Friday, June 26, 2015

#LoveWins

Earlier this morning, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that individual states can no longer ban same-sex marriage, stating that homosexual couples seeking permanent commitment deserve "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."  We're far from perfect equality for all in this country, but we're at least headed in the right direction.  No matter a person's feelings on the issue, I think we should all be wary of a government that wishes to legislate "morality," and I do hope this is seen as a victory for humanity in that we are free to make decisions, and live according to our individual values.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Oh My Darling, Clementine

Mouthful of Forevers 

I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we'd given up 
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You 
will hold me like I'm hope. Our arms 
will bandage us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
on your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.

And I will not be afraid
of your scars.

I know sometimes
it's still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it's the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

From Etsy to Sweatsy

"How a handmade mecca went from part of a movement to part of the problem."

In the above link, April Winchell, author of Regretsy: Where DIY meets WTF, and formerly of the website by the same name (may it rest in peace), discusses Etsy's fall from grace, its IPO announcement, and illustrates its journey from Main Street to Wall Street.

Hey, boys and girls, do you know how to spell "sellout?"

[Children together]
E-t-s-y...

Very good!

***

Apparently this topic needs to be revisited.  There seems to be a lot of confusion floating around surrounding peoples’ displeasure with the metamorphosis of Etsy Inc.  In fact, instead of trying to educate themselves on exactly why certain business owners are disturbed by Etsy’s practices, we see the Etsy Apologists in full force, diminishing the concerns of said business owners, and likening their disagreement with Etsy’s direction to that of  a lovers’ quarrel.  To me, this is not only rude, but an irresponsible use of your voice, not to mention unoriginal.  Regurgitating something you read on a forum or in a comment section that someone else said, once, more than half a decade ago makes you neither clever, nor informed.  If you are at all interested in why people are unhappy, by all means, ask them.  They will tell you, most are not shy.  In fact, that's how I became aware of the many hypocrisies, and double standards, or no standards at all in some circumstances, that have become commonplace in doing business with Etsy.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would be upset with a company that provided an inexpensive platform to open a storefront, and sell wares from, and then I bothered to listen to what was happening to individual store owners, and the struggles they were facing, and how or why those struggles, and concerns may impact business, and business owners alike, in the future by continuing to align themselves with Etsy Inc.

Recently, Etsy Inc. announced its IPO … a logical step for any business growing at a rate becoming difficult to sustain with its 300+  private investors.  But, is that really what’s going on here?  When you see Etsy has been operating at a loss since 2012, culminating in a 15.24 million USD loss in 2014 alone, is this the unsustainable growth everyone is talking about?  Couple this with the email Etsy itself sent out to business owners illustrating, among other things, two glaring, in-house, failures:
   
    1) A lack of adequate procedures and controls to appropriately account for certain
     non-income tax-related expenses and comply with the related filing requirements.

     2) And a lack of adequate cut-off procedures to ensure the timely recording of   
     certain period-end accruals.

More growth?  This screams utter incompetence spearheaded by lackluster leadership, to me.  Let me put it another way, a company employing past and present personnel who patronize, and treat many business owners like stereotypical brain-dead, "bored housewives" incapable of anything beyond kitchen table crafting can’t keep their own books straight, and pay their own taxes; the very things we as business owners must do ourselves. Laughable doesn’t even begin to describe this.  I don’t know about the rest of you sole-proprietors out there, but I report both to the state, and federal level, and have to keep immaculate records, because running a business is more than doodling cute pictures in a notebook whilst your boss delivers another rah-rah speech, and calling yourself a “tastemaker,” there’s actual work behind it.  While people are trying to sell this as just a way for a company to keep up with the demands of skyrocketing growth, what we’re really looking at here is nothing more than a bailout, one in fact, so large that its original investors couldn’t, or wouldn’t support a company already proving its inability to carry out a very basic level of office administration. 

So, while people get hung-up arguing whether there’s a difference between a company with 300+ private investors, or countless public shareholders, with both models typically having a board of directors to answer to anyway, they are really missing the point when they’re solely focusing on the argument from the financial mindset, which actually happens to be immaterial for a lot of people who are less than pleased with this move.  To me, there is quite a difference between a few hundred private investors, and a publicly traded company, if we disagree on this point, that’s fine, but you must understand that this one single decision is not what is causing many, if not most, people to label Etsy Inc. as a “sellout.”  It is, however, seen by some as the point of no return in a long list of moves made by Etsy that further removes us from the resolution, and elimination of long ignored problems. 

Let’s consult Dictionary.com shall we?

Sellout
[sel-out]
Noun

1.  an act or instance of selling out.

2.  an entertainment, as a show or athletic event, for which all the seats are sold.

3.  Informal. a person who betrays a cause, organization, or the like; traitor.

4.  Informal. a person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement.


The disgust for this company does not come from people not wanting Etsy Inc. to grow, and make more money, or a lack of understanding what an IPO is.  It is the complete abandonment of the original mission statement, and ideals on which this company was founded, painstakingly built, and marketed through the hard work of like-minded sellers, as well as the overwhelming inadequacies of the Brooklyn offices, on top of shady, bait & switch type behavior, lack of ethics, and murky, at best, “transparency” that seems to have become standard practice at headquarters.  Together with the disrespectful attitudes shown toward business owners from employees of Etsy Inc. oftentimes including, but not limited to its very own CEO, is what is making longtime account holders gag.

The truth of the matter is, a great many of the business owners on Etsy.com, who by the way typically come with highly educated, and / or specialized backgrounds, never actually needed Etsy, they wanted Etsy because they believed in creating a marketplace that meant something beyond a grubby cash-grab.

Rob Kalin, Founder of Etsy:
Rokali 4:26 pm Mar 3, 2007 EST
Etsy is an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade. Etsy is built by artists, for artists -- and for customers conscious of the true value of handmade goods and their creators.
Etsy's marketplace is a community. At the heart of every transaction is a direct relationship between the maker and the buyer.
We, the members of this community, join together to earn a living from what we make and to support those who make things. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy Handmade. Cradled in our community, our intention is to support the independent artist and create viable alternatives to mass-produced objects in the world's marketplace.
With the Industrial Revolution we lost the connection between producer and consumer; we no longer know who makes our daily bread, our clothes or our furniture.
We are using the Web to reconnect: to once again allow the producer and the consumer to know each other; to swing the pendulum back to a time when we bought our bread from the baker, food from the grocer, and shoes from the cobbler. Through the forging of friendships and with a commitment to hard work, our community and our cause will prosper.
Was Etsy going to change the world?  Probably not, but it was definitely having an impact on the face of e-commerce as we know it.  Taking us out of the big box stores, or strip malls of yesteryear, and putting consumers, and creators together forming symbiotic relationships, the likes of which are rarely seen in commerce, and retail.  A place where people (creators, manufacturers, producers, tradesmen, etc.) were not exploited, and consumers were not duped out of their hard earned coin.  This can no longer be said with any sort of confidence about Etsy.  “Buyer Beware” should always be at the forefront of all purchases, let alone online shopping, no matter how socially conscious a company may seem, because none of us (person, or business) is infallible, however, while Etsy eagerly changes its mission statement, to remove the handmade sentiment, more often than most people change their socks, yet riding on the coattails of the reputation created by the community of artists, artisans, and suppliers believing and adhering to the original message, with Etsy still trying to white-knuckle its shaky B Corp status (that has been under fire from the start, anyway), you can see where things get a little confusing for the consumer.  To be fair, there are many consumers who just don’t care where their goods come from at all, whether by ignorance, or lack of interest.  Others, however, do care, and therein lies the rub for those who are sick of the status quo when it comes to commerce, which has always consisted of slave labor, child labor, exploitation, human rights violations, and ecologically irresponsible practices (just to name a few), of one degree or another.  Etsy was an opportunity to change that, but instead of focusing on closing the gaps, and stitching up loopholes within the Etsy community that were allowing people to collapse the integrity of the platform by selling mass produced, factory manufactured goods (spanning the ethical and humane spectrum with no noticeable controls in place) they allowed these storefronts to chip away at the very foundation on which Etsy was built.  With this major flaw in the framework, once Etsy conceded to allow business owners to partner with “vetted” manufacturers, suppliers, and factories many saw this as only exacerbating an already uncontrollable problem into what we see on the site now as a catch-me-if-you-can scenario, with sweatshop materials flooding the marketplace at an alarming rate, and what I see becoming an even more intensified problem thanks in part to the decision to take Etsy Inc. public, because in doing so, the focus is geared toward creating value for shareholders, which I believe will decrease the desire to eliminate stores abusing these weaknesses Etsy is already known for.  So, when I hear the phrase, “They’re treating Etsy like a boyfriend who broke their hearts,” being applied to business owners who find themselves at a crossroads with a company known for abandoning its core ideals whenever it’s convenient, and redefining buzzwords in order to spit-polish its rapidly tarnishing reputation, and keep itself relevant, I am beyond baffled as to how anyone could possibly be so out of touch. 

It’s not about broken hearts, or broken promises.  It’s about a little something called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that one or two of us around the world still believes is important.  It’s about putting people FIRST, and "things" further down the list.  It’s about making money without losing your soul in the process.  It’s about recognizing that a true global community is not about disenfranchised “others” living the life of peasants in order to serve, and supply our gluttonous demands for all the cheap, glorious, disposable JUNK we fill our surroundings with, and call “living,” while we keep telling the lie that poverty is the product of laziness, and nothing else. 

No.  I don't have a broken heart.  I have a sick stomach because, beyond my education in apparel, and textile design, merchandising, manufacturing, business, and international trade, I actually do look beyond the catchy headlines to uncover truth in order to stay abreast of what's happening in our world, and understand that unbelievable prices come from unbelievable working, and living conditions.

 The True Cost


Bottom line: What are you comfortable investing in?



Post Update: June 20, 2015
In the wake of plummeting stock prices ($14.31 down from $30 per share), Etsy announced June 16, 2015 that it will now enter into beta testing its very own version of crowdfunding called, Fund on Etsy.  Playing with the idea of crowd-sourcing without cracking down on store owners already abusing Etsy's next to non-existent enforcement of the use of non-vetted factories? What could possibly go wrong?

I mean, it's still "handmade," right???

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Little Girl Found




Some love, when you finally find it, actually has no beginning at all. It is with you, alive the entire time.

Primordial.

Love of self, twin flames, children born or unborn, whatever love makes your soul vibrate in unison with the universe, celebrate it!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ob-Sassenach

It started in earnest a couple of months ago ... Innocently enough, actually ...  A woman contacted me hoping I'd be able to make her a scarf inspired by some of the knitted garments from a recently aired television series. Not being one to traverse the waters of custom orders all that often, I admit the current of curiosity was a little too strong this time, and I was soon swept away. After receiving a collage of photographs, and screenshots from Outlander, and talking it over with my soon-to-be new customer who knew exactly what she wanted, with visual aids, how could I say no?

Having already seen the first episode by stumbling upon some free-promo-thing on TV, but unable to remember any neck-wear of note, it was down to Episode Two. I gathered my checklist of knitting accoutrement necessary for the undertaking: Large needles, practice yarn, calculator, notebook, pen & measuring tape, and settled in for some gauge swatching & TV watching. Instantly recognizing "Dwalin," and "Jackie Elliot," (and they're brothers! *swoon*) I figured it had to be decent, at the very least. The hour passed in combinations of knitting, glancing, number crunching, ripping out frogging, and starting completely over, until finally the scarf in question appeared on screen ... BAM, credits.  This won't do ... Episode Three!  I HAVE to see more scarf (or so I told myself). It went on like this for quite awhile, er, long after the actual knitting stopped, in fact.  I felt myself getting drowsy ... Just one more. I can relax on the couch and snuggle in and just catch one more episode (that's how I reconciled 5 & 6). But when Six ended with Claire storming past a group of Highland Scots, marriage contract in one hand, and snatching a bottle of whiskey from Dougal (Dwalin / Graham McTavish) with the other, after he'd just rescued her from Redcoats sending one scampering like a tiny mouse just by walking toward him whilst staring, I knew I had to get Episode Seven IMMEDIATELY ... And by any means necessary!

For whatever reason, I HAD to know what happened to these people next ...

Er ...

So, I basically ended up freebasing the entire first half of Season One in a single night (I'm now patiently biding my time through the mid-season break for Part Deux's return April 4th, 2015), and it wasn't enough.  I've never seen a more vicious-to- viewers mid-season ending than Claire trapped with Black Jack Randall about to meet her doom, just as Jamie Take-Your-Hands-OFF-My-Wife Fraser bursts through the window.

End Scene.  Credits.  That's all folks, for six months!

I was online ordering the first book before Sam Heughan got to the "e" in wife, and have since been burning through them as fast as I can get my hands on them -- Let's put it this way, if drone delivery were readily available I'd have been turning the last page of Book One with my other hand waiting outside my front door for a copy of Book Two to be dropped into it without lifting an eyelid.

My new shameless addiction aside, what I find interesting is how strangers have the ability shape each other's lives, and all because someone decided to go out on a limb and ask if I could do something for her, and by doing so, she has given something back to me that I've really come to enjoy.  Don't mistake me, I'm definitely not saying we all need to become followers marching single file behind the same drummer, or white knuckle each latest piece of pop culture shot out at us by The Machine, or freak out over frivolous television shows.  I mean paying attention to the ebb and flow of even the most casual encounters, because you truly never know where the next little spark to light your fire may come from, and that is always a gift to be thankful for. 


Oh yeah, and kilts.  Because, kilts.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome

xoxo

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's That Time Again ...

And not because I'm back ... well, not only because I'm back! After a rather strange, and challenging 2013 only to turn around and chop slice the tip of my finger off earlier this year with this guy, and now fully understand why he's typically sold with his little friend I packed it in, and said "so long" to the Internet for awhile.  I figured it could survive without me. I thought I was made of tougher stuff! Sew through my finger? No problem! But I'm no chef, and completely unaccustomed to chopping off finger tips, and shaving the odd knuckle off here and there so, firmly into hibernation I slipped.

For those of you saying to yourselves right now: Accidents only happen when you're not paying attention. Yeah, I used to be you ... All I can say is you've obviously never used a mandolin slicer!  Apparently, accidents CAN happen when you're focused, and paying attention when it comes to Japanese kitchen utensils.

So, why is this the most wonderful time of the year (aside from having me back, and the buzz of the encroaching holidays in the air, of course)?  The Worldbuilders are at it again with their fundraising efforts in full swing on behalf of Heifer International, which is a charity I find really interesting, and am happy to support when, and how I can.  Its simultaneous massive reach, yet grass roots way the program touches the lives of the people it helps, fascinates me.  Doubly cool, is that Worldbuilders is the brainchild of my English-101-professor-turned-bestselling-fantasy-author, Patrick Rothfuss.  While, to me, he'll always be the scruffy chinned, grad student making my essays bleed red ink, this majestic warlock of the literary world who could be cashing his advance checks, and swimming in a bin of gold coins à la Scrooge McDuck, is trying, and I think, succeeding at doing something far more special (as much as I've always wanted to swim in a bin full of money...).  Every year his assembled team of world-building minions who keep the Rothfuss machine well-oiled and maintained, crack their knuckles and get to work connecting Geeks & Geekerati alike from far and wide for this one major event (including stretch goals to keep us digging into our pockets searching for more dough, see: Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham for one such example) to raise money for people in the kind of crippling poverty, and despair most spoiled Americans, like myself, can only begin to imagine. How much money, you ask? Last year brought in 681,000.00 USD, an amount they're looking to beat this year, with eleven days to go and the total already sitting at 492,684.00 USD as I type this, I think this will be another record breaking year. 

How can you join the fundraising mayhem?  Several ways, actually! Between online auctions for donated rarities of the geekiest sort, to buying things straight from Pat's store, The Tinker's Pack, where all proceeds go to charity all year long (every single purchase), or by just straight-up donating on the Worldbuilders page, where each donation of ten dollars gets you an entry into the massive lottery of donated books, games, and delightfully dorky miscellany. Act quickly if you're interested in getting your paws on some swag whilst helping people feed themselves, their families, and rescue their village's economy. Even though sales through Pat's website are constantly put toward charity, this particular event ends December 15, 2014 so, get to clickin' if you don't want to miss out!

xoxo

P.S. When a website offers the option for the author to scribble whatever you want on the cover page of the book you just ordered, things like this happen:

For Stormy, My favorite English 101 student of all time!
While the sentiment may, or may not be true, I was in his very first 101 class, and I do have it in writing now so, it's his word against mine at this point.

P.P.S. The finger's fine, save for a little scar tissue. I'm clearly a shape-shifter, or at the very least, part starfish. Oh, and thank God my brother wakes up at the crack of dawn, understands my left-handed texts, and is a retired medic (among other things) without whom, I most likely would've bled to death. And thank God, for rubber bands, and that one year I was in Camp Fire.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

My New Obsession

Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series

Typewriter Series #898

I heard you howling
from the depths
of me.
You were the scream
and I
was the still night air,
You whispered from
inside,
the simple truth
that there isn't a priest
with a cross big enough 
to exorcise you
from me.
You will haunt
and slam shut,
in the middle of all
my nights,
the doors inside me.
I will count your footsteps
in the cellar of my soul
and beg you
to pass through me
just once more.
Just once.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lighten Up, It's Just Fashion!

Which is true, except when it's not. 

With New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2014 winding down, and London's just getting underway; air kisses hanging like a thick cloud alongside thrilled gasps of front-row glitterati over how fabulous next year's donation pile is going to be, I'm wondering just how "fabulous" the people of last year's factory collapse in Bangladesh, and other sweatshop workers around the world are feeling.  My guess is, not very. 

Don't be fooled by the high price on your designer duds, the people behind the construction are, more typically than not, cutting and sewing in the same human rights violating factories pumping out threads for your local one-stop-shop retailer. 


At some point something's gotta give.  Right now our actions are saying that we value a pretty new dress over human life.  It's time to put the champagne down, and get real.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So Long, 2013 ...

 

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”


― Zora Neale Hurston (1903 - 1960), Their Eyes Were Watching God 





Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mama Called the Doctor, and the Doctor Said:

Fantastic?  Allons-y?  Geronimo?


While I feel a 50th anniversary special without Christopher Eccleston is no anniversary special at all (okay, I originally said: wasn't worth watching!), I'll still be tuning in to see what all the fuss is about, and if Billie Piper still mumbles everything she says.

We'll be missin' ya, Chris!  But really, you've already given us the gift of air from your lungs...
What more could we possibly want?



Happy anniversary, Doctor Who!

Edited to add: Yep & yep!  I was right on both accounts ... although, seeing John Hurt in a faux-hawk made it strangely worthwhile.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Party's Over ...


... It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away ...


I remember my grandfather crooning whilst we un-decorated his Christmas tree when I was still a very small girl, and reaching into the branches he came out with a pair of white, sequined peacock ornaments that he decided I'd give a pretty decent home to.  At the time, I thought they were "amazing!" a little later on, I thought, "who just has white sequined peacocks on their Christmas tree ... other than Liberace, of course ..."  Then, naturally, time passed, and they were wrapped up, and packed away, and all but forgot until many years later when my mother spied a newly purchased, white, sequined peacock proudly displayed (would a peacock have it any other way?) on my tree, at which she exclaimed with surprise, "Just like Grandpa's!"

I knew I'd been busted.

But mostly, I knew then, exactly WHO just has white sequined peacocks on their Christmas tree ... other than Liberace, of course.  Perhaps those of us who firmly believe there is no such thing as "too much," or those who have tossed out the less-is-more attitude in order to subscribe to the more-is-more school of thought, or who simply still allow ourselves the delight of being silly in an all too cynical environment. 

I hope everyone was able to slow down, spend time with the people they love, and make wonderful memories to keep your hearts warm all throughout our new year!

So long, 2012, the party's over...
xoxo