Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Greg Mortenson(Three Cups of tea) In NYC!

The author of [em]Three Cups of Tea[/em], Greg Mortenson, will be speaking this Thursday evening, in Manhattan. The event will be held at the Barnes and Noble store on Broadway @ 66th, from 7:30 to 10:00pm.

If you've not yet read the book, or heard of the man - you must! A climber trying to get home after an unsuccessful attempt on K2, Mortenson found his way to a village in Pakistan that would alter the course of his life in a way no one could imagine. It is an inspiring and incredible story of effort on par with the most epic of mountain climbs, and a hope-filled book that breaks down stereotypes with the most powerful of weapons - truth.

Read it! When purchased through the Three Cups of Tea website, 7% of the proceeds are donated to the Central Asia Institute, the organization Mortenson founded.

If you don't live in New York City, no worries! The man tours extensively, in order to promote the project. Check the Calendar page to see if he will be at a location you may be able to go to. Simply use the "Filter" tool to select your state, and see the dates scheduled for appearances.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Do Hair Accessories Have to Do With Climbing?

Welllll - it depends on how you look at it.


Anyone with hair long enough to get it caught in a belay device when they're rappelling can make at least a vague connection. And those are to whom I speak... er, write for....in this post.

Most people who know me also know that one of my 'past lives' was as an accessory designer. It was, as they also know, a love/hate relationship. My authority issues would rear their heads, and at every damned job I fought the law. You know how the song goes.... Eventually I left the business.

I had decided to operate a small stained glass studio, and I did so, for a while. And for a while, I lost money on that venture, until it became obvious(even to me!) that I needed to get another source of income. As luck would have it, I stumbled across an idea for hair accessories, to be made simply, by threading an elastic cord through the shanks and/or holes on buttons. I bought a bunch of buttons at an old sewing shop around the corner from my apartment and ran up to the garment district to look for cord.

A few days after hatching the plan, I took my fifty or so hair accessory buttons and myself up the block(other direction) and booked a space at the Chelsea Antiques market. Everyone thought they were very cute, but nobody was buying. Well - a few people did, and I was ecstatic. But my neighbor vendors kept reminding me the table fee was $50, and I had only made about $15..... Grrr!

Then, in a moment of serendipity, one of the vendors came over. He said "You know, someone mentioned your stuff, and I thought you might be interested....I just got a really big batch of antique buttons....Come on over and take a look when you have some time."

Well - at first I was not happy. because I'd already MADE my investment of $50 for the spot at the market and maybe $20 in buttons and cording. I didn't want to spend money; I wanted to MAKE it!

But I went over, and that was the moment when it all made sense. Here were bins and bins, and bins, of gorgeous, incredible old buttons of every sort. Huge Bakelite, intricate brass filigree, intricately carved mother of pearl...on and on. He wanted three thousand dollars for the lot of them.


I sputtered "I can't pay that kind of money!"

"Oh, I know that" he said. "It would be a miracle of the right buyer happened along on this. Until then, I'm selling them piece by piece. And I like your idea. Pick out about 20 or so. I'll give you a good deal."

After I had chosen the buttons, he and I bartered a price. I immediately went back to my spot, strung them up, and within an hour had sold enough to go back for another $20's worth.

And so, it began.

I never sold again at the antiques market; it was the wrong venue. But I went back each week with whatever cash I had, to pick through those bins! If I had no cash, I still went back. One week I traded and old Howdy Doodie ventriloquist's puppet for a hundred buttons. I watched his table for a half hour one week, while he ran an errand, and was paid in buttons.

Eventually, the supply dwindled, as did the summer that year....

In that time I had made contact with the accessories buy at Henri Bendel, an exclusive Fifth Avenue boutique. She said "I can't see you, but send a few pieces up for me to look at." Having worked in the fashion industry, I whipped up a gorgeous presentation. Also, having worked in the fashion industry, I knew I shouldn't expect to see the samples I sent again....gulp.

I wanted to send my best, but they were one of a kind items and I didn't want to give them away. Instead, I went to Kinkos, photocopied the best ones in enlarged sizes, and made a presentation board. I sent two or three pieces which I had duplicates on for her to look at.

The next day, she called me and told me to come pick up my presentation. "They're very nice," she said. "We like to showcase new designers. Can you do a trunk show next week?"

I was in! I was in HENRI BENDEL!

Wouldn't it be nice if everything in life were so easy.....

After three or four trunk shows in the store, I knew this wasn't going to get me very far, even though people adored the hair goods. They would pick them up, hold them near, ask strangers nearby what they thought...crowds gathered. I sold several pieces each time. But I knew there had to be a better way, especially if I had to be there to sell them! Bendel's was marking them up 75%(which means a $10 item retails at $40).


I took my show to the streets, and sold at the flea market on the Upper West Side. It was similar as in Bendels, but....more egalitarian. Interestingly, more than a few customers mentioned having seen my goods while in Bendels. Even more interestingly, they bought from me again, at the lower prices!

Each week I sold about $300 worth of goods from the hair accessories line, which I called "Vintage Notions." This was during the same period where I was going to my button guy. On Saturdays I would buy; then go home and string them up. Sundays I would sell them. Quick turnaround!

As the summer waned, I began to wonder how I would fare during the colder months.... sales did begin to drop off, and I realized the obvious. I had to go back to...a real job.


Which, I did. I packed the buttons away, and gave the cubicle another stab. It returned the favor. It hurt, the stabbing pain....

And so the story goes on...Eventually I began my dog walking service. Then, I stated climbing! And I wanted TIME. Time for weekends upstate, time for trips to Joshua tree in winter, time online to type away at this blog about my climbing life, and on climbing forums....

....Time passed.

Everyone who climbs with me knows I have long hair. I have no idea if they notice my ponytail holders, which are always from my antiques button collection, but most of my partners are men and...well we know that if they are looking at part of me while I climb, it ain't the back of my head.

My animal care service does afford me the time I need, but...not enough of it! For a while now, I have been wondering what I could do to find another way to bring in some money. How I could have ignored those bags of buttons in my storage closet all this time, I have no idea. Especially since I was often wearing one in my hair! But finally, out they came. I took the plunge and decided to try the venture again.


This time, I am going with an online presence, at TalismanStudios.etsy.com. As many of you know, I do have a little experience with internet business, through my t-shirt shop, ClimbAddict. It has been a nice little creative effort, and I have made a little money, but its unlikely(that's an understatement) I can retire off it....

I expect I can reach a bit broader audience with my hair accessories venture. And even a few climbers.

And THAT'S what hair accessories have to do with climbing, and why I am making this post! If you have read this far, I applaud your staying power. So - here's the deal:

To promote my new shop, I am having a Grand Opening - Free Gift!" promotion. Here's what to do to get your free hair accessory:

~ Visit my website, and take note of the Special Promo Code you'll see in the Shop Announcement, above the collection photos gallery.
~ In a separate envelope, place a self-addressed, stamped bubble mailer, at least 5 x 8 inches in size, and send to our address below.
~ You must use a "Bubble" mailer(large envelope with protective inner layer of bubble wrap). This will protect your hair accessory during shipment.
~ Please have mailer stamped with postage of $1.25.
~ Send To:
P.O.Box 171, Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113-0171
~ Enter the Special Promo Code in the top left-hand side of the bubble mailer(where our return address will go; please do leave us some room!)

~ Offer ends February 1, 2009. Requests must be postmarked on or before that date.
~ Available for U.S. mailing addresses only
~ Limit: One per person/address
~ Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery
~ Non-bubble mailers and/or those received with inadequate postage will not be processed. Please address legibly! We cannot be responsible for undelivered packages
~ We reserve the right to extend this offer or to close prematurely if requests exceeding 500 are received. In the event we close the offer early, we will make the announcement here, and will honor all requests postdated before and on the date of announcement.

Note: We will be selecting goods for this promotion from buttons of more recent vintages, from 1970 through 1980. Some examples are shown in the photo below. The hair accessories will be either plastic, metal or mother of pearl. Please allow us to choose.


NOW - If you are STILL reading, it must be because you are a real friend. Even if I don't know you. So, I hope you won't mind my asking for a favor, in that you let others know about about the promotion! If yes, you can do one of two things:

- Simply click the little email icon below, which will assist you in forwarding this very page.
- Check out my Squiddoo lens, called Talisman Studios - Hair Accessories from Vintage Buttons and Beads, and suggest they visit that link! The Squidoo page has more photos and also information about vintage buttons, whereas my blog page her....well, it blathers on about me, as you are well aware.

Either way, I would really appreciate any help you can give, in getting the word out. Thanks!

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Help support Happiegrrrl in her quest to travel, climb and live an adventurous life(instead of being stuck at home working.....). Visit her online shop, ClimbAddict, for original designs on t-shirts, jackets, caps, stickers and giftware.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sharing - Joshua Tree December '08 Trip

It's about time I began telling stories from my December trip to Joshua Tree. People have been asking, and I've been procrastinating....

As usual, I flew into Vegas and took the back roads through Cima/Kelso/Amboy. I just live that drive, and not only because I can drive practically at the speed of light.

Well, actually, I did set a personal speed record. Two hours flat, from the Charleston Avenue exit in Las Vegas to the 29 Palms entrance of the park! And that was WITH a rubbernecking traffic slowdown along the way, par the course in Vegas.

"Two hours! That's unheard of!" people remarked. Apparently, the trip is supposed to be more like....three hours. Well, what can I say? I didn't stop for photos this time, I guess. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

So, I rolled into Jtree just as the sun was coming down. The weather had been clowdy since getting off the plane, but I realized that would make for a nice sunset, and I wasn't disappointed.


I wanted to get a photo with a more intriguing horizon and knew I had to act fast and get toward at least the Jumbo Rocks area. Alas, it was not to be. I kept my eye on the sun as it dropped, with the sky becoming more vibrant with each moment, but I just didn't see my shot. Maybe next time.....

By the time I got to Hidden Valley campground, it was dusk. And there was a problem. Thought the "campground full" sign was not posted, it became evident quite quickly that there was, in fact, no room at the inn. Disappointed, I knew what I would have to do - ask someone if I could stay in their stable...I mean, share their site.

I'm a nervous sort, when it comes to "getting my things done." I don't know why, but until I'm settled, I fret over the outcome. I needed to find a spot, get set up, and then run into town and let the people who would meet me the next day know where to find me. And get dinner. Having been traveling since 5am, I was also tired and now I had to do something I found difficult - asking for help. From strangers, no less.

As I drove through the campground, I spotted a possibility. One car in the parking spot, and one smallish tent in the site. Of course, the most attractive quality was that the campers were home....

I walked into the site, calling "helllooo!" There were two, a man and woman, probably a couple, who seemed to be a little older than I. My gut instinct told me they would be elderly folks who would be put out by the request. No surprise, that's exactly what occurred.

The good news was that it was all a ploy. They were toying with me, asking all manner of questions as to my place of original, intent, and personality. Questions of where, exactly, did I want to place my tent. And, did I have interesting stories to regale them with. Offers of letting me stay for a $50 fee, being from New York City and all, surely I could afford it.... They were enjoying themselves.

Unfortunately, I was not. Enjoying myself. I was actually becoming quite irritated, though I guess I kept it hidden well enough. I mean - a few jokey questions was one thing, and I played along. But I needed a campsite!

After a few minutes of this, with the status of the situation being that they "supposed" it "might" be all right, I had had enough. Unwilling to go along with the game any longer, I played the only card I had left. "Well - I didn't check (another section of the park - a lie) so I'll go do that."

Not to say they let up much, but they did make it more evident that I was welcome to set up shop. Which I quickly did!

Not wanting to be ungrateful, I stuck around a bit before doing that, and found out they were actually quite nice, and very interesting people. They'd been on their own road trip since Labor Day, and Joshua Tree was the eight National Park they'd visited in that time. Their names were Donna and Joe, and they hailed from Vermont. They'd been transient sorts throughout their married life together, had grown children who were doctors and pilots and even one who rock climbed(they only mentioned the careers of three out of their four, though, and later I wondered if the "rock climber kid" wasn't the one with no career....).

They asked if I wanted to join them for breakfast the next morning, and though it was quite generous, I feared they might be crack-o-dawn risers and didn't commit. Luckily, when I did rise the next morning, they still had some left. No doubt they'd set the absolutely delicious scrambled eggs with vegetables aside, and kept them warm for me. That's the sort of people they turned out to be, and I had almost missed out on making their acquaintance because of my impatience and anxiety.

Anyway - I had gone into town after having settled my tent, and when I returned they were still up at their campfire. I was tired, and wanted to go to bed, but instead I did the right thing, and went over to visit. That's when I learned of their interesting lives. They regaled ME with stories! And, though it didn't seem like it, they found out a lot about about me by asking questions of my circumstances.

It happened that they were departing the next day. This was excellent news, I had to admit to myself, as it turned out they had obtained one of the premier, and historically important, campsites in Hidden Valley, and I could take it over for my stay. It was the old Chongo industrial complex, where he set up for winter and ran his shoe resoling shop(or "illegal textile business" as it was technically referred to when he was evicted).

The site - 34? - IS a great one. The camp area is set back quite far from the road, and has very nice rock formations at the back. protected form wind in many directions, it offers privacy, beauty and roominess. A LOT of people could bivy there....

They also had a dog. A wonderful old Springer Spaniel. I wished I had my Teddy, and it was nice to have a good dog in camp. They were traveling the country in a small SUV with their dog - exactly what I wanted for myself.

Now - there is something peculiar that happened, which I found out about only after they'd left. There HAD been indication, as one realizes after the fact but at the time only thinks "hmmm...what's up with that?"

At one point, Donna walked over to my tent and made some comment about checking it out. That was the "WTF?" moment. She didn't seem to be the sort who would do something evil.... I was pretty certain her inquiry was not malicious. Nonetheless, I went over and "gave her the tour," which she appeared to be quite interested in, comparing their tent and mine, and such.

"Well," I told myself, "she was just interested in my tent was all." I knew that hadn't quite been the case, but just had no idea what it had all been about. They were such decent, open and cool people that I thought no more of it though.

Until I returned after a day of climbing that night.

I made a fire and went to start dinner. When I pulled out my kitchen pack(a soft-sided nylon 6-pack cooler with a secondary upper compartment) and unzipped the top to get some spices, I noticed a white envelope had been placed there.

At first I was puzzled, trying to recall when and why I had done that. I have to admit I DID have a moment of "Oh No! I DO have multiple personality Disorder!!!!" as I realized without doubt that I had NOT put it there. I was a loner! I lived alone, except for my dog, and though Teddy is damned smart, he's not THAT smart that he could put a card in my luggage....

That's when it clicked. It was Donna who'd placed the envelope, though not during the "tent tour." That had been her intent, but I'd foiled it.

She must have come back a second time, when I was enjoying that wonderful breakfast they'd shared with me. By the way, it also included coffee and a hunk of good bread with orange marmalade. How often do you keep marmalade for yourself, I ask? Never, if you're me. It was quite a treat.

Being the sort who has difficulty receiving for help, I didn't ask if they had milk and sugar when Joe handed me the cup of black coffee.

No....I'd gone to my tent, pulled out my kitchen pack, opened the top, and pulled out my baggie of sugar....

What a nice couple, Joe and Donna were, to leave me a card. The envelope said "For Terrie and Teddy - Do not open til Christmas(or Chanakuh; the writing was not legible, and I think that may even have been the intent)." On the back of the envelop was written "It IS Chanukah(or Christmas...)."

So of COURSE I opened it!

Inside was a lovely card, with an image of Georgia O'Keeffe's "Oriental Poppies."

On the inside, they'd written:

Dear Terrie, and Teddy -

May all great loving adventures continue to find you.

You have a splendid spirit.

With Love, Donna & Joe

Isn't that nice?!

Yes, I am sure you would agree that it is.

But that's not all.

Along with that nice note there was a gift. A cash gift. One one hundred dollar bill.

I am not making this up.

It was quite a surprise, of course. With a - small - bit of embarrassment, I wondered "Was I THAT obvious about my financial issues???" Well, probably I was. After all, I HAD told them how my funding for the trip had been tenuous(at best) and finally fell into place as my clients paid their invoices in the days before my departure. AND I told them how I wanted to leave NYC but didn't have a good plan laid out. How I was trying to make my way with my online ventures - just enough to support a nomadic lifestyle, of course, which takes a lot less than a physical domicile... And I HAD talked about my difficulties in working for others....

I was quite taken aback, and I left the card, and money, in my kitchen pack, taking it out to look at it each time I made food. Eventually I realized I had better put the cash somewhere more secure, and moved it to the back section of my wallet.

I wondered how I should honor their gift. Perhaps they felt I'd use it for daily expenses. Or buy myself some nice gift.

Well - that's what I did.

In the past few years, I have changed my ideas about money a bit. Partly it's due to saving for the climbing trips, but it's more about not existing in a state of deprivation. I lived a good part of my life that way, having gone without what many would consider basics for living - adequate clothing, shelter and privacy. As a young adult, I handled my money poorly, and would often find myself with nothing in my pocket by the time pay day rolled around. Jobs where the check came every two weeks instead of weekly were even worse.

But I learned to take care of myself, and that meant making sure I DID have adequate food, clothing, shelter AND things to make my life abundant. While I don't live beyond my means(no credit cards nor borrowing from friends and family and such), I will make sure I am taken care of. If that means calling the energy company to explain my payment will be late, so that I have my rent paid on time and food in the cupboards, that's what I will do.

And with that change, I have found that I DO have enough. In fact, I have an abundant life. Sure - by the standards of some - it is lacking. I own no car, and don't own my home. But how many of those people only THINK they have those things, when the truth is that without the device of credit, they wouldn't have them at all?

Anyway - so with this changing of my concept of money, I have found that when I receive a windfall, I like to use it in a memorable way. Last year, I used my bonus money from clients to purchase a good camera; something I'd been wanting for a long time. And when a small payment from my mother's life insurance - a payment that had been in limbo for FOUR years!(that's another story) - arrived in my mailbox, I set that amount aside to partially pay for my trip to Yosemite last fall. I had wanted to attend the Yosemite Facelift and didn't have the funds. But when that check arrived - it became possible. I made my first trip to Yosemite and had amazing experiences.

So, here I was, blessed with this gift of one hundred dollars in cash. I briefly wondered what I should do with it as I placed it safely away. But I knew that it must be something memorable and not simply used to defray daily expenses. That way, I conjur the energy and memories of my shared camping experience with Joe and Donna whenever I use the item purchased with the funds, or recall where the money was used.

Several days later, the use became apparent.

...to be continued.

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