Storing CD’s as a teenager, the cases stood upwards, and the front of the case had its face smashed into the back of the next. In their horizontal stacking, each ribbed top could be removed with the downwards touch of the index finger. Sure, maybe its neighbors would try to plead for their turn in the player, but they would get nudged back with the front edge of the finger until their time was due. The variety of tunes on that corner shelf unit was to the likes of Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope, Hootie & The Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, Boyz II Men’s II, The Wallflowers’ Bringing Down the Horse, Babyface’s The Day, while downstairs, my parents had the albums of Johnny Cash, The Cars, The Beatles, & Van Halen. Country music filled an early life, and with deep wonder, was it the Walkman karaoke to those Wynonna cassettes that developed the Elvis muscle on my upper left lip, or was that a hereditary muscle that was always there? That muscle made my connection to Wynonna feel real, feel validated. Wynonna could belt out a deep, velvety growl that would shake my core and make me dance from my toes. The sensation from music was always rhythm to me. On a trip to Chicago in 1997, there’s this memory being in the Virgin Records store, and the sultry sound of Janet Jackson’s Got ‘Til It’s Gone owning the vibe (not overlooking its homage to the great Joni Mitchell). That sound was so new, so full of beat to my ears. Back home in Northwest Ohio, the spending of chore-earning cash was monitored. Without that surveillance, a library of DJ material would most certainly be collecting the bunnies in our attic now. A shining report card from those middle school years was presented like a shiny gesture of achievement for the reward of being granted the privilege to purchase Janet’s album. I recall the approval!! :)
It was during those years that Wal-Mart was settling in real comfy-like, and the local music store on our town square feeling a bit of cool air from lost sales. Growing up in the small town, the “to-do” was always traveling to The City for eats and entertainment. Shopping small was not chic in the eyes of my generation. I vividly recall my dad’s words that he would rather patron the small guy on the square than send those dollars to this new Big Box shopping fad. It’s the hope of our rightful intention that will save mortared joint operations. It’s the reality that suffocates the existence and vacates the windows.
Recalling those days of Big Box infiltration, was it the inclusive experience of one store having it all to shop for? The aisles of Lisa Frank stationary, the picture-developing counter, the automotive department for those oil changes and tire rotations were where hours could be spent browsing the decorative frames, the linens, and the aquariums that created the shopping fascination. Technology sped up, and the digital camera, no longer needing those rolls of film, began to estrange the need of checking the boxes for “Single” or “Double” prints. Wal-Mart began the supermarket food expansion, and the aura took on a lowly lit facility, replacing the white ACT tile from the ceiling above. It just got sad.
All these years later, time is just a question of how we save it. We don’t really have it. I remember facing a moral dilemma in my career. If a client was paying me to fix a hinge on a salvageable door that needed a good Windex bath, could I just pick up that screwdriver and right the hinge? No. Because that door needed a cleanse, and I care. I care more about taking care of that door than I do about the profit from time. That simple reality is why I could not serve that career. Years of all-nighters, years of original thought, years of mental indoctrination. It’s so easy to feel like it was all flushed down the drain, but it was the education of that on-the-fly learning and skill development that still serves my need today. Baby, I can alter those graphics and work Photoshop if my life depended on it. There’s a sense of self-accountability that both me and my husband believe in. It may be the home-repairs, accounting, or maybe even baking needs that we independently rely on.
My gift as a mother to each of my daughters is always a birthday cake from scratch. It’s this frosting recipe of dissolving granulated sugar into egg whites in a double boiler that I just swear by. Of course, adding that sifted powdered sugar (trust me, that labor is worth the silkiness for piped embellishment), butter, coconut oil, and flavoring is necessary to complete the proper frosting profile. These cakes consume a few hours of creation, but like my mother, they are my gift. My mom’s creativity and excitement of color-striped frosting bags would create more than endearing cakes in my childhood, they also equipped us to decorate her notorious Christmas Cut-Out Cookies. That cookie recipe will be eternal in our family. As well as her “Not too much flour, just a little, it doesn’t need much” motto for the dough-rolling step. The labor of these experiences is so much more than time. They create the golden threads in our memories.
It’s the hard way that feels authentic about what I have built, what I have made. From the product descriptions to the website photography, this is my creation. Those descriptions, I composed from my own art of language. Those pictures, from my own photo shoot. And this soap, as pure as I can make. As much dependency that technology, fragranced chemicals, and ingredient substitutes like palm oil can offer, it is the essence of purity that allures my being.
For those who love a good recipe, see below:
GRETCHEN’S BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 6 large egg whites @room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups of white sugar
- 2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
- 3/4 cup of shortening @room temperature (I substitute for melted coconut oil here)
- 2 cups unsalted butter @room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (or experiment with other flavors!)
- In a double boiler, dissolve white sugar in egg whites until temperature reaches 115°F (pasteurized temperature).
- Immediately remove mixture from stovetop and place in mixer. Mix with whisk attachment for 10 minutes.
- Once egg whites/sugar are whipped, add powdered sugar.
- Once combined, then add butter, shortening and vanilla extract.
- Finally, switch the attachment out and install a paddle. Mix with the paddle attachment until the frosting is smooth (like velvet!).
- Ignite your creativity and separate the frosting into different bowls to add food colorings to.