Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crafting and canopies

One year ago, I joined throngs of crafters who started small businesses to escape the 9-5 grind and share our crafty goods with the world. In addition to making pretty things, I’ve spent the past year learning about marketing, production, sales, and budgets, which I’ve actually found interesting and challenging. After a long winter hiatus, I returned to selling my jewelry last weekend at the kick-off event for Seattle’s festival season, the University District Street Fair.

Whether in ignorance or denial, I didn’t let the volatile, unpredictable May weather dampen my anticipation for the start of the busy selling season. But this weekend’s weather was trying even for this Kansas native. Day one brought winds gusting up to 24 mph, pummeling my canopy to the brink of collapse. Even in clement weather, there’s plenty of work just maintaining the display and chatting it up with customers, but the stress of pending burial beneath yards of polyester was a strain. At the start of day two, my canopy was still standing in spite of enduring a long night of wind and rain. Hoping it would shelter me one more day, I bolstered it with an ingenious mechanism involving a dismembered Swiffer pole and lots of duct tape. But Sunday’s challenge wasn’t wind, but rain. “What next?”, I wondered. Locusts?

The canopy limped through the day, valiantly keeping me dry, if not warm. What was more astonishing were the thousands who joined the festivities in the full-on, unrelenting rain. Who ARE these people? On Saturday, a friendly group of tourists from Thailand stopped to ask what we were celebrating at this festival. “Capitalism”, I thought to myself. But Sunday showed me that we were actually celebrating spring, whatever it might bring: rain, shine, or both. Seattleites spend several months a year in GoreTex, and by May, we defiantly get out whether the weather cooperates or not.

At the end of a taxing, but fun, weekend, I wrung out my clothes and jumped into a hot shower with a martini (yes, I can drink in the shower). With aching feet, I sat down to a hot bowl of chili and Greg’s corn bread to reflect on the first show of the year. In spite of the weather, I pulled out a profit, most of which will go into a new canopy. Several of my loyal supporters stopped by to cheer me on. I even made a few new friends in my eclectic block of non-profit organizations (special thanks to Richard from the Mountaineers and the woman in leather from the King County Republicans who bought a necklace for a friend). And I managed to restrain myself from consuming an unreasonable about of Kettle Korn, the crack (or krack) of street fairs.

Stop by and visit me at the Fremont Fair, June 16-17. And look for me at Fremont Sunday Market, but not until it’s clear, warm, and dry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

La Boheme

Earlier this week, Greg took me to see Puccini's La Boheme at the Seattle Opera. First, the important details: Greg scored free parking; I wore a little brown wrap dress with big white polka dots that I found for $25 last fall (think Minnie Mouse with cleavage); and Greg was dashing in a cool charcoal knit coat, a recent thrifty find.

McCaw Hall, recently rennovated, is a lovely space that greets its audience gently, neither too ornate nor overly stark. We checked out the art that adorns the lobby, including a large Mark Tobey collage, and my favorite, a Sarah Sze sculpture hanging in the atrium. We admired the Sze work from all angles: afar, underneath, and up-close as we ascended to the upper levels. From a distance, the geometric shapes combine into a delicate tornado. Up-close, you see that the structure is ornamented with measuring tapes, water bottles, carpenters' levels, extension cords, and plastic plants.

La Boheme is a great introduction to opera. It's light and funny, requiring little suspension of disbelief while carrying the audience through a romantic story to the heroine's imminent death. In a nutshell: poet meets crafter, they fall in love, and enjoy Bohemian Paris in a killer loft with great light. Mimi, the crafter, gets sick. Rodolfo, the poet, pushes her away so that she can hook up with a wealthier suitor to pay for her prescriptions. As Mimi gets sicker, she chucks her sugar daddy to return to her true love. Mimi dies, audience cries.

A timeless tale of the lack of access to health care and meager support for the arts. Beautifully performed with impressive sets. Now we just have to figure out how to get tickets for more performances next season. And try not to get tuberculosis.