Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Meeting at the Store Leads to a Surprise for Me . . .

I spent the lunch hour today meeting with Pat Adams, Chris Mach and Lisa Nelson – all three teach classes at our store.  Gary had a idea recently and he wanted us to see if it is workable – when we have classes at the store, are you folks in the hinterlands interested in “taking” them at home?

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This is still in the very early stages, but the idea originated about a year ago when Pat developed a class called The Neverending CardI thought it was really impressive so I shot some pictures to put on the blog, and then realized that video would tell the story so much better.  So I quickly learned to shoot video on my cell phone and included it in the blog piece, and there was enough interest that we offered packets for sale to those who lived too far away to take the class.  Now Gary would like to offer something similar every month or so – if there is enough interest.  So the next step is up to you – interested?

I had just finished putting Chris’ monthly card class on our website, and mentioned to her that a couple of the cards were really nice.  So she pulled them out and showed them to Pat and Lisa – and as she opened one of them, I saw two panels that I had missed when I shot pictures a few weeks ago.  She had to open it twice more before I realized what I had missed.

The card looks like this . . .


Opened all the way, it looks like this . . .


But only a video really does justice to what I didn’t see.  So here goes . . .

We have some talented teachers around here!    If you’re interested in some long-distance instruction, let me know and we’ll continue working on making it possible.

And if you’re local and are interested in “Cards with Chris” in November, you can click here to go to the class page on our website.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I Should Never Have Opened That Text . . .

It actually started with a phone call from Ryan on Wednesday evening.  I have received such calls before – he is a sucker for stray animals . . . “Dad?  What do you think about a new kitten?”  Apparently, a stray cat had made it’s way into Emily’s neighborhood and had been begging in their area for a couple of weeks.

He already knew the answer.  I am never interested in a new kitten.  It has nothing to do with cats – we have two of them.  It has more to do with change.  A new animal requires adjustments – training for our Invisible Fence, trips to the vet, learning to get along with us, and especially learning to get along with our other three pets.  And a lot of it involves me, and my aversion to change.  I worry most about our 17½-year-old tomcat – Tom has reached the point in life where I’m not so sure he needs to teach “the ropes” to a new member of the family.

And then Ryan sent me a text . . .


. . . and I softened, as memories came flooding back.


This is (was) Patches, and in the days before Zoe, she was my baby – she had me wrapped around her paw.  She was the only cat I ever knew who would walk up to me and roll over on her back, begging for a scratch.  She would start the night sleeping with Ryan, and in the middle of the night I would feel movement as she came downstairs and snuggled up near my feet.  They don’t look that much the same when the pictures are together, but Patches died in 2004 and in my memory they were pretty close.

Yes, I let Ryan bring the new cat home – just for a look.  Yeah, right . . .


So the process began, getting her used to our pets.  Zoe was a wreck the whole first night – she was really excited about the idea of a new friend, but the cat wasn’t so sure so we kept them apart except for brief visits.  And Zoe cried all night.

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By the next day, Ryan had named her – Nala, from The Lion King – and she had picked out a favorite spot in our garage.  That’s about as big as her world can be for now, until we get her trained to our Invisible Fence.  Yesterday, I took her to the vet for a checkup (Ryan had to work, but this is going to be his cat and he is picking up the expenses) – and other than a couple of minor issues common to stray cats, she’s healthy.  And we discovered that she is going to be very small, because she isn’t a kitten – she is probably about a year old.  Next week, she will have a little surgery so that she won’t add to the pet population.

So at my house – the times, they are a-changin’ . . . and I guess I’m going to have to get used to it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spellbinders Breaks from the January/July Habit . . .

Have you gotten used to Spellbinders releasing new dies in January and July?  So have we -- but times have changed!  A Spellbinders Blog Post today introduced a whole new line of D-Lites dies -- D-Lites are mostly smaller, very stylish subjects, from flowers to delicate trees, windows and fences to stylized medallions, and frames and corners.  They all reflect a wispy sophistication that Spellbinders (and Marco's, of course) hopes will excite you!

The MSRP on all of these dies is $12.99, but as always you can get them from us for 20% off -- just $10.39 each!  Click on the graphic below and you'll go to our website where you can get more information and place your advance orders.


And here's a bonus -- this time you won't have to wait long to get them!  Spellbinders told me Tuesday that we can expect our first shipment to arrive about November 2 with other shipments arriving shortly after.  We'll begin shipping your advance orders in the order we receive them as soon as the first shipment arrives!

Here’s the video that Spellbinders used to announce the new dies . . . enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seems Like I’m Always Catching Up . . .

Here we go again – this fall has been so busy that I keep seeing “blog fodder” moments but rarely have time to share them – I checked my calendar recently and I had been on the road 12 days out of the previous 20.  So when my cup overflows, I have to sit down and share several of them in scattershot fashion.  Some of this you may find interesting.  If not, just keep reading – and I’ll change to another subject.

The last time I did this, I had just returned from a golf trip and a trip to the Ryder Cup with my brother, and posted a picture of my mom after her first perm since her chemo started.  So let’s move on . . .


I spent the first weekend in October in Fort Wayne, Indiana – we have come here for a long time, but this was the first time with new promoters (Steve and Michelle from Toomuchfun).  They did a great job drawing a crowd.  But this feline wasn’t at the show – she(?) was underneath a fence next to the walk leading to my hotel side entrance.  Good thing I snapped the picture immediately – as soon as I walked closer, she headed for a safer spot.


Robin Arnold has learned of multiple items that can be “Verdayed” (Cheryl, are you watching this?).  I probably missed a few, but I saw metal, cardstock, plastic, rocks from the parking lot . . .

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During teardown, we got another visit from Kisha, the Arnold’s very friendly canine.  She has kept us company as we dismantled the booth for the past two years.  And this time, she had a friend – Trish Dangler’s dog was there as well.


Last Tuesday was my birthday, and my wish from last year came true – at 6:53 a.m., my phone rang and on the other end were two healthy parents singing to me as they have every year for as long as I can remember.  Good thing Zoe was the only one around to witness the tears of joy that flowed after I hung up.  At 12:30, Blake and I met at Mom and Dad’s place for lunch – this is the only thing I ask for each year, and for an hour or so it’s just the four of us again.  I guess the moment was more important than the pictures – this was the only one I shot, and it was horribly out of focus (partly because Mom never stands still).

And I’m not quite correct – I asked for two things this year.  The Cincinnati Reds had a chance to sweep the San Francisco Giants in three straight games to advance in the National League Playoffs, and Blake and I had tickets to the game.  It seemed only fitting for the Reds to win on my birthday – unfortunately, they couldn’t get a hit with runners on base.  Two days later they had lost three in a row, and the Giants moved on while the Reds started their winter.


But we still had fun.  We started our afternoon at the Reds Hall of Fame, next to Great American Ball Park.  For a Reds’ fan, it’s a little like traveling to Mecca – full of all of the highlights starting when the team was formed in 1869.


This was a blast – in the Hall of Fame, there is a “speed pitch” area where you can throw from a “mound” to a batter at home plate from the major league distance of 60’ 6” (which is a loooooong way) and the sensors will record the speed of the pitch and whether it was a ball or a strike.  It took a little while to get used to the distance.  Blake shot several pictures of me, and I was able to put three of them together so you can see the form on my blistering 39 mph fastball . . .

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Our seats weren’t great, but we had a great view of the park, the Ohio River outside, and the Goodyear blimp flying over the park (not to mention the huge bird that snuck into the blimp picture and then flew right at us before swooping up and away from us).  I discovered a couple of days later that the blimp has quite a support crew . . .

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I encountered this caravan on I-70 heading through Western Pennsylvania last Thursday.  Don’t worry – I kept my eyes on the road, pointed my camera at the next lane, and shot at least 30 pictures rapid fire, hoping that a few of them would turn out so I could share this.  And I still missed the pickup truck that completed the four-vehicle support team.

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Last Wednesday, Mom and Dad headed back to Arizona for the fall – and this is what they encountered when they arrived – the road in front of their place was being dug up and repaved.  If they had arrived a day later, I’m not sure they could have gotten their car out of the driveway.  But they had quite a view out their front window . . .


At the York show, we discovered that our friend Sara Wagner has what it takes to be a demo artist!  Sue Rothamel had brought some Make & Take projects along and asked Sara if she wanted to share them with our customers on Saturday – what she did was so popular that she ran out of packets in three hours and had to come up with a new project on the fly!

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Monday was the annual Pumpkin Carving Night at my house.  Ryan and Emily surprised me by inviting me to go see Taken 2 with them before we went pumpkin hunting at Sam’s Club (my short review – if you loved the first one as much as we did, wait for the sequel to come out on DVD).  Then we started carving – mine is in the middle between Ryan’s and Emily’s.  And I was able to get this shot of Zoe licking Emily’s face while Ryan was trying to position her for the “formal” picture.


Once I took enough pictures in the kitchen, the pumpkins went out on the front porch rail, where they will peek in the front window at us as long as the candles last.

And now I think I’m caught up again . . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Prayers for a Little Friend I Hope to Meet Someday . . .

Today was going to be nothing more than a normal Wednesday.  I got up, read the paper, spent a few quality moments with Zoe, and got ready to head for the YMCA to work out before going to work.  Late this afternoon, my friend Tom and I will play golf one last time before putting the clubs away for the winter.  But just before I left for the Y, I picked up my cell phone and opened the Facebook app – and the first thing I read stopped me cold.


This is little Abby Neff – she was born last Wednesday in Houston.  Abby’s grandma is my childhood enemy and adulthood friend Becki (longtime readers of this blog may understand – if you don’t, read this post from nearly three years ago).  For the first day and a half, there was nothing but elation over the arrival of her second granddaughter.  Then a nursery nurse suspected heart problems – which saved Abby’s life.  It turns out that she has a rare condition called Heterotaxy Syndrome – I just read an article about it and it usually involves heart defects and missing or misplaced organs.  In Abby’s case, she has major heart defects and no spleen.

Abby had open-heart surgery yesterday – the first of many surgeries in the years ahead.  So far, she is “hanging tough” (her grandma’s words).  The family has asked for prayers for this little fighter – and I know of a perfect bunch of people to share that request with.  Thanks!

Saturday, October 6, 2012



Ranger announces the re-release of the Fall Distress Inkpads.  We’ll have them next week!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Catching Up Again . . .

It has been a couple of busy weeks here – and I have actually been here for most of it.  For the first time since Spring, I finally have green grass at home – not that brown crunchy stuff like you folks in Texas experience most of the year.  But I had almost forgotten what it was like to have to take three hours and mow it every week.  For the first time I can remember, I did not mow the entire month of August.  I actually took my mower in to be serviced, and when I was told it might be two weeks before I got it back my response was “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

September was different.  Twice during the month, I announced high school football games that began on Friday, were suspended by lightning, and were completed on Saturday.  As I was leaving the second one, one of the spectators asked me if I could remember a season where we had two suspended games.  I can’t remember it happening twice in the 33 years I have been announcing.

But Mother Nature was kind enough to cooperate while I was traveling last week . . .


This was the view from in front of the lodge at Dale Hollow State Park on the Kentucky/Tennessee border.  I was there on a golf trip Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  I didn’t take another picture – I was having too much fun.  The weather was glorious, the golf course was glorious, the company was glorious – and I played the best golf I have played in years.  After the first day, all 12 of us said we want to come back – soon.  I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t play golf or enjoy boating – it’s in the middle of nowhere – but if you do . . .

Got home Thursday evening, worked Friday, and Saturday morning was off again . . .

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The Ryder Cup has always been on my bucket list, and it was in Chicago this year.  For the uninitiated, the Ryder Cup is a golf event – the best 12 players from the United States against the best 12 players from Europe, a three-day competition held every two years.  So my brother and I bought tickets for the last day, and since Blake hadn’t been to Chicago since he was ten we went up a day early and drove along Lake Shore Drive and walked the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue.  We decided that a perfect weekend would have been Ohio State playing at Northwestern in the afternoon, Cincinnati playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the evening, followed by the Ryder Cup on Sunday.  Alas, Ohio State was at Michigan State and the Reds were in Pittsburgh.

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Sunday, Blake and I arrived at Medinah Country Club early so we could walk through the merchandise tents and walk the course before 40,000 other spectators showed up.  While we were wandering around, we saw a long line winding back from a tent – we found out that American Express was loaning free little TVs to cardmembers.  Good thing – we saw a lot more of the play on TV than we did in person.  I hadn’t been to a golf tournament since 1978 – that was a little tournament at Kings Island and we walked around and followed groups all day.  Not here . . .

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Here’s the view of the 17th green at 8:30 in the morning, and the same green from across the pond at 4:00 in the afternoon.  Some of the people sat in or near the grandstand all day waiting for the 12 groups to play that hole (which is why we were watching from across the pond when they finally arrived).


We spent most of the morning along the third fairway, where we saw the players come through, visited with interesting people (especially the Europeans), and even had a brush with greatness when Michael Jordan (who was an honorary captain for the U.S. team) walked right up to Blake and me and asked if we would hold up the ropes to let him through so he could go to the hole next to us.

We had a really good time, even though the U.S. team lost (I referred to it as the “Meltdown at Medinah”).  It took almost two hours to get from the course to the shuttle buses and out to the parking lot, so we got home about 2:00 a.m. and were back at work on Monday morning.  The next time the Ryder Cup is in the U.S. in 2016, we’ll probably watch it on TV, but we had to experience it once.

One final image from last week, which many of you will find much more interesting than everything I did . . .


Last week, Mom got her first perm since starting chemo almost a year ago.  It looks great, she looks (and feels) great, and they will be heading to Arizona next week.