WAXING POETIC HEROS: Granite Mountain Hotshots

Blog When we first saw the news about the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona at the end of June, we were horrified/amazed/overwhelmed/etc., but it was still ‘just’ a news story – the ‘just’ in here is important, as is its fleetingly appropriate use… Arizona isn’t that far from Waxing Poetic HQ, after all, and California is an equally flammable place in terms of native foliage/dry seasons/high winds. We are neighbors, and friends.

When we learned from one of our longest employees that a friend of hers from high school, Sean Misner of Santa Ynez, was one of the 19 brave members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots (the semi-official name of the inter-agency firefighting crew deployed to the scene) gave his life to stop the fire (and save the lives of countless others – humans, wildlife, pets, and passing strangers all alike…), it stopped being only a ‘story,’ or a ‘tragedy,’ but became, in an admittedly protracted way, familiar.

Nothing is ever ‘just’ a news item. No one is ever ‘just’ by themselves – and yet sometimes, too often maybe, we forget. Life is precious, fragile, and sometimes far too short. One might make the last part of that assertion is certainly the case for the firefighters who passed away in the Yarnell inferno, but we’d beg them to consider another possibility: that the heroes lost on that day weren’t lost so much as given, of their own will + selflessness, to the cause of life for everyone else.

Of Sean Misner, his friend and our Waxing Poetic comrade told us this:

He was kind. He was brave. He played football with her brother. He was always smiling. He liked to make people laugh. He made people’s days on a regular basis. He was the brightspot in her doldrums-of-summer summer job, as well as the bright spot in probably everyone’s job that summer at Los Olivos Grocery.

We also heard this:

He loved his wife, fiercely and deeply. He loved his job. He loved his family, his life, and his particular chances. He had found his own ‘worthy vocation’ in being a firefighter, and never once wanted to do anything else thereafter.

For Information about the Yarnell Emergency Fire Fund, please visit  The United Way of Yavapai County.

Fresh and Local: Farmer’s Market Poetry in the Making

Sometimes, a trip to the farmer’s market results in organic veggies, and sometimes, one is sidetracked by something random and strange, and lovely (the sidetracked one in this case is our own Jessica, a creative always on the lookout for an odd diversion).

Here, a street poet interprets one of her Waxing Poetic necklaces, rendering a poem, on the spot, like some sort of open framework jazz…

Carpinteria Farmer's Market Street Poetry

Carpinteria Farmer's Market Street Poetry


Waxing Poetic Muse of the Moment: Patti Smith

Waxing Poetic Muse of the Moment: Patti Smith

Style and Substance and Stubbornness and STRAIGHT UP ROCK AND ROLL (and poems, always poems, and performance, and love, and all of that, and an uncanny and uncommon capacity to forgive and transform herself, her friends, her fans, her language of origin, her history, her loves, her family, the very definition of family, her place in the world both as a would-be-art-student kicking around Fort Greene Brooklyn during the rough-n-tumble years when one would go to classes at Pratt and then scurry away but Patti? OH NO SHE DID NOT.

Instead she and best friend/soul mate/collaborator/and true love (an unusual kind of love but a lasting brave transformative one ) Robert Mapplethorpe stuck it out in a leaking, all-but-condemned building where they made shrines to Love and classical poets, drew until their hands hurt, told stories, wrote music, made mischief and set things in motion for the eventual flights elsewhere (but never too far from each other, and certainly not too far from love).

Patti sometimes talks a little before her concerts (because so what if yes she’s a mama and been married and loved and lost and is well over the age she broke everyone’s hearts first with HORSES – life changing, ever so, and onward: she’s still performing and kicking to dust any rueful remarks that after a certain age, you really just shouldn’t…).

One of our friends saw her last year and reported back this: that Patti said something to the effect of she got into music because it was a way to connect further to love (and to the world! and to revolution! and all that wonder!) in a way that words could only do to a point –

because all the poems in the world are lonely little boats
waiting to be launched without a sea
of feeling or an ocean
of possibility and both of those things require
and the righteous backing of a most excellent band of fellow curious comrades…

and maybe too, maybe (we hope so, and in JUST KIDS she says as much…), the ‘magical’ inclusion of some self-invented style (a white shirt, skinny black pants, stompable boots, a wry smile…). So earnest it might be read as a sneer but listen a little more (turn up GLORIA on Spotify or whatever form you can find it right now) and just…be wowed with all this wonder. Patti was, and is. Also, she’s from Jersey (like the Pagliei sisters and a whole slew of our friends/fans at WP), and she’s tough, and gorgeous, and brilliant (and everything we hope to someday be.. as much as she has pulled off).

And humble. And how.  Here is a little gift for the tried-n-true, and new, Patti Smith fans: http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/patti-smith-advice-young



Our flagship Los Olivos Boutique turns 3..

We love the way back journeys, and here’s another.  The “Before and After” story of our Waxing Poetic Boutique in Los Olivos, California (which experienced some major TLC before we opened our doors to the public in  April 2010... read on!). It is every artist’s challenge, and dream: a blank canvas.  For us, this space was it.  A challenge and the most fun we have ever had (until we designed store #2 in Summerland!).  The interior of the boutique consists of a mix of custom woodwork and fixtures that were crafted from locally milled and carved Santa Ynez walnut, Italian artifacts, warm antiques, and lively “frescoupage” wall panels.   The “antiqued-up” décor and friend-crafted interior is a physical manifestation of  imaginative artistry and unique craftsmanship of our jewelry.  Check out the Before and Afters… The Main Floor: We paid homage to Patti’s familial and design roots and created an Italian inspired interior, combining the brand palette of mixed metals with the classical palette of oil paintings and old frescoes to come up with  the color scheme. Local artisan crafted fixtures, industrial antiques, old book, & letters, Italian artifacts and some of Patti’s personal objects were combined to bring Waxing Poetic into the space.

Main floor before Main Floor After
The Main Wall:The one main wall in the store was the perfect place for this large antique Italian armoire.  The back of the armoire was upholstered with a hand-blocked linen remnant from Raoul Textiles.  Custom jewelry stands were assembled from a mix of hand-carved walnut and antique corbels and decorative Italian architectural remnants.  Antique pig skin books and vintage objects create niche displays.  Ephemera from Patti’s collection are tacked to the fabric back, along with the story of the brand’s beginnings.
Main Wall BeforeMain Wall After
Bay Window Nook: “Frescoupage” walls were hand cut and installed on location by designer Stephanie Kheder.  The coffered trim on the panels was milled locally, again from reclaimed walnut wood.  We used 18th century Italian artifacts to create one of a kind mini shelves upon which to perch the jewelry.  The center fixture is a repurposed steel water fountain.  Hand carved local wood sills disguise the plain “contractor” grade windows.  Hand carved cornices with hand-gilt logo shields and metal colored striped scalloped curtains create a warm boutique vibe.
Bay Nook BeforeBay Nook After
Fireplace: The existing fireplace just didn’t work style or color-wise, so it was replaced with custom cut 6 x 12″ (12″ x 12″ tiles cut in half) tiles that were laid in a sleep custom floor-to-ceiling herringbone pattern.  The hearth was also removed so the tile could continue seamlessly to the floor, allowing room for the large display armoire.  The mantle is a piece of old Italian wood trim, customized with hand cut arch detail, upon which a blown up model shot rests.  Bronze library swing-arm lamps, re-upholstered, velvety tufted slipper chairs and an antique Italian hand-painted pedestal create a cozy seating area. Cash Wrap Area: Our cash wrap was custom made to fit the interior by Erich Riedl.  He used mis-matched 18th century Italian wood griffin feet as the base of the piece and created the rest to match, using cool burning LED lights that create a “float” effect.  The mirror was cut to spec and hand-distressed to burn in our logo in a very subtle way.  A small gold Italian regency chandelier from the owner’s childhood home personalizes the space.  Walls are Benjamin Moore “Champion Blue,” one of Waxing Poetic’s signature packaging colors. Chandelier/Ceiling: The chandelier is a reproduction set piece that was found at a local consignment store, re-gilded by Patti, and fitted with silicone-tipped bulbs to create a candle effect.  Looking over the store and blessing it is an 18th century oil painting of the Virgin Mary, from which much of the interior’s classical palette was pulled.  The walls are painted a warm stone color, to bring in more of the brand’s colors and tone down the wood ceiling.
Ceiling beforeCeiling after
So, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY and thanks for the memories!  We heavily-heart Los Olivos (and if this post goes up before May 5… come join our Cinco de Mayo party…  here’s your  invitation)

ENCOURAGEMENT and FRIENDSHIP or Sometimes when you think you are supposed to give it, you get it.

My dear friend Jen Lippman has breast cancer.

Jen has breast cancer.

Jen has cancer.

And I can’t sleep, because I am thinking about her.  I have a nightmare that I have cancer.  A nightmare that disturbs me during waking hours. And then, as snowball-effect scenarios often play out, other assorted worries pile on.  Life gets tough.

So I call my friend to comfort her… to check in and see if maybe I can make her feel better, because, after all, she is the one with cancer.  She needs me.

"Jen” I said…

I can’t wait to hear her voice on the other end, (this is always the case), but in an unexpected way, she is more vibrant these days, and our conversations are different… and her voice is more reassuring than ever.

“P! What’s up?”

I was going to ask Jen for an update.  How has she been dealing with the side effects of chemo?  How is her daughter handling all of this?   I was going to offer her some encouraging words (or just asking her if she needs anything, or how her week has been).  But instead, my own anxiety and fears spoke:  How can I be strong, when I don’t want to be?  How I care, but can’t do enough.  How I am being tested, with greater adversity at the moment than I feel I can possibly bear.   Too many decisions, too much responsibility, and the world feels all wrong…

What the hell am I doing, talking about my petty problems to my friend who is dealing with breast cancer?  What kind of friend am I?

I think I said all of that out load, and was reminded that we all have problems.  I learned over the next forty minutes that I had already overcome so much in my life (she was there) and how my current troubles are so small in comparison.  That things will be as they should be and I can handle it even if it isn’t the way I thought it should be.  We barely spoke about her cancer.  Instead, she encouraged me.

And on the other end of the line, I was grateful, saved, and inspired.  I have so much love in my heart for my friend.   She makes dealing with her cancer so much easier on all of us who love her (there are many), by loving us back more.

Thank you Jen.  You are one incredible friend.  I can’t wait to celebrate your recovery.


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