Thursday, August 30, 2012

flies and things: a thursday compendium

Trouble with Things
I've been having trouble with things this past week, mostly breaking them, dropping them, catching them in odd places, but mostly and most sadly, witnessing the demise of the frog jar.

Frog Jar Then
The frog jar, made by my sister Penny, was written about here, but in short, it has been a faithful companion for many years, especially at the farmers market. Now, we're done. As I was loading the van after Saturday's market, the frog jar fell out the side door. I'm not sure how it happened (observation: when you're having trouble with things, it is often hard to see where the trouble is coming from), but I do know I was putting the tent in the back of the van when I heard pottery hit concrete.

The jar has broken and been mended before, so I figured I would mend it again, but when I brought the jar in from the van it dropped onto the porch, smashed to smithereens, and that makes the vacuum cord getting caught between my toes and my flip-flop, the handle breaking off a mug, and my falling off a short step ladder into a chair as I vacuumed cluster flies off a window hardly worth mentioning.

Frog Jar Now

The Return of the Cluster Flies
Cluster flies returned August 21. Last year, my first summer in this house, I had a gadzillion cluster flies and way too many wasps zipping around inside most of August and September, though honestly, the flies do tend to stay clustered on the windows, particularly the sunny ones. I'm happy to report that this year, so far, the flies are much diminished and the wasps are staying outside. This short video of a cluster fly spinning on its back is from Spring 2011.

Waxing on
I've added new links to the Waxing on page, including one for honeybee enthusiasts in the U.P. (that's the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, of course). If you've never seen a beekeeper in snowshoes, check it out.

Going to Surf City!
The Etsy shop goes on vacation today as I head out to California to see family. Upon my return, I'll get more candles and ornaments listed.

{Thanks for visiting! I've been keeping a blog since 2008 - it only took me four years to get regular! Sunday posts are about my beeswax business and life in a log cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Thursdays are for lists of sorts. Perhaps you'll join me.}

Sunday, August 26, 2012

fisherman's island

There's a spot up the river, just around the bend, where the sand rises up to create a small island with a creek running through it. South of the creek the island is nothing more than a spit of sand, a slight ridge rising like the hackles of an angry dog. The creek is a three-foot-wide shallow stream of water coursing over small stones, a diagonal slash, and the main part of the island is rolling sand and swaying grass. Often there are prints of deer and coyote, the occasional fisherman. The island is about 20 feet long and 15 feet wide.

I walk to the island via the river, which I get to by descending the steep bank at the end of the path that starts at the house. The path cuts through an old farm field now overgrown with wildflowers and grass and shrubby trees, and ends at the top of the bank, which is a strip of cool forest. The previous owners of this property built a stairway of stone that leads a short way down the wooded bank to a trail that traverses the slope and then leaves you at a sharp drop of three or four feet to get to the river. There are a couple of steps toed and heeled into the dirt and some trees to hold on to, but be careful.

The river bank.

The river is clear and cold with a nice current. You can float down river at a comfortable pace and easily abort your trip by grabbing onto a windfallen tree, of which there are many, or just getting your feet under you and standing up. Water depth varies from ankle deep to a little over waist deep, though throughout the river there are deeper pools where the bottom disappears. In my stretch, the river bottom is almost always visible, and the bed varies between sand, muck, pebbles, and lost trees. One day I discovered a skull. It was in profile, and I decided it must be a deer skull, because of the ear.

The skull in the river. Can you see it?

The other day I noticed the skull was covered with sand. Made me wonder what else might be buried in the river.

I walk against the current to get to the island, and as I approach I veer to the left to walk up the creek. To the right of the island the current gets slap happy - it courses over, under, and around fallen trees and dips deep into pockets. I will exit the island via that route, happy to let it sweep me off my feet.

On the island I look around a bit, then sit on a small beach of pebbles. I stretch my legs out before me, resting them in the cold water. I look across the swift current to the steep sandy bank that faces southwest, not more than a fallen cedar's length away. The bank is dotted with purple wildflowers and spiky dry stalks of mullein. The maple and spruce and cedar at the top of the bank grow right to the edge, their roots hanging down like dreadlocks as the riverbank below erodes. They will topple into the river someday, but this past winter they held bald eagles.

Fisherman's Island.

I skip stones, playing a game, trying to see how many I can skip over a fallen tree that is, now, just a big piece of driftwood that never drifted anywhere, just had the river drifting over it, smoothing away the bark and carrying off clinging branches. A good length of it is almost wholly submerged - just a glimmer of water flows over it - and that's the spot I aim for, pleased with the number of pebbles that hit the water just in front of the log, then skip past.

I look upriver and notice trees swaying in a breeze. The trees atop the opposite bank do not sway, and neither do I feel the breeze. Then the trees behind me sway. Suddenly I feel the lightest rush of air against my skin. The trees on the opposite bank remain still. I walk into the river, shudder with the cold, float home.

After a heavy rain, the river will become a thick muddy brown and Fisherman's Island will completely disappear. I like to walk to a spot where I can look down on the island, and I always feel vaguely pleased that it is no longer there.

Friday, August 24, 2012

reaching the speed limit: a birthday party

"Tonight I'll go get dinner at The Drive-In," I thought Sunday, hatching a plan to do one fun thing each day this past week, my birthday week. "And I'll tweet about it!" (Uh-oh.)

Well, I'm lucky I still have all 14 of my followers, as one tweet a day turned into many more as my plan morphed into: Maybe I'll tweet all week long about stuff I'm thankful for, things that make me feel good, stuff I enjoy ... and so started a little list. Then ... the list grew, and I thought: Oh boy! What if I tweeted 55 things that make turning 55 absolutely worth it, absolutely preferable to the only alternative which is to stop right here, right now, and not turn 55?

Throughout the week the list ebbed and flowed. Simple things became great things, and snippets of my life started appearing before me, saying "Hey! Include me!" Now, here's my list.

Welcome to my 55th birthday party!

1. Had dinner from The Drive-In. Fish sandwich, fries with catsup, and a root beer float.

2. Thankful for those who respond so rationally, with the lightest brush of humor.

3. Cool mornings in August!

4. The fact that beeswax makes a mouthpiece for a didgeridoo and that there is such a thing as a didgeridoo.

5. That the sun moves across the sky without moving at all.

6. At this time last year so many pressures coming to bear. Now they have passed.

7. That I make my living, tenuous as it is!, making candles and fun stuff like Psychic Beeswax Charmers.

The Psychic Beeswax Charmer. Available on Etsy!

8. While letting Elliott in for the night, catching sight of a sliver of moon setting in a huge, dusky, western sky.

9. A few years back I realized: I don't have to spend my whole life being a Cubs fan.

10. That I can ask "Should I try to use duct tape on this thingy that fell off the ceiling of my microwave?" and get an answer on YouTube.

11. Well, how could I not mention love?

12. I have two sisters, and they just happen to be the two best sisters in the world.

13. The nearing of autumn.

14. And it's about time to start stacking wood, preparing for winter.

15. That one of Buster's favorite treats is garbanzo beans.

16. Living alongside a river called The Otter.

17. Going out to the garden for broccoli for dinner.

18. Knowing that at least once I've wakened to the sound of my own laughter.

19. My 19th birthday. Living in a tent in a campground on Cape Cod. I cleaned rooms at a motel. On my walk to work I saw a family of foxes.

20. Sitting on the porch after dinner, listening to crickets.

21. TV on Netflix!

22. The Twizzle!

23. When 21, hitchhiking with my friend Isabel from SF to Olympia, Washington. We set rules, we broke rules, we lived on.

24. A few months later wintry night, hitchhiking solo, Appleton, WI, to Chicago, most of it then via engine of a freight train.

25: Being an ex: smoker, drinker, wife, hitchhiker.

26. Being with my dad at a Cubs game, heads bent over scorecards.

27. That I've seen the Northern Lights.

28. Listening to Ella Fitzgerald on scratchy records my parents did their best to wear out.

29. Being 10 or 11, at Ravinia Park, sitting on a blanket eating fried chicken. Later, Ella Fitzgerald takes the stage, sings.

30. Oh my gosh. I've always wanted to live in a field of wildflowers. Now I do.

31. Pick a day, any day, with Bud.

32. One hot July 4th holiday Lorel and I rescued a guard dog who'd been left with no food, no water. He was a cupcake.

33. Writing in and holding on to my journal, which is a handy reference and eternal source of embarrassment.

34. So many books. So many realities.

35. You know, I have all my own teeth, except for the ones they called "wisdom."

36. Hot day, candles made, new product on Etsy, dip in the river.

The Wild Fern Beeswax Ball Candle. Available on Etsy!

37. Soon the mornings will be cold. I will start a fire and huddle under a blanket with tea.

38. Every night, I sweep the kitchen floor.

39. Maybe I'll watch an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Maybe the one with that half a boy, Horatio.

40. All the dogs.

41. All the cats.

42. Just watching the clouds.

43. That when the words weigh me down, I can stop (not that I always do), and when I need the words, call them back.

44. That I don't envy youth.

45. The feel, look, and smell of beeswax.

46. Friends who come and go, seeming to magically reappear just when ... you need a friend.

47. Rain! And washing my hair in.

48. No doubt about it - Snow!

49. I got the sun in the morning ... Beeswax Sun Plaque with Beads

50. And the moon at night ... Beeswax Moon Plaque with Beads

51. Silly musicals, especially from the 1960s. Bye Bye Birdie comes to mind .

52. My mother's piano.

53. Quiet.

54. Knowing that this, too, shall pass. Every last bit of it. Some times too soon, other times not soon enough.

55. Reaching the speed limit. Perhaps going past it ...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

it's about food, it's about people

Pancake Breakfast
Saturday, August 25, 2012
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Commons, Third Street near Washington
A benefit for the Wixtrom Family

Hmmm, hmmm good pancakes!

A farmers market is all about food, of course, fresh produce and berries and fruit and jams and bread, and I was thinking about that while driving home, munching on  popcorn - specifically, Janelle Buttery's* Pop That! Sweet Corn popcorn made with maple sugar and spices I won't divulge - and sharing it with Buster. Yes, I was coming home from the farmers market with popcorn, not vegetables, and by the time I got home it would be just popcorn kernels between my teeth and odd crumbs on the van seat.

I love the food I can eat while at the market, and yesterday that started with ice cream. The homemade ice cream vendor doesn't have a fixed spot so he floats around, a new spot each week, but never a spot near my beeswax booth, which I stick to like a bee to honey, so all summer long I've watched people walk by with ice cream cones in fantastical flavors like Sweet Potato, Avocado, and Earl Grey and could only imagine the tastes I was missing. So imagine yesterday when Fly by Night Ice Cream was just a skip away from my booth. Yes, I lost control, and at 9:15 a.m. I was enjoying a cool scoop of Earl Grey along with my hot cup of Earl Grey (from the thermos). Oh Dad, you taught me well. The flavor? Subtle, demure, delightful.

A bit later, I had one of Heather Zdroik's Bakewell tarts. Heather is Sinfully Seductive Sweets, and the fact that her booth is practically next to mine every Saturday is a bit disconcerting. How not to have a brownie or one those gooey, chocolatey, grandma bar things? She even makes homemade marshmallows. The scones are always good, but a few weeks ago I started in on the tarts, which Heather had just started baking, and now I'm hooked. The Bakewell tart is kind of like a pie, as it has a crust, and the filling is jam below and atop ground almonds. First, there was the strawberry tart, and I thought I'd never tasted anything so fine. I hinted I might come back for a blueberry Bakewell if Heather so baked, and in a week or two, voila, a blueberry tart appeared. But - it had icing. Someone had told Heather, "Bakewell tarts are iced." I was skeptical, because I liked the covert sweetness of the tart and icing seemed a little overt, and, anyway, why mess with a good thing? Honestly, the blueberry Bakewell was good, but not as good as the strawberry. Did I mention that to Heather? Hmmmm ... This week, an orange marmalade Bakewell  showed up, no icing, and ... Have I mentioned how wonderful these tarts are?

Heather's orange marmalade Bakewell tart.

As I said, I always graze close to home, and that was as true three years ago, my first year selling beeswax at the market, as it is today. Then, more often than not, I was set up alongside Lyn and Rachel Wixtrom of Wixtrom Natural Farms, well-known in these parts for a variety of excellent potatoes, including the favored German Butterball. We had a lot of crazy weather that year, and when the gale winds blew the Wixtroms and I held on to each others' tents, grumbled about the rain, and commiserated over the cold. When I discovered the small, wonderfully divine loaf of lemon bread that Lyn baked, I was hooked. (Maybe you can see why I stay away from drugs.) I tried not to buy this bread too often: it was too easy to eat the whole loaf at once and for some reason I thought I shouldn't be eating a whole loaf of lemon bread on a Saturday morning, but of course the way around that was to share a bit, but that wasn't always possible ...

I haven't had any lemon bread this year, but Rachel has said she's going to take a shot at it. Lyn had cancer, and she died July 21. Next Saturday, August 25, there will be a benefit pancake breakfast at the market to help Lyn's family with medical expenses. If you can, please join us. The farmers market may be all about food, but even more so, I think it's about people.

* Janelle is perhaps better known as Knit Witch Fiber and Bead Work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

grandma daisy's canning jar beeswax candle: a thursday photo album

Tuesday morning: Making my first candle mold.
Thursday morning: My grandmother's Ball Ideal canning jar,
the mold I made of it, and the candle it made.
Still Thursday morning: The original jar and the candle.

And now, what you've all been waiting for, another Slow Burn Video:
Grandma Daisy's Canning Jar Beeswax Candle
entering its ninth hour of burning
accompanied by a little
Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
(Hope it's not too loud!)

The end.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

driving tunes

Yesterday I arrived at the farmers market all jazzed up and I blame rock 'n' roll. Barely 20 miles down the road with 66 to go I'm turning on the radio and cranking up a tune: "Pick Up the Pieces" by the Average White Band. Haven't heard that in a while, make that quite a while. But bells are ringing ringing and I'm trying to recall - Didn't I hear AWB last week? What was that song? Another favorite I hadn't heard in so long ... yes, "Cut the Cake." Into little pieces ...

It's 6:30 a.m. Saturday and I'm lugging cooler, purse, thermos, maybe some extra shoes or a shirt out the door, herding Buster along, thinking through if I've got everything and if the curtains are down or up, windows open or closed, getting in the van. The sun is just about to rise and within a few miles we will be heading in its direction. Mist and fog rest in fields of hay, seep across the road. Windshield wipers sweep away condensation. I blast the heat while suffering the cold rushing in Buster's open window. It is too quiet, too peaceful, for music. I'll drive for miles through silence, letting my mind wander.

For as soon as the radio comes on, that's it. I get all cranked up.


I hit the "Seek" button in search of tunes. For most of the drive to Marquette, there are only a handful of stations to choose from - two public radio stations, a station out of Michigan Tech, an oldies station from Eagle River, Wisconsin, a couple of rock stations from up Houghton way, a couple of country stations, including a station playing classic country, and a Christian station. And every Saturday morning I hear pretty much the same thing - two songs from Bruce Springsteen, two or three Rolling Stones' tunes, the Pretenders (one Saturday I arrived at the market in the middle of "My City Was Gone"), at least one or two great forgotten oldies that I haven't heard in 632 years, two or three dance tunes by folks such as Michael Jackson,Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and a great classic country song I've never heard before and will likely never hear again. James Taylor turns up quite often, Carole King once in a while. Twenty miles or so from Marquette a host of other stations will chime in, including one that lately has been playing classics from the 80s. Yesterday it was "The Beat" by The Go-Gos.

I know it is the radio putting me into overdrive on Saturday mornings, because 1) I do not drink coffee and 2) I have only one cup of tea - albeit Irish Breakfast Tea - before leaving home.

Sometimes I scan through every station and come up empty. Sometimes I happen upon a station playing the exact same song I just heard. This happened one morning with that song "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band. I'm not sure why anyone is still playing this, let alone two radio stations in the middle of nowhere on the same Saturday morning within the same five minutes. And sometimes I actually turn off the radio, but I always turn it back on.

Yesterday, immediately after "Pick Up the Pieces," Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business." The lonesome road is lined with tall pines and cedar and mist, Buster's still got his head out the window, and the miles stretch ahead. Crank it up.

At Three Lakes, a spot where the fog hangs late and heavy and the road cuts through the still waters of Lake Ruth, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and the Shondells. The sun's trying to burn through a cloudy mist over the bait shop and looks like an  ephemeral white disc, like the moon, and indeed, you can look straight through it.
Look over yonder
What do you see
The sun is a-risin'
Most definitely
A new day is comin'
People are changin'
Ain't it beautiful
Crystal blue persuasion
More miles, more tunes, it's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it. I arrive at the market a little jazzed up, ready to go.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

why did the piano cross the road?: a thursday compendium

The Piano
The piano arrived Monday on a truck from somewhere in Missouri, where it had stayed in a warehouse for a night or two. Its journey began in Santa Barbara, California, about three weeks ago. It's my mother's piano, and I was with her when she bought it in Downers Grove, Illinois, probably a dozen or 15 years ago, I don't remember exactly, and neither does my mother. She enjoyed playing ragtime and show tunes, along with a little Satin Doll and Mood Indigo, but my repertoire consists mainly of a little ditty in my head that uses this chord progression: Amaj7, Gmaj7, Amaj7, Gmaj7, Cmaj7, Dmaj7, Cmaj7, Dmaj7, Amaj7, Gmaj7, and so on and so forth.

The well-traveled piano is a Charles R. Walter. I think I'll call him Chuck.

Last leg of the journey from my mother's home in
Southern California to my home in Upper Michigan.

The final step.

The Barbershop
Putting my hair in braids for a photo shoot to provide my social media with an up-to-date avatar (say that again???) and to update the staff page of this blog led me to braid my hair throughout the week which led me to notice the scraggly ends of my hair which led me to snip off the scraggly ends of my hair which led me to remember the years of cutting my own hair, short, when I was in my 20s and 30s. I don't recall how that got started, but I do recall some wonderful haircuts that were very short up one side of the head (my left side, if memory serves) and long down the other. (Dang, where are those photos?) My methodology was simple, as I usually just grabbed the scissors and clip-clip-clipped. For a while I tried the technique of flipping my hair over my head, putting it into a barrette or elastic band, then chopping it off. For a while I used an electric clipper, pretty much giving myself buzz cuts accented with the occasional "whoops!" spot. Every few years I might walk into a $15-a-cut place and say, "Whatever you can do. I've been cutting my own hair for years and now it's a mess. Whatever you can do." Then in a few months I'd gather up scissors, clippers, elastic bands, barrettes, the hand mirror, and get back to doing it myself.

When I wanted my hair to be long again, like in high school, I didn't know how to go about it. There's always that awkward not short, not long, just crappy hair period that's so hard to get through. Know how I got through it? Some man I was crazy about said: "Your hair would look pretty halfway down your back." So be it. Funny how hard we try and how little it takes.

My Psychic Beeswax Charmer
I put the Psychic Beeswax Charmer on Etsy this week and decided I should try one myself, then I could get pictures of it in action and write about it. So one night I asked this question: What will happen if I keep faith in Pea Pickle Farm? I lit my psychic charmer and went about my business. Three hours later I put out the charmer. No sign, yet, of an answer or a charm. The next morning I lit the candle and soon the charm appeared. With my special charm-pickin' tweezers, I pulled out the hands charm. Two hands overlapping. I thought: What the heck does that mean? I forgot about it as I tried to put the charm back in the candle to get the picture I forgot to take, and the whole thing was a fiasco. Forget the pic. But the back of my mind was working. "You know," it said, "that charm really looks more like a pair of mittens, actually gloves, than hands. Face it. It's mittens - I mean gloves. Now, seriously, what does that mean? Do mittens or gloves tell you to have faith - or not?" Yakety yak. Then, like a marching band ten, seven, now three blocks away, I heard the word "joining," over and over, getting louder and louder. Hands, mittens, gloves, whatever the charm actually is, for me it is "joining." I stopped. I listened. It all made sense.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

an ode to sleep

Ah, sleep! I cannot praise you enough. How I love a good night's sleep, and I depend on "sleeping on it" to help me make those tough decisions. "Sleeping tight" I can't recommend, but there's nothing better than sleeping like a log or a dog. I woke up this morning with these thoughts because last night, quite simply, was a marvelous night for sleeping.

Cloudy and cool. Fresh northwest breeze, open windows. Cat inside, quiet. Dog as dead asleep as a sack of potatoes. Me, physically tired and nothing much on my mind except ... sleep. I started drifting off while watching some TED talks about simplicity vs. complexity. Hmmm. That'll do it. And when I transferred myself and the dog to the bed, the long night's sleep hit fast. I don't remember the instant it hit, the process of shifting from one state to another, as I sometimes do, being semi-conscious and deliciously aware that we are leaving now, leaving this daily world that can bring us such fuss and turmoil. That slight but very real feeling of separation that may be the mind from the body or a part of the mind or brain from itself, or maybe it's the soul taking off ... All I know is that something shifts, something relaxes, and there's a comforting mystery to it all.

My dreams are sporadic. They don't always stay with me, but once in a while one is particularly vivid, and I'll write it down to capture and try to make sense of it. Recently I realized that there are almost always crowds of people in my dreams, either a street crowd or a stadium crowd. When I lived in the city, crowds were very much a part of my life. My feelings for them are ambivalent. Can't say I like them, but neither do I loathe them or fear them. Now, living in the middle of nowhere, a crowd is a rarity. For a day or two or three I may not see anyone except a neighbor at the post office. The crowd at the weekly farmers market would probably not be a crowd by most people's standard, and even at the grocery store I am seldom standing in line for more than a minute or two. So why are my dreams full of crowds? Full of strangers?

This dog knows how to sleep.
Even if I can't make sense of my dreams, I trust sleep. When I sleep on a problem or decision, I trust whatever my feelings are about the situation upon waking. And if upon waking I still feel undecided, then that's what I am, undecided. It's almost as if my sleep is the person I bounce ideas off of.  "Should I do this? Should I not? What if ...? And then there's always the possibility of ... " I try not to think about whatever it is right before falling asleep - you have to get your wide-eyed, yakety-yak head out of the way - but still I'll go to sleep knowing that I'm asking my sleepy head to weigh in on this matter.

I have my sleepless nights. Sometimes it's a worry or a fret I can't muffle, sometimes it's a full moon, sometimes it's a buzzing mosquito or a scrabbling mouse. I've learned not to fight it, so some nights I give up my beloved sleep and write or watch TV, admire the night sky, bait and smack mosquitoes, set traps for mice. Sleep will come another night. It always does.

And that's because, just as we need air and water, we need sleep. To deprive a person or any animal of sleep is considered by some to be an act of cruelty, even torture. But routinely we deny ourselves and others sleep through noise, light, work, play, acts of violence. Sure, some people don't need the eight-hours-a-night jazz, they do fine on four or five hours, whatever they say, and I've no doubt our actual individual needs vary. But sometimes I wonder if only we could allow ourselves and each other an undisturbed night or day of sleep, and considered sleep to be as precious to life as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat ... oh, wait. Never mind.

Just sleep well, if you can.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

full bright moon makes cat crazy: a thursday compendium

All That Michigan Beeswax
Wild Fern Pillars and Balls on the beeswax table.
I've been busy this week making more Wild Fern Pillar and Wild Fern Ball candles for Dick Davis, an artist down Traverse City way, who first contacted me in May and subsequently has been displaying and selling many of his iron-work sculptures outfitted with natural Michigan beeswax candles. Some day soon I will have photos to share of candles and sculpture together. Meanwhile, check out Dick's work at Boardman River Trading Company.

Also, I've been in touch with two other Michigan entrepreneurs, both in the Detroit area, who have very different beeswax needs. Stay tuned.

The Etsy Chronicles
New Pea Pickle Beeswax Charmer on a roll.
Happy to have four new listings on Etsy this week: the Beeswax Charmer candle and a set of four Charmers; the Beeswax Turkey candle and a set of five candles that includes the turkey, two ears of corn, and three pine cones. Sounds rather holidayish, eh? The Charmer listing introduces the latest and ninth Charmer, the Pea Pickle - it's all mixed up! (Click the owl on the sidebar to shop.)

The biggest hurdle to my getting on Etsy was my fear of shipping costs and having to figure them out not just for one item or one order, but for all those "what if" orders of multiple quantities and combinations. My experience with shipping costs is that they are widely varied, always going up, often more than the cost of the item being shipped, and have a basis, if any, in some reality beyond my grasp. On Etsy, for each item you list you need to set a shipping fee plus what you will charge if the item is "added on" to another item, and for me, that's where it got complicated. No matter what I tried, eventually I was going to rook the customer or myself. There seemed to be no way to set shipping fees that worked. Busting my brain over shipping scenarios and fees is not a favorite activity of mine, nor one that comes easily, and I wasn't sure if my inability to come up with reasonable fees was my problem or if others were experiencing the same. I noodled around Etsy and found I am not alone in this. Many vendors state that they will refund a portion of a buyer's shipping fee if the charge ends up exceeding cost by a certain amount. Well. You see. When things get this complicated (seemingly), I make a U-turn.

What if shipping were free?

A quick check showed me free shipping was indeed an option, and once I decided to go this route, the task of setting prices that seemed fair to both me and my customers became doable. So: Free Shipping! (Though for some items I do tack on a buck or two if it's going to Canada. Sorry neighbors! And I haven't yet figured out Europe, Australia, China ... egad.)

The moon at 6:30 this morning from my front porch.

Beeswax & Poison Darts
I am looking forward to Saturday's farmers market as I am going to add something new to my well-worn answer to the Most Frequently Asked Question.

MFAQ: What does one do with this? (Potential customer is fingering a bit of beeswax, looking perplexed.)
New A: Well, you could use it for making your poison darts, as people did 44,000 years ago ...