Gorgeous carved spinning wheel by Q’s Quality Wood Work.
There was much to see over the weekend at the Black Sheep Gathering. Colorful felt, spinning wheels, yarn bowls, drop spindles, weavings, books, yarn, yarn, and more yarn. When we first went to set up our booth, we explained to Bracken that we wouldn’t be setting up our booth at the Saturday Market like usual, but at the Black Sheep Gathering. He started calling it “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and when I woke him up in the morning he said “Baa Baa Black Sheep day!” The time that our family visited the Black Sheep Gathering before, Jeff mentioned that he felt kind of claustrophobic inside the building and I agreed (it happened to be very noisy and crowded that day.) We requested an outdoor space when we applied for the show and after doing the show for the weekend, we were both glad we did that. We did get rained on at the very beginning and some of our stuff got soaked (and the wind was inconvenient with our display at times), but the rest of the weekend had beautiful weather and it was wonderful to be outside. Here’s a peek inside our booth.
I snapped this picture of our sign before we set everything else up. It was a quick, last minute sign, but I’m happy with how it turned out. (We printed it out, got it laminated, and Jeff attached it to a piece of wood.) As far as the sign goes, we mostly had buttons and only a few wool things. We didn’t bring any of our herbal products because we were running so low, only having enough for an online order here and there.
The display for the shawl pins that I wrote about last week.
The sale buttons were more popular than we could have imagined. The glass container we originally had them in was good in that people could see them from a distance, but actually trying to search through it didn’t work out as well so we moved it to a basket instead. After seeing how popular they were the first day, Jeff came home that night and grabbed the rest of the buttons that we didn’t have time to tie on cards for the show and put them in the basket as well. So, there were some perfectly good buttons in there. It was so fun to watch people’s excitement when they found buttons they loved. It was like a treasure hunt. By the end of the weekend, we only had a small amount of our seconds buttons left. We’ll definitely be doing that more.
I was looking forward to meeting the sweet family behind Armadillo Dreams, when Amanda told me they were coming to the show. When they visited the booth, though, Bracken and I had left to get some food to bring back. Knowing I would be bummed to miss meeting them in person, Jeff took a picture of them in front of our booth for me. I love this picture of them.
We had friends visit throughout the weekend, which was really fun, and met many new people. It was a really great show for us, which we felt so grateful for, and we were so happy with the positive response we got there. Bracken and I visited the sheep and goats regularly (later Bracken pretended to be a sheep and wanted me to give him a “haircut” like we had watched the sheep being sheared at the show.) Our booth neighbors made beautiful spinning wheels and told us about a child who came in their booth once and destroyed a 3,000 dollar spinning wheel. Whoops. We made the rule Bracken wasn’t allowed to go inside their booth, but he wanted to visit his new friends and say hi regularly, which meant he always wanted to be in front of their booth and I was afraid he would be blocking their booth too much. Plus, when they were talking to customers, he would interrupt to chat. So I tried to keep him moving. Bracken has been used to going to the Saturday Market since he was a baby and knows not to touch the ceramics and to be gentle with other things (there are some booths where he is allowed to touch things), but he’s at a hands-on age and that makes me constantly vigilant, which can be exhausting. He was a bit of a handful over the weekend, out of sorts and not his usual self. Things got pretty challenging and a few times we just got in the car and left to run some errands. Hanging out in the booth wasn’t really an option. Bracken wouldn’t stay in there long and Jeff was busy (yay!) and needed his full concentration. I knew heading up to the show that three days in a row would be too much for Bracken and wondered about staying home for one day, while Jeff ran the booth. We would have done just that, but I wanted to help Jeff set up on Friday, tear down on Sunday, and wanted to deliver a custom order Jeff made for someone to the market on Saturday. On Friday we were at the show for most of the day and Bracken and I left to run a few errands. On Saturday Bracken and I went to the Saturday Market to deliver an order, say hi to friends, and pick some things up at the farmer’s market. Bracken usually has a nap every day and getting up extra early two mornings in a row, plus two days in a row without a nap, made him very tired. Instead of being sleepy, though, he was wired and mixed that with fruit overload on his sensitive system. The week up to the show was hard for him too because our pace was so fast. There were times Jeff and I looked at each other with wide eyes, when Bracken wasn’t listening to a word we said and was being a crazy thing. Saturday afternoon we left Jeff at the booth, got in the car, and just started driving. It took about two seconds for Bracken to fall asleep in the car seat. I should have used that method the day before. When he was little, he would just take his naps in the Ergo while we were at market, but as he’s gotten older the naps usually get skipped that day. Skipping it once a week is not such a big deal, but too many days in a row is not good news. Anyway, we picked up Jeff at the end of the day and Bracken slept the whole way home. Sunday morning, day three, I woke up with a migraine. Jeff insisted I stay home with Bracken. We both felt it would be best for Bracken to be home that day anyway, but I was worried about Jeff tearing down the booth by himself.
Why? It’s something I haven’t written about here yet. Now’s as good a time as any to tell you. I guess I’ve mentioned here and there that Jeff has had sciatic pain, but we weren’t ready to fully discuss it here until we felt we had more of a handle on things. For quite some time, Jeff has had a lot of pain when he walks for too long or drives for too long. Before, at the market, Jeff and I would take turns running the booth and walking Bracken around market. I usually walked with Bracken the most, but we would switch a bit here and there. Starting around Holiday Market time, that wasn’t an option for Jeff anymore. He stayed in the booth all day and I walked Bracken around. This year at the Saturday Market, if you’ve been wondering why you haven’t seen Jeff walking around the market much at all, that’s why. Before he almost always drove the car and I sat in the passenger seat and knit. These days I do most of the driving. Jeff can drive if he needs to, but if we can avoid it we do as much as possible. For awhile we were really confused about all the health problems he was experiencing and it was scary. Jeff has a higher pain tolerance than anyone I’ve ever met, so if he says he’s in pain I know it must be pretty bad. He’s had back pain over the years, but what he’s been dealing with these days is a whole other level.
At May Faire this year, Bracken and I left to get some groceries at the end of the day, while Jeff tore down the booth. We came back to pick up Jeff and carry our stuff across the field to our car, but when we arrived Jeff had already started transporting much of it. Right when I saw him, I could tell by the look on his face that he was in a lot of pain. I kicked myself for not getting there sooner to carry things, I didn’t know he would tear it down so fast. All that walking across the field made him in a lot of pain. By the time we got the car loaded and were driving home, he was in the passenger seat in extreme pain. On a scale from one to ten, he said he was at a level ten. I’ve never seen him in so much pain. (The type of sciatica pain he gets is sometimes compared to childbirth.) I was afraid he was going to go into shock or something. That really scared us. Jeff did lots of research. Before, our doctor didn’t know what to make of it. Then he retired and Jeff switched to a doctor he had gone to a long time ago. That doctor didn’t know either. He had some ideas and one of his only options offered was painkillers, which wasn’t the route Jeff wanted to go. But Jeff asked him to refer him to a physical therapist, which we felt would help. We would have loved to bring Jeff to the chiropractor regularly, but it’s cost prohibitive for us and our insurance doesn’t cover it. Our insurance covers physical therapy. On the very first appointment, the physical therapist pinpointed exactly what was going on. He’s only had two appointments so far, but they’ve been really helpful. What he is dealing with is very slow to recover. It’s a long process. It’s making us rethink everything. It’s not just walking that is a problem, he’s also had problems with his elbow and his hands. When he sands, carves, woodburns, and does all the other things his work requires, over and over again, it’s been wearing on his body. And his body has been rebelling in a big way. It’s hard when something you love causes you pain. He doesn’t want to stop working and making things. But we do need to come up with new ways of doing things that is not harmful to his body. Since he can explain it better than I can, in his words: “Basically I have Sciatica caused by piriformis syndrome, where the piriformis muscle pinches the nerve. The theory is it was caused by my shifting back and forth as I work for long stretches on my sanding machine. Also have “carvers elbow”…same thing as tennis elbow minus the free time to play tennis.”
It’s been a big learning experience for our family. It’s been hard for all of us. Hard for me to see someone I love in pain. Scary to see someone who has always seemed so strong and invincible, drained by constant pain. But, of course it’s been by far the hardest for Jeff. Since I met Jeff, he has always been on the move. If you know Jeff, you know he likes to be moving and doing things all the time. Upon meeting him, I was blown away by all that he could accomplish in a day, I had never met anyone who could be so insanely productive. So, if there was anyone I could think of who would have the hardest time not being able to move and having physical limitations, it would be him. Honestly, much of his life he worked his body like a machine. Now it’s taking it’s toll and forcing him to do things differently. It hasn’t only been challenging for our business, but for our entire lifestyle. The life we’ve chosen requires a lot of energy and a lot of physical work every day. I can’t imagine how frustrated he feels when things he used to do easily before are so challenging now. He can only work in the garden for so long. Or around the place. Splitting firewood is not the same as it used to be. Sometimes even walking in the grocery store is too much. But his spirit is just as strong as ever.
Even though Jeff and I have always been close, I feel like all of this has brought us even closer together because it’s more important than ever for us to work as a team. Teamwork is how we accomplish everything in our daily life. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Even though it’s been hard, I feel like it will end up being better for everyone in the long run because we’ll be able to arrange our life to be more sustainable for our bodies and to find a better balance. When things get hard, I keep praying for the lesson. We keep searching for answers. Change is hard, but the changes we make will be for the better. What now? He just ordered a sciatica belt and has exercises to do on a regular basis. We’re learning as we go. One day at a time. So, to make a long story short, that’s why I didn’t want Jeff to have to tear the booth down by himself and do too much walking when he loaded the car at the show on Sunday. But he had help and it all turned out okay. (By the way, so I don’t forget, our Wooly Moss Roots Etsy Shop is open again.)
We’re open to new ideas and new solutions, and more are coming in all the time. It’s time for us to be creative and flexible. Sometimes we have to ask for help, which isn’t easy for us, but I know it’s good for us.