Friday, April 18, 2014

Some Really Good News Heading Into a Holiday Weekend . . .

I have been completely off the blogging grid for the past three weeks.  Had a great time in Arizona with my parents – pics and narrative will come in a few days.  Even though I know there are a few of you who have been looking for that, I figured there were even more of you who preferred that I spent my time helping to ship the new items that have been pouring in since I got back.  So that’s what I have been doing.

But the news that arrived concerning my mom’s sister Nancy last Saturday and yesterday was just too good and I had to share it . . .

Last Saturday, I was at the store pulling new Spellbinders dies to fill your advance orders when my cell phone rattled on my hip.  It was Nancy, telling me that the day before she had gone to whichever doctor (there are so many) is responsible for the radiation combating the tumors in her brain.  She was told that the tumors had decreased in size enough that they are now operable, using a laser surgery that won’t even require an incision.  She wasn’t quite certain of the timetable, but yesterday she was being fitted for a “helmet” that will steady her head during the procedure.

Yesterday’s news was even better, and it was delivered by Nancy’s daughter Pam.  I was getting back from lunch when a note came in – I’m going to quote it directly since it’s just too good to paraphrase . . .

“Update on Mom – She got a call from the doctor this morning letting her know about her test results from the PET Scan and MRI.  The doctor said things are going better than expected and has to change his prognosis.  Some tumors have gone away and others have grown smaller.  He wants to talk to her in a couple of weeks about taking her OFF hospice care.”

Your prayers have meant so much to Nancy, and to the rest of our family.  And as such, I needed to let you know how they are being answered.  Thanks – have a great Easter weekend.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Video Grab Bag . . .

Three weeks is a long time to be off this grid.  But it has been a busy three weeks – a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a nasty cold, wedding planning, rotten weather.  You get the idea.  By the time most of you read this, I will have arrived in sunny Tucson for a few days with my parents – of course, I waited until the first day of what appears to be spring weather in Ohio to finally escape.

Here are a few things I noticed over the past few weeks . . .

IMG_20140316_131318_624

The best thing I saw all weekend in Allentown.  I have seen canines in strollers before, but never with a private wheelchair . . .

IMG_20140315_094103_432

If you’re on our e-mail list, you may have already seen this.  We R Memory Keepers sent a demo Flower Punch Board to me in Allentown, so I sat down at the workdesk in my hotel room and made this flower –  with the tagline, “If I can do this, surely you can do better.”  Melinda Doster insisted that a picture be taken as I wore my creation – no doubt you can tell how thrilled I was.

I heard quite a commotion while we were tearing down the booth, and looked behind me to watch Joel of Heartfelt Creations pulling one of his cabinets into a truck with a cable and a winch.  It was quite the sight, especially when it reached the top of the ramp and started to sway.  So I pulled out my phone and got video of his next attempt.  For those of you who get the blog by e-mail, click in the black box above and the video should show up – if not, click this instead . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw5cXnBMmuA

When I got home from Allentown, my first duty was to deliver the treats that Bev Parnell brought to the show for Zoe.  I wanted Bev to see Zoe’s reaction, so out came the phone again.  Again, for those of you who get the blog by e-mail, click in the black box above and the video should show up – if not, click this instead . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPjPk_hQuz0

the-university-of-dayton-newspaper-troll

I love the NCAA tournament, but ran into a dilemma last Thursday when the University of Dayton Flyers played The Ohio State University Buckeyes (watch the introductions on any NFL game this fall – an Ohio State alum will always refer to his school as “The Ohio State” – I’m an Ohio State fan and it gets old).  I root for both teams, but when push comes to shove, I am an Ohio State football fan and a Dayton basketball fan.  When I was in college at Miami University (that’s the real Miami in Ohio – we sometimes remind folks that Miami was a university when Florida still belonged to Spain), I used to sit in the front row at Millett Hall for Miami/Dayton games and root for Dayton.  The frat boys hated me – but while Miami got my money, my allegiance was with Dayton.  When Dayton won last Thursday, the local paper skewered Ohio State on the front page, and the headline went viral.

If you don’t have a rooting favorite Thursday evening for Dayton/Stanford, you can join my mom and me and root for the Flyers – we’ll be watching from Tucson.

IMG_20140320_191835_175

And last week we went into serious Wedding Planner mode – and learned that Panera Bread is a great place to spread stuff out on tables.  We accomplished a lot – the invitations were picked out, guest list was finalized, and much much more.  This is Emily along with her mom and stepdad – Ryan was on the other side of the table but I cropped him out because he was looking goofy.

That’s it for now.  Don’t expect too many pictures of me from the trail – Blake isn’t making the trip this time so I’ll be on the wrong side of the camera . . .

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Sincerest Apology . . .

Oh, how I messed up . . .

IMG_20140302_153139_659

When I posted this picture in my last blog post, I made the following comment – “She said her dad would be less than pleased that she was wearing an Ohio State logo (he’s an Indiana fan).”

Three hours after it posted, I received the following message from Phil Arnold – “OK, Greg. Now you're in real trouble. I'm a PURDUE Alum, not an Indiana fan. My next favorite team is whoever is playing against Indiana. I may have to reconsider golfing with someone who would insult me like that! :-)”

I have committed a sacrilege akin to someone referring to me as a Michigan fan (with all due respect to our friends and customers who follow That Team Up North).  I have already corrected the blog post and offered a personal apology, but can’t change what was already sent to those of you who get the blog post by e-mail.  Therefore, I offer the next best thing – visual aids . . .

Purdue-Boilermakers purdue_boiler_up_flag_64889sma

Growing Up on the Road . . .

One of the interesting sights that customers often notice when the convention comes to town each year is the change in our children as they grow up.  My son Ryan was eight years old when we first started traveling – in four months he will be 26.  He was one of several kids who grew up together on the circuit – none of whom has been seen at a show in several years.  But they have been replaced by a whole new generation.

IMG_20131005_141115_504[3] 0807101632[2]

The Lindeman kids (Noelle and Alana – their parents are Steve and Michelle from Toomuchfun) are different from most – they were born on the show circuit.  And I have taken lots of pictures of them around our booth over their lifetimes because they are both in love with Keia Arn0ld.  Keia and her mom Robin started working with us at shows in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio when she was about ten years old – so we have watched her grow up in our booth as well!

Last weekend, we were in Indianapolis – and very little has changed . . .

IMG_20140301_140335_454 

Saturday was Noelle’s turn.  Early in the day, we were too busy for visitors.  But as the afternoon wore on . . .

IMG_20140301_140146_558 IMG_20140301_140210_978

. . . there was this magnet that just drew her to Keia.  And it’s obvious by the way she interacts with kids that Keia was born to be a teacher.

IMG_20140302_111940_406

By Sunday, Alana also found her way to our side of the room.  Of course, the kids could have spent the day – there were Snowmageddon Warnings all weekend so most of our customers came on Saturday and we had plenty of time to visit (and very little snow – the “up to a foot” that was forecast turned out to be about two inches).

IMG_20140302_133814_224

Midafternoon Sunday proved that kids can be exhausting.  Keia has been out of college for almost a year, but this reminded me how easy it is for the college-age bunch to fall asleep anywhere.

IMG_20140302_153139_659

They also recharge their batteries quickly.  This shot was taken just as we started to tear down the booth – we were right next to an open garage door and Keia was freezing, so I offered her an extra sweatshirt that I carry in the truck.  She said her dad would be less than pleased that she was wearing an Ohio State logo (he’s a Purdue alum).

IMG_20140302_170950_278 IMG_20140302_170955_048

This was the slippery view during teardown – the second round of snow began just as we started, and of course it was blowing into the truck!  And it was a long snowy walk for Robin as she walked across the parking lot to bring her car closer to the building.  Maybe Spring will finally come by the time we get to Allentown, Pennsylvania in ten days – but at this rate I doubt it . . .

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It Followed Me Home . . .

It followed me home from Florida.  I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first, but it grew on me.  After a week or so, I was sure that it would go away, but I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye.  And it gave me a bit of a warm feeling in the chill of winter.

But then it started itching . . .

DSCN2172

I have never grown a beard – honestly, I never could grow a full one because I don’t have any sideburns.  I always envied my brother a bit – Blake had a full beard when he was in college.  I still remember when he got his first job and had to take off everything but the moustache – it was the first time Lisa (then his fiancee – now his wife of almost 27 years) had seen him clean-shaven.

DSCN1869[3]

I let mine grow out for a little over a week two years ago when Ryan and I were in Florida, but when it started to itch I cut it off.  You could barely see it then, but I got the lighting in the kitchen just right and had Ryan take a picture of me with Zoe.  This time, I decided to stick it out – mostly because I assumed it would come in almost completely white.  And it did.

If you just heard a gasp, that was probably my parents – they don’t know about this yet, and will discover my whiskers as they read the blog.

I played cards with some childhood friends on Sunday evening, and Dave Blair made a comment that was pretty close to what I was already thinking – he said that if what’s coming out of my chin is whiter than what’s coming out of my head, it probably isn’t time to grow one yet.  Dave would know – his comes out white on both ends.

So it’s going away soon – probably before the Indianapolis show starts this weekend.  I might keep it through setup on Friday, but I doubt that it will make it into the weekend. 

And it might just get cut off tonight – I don’t need to keep anything that adds ten years to my appearance.  But if I could have grown one 30 years ago, things might have been different . . .

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Birthday Memories . . .

My brother Blake joined Zoe and me at the mail center for lunch yesterday.  Blake’s birthday is next week, but he has an all-day meeting on the actual day so we celebrated a few days early.  We decided to get takeout from O’Leary’s next door, and Thursday after work I went to Kroger across the street to look for something desserty.  Wandered into the bakery area, and looked at the selection of  little cakes, pieces of cheesecake, and such.

And then I saw them . . .

IMG_20140221_102412_251

If you didn’t grow up in my part of the country, this picture means nothing.  But for people in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois (and I think there were a couple in Florida), a birthday cake from Bill Knapp’s was an institution.  Bill Knapp’s was a basic family homestyle restaurant – when I was a kid, I remember thinking it was a place where old people went to eat.  But it seemed we always went there for family birthdays (and we had a large extended family, so we went there a lot) – and at the end of the meal, here came the waitress with a chocolate cake while Bing Crosby sang Happy Birthday.  That cake had a number or two sticking out of the top that corresponded to your age – and each number had a lighted candle on top so you had one or two to blow out.

Those cakes were amazing, at least in my memory – I hadn’t had one since the local Bill Knapp’s closed more than 25 years ago.  So when I saw that display at Kroger, I knew what Blake and I were having for dessert.

IMG_20140221_115432_792

And it was wonderful – tasted exactly the same.  I remember back in the day that we occasionally picked one up at Bill Knapp’s to take home for $1.99.  Thursday night at Kroger – $9.99 – and it was worth the cost of inflation.

Happy Birthday, Blake . . .

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Truckload of Color . . .

This note has been waiting for me to catch up to it for three weeks.  Back near the end of January, on a day so snowy, icy, and generally yucky that Debbie and Patti stayed home and I brought Zoe with me to the mail center (isn’t that a long-winded way of saying “Once Upon a Time”?) . . . a semi truck arrived.  One of our suppliers had contacted Gary with the offer of a truckload of ten colors of Bazzill Basics Cardstock at a closeout price.  He jumped on it and it arrived just in time for me to take a limited supply along with me to shows in Georgia and Florida.

Now that I’m back, Gary has asked me daily when I was going to get that cardstock on our site so that we could start moving it out to make room for the next great item that he scrounges.  Yesterday was the day – I put it on the website with no banner, no announcement, no fanfare whatsoever.  And less than five minutes later, someone had discovered it and ordered some.

I did put a banner on the site this morning . . .

bazzill11

Here’s a better look at the ten colors and their respective finishes . . .

bazzill

It’s a rare occasion when we find nice cardstock in colors other than white and cream at closeout prices – and rarer still when it comes in big sheets so we can offer it in both 8½” x 11” and 12” x 12”. 

Want to see more?  Click on this link and feel free to add some to your next order!