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In late May I received a call from my friend Cara. "We're calling your from REI. Wanna backpack the Appalachian Trail with me and Lorrie next month?" My response was silence. Not what Cara expected from her most-likely-to-be-hiking friend. I'd backpacked -- once. Up Half Dome in Yosemite. It was hard. very hard. I wouldn't call it fun. That was one night. They were proposing 4 nights and 5 days. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hiking. It's where and when I feel the most sane but hauling everything you need to live changes the experience entirely. That much I did know. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the sisters to opt for camping + day hiking I relented, and against my better judgement and my husband's warning ("What are you nuts? You hated it. You swore you'd never backpack again.") I bought a plane ticket. It was arranged. They would drive from Texas and meet me at my aunt's house outside of Atlanta. We would hike the southern most part of the A.T.
Lorrie was the mastermind. She sent us itineraries, packing lists and links to various sites to purchase hiking poles and the like. I assumed she had done this before. It wasn't until we were on the trail that I learned this would be her first time backpacking and that I with my 1 night some almost 10 years ago was the most experienced. shudder.
In preparation I hiked our local trails slowing adding weight to my pack. 10lbs. -- no problem. I could even still keep up with my Saturday hiking group (they have a reputation for being ruthlessly fast). As the pack got heavier my fear grew stronger. I am not sure I can do this! When the pack fully loaded weigted close to 40lbs, I may have cried. I can't do this! I scaled everything down. Only the bare minimum. One long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, etc. I was ruthless. Lorrie would bring the stove and water purifier, Cara the tent, and me the food. I purchased the 5-day meal combo. It weighted 10lbs! With water, food, sleeping bag, clothes, etc. I got my pack down to 35lbs and I boarded United flight 1446 SFO to ATL (via Chicago). It took 20 hours - but that's a whole other story.
Before departing I watched this video.
At minute 3:29: "In our avoidance of discomfort, we may become more uncomfortable." That struck a cord with me and echoed through my head. . .
"The more you need to be comfortable, the more likely you are to be uncomfortable." Nowhere is this more easily experienced than when you are backpacking. However, the more I have considered this more I have come to believe that this is not just trail wisdom. It's much, much bigger than that.
"The more you need to be happy. The more likely you are to be unhappy."
More what? Money, fame, friends, sales, likes on facebook, comments on your blog, shoes, fine wine, fancy cars, bigger house, new clothes, remolded kitchen, praise, vacation time -- the list is endless.
The trail strips everything away. You are down to basics: water, food, shelter. Your most important possessions are your feet and knees. Wants are simple. Basic. Then you return. Back to reality and hot showers, fresh vegetables, a bed. They take on a more sacred role. It's easy to fall into wants disguised as needs. Our culture and economy is based on this. . . but for now (and hopefully always) . . .
The trail lesson continues to ring in my head. Happy is here. NOW. :)
Tomorrow my husband leaves for Russia. He will be gone for 2 weeks. In the 20+ years we have been together this will be the longest and furthest we have been apart.
He is going to Russia as part of the Fort Ross/Kashaya Expedition marking the 200th anniversary of the 1st Russian settlement in the continental USA - which just happens to be in our neck of the woods. Sus (hubby) will be traveling with 24 other people to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tot'ma (the home town of the founder of Fort Ross). As the executive director of the Gualala Art Center, Sus is representing our local art community and traveling with some descents of the "first artists" of the area. Part of the reason for this trip is for the Kashaya (native American Pomo tribe) to see and identify artifacts and artwork that was taken back to Russia when the fort was disbanded - over 150 years ago. They will be touring museums, meeting with dignitaries, participating in a parade, and doing home stays while in Tot'ma.
He was trying to figure out what gifts he should bring with him. The idea of tote bags came up and immediate we thought of the Green Bag Lady. We called Teresa and she sent us some Silent Stumps Sateen bags as well as some other solid bags that we could screen print the Gualala Arts logo on. Teresa ROCKS! In less than a week we had the screen printed bags. Tomorrow they make they voyage overseas.
I can't tell you how happy these bags make me! The trilogy of Green Bag Lady + Gualala Arts + Harmony Art = BIG LOVE.
I hope the Russians like (and use) them and I hope Sus gets home safely with lots of good stories to share.
A couple of weeks ago, we were in southern California. We visited the City of Los Angeles Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant & Japanese Tea Gardens. I kid you not, you look one direction and see this:
You look the other direction and see this:
From their web site: "The Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant (DCTWRP), was designed to produce reclaimed water that will meet the requirements of the California Department of Health Services and the County Health Department for specific uses with the priority to protect public health. The main function of the plant, however, is to relieve the overburdened portions of the wastewater collection system between the San Fernando Valley and the City's main wastewater treatment facility, the Hyperion Treatment Plant, located in Playa Del Rey.
The balance of positive and negative forces, Yin & Yang, are ever present here. Obvious in the skillful blending of traditional Japanese landscaping with modern Occidental architecture, less so in the way the Japanese concept of "WA" or harmony is used to unite the desires of the human spirit with our more mundane requirements—the exquisite beauty of a Japanese garden with the need for an abundant supply of fresh water."
Pretty cool, don't you think?
I spent last weekend in Nashville with the Green Bag Lady (aks Teresa). Teresa knows I don't sew so instead of helping sew the Green Bag Lady bags, she put me to work matching handles with bags. It was SOOOO much fun! I loved it. Here's an action shot of me being the "handler".
While going through the bags I came across this bag (below) made out of Bagette Dad's old pants and fell in love with it! The pockets are still in tact - perfect for cell phone, nano, etc. The loops allow me to accessorize my bag with a belt to match my outfit. After begging and pleading (not really) Teresa let me keep the "pants bag". Here's a picture of me with the original owner of the pants. Goofy? Yes! Fun? Absolutely!
On Saturday afternoon we had a Bagette brunch and I got to meet some of the women who bring the Green Bag Lady project to life. They are as lovely and kind and generous and talented as you would imagine. What a great weekend! Thank you Bagettes for making me feel so welcome. xoxo harmony
If you haven't visited our planted seeds page lately you may want to take a look. We have 4 new designs (well. . . 3 new designs and one recolored design) in the works. It is always fun for me to see new designs come to life.
I give the explanation of where the designs come from on each fabric page of my web site, but I thought I would go ahead and give you even more information about our new design Morning Dew. Here's the picture that inspired the design. The picture was taken on one of my hikes with the Thursday Rambler's group. You can see the morning dew being suspended by a spider web. I thought it made a lovely design and below you can see the pattern that emerged.
Nature provides me with an unlimited source of inspiration. Thank you spider. Thank you dew. Thank you for reading this. I am one lucky girl.
Last week The Green Bag Lady, Misses Stitches and I gave away close to 100 fabric bags in front of the two grocery stores in Gualala. As you can see, we had fun! The house is quiet after the visit... sniff sniff... but the bags (and memories) live on.
Yesterday as I drove across the bridge into the town of Gualala a man was walking the other way carrying a Green Bag Lady bag! I have seen this man walking many times before with a plastic bag. It was fabulous feeling to see the bag in action. THANKS Green Bag Lady!
Why is 1998 a good number you ask? Well California Assembly Bill 1998 is the bill to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. It has made it through the California Assembly last week and its next stop is the state Senate! If all goes as we hope, this could mean the end of plastic bags in California! If passed, the bill goes into effect January 2012. I am very hopeful and proud of all the people who have gotten it this far.
The other reason why 1998 is a good number is that it was the year Sus and I got married. Tomorrow marks our 12th anniversary. As we do every year, we will be making a pilgrimage to Bowling Ball Beach to renew our vows. This year, after the vow exchange, we are heading off on a weasure (work+pleasure) road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to southern California. We plan to meet with customers, friends, family and on the 12th I will be giving a lecture to the Surface Art Association and then we will be heading home. We believe this is the closest thing to a vacation we have taken with just the 2 of us in 12 years! Should be fun! Back to packing.... and prepping. Have a great week!!!
From Dallas, Michelle and I migrated to Austin where we met up with Valerie from Mod Green Pod. Nancy (the founder and designer) of Mod Green Pod and I have spoken from time to time so getting to see her space and meet her partner was a real treat. Pictured here is Michelle of Cotton Monkey holding a dress made from both of our fabrics (Mod Green Pod on the outside and our Sweet Jane as the lining) and Valerie. How fun to see both our visions come to life and come together.
Later that day we had the pleasure of meeting up with fabric blogger extraordinaire, Kim Knight of True Up. For you fabric fans out there, True Up is a must follow. Thanks Kim and Valerie for taking the time to meet with us. We had a great time!
I spent all of last week in Texas. It was a fabulous trip full of lots of fun with a little business thrown in too. One of the highlights was spending time with Harmony Art's very first customer, Michelle of Cotton Monkey.
Cotton Monkey will always hold a space in Harmony Art's history, but Michelle (the founder) also has a personal place in my heart. She is funny, talented, kind, thoughtful and just plain fun to be around. I think there needs to be a new word added to the dictionary that means friend + customer. Any suggestions?
Michelle is AMAZING! In addition to Cotton Monkey she also is a mom to an adorable 5 year old and manages an eco-event location in downtown Dallas called Hickory Street Annex. The space is beautiful. You can get a real idea for it on the Hickory Street web site. I however, was fascinated with the art/recycled glass wall outside the building. Michelle tells me I am the first person she knows of to take pictures from the "back" side. Somehow learning I view things backwards from everyone else didn't surprise me.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.