Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Friendly Reminder . . .

If you’re like me and tend to wait until the last possible minute, here’s a friendly reminder that today – Halloween – October 31 – is the last day of the offer to get introductory pricing and free shipping in the Continental U.S. on several new items . . .


Sizzix Magnetic Platform for Wafer Thin Dies – finally in stock and shipping now – get yours for $31.99 (20% off the MSRP) with free shipping in the Continental U.S.


All Four New Punch Boards from We R Memory Keepers – we have made it into early October on the advance orders and expect more very soon – get yours for $63.96 (20% off the MSRP) with free shipping in the Continental U.S.

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Or get any of the new Punch Boards from We R Memory Keepers – Gift Box, Candy Box, Gift Bag, or Pillow Box – individually for $17.99 (10% off the MSRP) with free shipping in the Continental U.S.

And if you haven’t picked up your set of Tim Holtz’ Winter Distress Paints, you can still get it for $24.00 (20% off the MSRP) with free shipping in the Continental U.S.


Here’s one that isn’t going off the special offer yet – because it is arriving for the first time on Friday, November 1.  The new Trim & Score Board from We R Memory Keepers is expected tomorrow – get yours for $26.99 (10% off the MSRP) with free shipping in the Continental U.S.  That free shipping offer will continue for a couple of weeks.

Keep your little ghosts and goblins safe out there tonight!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Perks of My Advancing Years . . .

Monday, I received the first benefit of this stage of my life.  I played golf with three friends at a nearby course I had never played before – the golf league that I play in during the summer ended six weeks ago, but for the first time in many years I wasn’t ready to put my clubs away for the winter.  It’s not that I have played all that well – I have just enjoyed it, partly because I have played several new courses this year.

One of my foursome asked me how much the greens fees were at this course, so I looked it up online – and discovered that the senior discount there starts at age 55.  I saved ten bucks!

But by the next day I needed a shawl and cane . . .

Last week, a friend called  -- he coaches the local junior high teams and asked if I would consider announcing their last game of the year to cap off their season. Years ago, I used to do this for another friend when he was coaching peewee teams – they would hold their last game at night on the high school field and I made it sound like a varsity game.

The last junior high games were last night and I really enjoyed it.  The highlight for me was my interactions with the seventh grader who was running the scoreboard (I didn't get the spelling on his first name but it was pronounced KEE-un).  At one point, he asked me how long I had announced the varsity games, and when I told him 34 years his jaw dropped and he said "You mean you have been announcing since before I was BORN?"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sharing the “Blog Fodder” . . .

I have been on the road for most of the past month – only one weekend out of the past five was completely spent in my area code, and on that weekend I left on Monday for a golf trip.  Typically, during such stretches I run into lots of little tidbits that I call “blog fodder” – and then I need a post like this to share them.

So “cleaning the slate” is the only common element in most of what you’ll read below . . .


Milwaukee, Wisconsin 9/21/13 – This is Mitch from Heartfelt Creations, and it was his birthday.  Apparently this was payback for what he did to a fellow vendor on her birthday earlier this year.  Alas, he didn’t wear it for the entire day . . .

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin 9/21/13 – I am seeing more and more scooters instead of crutches for those recovering from broken limbs and surgeries, but this is the first one I have seen with a little bell like I used to have on my bicycle when I was a kid.  However, I have seen horns . . .

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 Tim’s Ford State Park, Tennessee 10/1/13 – A little out of focus because I shot them from long range, there were lots of these critters on the golf course and elsewhere in the park.  They weren’t disturbed at all when our golf carts approached – lots of times they didn’t even move into the trees.


Fort Wayne, Indiana 10/5/13 – Hard to tell how much longer this love affair will last.  Keia Arnold has been part of our family at midwestern shows since she was nine or ten years old, but now she is a teacher in Bloomington, Indiana and has visions of North Carolina dancing in her head.  She and Noelle Lindeman (daughter of Steve and Michelle at Toomuchfun) have been close since before Noelle could walk – Noelle always seems to find her way into our booth (or Keia into theirs) at some point during a show.


Fort Wayne, Indiana 10/6/13 – It was Robin Arnold’s birthday, the second year in a row that she has worked our demo table on her birthday.  Also the second year in a row that Phil didn’t have to get a cake for her – it was the least I could do after he gave up part of his Saturday evening to play golf with me.


Van Wert, Ohio 10/6/13 – Pouring rain during teardown at the Fort Wayne show (thankfully, we were able to drive inside).  Just as I got to Van Wert on the way home, the sun came out as it was setting in the west and provided the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen.  Pictures wouldn’t do it justice – this was the best I could get while stopped at a traffic light.

Waynesville, Ohio 10/9/13 – No picture, just a warm memory.  It was my birthday, and as many of you know my parents were already in Arizona.  Instead, my friend Tom and I played golf and then had dinner on the balcony of the restaurant at the golf course.  Tom and I have been friends since we were very little – his dad was my first Little League coach and his mom and mine used to work together at the school.

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York, Pennsylvania 10/11/13 – Historic monsoon rains, nearly nine inches in a little over a day.  Thankfully, the nice folks at the York Expo Center let us drive inside a building that usually doesn’t allow it.  Otherwise, my rainsuit would not have been sufficient.


York, Pennsylvania 10/12/13 – Sue Rothamel’s last show with us (at least for a while).  There is no “rest of the story” for this – Sue just has too many irons in the fire right now and the travel has become difficult.  We are currently discussing how to keep a USArtQuest presence in our booth.


Waynesville, Ohio 10/16/13 – The sunset as viewed from my front lawn, one of the advantages of living on top of the hill in my little town.


Sevierville, Tennessee 10/17/13 – The long, long hallway that we had to navigate between the loading dock and the Sevierville Events Center ballrooms where our show was located.


Sevierville, Tennessee 10/18/13 – The view outside the Sevierville Events Center that I had to look at all weekend.  Yes, it was calling to me – I rushed to the clubhouse after setup on Friday, stepped onto the first tee at 4:40 p.m., and finished the 18th in near-darkness at 7:10 p.m.  Yep -- 2½ hours to play 18 holes.  I did not waste time . . .


Sevierville, Tennessee 10/19/13 – Janet Winkle from Your Scrapbook Superstore in Sevierville.  Without her, there wouldn’t have been a show.  Janet has taught in our store two or three times.

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Sevierville, Tennessee 10/19/13 – The nonstop typhoon of energy that is Robyn Josephs.  Robyn and I have e-mailed back and forth many times over the years (she is a long-time customer) but had never met until we had the opportunity to work together last weekend.

Enough already – the camera is empty and the stories are told.  I can now start fresh again . . .

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Prayers for My Sister . . .

A word of explanation before I get started, because I know that some of you read the title of this post and had the thought “He has a sister?”  I have one sibling – my brother Blake.  But I have always felt that the fact I have no “blood” sisters gives me the right to pick and choose my own “sisters I never had.”  And I have exercised that right several times over the years.

Many of you have met Melinda Doster – she has demoed for us at shows many times over the years, has taught in our store, and currently demos for Impression Obsession at shows.  We first met at a show in Greenville, SC in 1999.  Melinda was touring the show with a friend who is confined to a wheelchair – and she was hard to miss because she was wearing a bright yellow polo shirt.  All day long, I saw this yellow streak in different parts of the room.  And later in the day, she came to me to ask for a donation of cardstock for a project her stamp club was doing for hospitalized kids in her area.  Obviously, we get a lot of similar requests and can’t accommodate all of them, but I told Melinda that I was touched by how she had watched out for her friend all day.  When she asked me how I had noticed, I told her that she was hard to miss in that bright yellow shirt!

The next spring, we made our annual visit to the Atlanta area, and one of the first people I saw was Melinda – in that same yellow polo shirt!  A year or so later, we asked her if she would consider demoing for us – without realizing that she taught at a stamp store in her area.  We were just convinced from her personality that she was a natural.

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Over the years, we have become very good friends.  We have shared each other’s joys and sorrows, sung in church together, bowled together, and played cards together in the lobbies of various hotels along the show circuit.  She even joined in our costume fun at the Cincinnati show several times.  And Melinda got the first-hand account of my son Ryan’s first date with Emily before I did – he was flying to Tampa to vacation with me after the Clearwater show, and she surprised him at the gate while she was waiting for her flight home from the same show.

And yes – Melinda has become one of those “sisters I never had.”

Sunday morning at the York convention, Melinda told me that she has breast cancer.  I needed to grab a piece of the gridwall in our booth to hold myself up.

The stage is uncertain at this point, but she will be having surgery on November 7 – hopefully a lumpectomy, though that too is uncertain.  That will be followed by radiation, and possibly by chemo depending on what the surgeon finds.

I asked Melinda if her news was for public consumption, and her response was “You can tell anyone you want – I’d like all the prayers I can get.”  Melinda is a woman of tremendous faith – she had it long before she started working for the Inspiration Network in Charlotte several years ago.  And she told me that she is at peace with the process.

So please shower my sister with prayers and e-mails of support – her e-mail address is


Addendum – Melinda has received lots of e-mails (thanks!) with requests for her address to send cards, and she asked that I post it:

Melinda Doster
1888 Huntington Place
Rock Hill, SC 29732

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Side Trip . . .

We are spending the weekend in the monsoon that is York, Pennsylvania.  Nine inches of rain in two days – thankfully, it only affected the trip over and setup day.  By Saturday morning, the sun was out and the crowds were in the house.

But on the way east, I got to take a little side trip – a very little side trip.  Over the years, I have posted a number of pictures of the Dauber Sisters from Christy’s Main Street Memories in New Concord, Ohio – they enjoy the costume themes at Stampaway in Cincinnati (not to mention my recipes) as much as I do.  This August at Stampaway, I told Christy Applegate that one of these days I would get out early enough on one of my eastern show trips that I would make a surprise stop in her store.  The only issue was getting there before the store closed – it’s only about a mile off I-70 between Zanesville and Cambridge.

Thursday was the day, and about 4:00 in the afternoon I wandered into the front door . . .

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New Concord has more claims to fame than being the home of Christy’s Main Street Memories – it is also the birthplace of John Glenn, former Senator from Ohio who was also the first American in space.  It’s a quaint little village that reminds me a lot of my hometown.  Christy’s shop is in an old building on Main Street that was originally a hardware store – and this picture on the wall was taken in the 1970s.


This is a narrow, deep store that you wander through like you’re walking through a maze – each twist and turn reveals more treasures.  If I had made it in the morning, I would have surprised the other three Dauber Sisters – they were helping with a class.


Christy and I had a nice visit – and I found out that her family has lived in New Concord about as many generations as mine has lived in Waynesville.


I thought I was going to get a perfect shot as I left (you can actually see my reflection just below the “open” sign), but the sun’s glare washed out the picture.  About 100 miles east of New Concord, that glare disappeared completely and was replaced by driving rain.  But this was a really enjoyable side trip – if you’re heading east or west on I-70 through eastern Ohio, I think you would enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Early Wake-Up Call . . .

My phone rang at 6:53 this morning.  My phone always rings at 6:53 a.m. on October 9 – Mom and Dad are on the other end of the line to sing Happy Birthday to me at the exact time that I was born.  Many of you read my birthday wish a couple of years ago to keep receiving these calls, and thanks to your support, modern medicine, and the grace of God, they continue.

But because of our Grand Canyon hike a month ago, this is the first year Mon and Dad have been in Tucson on my birthday – and 6:53 a.m. in Ohio is 3:53 a.m. in Arizona.  So yesterday I sent a text to Dad and encouraged them to wait to call me until 6:53 a.m. in their time zone.  A couple of minutes later, the response came that they had already set two alarm clocks to make sure they were on the phone at the proper time.  And I have to admit that it wouldn’t have been the same otherwise.

For years, I shared my birthday with my friend Bob Campbell – he had already used it 29 times before sharing it with me.  Every year, we made a point of finding each other at some point during the day to wish each other a Happy Birthday.  Bob died a few years ago, but this morning I remembered his 55th birthday – his wife and friends were throwing him a surprise birthday party and asked me to come up with a gag gift similar to the Golden Buckeye Card that gives discounts to senior citizens in Ohio.  So I did, and they presented him with the Golden Double-Nickel Card, with the tag line “For Those Ten Glorious Years Between Old Age and Retirement” . . .

At age 26, I thought that was pretty funny.  Still do, but now there’s a difference – today, I qualify . . .

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Double Message in Fabric . . .

I get a kick out of reading the t-shirts that some of you wear to conventions.  A lot I have seen before, but now and then I see one that needs to be shared.  This one I saw yesterday . . .


I chuckled when I read it and asked if I could take a picture of it to share on the blog.  Found out that she had embroidered it herself.  Then she asked me if I had read the back (I hadn’t) . . .


A lot of humor on the front – a lot of truth on the back.  And if I changed a word or two on the front, most of it would apply to me -- “I had no clue that one tiny rubber stamp convention would lead to this . . .”  You folks have been therapy for me, and for my family – many times in ways that you never knew.  Thanks.