Ida, 5S, chile and the whole enchilada

[This post has been amended 10/5/07]
Ida is my landlady’s mother, she won’t let me take her picture. Ida is my friend (her grandson is autistic so she has a soft spot for me) and she’s been coming to help me straighten up the place. I am absorbed by stuff. I haven’t unpacked the boxes from when I moved in -over a year ago- and Ida is an organizing fanatic. I’m grateful because my executive functioning is very poor. Tuesdays and Thursdays we get dirty. Yesterday we found some 5 to 10 yard pieces of cashmere in camel, black and a beige/green hounds tooth, along with some black silk velvet that I’d forgotten I had. I took some before pictures last week and once the place gets more together, I’ll print the before and after shots. All in the interests of 5S of course.

[Amended to include the photo (below) of Ida. I swore I desperately needed a photo of this coat I made eons ago and told her that since I didn’t have a dress form, would she please model it? I can’t believe she agreed. I actually wanted this photo because it is the only known intact photo of her, and my real intention was to give it to her daughter and grandchildren. She destroys any photo of herself she finds. Btw, this coat sold pretty well. The shawl collar is a cow split, the blanket was a custom weave although the design of the buffalo isn’t original. The designer needed a buffalo silhouette to design the blanket and my ex had a buffalo tee shirt from a store in Tucson so we used that. The humor in it is that the tee design was messed up; its designer omitted the buffalo tail. True to form, my designer copied it exactly, never noticing the missing tail either. None of us noticed the missing tail until the jackets were plowing off the line.]

Speaking of 5S, this stands for Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke. Jon Miller over at Panta Rei (a lean manufacturing blog) posted his most recent synopsis from chapter 30 of Taiichi Ohno’s book (long out of print; Jon’s translating from his Japanese copy) which describes 5S as:

“Seiri (Sorting) is throwing out what you don’t need and Seiton (Straighten) is arranging items so that they are ready when you want them. Arranging things neatly is only Seiretsu (lining up in rows) and proper shop floor management requires Seiri and Seiton.”

Taiicho Ohno goes on to tell a story of when he visited a warehouse that was a mess. There was no order there and all incoming parts were stored so that even obsolete designs were kept for a long time. Ohno told them to do 2S and when he came back he found that they had done Seiretsu (lining up parts in neat rows) but they had not thrown anything out or put items in their proper place. So he scolded them.

Jon very eloquently and simply describes lean so I hope you’ll have occasion to visit him soon. I’d bought a book on 5S last Christmas -ostensibly as a gift for my husband; our gifts to each other are suspiciously self-serving- but I haven’t read it yet. Eric: there is no need to comment, thank you very much. Anyway, back to Ida and my 5S project.

Last Thursday Ida didn’t come and I missed her. I’d bought all the angle iron for shelving at the hardware store on my way to work. I like the little hardware store up the street from my office. It’s an old place and one of the few businesses with a bicycle rack.It is amazing how few businesses provide a place to lock up. Ida had gone to pick chile somewhere north of Derry with her brother who had just came into town -for the annual trek to get chile. That sounds like a good time. Ida said later they only picked about 110 lbs and that they would have gotten more had the fields not been so wet and such fertile ground for mosquitoes.

This is chile season; officially autumn in the southwest. I should have told you about that. The tempo of life changes a little in chile season. Our swallows leave, their third brood bred and gone. Farms are close in all around us, so chile season is a big deal. You can buy 30 pound bags of it at Albertson’s and have it roasted in the parking lot. Some people make chile season an annual family reunion activity and find a place to pick their own chile which they then roast en mass. Hundreds of pounds of it. When chile season comes, there’s an undeniable crispness in the morning air but this year I feel cheated. It rained so much of the last two months that I feel we didn’t get our full due of summer (my favorite season) so it can’t be fall already. I hate running and biking in the cold.

Last weekend was another official harbinger of Autumn, the annual The Whole Enchilada Festival which is by turns so fascinating, ugly and bizarre it could generate its own series of posts. Eric and I rode our bikes down, who wants to mess with parking? A local restaurant owner started the whole thing (something like 12 years ago) making the world’s biggest enchilada so he could get into the Guinness World Book of Records and now it’s morphed into this weird hybrid of festival meets low rider convention with a good measure of biker and gangsta thrown in for good measure. You know how it is, any excuse for a city-party. The paper said the enchilada would be made on Sunday at 3:00 so we timed our visit to arrive in time so that I could get a picture of it but nooooo, the paper lied lied lied lied lied lied. So, all I got was a picture of the enchilada pan -dirty of course.

Typical, I guess I’m doomed to be late. Speaking of late (not to get off track) but this weekend we have the Southwestern NM State Fair and there’s supposed to be this little monkey named Whiplash, who rides a border collie rounding up sheep and I have got to be on time for that! The picture in the flyer was adorable. Imagine a border collie with a monkey dressed up in a little cowboy outfit complete with rope and hat on his back. At first glance, the photo looks like a cowboy that’s been photoshopped to fit on the dog’s back. [post amended] I searched for Whiplash on the web and found a funny video clip of a perfomance. He’s been performing at rodeos for fifteen years.

But back to the enchilada festival, the event tends to draw the low rider and biker crowd. I don’t know why that is except that they have a low rider car show. And not just cars but bikes too. Here’s a photo of a low rider recumbent bike:

And here’s another version, complete with gangsta sound system:

So that was last weekend. How did this post go so off track? Oh well, you can quit reading at any time. This weekend we’ll be going to the State Fair so I’m excited about that. Oh! And my friend Sally is coming down to visit me! I’m thrilled to see her but darn it all, I’d been planning to play a little trick on her and I won’t have time to do it now. When she moved from Estancia to Albuquerque, she gave me a pattern bunny punch thinking she already had another packed and I was just going to give it to a DE at some point (I collect extra tools that I end up giving away so nobody ever leaves my place empty handed) but later, she found that she did need the bunny back. So, as a little joke, I was thinking of having the punch powder-coated hot pink, maybe with some purple polka-dots on it before I gave it back to her.

Oh, before I go, another bit of love I found on my trips back and forth to work; Habitat for Humanity will be building some homes in this long vacant lot:

I’m thinking I will take a picture everyday, watching the houses grow, saving the photos to make a slide show for the future home owners as a housewarming gift. My husband and I are big supporters of Habitat for Humanity. He gives them lots of money, I don’t know how much ’cause I never asked. This project is so close to us that it is very likely we’ll help build them, we’ve already discussed it. Eric is an electrical engineer and me, I have no credentials but I’m a hardcore DIY plumber, electrician, carpenter and all around grunt.

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  1. Karen C. says:

    Very cool about Habitat. I need to check back in with them and help out on a house, since back in the day I was an all-around carpenter/home remodeler and wood floor technician. Jimmy Carter had a program to train women in non-traditional careers through his CETA program (late 1970s), and that’s how I learned all of my skills.

    Also some musings about other stuff. Kathleen, did you happen to see the article in California Apparel magazine (you can get it on-line for free)about garment shipments being held up coming from the Phillipines? It seems China is trying to subvert the quotas by shipping through Phillipines, after inserting Made in the Phillipines labels. So all the stuff is sitting at the ports and being held up for about a month. Another reason not to off-shore produce.

    And I wish I had some fresh roasted chiles. Sounds very yummy!

  2. Diane says:

    I live in a new development and nearby Habitat built a really nice community of homes. They’re small but all have 2 car garages. Anyone would be proud to live in them!

    I’m also handy with a hammer, having contracted my own home years ago and doing the finishing work. Unfortunately those technical skills didn’t spill over into patternmaking!

  3. becky says:

    what’s the name of the 5S book?

    I had a New Mexican roommate (well, two actually) and he would make the most devine chile and potatoes (using some of the frozen roasted chiles he had in his freezer!)

  4. laurra says:

    My beautiful studio looks like an over stuffed burito its a big fat mess(kathleens wording) so much so I have moved my cutting table in to the pantry and use the studio for storage.I love organized folks. The problem is I dont know where to store all the stuff.Tomorrow I will go up to my loft and stuff the stuff under neath stuff.Funny thing is im not greddy about money and diamonds but have a fondness for sewing gadets I kind of hoard them.I wonder if I have a problem? my DH has a gazillion comp games. Computer games are neat and compact they sit on shelfs in a row, Sewing is messy and I have noticed seamtress are kind of finicky. Guess I need to let go ranting on a Sat night when I ought to be up stairs organinzing laurra

  5. Kathleen says:

    what does this have to do with art or the fashion industry?

    [It’s weird lately that so many people have such a sense of entitlement. Where do they get the idea that somebody owes them something?]

    A blog owner determines the rules for their blog. For better or worse, this is mine. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nobody is making you read it. It’s not costing you anything and it’s not as though you are a financial supporter of the site so that you have a right to complain about the material.

    Speaking of sense of entitlement, lately there’s been a whole spate of real young ones asking me to justify why they should read my blog. It’s weird because they send me emails saying “why should I read your blog”? Why do they expect me to talk them into it? Are they crazy? It’s not as tho I make money if they read it, so why do they think they are so valuable and so special that I will go through the time, expense and bother of writing to them and begging them to read it? It’s bizarre. This just seems so neurotic and narcissistic to me. Things have really gotten weird lately. The excesses of project runway run amok.

  6. Todd Hudson says:

    I think people who read Kathleen’s blog are so dedicated to it that they try to get everyone else to read it. All the time I say “You have to buy her book and read her blog!”. Maybe they’re annoyed by our enthusiasm for your blog and they’re too impatient to sit down and read it themselves.

  7. Beemerbabe says:

    I would like to retract my previous question. Re: what the article has to do with art or the fashion industry.
    After reading the article more thoroughly, I can see that it has some interesting things to offer and was written with good intentions.

  8. Kathleen says:

    After reading the article more thoroughly, I can see that it has some interesting things to offer and was written with good intentions.

    But will you let me off the hook in the future :). I mean, at least once a week I post something like that entry that has very little (if anything) to do with fashion :)

    We are whole people with myriad fractional lives. Fashion cannot be all that we are. If it were, our lives would be poor indeed. Don’t you agree?

    My view of fashion, the industry and all it represents is in some respects but one section of a splintered mirror, so fragmented is our trade. Some of what I write is common experience, but sometimes, my view is torqued; sections of the woven rent off grain by pressure or a vagary scrap dyed in the mist of my life’s color. I write off topic for those intrigued with my weave and palette.

  9. big Irv says:

    I saw a segment on the Food Network’s “Unwrapped” program that featured the World’s largest enchilada at the Las Cruces festival. Apparently, it feeds 5,000 people.

    Karen C. makes an observation about transshipping after reading a piece in California Apparel News. Transshipment is a very destructive practice. Danielle at Final Fashion did a post on Sept 08, Submarining, that details most of the reasons why companies use these illegal tactics. Did the article name the offending company(s)? Afterall, they are the people who contract to have these items made in China and arrange to have them brought into the US or Canada illegally .

    Too bad about the spate of “young ones” doubting the validity of reading this blog. Never before has the information such as you offer here, been more important for the developement or survival of some sewn products companies in this hemisphere.

  10. Bunny M says:

    I enjoyed this post. I like knowing more about you. You’ve been so generous with your knowledge and ideas, it’s cool to hear about your life, and you as a person.

    And I am positively drooling over the idea of a pink powdercoat bunny punch! Dag.

  11. Karen C. says:

    Hey, Big Irv. No, the article did not mention any specific company–only the practice. So all shipments from the Phillipines are sitting out in the harbor. It did mention the horrible chargebacks all the manufacturers are going to have to deal with because they can’t deliver product.

    As to the person who wondered what this particular post had to do with art or fashion, let me explain. Art and fashion do not take place in a vacuum. True artists in whatever field or medium also look to other fields, such as carpentry, architecture, horticulture, epicurean (i.e. food), etc. We can see and value such things as freshly laundered clothes, a field about ready to be harvested, the joy of working and being part of a community. This blog is much, much more than just what are the trends for the new season.

  12. big Irv says:

    No, the article did not mention any specific company–only the practice. So all shipments from the Phillipines are sitting out in the harbor. It did mention the horrible chargebacks all the manufacturers are going to have to deal with because they can’t deliver product.

    Hi Karen. I don’t want to open up too many cans here, but I can’t help but think that these “manufacturers” do know the inherent risks when sourcing in these parts of the world.
    Those that are caught up in the clampdown are sure to be penalized and at the end of the day, with all the chargebacks( or outright cancellations) this is going to hurt them hard. Maybe force some of them to fold.
    For the others that get caught, they know the risks as soon as they place the order to the Chinese factories. I would love to know what happens to the originating Chinese factories once the dust settles. They are as complicit as the US companies who ordered the goods.
    I am finally in agreeance with US Customs.

  13. R says:

    Just found your blog and wanted to let you know that while I have found it to be chock full of information, I really got a kick out of this post too and found it quite delightful. I have lived in NM since 1991 and was quite delighted to find out you do also. I, too, am a little distressed about the cold weather coming — but I really think I’m getting spoiled as far as the nice weather here, and I’m in Albuquerque. Great lowrider bike photos too, which should be enough fashion inspiration for anybody, but if not “Oh well, you can quit reading at any time.”

    Now I think I’ll go get a green chile cheeseburger for lunch.

  14. Hannah says:

    “Some of what I write is common experience, but sometimes, my view is torqued; sections of the woven rent off grain by pressure or a vagary scrap dyed in the mist of my life’s color. I write off topic for those intrigued with my weave and palette.”

    Very nice, Kathleen… Perhaps you should be writing fiction as well?

  15. jinjer says:

    That’s awesome about the Habitat for Humanity. I worked on three projects with them–all very, very fun. One of houses I worked on went up in only two weeks (loads of volunteers)! Have fun :)

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