Ask and ye shall receive (and sometimes ye shall pay mightily and sometimes ye shan’t)

There’s been a running theme in my world lately (well, there have been two, but I can’t really say why Liberace keeps showing up in my life, though I have a few theories), and that is the subject of asking.

I don’t know any people with money. I really don’t. Everyone I know has either a pretty standard blue collar job, which doesn’t go as far as it used to, or is an artist. Artists especially are broke ass bastids, the vast majority of them. Which blows, but that’s another noodle for another time.
Everyone I know has to ask for help. You could say everyone has to ask for help sometimes, and that would be true, but people with money don’t have to ask for as much for the everyday stuff because they can hire people, afford to own cars, and pay for hotels when they travel.

Sometimes it’s just friends and family. That’s an easy ask (hopefully, if you don’t come from a family of douche nozzles). Because there’s an ongoing exchange between friends and family, a lunch here, a borrowed car there, it’s not hard to do or “pay” for if the ask isn’t huge like a loan for college or whatever.

But sometimes it’s huge. Artists, especially with crowdfunding being all in existence now, are more and more asking strangers to help fund their projects, albums, tours, books, et cetera without a concrete return. Because lets face it, the industry that funds creativity is narrow minded and utterly profit driven, and lots of awesome stuff doesn’t get done because the money men don’t see it as having a big enough potential return.
So yay crowdfunding, big time. And many of the artists using it are succeeding. Fans, regular folks with regular jobs that don’t feel like there’s any creativity in their lives, strangers who believe in art getting made for its own sake, friends, family of friends, friends of friends and their family (I could go on), throw a buck or five in the pot and if there are enough, the thing, album, sculpture, performance, whatever, gets made and everyone had a little non-consumer part in making it happen. As opposed to a consumer part, where you can buy a finished book or album, if you get what I’m sayin’. And that kicks ASS.

But there are more difficult asks that broke artists have to make too, which don’t have a concrete thing like a performance or book that you could maybe see or buy. Even without a book or album, people love being even a tiny part of a creative endeavor. I know, I’ve contributed to a passel of crowdfunded projects and I’ve felt extremely satisfied to be a part of it every time. For no reason at all other than, hey this thing got made and my five bucks helped make it go me. So I wanna say it’s easier to make that ask, because there’s a satisfaction in being a part of the whole.
However, stupid life shit like help moving or a couch to stay on in a strange city. Things that count on social capital. Broke people in general have to do these things too, but artists have an especially wide group of people that tend to pay attention to them, from which they can potentially draw, and, this sounds odd but, a personality that is a commodity people want a piece of. As opposed to say, a plumber, who is probably not a Facebook superstar that hundreds of people are paying attention to.
Artists in particular tend to have dynamic personalities that people want to be around. So the ask can produce great results, even if it’s for help moving a piano or paying for major dental work, because a lot of them tend to be shiny people.

What do people get out of responding to that ask? Is it time, attention, gratitude? Do they get the right to something in return? Do they get a piece of that shiny personality for their very own? Scoff if you want, but most people want a piece of that, or there wouldn’t be such a thing as a following.
I totally do feel that pull. I curb it, because those shiny people are people who deserve privacy and respect for their needs just like I do, and their being way cooler than me doesn’t mean I get to impose upon them. But if you wonder do I want to knock on Amanda Palmer’s door now that I threw five bucks at her last album and make her talk to me for ten minutes about ANY DAMN THING? You bet I do. Because Amanda Palmer is one of my she-ros and I think she’s made of unicorns and fine single malt and I wish she’d pay attention to me for like, a half second. Why? Cuz I’m a giant dork at heart and she is very, very shiny. We’re all dorks, I think.
Oh, you are too. Admit it. What makes me a dork and not an annoying fan girl is that I’d never actually do that. I acknowledge the desire and then I let it go, and if I met her in real life I’d say hi and maybe ask if she’d like a hot beverage. Because it’s polite to offer people a beverage.

The point being (I have one, don’t let my rambling style fool you) is that there really is no free lunch, but how much that lunch costs can vary hugely.
If you’re a plumber from Baltimore asking another plumber for crash space in Dallas, you can get away with buying them dinner or a nice bottle of hooch. If you don’t, they’ll probably think you’re kind of rude, but won’t suffer any for it. If you’re an artist who needs to move a pile of furniture or is going on a tour promoting your album but can’t afford hotels and it’s the dead of winter so sleeping in the van isn’t an option, you’re asking a lot of practically strangers to do you a solid, and it’s very likely that they’re going to want some undivided attention at the very least. In a single serve packet, undivided attention is not a big deal, but multiple servings can get emotionally exhausting.

When does the asker get to say, “Hey, y’all, enough already. Thank you, but I’m all out of juice”. Is every ask-e entitled to their ten minutes?

I’m not actually making a judgement call here. I’m just thinking aloud. I’ve watched people who have asked get completely drained by all the well intentioned who just wouldn’t GO HOME, because they felt they couldn’t stand up for their emotional needs or risk coming off as ungrateful. I’ve also given my time or resources and felt kind of let down when there didn’t seem to be a parade just for me because of it. We’re all mercenary to some extent and I wanted my piece or whatever.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t do. Or feel like you want something for doing. It’s pretty normal to want something for something. It’s kind of what our entire society (yes, it has it’s problems, but take a look around and you get that it could be a whole lot worse) is based on. Cooperation is how humans evolved, even, and that involves an exchange.

So where’s the balance? What does the asker owe, if anything? Can you ask without expectations? Should you give without expectations, and do people really do that, or do they expect some emotional payment at least? Should we just do stuff because it’s awesome to get stuff done and let that be our parade?
I feel like, while it’s normal to want something for doing, it’s important to deal with that want on a case by case basis. Amanda Palmer does not have time to satisfy my emotional needs, so I gotta let that one go and just be happy to help something get done.
There are situations where it might be a major imposition to try to get your ten minutes. Situational sensitivity is a really good thing to practice regardless of the circumstances.
It’s what I’ve been trying to do, anyway. That’s my solution. If I ever meet Amanda Palmer she’s going to get a beverage (if she wants one) from me and that’s it, whether I’m just a fan of her work or I produced the entire album.
Well, ok, if I produce an album I at least want a copy.


It’s not Antiques Week…

Because who’s got the money for a road trip to Texas before the show season starts? Not this guy. But we have all these antique and flea markets around these parts and man can you score some sweet finds if you’re paying attention. And spank the owners of certain stalls.
It was his birthday. What?

Two bins of assorted medical tools, marked low enough that we just bought the lot. I knew I was going to walk out of there with some, but it was too good to pass up. My bestie and creative cohort is making his mad science with some, so look out for potentially disturbing as hell light fixtures in the future.


I’m going to dangle some from various things. Possibly more farm equipment. Possibly something else. I’ve had two huge cow bones defleshing by the compost pile for a season now. They should be just about ready. The bone mobiles are always popular. And some of this stuff is appropriately creepy. Don’t know what any of it is, but it’s perfect.


Heh, people stapler.


Not only did these fine folks have crazy amounts of awesome, but they brought a couple of bird cages for me. I didn’t even have to ask!


Mmmm, brass. Those will corrode nicely all summer long in the rain and wet of my back yard, and by fall, be ready to get turned into something like this…


What a productive day it was. There’s another one coming up in Grayslake that we’d like to hit. And then a big outdoor one in Elkhorn, WI that looks great. My favorite Baraboo-ian pickers, Raven House Antiques, will be at that one.
Now to go sort through my new junk.

Internet poll time!

I’m stuck. Pubert (one of the twins) needs a head. Piglet has a head, so I’m not worried about her. But Pubert needs a head. There are so many good heads out there, which one to choose?
This whole thing started because I put something besides a head-like head on Pubert’s torso, and mah boo thought it was funny and took a picture. Now we’ve roped you in. You’re welcome.

Egg head?

Egg head?

Dead head?

Dead head?

I’m not sure how I feel about that one.


Too organ-y, maybe? How about…


Tiny creepy baby heads are always good.
Then there’s…


There’s actually something kind of appealing about a giant flower for a head.


Technically that’s the Dryad’s head, but just to get an idea of what a giant ass deer skull would look like on Pubert.

Hat head? I kill me.

Hat head? I kill me.

Then there’s this one.

Dear Internet, this is not a penis.

Dear Internet, this is not a penis.

I think that one may be misconstrued.
These two are my favorite thus far.


I like the shape of the coyote skull. I’d do something to it. Glitter or something. Obviously. Cuz it’s me we’re talking to here.


Slightly larger baby head. I think this one might be it.
But you! Internets! Weigh in.


Pics or it didn’t happen

Yesterday I decided to tackle Cajun gumbo. Not some off the internet recipe neither. This recipe comes from a woman in New Orleans whose family has been in Louisiana for generations.
I love cooking, and I’m actually a damn fine cook. Making food makes awesome things happen in my brain. But gumbo has always been my white whale, as Dave put it. It’s the roux.
Cubans don’t have roux. We have sofrito, which is way easy. Sure you can burn a sofrito, but you pretty much have to be trying to. A roux burns if you pause in your stirring to blink too long. And if you’ve never been hovering over one, you won’t know that, as my Cajun put it, “The difference between Cajun cooking and burnt is about 15 seconds.”
I didn’t know a roux dark enough for good gumbo would smell so smokey or look so dark. Had I been doing it myself I’d have thought I’d ruined it and started over. Again, and again.

Which is why yay Skype!
Shadow on the tablet looking over my shoulder, mah boo making sure she had a good view of the action, and Dave doing the sous chef duties and snapping pics for posterity.
I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something awesome when one’s boo and two best friends all get in on the cooking, actual mileage apart not withstanding. It could only have been made better by Shadow actually getting to taste the results and pronounce them adequate.


Still I feel immensely proud of my first gumbo.


This, is my gumbo face.


C’mon, you guys must have figured out by now that I’m a total goober.


I consider it my mission in life to try everything (within reason). I don’t know if it has anything to do with what I’ve chosen to make my living as, or if I’m just predisposed to be adventurous, or it’s a chicken/egg situation.
Today, I had an adventure.
This, is a durian.


A durian is a fruit that grows in the steamy, delicious tropics of South East Asia. It is both praised and loathed. Durian is most famous for its smell, which is so strong the fruit is banned from being brought on to public transportation and into hotels. Some people perceive it as sweet, others as raw sewage. Not kidding. The taste is similarly difficult to pin down. Half the people who eat it think it’s sweet and pleasant, the other half are made completely nauseous.
I have been wanting to try this thing fo’ evah!
There’s a Thai restaurant in the city that’s authentic. Not that overly sweet nonsense Americans think of as Thai food. You can actually find things such as stir fried bamboo worms on the menu here. (Yes, I’ve had them. They’re cilantro-y and delicious.) And they have a desert with durian and sticky rice.
Apparently it’s seasonal, because every time we’ve been they’ve been out of it. Not today!

This, is my Durian face.


Smells like a lemony mango, and tastes that way as well, with a muskiness that builds in the mouth the more you eat it. It’s very sweet, but I grew up on fruit from the capital T tropics and they tend to be. I liked it.

This, is my partner’s Durian face.


I failed to get his first reaction, as I was laughing too hard. He took two bites and asked for a lime to clear the taste out of his mouth.
It seems it’s not all rumor. Durian does in fact taste like rotten yak’s ass left too long in the trunk of a car on a hot day to half the people who eat it. Me? I finished the bowl.
Whelp, I’m all set for a trip to Thailand. Who’s with me?

Pruning the hedges

Part of selling stuff you make for a living is figuring out what stuff that you make sells, and making that stuff and not other stuff.
I began phasing out jewelry, hair pieces and many of my knits mid way through last season. It’s not that I don’t like making them, but for whatever reason of market flooding, lack of moxie, or whatever else, they don’t move. Currently, they’re taking up space in my lab and on my table at shows where other things that sell better could be.

Thus far I’ve had a traditionally rennie attitude about it. We get asked for discounts on closing weekend all the time. And the usual response is, no deal, I’ll take them to the next show. And when your next show involves you setting up once, then cooling your heels for two months before tearing down and moving on? Awesome. I on the other hand have to set up and tear down twice a day for two days in a row, then unpack everything and do an inventory. I’d love to be able to leave my booth set up at these art shows, but there’s no real security and you can’t lock an EZ Up.

That’s why I’ve decided to attempt to get them out of my way.
So, from now till I decide to stop, I’m having a social media sale. If you want to purchase any scarves, tubes, or any hat that *isn’t* a pigtail hat (pixies and scrunch hats only), any jewelry or hair barrette/hat clip, mention that you saw this on Facebook or WordPress when Etsy gives you the option to include a message with your purchase and you’ll get 15% off, and all such purchases will be a flat five bucks to ship, no matter how many you buy or how big the box gets.
I don’t have sales like, ever, so git you some!