Houston Market Photos

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This picture was taken the night before the show opened. You would not believe some booths- I mean, shipping crates after shipping crates arriving with furniture, props and beautiful things. I felt like such the ugly duckling- me and my two Southwest-allowable suitcases. That’s it. All I had. I even had to borrow pins from my neighbor to hang my quilts. How sad is that? A quilter who didn’t bring pins. All of my booth shots are from before the convention center laid down the screaming-red aisle carpet that night.  I was shaking in my boots. Little fish, big sea. Yeah.

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Here’s the other angle- you might recognize the birthday banners- it was the one frivolous thing I was able to stuff in the suitcases. The night before, I had the bathroom scale in the kitchen, and was repacking the bags at midnight because they were over- I got them to 49.8 pounds… by the skin of my teeth.

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The table skirt and drapery were borrowed, and my scary midnight run to scary Houston Voldemart netted the hand sanitizer and candy. I forgot a bowl though, and used my roll of stickers to hold treats. Classy. Oh yeah. Have I mentioned how nervous and scared I was?  Terrified doesn’t even come close to how I felt. But you know what? I can do scary things.  I can do things which make me shake in my boots, and come out better than before.

I have a million ideas for next time. The learning curve was steep, but I had a folder full of sketches before the show even opened. It was a very good experience.

And then here, for comparison, is Heather Bailey’s booth:

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Oh yeah. And that IS Heather herself standing there. Her booth is literally four times the size of mine. And it wasn’t even close to the biggest or fanciest- Now can you see why I felt like the country mouse?  Like I was totally in over my head?And yet I did it. It’s done. I lived.

And maybe- no, certainly- something good will come of it. People liked my stuff. People were kind to me, and an awful lot of folks had good feedback and even kudos me… Me, the tiny fish in the big scary sea.  Exhaling now…

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Looking Forward

So. Perhaps I’m more poetic, more heroic, when I’m also being vague and cryptic. Perhaps reading Dandelion is more fun when you don’t know the names of the demons that are haunting me. Perhaps. While I’ve held my cards close to my chest for a while now, I’ve also made it no secret that my heart was breaking.

Three days before I left for Houston, I filed for divorce.

There is a lot of personal pain that will remain just that- personal. This was not a step I took lightly or with anything but the most serious gravity. I tried everything humanly possible to keep from taking this step, but once the time came, I knew what I had to do. Publicly, all I will say is that sometimes the agency of others really sucks.

Right now, I am protecting my children. I am trying to keep our lives as normal as is possible; we are all tender and raw around the edges.  The kids spent the time I was in Houston down in California with my family, and I flew to the bay area to pick them up straight from Texas.

Now. I turn my weary, red eyes to the horizon, and I can see tiny glimmers of light. I don’t want to get too excited to soon, but I really, really think things may be looking up. The road is hard and there will be bumps, I am well aware. I know there are hurdles I cannot yet see; being a single-Mama is nothing I ever planned to try. But I’m going to make it. I really, really am.

The Lord has abundantly blessed me- with friends, family, talents, faith and hope. Now is the time for me to pull myself up, dust myself off, count my blessings, and get to work. And that’s just what I intend to do…

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Home

I am home. The children are nestled all snug in their beds, and I am standing amid the wreckage of my life. But, like the Phoenix or the mighty Sequoia, I’m looking through the ashes for the gems formed from intense heat and pressure. I know, with all my heart, that they are there, and they are waiting for me to find them…

Random Crap: Travel Edition

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(Still sans-usb cable, this picture is borrowed from my new friend Nan’s blog, Pots and Pins. Check her out- her recipes are fantastic, and she was a cheerleader for me as my neighbor in Houston…)

AWOL Mama logging in from my step-dad’s computer. I really need to get myself a laptop- this is such a drag!

I promise I won’t talk about Market anymore for a while, but I wanted to share this picture. This a shot of about one-twelfth the size of the floor at Houston market. Honestly, in three solid days I didn’t even make it down every aisle. It was insane. And the talent! Oh my goodness, the talent was just incredible.

Houston. Houston was good to me. Aside from the horrifying, ghastly weather, Houston is a nice place. But, oh, the weather is a BIG problem. The food was awesome- seriously, Houston is kind to Foodies. It is NOT kind to people with curly hair, however.

I flew into the biggest storm of the year to hit California yesterday morning. The airline was actually offering vouchers at the gate in Denver if anyone wanted to wait out the storm and catch a “less bumpy” flight. Yes, they said that over the intercom. And it was. It was whiteout most of the way- very strange sensation, being able to see nothing out your window at 38,000 feet, while you bounced and bumped along. The flight attendants didn’t even serve drinks- they had to stay buckled-up. Not a good flight if you didn’t enjoy flying. I was fine.

My kids are in great shape. Grandma and grandpa and granddad have done a great job. The kids are hanging on me more than normal, but I missed them so much I don’t mind.

I’m hitting up my favorite Indian restaurant this evening with my cousin. I just cannot get food like this in the northwest. Tomorrow I hit up LaBamba on the peninsula.  I’m also trying to hook up with my friend Rebecca and her kids, as well as my cousin Heather, whom y’all know.

I ADORE the way Texans say “thank you”- and I can see how you could pick up a Texan accent quickly and without meaning to- It’s melodic and addictive… thank yeeeww. And they said I had an accent. Yeah, suuuuuure.

My i-pod really made the airplane trip less of a drag. How cool is it to have 1000 songs at my fingertips? Thank-yeeeew, Mo!

There is much to tell, but for now, I must hold me peace. I’ll be home on Saturday.

Houston: Fin and TA-DA!

Well. What’s done is done. I did what was in my power to do, and I can do no more.

What an amazing experience. I’m still a teeeny-tiny fish in a great big sea, but I caught the eyes of some of the bigger fish- and the law of attraction seems to be en force. I met some fantastic, inspiring people. I wish I had the intellectual reserves to mine for the words to show you how amazing these people are- but right now? I’m just too damn tired.

Yes, I got to bob along in the awesomeness of the textile world. Yes, I got to preview the 2010 lines for sooooo many fabric manufacturers- if you don’t care about textiles, that won’t mean bugaboo to you, but if you pet your fabric like I do, then you are drooling. Look for amazing new stuff from some of your favorites, and perhaps to be surprised by a few, too. Yummy. Really, really yummy stuff.

As for me- well, it was my virgin sail in Market- any market- any show. So while I have nothing to compare the experience to, I did have the people in the booths surrounding mine circling around me in excitement and celebration. The quilting and fabric community is fantastically and oddly devoid of weird tension or competition. It’s as though everyone knows there is room for many artistic visions, and they buoy each other up. Everyone. Every. Single. Person. Was kind, generous, and forthcoming with advice and introductions. I just worked a convention floor for three solid days- and didn’t encounter even one grumpy, or crabby or otherwise unpleasant person. Do that with the general public. Yeah.

So. As for me and my house? I took enough on-site orders to cover all my expenses. That’s good. I also made a ton of new business contacts. Hundreds of stores know about me that had never heard of me three days ago. Not all of them placed orders, but as many of them as I could get left with promo pieces from me. I am no longer a random name. In business, that’s half the battle.

Also. Since I am a one-woman-band, who writes, illustrates, paints, sews, designs and plays the tuba (ok, one of those things is a lie)- some folks who might be able to make some money for and from me also noticed. And told me so.

That’s all I’m going to say about that at the moment.

What?! I know. I’m superstitious though- I’m worried if I overflow with excitement like I want to- like I did when my neighbors and new friends told me what all those business-cards in my hand actually meant- well, then I might accidentally pop the bubble. And I so, so, so very much want the bubble to hold more than a castle in the air.

Houston: a Trois

Today? Today was a good day. Still processing it all- and lots of things I cannot share yet (it’s killing me, but I’m not dumb!) The ladies in the booths around me were all full of eager support and advice. And that’s all I have to say about that for now.

HOUSTON Part Deux

I started out super-nervous and excited. The people are beyond nice- honestly, of the hundreds of people I talked with today, there was not one crab or grump among them. The exhibitors in the booths surrounding mine are all fantastic, and all of them have been here before and have been generous with tips and advice. The learning curve is steep, and I already have a full page of ideas scrawled down for next year.

First thing this morning, the guy in the booth directly across from mine told me not to panic if I didn’t take any orders today. He said on Saturday, most of the people just take their spin through and figure out their game plan, waiting for Sunday or Monday to do their serious buying. I’m glad he told me that- and I didn’t panic.

I got to meet Heather Bailey. She is fantastic,  and her stuff is completely drool-worthy. Nice things coming down the line for 2010. I saw Amy Butler, but did not get a chance to speak with her. The new Moda lines are vintage-tastic. Amazing.

While I do still feel like a super-small fishy in a giant pool of  insane talent, I also feel a little more confident now as well. I’m not any of those other people- but maybe what I have is cool in its own way too.

Now, I am tired and my feet are achy- I’m thinking about the hot tub, but am debating if  my transparent-white Washington legs should really make a public appearance. Tomorrow ought to be fun. I will return and report.

First Report: HOUSTON

First, thank you all for your support this last week. It’s been a doozy, and sometime down the road, I may be able to share more than just my aching heart, but now is not the time.

Hmmm. What to say about Texas so far…

Dude, when leaving a building or your car? When you do, your glasses fog up like they would in a steamy bathroom. I kid you not. When I walked out of the airport to get my rental car, my sunglasses immediately steamed over. The ONLY time that has ever happened to me before was in my own kitchen on a cold December when I opened the oven to take out some hot baked bread. Here in Houston, it’s the norm. Your car windows fog too- on the OUTSIDE.

Also, it never ever cools down. Last night, I kept waiting and waiting for it to cool off, but at almost midnight, it was still almost 90. Today it’s been pouring rain all day. And it’s still hot. You. Should. See. My. Hair.

Texas really, really likes Texas. Also, the Voldemart here is really scary- at least in East Houston, which is the only one I’ve been in. Downtown is nice. The convention center is massive, and the new ballpark downtown is cool. Er, rather, it’s retro and nice- nothing in Houston is COOL. No, everything here is meltingly hot. I don’t know how Texas women even bother with make-up or doing their hair…

I’ve been taking photos, and I’ll put them up when I get home- I don’t have an isb cord for my camera on me, and as Mo will attest, I am so-not-good at techie things. I look forward to the day I can use my wireless mouse as a tri-corder and just tell my Computer what to do, a la Picard. “Computer! Chamomile tea with honey!”

There are over 2000 other fabric artists here, and I’m TOTALLY the little fish in the big sea. Intimidating? Oh yeah. I’m trying not to think about it too much. My booth is all set up, it looks cute, and I’ve done everything in my power. Now, it’s out of my hands. Tomorrow, I’ll get up, make myself pretty (minus the hopeless hair situation), don my super cute new apron (pictures and maybe a free pattern coming), and hopefully wow the world. Or at least the small part of the world that make up the fabric lovers who’ve travelled to Houston in 2009.

Moda  (Moda! I love Moda fabric!) is one aisle over from me- and so is Amy Butler. I have a girl-crush on both of them; I feel bashful each time I look over there and see the fantastic things they are setting up… and here’s me, over here, all quiet and small…and shaking in my boots.

Texas- Bigger than France

Exhaaaaaaaling. NOW.

Holy crap. Wednesday had to be on of the hardest days of my life. I made it, but it’s was sketchy. Thanks to a super-kind friend with the ability and means to jump in and roll up her sleeves. I have a new helper for Houston. Many, many, many of you reached out to me yesterday- and I am more grateful than I can express right now. My original friend who was going with me has a child in the hospital with the flu, and I’m sending my prayers her way tonight.

There is much more going on, of which I am yet unable to share. But trust me when I say it matters, and that I feel it when so many people offer their prayers on my behalf. It’s humbling and powerful.

I leave for the airport in 6 hours, and I’m not even done packing.

Ready or not, here I come…

Alone

The hard truth is, we are alone in life. We come into the world alone, and we leave it alone. We have to stand before the Lord someday, and we have to do that alone. It’s easy to forget in the hustle of life.

My friend who was going to help me in Houston is very ill and most likely cannot help. I’m scrambling like mad to find a solution- but with less than 24 hours, I’m hitting a lot of walls. Trying to stay positive and believe in myself and my ability to do this, but it’s hard.

My house is empty.

A friend gave me a big gift-certificate to Nordstrom to treat myself to a new outfit and some make-up for Houston. My plan was to get down there this morning. I cannot find it ANYWHERE. And my house is spotless right now- it’s empty, remember, so when I put in my purse, it really should still be there. Its’ not. It’s not anywhere. It’s utterly vanished. I can only suppose I’m just not supposed to have it.

I’m trying hard not to feel sorry for myself. I’m trying hard not to cry. I’m trying so damn hard to keep it together.

Some friends have called and offered help with Houston- but it’s so last minute, everyone is having logistical/financial trouble working it out. All totally understandable. It just hurts so damn bad.

I’m trying so hard. Can I run a show booth by myself for three consecutive days? Alone?

The platitude is that it’s always darkest before the dawn. My eyes are stinging with hot unshed tears and I am so afraid and feel so alone. I’m ready for that light… please…