Is there anything worse than the Winter doldrums? Cold temperatures, gray skies, and gloom and doom seem to hover everywhere. Of course, there is something worse. It is the Winter doldrums during a pandemic. Since our only travel and entertainment options are carry-out pickup and drive-by window shopping the need for distracting busy work starts to cloud our thoughts.
Now, there are many ways to engage idle minds - chores, games, puzzles, spiritual enlightenment, personal grooming, and practicing ancient voodoo rituals (okay, it is a stretch, but the idle human mind is a complex thing).
Resisting the voodoo temptation, I chose the delightful path of chores as my lockdown distraction. Sadly, the lack of last year's Spring cleaning prompted a Winter doldrums nightmare. Trash bags full of 'why the hell did I keep this' accumulated quickly in the middle of the room.
And then it happened. I found a huge bag of collectible Budweiser Anniversary bottle caps. This is where a video blog might deliberately start to blur and contort to suggest a flashback. So, let's go there. Hobbies. Another great pandemic distraction. What makes us jump off on wild tangents of creativity?
In 2001, I decided to leave life in the fast lanes of California and migrate to any place where a seven-mile commute did not take hours. That adventure took me to Southern Maine. Having been a faithful San Francisco 49ers fan for 20 years I would venture out on Sundays to a local sports bar to watch their games. Dressed head-to-toe in Niner garb I learned very quickly in New England, you are a Patriots fan or else! This was not up for discussion. While I met really fun people, I was still badgered every week for my choice of team apparel. I eventually caved-in to peer pressure and started a guilty search for Patriot gear when it happened. I found Canadian beer bottle caps with NFL logos on them, including the Patriots. What could I do with those little gems?
Now, with only devilish intentions, I made earrings out of those bottle caps. When I was slammed for my Niner duds at the next game, I pointed to my ears. "Hey. I'm trying," I quipped with a sarcastic giggle in my voice, thinking it was hilariously trashy and tasteless. I was wrong. I walked out of that bar a star with 28 orders for Patriots earrings, and one poor brave soul secretly asking if I could find Steeler caps. I even had people hand me the bottle caps from their beer that day and asked me if I could convert them. “Do you have any old Coca-Cola caps? My mother-in-law would love this. I don’t care what it costs,” asked another. That launched a side business that lasted 14 years and put ridiculous amounts of festival profits in my pockets.
My product line grew from earrings to bracelets, pendants, lapel pins, and refrigerator magnets, to cap-shingled birdhouses, toilet seat lids, serving trays, tabletops, and home decor. With the help of a friend, we added hand-crafted cap-themed jean purses and doubled the booth size. I once overheard a booth neighbor on my first day of a new festival say to his counterpart, “She is going to die on the vine.” Hours later, with crowds 4-people deep, sold-out displays and groves of special orders, I smiled at these guys while watching their dropped jaws resting painfully on the ground.
Flash-forward to now. I still have mounds of collectible caps that need a new home; but never say 'ridiculous' to any crazy idea that might jump in front of you like a deer in headlights. Board that crazy train and see where it goes. Winter doldrums might just knock your socks off. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.