Casey's and Sloane's Blog
In March, I fell in love with Detroit. It has not dampened my deep commitment to my city, but I am now sharing the love. It is a great American city. Truly.
I have followed Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings through many media sources. All reliable and non-biased. I live in facts and details in most of what I do, so this affair has been no different.
Today on National Public Radio they ran the next installment in what has been a long and continuing story on the Motor City from multiple angles and points-of-view. This was about the Detroit Institute of Art possibly selling its multiple-billion-dollar collection – which is owned by the “people of the City of Detroit” – to help honor the debts of the city.
I cried. I pulled the car over, finished my tears, and pulled myself together. I felt like I had been socked in the gut. I had just been in that museum at spring break. I had just talked about that collection and its curatorial staff at a meeting this week at The Nelson. I had just….
I could not get over the fact that the soul of the city – its art collection – was currently being appraised by Christie’s and was being considered for auction and/or sale.
Why can’t the Detroit Lions or the Red Wings or the Pistons be considered for auction and possible sale? Why is art, yet again, being called upon to set its people free?
Because that’s what it did when its people made Detroit its home in the first place.
The people of the City of Detroit slowly purchased the art for the people. Wealthy people spearheaded some selections. However, a curator told me during my trip that “everyday” people started and finished fundraising campaigns for many of the pieces in the collection. Groups of people. Committees. People who saw that art would bring so much to the people who were busy most days in big, loud industries building with their hands big mechanical things. They knew that people who worked hard with their hands and their bodies would be very receptive to art and her redemptive powers.
I’m still not at peace with this issue. I don’t know if I ever will be. I will continue to listen and learn. I am going to try and visit Detroit again very soon and eat in her locally owned restaurants, sleep in her locally owned boutique hotels, talk with her smitten residents, and visit her amazing museums and public spaces.
I don’t know what I will do when I enter an art museum that is devoid of its center of gravity. I guess I will figure that out when I get there.
Here is a photo that I didn’t post earlier this year when I returned from Detroit. If you want to see more of my photos and hear about that trip, click here.
Winter is hard for me. Not because it is the opposite of summer, but because I am not a fan of socks. Ankle socks, knee socks, thigh-highs or tights. To me, all were made in the devil’s workshop.
For years I have tried to get around my trouble with socks by purchasing brightly-colored and patterned specimens. The thought was that they would make me happy and I would see beyond my issues. Several were made in Paris and made me feel a wee bit cosmopolitan, until I began to feel like I was heating up like a house afire. My all time favorites were made in Vermont and are bright, cotton, mismatched fantasies.
The current sock assortment.
My toes need to move. I need to feel cool air on my lower extremities. Things that bind feel like they are holding me back – never my favorite emotion. Suffocation starts to set in the minute fabric is pulled past my arch. The list goes on and on.
I have discussed this condition with my primary care doctor, and, after confirming nothing truly physical – internal or external – was causing this, I was again met with “the stare.” The look isn’t one where he is accusing me of mental health issues. The sight he rested on me pretty much said, “Just don’t wear socks.” Duh.
However, snow is the real problem, and it was easily mastered when I purchased my Frye boots with shearling lining last year. The boots tromp with me through the snow, and my bare feet are free to roam in cushy protection.
Now, don’t get me started on how lipstick makes me feel….
The STUFF Staff
For over 17 years, we have followed our love of art, creativity, living out loud, and focusing on people not product. We have allowed ourselves to get excited, share our passion, and even show our concerns at times.
We have lived out loud. We have joined hands with our greater community in so many ways. (We will leave it to you to read more on our colorful and rich website.) We are living the American dream. We have been told many, many times that “that can’t be done,” and we have stubbornly dug in deeper to prove “them” wrong. We have never given up, and the odds have been against us many times. Truthfully, the odds are against every small business.
So why do we – and we mean all small business owners – do it?
This Saturday – the Saturday after Thanksgiving – is “Small Business Saturday”. A handful of years ago a BIG corporate giant deemed it so. It stuck.
First we would like to say we are tickled turquoise that American Express chose to champion small business. Considering all their other choices of how to spend millions of dollars in marketing and brand development, the fact that they choose little ol’ us is remarkable. For this we are grateful – honestly and truly.
So…here we are, two short days from SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY (said with a booming voice), and we would like to pause from our hurried holiday lives to think about what this day means to us – the “STUFF sisters.”
Much like each piece in our store, this store is handmade. There is no greater reward than to step back and witness something you have built with your own hands.
We want to thank our community for its long tradition of giving. We want to thank American Express for becoming the champion of “small”. We want to thank our artists for their art. We want to thank our parents and grandparents for raising us among small businesses. We want to thank our team at STUFF for pouring their hearts into their work. We want to thank our children and loved ones for supporting us during busy times.
And we want to thank you. You are the real champion of small business. Thank you for shopping in our small store.
Casey & Sloane Simmons
Sisters & Co-owners
Fish Lips. Why not?
NOTE: These next few paragraphs will be chock-full of strong words and graphic images. They are not for the faint of heart….
I am in real pain. I know this to be true, because I gave birth vaginally 16+ years ago and this is worse. Every year I enter into this zone of pain, a place that was made for me genetically.
I have fingertips that split the minute the temperature drops, the swimming pools close, and my work load increases. One minute, all is well. Computer keystrokes and ink pen holding is painless. Minute two: there is blood on the keypad, and the pen unable to be lifted.
A serious case of “then it cracked when it was almost healed over”. Previous pain center clearly visible just north and west of new crack.
My grandmother – my mother’s mother – suffered from this horrible syndrome, and I paid little or no attention to her concerns or yearly warnings. She was the queen of lotions and personal nail & hand care. She had a file, a clipper, a buffer and cream for everything that ailed her hands. Still the splits came on with the drier weather. She was strong, but I saw her wince more than once when her hands entered warm soapy water with the dinner dishes.
I have never broken a bone – knock on wood. I have never been admitted to a hospital – OK, one night with the young man’s arrival. I take only two pills a day – one aspirin and one vitamin. I have only well-person visits to my retinue of doctors every year. I volunteer at a health clinic, but I only meet, plan and joke with the staff and board of directors.
This is real pain. It never stops throbbing. Band-Aids and Neosporin at night are no match for Nu-Skin during the day. Nu-Skin is my savior and drug of choice. However, my pain is so powerful that it only takes a few hours for me to break through the Nu-Skin crust and run gasping for the little bottle and miniscule brush when the oxygen reaches the nerve endings. Second and third coats are my nirvana. My increased fourth-quarter work load with packing tape, box cutters, labels and cardboard only adds to the workplace stressors.
The crack in the Nu-Skin crust is visible on this specimen, sighted earlier today in my car.
At the end of a meeting the other day at the health clinic, I mentioned to the lead physician that I lived in fear of lymphoma entering my open wounds with my addiction to Nu-Skin. He looked at me like the crazy person I am and said, “Well, you could do what doctors do and use Super Glue.” This from a trusted professional and friend.
I suffer. I do.
If I’m not at work, here’s why: I’ll be out scouting new pain medication – maybe at the liquor store or possibly trying to score meth.
When asked if she wanted gift wrap, our friend Mary Anne reached across the counter and held onto Sloane’s arm and said, “You know, my gift is sitting right outside.”
And she was.
This past weekend we had yet another celebration of the power of the human spirit over cancer. We drank punch, we munched cookies, we held customers while they cried, we emptied candy bowls of their sweetness, we laughed, and our customers shopped with smiles on their faces. It was a glorious way to start the holiday season.
Mary Anne’s daughter is our friend Susan Miller. She was here the entire weekend selling T-shirts and telling of her continued victory over cancer. Casey was with her in the sunshine and shade as they raised money from donated T-shirts. A longtime friend of STUFF, John, who has had cancer visit his family one too many times, brought us custom shirts from his business to sell. All monies for charity.
Our whole community came together at our fundraiser – Wings of Hope. We are dedicated to helping find a cure for cancer through research. The KU Cancer Center is doing heaps of that – alone and in collaboration. The fund that Susan’s family started years ago while she was suffering and triumphing is still rockin’ the research.
To our parents, who have both battled cancer, to Susan, to John, to Mary Anne, and to all of you who believe in our dream business: we thank you for believing with us that together we will find a cure for cancer.
You are our gift at the holidays. Never forget that.
I try not to dwell on things that I can not change anymore. I still need lots of practice. Since I am not cured of this curse, I would like to vent my frustration with spammers.
I believe that any person that has any hand in creating the noise we call spam and wastes the time of their fellow humans should be inconvenienced in equally frustrating ways.
Here a few suggestions:
- Red lights won’t change.
- Their toothbrush is missing every morning.
- Their food at restaurants doesn’t arrive in a timely manner.
- Every time they bite into a taco it drips grease on their pants.
- They can never find a parking space.
- The 6′ 4″ Dude is always seated directly in front of them.
- They constantly run out of milk for their cereal.
- If they are a chick…their tights never stay up.
- If they are a dude…their zipper won’t stay zipped.
- Every time they are focused at work, someone places a completely unnecessary stack of papers on top of their work space and it can not be removed without each piece of paper being handle individually.
Feel free to add to my list. You will find more joy in facing your email inbox.
Frustrated with spam? Me too!
It seems to be vastly believed that Casey and I share a brain. We do not. We’ve actually had a customer ask if we live together. We do not. We do not share clothes. I don’t share one particular Chinese dish very well, and she never shares her last shrimp on a salad. We have been known to borrow jewelry from each other, but that is becoming rarer.
However, there are some things we do share, and they are eerily funny. Last Thursday – Halloween – our stepmom stopped by the store for a quick meeting with me. She lovingly heads up the tagging of all the holiday ornaments, and she finished a few days ahead of schedule. We were able to meet on a few details, and then she was free for another year!
As she was turning to park the car, she saw a woman in a witch’s hat trip while looking down at the curb. If not trip, then falter. When the woman stood up, it was Casey.
Casey was walking back from the coffee shop and her eye had caught the most amazing water deposits on a fallen leaf. She had stopped, with her arms and hands full, to catch a photo on her phone. She admits to tripping a bit on the sidewalk as she positioned herself for the perfect shot.
Not an hour before Casey’s clumsiness, I was on my back deck, heading to work with my arms full of bags and boxes and my hands clutching my daily iced tea, when I saw photos I just had to take. Leaves plastered to the wood and still wet from two days of rain. Lichen brought to life by cooler temperatures and no sun.
The effort of getting my camera out of my purse while not putting a single item down on the wet surfaces was a balancing act worthy of a circus. I perched my drink inside my tote and I fleetingly wondered what my excuse would be if it spilled into my computer. Sure, it was lidded, but did that matter when you were bent over with a camera and the tote was sideways on your back?
Four clicks later, I was in the car – tea perfectly safe – headed toward a meeting I didn’t want to miss with yet another amazing family volunteer.
Casey was clumsy on the curb, and I was not quite balanced on my deck. All for the perfect shots. And both at almost the same time. Sharing behaviors.
We freak me out sometimes.
p.s. I’m guessing if we cause a big enough stink, Casey will post her photo to a blog. If only….
I married well. Sure, I helped pay for the Big 10 education, but it was my husband who repaired the lamp.
Look at her shine.
.p.s. She never left the kitchen table, where she is seen here. She spent the weekend being poked and prodded, but she came through like a champ. If you are wondering what in the world I am talking about, click here.
I clearly heard my grandfather in my head this morning. When I reached over my desk and turned the switch and the click wasn’t the same, I heard him say, “They just don’t make things like they used to.”
Now, honestly, they don’t. My office desk lamp was the current casualty in a line of things that are not made to last as long as I think they should.* It had been a gift to me for high school graduation from one of my mother’s friends. A person nameless to me now. The lamp went with me to a year at Mizzou and did even greater duty providing the decorative impetus for me to outfit my first cubicle with red accents – stapler, incoming and outgoing metal baskets, metal pencil cup, desk lamp. Maybe even a trash can, the underneath of my first desk eluding me from this distance of time.
It was still doing duty at my current desk when the tragedy occurred. This is a great lamp. One hundred watt limit allowing for serious illumination then – when graphic design was key to my employment – and now – when my reading-glass-swaddled eyes need the boost of decent light. A weighted bottom so it can be contorted into any shape or direction. Metal-on-metal tension screws for fixing the direction of the arms and the shade.
My corded friend just recently had an appointment with my husband due to a small popping noise where the bulb met metal. It never smoked or sparked, and he was able to find and fix the problem very soon after begging me to unplug in before it “fried”. His words; pure drama.
Today it didn’t even make the right clicking sound as I turned it on, but I still went looking for another bulb, and, when that wasn’t the problem, I checked that it was plugged in. Little troubleshooting things that are in my electrical skill set.
I did not tear up when unplugging it from the wall, although I was tested by the voice and my sporadic attachment to inanimate objects. Instead, I took a deep breath and walked toward the dumpster. Where I instead gently placed it in the back seat of my parked car on a soft, folded sheet.
Home to my husband, where I promptly received “the look” when my intentions were made apparent. It was placed on the kitchen table – by me – because things in that location have a tendency to be dealt with over the coming weekend.
“Is it too much to ask that things are built to last?” I remember another grandfather saying, most likely over something greater than an inexpensive desk lamp. I can’t really say.
I am praying for a positive outcome from the impending surgery. Thirty years isn’t really so much to ask for from a desk lamp, is it?
My grandfathers wouldn’t think so, I just know it.
* STUFF vacuums. Don’t get me started.
p.s. Tell me you can’t see and feel its jaunty personality from these photos! Pixar Studios has nothing on my sweet little lamp. Heck, it’s older than their first films!
A little over a week ago, there was a post on my Facebook from friends vacationing on the other side of the world from where I was sitting. The shot was lovely – full of a glorious sunset, tanned legs & feet, and smiles you could not see.
I caught this at end end of my work day before packing up my computer and heading off for the 5:15 carpool run. It stuck with me through the arrival of talkative and sweaty cross country boys. It stayed with me through dropping off my child and picking up my husband. We had plans that night, but first I wanted to see the sunset. Just like my friends half a world away.
So we drove downtown to Quality Hill and caught the last few minutes of a Missouri/Kansas sunset. I was hell-bent to see it. Something in my day beyond the Facebook post was telling me to live now. To see the sunset now.
Something telling me that days are limited and sunsets are not just for vacation. That this is it.
p.s. The park at 8th and Jefferson is one of Kansas City’s best spots for seeing the river, the planes in and out of Municipal Airport, and great sunsets. Just go. Trust me.