Saturday, June 30, 2012

Great Danes...the love and the drool.

This week I had the great big happy opportunity to walk a Great Dane..twice. Her name is Ruth. She is pretty much the perfect dog.
Things I really love about her...
*Her head. It is enormous and holds her soulful eyes and her ears are like velvet.
*Her incredibly good behavior on the leash. I mean, really..she must weigh 120lbs, and yet she heels at the slightest pressure and when you stop at crossings, she leans into you.
*The intimidation factor. People cross the street to avoid her. I felt like I could walk anywhere and there was a big sweet Ruth barrier of safety around me.
*She's playful in a really terrifying way. Again, her enormity is not to be understated, and when she decides to run in circles and whip around, one experiences a real sense of possible injury.

Things I don't love so much...
*There is no plastic bag that makes picking up that kind of poop okay. It's just...too much.
*When she drinks water, there is a torrent of the stuff that pours from her sweet gentle soft dog mouth. I do mean a torrent. Which is kind of icky.
Look at her. Resistance is futile. She is love.
 I also made many more ABC boxes this week. The WNYBAC show is in a month, and I have high hopes for these. I think that they'll sell well in person. I love them, and have enjoyed making them...and a profit would be nice!
My French is coming along well after a hiatus from it. Review went quickly and I'm back into new material, which is exciting! Practice is so important, and I have Carra to chat with. She teaches me all of the slang bits so I don't sound overly formal, and I have met a Frenchman named Tony...who I have yet to speak a word of French to. But I will. Je peux parle Francais avec Tony! Je peux!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

All work that feels like play makes flo happyyyyyy

Almost an entire week since I last posted. I've been concentrating on my etsy shop, trying to switch some things up and make some new items. I'm also beginning to turn my attention to the Buffalo Book Fest show at the Western New York Book Arts Center...
So here are some pics..

Some changes to the Be My Bridesmaid boxes. Plus...

Changes to the proposal ring boxes.
I've made more alphabet boxes, and changed some up. I'm being more discriminating about the images I'm using. Only originals, and more quirky/unusual. I plan to have enough to fill a printers drawer for the show.
Back to creating!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

unrelated, random, and irrelevant ish.

Is there any nutritional value in watermelon?
I hope so. I can't stop eating it. Tis the season. Nectarines, watermelon, cherries, plums. I saw some apricots at the store, and they were huge! I'm not saying that is a good thing. I do know that food has significantly less nutrition than it did 30 years ago. Everything is being cultivated to be bigger, more colorful, and survive transport. This means a drop in the minerals and vitamins in food. Bah. Gimme small, stunted veggies full of goodness.

Okay, it's been four weeks since my last 'shampoo' with baking soda. nothing has touched my hair but water. I've had some pretty greasy days, but overall my hair is really soft, shiny, and smells fine. Nik describes it thus 'it smells like you, you know. Like you, just not perfumed'. So far so good.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fathers are important.

I may not have a chance to post tomorrow, and I would like to acknowledge Father's Day. I loved my Dad..a lot. He was 43 when I was born, the last of his six kids. He had mellowed considerably, and my time with him was quite different from what my older siblings experienced. For me, he was gentle and safe and I loved the smell of his greasy forehead and his whiskers and his beautiful singing voice and his laugh.
 It has been 25 years since he died, and writing this makes me cry. What am I crying for, exactly? For the girl who lost her Dad before teenage-dom crept in to complicate it? I think that must be it. I have no frame of reference for my loss beyond 14 years old. He never saw one of my high school report cards, or dealt with my curfew or dating or driving. But still my heart swells up with a yearning sadness for the loss of him. And also with the love. He loved me, and I felt safe with him. I would like to think that we could have weathered all of the upheavals of living life together. That he would have accepted me when I came out at 19. That he would love Nik and her family. That he would have been at my wedding, and cried, because the men in my family are wonderful gentle souls who cry from joy. But. I will never know, and so I get to imagine it all being beautiful. And I get to hold on to the love he gave me. That's a joyful thing, and I'm grateful for it.

To the Father's I respect and know...
Love well, forgive, laugh, remember being young, heal so your kids don't have to carry your scars, take time, be gentle, be present, be present, be present. You only get the one go-'round. The tiniest moments have the potential to be beautiful gifts that stay and stay.

My naked face

Nik and I recently talked about the duality of makeup. It can be an adornment and embellishment, or it can be worn as a mask. I felt strangely defensive during the conversation. I wear makeup every day, and I don't feel like I'm wearing a mask, or hiding my true face. Yet, I won't run to the co-op without makeup. I'll risk missing a UPS delivery rather than answer the door with a bare face. I won't go anywhere without it, and that includes camping. Yes..I put on makeup while camping. 
Only two people ever see me without my 'face' on. My ever-loving spouse Nik and my sparkling unican best friend Carra. And even then, I have in the past 'put on' my eyebrows before Carra comes hang out in pajamas and eat supper and watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Really? I need to put on eyebrows for that? Nik, sweetnik gets the best of me, morning face, crying face, distorted hiccuping laughter face. And while it took awhile for that to happen, I always feel completely comfortable in my face with her.
So, am I hiding from the world behind my mineral veil? Am I deceiving with my filled in eyebrows? Am I applying a veneer over some culturally ingrained shame at my imperfections? Why, yes. Yes, I am. Discoloration, sun damage, wrinkles, blah blah, blah. But when I stop thinking of others looking at my face, and really feel life while looking out of it, I feel such happiness. I feel gleeful and glowing and well. So I thought maybe I ought to go naked, publicly. is my naked face.                                                                                                        

Friday, June 15, 2012

About self worth

An old post, but feels appropriate for me today..

This 13 Striped Ground Squirrel is her own squirrel. She's not staying away from tea time because she's naked, or because she isn't into plaid like those kitties who are glaring at her. She's got a fabulous hat on and she knows her stripes are lovely, and that she deserves to have tea...simply because there is tea to be had. She is a Ground Squirrel with a healthy Sacral Chakra.

"When Genevieve walked in at tea time..
 you could have heard a pin drop."

Thursday, June 14, 2012


What a simple pleasure it is to be home after time away. Especially time away in a tent. What a wonder it is to move about in full light at night. To have fresh foods, crisp from the fridge. And let's not forget the wonders of indoor plumbing. I waged an epic battle with the large and thirsty mosquitoes of Vermont, primarily in the form of drenching myself in chemical repellents. A passive approach to be sure, but effective. I miss the absence of human sounds, which was filled up with nature sounds. I miss the smell and the mountainous greens and the fog after rain, and the lakes.

So now we are home and were greeted with jubilant disdain by the cats. Bijou and her reverential love of routine. Boris and his wild vocalizations. They smell good and tell us stories and we sing to them and play their favorite games. It's a win win relationship dynamic. We feed them, clean their litter boxes, cater to their dietary preferences. I even decorate to Boris' standards. If a tchotchky isn't too heavy, he will launch it. If it is fragile, it will break. But really, he makes up for it by grooming my eyebrows, and learning how to purr, and melting into Nik's arms as he reaches out a paw to me *melt*.

We walked the Elmwood Village today, and it all felt nice and familiar. It has been my home for more than 10 years, after all. But for the first time in a long time, I find myself thinking in terms of 'away'. Thinking of all of the ways we can earn money from a rural locale. Thinking of community and how to find it or create it. Thinking of the people I'll miss, and the people I will meet. Thinking of my little flock of chickens, because it usually rolls back around to the chickens eventually. And so, I feel like we're home...ish. Eager to see more of Vermont, eager to take steps toward a move. But also wanting to pay extra attention to the things I love that are here.
And here is a card from March...
"I enter the woods, and plunge into nature"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oh Vermont.

I love it here. Yesterday we kayaked. I am a kayaker. I felt like a fresh water mermaid minus the hair. And tail. The lake was shallow at the edges and clear, so clear. One end was full of green, softly swaying aquatic plants and it felt like I was looking down on a forest. Small fish darting in an out like wingless birds. the middle was deep and quiet and peaceful.

We had another conversation with our new friend Regina. She's incredible and I feel really honored and excited to have met her. She will be our contact in Vermont! Today we will explore the south by car and tomorrow, home.

There is weather due. A nice soaker with the possibility of thunderstorms. We walked the tent, fully assembled, about 150 ft to a lean-to. It just fits inside! It makes me feel like I'm in a tree fort! Rain? Bring it.

To wrap up, a quick list of things I love right now....
The breeze
The chipmunks
This lean-to
The state of Vermont
And I am thankful to these folks for,in some way or other, making this trip possible...
My Parents, even though they're long gone
Roger and Marsha
Mammy and Pappy
And Regina, who has been an unexpected and joyful part of it!

Oh, and there are pictures from the trip on Instagram @flomade.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Camping is...

So...rugged. As we neared Vermont we Were surprised to find that there were no more Tim Hortons. Or Starbucks. Or, it seemed, any places that sell coffee by the cup. We did find a lovely little organic bakery eventually that sold us two iced coffees for the road.
For a while we followed behind a Walmart truck and wondered if it would vaporize on the Vermont boarder.

The campground is stunning. It smells of pine and is green and the light feels soft. We walked around Emerald Lake which is as green and clear as you would expect. There is an island in the center and today we will kayak and hike.

Our camp spot is secluded and very quiet and the Mosquitos are plentiful, persistent, and large. I hate the mosquito. I can respect that, like all things it has a role to play in our delicate ecosystem. But it Bites me, resulting in the chills and huge welt. I was shrouded in clothes and a plume of citronella spray last night until at last we retreated to the tent, me with a big bite on my forehead.

There were such owl calls last night! Sounds I've never heard and it was ethereal and beautiful and super creepy all at once. All in all a wonderful first day. Oh..and we met a remarkable, active, vibrant woman named Regina who is (71, and you'd not guess it) camping here too. She is learning to fly fish today and was a fount of info on living in the state.
All in all I love it. I have bug anxiety sometimes but I feel quiet and happily connected.
Oh...and supper was Pad Thai in a bag...and it was Delicious!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

oh, and...

a quickie update on my state of cleanliness. I'm using soap, but not on my face. I use a warm wash clothe and no moisturizer. I've noticed that my skin no longer has oily or dry patches. I used moisturizer one night and woke up super greasy.
Also, my hair...looks great! According to close sources, it also smells good, just not perfumed. No itching. No dandruff.

To Do Lists..

They're everywhere. There's the Home to do list, Packing to do, Camp gear to do list...Then there is the overarching Grand to do list. And I love it!
To Do:
*un pack and re pack (don't forget to charge camera battery!)
*clean the house
*leave notes to the 'nip mistress' from the cats...etc, etc...

I will also be putting my etsy shops 'on vacation' for the first time ever. Flomade's sales inevitably involve lots of emails and often a request to rush an item. I love custom orders best and to get one while away would distract and stress me. And I really want to be present on this trip. That means no Words With Friends, but I will still likely post photos to Instagram periodically.

We will see much of the State, drive through lots of rural areas, and talk to lots of people. Nik will be applying at some places along the way, and we will see what happens. There is so much I love about Buffalo, like the food...Bistro Europa and Kuni's and Nickel City Cheese and Merchantile (oohhhh, Nickel City Cheeeese). I would miss the close proximity to my sister Beth and the Cappy Ranch, walking to Carra's and hearing accordian as I approach, supper and drinks with Roger and Marsha, Coffee with Barb. The people I see regularly. Earl.

Rural property is the ultimate goal, but the more we look at the politics of NYS and the fracking the more we favor being somewhere else. We'll just have to see. The path we're on keeps unfolding before us whether we see it in advance or not. This trip may clear the way for a homestead in VT, or it may loop around and point us in another direction altogether. We can only see it one step at a time!

Here we go....weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

in a nutshell, or corn kernel.

Things I'm thankful for...
*Whirleypop and the amazing popcorn it makes
*Good eye contact with authentic people
*The love that pours through Nik'l into the delicious and healthy meals she shares
*Cheese that smells devastating and tastes like goats and love and nuance
*The gift Carra gives me when she lets me help her wade through a room full of history
*Each opportunity I get to live better, feel better, and be kinder to myself
*Cats that aren't mine, but who love me a little (never as much as they love their mother)
*Packing for a trip a week ahead of time, then unpacking, then doing it all again the night before we leave
*Leaving for a road trip very early in the morning
*Adventures with Nik to places we've never been
*Singing Melissa Manchester aloud in a space that echoes
*Iced coffee
*The way paint transforms a room, and the way it smells..mmmm
I could just go on and on today. I'm really, truly grateful and happy and feel such a tremendous lot of love in my life. Woot! Only Two days till we go camping in Vermont! :)!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

soap free update..

First soap free shower...wasn't soap free. I used a wee bit. And I noticed that the hot water made my skin feel dry and itchy...which led to moisturizing. I used jojoba oil which is nice, but you have to allow for some absorption time before getting dressed.
Should I be taking cool water showers to avoid the drying properties of hot water? Does that mean no more hot soaks in the tub? What about using soap on the southern tier of my being? What if I have sun screen or bug spray on my skin? Won't I need to use more than water to remove those things? Perhaps a dedicated search for a truly pure soap with minimal and pronounceable ingredients is due.
PhththththppphhhthththtT. More questions than answers. Maybe this is why I've found lots of shampoo free ladies, but no soap free ones.

A word about camping

We're going camping. On one hand, I love it so much. I love the quiet, and the birdsong and the smells. I love the campfire and taking long arse-whooping hikes. I love the vistas and woods and changes of scenery. I love the road trip to get there.

I do not love camp food. Due to the previously mentioned arse-whoppingness of the hikes, dinner is freeze dried and comes in a bag. We choose enticing sounding suppers like Katmandu Curry, and Pad Thai. Then we add boiling water, zip the bag back up, and wait. Oh, but first there is the removal of one of those little packets that come in a box of new shoes. You know the ones? The little anti-humidity 'Do Not Eat' packs? Can't forget that.

I also do not love my own wild imaginings of bears with personal vendettas against human beings for getting them addicted to marshmallows, then abandoning the parks all winter long. Which is, I imagine when a bear would especially want marshmallows. Lazing about, hibernating, waking for a fluffy snack. Sleeping in a nylon tent with sharp animals about is difficult for me. Getting up to pee in the night is an impossibility. I mean, really..I'm going to squat in the dark with raccoons marauding about with their little masks and potentially rabid brains? There could be furious chipmunks, tired of campers peeing above their homes. Waiting to bite me.

Hahaha, haha, ha.
I'm exaggerating. Nik would call it my 'drama', rambling on about imagined chipmunk attacks. And it is really. Drama. Tongue in cheek dramatic monologues in order to laugh at things I'm deeply, secretly afraid of. I've seen a rabid raccoon. I looked into it's eyes...and I know.

The Rabid Raccoon
 The re enactment of Nik facing off with it, pepper spray in hand..
.. though we both cowered and begged it to 'just walk away, just waaalk away'.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shampoo free

Here is my hair at one month shampoo free! The last two weeks I've used nothing but water.

Shampoo and soap free?

About a month ago Nik says to me, 'sodium laurel sulphide is terrifying and it's in everything!'(paraphrased). So we read about it, then looked at all of our health and beauty products, then looked up a few more toxic sounding ingredients. *shudder* They didn't just sound toxic, they pretty much are toxic. So I began to google around, looking for alternatives. All natural doesn't always mean no chemicals. Some lovely 'natural' products still have ingredients that don't make a lot of sense to me. Moisturizers with alcohol in them for instance.

Then I found a reference to 'no 'poo'. And there it was. Lots of people who have gone shampoo free and have found that (shock and awe) their bodies created balance and harmony when left alone! I developed dandruff about 4 years ago. I had never had it before, and chalked it up to different water hardness in my (then) new apartment, or maybe to hitting my mid-30's. Regardless, I began to use a dandruff shampoo. I would wash, and have a fuzzy head of fluff for a day or two, along with extreme itching. Then my hair would settle in as it produced some oil and look good around day 4. I washed every 5-7 days.

I decided to give this shampoo free thing a go. I 'washed' with baking soda and water for two weeks (about 4 washes total) with an apple cider/water rinse. Then...I stopped. Just stopped. I bought a little brush (my hair is short), and every evening I brush my hair. When I shower I massage my scalp. I read that I would go through a really terrible phase before my scalp found it's balance. The first few baking soda washes felt a little abrasive and my head got extra itchy for a few days. Then the itching went away, as did any flakiness. I felt a little greasy at points, but it never looked especially oily. So I'm going to keep going as I grow my hair out and see what happens!

This all feels very liberating, and much healthier. But as I've gone through the process, I've become more aware of putting my face and body through the same thing. I wash with a lovely and fragrant and largely natural commercial product. Yet my skin feels tight and dry after a shower. So I slather it with a moisturizer, which is largely (though not entirely) natural and chemical free-ish. And it feels similar to the shampoo/conditioner routine I was stuck in. So now I'm thinking, well of Course my skin will create balance and health if I leave it alone...

But how to begin? I've read about some fellas who have gone soap free and love it, but not many ladies. What about my face? I wear some makeup, a natural chemical free makeup, so I need to wash my face at night, right? I still need to moisturize as I creep up on 40 so I don't get all David Brinkley (geeky geeky Buffy reference, sorry) before my time.

Starting today, I'm going au natural. A soft washcloth and warm water and no more moisturizers on my body. I will of course still wash my hands, but with a natural, non antibacterial soap. As for my face, I'm saving that for next week when we go camping. This way I can plunge into no chemical washes, no moisturizers, and No Makeup with minimal exposure to other people. And I will hope that bears don't smell my greasy funky self and think I'm edible.

Friday, June 1, 2012


It's June! I like that this day is rain saturated and soft and chilly. I feel completely held and soothed by days like this. There will be some venturing out into the world before a shared supper of cous cous stuffed portobella mushrooms and fresh strawberry dessert with homemade whipped cream. A day that holds love and friendship and laughter and cats and singing in the car and delicious healthy food and at the end of it all...perfect comfort and deep sleep.

Here is an old card, but I'll soon begin posting images of the piece I'm submitting in July as it is being formed..

'Loretta had pirate radio in her soul'