Yard Sale Frenzy

(reprint of an email sent out to our mailing list on memorial weekend)

Hope you are enjoying the long weekend!

Hi and hello – it’s Merlin from JustZen – today with a little report about the traditional yard and garage sale frenzy we experience here in our little mountain cummunity – the home of the JustZen coporate head quarter (I like to say that ‘coporate head quarter’ thingy because that makes our little tie-dye enterprize look so important.)  😉

Every year, on the long memorial weekend, the natives of our little community get into a frenzy – garages and storage spaces are emtied into the drive way. And the amazing situation is that the surrounding communities know about it!

Where you normally see the occasional car driving through a residsential street, now you have a traffic jam of predetors on the prowl for loot – the crap-hound is on the loose.

Sometimes you find some really good deal. On our first experience of this frenzy two years ago, for example, we found an 18 speed mountain bike for our son, Zen, for 15 bucks. Another 30 or 40 to fix minor things and he was all set, so that he never had to ask his parents to drive him somewhere again. (That, by the way, was withful thinking only.)

This year it was different for our son – he wanted to participate in the frenzy in an active role. He collected things, he could let go, over the last few month, got up really early on the first day of the frenzy and was ready for the crap-hounds.

It did not quite work as well as hoped for but at the end of the second day he off-loaded some of his ‘stuff’ and is some 20 bucks richer.

One interesting and comforting lesson we all learned: I encouraged him to believe in the honesty of potential customers and he set up a self service yard sale. The problem was that he was absolutely itching to go around and find good deals also, so he could not remain in his own yard all the time to watch his ‘stuff.’ Obviously he first wanted to hire me to sit and be his sales person while he was on the prowl.

I was not too eager to do that so we came up with the solution that he made a sign with the prices and a note to go up to the door and pay when they found something – and that worked great!

The next morning our son had to solve another problem – his dad – me – had worked very late and was still sleeping when the frenzy started and Zen also wanted to prowl – in other words, dad was not available to accept any payments. So Zen came up with the idea to just have a big box with a slot where buyers could leave their money for stuff they wanted.

And it worked! When hunger finally drove me out of bed, there was money in the box – not much, but enough to convince us, people in general are cool and honest.

Pity that Gigi missed the frenzy but she is at a show up in central California, at the Strawberry Festival in Arroyo Grande (Booth# A 31) – so skilful, how I weaved in this bit of information, yes? But should you be up there and plan to go only to see her, check with me first please. As I write this, late at night between Saturday and Sunday, it is not quite clear if she will still be there on Sunday. Normally at shows of more than one day, the participants just close up the booth and security is provided to watch. But in Arroyo Grande the city made everybody tear down and put up the display again in the morning. Gigi might not want to do this – it’s too tough.

So I thought that instead I will offer free shipping to everybody in the area up there. But hold on, that would not be fair to everybody who is not in Central CA – – – OK, free shipping for everybody for this long weekend  <grin>.

Peace-Up and Cheers,


PS: to get free shipping this weekend please use the rebate code prs88708 on checkout.

PPS: I really have to go to bed now, so excuse any spelling errors still in this email – – good night!

Gigi at the strawberry festival in Oxnard, CA

(email sent out to our mailing list)


just in case you missed it – the world was supposed to end yesterday. Looks like that did not work out quite as planned. Or maybe it did happen and I just have not noticed yet. A bit like in the movie Ghost where the character played by Patrick Swayze first runs after his attacker before he notices that is is actually dead.

Anyways, let’s assume that everything is all right, so Gigi really is at the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, CA this weekend.

Hey, you have to admit that this was pretty smart how I wove that bit of information in there, huh?

Here is another piece of information that is essential for living a fulfilled live: The pound key (#) on the keyboard is called an octothorpe – Well, now you know why they call it a pound key!  Can you imagine going through the prompts the next time you go to pay your phone bill and the voice on the other end tells you to hit the octothorpe key?

OK, I admit that might not be such an essential piece of information. But it’s my sneaky attempt to first give you some information before I ask you for something in return.

I want to ask about our one and only accessory – no, not the tie-dye motor-cycle – but our necklaces. When Gigi is out there at shows, these things sometimes fly off the neck of her dummy/dress form in front of her booth – but at the web site there is hardly any interest for them.

So, I wonder, are they too well hidden to be found or are they just not right? If you could let me honestly know, that would help me out quite a bit.

Sushi and the Art of Dressing Correctly

Yours truly did not always appreciate the type of clothing that now makes up a bigger part of his life. Quite the opposite, I have to admit. In fact, clothing was hardly on my mind and did not warrant any consideration. ‘Dressed for the occasion’ was not something I had in my vocabulary.

Let me tell you a little story of my first encounter with the idea of dressing appropriately. It has not directly to do with sushi but let me get back to that later – first a bit of background.

Those were the seventies and I was just at the age where you question everybody and everything. One of the things that was questioned was the necessity of a haircut, in other words, I had long, very long hair, and the other one was the type of clothing that my parents would have approved of, in other words, I wore the non-conformist uniform, blue jeans and a t-shirt. OK, OK, so I probably was a hippie.

It was the last year of high school, in Germany that would be grade 13, and we went on a field trip to the (then divided) Berlin. It sure was an interesting experience. First crossing the border into East Germany. East German border patrol entering the train and asking everybody “Papers pleease,” intimidating all of us despite our intention not to be intimidated by this type of GeStaPo. Then a few hours of travel through ‘enemy’ territory and finally another border crossing into the island of capitalism within the eastern block – West Berlin! A city that had money pumped in by the west to create a real eye sore within it’s surrounding communist empire. We loved it!

After settling in at the youth hostel on ‘Kurt Schuhmacher Square’ we started to explore the city. A whole week to see museums, visit East Berlin on a one day visa (Berliners called the fee for the visa ‘admission’) and experiencing everything this city had to offer.

And now I finally come to the point of this story. One of these experiences was a visit at a Japanese restaurant. Japanese presence in Germany was very thin at that time. To my knowledge there were only two Japanese restaurants in all of Germany, one in DĂźsseldorf, and the other one in Berlin. A few of us decided to spend a bigger part of our allowance on a Japanese meal.

We were in for a treat. With the presence of Japanese culture so rare, the few places that represented Japan in Germany were very authentic. Entering this restaurant at the Europa Center in the very center of West Berlin was like entering a different world. Fortunately the personnel did speak German but beside that we were in Japan. The waitresses even wore traditional kimonos.

Right there my lesson started. Entering this new world in our non-conformist uniforms of jeans and t-shirts made me feel uncomfortable. At that time I was able to suppress that feeling but just the fact that I still remember this after many decades shows you the intensity of the lesson and how much effort it took to suppress the discomfort of not fitting in.

I have to say that the staff of this restaurant was very accommodating. No remark, not even a disapproving glance at this bunch of misfits. We were treated with the utmost hospitality and this was the place where I was taught how to handle chop sticks properly for the rest of my life.

The lesson that I learned was to honor a host by adhering to his culture as much as possible. Just to forget for a moment my own point of view, however rebellious and righteous it might be. All will feel more comfortable. That does not need to mean that I have to forget the reason for my rebellion, but from this level of comfort the assessment who the target of the rebellion should be can be done with a much clearer view.

After this I certainly still wore my non-conformist uniform most of the time, but I was able to don shirt and tie when it was appropriate.

I wish I could say that we had sushi that night at the Japanese restaurant because then the title of this post would match the content – but I can’t. We had sukiyaki, which impressed us all so much that we had a cook-out at one of our friends’ house a few weeks later to try it ourselves. But I claim my writers latitude of twisting things around a bit to make them fit. In this case I feel that ‘suhi’ in the title works better than ‘sukiyaki.’ We could as well have had suhsi, but I did not even know what that was at the time and I am sure that I was in good company with the vast majority of my fellow Germans, all lacking this education and knowledge.

Now you might wonder what’s the point of all of this. After all I am the master of mudmee tie-dye now, so, how does JustZen’s wearable art fit into all this? Easy, if you go to the opera, don’t wear our clothes, but for everything else – you’ll be fine!


PS: Should you have any doubt that my story is true, you gotta watch this little slide show of vintage photos of our trip to Berlin. There are, unfortunately, no photos of our visit to the Japanese restaurant, but the pictures from the ice rink are just feet away. At that time the ‘Europa Center’ had this ice rink at the ground level and the Japanese restaurant was on the next level up. And who is yours truly? Did I mention that I had pretty long hair?

To all of you who have a mother…

(reprint of the newsletter send out mother’s day weekend 2011)

Happy Mother’s Day – Merlin here with something to say this time…

I know, the subject line is more or less pointless, because, let’s be honest, how many of you don’t have a mother? However I wanted to stress how easily they can be taken for granted when they are certainly not.

I thought about what would be an appropriate picture for today and decided to show you the image that Shelli sent in for our customer gallery.


Don’t you think this is a nice picture for mother’s day – working together with the daughter, to help her becoming proud and confident?

Now let me tell you a bit about my mom, and a little bit of a miracle that happened about and with her. If you are not interested, stop here, I promise there is no other  important information down there…

My mom has passed on long ago, and I am not sad about that, as she had had a good and fulfilled life when she said good-bye after about 80 years.

I can say that I was very lucky with her as she was not only my mom, but also a friend. We did not necessarily love each other all the time (she might have though) but we always had great respect for each other. Funny enough, my respect was firmly established when she told me that I was being kicked out should I not stop being such a disturbance to the family. Yup, the threat of being kicked out did that!

And why? Because that was the biggest display of personal integrity that I could imagine. She sure loved me, but she would not compromise her own reality that the basis for a good family was the security and sanity of that family. And I was spreading unrest during this time of growing up. So despite her love she would kick me out – – obviously it worked – I mended my evil ways and could stay. I then started to contribute to the family instead of bringing turmoil.

And now the bit of a miracle I promised in the beginning. My mom had not always been the oh, so positive and stable person. Just the opposite, until I was 13 or 14, she had actually been controlled, to a big degree, by her fears – that something bad would happen – to the kids, to my dad (who had a dangerous job) and to any or all – nothing in particular.

And then one summer, she had to go away on a trip with my dad for a few weeks while aunt Elsa baby-sat my sister and I.

She came back a totally different person. On her trip, she had met this old lady, a retired nurse, who apparently found just the right words and information mom needed, to get a new slant on life. From that moment on she was a very positive person, seeing no danger around her any more, even in (apparently) negative situations, saw the good that would come out of it.

Sure, she annoyed the pessimists and nay-Sayers, but we considered this a small price to pay. This experience gave me the confidence that instant changes to the positive are possible to such a big extent as to call them miracles.

In this sense, if you are a mother, my deepest respect to you, and if you are not, please say ‘hi’ to your mom from me.

Peace-Up and Cheers,

PS: OK, so I lied above when I said there would be no more important information – I do have some info that I want to pass on – Gigi is at the Sunset Beach Art Festival, close to Huntington Beach in California (Booth# 517corner) this weekend.

Nothing important – just idle chit-chat

(reprint of the newsletter send out the weekend after Easter 2011)

Happy Week after Easter – Merlin tuning in with nothing to say…

no, really! There are no announcements where Gigi is this weekend – still in Thailand, no new items added to the site, no snow here at the JustZen Corporate headquarters…

But maybe I can tell about some great photos we already received from some of you for our customer gallery. Here is a really cool one that was taken when Andrea was stuck in a tent during a snow storm…

Is this a cool picture, or What? Speaking of pictures – and  Andrea – you should check out her web site – she creates amazing animal portraits.

Peace-Up and Cheers,

PS: A bit timid to tell you this but some of you might enjoy the story. Prompted by some scenes in the latest Doctor Who episode we watched today, I revisited an old flying story I had written many years ago. Today I re-published it on my private blog. It’s a bit long so don’t go there if you are in a rush – otherwise let me know what you think: I was there before Doctor Who.