Friday, October 20, 2017

CATNIP CABARET



Let me preface this post by saying that I loathe self-promotion and I'm not exaggerating. I've never been any good at it, and consider it to be degrading - almost on the level (or sub-level) of prostitution.

Now that I've got your attention (not to mention your enthusiasm) I'll proceed with Zazzle and my new store.

I chose the name Catnip Cabaret simply because no one else had it. Many Zazzle store owners seem to incorporate the popular (but sorely over-used) word "vintage" - - which I dislike almost as much as self-promotion.
Big Bertha's Vintage Attic. Grandma Bloomer's Vintage Basement. Aunt Petunia's Vintage Garage (I made these names up just as examples). 

I'd never heard of Zazzle until a few years ago and never gave it any thought. Quite recently, however, I discovered that anyone (within reason) can open a Zazzle online store. Zazzle provides all the products and deals with customer service and shipping.

The Zazzle store owner designs his/her own store and chooses the products they want to sell.
There's only one "catch": 
you have to personally create the designs on all your products - - either using your own artwork or using copyright-free designs.

It took me many weeks to design my products, not to mention many more weeks seeking out public domain/copyright-free artwork and images. 
Creativity and patience are definitely required.

Many Zazzle store owners take the easy way out and use a feature called "Quick Create". This enables you to take one graphic or design and blast it onto 50 or 100 different products all at once.
This method of creation is indeed quick, but their products generally look like hell (amateur and shoddy).

I have over 1,000 products and designed each one of them individually. They may not all be perfect, but I put some thought and creativity into them with a personalized touch.

The store owner then sorts his products into categories, and can also put them into collections.

Zazzle sets the prices for the products (and unfortunately Zazzle is rather pricey).
The store owner chooses the royalty that he/she wants to receive. I chose 12 per cent for each item.
That means if an item sells for $100, I get 3 cents (I'm being grimly sarcastic).

One lady on the Internet claims that she was able to "buy a small house" with the money she made from her Zazzle store. Of course, she didn't mention if it was a doll house. Or a gingerbread house. Or perhaps she only made the money for a small down-payment on a tiny house. Who knows.....

I'm not in this for the money (although I'd like to be). I'm in it for the adventure of doing something that I never previously thought of trying. I don't know how long I'll last. 

 You can open as many Zazzles stores as you want - there's no limit. If I stick with this (which is very "iffy"), I'd eventually like to open another store that features only posters and artwork.

One more thing. You have to promote your own store - - Zazzle doesn't do it for you. So, if you don't constantly advertise and blab about your store nobody will know it exists.

There are a number of infuriating "glitches" which I don't like about Zazzle - and which initially irked me enough to abandon my store for several weeks - but I've decided to reopen and plod on.
One glitch is that the settings on my storefront keep mysteriously changing by themselves. I only want my "categories" and "collections" to show. Today I looked at the store and they had photos of ALL my products (1,000+) listed alphabetically. It was enough to scare anyone.....

Also, sometimes my "collections" mysteriously disappear. Today my "Floral" collection has vanished.

Oh well - for better or worse, here's the link:


Catnip Cabaret


the link is also (somewhere) in the sidebar 





Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AND TERRIFYING TEA



 First of all, I finally opened my online Zazzle store
BUT
I'm still organizing stuff and making new products, which takes an annoyingly long amount of time
SO
I'll wait until my next post to write about Zazzle and provide information and a link to the store.

UNTIL THEN
I'll indulge in another of my usual haphazard (but immensely entertaining) rants.

Sleepless!
I haven't slept in about 48 hours. Despite being accompanied by my constant companion Insomnia, I drove to town today. 
I felt like a zombie on quaaludes, but the drive was rather pleasant.

The weather is absolutely gorgeous - clear, cool, crisp, slightly breezy, with sporadic showers of golden leaves.
Vintage October.

So what about the terrifying tea, Jon?

First of all, let me confirm the fact that I'm a tea addict. My addiction began at a very early age. When I was three (yes, three) my paternal Hungarian grandmother used to serve me hot, strong tea plied with plenty of milk and sugar. I've been drinking hot, strong tea plied with plenty of milk and sugar ever since (probably about 150 years).

Two nights ago I was down to my very last teabag. Earl Grey tea. I prepared a magnificent cup - using evaporated milk (which I love) and honey. And I put it in my favorite Halloween mug.



 My eager anticipation of consuming this divine luxury was almost indescribable.
A perfect cup of tea is kind of like indulging in a sexual orgy after partaking in cannabis.

Jon, how would you know what it's like to indulge in an orgy after partaking in cannabis?

Trust me, Kemosabee. My life has been colorful. I've been around the block more times than a '57 Chevy.

So where was I? Oh yea - tea.

Anyway, I was just going to sip the tea when a large ugly gnat dove right into it. It wasn't exactly a gnat - - it was more like a quasi fruit fly of undetermined pedigree.

So why didn't you just fish it out and drink your tea, Jon?

Fish it out??!!!??
Hey, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I do have a sense of dignity. I'm not about to consume a beverage that was used as a sauna by an unidentified insect.

I dumped the entire cup of tea down the drain.

Is that the end of your story, Jon?

Hell, no. I didn't get to the terrifying part yet.
So I was in town today, doing my dreaded grocery shopping. The coffee and tea aisle was literally packed with the typical Walmart shoppers: busily talking on their cell phones, blocking the aisle with their (very) ample asses, gazing at the shelves in a mesmeric trance without any intention of ever moving.

All I wanted was a friggin' box of Twining's Breakfast Tea. I rudely reached over carts, baskets, loiterers, and ample asses - - and finally managed to grab the tea.

Mission accomplished.

It wasn't until I got home that the real terror began. When I unpacked the box of tea I discovered that it's decaffeinated!!!!


I despise anything decaffeinated. Hell, I crave the intense caffeine kick that I get from my cup of tea. Without it the tea is worthless and I'm lost.
A "normal" cup of tea is usually steeped for 3 to 5 minutes. I sometimes steep mine for 10 minutes or longer.

Unfortunately I'm stuck with the damn tea. There's no way I'm about to drive 6,000 miles back to town (slight exaggeration) to return the tea.

My next trip to town is planned (probably) for the end of the month - right before Halloween. I'll buy more tea then. And I'm going to check carefully for caffeine content before buying it.

This post was long, but look at the bright side: it's free.....and I'm good.

Until next time, may all your pleasures contain caffeine.


Another autumn tea mug (actually it's a soup mug) next to my antique Russian Wolfhound.



 My license plate
(not really - - it's a fake plate) 

 



 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

COMPLICATIONS

Life in the wilderness isn't for the timid, weak, or faint of heart.  It takes courage (or insanity) to live here.

Fortunately, I'm a tough honcho. 

Is it still legal to say "honcho"? I can't keep up with the current illegalities enforced by the politically correct.



Honcho was a gay magazine that I used to write articles for - - but that was like 300 years ago. I doubt if it's still in existence.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post. I just threw it in to inform you. And, of course, to impress you.

Anyway, every day here in the wilderness is fraught with complications and inconveniences.


A simple thing like mailing a letter has become a nightmare.

Horrifying as it might seem, I still occasionally send Snail Mail letters. I was never enthusiastic about email. And I've never completely mastered the art of texting - - it usually takes me three or four hours to text two sentences.
It is beyond the realms of comprehension how people can text and drive.

Speed it up, Jon - your readers (all two of them) are getting restless.

So last week I had two extremely important letters to mail. And to mail letters, I have only two options:

1. Drive 2,000 miles to town (very slight exaggeration) and go to the post office. 

2. Risk leaving the letters in my mailbox and pray to the Winged Messenger God Mercury that the mail-carrier will somehow someday notice the letters in my box and take them to town.

I prefer to say "mailman" instead of "mail carrier", but it's no longer legal or politically correct - - and I certainly wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers (he says tongue-in-cheek).

So - -
out of the two evils, I (reluctantly) opted to leave the letters in my mailbox and hope for the best (which I instinctively knew would be the worst).

That was last Friday. 
For some strange reason unbeknownst to me, the mail carrier never comes around here on Saturday. So, I eagerly anticipated Monday.

On Sunday, I suddenly realized that Monday was a holiday - - so the mail carrier wouldn't take my letters until Tuesday. If I was lucky.

What holiday was it?
Those of you in Guam might be wondering.

Monday was Columbus Day.



Of course, Columbus Day is now nearly extinct, because the politically correct spoilsports want to ban it - - insisting that Columbus was an evil, syphilitic, masochistic Italian slob who stole America from the Indians. Or Native Americans.

Look at the bright side, you miserable historical revisionists:
if it wasn't for Columbus, we'd never have pizza.

But I digress.

Anyway, Monday was Columbus Day and there was no mail delivery. So my letters remained in my mailbox (since Friday).

Let me interject here, in a wicked ploy to make this post even longer:

My mailbox isn't anywhere near my house. In order to access it I have to climb down a steep mountainside and go out onto the narrow road that winds past my enormous property.
I said "enormous" to impress you.

Walking to the mailbox is a terrifying ordeal that usually takes half an hour. By the time I climb back up the mountainside to get to my house, I'm so faint, winded, and dizzy that I need paramedic assistance and oxygen. It takes hours to recover.


The road where my mailbox is situated

I'll never understand why mailboxes have to be 45 miles away from the house when you live in the wilderness - but that's beside the point.

On Tuesday afternoon I took the long and dangerous hike to the mailbox to see if the mail carrier had picked up my letters.

To my astonishment, the narrow country road was blocked off and THREE humongous work trucks were by my mailbox. I could see from a distance that the red flag on the box was still up - which meant the mail carrier didn't take my letters.

As I huffed and puffed my way back to the house - while putting a Hungarian curse on the road workers and the mail carrier - I wondered what the hell the workers were doing way out here.

The road that winds past my property is about four feet wide, seldom traveled, and leads to nowhere. 
Are they finally going to fix the potholes and cracks (which have been there since Daniel Boone was a boy)?
Or are they planning to level the forest and build a Walmart?

Hell if I know.
Intuition tells me they're repairing the road.

To make a long story short (I just said that to irritate you) - - my two extremely important letters weren't picked up by the mail carrier until today (Thursday).
Nearly a week since I left them in my box.

If this long post frustrated you - you're not half as frustrated as I am when trying to mail letters.

I'm considering getting some homing pigeons.




So what happened to your damn online store, Jon?

It's just about complete, boys and girls. I will probably open it tomorrow - Friday the 13th.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

REMEMBRANCE



I made this video last October and posted it last year, but I think it's worthy of an encore.

All of the photos in the video were taken on my property here in Tennessee. To set the autumnal mood, I chose one of my favorite compositions - The Long March by Vangelis (from the 1978 album China).

In a nutshell, Remembrance encompasses my feelings about autumn, which has always been my favorite time of year. I have an autumnal soul: deeply melancholic, sentimental, nostalgic - - and tinged with a romanticism that no longer exists.

I've lived a very turbulent, reckless, undisciplined life tainted with a large portion of unhappiness and bad memories.
Yet, strangely enough, every autumn that I can remember has been a happy one. That's undoubtedly why I like it so much. My autumnal memories are all precious and sweet.

You'd better quit while you're ahead, Jon. If you keep up this sentimental crap, you might actually become likeable.


This video can be found on my YouTube channel JayveeSonata. It's best viewed full-screen.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

HARVEST MOON

There are presently so many negative things going on in my life that I've reached the point where I don't give a royal crap about anything.

And I'm not in the mood to reveal specifics. Let's just say that my wretched existence has become a maze of problems, complications, detours, setbacks, dead ends, and impossibilities. Did I mention obstacles?

The weather has been gorgeous - with a long absence of rain. The temperature is perfect. Autumn is my favorite time of year. Yet I'm wallowing in a debilitating mire of misery. 

Tonight is the night of the harvest moon (one of my personal favorite nights).  It is supposed to rise here in TN at 7:00p.m.
Due to all the trees and hills around here, I probably won't be able to see it until 8:00 or 9:00 or later. Photographing the event will be a near impossibility but I'll give it a try.

Well, hell, I'll undoubtedly howl at the moon, too.

I drove to town last Monday and tried to snap a few pics along the way - which isn't easy. The road is narrow with very few places to pull over.
And if you dare to step out of the car, you'll either get hit by a logging truck...or go over a cliff. 


Here's the road which eventually leads to my house (or near it, anyway).



This old barn is one of my visual "markers" on the way to town. Once I see it, I know that there are only about 2,000 more miles to go (very slight exaggeration).

This is a very typical view on my way home.

Scruffy and Bosco are eagerly awaiting the new supply of cat food (and litter) that I bought (that's an old blanket that I tossed on the bed for the cats)

Scratch doesn't really care - she just wants to be petted (who doesn't??)

All right, I've saved the very worst for last. It's not for the faint of heart......



I found this ON MY BED a few days ago!!!!
After I regained consciousness, I grabbed the blanket it was on and shook him to the floor.
Then I sprayed him with about half a gallon of bug spray. He refused to die so I put the one gallon (I'm not kidding) spray container on him...and sort of crushed him...and suffocated him....

That's an autopsy photo - but he still looks alive (hey, I'm assuming it was a "him" and not a "her").

Anyway, this scared the living jeeters out of me and I didn't sleep for two nights.
Just when I was finally calming down, I found another spider exactly like this one - on the floor in the hallway.

I THINK they are just grass spiders -
but, then again, they could be deadly predators.

Holy shit - - as if I didn't have enough problems....

Friday, September 29, 2017

WEIRD SKY



So, where's the online store, Jon?

It's all set up, ready to go. But I'm a procrastinator. Not to mention a perfectionist. I'm ironing out "kinks", so to speak.


My father was a perfectionist. Wow, could I ever tell stories about him......

Many things around here have been subtracting from my time with the store.

I have acute hay fever from the weeds.

 I'm having "problems" (to put it mildly) with:
raccoons, squirrels, 'possums, mice, insects.

Did I mention wasps? I took down over ten (yes, 10) nests this week.
That's the cue for a story.

I had an old air conditioner on the back porch for a long time. It was left by the previous owners and I hated it. It's HUGE and HEAVY. And I mean HEAVY. In complete exasperation I simply covered it with an old carpet and left it there (despite the fact that I hate junk hanging around).

Well.....the wasps made a nest in the air conditioner and another nest in the carpet! I didn't know the nests were there and when I tried to move the air conditioner, they all flew out in Attack Mode. I started swinging a mop at them and somehow made it into the house safely. I never saw such angry wasps in my life.
I was afraid to go out on the back porch again for days.

Finally I got the courage to tackle the nests. Armed with gloves, heavy clothing, and Mega Strong bug spray I managed to get the two nests....
......but angry wasps were still hanging around for several more days. It was a slow process but I finally got things under control.
AND I didn't get stung!!!

BTW - I just found another nest by the garage.

Today I cleaned the air conditioner and dragged it into the garage (the process of dragging ravaged my bad back and nearly killed me).

I'm presently painting the back porch - which is taking much longer than expected. And this is only the first coat of paint....

So, what about the weird sky, Jon?

I looked up at the sky this afternoon and saw a bunch of weird "formations" streaking everywhere. It was incredible.

My initial thought was:
Holy shit, Rocket Man is shooting missiles at Tennessee!

I grabbed my El Cheapo camera and took some pics - - but they aren't nearly as impressive as it looked in real. The entire sky had streaks everywhere.

Air Force maneuvers? Martians? Missiles? Heck if I know.


Back porch (this is only the first coat)

Weird sky





Streak over back yard

This almost looks like sky writing.
Remember when the witch wrote Surrender, Dorothy! in the "Wizard of Oz"?
I was expecting to see Surrender, Jon!
Two more streaks coming up from behind the trees (center) and one more coming in on the far right (top).
I think it's an invasion.

Here's my back yard without streaks.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

DOOMSDAY




According to the "experts" today is Doomsday. Whatever that means. I'm assuming it means the apocalypse, the end of humanity, the Big Kaput (I just made that one up).

And I'm wondering:
What should I wear?
Should I exchange my cowboy boots for running shoes?
Should I take the cats with me?

Of course, if we're all going to be exterminated I won't have to worry about any of those things.

I can't really think clearly because it's dawn and I haven't been to bed yet. I'm extremely tired.

Heck, I can't think clearly even when I get enough sleep - but that's beside the point. 

In retrospect, my entire life has been one long drawn out doomsday - - spoken from the viewpoint of an avowed pessimist.

I suppose I should repent and ask forgiveness for all my sins. But it would take too long.....

So, what did I initially come here to say?

First of all, there hasn't been any more late night gunfire by my house (see previous post). It's been about five days and all is quiet on the western front. Or hillbilly front.
Or whatever. 

Second of all, I was going to open my online store today.....but then I figured Doomsday is a bad day to do it. I'll wait until after today to see if we all survived. 
If we don't survive, I'll forget about opening the store.

Hey, it's officially autumn (since yesterday). Welcome to my favorite season.

I think I'd better pry myself away from the computer and get a few hours of shuteye. I wanna look good in case I'm suddenly obliterated.

Monday, September 18, 2017

BULLETS AFTER MIDNIGHT



I hadn't planned on writing a new blog post right now, but I wanted to mention an unexpected "incident".

I'm up after midnight, as usual, using my laptop which I keep on the kitchen table. I am actually putting the finishing touches on my online store, which I plan to open in another day or so.
I know - - I've been saying that for several weeks. But this time I really mean it.

My biggest problem with the store is organization. I don't like the way I organized the products, but what the heck - nobody's perfect. 
Although I come pretty close. 

I'm getting off track. Let's continue:

While I'm working on the store, I'm listening to Eurielle. Her voice is mesmerizing. She's singing Lament for Thorin, which I absolutely love.

Anyway
halfway through the song, two gunshot blasts nearly blow me out of my seat.
They are close to the back of my house (where I'm sitting) and I mean dangerously close.

At first I try to tell myself it was something else - like the 'possums and raccoons who scrounge around my back porch....

.....but there's no mistake about the sound of gunfire. Almost immediately, there are two more shots. That inspires me to turn off the light and shut down the computer.

It was just after 2:00 a.m.
I live alone in the middle of nowhere. It's pitch dark. The forest behind my house is remote and uninhabited (except for animals, birds.....and ghosts....)

Who the hell could be out there at this ungodly hour? What are they shooting at? And why so damn close to my house? 

I'm not the scaredy-cat type. I don't scare easily. But these very close gunshots really unnerved me. I pulled on my boots and sat in the dark on the living room sofa for nearly half an hour. I heard a few unusual noises outside, but thankfully no more shots.

Right now it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm back at the kitchen table - - but I pulled the blinds down on the kitchen window. Just in case.....

A few nights ago the coyotes were near the back porch, screaming like banshees. They often sound very human, which is creepy.

Well, that's my story, boys and girls.
As soon as it gets light I have to walk down to my mailbox (it's incredibly far away) to mail an important letter. I'm hoping the mail carrier will see the red flag (on my box) when he drives by today.

Fun in the wilderness.....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

INTERMISSION

I feel lousy and things have been going bad (or badly, for all you grammar freaks). 

This morning, despite my abject misery and negative attitude, I decided to venture outside for a walk in the woods.
It has been raining for the past three days (remnants of Hurricane Irma), so I didn't go far - - just stayed on my own property.

It was a pleasant walk - despite mud up to my ankles and distant gunfire. I always worry that a trigger-happy myopic hillbilly will mistake me for Big Foot.

Despite running into a twenty foot spider web which looked like something from Conan Doyle's Lost World, I didn't have any mishaps.
But I came home annoyingly wet and covered in mud. With remnants of spider web on my hat, face.....
...and in my mustache....

For your viewing pleasure, boys and girls, I brought my El Cheapo camera with me and took some unremarkable and uninteresting pictures of the gloomy wet forest.
The forest won't be beautiful until the foliage transforms into autumnal colors - which won't happen for another month.
A few random leaves just couldn't wait until autumn....

 The entrance of the forest:
which reeks with the possibility of Red Riding Hood wolves and Hansel and Gretel witches.

It was so dark that my camera flash kept going off, but when I tried taking a few pics without the flash they looked really crappy.



The good news is that all the ticks are gone (for the season), so I only had to worry about running into 15,000 other kinds of creepy bugs. Including mega giant spiders.
But I'm a tough dude. I can take it.




I never allow my cats to go anywhere near the forest, but I do let them out on the back porch for a breath of air. Scruffy was very reluctant to come back inside this morning.
(I plan to paint the back porch within the next few weeks - because it looks like hell. I already painted the front porch)

I didn't intend to center these final paragraphs, but the Blogger gremlins won't allow me to fix it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

REMEMBER




This isn't a regular blog post - - it's merely a thought. 
And it's also a risk - since my personal thoughts inevitably stir up the wrath of the haters.
So be it.

Take some time to remember the tragedy of 911 which occurred 16 years ago today: September 11, 2001.





Remember those people who are presently suffering from the ravages of the recent hurricanes, Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.

Remember the courage and resilience of the American people who have pride in our freedom and way of life.




To those who hate our country
our history
our traditions
our values and beliefs
and our President........

.......remember that you have the freedom to live elsewhere - - in a country where you might feel more comfortable.