Sunday, February 28, 2016

Our Future Looks Brighter . . .

My brother and I are in Arizona for our annual visit with our parents, and I am looking forward to sharing our stories and hiking pictures and such.  But far more important is our “thank you” to a group of Tucson teenagers who confirmed – perhaps even restored – my faith in our next generation.

First a little background . . .

We like to start our visit with a “warmup hike” – the one Dad chose this year was an eight-mile round trip from the Sabino Canyon parking area out to Seven Falls.  It’s a fairly easy trail that crosses back and forth across a stream several times along the way.


And it has some spectacular scenery – we shared it with a lot more hikers than we would usually expect to encounter on a Friday morning.  We soon realized that all of the public schools in Tucson had shut down for two days in February for the 91st Tucson Rodeo – La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (The Celebration of the Cowboy).  And not all of the students headed out to the rodeo – and we played a game of “leap frog” with a group of them from Sahuaro High School as one group would stop for a rest break and the other passed by.

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Seven Falls is more than just a spectacular view of a number of waterfalls – it has a large area at the base that is popular for picnicking and sunbathing.

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With my love of all things that involve running water, it was only a few minutes before I was wandering around to find a good vantage point.  But the footing was treacherous – thousands of years of running water during the flooding caused by the winter runoff has made those rocks really slippery.


Meanwhile, Dad took a sunblock break – I think this is one of the best pictures we have ever had of him.  But take a close look at the young lady in the background – she and a group of her friends are the focus of this thank you note.

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I wandered down to the edge of the canyon to get one of those “What I Saw . . . What He Saw” shots . . .

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And then Blake took one of me – but every time I tried to sit down I couldn’t stop myself from slipping.  We didn’t realize until I cropped the picture at left this afternoon that while Blake was taking that picture, the group of teenagers behind my left shoulder were being Angels of Mercy to our dad.  We had no idea what had happened until I stood up and a family called to us – they said we needed to come quickly because our dad had slipped and fallen – and used phrases like “It looks pretty bad” and “He’s bleeding a lot.”

But we couldn’t find him – the family kept pointing but all we could see in that direction was a circle of those teenagers who had been playing “leap frog” with us earlier in the day.  And then we realized that Dad was in the center of that circle.  When we reached him, his face was covered in blood and the gash that covered the back of his head was shaped like a slingshot.  And yet there was nothing for us to do – the kids had it all under control.  They saw him fall and leaped to his aid – cleaned his wound and brought out an assortment of bandages and gauze.  The only thing we did was help the girl who was obviously in charge tape enough bandages to Dad’s head so that we could get his hat on to hold them in place and start hiking four miles back to the car.  She told us that she was a lifeguard and she obviously knew first aid.

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I took these two pictures just as we were getting ready to head out from Seven Falls.  I am convinced that this group of young people would have walked with us every step of the way – they offered us water, more bandages, snacks, and everything else they could think of.  And more than once they begged us to take Dad to the emergency room when we got back.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Dad has fallen – you may recall that a few years ago he hiked nearly 19 miles in the Grand Canyon after breaking his leg – and he assured everyone that he would be fine.  Still, they checked on us several times on the way back and didn’t go on ahead of us for the last time until I assured them that Dad was telling stories as we hiked and we were sure that we would make it to the car.


Don’t worry – I won’t share any graphic pictures.  When we got back to Mom and Dad’s place, Blake helped clean Dad’s wound and change the dressing.  He and I both agreed that stitches were necessary – but Dad wasn’t on board with the plan until Blake gave him a hand mirror and told him to look for himself.  Shortly after, Dad and I left for Urgent Care.

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The doctor’s diagnosis was “a nasty scalp laceration – but not unrepairable” – and a couple of hours and 20 staples later we were on our way.  But not before Dad drew quite a parade of nurses and receptionists who heard about his wound and wanted to see it for themselves.

Don’t think for a second that this slowed Dad down a bit – about half an hour after we left Urgent Care, the four of us were sitting in the audience at the Gaslight Theater, where we celebrated Blake’s birthday.  And the next day, we hiked for nearly nine hours on Mount Lemmon nearly 6,000 feet above Tucson.

I don’t know their names – but I plan to send an e-mail with a link to this post to the principal of Sahuaro High School.  Hopefully, the principal will be able to identify our care team and let them know that we followed their advice – and let them know once again how much we appreciate how they spent their school holiday.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scenes from Clearwater . . .

The only part of last weekend’s trip that seemed “normal” was the time spent in Florida.  Even monsoon rains, chilly temps, and gale force winds aren’t that out of the ordinary.  But I really expected to arrive to find that the Greek Orthodox Church where the show is held had been restored after the fire last February – instead, I found that the repairs have not started.  The church is still fighting with the insurance company, and they hope to settle and complete the repairs sometime this year.


I tried to get a picture that gave some perspective of what it was like when I arrived in Clearwater, and this was the best I could do.


Remember those pictures I took in out my back door a month or so ago during a snow squall?  I sent them to the local newspaper and they ran in the paper last Thursday – I saw them on my tablet 1,000 miles away after I checked into my hotel in Clearwater.


We were in our usual spot – I love those mirrors behind our booth.  So many times over the years, customers have asked me to move so they can get into the “other room” that they are seeing in the mirrors – and it happened again this year.


One of the usual carts in this booth setup stayed in Atlanta, so we took shelving and displayed coloring books where the cart would have usually stood.

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After setup, I drove over to Clearwater Beach for my usual walk in landscape that one just doesn’t experience in Ohio.  Looked quite different this year – I posted these pics on my Facebook page with the following caption . . .

Here's a recipe to get a prime piece of Florida Gulf Beach all to yourself on a Friday afternoon in February...

- Take one Florida white sand beach
- Add three layers of clothing
- Mix with howling winds
- Bake at temps lower than when you left home
- Enjoy! (it's still February in Florida)

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Our friend Mary Garvey made her way south for the weekend to escape from winter in upstate New York.  She spent part of the time working for Pat Huntoon at Technique Junkies, and part working with Linda Malcom at Lost Coast Designs.  And yet her name badge carries part of a label from a package I sent to her years ago . . .


Pat Huntoon was concerned that I would get tired of listening to the same demo speech over and over again – she was sitting less than ten feet from my cash register.  And yet the day was so busy – and the crowd was so excited – that I barely heard her all day . . .

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My best laugh of the day came courtesy of this nice lady.  Another customer kept telling me “Look at her shoes – look at her shoes!”  Too cool – and she said they are really comfortable.


One last way-out-of-focus image taken on the move during teardown – one of the staff from Scrapbooks, Etc. was unknowingly wearing the convention version of a “Kick Me” sign – she had no idea until she heard me laughing and her coworkers had to explain why . . .

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thanks for a Valentine That You May Have Created . . .

In the midst of a busy Thursday afternoon, an e-mail arrived in my inbox.  I get lots of e-mails – and a lot of them are spam, so I have a heavy finger on the “delete” key.  But I stopped short when the subject line simply said “Thank you!”  What I read from Kirsten Madaus just made my day – I suspect it might make yours as well – and it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day Weekend.

Here is what Kirsten wrote . . .

“I’d like to convey my thanks to some paper crafters across the US, and since I don’t know who most of them are—I’m trying to cast a wide net.

“My spouse is currently serving his 5th deployment and is lucky enough to be stationed at a base where the folks of From Our Hearts shipped out loads of blank cards. Deployed service members use these cards to write home to their families and friends, and my spouse is really impressed with the talent available when he goes to pick out cards to send to us.

“If the paper crafters included an e-mail (some do) I’m able to take a photo and email my thanks. But since From Our Hearts has shut down, I didn’t think there was any other way to say “thank you”.

“So here ya go—on behalf of all the talented and generous crafters who donated their art to the troops—this family gratefully says “thanks”.


How great is that?  I know that a lot of you have donated cards to the troops through many organizations over the years, so I hope that you will consider this a personal thank you from a military family that you have touched.  But I wanted to know more – so I asked Kirsten for more information about her military family.

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Mark Madaus is a civil engineer, and the pic with the giant bulldozer is from his first tour in Iraq.  Kirsten says “He’s 6’4”, that’s a really big bulldozer.”

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Most of you know that I’m not a foodie, but Kirsten writes a blog at and when I went there I got hungry.  Kirsten and Mark have been doing “Community Supported Agriculture” (translation – farming) for the past ten years and she writes about what she makes with what they grow.  The picture at left was taken last summer and shows off her first successful grilled pizza (yum), and of course the one at right shows her taking pictures for her blog.


One of her most recent posts involves a Bacon Egg and Potato Pizza – doesn’t that sound like breakfast?

So in case you ever wondered, the cards you create to support the people who protect us are used by real people with real lives who appreciate you as much as you appreciate them.

Thanks, Kirsten!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Karen’s Excellent Lawrenceville Adventure . . .

Since two popular shows that we usually attend were both held last weekend, and since both were in the same direction from home, and since Karen’s son Scott and his family live near Atlanta, and since I was able to pack the truck tightly enough to accommodate a lot of extra boxes, and since I was able to drop off a lot of those boxes in Lawrenceville a day early – for the first time in at least ten years, we decided to try to do two shows at the same time.

It all started last Wednesday, when Karen and I set off from 62 degree Ohio and headed south.  I dropped Karen off with Scott’s family in Marietta in the evening, where she spent Thursday with her grandchildren.  That all by itself made the trip worthwhile for her.


Thursday morning, I dropped everything Karen needed for the weekend at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds and then headed south to Florida (more on that another day).


Karen and our good friend Peggy Gould joined forces at a hotel in Duluth on Thursday evening, and filled up on breakfast – and especially coffee – before heading to the fairgrounds to set up the booth with Jane and Marie, who have helped us set up in Lawrenceville for years.

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And this is a portion of what they created, using some gridwall and carts from our usual booth, and lots more tables than we have used in years.


Little did they know that a wave of customers would swamp them all day on Saturday – our booth is somewhere behind that crowd.


Our show in Florida was only one day, so by midday Sunday I had returned to Georgia and brought out some of the carts on wheels to add to the shopping experience.


I had planned to just be Karen’s gopher on Sunday, but she wanted me to set up a cash register in case we needed it – and of course Pat Larson from Heirloom caught me checking my messages while Princess Peggy demoed (and tried to convince everyone she met to root for Carolina in the Super Bowl).


I heard stories about the Saturday giveaway – which was a huge hit even though I forgot to leave tickets for them.  And I was really looking forward to watching on Sunday – but Karen insisted that I do the honors while Vanna White (Peggy) showed off the prizes.

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After carrying a customer’s purchases out to her car, I saw this sign on the way back to the building.  And to think that a year ago I didn’t even know what they were.  Then yesterday I saw Heirloom’s pics from the show – and it appears that someone from the Saturday crowd must have missed the notice.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a trip about 500 miles farther south . . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Milestones and Teddy Bears -- But No Selfie Sticks . . .

Here are a few images from the lighter side – I figure we can all use them after yesterday’s post about Ellen.  All came from Sunday in Lawrenceville, Georgia – tomorrow, I will share more about Karen’s Excellent Lawrenceville Adventure . . .


Congratulations to our friends Larry and Judith Kleinschmidt from Stamps by Judith & Heather -- they celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday by working the show in Lawrenceville!


A boy and his bear . . .


And this was my laugh for the day – I helped a customer get her purchases out to her car and saw this on the way back to the building.  To think that until about a year ago, I had never heard of them . . .

Monday, February 8, 2016

Prayers for Our Friend . . . and Yours

I am home after a whirlwind weekend in Georgia and Florida.  And I will devote two or three posts over the next few days to everything we encountered.  But one thing I learned took my breath away and is so important that I want to share it in a post of its own.


A lot of you know Ellen from Tessler Stamps & Stencils – I took this picture last year after she caught a shoplifter at the show in Indianapolis.  Ellen is such a sweetheart and I love her dearly – and in the past few weeks her life has been turned upside down.

I stuck my head into the Friday Night Make & Take in Clearwater and another vendor said “Did you hear about Ellen?”  I knew that Ellen wasn’t in her usual spot at the show in Grapevine, Texas last month (her sister Cristina and Cristina’s husband Mickey were) but I didn’t think anything of it.  But I got bits and pieces of the story in Clearwater and then confirmed them with Cristina yesterday in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  And she gave me permission to share the story.

Ellen is fighting for her life – she suffered a brain aneurysm about the first of the year.  She spent quite a bit of time in intensive care and a portion of her skull was removed to relieve the pressure – and it won’t be replaced for a couple more weeks.  Cristina told me that we almost lost Ellen a couple of times, but she is a fighter and wants to live.  And she will have to learn how do talk, walk and do almost everything we take for granted all over again.

And she will have to do it with a heavy heart – 20 days after the aneurysm, Ellen’s husband Brian died unexpectedly.  I don’t have a picture of Brian, but you may remember him as the guy in the cowboy hat running the cash register while Ellen demoed and tended to customers.

Ellen’s sisters (I think there are three of them) are looking out for her, and another vendor suggested that we pass the word so her friends and customers can shower her with prayers and cards of support.  What we’re looking for here are “Get Well Cards” – not the Sympathy variety.  Ellen is looking forward and needs our support as she fights to return to us.

Ellen Sedgwick
8814 Prichett Dr.
Houston, TX 77096


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Addendum: After I wrote this post on Monday afternoon, I also put it on our Facebook page.  Facebook tracks how many people have seen individual posts – most of the time, one of our Facebook posts will be seen by several hundred people.  As of noon on Tuesday, Ellen’s story has been shared over 130 times and seen by over fifty-three thousand people!  I am simply overwhelmed by the power of social media and the support our friend is receiving.  Well done, folks!