Wednesday, December 26, 2007

an unexpected Christmas, 2007

Zander got to see Santa!
We just made it to Santa in time Christmas Eve...I called ahead, and they were waiting...for the 4:30 cut-off. I dashed into the parking garage below where I knew Santa was, and insisted that one of the boys in red shirts make sure that Zander took the elevator to the right floor. I told him -- you only have a minute, so as soon as you get off the elevator, you just keep saying "where's Santa" and run if you have to.

Well, I parked the car, took the elevator (to the wrong floor, of course), ran the wrong way, and finally figured out which floor and where. As I ran through the mallways, I wondered where Zander might be, and how the hell I'd find him if he got lost. Found Santa -- and of course Zander was there -- they'd been looking for out for him, and were really hoping he'd make it in time. He did...with seconds to spare, and had no problem at all! By the time I got there, there was a crowd of people begging to get in after the line had closed -- and Zander was standing proud, the last in line. He then directed me to go around the outside, and wait behind the camera area. Since the line was just for people who were waiting to see Santa.

Of course, when I picked him up, he asked me where his big toy catalog was -- he marks it every year to show Santa. Three flyers from Sunday's paper worked. He didn't even want a pen "I'll remember", he said. He was ready for Santa, for sure.

Santa was so patient as Zander rummaged through the pages. He's pointing out a drum set, and a DVD of Rush Hour 3. After we had the pictures taken, I saw him heading off with the bag. "Wait, I have to pay!" Well, no, now they've decide that special needs individuals get it free. Sweet. So THAT little Christmas bonus we ate in Zander's choice -- Chinese food in the food court. Jackie Chan food, of course.

I had to photo his Santa picture -- the pic *I* took failed to flash. Oh well.

Ahhh...the Christmas lights sure looked lovely as we drove that night!

And then the tree -- well, everyone was gone or closed before Christmas Eve. We drove to all the places we knew...nary a tree to be seen. It was looking grim, until Zander said "AHA!" -- and there was a tree nursery, with the cut christmas trees lining the fence. We pulled in and two trees, rolled up, had been left outside, against the fence. At 7PM on Christmas Eve, outside the place that closed at noon --- well, he figured it was for us! So we had a huge tree I cut in half. Of course I forgot that my drill and saw are loaned to a friend, so the "tree stand" is a pot of water, and it leans against the bookcase! I decorated it with some of my handmade ornaments -- traditional and modern.
Christmas morning found presents under the tree from SANTA!! Santa substituted an MP3 player for the drum set, but did remember Rush Hour 3.There were a few from mom, too, like a new hoodie and a WWE calendar. I told him they were from my Etsy Angels -- the people I talk to on the computer where I sell. Thank you, everyone.

I'll pretty this post up later. Just wanted y'all to see a little of what your generosity has accomplished!

Christmas Love from Astrid & Zander

Monday, December 24, 2007

Etsy Angels

Zander will visit Santa tonight, and Santa will be delivering a few awesome gifts -- a few on Christmas Eve, and some more special delivery later -- those that did not fit in the sleigh!

The Etsy Angels have all made that possible. Thank you all for your wonderful words, thoughts, sales and gifts to me and Zander.

HeatherRLange asked a question and started this thread: Is anyone in need this season? I've never asked for help before, in all my 59 years. It's something I feel very uncomfortable at doing. But this one time, I overcame that inhibition, knowing, I guess, that now, if ever, was the time. So I just blurted out, all run-on and hopeless, a little of what had been happening to me. page 62 I was amazed at the response, so I continued: page 76

And, all of a sudden, the love I felt from some who are even strangers online, miraculously started to help me. catiahades was the first who sought me out. She's an out-of-town Santa who first helped Zander. Then j4mom and gabrielsaunt and a couple of sales gave me the hope to even plan something.

Still, things weren't working out. But after midnight, some more angels appeared. quirkybags , sunnyrising & jenmaestre All made things happen in the last minute! Their help and encouragement buoyed me through further dark hours of it.

So Friday night I went to bed at 4:30 AM, awoke once, and got up at 7:30 AM to call Enterprise rental. They came, picked me up, gave me a better price than Budget, and I'll have that car for a week for the same rate as after Christmas. (That will give me time to get a lot of things done before a week of downtime.) I made it to Phoenix Florist for my day of deliveries. Saturday & Sunday's deliveries will cover the car and more. Today, unfortunately, finds last-minute floral purchases in the same situation as the general economic down-turn. Still -- I have the car, Zander has a reservation with Santa after work, and my spirits are high

But after those two days -- one emotion and stress, the other just hard work on less than 3 hours sleep, I came home Saturday night at 6 PM, exhausted. I started a pot of coffee, took some Ibuprofen, and ate a bowl of oatmeal as I stretched out my worn-out back. Of course you know what happened -- I awoke at 1 AM!!! I thought about getting up and getting online...and fell asleep again, of course. 7 AM Sunday found me refreshed, in great spirits at the prospect of a semblance of Christmas for Zander, and ready to face an afternoon of driving and getting it all together. Needless to say, I crashed again last night!!

I had been very low, and totally discouraged when my confirmed Budget rental turned me away. 10 years and customer acquaintance counted for nothing to the algorithm. At that moment, the love and support I felt from you and others, as each of you did something, unique to each of your own generous souls, gave me me the extra bit of encouragement I needed to try the next place (Enterprise), which in my despair I was sure would turn me down, but I needed to TRY. YOU gave me that urge to try again.

That's so important -- the ability to try. After things go wrong, and the nth thing that could turn bad HAS turned bad, and the nth attempt to turn things around has failed, and one has litigious exes who hang up the phone "on their way to the police", one gets so down it's hard to sustain an effort. And that's the intangible that I have been gifted with the past two days -- the strength to continue to battle forward.

And in the day since then, other people have come forward -- among them the infamous Etsy Five, and our "Threader" friends in the days before the totalitarian Banning -- FunkyQuail sent the word out --
BenCanDance, FunkyQuailVintage , Hurbanski , Luna2005 , SimoneWalsh, Kibbles , eclipse , Quirky (Terrain) , brickmillstudio .

Some of them are buyers only, like Whitefluffydogs, and others used to have a store, like Blondezillabeads4fun

I know I'm forgetting some sales, and I'll go back and edit to include you -- I just wanted to get this up and published for now.

Despite all the hardships, and treacherous courts that I still face, the thing that has saddened me the most is the thought that Zander might think Santa forgot him. Zander knows that the only reason Santa ignores people is if they have been bad. So he must have been bad. That he will get something now, some even a few days later from Santa, is so heartwarming. Any address that I might use he'd know -- Phoenix is the desert, not the north pole -- he knows his geography! Zander is an awesome young man. I've worked tirelessly all his life to get him where he is (like getting school board rules changed, fighting the powers, taking him for his annual trip to Sea World, when *I* had that good-paying job). But this year, I was failing him...but so many helped make that not be so.
(from Clan Destino)
(from Stray Couches)

It will mean so much to him ...and we'll make a paper binder of it, as we do for events. He brings them out...his history. When our kitty Chewy died last Saturday, he went and found the memorial folder of our last cat and dog who died (which I had forgotten I made) -- and told me now I needed to add her to the story.

I feel that right now I'm receiving a little of what I "paid Forward" in the past. That makes it easier to accept. I know I'm too proud and independent...and that has led me to worse trouble. The "humble" part of humble gratitude has always scared me.

Now, however -- Zander will be receiving some special presents through the mail from "Santa" . He will also be getting an MP3 player/radio and a year's worth of music, and a holder for it. It will be a cool radio where he can listen to "his" station -- where they play "the music of the 80's and 90's and today". He talks along with that tag line, and then says, as he points to himself "Today, that's MY music". Right now he's using his Dad's. (ugh). He will be getting an outrageously-priced WWE Wrestling calendar which he gets every year. And a little tree, which we'll decorate tonight!

So from the depth of my soul, my heartfelt gratitude at your generosity, spirit, and support, and help through a very low and desolate time for me.

I want to herald from the rooftops ALL the wonderful hearts who have given me so much more than they even imagined they were. (sniff, sniff ). (names in a list to come)

I've written some of these same words elsewhere, but I figure it's OK to cut-and-paste myself!

(((((big, sloppy hugs from Astrid and Zander)))))))


Astrid -- who's gonna be making a few new custom orders, and packing up all sorts of stuff Christmas day, to mail out on the 26th!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Store! SafetyThird on Etsy

It had to happen -- the shirts just overwhelmed my dresses and skirts. I agonized long about opening another shop, since I had no idea what I would call it. Well, sometimes things are just too obvious that one doesn't think of them. Once I had the name, everything flowed, and I even got two sales in the first few days!

My logo is the basis for a whole new series of shirts I'm working on. Is it obvious that I'm RunzwithScissors??!!

SafetyThird will offer shirts and onesies with Subject matter for Geeks and Goths alike, and their spawn -- with dangerous themes, and slight dismissals of the warnings from those who would tiptoe carefully throught the world.

Hope you like them!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

test of Etsy Mini modification

Changing the numbers on the code to give sizes larger than offered.
Etsy's max was 5 rows or columns -- I changed to code to give me 6.

just edit the part that says 'thumbnail', n1, n2 or 'gallery', n1, n2

so that the n1 is the rows you want, and n2 is the columns you want.

It works!
I made 6 rows and siz columns.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Safety Third?

It's an attitude favored by those who are bombarded daily with the exhortations of "SAFETY FIRST", and deadly boring meetings about on-the-job safety. Those poor souls who find their shoulders bent with the weight of safety manuals, safety missions, safety recommendations.

"Hell yes, we know how to be safe -- we're adults", say the poor engineers and rocket scientists and computer geeks and gamers, who secretly long for the dangerous days of yore when men could be men. So they go out into the desert to blow things up, and go to Burningman to build and burn.

They join tribes like !!!SafetyThird!!!
and they inspire and understand my shirts:
It's a small world, I found out later -- the founder of the Safety Third tribe, way back when, is now an Etsian, piperewan

A friend even named his fire troupe S_T_3 -- Safety Third, of course.
They could be seen performing around the Phoenix area, at parking lot parties, First Fridays art walks, raves.

We had a few discussions about the expression "Safety Third", which he decided to name his troupe. Later, when he saw my shirts, well, it was a natural collaboration. The fire kids all wanted one, but they want theirs to be unique, each "Safety" a little differnt.

Throughout America, those responsible people who question authority all understand the phrase. It means that Safety is always in the equation, and near the top of the list of considerations. But you do not let every bit of fun and spontaneity and exhuberance and excitement be obliterated by the petty bureaucrats and scaredy-cat mothers who would insist on the Safety Imperative!
Who say you must wear oven mitts when holding your coffee cup. You put pontoon-like wheels on bicycles so they don't fall over. You put diapers on dogs so they don't have an "accident" on the floor. You don't go outside after dark in fun neighborhoods. They put rubber tips on your sewing scissors. And tell you to never, never,

click above to see more dangerous shirts, which have moved from my other my Etsy shop, RunzwithScissors

Monday, May 14, 2007

Doubleknits -- the So Right, So Wrong, and Right Now

Did you know that the doubleknit technology began with woolens, which had its bloom in the early 1960's? Dresses and suits of wool doubleknit kept their shape, and hung in a very clean line, not wrinkling like some woven knits would. Wool doubleknit became a staple of many couture dresses, like LilliAnn of San Francisco.

LilliAnn Dress and Jacket
LilliAnn Dress and Jacket back

incorporating a wealth of details in the buttons, bound buttonholes, and doubleknit piping and binding.

or in high end department stores, like Butte Knit.

Butte Knit double breasted jacket collar

and never trickled down to the cheap dresses sold at chains such as Sears, or Wards. That, and the lack of moth-proofing, are the reasons we rarely find such clothing in thrift stores.

In the 1960's, a substantial proportion of high fashion dresses, even summer sleeveless, jacketless styles, where constructed from wool doubleknit. So the discriminating shopper looked kindly on the pure polyester doubleknits when they showed up, in such stores as Saks Fith Avenue

It was only in the 1970's that polyester doubleknit was marketed to the masses, who loved its dirt-resistance and no-iron features. And the fabric mills churned out the most improbable fabrics, which excited the minions of the suburbs, and they snatched them up to make their elastic waist pull-on pants.

Much to the disdain of those who wore the woolen double knits. They were aghast at the ugliness that had invaded the chain stores, and were showing up on their mothers and country cousins.

I began this fascination with the ugliness of polyester doubleknit back then. I always wondered "what ARE they thinking?"...yet people actually bought the stuff. And I still can't look away -- like a John Waters movie -- I have this creepy fascination with the visual and social improbability of Polyester Doubleknit, the fabrics that were the staple of the Leisure Suits of the 1970's.

My eyes just want to FIX something so ugly...and I think I've actually managed to do that! The doubleknit stretchiness, so beloved by the burgeoning booties of the boring 'burbs, serves well for skirts. And so now I have a love affair with that vintage polyester doubleknit, and even some of the single needle knits. I add modern lyrca or cotton knit waistbands, and soft flirty modern ruffles, or just plain serged edges. And, sandwiched between those two features, a new vision is born. Suddenly, the UGLY becomes BEAUTIFUL.

Below are some of the textures and contrasts you will find in my line of NBS -- Never Been Sewed -- SKIRTS of vintage virgin polyester.

and I think I've succeeded in banishing the Ugliness of Polyester Doubleknit.

It turns out, all along, they were just Ugly Ducklings!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Virgin Vintage Polyester

Never Been Sewed.

Back in the day, these fabrics looked gawd-awful to me, and no self-respecting Fashionista would be caught dead even in the COMPANY of anyone wearing garments from these embarassments. Of course, we made exceptions for our mothers and favorite aunts, all the while trying to steer them in another direction.

Thirty years later, they have become a novelty. Their riot of absurd patterns and colors tickle my silly fancy. I love finding the craziest knit or weave, and combining it with another.

My new line of skirts is nothing like your granny might have worn -- the colors, combinations and serging create a unique look -- the appearance of a reconstruction, but totally built from scratch.

This one features cheerleaders and drum major heads -- I think -- in a fantastic double-knit in black & gray. It looks so retro geek -- like Pong or some ancient ASCII image!

Other popular patterns seem to be houndstooths (houndsteeth?) and argyles...It appears the designers were inspired by menswear fabric patterns. And TEXTURE! So much texture in the knits. Many of these are also black-light positive, so I wand them with my UV just for fun! I've collected some intense fabrics, and my eyes are always open for more!

Friday, April 20, 2007

autism, empathy, and ...Virginia Tech

As people described the killer Cho Seung-hui, his neighbors and family that say he never talked to any of them, nor ever made eye contact, it struck me that traits of autism/Asperger's were being described. Then his suitemates at University said he rarely made eye contact, and never communicated much, just stayed silent, it seemed more a possibility.

When the experts said mass killers like this are loners, and have developed an intense anger against society, but have no real sense of the hurt that others feel, and can explode at some moment, I thought about Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.

Then, yesterday, they interviewed his grandmother, who told in Korean that he was always different, not like other children, very cold, and that they had been told when he was a boy that he had autism, it started to make more sense.

So, I just saw an interview with David Kaczynski, the Unabomber's brother by Martin Bashir, on Nightline...who said he was struck from the beginning all the parallels with his brother when he heard the word "manifesto", it all started to come together.

One of the pervasive aspects of autism/asperger's, is the lack of empathy, the mindblindness, the inability to understand how other people hurt. That, and the lack of eye contact, are some of the first clues to diagnosis. Later, there are other things, like obsessive irrational hatreds.

Now don't think for a moment that I'm excusing anything.
And I'm not trying to demonize individuals with autism or Asperger's.

I am the mother of a child with a serious disability, so I understand the pain that any diagnosis can cause. But I also know that you can't fix what you don't acknowledge.

And there is a lot of data that say empathy, the emotion most affected in autism, can be taught. With an early diagnosis, we mothers (since it is we who score higher on the empathy scale) can learn how to teach our children how it is to understand.

This is where our energies after this tragedy should go -- to helping individuals who are not aware to become more aware. We treat autism & Asperger's as if they were academic learning disorders. In fact, the most dangerous aspect IS learning -- but not of academics, but of social awareness. How to read the social cues, the most important one being the ability to see that you hurt someone.

If Choi went through life, "not feeling", and ended it all with a huge outburst...what if he had been properly taught to understand, to feel, to read social cues, instead of living his life in a shell and exploding at the end?

To just say he was crazy means that all the others, who desparately need help, and don't even know it, will not get the help that they need. And they need that help early on, to go down a different path to a bit of understanding, empathy, and to be able to enrich their lives.

As David Kaczynski said -- just demonizing Cho, like demonizing Ted, will stand in the way of the mental health treatment they need. And I say...the path starts young. Get all these children, our epidemic of autism, the help they need to learn how to manage their feelings and recognize the feelings of others.

Another massacre could be prevented, and the horrible loss of beautiful lives that we saw a few days ago should never happen again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

birth certificate

Blogging is harder than biology -- one can pop out a baby and figure out what to call it later. But with a blog, as well as so much else on the web, one needs a name to give the creature first.

So it keeps pushing at the birth canal...but can't emerge without a name.

and it's all in a name these days.