Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like an old horse

This morning I ventured off of my normal route to work to drop off the rent check downtown. On the way there I realized that my old car was a lot like an old horse, set in its ways. Let me elaborate

(((flash back blurred segue))))

When I was living on my Mom's farm back in Ohio, we boarded some horses for a neighbor in our barn and pastures. As part of the deal my sister and I were allowed to ride the horses ourselves. There were two horses, Red Bird & Buckshot and they had lived together for years, they were besties. Red Bird was a big beautiful reddish-brown quarter horse and Buckshot was a scrappy little black and white speckled pony with a bad attitude. Once I was trying to mount the saddle on Buckshot and he kicked me with his back leg knocking me off. I swear I almost punched that horse straight in the face, I has my fist pulled back and everything and then realized I was about to punch a horse in the face and laughed at myself instead. Needless to say Buckshot didn't get ridden as much as Red Bird and if you took them out separately you could hear Buckshot whinnying from the barn the whole time.

Once I had Red Bird out for a ride and we made it about half a mile down the road at a nice and easy pace. I wasn't a pro at horse riding and never really trusted the giant creatures so I usually took it slow. Red Bird didn't want to be out at all, and especially not without Buckshot but I convinced myself I was the boss and we went a little further. That's where I was wrong, Red Bird was the boss, and he was about to prove it. When we turned around and pointed back in the direction of the farm Red Bird knew right then and there where he was headed. What waited at the end of the line for him was a bale of hay and his ol' pal Buckshot. Like fate the minute we turned I heard Buckshot call out to Red Bird and that was all it took. Red Bird set off like a kid trying to catch the school bus and I was like his backpack flailing in the wind. He was in full canter and I was hanging on for dear life. I tightened the reigns and yelled "Whoah!" to no avail, he wasn't going to stop until he was home. We plowed through the neighbors fields and finally made it back where he slowed down and casually walked over to the stable allowing me to dismount. It was a short and terrifying ride but I made it back in one piece.

Now, back to my old car and me

(((flash back segue coming into focus onto present time)))

This morning I had to drop off my rent check so instead of waiting until 8:45 to leave for work, I left at 8:20 to allow enough time to drop off the rent and get to work on time. I hopped in Lucy (just like horses cars have names) and cranked the engine, low and behold she didn't start right up like normal, in fact the battery sounded sluggish. I tried a few times and she came back, roaring with the extra gas I was pumping (the equivalent of giving out extra oats & hay). I let her sit for a minute and warm up while I wrote out my rent check. Normally I drive a slow back road to work, facing the sunlight, taking my time and letting her warm up on the way. Today I went the opposite direction on a street with traffic and multiple lanes, the sun at my back. Stopping at traffic lights, Lucy was slow to speed up and take off when the light changed. I made it towards downtown and was waiting for a father & daughter to cross the street before I made my turn. Once they were safely out of the way, I eased onto the gas and Lucy sputtered, and barely moved. I feebly smiled at the dad who I had noticed admiring the car and tried again. I gave her more gas and probably seemed like I was showing off but was only trying to get her to move (that's right, I'm the boss). She lurched forward taking me to the middle of the intersection and and then sputtered out again, eliminating any chance of looking like a show-off, or at least a successful one. So I pumped in more gas, go dammit go! We made it through the intersection and headed toward the rental company. I dropped off the rent and turned around, back toward my usual route.

As soon as we made on our way toward the back road and the slow ride to work, facing the sun once again she perked right up. No more stuttering, even the rattling exhaust pipe calmed down when her engine idle returned to normal. Now she knew where we were going, now we were back on schedule. She knew what was waiting for her at the end of the trip. She was headed to her very own parking space under the only shady tree in the lot where the dappled sunlight would shine on her hood. There she will patiently wait until my lunch break. I made it to work in one piece and she got what she wanted. Everything was right in this world and that's where I will end this story, my car is like a trusty old horse that occasionally lets me think I'm the boss. :-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ojai Big Chili Let-Down

Well, this last Saturday was the culmination of a weeks worth of crafting for myself and the DONO girls. We signed up to have a vendor booth at the 1st annual Ojai Big Chili Cook-off. The booth itself was a pricey $150 but with only one other event, the Johnny Cash Music Festival under our belts, we decided it would be worth it. It was promising to be a big turn-out, with many vendors and chili contestants and live bands to draw a crowd. The event opened to the public at 12:00 but we arrived nice and early to stake a claim on the best possible spot to set up. We were as full of ambition & excitement as you can be that early in the morning. We set off from Ventura in a three car caravan, my rusty yet trusty wagon as the official DONO mobile, loaded up with our wares & gear was the lead car and Jaymee with co-pilot Candice (lookin' pretty in pink)in the middle and Claudia bringing up the rear.

We arrived at Lake Casitas and didn't see a single sign indicating the event until we go to the main gate. We informed the gate-guy that we were vendors for the event and he then directed us all the way through the park to a dead end where we had to ask for directions yet again to get to the correct location. Our three cars trailed each other back out of the park and down along a side road to the vendor entrance. Once we cleared the gate there, we were mis-directed several more times to before we found our booth and were able to set up. There were some other managerial difficulties with the set up too, like when they moved a picnic table away from the back of the booth because it was supposedly in a walkway and then let a another booth set up at the end, essentially blocking off access to the walkway. I understand that it was a first annual event and that there are growing pains to be expected but it seemed like they were unprepared for their own event.

Once we were finally situated, the DONO booth went up with no problem. You would have thought we were seasoned pros at set-up. Everyone's beautiful hand crafted awesome-ness was ready to meet the hoards of chili lovin' patrons! We set up our chairs and eagerly awaited our crowd. At noon they opened the gates to the public. People paid the $10 admission and started to meander in. The 1st place they all went were the ticket booths where they had to purchase "tasting tickets" for the chili participants. For $5 they got 10 tickets to taste table spoon sized portions of the various chili offerings. So right away the customers are out $15 a head. The crowds hit all the chili booths first (which rightfully, were amazing) while we waited for the waves of customers. We waited, and waited.

The projected turnout was going to be in the 1,000's but in reality it was probably more like 500-700 people. We sold a total of about $30 DONO merch, and Canidice made a fair amount off of her hand-made jewelry but we didn't come anywhere near recouping the cost of our booth. In fact we barely made back the money we spent on the breakfast burritos we treated ourselves to! It was pretty dismal. We talked to other vendors and they all agreed, several others did not make back their booth investment either. However, what we didn't make in money, we gained in precious experience. That, I suppose is priceless.

We packed up about an hour early and like a sigh of relief, other vendors started to tear down too. We carted all of the stuff back down to the cars and loaded them up, tired and ready to go. We all hugged and then loaded ourselves into our cars and got the hell outta Casitas. Our faithful DONO mobile carted Lisa and I back down to Ventura where we and the other girls will plot our next event with the knowledge gained from this one.

P.S. To see great photos of our booth and the other hard working vendors & chili people, check out Kara's Facebook album here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=2039370&id=1170753029&ref=mf