Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just When You Think You Have Seen Everything . . .

I had a couple of those “I thought I had seen everything” moments over the past month or so – when I do, I usually grab my cell phone, snap a quick picture, and assume it will come in handy at some point.  If I have learned anything over the past 3+ years, it is this – anything and everything is “blog fodder” . . .

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Maybe you have seen these before – I hadn’t.  A local dance studio has rented half of our mail center building since before I started working here almost 33 years ago.  This car was in the parking lot on Monday – it has to belong to one of Joyce’s students.


Believe it or not, these things are called CarLashes and there is a website devoted to selling them.

Now the other item I have today might be less likely to have crossed your radar unless you frequent men’s restrooms . . .

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I can honestly say that I have spent parts of more than 50 years in men’s restrooms all over the country, but I have never seen urinals that you flush with a foot pedal.  These were in the Ramada Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota – where we did a show last month.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Year, It’s More Than Just a Birthday . . .

Today is my mom’s 73rd birthday.  It feels different – while we have always celebrated Mom’s birthdays and they have been very special days, the events of the past year have made me realize the need to cherish each one.

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We got together at my brother’s house on Sunday evening.  It is not easy to schedule an evening that includes all of us – I had a football game to announce on Friday, Ryan worked late on Saturday, Blake’s son Conner went on the evening shift on Monday, and his son Tyler left a few weeks ago to begin college at Miami University.  So we settled on Sunday evening – Ryan came from work and we Skyped with Tyler from college (I had never experienced Skype before).


The only thing Mom ever wants for her birthday is time with her family, but we still try to find something special for her.  She especially enjoys the cards – Blake’s boys always design a card with a special message on the computer; I usually try to find one that’s extremely silly.  But that just didn’t seem appropriate this year.


So I got a tender card and wrote a note on the back.  For those of you who don’t need the challenge of deciphering my handwriting, here is what I wrote . . .

 This is not a funny card . . . this is not a funny birthday.  Last year (and every year before that), I took your birthday for granted.  Three days later, everything changed.  Now, I cherish every moment we share.  I am so proud of you and the way you have carried yourself this past year.  Thanks for letting me share a part of our lives with the people I encounter on my travels – in many ways, you have become part of their families, too.  I love you so much – I have many titles in life, and it has always meant so much to me that one of the most important ones is “Carolyn’s Son.”


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sometimes We Move Really, Really Fast . . .


This was the view when I walked into Marco’s Too this afternoon – Terry Medaris was wowing a roomful of ladies in the art of all things Prismacolor pencils.  But the story today is how fast we got here . . .


This is Kecia Waters – she contacted our store about ten days ago, raving about a Tucson-based artist named Terry Medaris who was looking for a place in our area to hold a class on August 25 while he and his wife were in our half of the country doing a few shows.  Of course, I was intrigued by the fact that he was from Tucson (since my parents winter there).  But even though Kecia assured us that she knew several people who would jump at the chance to take a class with Terry, we weren’t sure we could get something together that fast.

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My first involvement in this process was when Karen told me that Terry and his wife would have a booth at the show in Collinsville last weekend.  So I met them on Friday during setup and put them in touch with Karen to set up the logistics of the class.  Once that was done, I took some pictures on Saturday and got some samples – and Saturday evening I put the class on our website.  Monday, an e-mail went out to our local list.

And Saturday, we had a roomful of people . . .

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. . . and an artist instructing them.

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There was a trunk show set up in the store . . .

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. . . and a friend of mine ended up in one of my pictures!


Not everyone in the class had worked with Prismacolors before, but obviously some of them came prepared.

In the middle of all this, our friend Joe Rotella stopped by for a visit.  He has been wanting to teach in our store, but didn’t realize that we had an area this size that could handle larger projects.  Now he is as excited about coming here as we are about having him here – stay tuned!

And as I said in the title of this piece, sometimes we move really, really fast!  I’m getting ready to hit the “post” button an hour after I took most of these pictures, and the class is still going on in the store!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spellbinders Update . . .

I e-mailed Spellbinders yesterday to get an update – since about half of the calls and e-mails we are getting these days are a variation of “When are you going to ship my preorder?”   Here is what I was told . . .

"Our goal was to begin shipping preorders by mid-August.  However demand and inventory have caused us to delay to the end of this week, beginning of next.  We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience."

If that estimate is correct, then it will be sometime between August 30 and September 5 before we see them.  As always, we will start shipping feverishly as soon as they arrive.  We also thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Road Warrior . . .

It is Tuesday morning and I am sitting at my desk at work.  This is not unusual, of course.  But it occurred to me this morning that I haven’t sat here on Monday morning since July 23 – haven’t sat here on Friday morning since July 20.  Because the last four weekends (and five out of the last six), I have been on the road at shows.  And as much as I love to travel, I am pretty fried.

But I am looking forward to Friday – for two reasons.  Zoe will get to spend the day with me at work for the first time in over a month – I really do enjoy the days when she is here.  And it’s the first night of the high school football season – and the first night of my 33rd season in the press box as the announcer at our local school.  The faces on the field change, and over the years the kids in the student section become the parents (and later the grandparents) in the bleachers below me.  It’s what we do on Friday nights in the fall, and it never gets old.

Enough melodrama for one day.  Last weekend, we were in Collinsville, Illinois.  The Gateway Convention Center is a very nice place to have a show, except for one thing.  I looked on their website and noticed that they don’t have a slogan, so I would like to suggest one for them . . .

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“Gateway Center – Where Cell Phone Signal Goes to Die”

Seriously – this place is built like a bunker.  My cell phone spends so much time searching for signal in this building that it’s on life support by 2:00 p.m.  And the credit card machines can’t find a signal, either.  Other than that, it’s one of the best places we visit every year.

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I often put a picture of our booth on our Facebook page the night before a show, all pristine and unshopped.  But I guess I was in a mood Friday – the picture I posted was taken after I covered everything up with sheets for the night.  Didn’t think about getting an “after” shot until the show had already opened on Saturday.

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I am learning that I love light rail mass transit systems – they make it so much easier for me to get to the ballpark when the local baseball team is in town.  I used it four weeks ago in Minneapolis, and again last weekend in St. Louis.  I realize that very few people drive their 18-foot box truck to games, but for those of us who do, parking can be an issue.  Leaving the truck in a big parking lot and taking the train can’t be beat.  Of course, trying to get a shot of the Gateway Arch with a cell phone camera from a moving train is tough . . .

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There is a train station right next to the third base entrance to Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I tried to figure out a way to root for both teams to lose (it has been a glorious summer to be a Cincinnati Reds’ fan).  They both tried – the only runs scored in the game came on a wild pitch, a passed ball, and a ground ball to second base.  Still, it was a great night to be at the ballpark – and the weather was so “un-St. Louis” (70s with a light breeze).  It’s usually about 100 degrees when we come each year.


I got a souvenir to take home with me – I have been going to games for more than 50 years and this is my first (Ryan got one 12 years ago – and how he got it is a story for another blog post someday).  I got to the stadium early enough to walk all the way around it outside, then all the way around it inside (I love ballparks), and still had time to sit in the outfield bleachers for a while to watch the Pirates take batting practice.  The last ball that was hit went to the warning track, where a Pirate pitcher who was shagging balls caught it and flipped it over his head into the bleachers.  It went directly to a guy sitting four rows behind me – he put his hands out to catch it, muffed it, and one bounce later it was in my hands.  It took me a while to figure out why the ball had a Dodger Stadium logo on it (this is the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium and all balls used there this season have the logo that my thumb is covering) – the Pirates had played the Dodgers the day before and apparently the “game used” baseballs they use for batting practice get mixed up.

But I digress . . . back to the show for a few observations.


Our booth was right across from the concession stand, and I couldn’t resist this shot.  Hot Dogs at 10:00 a.m. – Breakfast of Champions . . .

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I took this picture of the crowd at Sue Rothamel’s demo table about 15 minutes after the show opened (see Jane – I told you), but I could have taken it at any time on Saturday or Sunday.  Sue always draws a crowd, but in Collinsville, Illinois and York, Pennsylvania she has a following like nowhere else.  And I got a kick out of taking a picture behind someone shooting video of what Sue was doing.

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And I got a chance to meet someone who will be teaching in our store in Dayton on Saturday, August 25.  Terry Medaris is an artist from Tucson – as such, what he does with Prismacolor pencils takes on a southwestern theme.  He contacted us about teaching a class in the store while he’s in our half of the country – it will be from 11:00-4:00 on Saturday so click on this link if you’re interested in more information.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Six Years Later, The Walls Come Tumbling Down . . .

The Novi, Michigan show has always been one of my favorites.  We had no idea what to expect when our good friend “Auntie Amy” Wright held the first show at the old Novi Expo Center in 1998 – but we learned fast.  It grew year after year after year, and reached the point where the lines in the morning before the show opened started forming at 7:30 and soon stretched all the way around the building in two directions.  One year, it took over an hour to get everyone inside – we were using dark green plastic bags and people who still weren’t inside saw others headed to their cars with heavy green bags and thought the show was lousy and they must be headed home.

Well time passed, and the new Rock Financial Showplace (now called Suburban Collection Showplace) was built down the road about 2006 or so.  The show moved there – we were told that the Novi Expo Center had been closed and would soon be torn down.  But every year, we came back and it was still standing . . .


. . . until this year.  I noticed that the heavy equipment was at work when we drove by on Friday, so Sunday morning I drove back to get a last picture before it was all gone.

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Now we go to a fancy place with a big electronic sign next to I-96 . . .


And the long lines on Saturday morning are inside the building where it’s nice and cool!

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I often stand about halfway back in the hall to watch the crowd start to pour in on Saturday morning – it is always fun to watch Dave Carlson from Heirloom Productions (standing next to the table) disappear.


I posted this picture on our Facebook page on Friday evening.  What happens when we get to the convention hall and find out that our booth space is six feet longer than it was supposed to be?  We fill it!  I had to shoot the picture from an angle and walk about two booths away just to get it all in the viewfinder.

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Joe Rotella was sitting in for Sue at the USArtQuest table.  Joe is extremely talented and drew a big crowd all weekend – but he was quite nervous since this was his first time trying to fill Sue’s pumps!  But I caught a shot of him doing something I have rarely seen before – he came out from behind the table and down to a customer’s level to give her some personalized instruction.

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I swiped these three shots from Heirloom’s Facebook page – they got great views of Joe demoing at the USArtQuest table, Mike Saul demoing his Glitter Fast glitter, and Robin Arnold demoing Ten Seconds Studio’s VerDay Paints.

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Joe has his own line of chipboard albums that we had displayed in our booth, and he had one “blinged up” on the table in front of him.  Robin saw it on Sunday and wondered what one might look like given the Cheryl Darrow “VerDay Touch” . . .

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It was a whole different look that might appeal to other customers!

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I enjoy reading the messages on the t-shirts and sweatshirts I see during a weekend.  This was my favorite – then I saw the same sweatshirt on Heirloom’s Facebook page and realized that Dave had noticed it, too!

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Two other images that should be noted, for laughs if nothing else.  The first is the packaging on a USArtQuest tool – I have always been an editor at heart – these things just jump out at me.  The second is Robin’s foot during teardown – you may recall that Robin is usually seen barefoot when we’re setting up and tearing down the booth, but she has been suffering from plantar fasciitis lately, so I guess she was going for a dose of double protection . . .