Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Loss in the Marco’s Family . . .

Please keep Karen, her children (Michael, Scott & Ashley) and their families in your prayers.  There is no easy way to say this, especially when it’s unexpected – David Ihle died this morning. 

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For the locals, he was the big guy sitting at our front counter telling stories – and on the road he ran a cash register in our booth for several years.  He has been part of our “family” since the mid-70s when he started as a pressman in our small print shop – which is what we were for a long time before the crafters discovered us and changed all of our lives.  Arrangements will follow when we know more.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Best Moment of the Allentown Show . . . for Two Years

I first met them at the Allentown show last year.  Just after the show opened, I saw a woman and her husband walking down the aisle toward our booth.  She was wearing the familiar ball cap of someone who has been battling cancer – I have noticed them so much more since my mom wore hers.  Then I realized they were not just walking toward our booth – they were walking toward me.  She had a message that she wanted me to deliver.

She had just finished chemo.  During the process, she had read the blog posts and pictures that I had posted while Mom was in her shoes three-plus years ago.  I remember asking Mom if I could share what she was going through, wondering if she would allow something so personal – so threatening – to be read by people she didn’t know.  Now this stranger was telling me that my mom’s courage and grace had been an inspiration to her – and she wanted me to thank Mom for her.

Of course, I was happy to do so – I flashed a big smile and told her that I would look forward to seeing her again at the show next year.  As they walked away, I also wiped away a tear as I realized that what I might look forward to doesn’t always come to pass.  But I delivered that message to Mom and we shared a few more tears.

“Next year” was yesterday . . .

Just after the show opened, I saw a woman and her husband walking down the aisle toward our booth.  She was wearing the familiar ball cap of someone who has been battling cancer – but this time there was hair underneath!  And I smiled and said, “You’re back!”


We had a great visit, and remembered the visit last year.  I learned that she had brought her husband to the show last year so he could come and shop for her in case she couldn’t later on.  I am so glad that they were able to come together again this year.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t even know her name.  But I am so glad that she is still here – and still fighting – and that Mom and I were able to play a small role in her journey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One Smart Local . . .

Most of you know the drill when new items are announced – we take “advance orders” for them and then ship them in the order they were received once the new item arrives.  But what that usually means is that everything in the first shipment we receive (and sometimes the second) is already sold – which means that none of them make it to our store here in Dayton for a long time.

For years, I have encouraged the locals to place advance orders, too – and we’ll fill and send them to the store for pickup while we’re shipping to those of you in the hinterlands.  Several take advantage of this – and have always put a note in the comments section at checkout so we know to send their orders to the store.

Until today . . .


Robyn Trimble gets a gold star – she is the first to actually list the store as the shipping address for her order!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Challenge for the Locals: Feed This Box . . .

I was just at the store on a “quick grab” of items to fill orders.  The Wednesday afternoon Make & Take was just starting – and before anyone knew I was there, I heard my name being dropped.  Didn’t hear why, but the first thought that entered my mind was “uh oh” – then Judy Davidson spotted me and I was brought out to face the masses. 

So I said the first thing that came to my mind – “Today must be Festivus – we will now commence with the airing of grievances.”  (A disclaimer – I have never watched Seinfeld – but I have heard this episode mentioned many times and someday I will watch it, because I love the idea)

But thankfully, I wasn’t in trouble.  Instead, the ladies had been discussing a service project that they wanted me to share with the masses.  And they even handed me a script.  Therefore . . .


Do you have any cards you’ve made that you won’t use soon?  Consider donating them!  One Bistro in Miamisburg sells handmade cards with envelopes and uses the proceeds to feed the hungry.  We keep a collection box at Marco’s – on the windowsill near the office.  Thanks!


And then I went to the windowsill.  This is the box – and it is hungry, too.  So the challenge to the locals (and to those of you in the hinterlands – if  you have extra cards to put to good use, send them to us) is to put your talents to good use and feed this box.  And those who are less fortunate at the same time.

If you want more info about One Bistro and its mission to feed the community, go to www.onebistro.org

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Keeping You Busy on a Basketball Weekend . . .

Let’s face it – your significant other is likely watching college basketball this weekend.  Why do I know this?  Because I am watching college basketball this weekend.  I enjoy the conference tournaments … Selection Sunday … and the first couple of days of the NCAA Tournament are like Christmas, with nonstop action from noon until midnight.  My brother and I will be sitting in Nationwide Arena in Columbus next weekend – don’t bother trying to reach me on Friday or Sunday.

So if you are not also a basketball junkie, here are a couple of tidbits to occupy your time.  In our area, it’s still way too sloppy outside to do yardwork . . .

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New item alert – this was the hot new toy at the show in Indianapolis last weekend.  Gyro-Cut is the ultimate craft and hobby tool, with a rotating blade that cuts smooth curves and intricate shapes.  I had never heard of it before Nikki Webb at Heirloom Productions sent me a text and told me I should check it out at the show.  Then our local legends Judy Davidson and Judy Kennard saw it at the show and told me the same thing – and so did lots of other customers.

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So I finally wandered to the other end of the show and watched the U.S. distributor Matt Greenburg putting the Gyro-Cut through its paces.  And it is very cool.

It’s originally from Great Britain, so here’s an instructional video with an appropriate accent.  If you’re getting this by e-mail and seeing nothing but a blank black box where the video should be, click on this link and you’ll be able to watch it.


While you’re at it, here’s something else that will occupy your time and give you lots of cardmaking ideas.  Memory Box just released their Spring 2015 Look Book – 50 pages full of projects made with Memory Box’s new dies and folders.  Each of the projects lists the new Memory Box products that were used, and you can put the code numbers into the search box on our site to find and order them.

Have fun . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Arizona 2015 (Part 2) . . .

I have been back in the Midwest for a week.  Somehow we missed all of the flight cancellations that plagued the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport while we were gone.  Flights from Tucson to DFW were cancelled on two days while we were in Arizona – and travelers had to wait up to four days to get an available spot on a flight (on the trail, we encountered a twenty-something from Maryland who was thrilled that his vacation was being extended four days).  Then we flew home with only minor delays – and DFW shut down for Snowmageddon for two days afterward.

Over the past week, I have endured single digit temps during setup in Indianapolis . . . basked in the glow of Ellen from Tessler’s catching a shoplifter in her booth . . . and now I’m looking outside my window, where Spring has finally arrived and temps are in the 50s.  Thursday or Friday, we expect big deliveries to arrive so we’ll go back into shipping mode – so this seems like the best opportunity to wrap up the travelogue . . .

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The day after Blake took that adorable picture of my parents walking down the street carrying a laundry basket between them, we started hiking into Ventana Canyon just before dawn, from a parking lot in an upscale housing development at the foot of the mountains.  Dad had told us the day before that we were hiking to “The Window” – and that it would not be as strenuous as the hike to Mount Kimball two days before.  It takes a while before the sun gets high enough to light up the canyon, but it’s quite a sight when it hits the upper peaks.

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Most of the time, the trail is easy to find – but when it crosses the stream or goes through rocks, it’s nice when someone has taken the time to build a rock cairn to point the way.


The view back toward Tucson – notice that the sun still hasn’t come out inside the canyon.

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Blake’s got shots that make us look like intrepid explorers along the way . . .


Of course, my shots of them usually involved food breaks.

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Another of those “What He Saw . . . What I Saw” combinations.  I haven’t seen what Dad shot at the same time.  I am always drawn to the sound of running water and babbling brooks.

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If you look straight down from the twigs at the top center of the left picture, you can see a tiny hole – that was our first view of The Window.  I zoomed in to take the shot on the right.  We had been hiking for four hours – and it would be three more hours before we actually got there.


Another running water shot, through a split in the rocks along the way up.

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The view from the back side of the “saddle” just before we started the final climb up to the window.  The scenery is familiar – once again, that’s Biosphere 2 in the middle of the picture on the right.

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Dad and Blake enter The Window.  I was in no hurry – the wind was absolutely howling and there was nothing but a sheer drop on the other side.  Heights bother me enough on a calm day – with this much wind, there was no way I was going out onto the ledge.

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I was satisfied taking pictures from a safe spot just inside The Window.

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Blake took the shot of The Great White Adventurer, and the kid from Maryland who was enjoying his extended vacation took the shot of all of us at my safe spot inside The Window.

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We made much better time on the way back – only four hours from The Window back to the car.  Still, it was an eleven-hour hiking day.


The entrance to the canyon lets hikers in but keeps livestock, horses and such out . . .


On the way back, we made a pilgrimage for that which can only be drooled about in the eastern half of the country . . .

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The next morning, we spend a couple of hours playing Pickleball with the natives.  If you’re not familiar with the sport, it’s a combination of ping-pong and tennis on a squash court – and it got its name because the people who invented it had a dog named Pickles who kept running off with the ball.  You can probably tell from the form that Dad and Blake are quite a bit more athletic than I ever was.


And then after working up an appetite, we took Mom out for lunch. 

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And that evening, we enjoyed the spaghetti sauce that their neighbor made when she found out we were coming – we had enjoyed it so much when she made it two years ago.

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On the day that we go home, we always take a “short” (only four hours) hike in the morning so that we don’t feel like the whole day is a travel day.  There was rain the day before, so there were lots of low clouds obscuring the mountains, and water droplets hanging from all of the bushes along the trail.

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Really nice view of the desert as the sun was coming up, with the mountains in the background.  And this was the only critter we saw in four days on the trails . . . he/she was not a bit afraid of us, just sat there and watched.


Another of my many stops by a little bit of running water.

Our destination on this hike was Garwood Dam, inside Saguaro National Park.  There is an interesting story and pictures about Nelson Garwood and his ranch that you can see by clicking on this link.  What’s left now is not quite as impressive as it was in those days . . .

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This is all that’s left of his house, and the road that once led to the dam is now just a hiking trail.

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Blake, Dad, and Blake’s oldest son Conner hiked to the dam 13 years ago.  Apparently this sign wasn’t there then – Dad and Blake went out a bit to recreate a picture they had taken then.


Meanwhile, I followed the rules and stayed off to the side a bit . . .

Alas, all good things must come to an end and we had to head for home.  A 30-minute delay before we left Tucson was nothing compared with what others were going through.  And a 60-minute delay before we left DFW for Dayton gave us enough time to finish what we started while we were waiting . . .


The Dayton/Rhode Island basketball game, on my phone and courtesy of the Slingbox Ryan bought for me a few years ago – best Father’s Day present I ever received.