Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two Weekends on the Road Demand a Full Day in the Yard . . .

I love to travel. I should rephrase that -- I LOVE to travel. I also love working in the yard in my spare time. But in the spring, the yard has a tendency to get away from me if I'm not out there every few days. I was in Akron last weekend and in the Grand Canyon the weekend before that -- and while I was on the road the weather was beautiful at home. But every day I have been at home since Easter it has rained -- until yesterday. I had already planned to take a day off Monday, so I knew where I would be most of the day.

I had run through the front yard with the mower in the rain before I left for Akron, so it would look like someone actually lived there while I was gone. But the grass in the backyard was swaying in the breeze (a machete would have come in handy). It usually takes me about three hours to mow with a self-propelled mower (with a ball game on the radio, those three hours are all mine), but it took an extra hour to hack the backyard and then mow it again to even things out. Then another hour to drag out the edger for the first time and clean up the sidewalks and driveway.

But the most important task of the day was to put a fence around the new Venus Dogwood in the backyard to keep the critters away. We love dogwoods, and our favorite nursery person told us this is a new strain with six inch white blooms late in the spring.

It has buds that are just beginning to swell, so we should have something to look at after the blooms from our other dogwoods are gone.

It was amazing the changes in our yard in the 3 1/2 days I was gone. When I left, the daffodils were still in full bloom (they lasted more than three weeks this year). When I got back, they were done, and the dogwoods had exploded -- this is a little white dogwood we got last year (it's my wife's favorite tree).

I love red dogwoods (there are white ones everywhere around here). My parents bought us this one for our 25th anniversary, and we got another one just like it for the backyard a few weeks ago.

We have lots of irises and daylilies and such, and I make several hanging pots of impatiens on the front porch, so we have something in bloom in the front yard almost all summer. But the dogwoods are what we always wait for.

As usual, Zoe was on hand to supervise all day long. She kept track of what I was doing -- unless the little kids were out in the neighborhood. Zoe loves kids -- there are four on our street and a fifth when our neighbors are watching their grandson. We had a scary moment yesterday -- one of the little ones (he's about two) visited Zoe with his sister and his mom. Then they went home, and a few minutes later he decided to come back -- on his own -- across the street. Thankfully, we live on a cul-de-sac and there isn't much traffic, so no harm was done.

Now, I'm back to work -- and home for the next two weekends. I have pictures shot for two tutorials, so I'll get back to work-related postings within the next day or two.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Busy Day in Akron and Cleveland

Saturday was a busy day -- before, during, and after Adventures in Stamping in Akron. I love to go out and greet the folks standing in line before the show opens -- I offer each of them one of our flyers and thank them for coming. And this was a long line -- I took about 300 flyers with me and ran out, so I ran back to the booth and got the other 200 and gave all of them out, too!

Big crowds and happy people all day . . .

Susan Pickering Rothamel from USArtQuest held court all day long in our booth and enchanted the customers.

And Connie Vogt came up from Cincinnati to demo Copic Markers for an attentive crowd. Connie had a full day -- more on that later.

I got an unexpected surprise -- this is the gang from Christy's Main St. Memories in New Concord, Ohio (Christy is on the right). The nice lady on the left made my mom's Sour Cream Drop recipe (I posted it a couple of weeks ago -- look in the April archives for "A Look Behind the Curtain at the Wonderful Wizard of Oz"). I got to sample the wares (who am I kidding -- I got three of them), and they tasted just like my mom's!

A lot of people asked about my Grand Canyon trip, so I dug a couple of pictures out of my computer bag and taped them above my cash register.

A couple of shots from my perspective up on the ladder of customers waiting for our giveaway an hour before the show ended. My new camera has a panorama setting -- I need to learn how to use that so I can take one wide shot to show how many people stick around for the drawing!

After the show, we went to a little restaurant that Connie Williams from Stamp Your Art Out! in Cincinnati had recommended, and then headed for Gary Burlin's party at his warehouse in Cleveland. That trip took a lot longer than planned, when Connie Vogt's minivan blew a tire on I-77. I must have checked my rearview mirror to make sure she was following me just before it happened -- I didn't know what had happened until my cell phone rang. Got off the next exit and backtracked. I am not the most mechanical person alive, but in the middle of a busy interstate with five other women, I tackled the job of going after the spare. Had the spare in hand and I was just about ready to start positioning the jack when a tow truck arrived and an expert took over. All of the tire stores were closed, so Connie and Denise spent another night in Akron (they were planning on going home after the party) and will go tire hunting on Sunday.

This is Connie's car with the little donut tire on the back and a picture of the gashed tired that Connie sent after she got home. It's probably a good thing that I didn't even think about taking a picture for the blog until after everything was done.

So we finally got to Gary Burlin's about 9:00 (instead of 7:00 as planned).

The most amazing thing about Gary's warehouse is his office, and the stained glass windows he rescued from old churches.

Gary has loooooooooooong aisles full of every craft supply imaginable. My wife went with me once and I think she considered taking up residence. And there is a second level -- that's Sue Rothamel walking above me on the second floor.

And Gary loves to visit with his customers . . .

Friday, April 24, 2009

Scenes from the Marco's Spring Spectacular

Karen and I are in Akron, after a loooooooooooooong setup day. Adventures in Stamping runs Saturday and Sunday at the John S. Knight Center here. But the Spring Spectacular in our store in Dayton runs Saturday and Sunday as well. In between getting ready for the show and hobbling around on my sore calves (they're fine now), I got to peek at some of the activities in the store.

Cheryl Darrow from Ten Seconds Studio spent the day teaching classes in the store on Monday . . .

and here's one attentive student who rarely has time to take a class (yes, that's Karen).

I think Libby Friel must have been using the cot in the back room -- she was on duty at the auxiliary demo table inside the front door (that's usually where we design wedding invitations and such) every time I walked in. Libby embosses amazing things on both vellum and metal.

Peggy Gould (at right) came in from Charlotte to lead three make it/take it projects using Copic Markers and the Cuttlebug. When God handed out personality, Peggy got three helpings -- and she drew such a crowd that we had to move her to the vacant storefront next door.

Ginger Deaton is our resident domino expert and taught another class this week, but in this shot she's a student in Peggy's Copics/Cuttlebug make it/take it.

Donna Weibel (in red) taught a canine project and a feline project, and led a Wednesday make it/take it that filled six sessions. I took pictures -- that tutorial will post tomorrow.

Linda Jones is building quite a following with her vintage cards -- this class featured vintage Mother's Day & Birthday Cards (that's Linda at right in the right photo).

As I type this, Susan Pickering Rothamel from USArtQuest is two floors above me here in Akron. But yesterday she spent the whole day in the storefront next door enchanting wave after wave of customers with demos and make it/take its.

When Sue demos, the folks in the back lean in to make sure they don't miss anything.

The display area in the storefront next door isn't artsy, but it's functional . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grand Canyon Hike -- We Made It!

I am back from the Grand Canyon -- got home about 12:30 this morning. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be -- a wonderful experience with my brother and our dad. I'm taking my first look through the pictures, and I wanted to post a few just to offer a glimpse of the adventure. I may add a few after I spend some time with them later.

We flew to Tucson on Thursday and then drove to the Grand Canyon (my description to my wife -- imagine flying to Dayton and then driving to St. Louis). We went to the South Rim overlooks on Thursday evening and it was pouring snow . . .

This picture is not out of focus -- it was snowing THAT hard. We looked down into the canyon and Dad pointed out some of the places it would be going. Our reaction wasn't Chevy Chase from "Vacation," but we thought about it!

It was 18 degrees (!) when we started out on the South Kaibab Trail at 5:50 a.m. on Friday (that's my brother Blake on the left, and my dad Joe on the right). The snow had stopped but was still on the ground.

Soon the sun was up and the temperature started rising -- Blake had already started shedding layers.

Pictures do not do the Grand Canyon justice -- and neither does the view from the overlooks. Every turn of the trail brought a different view.

By the time we got to Phantom Ranch on the floor of the canyon at 10:30, it was about 70 degrees. I had shed my jacket, two sweatshirts, a hoodie, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a pair of windpants, a pair of jeans, two pairs of gloves, and my earmuffs.

Two views of a bridge (there are two of them) that crosses the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch.

Rock-hopping a creek is fun -- but once you start, you can't stop . . .

On the way back on the Bright Angel Trail, the view changes -- now we're looking UP.

Lots of switchbacks on the trail when you're going up or down -- this was on the South Kaibab Trail just after we started (hence the snow) . . .

and this was farther down on the same trail.

We made it to the top at 5;48 p.m. -- two minutes short of twelve hours. It was 52 degrees on the rim. Blake and I said the last three miles or so were "one foot in front of the other" and "just get me to the top". Still gorgeous scenery, but were we ever tired!

Blake took these pictures of the top of the Bright Angel Trail on Saturday morning when we came back to the overlooks again. If you follow the trail up from the lower left of the bottom picture, you can see how it continues into the other picture and winds upward to the end of the trail at Grand Canyon Village. The overlooks meant so much more when we could identify places we had been.

One last picture -- Blake and I couldn't resist. The sign says "WARNING -- DO NOT attempt to hike from the canyon rim to the river and back in one day." We made it, but I wouldn't even try if the weather was warm. It's now three days later and my calves are still screaming -- same with Blake. By contrast, our dad hikes all the time and he was just fine.

OK, vacation's over -- off to the store to shoot pictures of this week's Spring Spectacular in our store and then off to Akron for Adventures in Stamping this weekend!