Community is the New Deal


Spare Shelf is about building a business model that will give others a place to build a business.

Relief, Recovery, and Reform…

The New Deal was a series of economic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1936…

…The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

Aside from the politics surrounding creating a national or even global economy, what we will need to meet the needs of our own little community is something for a different discussion.

Many businesses today rely on a discount model, thinking rather falsely that the only thing that matters is low, low prices. True, we all look for value. And it is true, too, that many big businesses owe their success to structuring their merchandise offerings to the lowest price in town.

It is also true that they have convinced us all to believe that we are the beneficiaries of this continued lowering of quality and price.

The real truth is that a lot of the costs of there business operations are externalized in that they pass the bill for their growth on to government, ultimately we, the taxpayers. When big box stores continue to hire part-time, minimum wage workers, there are very few benefits to the employees aside from what they can qualify for in the form of a subsidy provided for by our government (us), not the business itself funding these programs; food stamps and Medicaid. We pay in many other ways as well. Far too many ways we pay and don’t see than there is room for or interest to discuss here.

The most important thing is that we can all have a way to make a living wage, that we can have good quality products that are a true value, products that are useful for years, that aren’t ruining our children’s future to have, and that we can continue to see hope that what we build today will provide for more, rather than less of the needs of our own community going forward.

Most of the original New Deal reforms of the 30’s have been chipped away at through agendas to return capitalism to an unregulated free market. Many people believe that pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is the only help that should be offered by the world, to the world. In other words, us helping us. About the only thing left is Social Security, and if big business (i.e. Wall Street) had their way, that would be turned over to them to gamble away as well.

It does seem, in this climate of deregulation and the stripping away of our social safety nets, that it might be a good idea to find a way to invest our own personal labor in a way that it is not constantly being stripped away from us with lower wages, fewer or more expensive benefits and no hope for upward mobility or even finding a job that can sustain us.

In this author’s opinion, the best hope for doing that is creating businesses for ourselves.

So, the new, New Deal is that we are in this together. We need to find ways to benefit each other while meeting our own needs.

Spare Shelf is about building a business model that will give others a place to build a business.

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without synergy.

Spare Shelf needs your help.

Please comment as to what your needs are for building the business of your dreams. Let’s start a discussion and lets get building.

For a start, Spare Shelf is offering to provide a place to show off what you create. It will be a place to show it, sell it, and eventually teach it and find the resources for it.

Can’t you always use a Spare Shelf?
It might be better than advertising! For the most part, advertising dollars go out and it is hard to track their benefit.
Having a Spare Shelf will be like having a 3D advertisement and the results will be realized in the form of actual sales.

Contact us now to find out more or to offer your suggestions for a better way to build it. We aren’t trying to invent the wheel. We know there is nothing new under the sun, but we know that if we want to build it, we need your help.

Spare Shelf … An alternative storefront reality


My Dear Vagabond Friend




  • 1: moving from place to place without a fixed home : wandering

I loved you dear friend. You were like a brother to me. A very good brother. I will miss you so very much.

I called my friend about a week and a half ago to let him know that all of the efforts he had put in to restoring my computer had succeeded. He was always doing something to help me, just like a good brother would.

We came to know each other 13 years ago now, when I first moved here from California to be near my sister. She was working at the Horseshoe Cafe at the time and he would come in to eat there and ‘pester’ her on a regular basis. They had become friends as time went on. She had an older man friend whom she took care of and my vagabond friend, Tom, became friends with him as well. My sister let Tom know that I was intending to come to live nearby and assured him that he and I would have a great deal more in common than they did.

It was likely the next day after I arrived that he showed up at the older gentleman’s house, where I would be staying for about a month until I found the house I am still living in 13 years later. Tom and I indeed did hit it off in the sense that we enjoyed talking about subjects that my sister felt boring or too in depth; but the friendship would evolve over time.

It just so happened that the house I found was just down a little hill from where Tom had been living for a year before I got here. I didn’t know it at the time as I only knew Tom as much as to meet him initially upon arriving. It would soon be though, that if a holiday or birthday occurred, we would all get together like a family. I can’t even really remember how our friendship evolved other than that because of my sister, her older friend and Tom having already become a little family of sorts, we all ended up being together regularly.

I’m sure, initially, Tom and I may have looked at each other with possible romantic thought; but, you know, it really never manifest that way. It just wasn’t there. We appreciated each others intellect I think and that just superseded everything else. Friendship was simply much more attractive.

People say, men and women cannot begin and remain platonic; but I’m here to tell you that they can indeed.

Tom passed away suddenly, while traveling, on January 17, 2017. He was only 68 years old. As I said at the beginning, I had called him to let him know about my computer because I knew he wanted to know. He sounded sleepy. It was mid afternoon, about 3 or so and I asked him if he was sleeping when I called. “No”, he said, “I ate something that didn’t agree with me. Can I call you back?”

I didn’t bother him that day and may even have let another day go by before trying again. I did have a troubled feeling; but it wasn’t odd for him to behave that way, not call me right back. When I did try to call again, his phone went immediately to a recording, which was, indeed very strange. That had never occurred before; but it wasn’t unlike him to get mad about a phone service, get a replacement phone and take awhile to let me know. Something kept gnawing at me, none the less. I kept trying to call, even asked a friend to try to see if it was something about my phone. Same thing. So, I sent him an email on the 12th asking him to please let me know that he was okay. I kept trying to reach him by phone, but the same thing continued until the 17th when a police officer called me, “Do you know Thomas Fitzgerald?” Dread immediately overtook me. He asked several qualifying questions, like “How do you know him? Does he have any family? When did you last speak to him.” Then he asked me if I was sitting down and delivered the bad news.

I call Tom, lovingly, my vagabond friend because about a year or so ago, he gave up living in his house up the hill from me and started wandering, looking for a new place to settle. This trip, he was on his way to Oregon, where he had a male friend of many years whom he visited at least annually. He loved Oregon, had lived there before and was thinking he might like to live there again.

The coroner’s office said that it was likely a heart attack.

The sad thing about it all is that I am realizing that as much as I knew Tom, I really hardly knew him. But that was how he wanted it and I respected his desires.

I was the only number in his cell phone. I know he had a sister but I don’t even know her name or where she lives. They were estranged. I have no legal rights to anything to do with him, so there is nothing I can do to help.

I truly believe that this is how Tom wanted it. Even now, if he could, he would be saying, “Sarah, now you don’t need to be telling anyone about this, okay?”

I can’t not tell anyone. He needs and deserves some kind of memorial. I want this post to be that for him and I will share it with the friends I have that knew him, and anyone who wants to can comment about their experience with him.

My old pastor called today to offer his condolences and I mentioned things that stand out about Tom. Here are those and many more.

He was a gentle man and a gentleman.

He never held a grudge with me and was terribly tolerant of my own personality quirks.

We fought over what movie to watch. I said he was staid; he liked old, old things that bored me to tears. Black and white mainly. Obscure things, (It was ALWAYS about the music within the story). He would put on WC Fields on his computer and sit there and laugh his head off. I would retire to the kitchen, just shaking my head and proceed to do the dishes. He hated what I liked.

He loved what I would call classical music, he called it simply music and anything else was not music. He was truly a musical genius, had studied it, played saxophone (never for me) and downloaded constantly; delighted with the 2000 plus collection he had on his several hard drives, (which he purchased for the express service of downloading music). He visited libraries everywhere he went to see what selections they had. He made CD’s for me that I never listened to and would find them in my glove compartment with delight in remembering that he had remembered to give me a copy of that particular performance and then would go into the history and it’s value and on and on and I would look at him with a weird look and say, “Okay, okay, maybe someday I’ll listen to it.”

I think I may listen to them now to find him in them somehow.

He was in the main street parade at Disneyland for a time long ago. He loved Maria Callas. Loved, loved loved Maria. Did I say he loved Maria?

He could work any technical appliance and was great with cars. He regularly worried about my car, cleaned the tires to make them look nice with his special tire cleaning stuff. He changed my oil and was constantly after me to change it again because there was a better oil he had discovered.

We talked about anything and everything and laughed a lot. It was very easy to make him laugh.

He was kind.

He liked to talk to people. Everywhere we went, I would be miles ahead of him, finished with my trek around while he was still visiting with the first person he had captured. We went all over together on day trips and had great times, laughing, talking and laughing some more.

Sitting here, I’m remembering what seems like a lifetime of memories. We really did have a lot of fun together. And we helped each other a lot. We don’t always get the family we want but we can always pick who we want to be like family.

Tom was my family.

Yes, I will miss him so very much.


One year we took a trek to Willcox, about 40 miles East of Benson to have Christmas dinner at a greasy spoon there. He picked up papers everywhere he went. He was always reading. tom-11

When I complained that all he had was brown and yellow food and no veggies, he revisited the bar to add some color.


Below was my plates.


He went back and got some salad stuffs. It just made me cry to see the check-out ticket in his pocket. He was such a nice man.


He had his van stocked so neatly with his travel gear. When he was in town he always came to visit.


Below: He had corralled me to drive with him to Tucson so that we could pick up his van that had been repaired. He treated me to lunch while there. On the way back, we had to stop to put coolant/water into the radiator of his car as it was leaking. He got that fixed and that was what he was traveling in most recently. His van is still here in town. I can see the little Jack In The Box antenna toy sticking up over the fence. He loved toys. Was always showing up with some animated thing or a stuffed critter for the kitties.


Here he was changing my oil and while at it, replacing the plug that someone had put in so tight he barely got it off.


New oil plug.


He decorated his cupola with an angel candle holder. He changed it out on whims of fancy. Once it was a dinosaur toy that he painted up, Godzilla I think he was trying to make it.


He saw me at my worst and never criticized me. He didn’t care one iota if I had make-up on or not; but if I was dressed up nicely, he never failed to compliment me.

I wish I’d hugged him more.

So many more memories, but this is enough to give you the gist of who he was, at least to me.

He took a trip sometime back, up the coast of California and took lots of video images of things he was witnessing as he drove and walked at different spots of interest. He showed it all to me on his computer. I wish I could get his video recorder now because it would be his voice and thoughts to reminisce with.

I shall just have to work hard to keep it in my mind.

Please feel free to comment any stories you may have or sentiments you might want to share.

I want this to be a memorial to my Dear Vagabond Friend, Thomas Francis Fitzgerald.

RIP You very nice man. You deserve a rest.


This is the latest music he sent me from his YouTube account on Dec. 26, 2016, just before the New Year. It had this prelude to me; I wasn’t always able to fully comprehend the inferences:

“This music UTV from the  Internet is being sent to YOU my pet , not from a silly mouse but from a frail human , as if you hadn’t guessed. My non de plumb is ever ready to answer, in writing, your most ardent requests, and I hope to always keep our friendship alive and never have  it freeze. My mind, on the other hand, can get too often numb these days and  I resolve  to find ways to keep the glacier and fog  away from it . Being born in August is such a deceitful thing to do, and Obama has made me see it  CINDY !  Yes, you see in just a few days I can say I have lived another year when really I still have over 230 days to go. Finding good champagne is such a bore but now I don’t even  have to go ! Happy, Happy, Happy .( I know NOW you are one in a million . Thank You .  I hope to pull off your lotto winners and all I want is the numbers. You will get the proceeds and you won’t have to  rep  it either ! ) ”

Cha, Cha …Changes!

Thank God for the young people because in them is our hope. And they are getting it.

Bla Bla Bla... Act Now!

Image: Inside Climate News,

Plant any land you have with flowers, trees and food.

Little Old Red-Haired Girl

The main goal for Ms. SpoolTeacher is to take care of her Little Old Red-Haired Senior Girl and make sure she is as happy as can be….Take care of little Doggies changes we must all make

Changes. They begin with us. We have the power to change the world. Want the beautiful things in life; relationships, nature and love of all things living. Forget about wealth other than the wealth of a wonderful friend and what it means to share time peacefully with them.

Or the beauty in petting behind the ear of a beloved animal and the pleasure they assure you with their eyes. They are grateful for your care.

They know they depend on you. They may wish they had more control and maybe even thumbs. But they know you have them and they submit to waiting on the love you will deliver.  And Gertis The Mertis Too For the birds Ahhh Little Old Red-Haired Senior Girl Little Old Red-Haired Senior Girl Plant Food Ms. SpoolTeacher’s favorite tomato, Black Krim…

Ms. SpoolTeacher's favorite tomato

Seed Savers Exchange is a go to place for these seeds. Click picture to go right to them.

Change the paradigm. Change yourself. Plant food. Live slow. Hang out your washed clothes in the sun. Love animals. Love each other.

We can do it. We have to take away the power of things that are bigger than we are. If everybody does it, just Imagine….

Busy As The Bees

Product development is ongoing at Ms. SpoolTeacher’s house every day.

These yo-yo’s someday want to be a quilt like the one below this image. Someday to be a Yo-Yo Quilt


Image: NewVintageOldSkins on Etsy

These twills and corduroys someday want to be a patchwork purse with fringe…

twills and corduroys

seams as fringe

…with these as inspiration:

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop:bvaughanhandbags

image from Barbara Vaughn’s Etsy shop:

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

View on: honeybeepollen on Etsy

Lately she got hooked on T-shirt yarn and got carried away making things…

how to make t-shirt yarn graphic

Where did she get this image?  She’s like to give credit where credit is due.

The first step is to cut off the hems and the top, under the sleeves. Save those though. The tops can be cut for strips and the hems used for other projects.

product development, making t-shirt yarn, tarn

The collection of hems from the rolls below

There is one step missing in the graphic above…stretching it after it is cut. It curls in on itself and gets much longer. There are lots of things to do with just the un-pulled fabric as well; but for yarn, seems best to stretch.

T-shirt yarn, tarn, pulled to stretch and elongate

The turquoise failed to turn in on itself and was used for a project you will see below.

Here is the pile she started with. All from shirts she had on hand and planned not to wear any longer.

collection of t-shirt yarn, tarn, rolls

This was her first project using the “Tarn”. You can see the details here:“Throwing a Tarn Bowl”, (though it is more of a basket).

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple


Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Bottom up!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Strings have since been woven in.

And then she started braiding….
Braided rug fom t-shirt yarn.

…and braiding,

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

  and braiding…

T-shirt yarn, tarn, braided for a rug

She will try to post a tutorial of sorts to describe how efficient she got at braiding with rolls. The best rugs are made with “continuous-cut” tarn/yarn that is then rolled into balls, but the braid gets tangled if you don’t have a technique. And then when you do run out of the longest strips, there is a great way to splice a new run in.

There are several ways she has seen others splice pieces; but by far, the best way she has seen is to do it like it is done with bias tape. Click this picture to go to a how-to if you like. It’s for bias tape, but use the same method for the tarn.

Be sure to put the right sides (the original right side of the t-shirt) of “tarn” together when doing this as you want the seam to be inside the curling of the t-shirt yarn.

She did this herself and it worked like a charm; no lumps, bumps or knots (though that could be a design decision and even desirable, you be the judge).

As for how she braids…she can’t figure out how to tell you so that it will make sense, so maybe someday a video. Don’t hold your breath.

The main gist is to pick one ball to be the one to pull through the other two strands every two laps. Otherwise, you get a second braid forming below and it’s a tangled mess. If you get in a rhythm, it goes like the wind.

Lots of sellers on Etsy are stitching the braids together with zig-zag stitches on their machines. Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks they look nice this way. She hasn’t mastered (let alone even tried) this technique yet. She keeps hoping the braid will sew itself together.

Meanwhile she surfed the internet looking for that tutorial for joining the ends, didn’t find it, but found this Adirondack lady, Helen Condon, who makes some awesome rag rugs the old fashioned way. You can view a video of her working here. There is nothing like authentic craft, but Ms. SpoolTeacher likes modern adaptations as well… as seen here in a rug that inspires her:

For the old fashioned, lacing way of doing it, here is a great tutorial video, (Poor quality video, but useful for the information).

So as for that darned piece of t-shirt yarn that would not curl….she just used it as it was and imbedded it within this cotton macrame cord and made a few rows in single crochet with it as well as she went along. Pretty pretty, eh?

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

100% cotton macrame cord and t-shirt yarn crochet basket

There just aren’t enough hours in a day to do all the wonderful things she wants to do. She doesn’t understand how anyone gets bored.

She stays as busy as the bees…

busy as the bees

they say bees like green water…check out this blog:

The Star Client

Star Client

Ms. SpoolTeacher posted an ad for her Peripatetic Design services on Craigslist recently and had no idea what would come of it.

Would you like a new look without purchasing new things? It’s amazing what can be done by rearranging things you already own for a completely new, fresh look. Just need more organization? That too. Is clutter an issue? No need to throw things away (recycle) unless you want to. There is always a way to make a lot of stuff look better. Groupings, consolidation of like items will minimize the impact and can create a museum quality. $35 p/hr plus mileage trip fee to and from your home from Benson, AZ. Skilled, professional, life-long designer/decorator with great color sensibilities and exceptional organizational skills. No implements required, we’ll use what you have.

This she could do 24/7. She loves, loves, loves to deal with the details of “things”.

true freedom

Lone Mountain Collage, San Francisco, CA

Her first real job after returning from a little summer scholarship at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, (right after graduating from high school), was as a “store decorator” at Levitz Furniture. She was only 18, and very intimidated by the others who seemed so confident of their design skills. Her duties were to daily make rounds of all the aisles and replace any items that had been sold out of the vignettes.

The store had a wonderful stock room full of accessories and that was her domain and resource center.

Looking back now she can see how, even then, she enjoyed focusing on the smallest of details. For some reason, it soothed her anxieties.

She could often be found rearranging the contents of a china cabinet to get all of the elements just right. She also loved to clean the stockroom and reorganize it.

When Ms. SpoolTeacher asked Star Client how she found her ad, Star Client explained that one day she was placing accessories and she had her husband hang a collection of stars above her cabinets in the kitchen. After which, she plopped down on her sofa and felt exasperated. She had had enough. She was feeling overwhelmed with all of the “stuff” that she had kept as her most favorite of things that were the result of her downsizing event some time before.

She didn’t want to get rid of a thing, but she had had enough.

Very often, it is just an objective perspective that is needed to reignite the passion to complete the task.

Star Client asked her husband to, “Please get on Craigslist and find a decorator”.

When she rolled across Ms. SpoolTeachers ad, Star Client told Ms. ST that “That was it.” The words of the ad expressed exactly what she wanted.

The email from Star Client to Ms. SpoolTeacher said, “I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.”

Star Client and Ms. SpoolTeacher had a wonderful time working as a team, going through her treasures and finding their new homes.

If Ms. SpoolTeacher had put an ad for a perfect client, Star Client would have matched the contents to a T.

The minute Ms. ST arrived, Star Client took her on a “tour” and they dug right in. Ms. ST loses herself easily, and they had finished the first room before she thought to take “before” pictures and got so busy in the end taking the ones she did, that she forgot two rooms! Oh well.

Here are the results of their team effort in the main areas. They pretty much touched and moved just about every accessory and numerous furniture items, except of course, the stars!

I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.

They only took one little break and back at it again, the pups wandering in and out and around their feet. Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

This time when Star Client plopped herself down on her sofa, she said, “Whose house is this? Much better!”

"Whose house is this?"

“Whose house is this?”

The thing about it is, it looked very nice before. And she had lovely things to work with.

Ms. SpoolTeacher says that this is The Star Client you always hope you will get the chance to work with.

What a fun day!


Imagine knowing your baby will be secure for life?

Imagine knowing your baby will be secure for life?

“Imagine you are being born and society tells you ‘Welcome, you will be cared for, and asks you what you want to do with your life, what is your calling? Imagine that feeling, that’s a whole different atmosphere “ – Daniel Straub, Co-founder, Basic Income Initiative

Switzerland may start paying every adult (whether they work or not) a salary of over $2000 per month, based on the idea that their citizens will have more time to devote to things they are intrinsically interested in, instead of spending the majority of their time worrying about how they are going to survive, as many individuals with entry level positions find it hard to meet their needs. The income initiative promises every Swiss citizen a living wage , so they can always survive without basic financial worry.

Read the article here to consider pros and cons.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has always thought that as citizens, we own the commons. That means that the resources in the ground, air, water, nature, etc. belong to the people who inhabit the land.

Inhabitants of the land, the commons

Inhabitants of the land, the commons

She doesn’t believe that Corporations own them. She knows that it takes capital, small “c”, to make these resources viable for the citizens and that those engaged in making that happen deserve a “living wage” and their expenses paid for doing it.

Corporate Feudalism: The End of Nation States

“Corporate Feudalism: The End of Nation States”. Click picture to read the post by Steve Lovelace

She believes that any investment in research and development is an expense and should be funded by “the commons” who will benefit by the progress. If the commons won’t be benefited, it shouldn’t be being done. Period. If it does harm to the commons, it shouldn’t be being done. Period.

She doesn’t believe that those managing resources as profit making Capitalists should recover money for the investments that “the commons” provided initially; i.e., monies our government has already funded for research and development that is done before profit making Capitalist do what they do. You know, like all the work our government did to bring the internet into viability for Silicon Valley to further improve and develop. And that those same profit making Capitalists owe the commons a portion of the wealth they extract from the commons. It is, after all, our resources that they are given the privilege of “harvesting”.

The whole world is askew. There seem to be two basic camps of thinking…

Precision Nutrition. Click image to read post

two camps of thinking image courtesy of Precision Nutrition. Click image to read post (about food)

Will the chocolate cake be put to the Right use on the Left, or will the Right leave the Left with no chocolate cake at all? The cupcake is pink, so it must be of no use at all or maybe, just maybe Left on it’s own, the pink cupcake has all the Right ingredients after all. Right or Left, Left or Right? Maybe we should be thinking Pink?

Ms. SpoolTeacher believes with her whole heart that all new parents want the best possible for their babies. They don’t want their babies to spend their lives worrying in excess or unnecessarily. The right kind of stress is a good thing. Being in a chronic state of stress with survival worry is not.

They want their children to be free to grow into the beings God intends for them to be.

Well, the most important thing is that we all have food. So let’s quit worrying about all that other stuff and get out there and at least 1% of us plant some food.

White House garden

White House garden: Image courtesy of One Green Generation. (click image to read post at )

This looks like a pretty good plan, don't you think?

This looks like a pretty good plan, don’t you think?

And live a little more simply, and want a little less in material goods, and start wanting more for each other?

Are you planting this year? Are you helping someone else plant? Are you buying from someone who grows in your community?

That’s where imagining a better future starts. At least Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks it is.

Imagine. Just imagine.

Working From Home

I Sell On Etsy

Working from home. Type those words in your browser and what you get is a bunch of gimmicky ideas for how to “Get Rich Quick” or “Girls Wanted” kinds of things.

Type in and a whole ‘nother story arises. Amazing evidences of wonderful success stories of people who have had an idea and found a niche within which to market it; and who are finding great success doing so and mostly all from the safety, comfort and very cost effective usefulness of their own homes.
Working from homeMs. Spool Teacher is trying to find that one thing that will work for her to do the same, work from home and have success. Success to Ms. ST will be a living wage. As it is now, she does work from home. Yes she does. She uses the moniker of Ms. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher because at present, she is willing to do whatever her talents and skills give her the ability to market so she can at least keep her head above water long enough while she is Finding That One Thing that will be her turning point..

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a childhood friend who has managed to find her one thing and is working from home, mind you, doing what she loves, loves, loves…she is an ornamental horticulturist and worked long and steady in the business of selling on the road for nurseries. When she finally decided she wanted independence, she barely looked back. She has worked extremely hard to get to where she is now. She’s made it look easy; but Ms. ST knows for a fact that she works relentlessly and with great skill and acumen, and does not waste a minute and that it was not an overnight success. She has tried many roads to get to where she is now.

Succulent Heart Wreath 13 inch diameter

She makes the most beautiful succulent creations, markets and sells them at her shop, Succulent Salon, on Etsy.

She also sells cuttings for people to make their own creations.

Ms. SpoolTeacher really admires her in complete and tries to follow her advice and example.

Ms. ST’s passion is sewing, so of course, the succulent thing would not do for her, though she has a minor collection of them that Friend-in-CA has sent and she treats them like babies bringing them in and out daily because they aren’t hardy in the harsh desert winter night freezes. She loves them. Lately Friend-in-CA sent her a box of clothes she thought Ms. ST could use to up-cycle and sitting there on the top was a little ray of sunshine from California to brighten up her winter months of doldrums.

succulent salon, ray of sunshine from CA

It looked like a sunburst and Ms. ST quickly went out to get some cactus potting soil and put it in a pot almost the same color as itself.succulent salon, ray of sunshine from CA

One of the vendors that Ms. SpoolTeacher follows on Etsy is AllThingsPretty by Debra Dorgan. She thinks this girl has it together and loves the creations she comes up with using all kinds of found resources. It isn’t often that she “favorites” shops that are so global because she really wants to do what she can to support her USA compadres.

But this girl strikes a cord that speaks to Ms. ST’s own aesthetic and resourcefulness and she likes to see what she comes up with next.

AllThingsPretty on Etsy by Debra Dorgan

AllThingsPretty on Etsy by Debra Dorgan AllThingsPretty on Etsy by Debra Dorgan

She feels inspired just looking at her wonderful work..

For now, Ms. SpoolTeacher is utilizing the resources she has on hand to their best use as she sees it. She is developing her own aesthetic and a repertoire of creations to draw new inspiration from.

It’s a process.

puffy hearts on sale at SpareShelf on Etsy

Of course, it’s near Valentine’s Day, so she focused on hearts for the moment.


pocket, Will You Marry Me heart pillow

using the resources she has to their best result

The longer one works from home, the bigger home one seems to need but one must maximize space and carry on. Bigger is not always better.

You always need a dream anyway, right?

“Long-haired freaky people need not apply”

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Ms. SpoolTeacher went in to a new local store to see what it was all about and if they might be hiring. Of course, she knows it will be an online application process; but she likes to do things like they were done when she was just a lassie, looking for her first jobs…(around the same time as this song, “Signs”, was first released by the Five Man Electrical Band.) She was thinking she might try to seek out the manager and chat him up before he got the clue that she was interviewing him for a job.

As she approached the check out counter with a big bag of her favorite dog food in tow, she said to the 20 something girl there, “It looks like they don’t hire anyone over 20?”

“Oh yes, there is one man who is in his 70’s.”

She wanted to ask if he was white and 200lbs because it has been her experience that those are the most popular attributes for being hired…white male, 6′ tall, 200 lbs. But she kept her trap shut.

The other 20 something girl standing nearby (both of them wearing cowboy boots to tromp all day on concrete in) said, “If it will make you feel any better, we are both over 20.”

No, it didn’t make her feel any better, or worse for that matter; because, Ms. SpoolTeacher knows in her heart of hearts that she is doing what she should be doing. What she loves.

Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow

Yes, sometimes it feels like the money will never follow, but it does. Miraculously, minute by minute, day by day, week by week, somehow her needs are always met. “Thank you Lord.” She puts money in her account and goes and pays a bill. It is keeping her very humble. But it has miraculously worked for at least 10 years now, really more, all her independent entrepreneurial times accumulated.

So she knows too that she is not a Long-haired freaky people, wait a minute, yes she is; but she is as old a Job and that isn’t what employers are really looking for these days. At least not in significant numbers. They want people who haven’t already been worn down by a system that isn’t working. So she plods along on her entrepreneurial journey, sure it will pan out soon. Sure as sure.

She made another “sale” on Etsy yesterday! Yeah! “It works if you work it so work it you’re worth it” she says to herself. She knows that’s an AA chant, but it works for lots of applications. She uses whatever has proven to be a success tool. And one tool she has found to be successful is reaching out and helping others. First. Not after you’re successful, but while you’re gettin there. First of all, it feels really good. Second, unexpected doors fly open. Lately some hollow core doors flew open, metaphorically speaking. A friend wanted some signs made and couldn’t manage the hollow core doors herself and asked Ms. SpoolTeacher if she would like to make some money. “Did someone say MONEY!”

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

So Ms. SpoolTeacher, hoarder that she is, took her 1972 angled-bristle-oil-painting brush, a Purdy flat brush, some rags and a bucket over to be a sign painter for 1 day that turned into 2, (this is a friend whom she has helped many times for what was supposed to be free, but somehow Friend always finds a way to pay her some how; money or things or referrals or such). And on top of this gig being a paying one, it put Ms. SpoolTeacher in her “Happy Place”…mindlessly smearing paint on something, anything.

In the old days of Home Depot, signs were all hand-lettered by employees. Now she thinks they are printed; but in her days of working for them, she was often called upon to letter signs because she was pretty good at making them legible.

She got to make a couple of “artistic” signs as well…Ho, ho, ho, Home Depot

She got to make this collection twice. And they even paid her to work from home. Talk about “Happy Place”!

Ho, ho, ho, Home Depot

Friend had managed to get the paints (from the city dump) Ms. SpoolTeacher recommended, Red, Yellow, Black…well, sort of (colors that are frequently used for stand-out signs), Friend got a near chartreuse yellow, and a bright pink, exacalacally “the colors people look for when scouting yard and estate sales” Friend told her. As it turned out, they worked pretty well to stand out, the yellow from the red, so to speak.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

First she slathered on the pink with her favorite Purdy flat brush…She doesn’t like using a roller, too messy and much more fun to slather.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Then she free-hand painted on the letters with her hoarded 1972 angled-bristle-oil-painting brush and thought she was finished…until she opened that trap of hers and said what Friend was thinking…”I think the letters would look better outlined in black”….

Yep. Day 2: outline all the letters with felt tip black marker! Still, she was in her “Happy Place” so even though it was now a $5 p/hour labor (of love), she knows it will open some more hollow core doors. She’s sure.

Friend said, “Why don’t you sign the bottoms and make up a flyer and I will tell everyone about all the things you do, Ms. Jackie of all Trades SpoolTeacher”. Well, Friend actually called her by her real name. So she signed the bottom and put her website on it too and off she went to the next entrepreneurial-school-of-doing-what-she-loves-the-money-will-follow-her-everywhere-she-needs-it-to-fun-and-adventurous escapade, (see the escape in that last word?).

Are you doing what you love, even if it means freezing in place cuz electricity to heat is a luxury while clothes upon clothes are not?

Here’s an interesting concept of existing (better) without money…

and here is the sign before black outlines. Better with black, eh?
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

What do you love to do? Are you doing it? Why not?

Merry Christmas Holly Wreath Graphic

Sew Much To Do

Sew, it’s either feast or famine.

For about a month, there was a slight panic that enough work wouldn’t come in for her to keep her utilities turned on or the computer running.

She knows better than to worry. Her needs are always met. Manna from Heaven, don’t ya know?

Suddenly there were people coming two by two with arm loads of things to be hemmed, nipped and tucked, collared up.

ss.sewmuchtodo 013

Twelve pair of jeans to be shortened a few inches. She made an afternoon and into the late evening, assembly-line event out of this “fun” chore…

  1. Measure and cut X12, √
  2. Finish raw edges with special cam stitch X12, √ (since she doesn’t have a serger and believes in using what she has with a little ingenuity, √)
  3. Change bobbin and thread to black for X5, √
  4. Fold up 5/8″, stitch line 1/2″ X5, √
  5. Re-thread bobbin half way thru X5, √
  6. Change bobbin to gold, thread to blue for X7, √
  7. Repeat line 4 X7, √
  8. Lay down and collapse with stressed out shoulders X2, √ (with pride for a job well done, √)

ss.sewmuchtodo 008

She asked Client if she wanted a double hem or if it would be acceptable to finish edge and turn over once?

Unless you have an industrial strength machine, it is near impossible to get even a heavy duty needle through that lump that is 3 layers of “flat-felled seams” sewn over. She does do them this way but adds extra time/$labor to the job to clip and trim seam (in inconspicuous ways) and do some fancy footwork to get her machine to make it through the bump that is by that time reduced a little. ss.sewmuchtodo 007

A true flat-felled seam can be made on a home sewing machine. It is done by special machines in industrial settings. True flat-felled seam

Industrial machine and flat-felled seams

Industrial strength machines can make it easier at home, but an alternative mock flat-felled seam is more commonly done when sewing for fun.

ss.sewmuchtodo 009

And Ms. SpoolTeacher saves all the cut off scraps for….???… something. Did she ever tell you she is a Pack Rat?

ss.sewmuchtodo 010

X2 Sous-Chef uniforms snap heads replaced, √
X2 for same client, Sous-Chef uniform sleeves shortened and later the lengths overall shortened also, √

ss.sewmuchtodo 012

Hems, loops, take-ups, take-ins, X1, X1, X2, X2, future √

ss.sewmuchtodo 002

Old favorite work clothes, some of which she has already put patches on, to have new patches put over the old ones and some other things done…like to “collar up” an old shirt whereby the existing collar is hanging on by strings of threads. sew much to do
(see how she did this here)… another future √ (the picture is from his last batch of which he was very, very happy with the results).

Sew, so now she is a bit oversewhelmed! But grateful and glad it isn’t Cleaning Lady duties. (happy face) (she likes being home with the puppies) (they like it too). She’ll take those too though, Cleaning Lady duties. She’s Ms. Jackie of all Trades don’t ya know!

Today was Driving Ms. Margie day and that is always a reprieve. Ms. Margie likes to go to lunch after and talk like friends for awhile. It doesn’t feel like work at all, but she insists on paying and even for lunch.

And then Ms. SpoolTeacher brought Ms. Margie’s new Wally World cell phone home to have her number ported….cuz how can they possibly expect 90 year old lovely ladies to go through all those silly gyrations?

……    ……     …….. z z z z, trolling, trolling, coffee, ……   !!!!!! X#@$ !!!!

……, about two hours into the phone conversation, Ms. ST said, “Do you have a supervisor?” Then she said to the supervisor, “Do you have a supervisor?” And then she said, “Can you transfer me to the refund department?”……For some reason that girl didn’t need to put in an order for a system check for a 24-48 hour follow-up return phone call to explain why the port wouldn’t go through. By the time Ms. SpoolTeacher got Ms. Margie’s phone charged and back to her, voila! the number had been ported!!!

Oh, the power of “do you have a refund department?!”

It’s either feast or famine, and always Sew Much To Do either way.

Dali-like Dreaming This Morning

Dreams are funny things. The ones you have just before you awake and remember, are near impossible to explain so that anyone can get the gist of what your experience was. Dali, I guess, tried to explain his in his paintings.

Salvador Dali painting hand re-painted by quality artists

When Ms. SpoolTeacher was 17, she was given the gift of a scholarship summer retreat to a college in San Francisco to study art for six whole weeks. It was a magical time. A time that set her sails.

As the wind blows, you must set your sails.

Image courtesy of Edenchanges. Click image to “attend” a lovely motivational blog. Words by Thomas Fuller.

She dreams of that event time and again, but they are always one of those kinds of dreams where you want so badly to get somewhere but your feet feel like lead. They won’t move. You are stuck and distressed.

She was so young when she went and she was not at all well emotionally. It was one of the best experiences of her life in spite of her emotional state.

For the two years that she prepared for the competition, making an art portfolio to send for evaluation, she was in that same emotional state and everything was a lead foot kind of struggle. It would be called depression now. Everything she did for those two years was geared for the hope that she would be selected. She worked after school to earn the money it would take to pay for her room and board and anything else she might need; some more supplies, extra food stuffs, souvenirs. Her wonderful art teacher made sure to give her plenty of supplies from the school stock that met most of her list of required art tools and paints to bring along.

Near the deadline to submit her work, she was missing one piece of art (a requirement on the list for judging) and had to hurry up a pastel chalk drawing she was struggling to complete. Because it didn’t quite fit in the portfolio, a neighbor took a Polaroid picture of it for her to send with the others. (She thinks it was that last drawing that gave her submission the edge it needed because to that date, it was the best she had done). She packaged her portfolio just how they said and drove to a third class postal center way out in a remote burg outside of her own little Podunk town to get it sent off.

Art PortfolioBy that time, she had amassed the clothes she would need to take with her should she win. She had sewn her own outfits those same two years waiting and preparing. As it turned out, once there, she bought a pair of overalls and pretty much never got out of them, painting them up as she went.

The dream she had this morning before waking was a little happier than others have been. She was in San Francisco with a friend and had a nice place to stay. It was a bright colorful dream unlike ones before that have mostly been dull and dreary; but there was still a kind of hunger in her soul. She couldn’t get satisfied. She wanted something she couldn’t find. It was the friend’s event this time. The friend was taking a pleasure trip and there was a satchel involved that always had to be kept track of. It was orange, an upholstery weight fabric and had all of Friend’s needed things in it. They decided to go see a movie. Friend somehow got in ahead of her because Ms. SpoolTeacher was busy talking to her sister (who in reality passed just this last Feb. 2013). She was so delighted to see her sister there and had lost track of time and of Friend. So when it came time to get into the movie, she had to climb a funny stair case in a funny building and open a window so that she could crawl in over the head of a bed of a sick person lying there. The sick person’s relative was sitting by her side complaining why the theater did things like this and Ms. SpoolTeacher backed out and went back down to see if she was doing it right. They told her to go back, it was the only way in. But Ms. ST spotted a different, ground level entrance and sure enough there was Friend with her orange upholstery satchel, contents spread all over a table she was sitting at eating with other people and the concession stand was in front of them, behind the table. Ms. ST looked over and it was some kind of spaghetti stuffed in a bread roll oozing with Velveeta cheese and other things she will not eat.

Of course, this barely depicts the vivid colors and autumn charm of the scenes of this made-up San Francisco Ms. SpoolTeacher had going through her brain circuitry just before she woke or of the peculiar emotions she was feeling. Dreams are so funny. She wishes she could paint like Dali to depict the scenes because they were wonderful.

It was a better dream than some she has had, remembering or longing for her wonderful summer scholarship trip to San Francisco, but she thinks it is because she is much better emotionally now and has lots of hope and great expectations for the life still ahead of her.

Lone Mountain College, San Francisco 1972When she came back from that trip to San Francisco, she had wonderment in her mind. She was sure she would be some kind of artist, she was determined that she would be. She had to get a job right away because her family was poor, monetarily. Her mother had already lined her up with a prospect to inquire about and sure enough she got the job. There she would work for about a year as a Girl Friday, working with artists of various kinds. It was a pre-Kinko’s kind of place. The man who had the business start-up had his hands in everything, a true entrepreneur, but one who was more charismatic than successful at that time.

She has had many J.O.B.S. since then, but has always been in pursuit of some way to be free to express her creative side. She thinks this might be the reason why her dreams are more vivid and satisfying now. She has given up giving in to forgetting her dreams and has found that once her sail was set way back then in San Francisco, there was no turning back. She wouldn’t go off blowing in the wind, but she wouldn’t miss any opportunity that would show itself to her that would help her live the dream that she had set her sail on. No one should, give up their dream, even if it is Dali-like.