Friday, June 9, 2017

The Beginning of Summer . . .

I think everyone has landmarks that note the changing of the seasons – Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Easter.  For me, Memorial Day Weekend is way too hectic to mark the beginning of Summer – instead, for the past 20 years it has been the Massachusetts show the first weekend in June.  For the first two years we went there, it was in the Boston suburb of Marlborough.  The past 18 years have been spent at the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) in West Springfield.

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It was so pretty last Friday that I arrived at the fairgrounds early and gave myself time to walk around the property.  Apparently there are replicas of several of the capitol buildings in surrounding states – I was told later that the one that caught my eye is Massachusetts.

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It caught my eye because these two figures were shining in the morning sunlight – in all the years I have driven through this place, I had never noticed them.

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After setup, I made my annual peppermint ice cream pilgrimage to Dairy Cream out by the Hartford airport.  A couple of years ago, one of my classmates was going to fly into Hartford for a conference, so I told her about this place.  She stopped there – agreed with me – and when I sent her these pictures last weekend, was unhappy that I wasn’t bringing some home for her packed in dry ice.

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Lots of benches for the “pack mules” to rest (some of them now tell me they prefer to be referred to as “bag men”) – or in this case for my friend Cal Ruger to read his tablet while Dee shops and visits.  This time, Dee even got to park her scooter and walk around a bit.

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Why do we love New England?  These pictures were all taken five minutes after the show opened on Saturday . . .

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Our friends Susan LeClerc and Sally Lynn MacDonald dazzled a steady stream of customers at their demo tables . . .

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I am noticing more and more young folks taking an interest in crafting – which may keep all of us employed for the foreseeable future.  I took the pic on the right because I noticed that Sally Lynn’s demo table kept creeping forward as she stood up and sat down over and over during the day.

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This lady is carrying a plastic bag because it is serving as her purse . . . someone fell in love with the purse she brought with her to the show, so she emptied it and sold it on the spot.

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I am grateful to the nice folks who love my dog and bring treats for her – and I always try to get a picture of Zoe while she is tasting her gift for the first time.  Yum . . .

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Went to a driving range to hit balls with a friend about an hour after I got home – we had to wait out a quick cloudburst, but got a nice rainbow for our trouble.

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The next day, I got to see the first blooms on the Bracken’s Brown Beauty Magnolia in my front yard.  This thing was about five feet tall when I lifted it out of my truck and planted it in 2006 – it is well over twenty feet tall now.  Those blooms smell as fresh as they look . . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Child’s Play . . .

Spent last weekend on the lovely campus of Onondaga Community College near Syracuse, New York – this is simply an outstanding place to have a show, both for vendors and customers.

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Don’t often get a chance to look at a show from above.  And this was the crowd at the beginning of the Friday Night Make & Take – nearly 70% of the attendees said they had never been to a show before.  We love newbies . . .

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Friday sunset through the windows illuminated the Gary Burlin sign as much as any spotlight . . .

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Lots of people who used to live near Dayton appreciate our retail store even more once they move away.  Dawn Birdseye surely does – she stopped by to say hi on Saturday, sent her love to the make and take regulars at home, and said there is nothing similar where she lives now.

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Promoters’ kids can do pretty much what they want at a show – Alana Lindeman (daughter of Steve and Michelle from Toomuchfun) spent most of the weekend on this cart, mostly using it as a scooter back and forth along the wall behind Mom and Dad’s booth.

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She also spent a lot of time at our demo table, learning how to make backgrounds with Gel Press (and using that same “scooter” to take her still-drying creations back to the family booth).

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Meanwhile, big sister Noelle was working on her artistic skills with Copics and Gelatos and Wink of Stellas . . .

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The last image from Syracuse requires a bit of explanation – perhaps not as much for those of you familiar with the nattily attired fellow who always rides along in Picasso Gaglione’s side pocket (yes, Picasso is retired now, but he is always with us).  That would be Fred – and Fred is a rock star of sorts.  So when I saw this sticker on the MG in front of me at a stop light on the way to the show on Sunday, I assumed it just had to be another of Fred’s legion of fans . . .

Monday, May 15, 2017

Story Time . . .

I spent a large portion of the past week in Novi, Michigan for the 18th Annual Great Lakes Mega Meet.  Every time I turned around, I saw something that just demanded a picture and a story.  Didn’t have time to take all of the pictures or tell all of the stories, but here are some of the best, in a very “stream of consciousness” order . . .

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I thought I would get one good story when I saw this mother teaching her daughter about Copic Markers in front of our display.  I was wrong – on two counts – the daughter was teaching her mother, and I got the first of four stories . . .

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I learned that Isabella (age 10) is a Copic expert – she has watched all of the YouTube videos and is making it her mission in life to collect all 180 colors of Copic Ciao Markers (which to me seems much more useful than collecting Pokemon).  We had so much fun while Isabella searched along with her mom, aunt, and grandma – and her personality just sparkles.

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Ten minutes later, I found another mother/daughter tandem scouring the Copics.  I was sure that Elyse was about 16 – wrong again – she is 22 and just graduated from the University of Michigan.  Elyse and her mom went to Las Vegas for graduation – and she got carded on the casino floor because security thought she was underage.  I told her that she may be offended now, but she will love it when she is still getting carded on her 40th birthday.

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Another ten minutes passed, and I met Bree and her mom – Bree is eight and just starting to learn about Copics.  It was so much fun to watch all of these families interact and spend quality crafting time together in our booth.

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Could I have one of every color, please?

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Anthony Gilbert from Anthony’s Paper Craft was again demoing in our booth – and he attracted customers of all ages.

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We donated a couple of door prizes each day that the promoter announced on the loudspeaker.  This was the first winner – and she had three friends helping her to decide which colors she wanted from our sale cardstock shelves.

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The calm before the storm, just before the show opened on Thursday . . . once promoter Kate Griswold took pictures from way up on a ladder (maybe I need one that size for our giveaways?) and counted down the last few seconds, it was off to the races . . .

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This nice lady came through my line on Thursday. As I was ringing up her purchases, she said "I have your love letter on my phone"... and I stopped short for a second... until I realized she was referring to our e-mail with the $2.00 off coupon. And then I laughed, as it has never been called that before... but that's really what it is... and describes so well how we feel about our customers and friends.

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This is Shawn . . . I know this because two of her friends were trying to get her attention from next to my cash register Thursday (Shawn was in a long line in the next booth)... they kept calling "Shawn! Shawn!" but she didn't hear them. So I decided to help them out . . . my voice carries (imagine that) . . . one "Shawn!" from me and her head snapped up, with an immediate look that said "Why is this stranger calling my name?"  A few hours later, she won a prize in our giveaway... and of course I said "Shawn won a prize!"  Saw her again Friday morning . . . "Good morning Shawn!" . . . and took this pic.  Our customers are good sports . . .

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A lot of you may feel this way – thankfully, you don’t let it stop you from keeping us employed . . .

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Told this nice lady that I had never seen a "frontpack" before.  Anthony corrected me . . . not without a child in it.  She said she had been wearing it on her back, but every time she turned she swatted someone with it.  So it became a frontpack and less dangerous . . .

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Doesn’t help much to have a concession line intended to get the vendors back to their customers quicker . . . if it’s closed . . .

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The nice lady on the right rolled her eyes on Friday when I gave her a ticket to our giveaway, and proceeded to explain how unlucky she is at such things.  Once she was at a bowling banquet – there were 81 people there – there were 80 door prizes – and she was the one who walked out without a door prize.  Sure enough – Friday she didn’t win.  But Saturday was another story . . .

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Baked before I left home last week, at the suggestion of Phil Krebs from Art Impressions – I shared some with Phil and Bonnie last fall in Tennessee, and two weeks ago in Akron, Phil asked me when I was going to make them again.  Since I needed something for Mother’s Day that would go in the freezer, I put half of them away and brought the rest to Michigan . . .

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Five views of the same delightful Michigan sunset, taken over a span of about 45 minutes during teardown on Saturday . . .

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Rolled into my cul-de-sac about 1:00 on Sunday morning – just in time to catch a few hours of sleep and pick up Mom for church on Mother’s Day.  I actually took this shot last week to show Dad that we had arrived safely – Mom broke her foot two days before they came home from Arizona and was just learning how to get around on her scooter.  Those things are so much better than crutches . . .

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Finally, two shots from our family Mother’s Day gathering – proving that grandparenthood and great-grandparenthood look good on my brother and our parents . . .