Katrina Rasbold - Queen of It All



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March 25, 2008

Well, I've wanted to write, but I feel as though I keep waiting for something better to tell so that I don't just sound like I'm whining.  My impression is that I am not doing a very good job of maintaining the positive attitude that I know is really critical to generating good things in one's life.  It's a constant struggle to stay anywhere near "on track" and while I can explain away a lot of reasons why that's happening, they really all just come out sounding like excuses while I flop around on the shore gasping for air. 

The sort of good thing is that our planting, which should have occurred on Spring Equinox, keeps getting put off.  It's not unusual for that to happen because where I am, we don't plant things that time of year, but we do try to stick pretty close to the standard times.  I have not received any kind of redirections on what I am planting in my life this year:  learn to bellydance, learn to play the organ and lose 100 pounds by January 2nd.  I'm good with that and The Universe seems good with me doing that.  Still, whenever we are supposed to do our planting ceremony, things come up to redirect us from that. 

When I very first started tuning into signs and omens and Divine guidance, I used to struggle over the seemingly endless conundrum that comes up when you are doing something and encounter obstacles.  On one hand, I could see The Universe asking, "OK, how badly do you want this?" and on the other hand, I could see the obstacles as genuine redirection.  I used to over-analyze like mad trying to decide which it was in individual circumstances.  Now that I am old and decrepit, I can clearly see that The Universe just does not work that way.  If something is truly meant to be, the way will be provided.  If obstacles are popping up everywhere, then it's time to be still for a while and examine what's going on and perhaps even why it's happening.  Rarely are obstacles anything more than a way of slowing down (or halting) the process, either because you are going in the wrong direction or because it's just not time yet.  Sometimes, you just have to sit still for a while and wait for more pieces to drop into place before you move forward again.

I am trying hard not to fall into a negative mentality.  I have never been one to deal well with lack of routine and plenty of abrupt changes.  I like a plan and I like some degree of predictability in my life.  Sure, we can never really depend on anything, but I do enjoy an overall sense of rhythm to life.  To me, that's what best reflects the feel of nature, the turn of the earth on its axis, the movement of all life through the seasons and the phases of the moon. 

I remember back in the olden days when I used to have that.  I miss that.

Now, everything changes on a dime.  I never know from one week to the next when or if Eric will be working.  I never seem to know when I am going to have to go into town for this or that.  Once again, I find myself at the mental crossroads analyzing.  Is this meant to shake me out of my apparent need for routine and flow or is it a call for me to stand up and take greater control of my life rather than pinballing against other circumstances that are not generated by me?

Do I really want to go back to the past where things had an illusion of consistency and predictability or do I want to find a balance between that and the spontaneity of the way my life currently goes?

I think the key word is balance because that seems to always be what I seek, again, in that reflection of nature.  I'm sure the gazelle who gets eaten by the lion spends a moment or two longing for that predictability of loping through the fields with his little antelope friends.  I just don't always want to be braced for the lion attack.

So yeah, balance.  That's what I am going to be thinking about when I am going through boxes out in the "way back" shed looking for my stash of material (as in fabric) that I've had forever and intend to use to make bear and monkey clothes.

I'll bet you're dying to know about the bears and the monkeys, aren't you?  Fortunately, it will be an hour or two in my time, but only a line or two in yours, so you get the good end of this deal (provided you actually did have any interest in either the monkeys or the bears or both).

To the shed...

Now I'm back, but it's something like 6 hours later.  Isn't it amazing how that works?  Remarkably, I spent less than a half hour in the shed.  The shed gods were smiling today.  Everything I needed was immediately accessible.  I got out the boxes that my transcribing computer was shipped in and they are now waiting eagerly in the near shed.  I can't find the crappy little speakers they sent, so they will get a slightly better pair back.  My last day is a week from yesterday and I have 4 more work nights to go.  Sixteen hours between me and freedom.

I found the fabric I was looking for, plus a nice surprise of a pile of jeans the boys had outgrown that will be made into bear jeans.  I was afraid I was going to have to buy some at the thrift store to cut down, but there they were.  All in all, a day of nice miracles.

I love even the little bity ones.

Once the shed issue was in order, Eric helped me move some storage items from the laundry room, which is also now the dog room and my "office."  Since I have been able to work out regularly with Andrea, the treadmill went back to the shed until Eric can get the big deck built.  Once that happens, all of the exercise equipment will go out there.  I moved a lot of things around in the laundry room and cleared off some shelves for my bear dressing supplies.  I have clothes, fabric, yarn, hair, hats, shoes, glasses, the makings for boas and fancy hats, official "red hats" for the Red Hat bears, tiaras, chenille pipe cleaners to make more tiaras, lots of little accessories for them to hold and a decent craft basket started.  It's weird, really.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am 100% NOT an artsy crafty person.  I just don't have it in me.  I can decorate cakes pretty nicely, but I don't let that word get out much because I dearly hate doing it.  When it comes to gluing stuff together or painting anything or conceptualizing the least little thing, it just isn't there.  Yet I am drawn to the idea of dressing these damned bears.  I counted today and I have 32 stuffed bears of different sizes, shapes and consistencies, picked up from thrift stores over the past month or so.  I doubt I paid more than $20 for all of them combined.  They are all in good shape, except for one guy who needs a quick whip stitching up the back.  He was too cuddly to let go.

What's funny about it is that my mother spent the last half of her life dressing bears and dolls.  She was an amazing seamstress.  I am anything but amazing, but I think I can pull it off.

I will also be making monkeys.  Here's how the monkey thing started:

Two weeks ago, the boys had a birthday party that was set to last for about 3 hours.  Eric and I took advantage of that time to do something we never get to do.  We took Delena out.  Since she's the babysitter, she's always home with one of them or one of us is out with her.  So out we go, just the 3 of us.  We were walking into a historical shop on Main Street Placerville called, appropriately enough, "Placerville Hardware."  Placerville Hardware is significant for the fact that it is the only place I have found on earth that carries "Annie B's Caramels."   Annie B's caramels are quite simply, the finest caramels ever, ever made anywhere on the whole entire planet.  This statement is authenticated by our own resident caramel expert, The Media Ho.  They are .25 each or 5 for $1 or, according to this site, $50 a case.   Since that works out to about .38 a piece, I'm guessing this site is yanking our collective chain.  Ah.  It pays to shop around.  Here they are at 150 for $25.  Bouquet and Company can go straight to hell for their caramel price gouging ways.  Anyway, worth absolutely every penny.


as you may have determined from the whole caramel thing, Placerville Hardware sells more than hardware.  In fact, hardware makes up about 1/2 of their inventory.  The rest is just neat stuff.  So as I go into the store, I see in their display window, a sock monkey.  It's a well made, kinda cute sock monkey, but this isn't exactly the Raquel Welch of sock monkeys.  It's just a sock monkey.  It has a tag around its neck that says DeeDee and that is significant because DeeDee and Dee are our nicknames for Delena.  Delena also happens to be a monkey fanatic.  I like pigs (with character) and Delena likes monkeys.  So I asked the guy behind the counter if the monkey was for sale and he excitedly told me that it was.  The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me:  Excellent.  How much for the monkey?

Hardware boy:  It's $79.

Me:  *blink*  Did you just say $79, like $1 less than $80?

HB:  Yes.

Me:  *stare*

HB:  It's wearing a Tommy Hilfliger outfit.  *shifts uncomfortably*

Me:  *stare*  Are you really standing there telling me with a straight face that the little sock monkey in the window costs $79?

HB:  I could probably let it go for $50.

Me:  Are you out of your ever lovin' mind?  How do monkey makers sleep at night?

HB:  It's wearing a Tommy Hilfliger outfit.

Me:  Do you realize you are in Placerville, not Beverly Hills?  I could see Paris Hilton buying a Tommy Hilfliger monkey for $79...

HB:  I can let it go for $50.

Me:  ...but in Placerville, I think you are going to end up with one very old, dusty monkey in a Tommy Hilfliger outfit.

HB:  Do you want the monkey?

Me:  No, I want some socks and to go into the monkey making business.

HB:  We don't sell the socks.

Me:  There are other worlds than these, gunslinger.

So I went home and ordered a dozen pairs of monkey socks and so far, I have a monkey overhead of $3.75 each.  I figure I'll call them "Mammaw's Monkeys" (although the thought of going with "Munkeys" appeals to me in some wild way) or "Mountain Monkeys" or something like that.

That's how I became a purveyor of monkeys as well as bears.  Mine, however, will not cost $79 because that's just highway monkey robbery.

Jackie has all the stuff to make our soaps, soy candles, creams and lotions.  We just have to find the time to get together and do it.  Since she is on the GFORCE board of directors, we have both been immersed in community things, but now we are freed up from GFORCE obligations until July with the exception of an April bingo. 

Speaking of GFORCE, we finally got our Non-Profit Organization status finalized and now we are on to the incorporation process.  Woot!

Anyway, as you might have read in a previous entry, I was pretty hot to buy a business in town called Land of Awes that is a little boutique and costume shop.  It screams "me" and it cries out for me to be its Mama.  My monkeys and bears need a place to live, don'tcha know.  Anyway, Wells Fargo turned me down like a motel bed for a loan. They even turned me down faster than they usually turn down people.  I was a little surprised, honestly, because my credit isn't all that awful.  So I pretty much let the idea go unless something else showed up and sure enough, things started popping up.  A guy from Umpqua Bank called me wanting me to give financing a try and so I drafted up a business proposal so moving *I* wanted to lend the money to me, but of course, I don't have it, hence the lending process.  Also along this time, Eric got a note from our mortgage company that actually recommended that we attempt to refinance with one of their sister companies.  Weird.  So Eric phoned them up and they told him they couldn't help him because our first and second mortgages were both being reported more than 30 days late for January.  Adoing?!  This was news to us since we'd worked our asses off making sure that didn't happen.  As soon as Eric knew the job at Beale AFB was delayed, he phoned the mortgage company (back in December) and set up a hardship payment plan, which we followed to the letter.  We were 100% assured that our credit would not be affected, but the FICO score the company that Eric phoned gave him was 150 points lower than it had previously been.  (??!!)  I got on the phone with Umpqua guy and he told me it was still possible to get the loan if I could get a statement from the mortgage company saying it was their error.  Until then, there is no way he can pitch a loan for us.  Fortunately, he is out of the office all this week and would be unable to initiate anything until next week.

Also, of course, the mortgage company needs to write to the credit reporting bureaus with the information.  I thought all that sounded fairly simple, but here it is a week later and Eric has spent literally hours on the phone with the mortgage company and they are jerking him around big time.  Turns out, the guy who was handing our hardship arrangement did not file something he was supposed to file.  When we have tried to call him and his extension goes right back to the main menu again.  (I think he might be farred)  So after some supposedly extensive research on the part of a guy at the mortgage company, which is in Florida, he found the hardship agreement and agrees that our credit should not have been affected and that the mortgage company was in error to report us as late.  Unfortunately, of course, he does not have the authority to issue the letters to us and the credit bureaus about the error.  His supervisor would have to do that.  His supervisor, of course, is unavailable and we have to call back...over and over and over.  His supervisor is always unavailable, it seems, being important and all.

As I said, this has been going on for a week and Eric has been handling it well, getting pissy at all the right times and being calm at all the right times, but still, we're getting jerked around on this.  Does no one take responsibility for their actions any more?  Why is it so hard for a company to say, "You know, you're right.  We'll fix that right away."  Life and mortgages, especially at this point in history, are hard enough without just getting screwed with constantly.  This is the same mortgage company that has a 15 day grace period for payments due on the 1st, but starts calling daily on the 8th insisting on being paid, complete with pushy, angry, out-sourced, barely English-speaking employees.  I appreciate that they need a job as much as any English speaking American needs one, but the language barrier is just unworkable in some instances. 

Eric phones every day, sometimes multiple times, and today was yet another day when they just couldn't help us.  It isn't like we are asking them to compensate us with a month off of mortgage payments or anything (our credit can't handle their favors right now).  We just want them to fix what they screwed up.  I do know that this error is likely why Wells Fargo turned me down with as much heat as they could muster, so their error has already affected my life in a very negative way.  I definitely hope they can get something going before Mr. Umpqua gets back into his office on Monday.

What's really sweet is that since word has gotten out that I might be buying the store, people are coming out of the woodwork to help.  I've had offers from people for everything from consignment goods to clothes folding to store minding and I've been really moved by the outpouring of support.  If it doesn't go through and I end up peddling monkeys, bears and things that smell good from my front yard, at least I know a community can mobilize to support one of its own (pity they don't have $80,000 or so laying around they aren't needing right now).

The kids finally did the egg hunt today.  On Sunday, David ended up coming over and they played with him until well past dark.  Yesterday got a little nutty after they got home and we never got around to it.  Being as they are 8 and 10, Eric actually went out in the woods and hid their eggs this year instead of just putting them around the yard.  That's some devious egg hiding right there.  They found all but one and fortunately, I'm betting the wildlife will take care of that one for us.  Our dogs actually ended up jumping up onto the table and eating 5 of the eggs after they were dyed, so we had to make more.  There's nothing I hate more than a dog that steals food and so mine are on some serious probation with much frowning and really hard staring involved.

All of that being said, I am going to start winding down the night, get a few EOS columns posted and figure I did a good day's work.  I have nothing planned for tomorrow or the day after or really, the rest of the week.  I like having big open areas of my week.  Nothing for the weekend either, which is nice.  I suspect I will get busy on gussying up some bears and read up on how to make the sock monkeys again.  I used to know, but that was a long time ago.  I have the cheapest sewing machine man ever invented and it snaps needles like twigs, so this should be very interesting. 

Be particular,