely NO reason to complain. God has given me a family who will love me and support me no matter what, the very BEST education that a person could ever ask for, and a wonderfully eclectic mix of life experiences that have shaped me, tested me, and given me the knowledge and wisdom to live my life to the fullest and help others.

God has lead me to a job that I LOVE, and I am surrounded by people who I am PROUD to know.

God has seen to it that I have a roof over my head, good food in my stomach, and has generally filled me up with good things.

Mary's Magnificat comes to mind: (Luke 1:46-55)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from this day all generations will call me blessed;
For the mighty one has done great things to me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts;
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the holy;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed forever
God has showered me with gifts and blessings beyond imagination. However, one of the greatest gifts God has given me (Aside from his Son, the Earth, and the human brain the frontal and parietal lobes, specifically), is my wonderful boyfriend John.

John, at first glance, seems to be everything that I am NOT. He's tall, I'm short. He's more reserved, I'm more of a loudmouth. He's more introverted, I'm a bit more extroverted.

And yes, Readers...John is an Atheist/Agnostic. I am a Christian.

Happily, though, it is because of these differences that we seem to EXCEL in meeting each other's needs in this relationship.

I have a habit of ranting. When I get upset, I have this need to grab whoever is handy and let them know each and every thought that goes through my head. But luckily for me, John is there, and will always acknowledge, listen, and advise without being patronizing, arrogant or judgemental.

John often feels like he needs to be my protector/bodyguard. And there are many times when I feel fragile, vulnerable and scared. He has told me that when he cares about something, he feels the need to protect it. God knows that John has always been there to protect me and make me feel safe and secure.

John loves going out and trying new and crazy things. While I am a bit more of an extrovert, I tend to get nervous at the thought of leaving my comfort zone. John has introduced me and encouraged me to discover Thai cooking, tofu, painting (acrylics and oils), H.P. Lovecraft,  jogging, FLCL and other forms of insane anime, clamming, Italian slush, and the occasional (VERY occasional) hookah (I VERY rarely smoke, its bad on the voche).

Looking back on all of the relationships I've been in, I can't help but smile at the beautiful irony this one brings. It is through John, an Atheist (who, while always respectful and sensitive to my faith, will always let his truthful opinion be known if asked), that I feel I have found my true relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ. 

The reason, Readers? 

The love that John has for me (and I for him) is a direct reflection of the love my Lord and Savior has for me and the rest of humanity. 

I've written before that John has opened my eyes to how a woman should be treated in romance. But it's more, SO much more, than just opening doors, offering his arm, holding my hand as we walk though the park, and being there when I need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

John is the first man I've dated who honestly, HONESTLY loves me for being nothing but my true, authentic self. Just as God does.

John has taken the time to learn as much as he can about me. He asks me questions. He makes observations. And he notices things, the smallest details, habits and nuances that set me apart from everyone else.

Readers, an example:

A few months after we started officially dating, I was in a silly romantic mood and asked John what it was that first physically attracted him to me. He replied,

"Well, I'd have to say that it was your shoulders. More specifically, Sweetie, the way you hold yourself when you look backwards at someone or something. It's graceful."

He then proceeded to happily demonstrate this pose in his sketchbook, taking care to accurately portray my slightly uneven eyebrows and pug (John refers to it as a "pixie") nose.

There are times when we'll be at my apartment watching reruns, sitting next to each other on the couch, silently. I'll be crocheting/knitting/what have you, and John will usually be sketching his next painting concept or comic idea in his sketchpad. As I'm working, there are times when I'll feel John's hand over mine. He will take my hand in his, position it, look at it, closely, with the keen eyes of the wonderful artist he is, and then sketch it as a reference.

Makes me think of how God must have keenly observed every detail of every person, thing and creature that he created as he was making the Earth.

Yes, Readers, it is true. I am in love with an Atheist. However, this Atheist has helped bring me closer to God than I ever have been in my memory.

John is the butter to my bread. The cheese to my macaroni.

Just as God is the breath to my life.

Readers,

If there is one thing that I can take from all of this, its that God likes to mix things up. We learn things from unexpected circumstances. We find joy and happiness in the most unfamiliar places.

God sent John to me so that I can learn what true love is. What God's love is.

So no, Readers. There is no reason for me to complain. God has filled me, this scatterbrained, implusive, unorganized handmaiden, with every wonderful thing I can possibly ever need.

And by God, I can't wait to see what the future will bring.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Craft Sale and Lessons Learned

Good Morning Readers!

So, after all of the pinning, starching, crocheting, last minute primping, ironing, and so on and so forth, the "Holiday Gift Show and Craft Fair" has finally arrived!

Sadly...as of now, I have only sold two snowflakes out of the 35 I have entered.

I can't help but admit that my heart is sinking. However, I do think that this was a GREAT deal of fun, and an all around good experience! The other vendors at the fair were AMAZING...How can a few tiny white Christmas ornaments hold up to felted flower headbands (I bought one, a yellow Dhalia), handmade Christmas Cards (VERY reasonably priced!) and handmade soaps, candles, wreaths and birdhouses?

I learned a couple of things from this experience; and a couple of the reasons WHY my snowflakes didn't go over as well as I thought they would:

1. I didn't really think my presentation of my flakes through. The other vendors had some WONDERFUL ways to showcase their wares: sparkly table clothes, old photo frames revamped as card holders, boxes and shelves and jewelry hooks of every kind...I ran out last night to Ross and picked up a mini Christmas tree at the last minute. My table looked bare in comparison; and kind of cheap.

2. My snowflakes were a bit too expensive compared to the other things for sale. I had priced my snowflakes as follows: $1 for x small, $3 for small, $5 for medium, $7 for large, and $10 for extra large/fancy. As of now (the sale goes until 3pm,) I have only sold two flakes, a large and a small. I was set up right next to the soap vendor; where you can get a bar of hand milled soap (in BEAUTIFUL scents and shapes) for just $4, so by comparison my prices looked like highway robbery. The doilies, I am reasonably sure, are NOT going to sell...simply too expensive. While I LOVED the organic Alpaca yarn I used, the customers didn't seem to appreciate the high price that this material demanded in order for me to make a profit AT ALL.

3. I made the HUGE mistake of forgetting to add my vendor number to my price tags. This lead to a panicky moment where I grabbed a pen off of the cashier table and started to frantically scribble "vendor 7" on each price tag...and that certainly did NOT help my professional crafty demeanor :-P.

Next year, I'm going to do this again, FOR SURE, but I am going to do a few things differently:

First, I am going to "bundle" my flakes in groups of four or five of the same pattern, and price them at $15-$30  for a set. This is MUCH more consumer friendly, as I know a lot of people who are buying Christmas decorations want things that match.

Second, I'm going to be much more careful about my presentation. Tablecloth? Yes. Tree that can showcase the details of each flake? Yes. Price tags that look more thought out and neat? Hecks yes. 

Third, I'm going to shy away from the uber expensive materials. I Love, LOOOOVVVEEEE all things cashmere, alpaca, mohair...but the typical buyer at a craft fair usually only sees the PRICE, and not the work and the high quality material that went into the product.

And lastly...no more doilies or pillows. Just snowflakes. :-) Not necessarily just snowflake ORNAMENTS, mind you...These things are VERY versatile! Snowflake on card stock for a lovely Christmas card? Hecks yes! Tiny snowflakes made into earrings? Oh yeah! Lace collar with a snowflake motif? Yeah Baby!!!

All in all, lessons learned, and a bunch of lace ornaments and doilies left over...

Guess what everyone in my immediate family is getting for Christmas? :-D

**Edit:**

Well, thats the end of the sale. Only sold five snowflakes; small ones.

Long story short, I'm crushed. I spent SO LONG and worked SO DAMN HARD on those flakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

two things...

Good Morning Readers!

Firsties...to all those who protect and serve, I love you and thank you for protecting me and my country!

Secondly...Its 11-11-11!!!!!

<3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Tantalizing Tale of the Telemarketer

In every office in America...in every reception desk, every voice mailbox, at every switchboard...a fierce battle is being waged.

I have seen grown men reduced to screaming incoherent obscenities. I have seen entire departments completely redo the organization of their phone systems to keep the enemies at bay, only to find that all of their efforts have been in vain.

Yes readers, it is true...the telemarketers are upon us.

The telemarketer, also known as the cold caller, solicitor, or the "courtesy caller", is a clever foe, who is difficult to defeat. But there ARE ways, readers! One needs to arm themselves with a few things:
1. A sharp tongue
2.A strong disposition
3. A working knowledge of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

Heh...yes, Readers, I'm feeling a bit silly today. Seriously, though, the sheer number of cold sales calls I'm getting are starting to reach a new level of ridiculousness.

Not that all sales calls are bad, necessarily. I know, being a former cold caller myself (I did a bit of it while working at the shipping company), that most of the people on the other end of the line would rather NOT be there. I also know that this is still a legitimate way of doing business, even though it has a tendency to annoy people to the point of insanity.

I don't really mind it when I get a cold call that is honest. Telemarketers out there, PLEASE take note: If I ask you if the phone call is a solicitation, and you LIE to me, YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW AND ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE TCPA. Even if you are not necessarily selling a product, you are still soliciting your business. If you are calling to just "introduce your company" or "offer us a discount on your services", it is still a solicitation.

Yes, readers, I know...businesses are not completely covered under the TCPA. HOWEVER, there are provisions in the updated act that protect businesses from overaggressive and deceptive sales practices. Yes, Telemarketers...if you get snotty with me if I ask you if you are a solicitor and say "I'M NOT SELLING ANYTHING!" YOU ARE COMMITTING FRAUD. So, STOP IT!

Luckily for me, I have been trained reasonably well to recognize when a phone call is a sleazy telemarketer. Usually, the call starts with, "Can I speak to the general manager?" or, "May I speak with your CEO?", or (my personal favorite, I LOVE these ones because I can have a bit of fun at the telemarketers expense), "May I speak with (insert name of our company's founders who have been dead for twenty years).?"

At this point, I ask the key question: "Thank you for calling. Is this a solicitation?"

Now, Readers, If the telemarketer is HONEST with me, (which, they HAVE to be as dictated by the TCPA), then everything is hunky dory. Our firm has a hot line and email address for "prospective vendors," where they can do their pitch, send us a competitive bid, and if we want to do business with them, we give them a call. Bing, Bang, Boom, everybody is happy.

If the telemarketer tries to pull a fast one...they get added to THE LIST.

Readers, a distinction: since our number is a business number, it is technically public information. Therefore, we are not eligible to be put on the national "Do Not Call" registry. (Well, technically we CAN, but if this is violated, we are not able to put a complaint through to the FCC). THE LIST refers to our own list of companies we have requested to not call us.

What's nice about my switchboard software is that it does this automatically for me. When I send a call do THE LIST, two things happen: First, the telemarketer hears a pre-recorded message that says, "Please add our company to your Do Not Call list. Thank you." Second, the number, time of call, and duration of the call are added to a database that keeps track of the people we have asked not to call us.

Occasionally, I get a few turds who call back right after I send them, to say, "BUT I'M NOT SEEEEELLLLIIIINNNNG ANYTHING!!! I JUST WANT TO INTRODUCE MY BUSSSSIIINNNNESSSS!!!!!" Again, you slime ball...YES YOU ARE. You are soliciting your business, even if you are not necessarily selling a product.

Telemarketers...if you call me again after I sent you to that message...WE ARE ABLE TO TRACK YOU DOWN AND SLAP YOU WITH A LAWSUIT. And, I know this for a fact, my company has. Two of our partners recently put the fear of GOD into a couple of large companies that have violated this law.

So, Readers...Arm yourselves! Educate yourselves!!

TO BATTLE!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

word and lace doodles...

Feeling a bit semtimental and poetic tonight :-)
First, came across some bad poetry I wrote ages ago while still going to school at PLU. This is the only one that didn't sound like it came out of the journal of a 12 year old (you guys think my writing sucks NOW, you should have seen my drabbles at 18!)

Fireworks

I will never forget
The first day I saw them

Lying there, where everything was new
Looking up into a field of turquoise and longing,
      that indescribable hue of azure
      that longs for the blackness
      yet still clenches onto the last tearing threads of the twiglight evening
I heave a breath, and silently
wish
       wait
                beg
                         plead for the lights to appear.
The show begins
gentle and hestitant roman candles,
creeping up...
                      up...
                             up...
and surround me with a warm glow.

*snapsnapsnapsnapsnap*

thank you :-P

In addition to reminicing over bad poetry, made a ton of progress on my lace mountain!


Got a bunch of doilies and snowflakes finished!


The flakes are coming along gloriously!

These ones are still in the process of being starched...I've NEVER pinned snowflakes this detailed before; my kitchen is beginning to look like an acupuncure clinic with everything being pinned down and sprayed with laundry starch.

This flake is my personal favorite; its the "Kings' Crown" snowflake pattern made by the very fabulous Snowcatcher, her blog can be found here:
http://www.snowcatcher.net/

<3~