Friday, May 31, 2013

It Was Irritating . . . But It Could Have Been So Much Worse. And I Was Thankful.

As I type this, I am sitting in my hotel room near Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT.  In a few minutes, I will take the short drive from here to the Eastern States Exposition (the Big E) in West Springfield, MA to start setting up for this weekend’s big show. Yes, New England – we are expecting you.  For a while yesterday, I wondered if I was going to be here to welcome  you with open arms . . .


Yesterday was a travel day.  For the first several hours, I drove through swarms of bugs – many of whom decided to give their lives splattering my windshield.  I am not a big fan of trying to drive while looking through an obstructed windshield, but it beats those bugs splattering me.

It was irritating, but it could have been so much worse.  And I was thankful.

Later my cell phone rang – it was Gary, who started the conversation with “I think you left the credit card machines on your desk.”  Yes, I did – and they will have to be overnighted to me so I’ll have them to make your transactions easier this weekend.  Overnight shipments are expensive, but somehow Gary saw those machines through the clutter on my desk and I won’t have the agony of discovering on Saturday morning that I have no credit card machines.

It was irritating, but it could have been so much worse.  And I was thankful.

Then about 3:30, I was driving up a long hill on I-84 just after I crossed from Pennsylvania into New York.  Long hills always worry me because of the strain I imagine they put on a truck’s engine – especially when it’s hauling six tons of booth.  So I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get to the top and the motor relaxes.  I was about 1/4 mile from breathing that sigh when I heard a loud noise and lost all power.  As I stopped alongside the interstate, I also saw a large black puff of smoke.  And my heart sank.

I am not a “car guy” – so there wasn’t much point in getting out and looking under the hood.  Even if I saw the problem, I wasn’t equipped to fix it.  So I sat there and gathered my faculties – and then made the decision to try to start it (like the problem was going to magically go away – doesn’t this just sound like a guy?).  It started – I was able to drive up the berm – and I got past the top of the hill and was almost ready to pull onto the interstate and see how far I could get when I lost power again.  But I was at an exit ramp so I was able to get off the interstate and out of traffic.

Then I started searching the web on my cell phone for someone to come and ease my pain.  But in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t have enough signal for that.  So I called the International dealer in Dayton, who gave me the number of an International dealer in New York, who gave me the numbers of several roadside repair businesses in the area.  And while I was making calls and taking notes, I finally opened the hood and took a look inside.  A hose clamp had broken and a hose coming from the radiator had come loose – and when I described that to whoever I was talking to at the time, he said “Did the noise you heard sound like someone had fired off a shotgun?”  Yes – that’s exactly what it sounded like.  And his response was “Good – then this should be an easy repair.”

It was about an hour before the repairman arrived.  He grabbed a clamp and started to install it – but it was too big.  And he didn’t have the smaller version – he said that when a clamp breaks on this hose, it’s usually the other end and it’s much bigger.  Every time he went back to his truck, I expected him to return with “Sorry, I can’t fix this here – we’re going to have to get you towed in and it will take two or three days to get it fixed.  But this guy had a Ph.D. in horsesense (I told him so later) – he fashioned what I needed out of a couple of smaller clamps, and I was on the road again two hours after the initial “shotgun blast.”  

It was irritating, but it could have been so much worse.  And I was thankful.

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When I arrived at the hotel, I decided that I needed ice cream from this great little shop about half a mile up the road.  But I’d had enough driving for the day, so I walked across parking lots and through vacant lots to get there – and the exercise felt good.  And let’s face it – when the lines are that long at 9:00 p.m., you know the ice cream is going to be good – and it was.

Back at the hotel, I did some computer work – and then I noticed that I had picked up a hitchhiker while I was out walking.  I had a tick on (in) my knee.  Thankfully, he hadn’t decided it was mealtime yet so he gave up his hold on my knee without much of a fight.  It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

It was irritating, but it could have been so much worse.  And I was thankful.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Prayers Needed for Two Generations of Krivitskis . . .

I just spent two hours moving everything important to me (or so it seemed) into my replacement cell phone.  My old one failed – for the second time in two months – but thankfully was just barely in warranty so Verizon replaced it free (again).  I had tried every app and setting – everything except the one thing that a phone should be used for most.  And then it rang . . .

The call was from Joe & Kathy Krivitski from Seaside Stampin’ Ink – but it was really intended for all of you.  The prayers, notes and more that you flooded Kathy with last year while she struggling with her health touched them so much that they called to ask for your prayers again – this time for their daughter and their unborn granddaughter.

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These happy faces pictured at their recent wedding belong to Joe & Kathy’s daughter Danielle and her husband Chris Abbott.  As if this happiness wasn’t enough, they are also expecting their first child – and just yesterday, Kathy announced via her Facebook page that her first grandchild will be a girl.

But today, everything is different – because Danielle is having health issues that are putting the baby’s life at risk.  They prefer not to discuss the specifics – instead they ask for prayers for Danielle and the baby, and that you will lift them up as you did Kathy.

If you also would like to send notes of encouragement, please e-mail them to and she’ll pass them along.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Family Matters . . .

It was a big family weekend in these parts.  It started a week ago Sunday, when my mom’s sister Nancy showed up at Mom & Dad’s place.  Dad and I were playing Cribbage after church, and Nancy stopped by to offer us tickets to the Dayton Dragons’ game last Friday.  I didn’t say anything at the time, but my first thought was “we’ve come full circle”.  Mom, Dad, Blake and I went to the Dragons’ game (again courtesy of Nancy) for Mom’s birthday in August 2011 – three days before the first time she went to the doctor because of the lump on her neck.


The company Nancy works for had bought the Party Deck next to the “batter’s eye” in center field – good planning, since it rained all day and didn’t look promising when we arrived.  Always nice to have a roof overhead on a rainy night . . .

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We got to spend part of the rain delay visiting with some of our extended family – that lovely lady in red is my grandpa’s youngest sister Sarah, still as active as always at 88.  One advantage of the Party Deck was tables and chairs – and someone in our family always has a deck of cards handy (this time, me).  So we passed the rest of the time playing Euchre until the game finally began about 90 minutes late.  That’s Nancy dealing the cards.


And Sunday, of course, was Mother’s Day – we can always use a good excuse for brownies and homemade ice cream.  It also gave the rest of the family a chance to watch the new condo video that Ryan shot on his cell phone during the inspection a couple of weeks ago.


Mom loves nothing more than being surrounded by her grandchildren, so we often take pictures of them together.  This year, there were two additions to the picture – Ryan’s fiancee Emily and my nephew Conner’s soon-to-be-fiancee Gina (they are ring shopping and he has already asked her parents for her hand).

It was a perfect evening – until I blew a tire on the way home.  More like blew a fist-sized hole in a tire – I must have hit something.  Thankfully I was within a few hundred yards of a local convenience store owned by friends, so I pulled off and fumbled through the manual to figure out where my spare and jack were (I haven’t had to change a tire in nearly 20 years).  Changed the tire (the spare is one of those little bitty things) and headed home – and Monday discovered that truck tires are much more expensive than passenger car tires.  Mine were the originals and after 65,000 miles had worn so well that I expected to get another year or two out of them – silly me.  About $900 later, I was back on the road again Monday evening.

Friday, May 10, 2013

They Were Here . . . Now They’re Gone (and Some of You Will Be Happy) . . .

They were here ... now they're gone ... and some of you will be happy. A shipment of 60 Envelope Punch Boards arrived yesterday afternoon, and Debbie had them ready to ship in a little over two hours. The shipping queue has now reached February 9, so online orders placed before then, all of the Lawrenceville show orders, and a handful of the Clearwater show orders went out yesterday. Next shipment is expected the week of May 20 -- and is supposed to be ten times bigger (yep -- 600 boards).


Our rep at We R Memory Keepers told me yesterday that she hounds the shipping department there every day -- and my response was "Our customers hound me, I hound you, you hound the shipping gods -- and hopefully our UPS driver shows up with a full truck soon."

Monday, May 6, 2013

More Random Thoughts . . .

It was nice to have a "buddy" with me at church yesterday. Mom always went with me when she and Dad were in town, but was reluctant to be in a crowd of people (and germs) during and after the cancer fight. But they got home from Arizona for the summer on Tuesday and she was raring to go yesterday morning!

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When I was in Georgia on the golf trip two weeks ago, I lathered on sunscreen all three days (so much so that the others made fun of me – but they all live at least two states south of me so have been exposed to the sun already this spring).  But Tuesday evening, after a full day outside in the bright sunshine, I scratched my head and it hurt – and I realized that for the first time in my life my cowlick got sunburned.  It’s a drag getting old . . .

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And finally, this – the grocery store across from our retail store is called Dorothy Lane Market (ironically, none of their three locations is actually ON Dorothy Lane anymore). I was in their Springboro location yesterday and saw this on the wall near the checkout -- it expressed so well how I feel about protecting our customers that I snapped a picture of it so I could share it.

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Enough . . . it’s raining and yucky here today.  Hope it’s nicer where you are – have a great day!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Milestones & More . . .

I have been off the blogging grid for nearly a month.  It has been a busy month – and I have collected bits and pieces along the way that I wanted to share.  So here they are in one sitting, in no particular order . . .


Tuesday, I learned that our friend Dale Gordon, known to many of you as "Mr. Evo" of Evolving Images, died on Friday, April 26. His family celebrated his life yesterday at their home in Northern Georgia. Our prayers go out to Evo, Cevo, and the rest of the family.


Congratulations to our friend Keia Arnold (left), who graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University over the weekend. We have literally watched Keia grow up in our booth at shows in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Novi, Cincinnati, and Akron -- I think Keia was a fifth or sixth grader when she and her mom first started working in our booth. She is a fine young lady and we are very proud to consider her a part of our family.


A few sights from the Allentown, PA show (April 13-14) – if you go to Heirloom’s Facebook Page, you’ll find pictures of booths, demos, customers, etc. from all of their shows.  Pat Larson is the “stealth photographer” and I caught him while he was taking a picture of Gary Burlin’s booth.  Picked up two other friends in the same shot – Bev Parnell (in blue next to Pat’s head) is one of Zoe’s favorite aunts (she brought a huge bag of treats), and Sue Bomboy (next to Bev) brings treats for me from her family’s candy store in Maryland.

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I am at least partially responsible for both of these pictures – and not just because I took them.  Our friend Cal Ruger has helped us with setup and teardown at shows in the northeast for years, but I do believe we wore him out this year.


Our cabin at Lake Richard B. Russell State Park near Elberton, GA – site of the spring golf trip for the second year in a row.  Beautiful place . . .

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This course is hard – and it isn’t any easier when some of the holes go right out on a peninsula and are surrounded by gorgeous views on multiple sides.  The pic at right shows the result of one of my few really good shots of the week – knocked it two feet from the hole from the tee and then made the putt for a birdie.

Timing was of the essence – left the golf course at 2:15 on Thursday afternoon, arrived at home at 10:45, dumped my suitcase and repacked it, and was on the road again by 6:00 on Friday morning, headed for Akron for Adventures in Stamping.  I was a tired boy, but it was worth it.


Two of our “regulars” at the store who made my weekend – Donna Sheetz and Judy Davidson sat at our demo tables all weekend and wowed the customers with a USArtQuest make & take and an Envelope Punch Board demo.

Which leads me to this – the latest update on the Envelope Punch Board.  Those who e-mail or call for an update get essentially the same response, which I update when it changes -- “I talked with We R Memory Keepers Tuesday (we talk with them two or three times a week) -- obviously, their original April estimate for completely filling advance orders has come and gone and we have reminded them of that.  They received a small shipment of boards earlier this week and expect larger shipments consistently over the next few weeks.  It sounds like their shipments to us will follow a similar pattern.  They originally told me that they hope to ship all of the 1,000 boards we need to fill our advance orders by the end of May, but we are pushing for a better delivery schedule.  Our customers have been very patient, but the delivery estimates have changed often -- and it makes us look bad when estimates we pass on in good faith are not met.  We will be shipping our pending orders in the order they were received as soon as boards arrive.  Thanks for your patience -- mine is wearing a little thin.”


This shot is most notable for who is missing – the four nice ladies from Christy’s Main Street Memories in New Concord, Ohio (I refer to them as the “Dauber Sisters” after their Stampaway costumes from four years ago) always come to shows together and always dress alike – and sometimes try out my recipes and bring me samples!  But this year, only Christy, Diane, and Leeanna attended – Linda was sick and marooned at home.  Hope you feel better soon . . .


For the locals – it’s Spring Spectacular week at Marco’s.  This was the view at one of the Tuesday afternoon Make & Takes.  There are all kinds of make & takes, classes, demos, specials and such going on all week in the store, culminated by a Trunk Show on Sunday.  You’ll find links to details on our homepage at

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And finally, a milestone on the personal front – while I was in Georgia playing golf, Ryan was negotiating to buy a condo.  The financing was preapproved before I left, the contract was signed while I was gone, and the inspection was yesterday.  Since my parents came home from Tucson on Tuesday, Dad and I went along for the ride and got to see the place for the first time.  It’s really nice – and the current owners’ cat was very friendly.  No doubt it will be barren for some time as payments take precedence over furnishings, but soon it will be his home.

And now we’re caught up – and I can go back to one thought at a time . . .