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In the year 2011, before Persnickety's was born, I was but an optician driving four hours a day to work in an optometric practice in Bellevue and was also the VP of a dog rescue in Seattle called Salty Dog Rescue. I started a blog to write out some of my feelings on mostly the dog front, since I really hated the four hour drive and complaining about a commute is just as uninteresting as hearing about someone's dreams. So, last December I wrote the following post. Now that we have met so many new friends, why not share with you a little of my love for my Ma and one of my most embarrassing moments.
The Proverbial Oreo, A Christmas Tale
At 7 years old I, like every other 2nd grader, was made to stand on risers in an abominably itchy sweater and sing Christmas carols at a school assembly/recital type thing. I was a nervous child, shy natured, with the intestinal constitution of a preemie nursed on Ipecac. Now, this is not to say I was an unhappy kid, just a sensitive one. Any unexpected change in routine, like the appearance of a substitute teacher in the place of my beloved teacher (Ms. Clarke, that year) would cause the churning and roiling in my gut that would send me running for the nearest bathroom.
At any rate, the morning of the 2nd grade Christmas sing-off, I was nervous. Nervous because of the singing to commence, my itchy sweater and my breakfast choice. I had decided that since the only cereal available was Life (blugh), and my mother was catching a little extra sleep, that I would take this opportunity to get my one and only chance at a sugar fix. Sugar was never available for breakfast in any form, you see, and as much as I begged for the cereal choices my friends enjoyed, there was no Cookie Crisp coming my way. It was Kix or Life and I was over both mushy, tasteless options. What did we have that would usurp Cookie Crisp? Oreo’s. Yes! Approximately 20 Oreo’s would do just fine.
Cookies guiltily consumed and my mom none the wiser, we headed to school. I walk in, but…Where’s my teacher? We have a SUB! On top of guilty Oreo breakfast, a dreaded sub. And just like an Oreo she was dressed in black and white. Black sweater and ivory pants. What are the odds? Sigh. Queasy, I swallow my bile and follow the other kids to the auditorium.
From my dead center location on the risers, I see my mom and the sub. I am hot. Then clammy. Nauseous, swallowing and gulping, I get through a song or two. Somewhere in the middle of Rudolph, I know it’s coming. The Oreo’s are on the rise and no matter what I do, I can’t keep them down. Panicked, I stare into the eyes of my sub, silently pleading…but it’s not working. Ms. Clarke would have known what to do…but this broad? Clueless. I can’t just throw up! I am in the middle of the risers, the star of the show! I am desperate. Not knowing at all what to do, I do what every well-behaved 2nd grader does. I slowly start to RAISE MY HAND. Mid-song.
The sub sees and looks at me quizzically. My instant Pavlovian response to her acknowledgement is burping, gulping and retching. Her eyes wide, she jumps up from her seat, runs up to me, yanks me from the risers in front of everyone. As the kids keep singing I can see my mom running toward me from the corner of my eye…we make it just outside the auditorium doors and still running toward the nurses office I can’t hold it any longer and BLLLLLLAAAAAAGHHHHHH….
Projectile vomit. BLACK projectile vomit. All over the creamy ivory pants worn by the sub. We stop running and I cry and apologize. Shock. No one can believe what just came out of me. My wide-eyed mom, mind whirling, is thinking first that I am dying: black puke is the precursor to dying, surely. Then the fleeting thought that I may be the Anti-Christ, spewing black froth at a Christmas recital can only be explained by this theory. She is perplexed for the moment, but I know the truth. And I am ashamed and embarrassed. And so sick.
Apologies and dry cleaning arrangements having been made with the sub, we head for home. My mom is the best mom and when I am sick, she is somehow even better. She tucks me in and I take a much-needed post-vomit, post-cry nap. When I wake up, my sweet mom is right there next to me, asking me how I am. “Better”, I manage to whisper. She tells me that’s she’s glad and looking down at me in my bed, she smiles. Smiles and offers me an Oreo.
And in my 7-year-old head I say, goddammit.
And now I am 35 years old and still a nervous and sensitive sort, though I hide it a little better. Or I’d like to think I do. I do have a tendency to emotionally involve myself in situations in which I know I will come out feeling sad or lost, particularly when dog rescue is involved. My mom may be proud of me for what I try to do but she doesn’t always say so…I think she wants me to find a project less taxing. I know that is born out of her own protective mom nature, but I find it hard to talk to her about, say, how sad I am to let go of a foster dog and how scary it is to trust his new family to love him, lovely as they are. In her mind, she thinks: you shouldn’t foster dogs, it will make you sad. Whereas I think: I will be sad, but it’s worth it. So we differ. However, yesterday, when exactly such a situation occurred, the first thing I could think to do was call my mom. She listened on the phone as I drove home and I found myself driving to her house. She made me soup and we didn’t talk about it, but that was ok. Because my mom is the best mom and when I am sad, she is somehow even better. She doesn’t ask why I would do something that would make me sick or sad, she just knows how to make it just that much more ok. Even when I eat the proverbial Oreo.
Mom and I are so happy to know you and continue to grow our friendships with you. It's an absolute honor and all we could ever ask for, Christmas or not. Also, I am additionally so very happy to not make that drive anymore. While the shop doesn't allow me the time or emotional availability to be involved with Salty Dog Rescue on a day-to-day basis, I still support them every way I can. You can too. This Friday December 7th at 8pm you can have some fun at the Naughty or Nice Funraiser for Salty Dog. Or check them out any time at www.saltydogrescue.org to see who they are and what they're about. Maybe give to them (they're a registered non-profit) for Christmas.
Of all the things I have done in my life, helping animals in need with these people has been a special honor. Give a donation, foster a dog, become a Facebook fan and share the animals looking for homes with your friends...best of all, take a rescue dog home to love. Everyone can do something to help. And isn't that what it's all about?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Persnickety's family.
You ready to get sappy? Personal? It's about to happen so steel yourselves.
When we moved in to the shop in April of this year, everyone and their momma (as well as my own momma) gave me grief about the somewhat unorthodox location.
The owner of the building is a bully and a blowhard, the surrounding area is industrial on its best day and lousy on its worst.
But the thing that stood out the most was the neighboring shop.
A tattoo parlor.
So I marched over to meet my neighbor. Big tough dude, all tatted up.
Said he went by J-Rock but that I could call him Jason.
Let's be honest. We perceive those we see by their outer appearance, don't we?
To some degree, we do.
Even if we are better than that, even if we are as evolved as we think.
Even if we are peace, love, and understanding. We do.
It's human nature and it's kind of a gross part of the human condition.
I'm here to tell you something.
For every "difference" we may see, there are are many more similarities.
Inside each person? A story, a heart, and goodness.
There are lessons to learn from someone different from us if we are lucky enough to get to know them.
Over the last six months there is no one person that has been more of a friend to my shop, no one that has looked out for us the way that Jason has.
He has moved furniture, delivered a giant old window for one of my customers, blushed when accidentally swearing in front of my mom, commiserated about lack of signage, picked up my tiny signs when they've fallen down, brightened our day with his (and his adorable dog Buddha's)presence.
When I went out of town over the summer, he not only was the person that I trusted with my one set of shop keys and alarm fob, he was the one person I knew would show up to deliver the keys to the person working the shop for me. On his day off.
All while being a big tough dude, all tatted up.
And in a few days, our shop's best buddy, is leaving and on to greener pastures.
In a few days I leave for Southern California to help my beloved aunt clear my grandparent's home. We lost Grandma in January and Grandpa a very short time later.
They are so loved and missed...this trip will not be an easy one. Losing them was the catalyst for the dream of this shop to become a reality. Life isn't long, I thought to myself, better do it.
Do it for them.
I wish they were here every day and not just as a picture on the shop's wall.
So today, in honor of them, my friend Jason gave me my first and only tattoo.
My friend Cindy came with and got her third.
My tattoo is on my inner arm and it's my Grandma's actual handwriting from the very last Christmas card she would send me.
Now I can look at her handwriting everyday and know that they are with me every step of the way.
And I also know that there is no one else I would have trusted to do this for me.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to start this business with a neighbor unlike any other.
Helpful, awesome, talented, and wonderful.
If you are looking to have work done by a really amazing artist and even better person, go see J-Rock at his new location in Tacoma starting November 1st.
You can find his business BTU TATTOO here.
Ok, maybe get your minds out of the gutter for a sec.
This is all about re purposing something cool and random into something cool and useful.
Re purposing items may be a hot trend but oftentimes necessity is truly the mother of invention.
With a side order of fortuity.
Our story begins with a Craigslist dresser that I wanted to give an aged grey French look.
He was named (in a moment of wax fume impairment) Francey Pants le Buffet.
Say it like Phoebe from Friends' last name.
In great shape, this piece had only one problem: it was missing the hardware on the center cabinet door.
The missing cabinet pull...where did it go? Was it eaten by a dog? Was it eaten by a frog? And by "frog" I mean that in the ribbit sense, not the derogative for French citizens sense.
Since this piece was being painted to look, like, super old, I wanted something super old and cool for the cabinet door.
*Sidenote on this piece. It was a different look and project for me at the time. Four different paint colors and all kinds of antique gels and dark wax.
I looked at it one day and thought, "You remind me of something".
I'll tell you what.
Acid. Washed. Jeans.
I convinced myself, convulsed, and was mortified. I kept stepping away and trying to "new eye" myself into a different conclusion but just couldn't. I needed a true new eye.
Enter friend, fellow painter, and shop contributor Denniel. I told her the piece reminded me of something but since I didn't want to cloak her fresh eyes in the same bad denim I kept seeing, I didn't mention what I was seeing.
"Hmm," she says. "Well....", she says.
"It kinda looks like an old gravestone," she finally says.
Cue the choir and hallelujah! I'll take death markers over acid washed jeans any day.*
Ok, back to the point.
I could not for the life of me find a store bought knob or pull that worked. And a one hole center set up is tricky for mounting.
I looked through everything in my box of tricks and found... nothing. Then, mayyyyybe something.
Not a knob, not a pull.
An antique iron match holder.
I had purchased that little fella at an estate sale earlier that month and hadn't put it in the shop yet. So there it sat, waiting for a home.
Wouldn't it be cool if I could use it on Francey??
I looked at the back of this old black beauty and found that it was actually two pieces screwed together.
So what else is there to do but unscrew the screw?
Now THIS, this would work! It just needed paint.
And I could use that original screw to attach this piece to the cabinet door.
Lookie, a hole!
And it attached like a charm, the curves even matched the shape of the door!
Now this looks like it was meant to be.
Francey Pants Le Buffet was complete.
I'm happy to report he found a lovely and immediate home with a fantastical family.
Now to find the perfect piece to utilize the other half of that match holder...
An experienced and talented crafty blogger friend (Rachel of www.holy-craft.com) and I were joking today that we should start a gang.
A crafty gang. Packing nothing but straight paint brushes, yo.
We could recruit in the shady corners of Joanne Fabrics and Michael's.
Initiate new members with hot glue guns.
It was later decided that as she is a PTA president and I am a new local business owner, the whole gang thing would be a terrible idea.
I mean, who has the time?
Between sourcing items for the shop, cleaning and painting those items, organizing and decorating the shop, helping customers, handling inventory brought in by the great local designers that contribute to the shop, custom painting, delivering, running the shop, doing the paperwork, trying to expand, marketing, answering emails, painting classes, rampant Facebooking
and my fantasy football league schedule, seriously...a gang would be too much.
A blog though...a blog I might be able to handle. I kind of started one in the beginning but...you know how it goes. I'm willing to give it another shot and would love it if you came along for the ride.
Here's the first blog I did when we opened in May 2012...it's about my mom.
My adorable Mom doesn't have a clue that she is the funniest person on the planet. To me, anyway.
Mom will be at the shop on Wednesdays and I cannot wait for you to meet her.
Not only is she the most lovely, sweet, adorable, and helpful person in the world, she is also hilarious.
Now, she thinks I am laughing AT her when she says some of the things that she does, but I swear I am cracking up because I think she is the most purely natural comedian ever.
Here are some prime examples of the things she has said/done lately, as well as some old favorites.
Upon finding a great old rocking chair while picking:
"There are two kinds of rocking chair people. People that rock in them on their porch outside and people with babies".
After someone bought a lantern that she found (but that I bought for the shop):
"You sold my lantern".
Regarding our differences in aesthetic (I was painting something bright orange at the time):
"You do whatever you want, I'm just here to help".
In response to Home Depot clerk asking her date of birth while purchasing spray paint:
"Uh, why on earth do you need to know THAT?"
Here are some all time favorites:
"Mandi, I just bought the Christmas tree of the future".
"Mmmhmm, see? Everyone that drives a CRX is crazy".
"I called and asked how many burritos I could take on the airplane".
Now, I know these things may only be super funny to those of us that know and love little Ma, but to know her is to love her.
The whole family worked furiously to get the shop open, but Mom has been (still is and always will be) irreplaceable. In the process of building out the shop I stupidly herniated a few discs in my back and have been unable to do all of the heavy lifting, bending, driving, and miscellaneous 9 million things I want and need to do...and Mom has been there at every turn, always telling me to knock it off, don't lift that, here's your ice pack, did you take your medicine.
Driving me everywhere (which we have dubbed Driving Miss Lazy), going on errands for me, putting up with way more than I would ever want her to have to.
But, that's Mom. She's pretty much the best thing ever. She doesn't have a Facebook account, she doesn't read what I post...so, when you meet her you should surreptitiously mention taking burritos on an airplane, Home Depot policies, or the Christmas tree of the future.
She puts the Awesomeness in Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporium. Come say hi.