Thursday, May 31, 2007

Everything, and Nothing At All

No coffee yet (ugh), "Morning Red" by Mission Mountain Woodband on iTunes. It's summer. I feel it in my bones. Has the world changed so much that summer really does begin in May now? Or is it because I live in the south? I don't think it's the latter--it's clearly summer in the north too when I talk to my parents and my in-laws (Montana and Chicago). I am sleepy in the early morning and lethargic when I do manage to rise. I thought I would have time to post this morning between watering the potted plants and taking the dogs to the groomer, before starting studio work, but my brain is just. too. sluggish. I'll be back.

Okay, it's 10:00. The dogs are at the groomer, the coffee in in the Starbucks go-cup, and thoughts of where I want to go next with my business fill my head (and have no business there, really). I passed a great-looking studio/teaching/retail space for lease on my way to the groomer and my mind just started running away with itself. What If...?

I have never done a business plan. I have started one or two, but quickly got bored, got up, and did something else. It has always been enough to think, "What do I want to do THIS year with Siyeh Studio? What do I want to grow now?" And at the end of four years of full-time, hodge-podge management (preceded by 16 years of really no management at all--business as driven by life rather than driven by business), I am in a pretty good place. However, my success is due more to my ability to think on my feet and react quickly to problems than any real forethought. Should I change strategies now?

I have a book coming out in the fall. I am going to be a regular contributor to at least one and now maybe two magazines. I haven't taught regularly up till now because I didn't want to teach either my current studio production work (it is, after all, my bread and butter) or the same thing everyone else teaches in a beginning class. But I am a good teacher--I really LIKE teaching and I communicate well (let's skip all the false modesty crap). Adding regular teaching to my routine would be nice--especially as I am happy with my reduced show schedule and so would have more time for it.

I am also still attracted to the idea of retailing glass and supplies. I tested a lot of supplies and new products in the process of writing the book, and I see myself trying more as I write for Glass Patterns. Carrying them in a retail location and teaching classes around them seems a logical extension. Retail does mean hiring someone though, as I certainly can't do all my production work, teach AND staff a retail space full-time (and my poor spouse is probably having heart failure reading that I am even contemplating ANY of this!).

Then there is the idea of starting a multi-craft artist co-op organization--gallery, teaching facility, etc.--with a group of other like-minded, federally-funded artists... And I have a friend who asked me about teaching for his university's Continuing Ed campus in Albuquerque...

The bottom line is that all of this thought highlights my need (at least for now--we could wait a couple of minutes to see if it goes away) to sit down and evaluate avenues of expansion, their costs (ALL the costs--including time) and benefits, and to think ahead beyond this year to where I would like to be (besides Montana) in five years. Is a five-year plan too much to ask? Hey Bill, there might even be goats in it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Coffee in the New York skyline mug (in honor of the New York Minute--the pace of the day), "Her Strut" by Bob Seger on iTunes. Yeah, I'm struttin' today. I just finished wrestling 189 lbs of glass packed for shipping out the door and onto the front porch (aka "Siyeh Studio Shipping and Receiving" or "the loading dock"). When I finish posting--but before I finish my catalog pages--I am going to update my invoicing spreadsheet to see how much I have sent out this month. It'll be cool to be able to do this with a report against a database, but I'm not there yet.

All day yesterday was dedicated to, and boy was it a slog! I ended up by accidentally removing my page and catalog items completely so now I'm not even listed there. *Sigh* first thing I have to do this morning is get some photos up. Apparently you can't have a catalog without any photos. The printed word just isn't enough for some people, got to have pretty pictures. Note: all software sucks to some extent, all web interface software sucks stoats.

Amidst the computer madness must come a full kiln load and those pesky bills which are still languishing in the embarrassingly large piles of paper on the kitchen table (unofficial desk) and on my desk in the office (which is too covered with said paper to actually use). I keep sorting everything into tidy piles which then get all smooshed together before I can do anything with them and need to be resorted. I need a personal secretary. I'm beginning to wonder if I need a nanny--not for Jessie, but for me! Now, off to compute elsewhere...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Business Solutions R Us

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "So Long, So Wrong" by Alison Krauss and the Union Station on iTunes. It was truly random--I started iTunes up and just hit play--but it is appropriate. I spent the weekend (up to 6:30 this morning when the last piece went in to slump) fixing mistakes on orders. I have been plagued for the past few (several) months with little errors in my orders. Paying more attention doesn't seem to be the solution, and my existing firing schedule doesn't work anymore either. Time to get all Filemaker Pro on the problem's ass.

In my current system I take a hand-written or faxed order and I manually enter it into an order form (in a spreadsheet--Excel) on the computer. Then I manually enter all the orders into my firing schedule. Previously, when putting things into the firing schedule, I was also taking into account the stock I had on hand, but that was messing me up as I would mark that I had something and so didn't make it for an order and then when it came time to ship, I no longer had it and was screwed. Whatever. Anyway, I then follow the firing schedule and only refer to the order again when it's time to ship--at which point lately I keep finding myself with the wrong pieces or not all the pieces I need to ship.

But I have solution for the problem (I hope), and an intern to implement it. Now I am going to manually enter everything once. Everyone knows that the more times you transcribe data the more chance there is for a mistake. So one entry, one chance. I am going to put them all into the Filemaker Pro database I have been creating and then create reports against the one set of ddata for orders to fill, etc. This way not only will I have a current report of all orders due to ship, but I will also be able to run reports on product popularity and order history by account. With all this data collection, organization and potential for analysis, one might be tempted into thinking I actually run a business!

So the morning is dedicated to data, website organization, and bills both paid and sent. This afternoon--after shipping three large orders and putting in a full kiln load for another--I am going to let work spill into the garden again and pressure wash the concrete pad in front of the studio annex, er, garage. There'll be fireworks tonight!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Summer Hours are for Wimps

No coffee yet (and that's just a crime), no music either. It's Monday but it might as well be Sunday because it is Memorial Day and thus a holiday. I am posting because, even though I said I was taking a three-day weekend, my shipping schedule--compounded with a couple of mess-ups--dictated otherwise. And as Bill pointed out yesterday, I haven't been posting enough anyway. I didn't finish Friday until late so there were no summer hours for me! Maybe next weekend...

So it's 9:30 in the morning and I already have three full kiln loads in and am watering the lawn for the first time this year. I'm not much of a grass person normally. I'm against the resource-intensive care most of them require in order to thrive. But I put in zoysia sod three years ago and, in spite of the dogs and my decided lack of interest in fertilizing, weeding (chemically or otherwise), and watering, it has more or less thrived until this year. This year I decided to mow it before it came out of winter dormancy in order to get it down to it's optimum height (we were pretty lax about mowing the last couple of years too). But taking it down so short let the weeds take hold before it greened up this spring. Then our current drought set the cap on its decline so I find myself with sad, patchy little bits of green. As they deserve better care from their steward, I girded my loins and set off to Lowe's yesterday. There, I armed myself with a weed-killing turf-builder (in liquid formula so I re-seed sooner), zoysia seed, starter fertilizer, a hand spreader for dispersal of said fertilizer and seed, a sprinkler and another hose (the current one being use to hand-water the posts of flowers every day. That I manage.)

When I got home I staked up the drooping bamboo, used Round-up on the weeds growing in the stone patio, and mowed the lawn. Today I will put together the new pressure washer (also acquired at Lowe's) and clean off the deck and the parking pad outside the studio annex.

Even though this is the forum for posts on GLASS WORK, clearly there is a twining of tasks this weekend that no longer allows for clear separation between the studio and the garden. That is the way is should be on the weekends I suppose. Move the hose, grind the edges of some more plates. Water the flowers, load some large display panels into the kiln. Fill the pond, pack an order for shipping. Summer, it's what's happening. Later today I think we're going to see the giant bugs at the Botanical Garden (an exhibit, not a reality).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Summer Hours!

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Walking In the Air" by George Winston on iTunes. The kiln load yesterday came out... interesting. I learned something new--or maybe I already knew it and forgot it (I am running into that more and more as I age). What I learned? You should pre-fire your ceramic fiber shelves. They have organic binders in them that can react in interesting ways with, say, Bullseye irid glass. I use a clear irid base on the majority of my Morceaux de Verre pieces and fire it irid side down (so irid against the kiln shelf). In Wednesday's firing the irid changed color all around the edge and pretty much disappeared in the middle (where there was no oxygen) of every piece. Definitely a chemical reaction, and one I have never seen before. I occasionally get a different reaction between Bullseye irid and Thinfire (the ceramic shelf paper distributed by Bullseye), but that's more of a bubbling up, gassing off kind of a reaction which ends up with the underside being pitted. I have never seen a true color change before, and it was impressive!

Today is the official First Day of Summer for us. True, real summer doesn't start for another month, but we here in the south are advanced. Or maybe it's just a by-product of global warming. In any case, Jessie "graduated" from Pre-K yesterday (and got a certificate and everything) and has no school today (summer camp starts Tuesday). Today is also the first day of "summer hours" at CNN/Turner so Dave gets to come home at 3:00 every Friday starting today. What a nice beginning to an already three-day weekend! I might do something commensurate and, oh, take the late afternoon off too! What a radical concept--summer hours in the studio and weekends and holidays off! I'll have to tweak the firing schedule this morning to see if I can swing it and still make my deadlines.

And it's official: I am going to be a regular contributing author to Glass Patterns Magazine starting in the fall issue. Lest ye think it's all about stained glass, do a search of their archives on "fused" and you will see that they have been publishing how-to articles on kiln-formed glass projects since the mid eighties. Now off to ship, fire, and Mom a playdate.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Aren't We In the Studio Yet?

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Home" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. It's a theme. And it's a morning. Today is Jessie's "graduation" ceremony and lunch. Graduation from Pre-K. Oh boy. And I have YEARS of this stuff to look forward to. I also have ikebana this morning and a drive-by delivery/ship this afternoon. Junior, the delivery driver for Elliott Metalworks is meeting me in the Sam's Club parking lot off I-85 to give me a load of stands and to pick up the table I have for EMW. Hey, beats paying for shipping!

As soon as it is cool enough, I need to check the kiln to see how the new shelves fired. I did a full load on them... bare. They're the same kind I had before, the distributor claims glass doesn't stick to them, glass never stuck to the old ones--but I used thinfire for the first couple of months of firings on them. Well, the worst that can happen is all the work and one side of the shelves are ruined.

Finished the organization of my product catalog last night (Yea!) and now I just need to figure out how to translate it to I diddled with it for about a half hour and decided to call Amory today to see if she can help me. I was surprised not to find and help on the site for it.

The Buyer's Market is looking for "stories" to put in their marketing materials and I want to write something for that. The publisher of Profitable Glass and Glass Patterns contacted me while I was in Vegas and asked me if I would write a column for them so I need to follow up on that, and, oh yes! Over 10,000 people (not different people) have visited (I won't say "read") Glass Incarnate. I mentioned this fact to Dave and followed up with a modest, "Of course I'm not Scalzi.", to which he replied, "He gets that many hits in 12 hours." Whatever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hump Day... Again, Again!

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Venus" by Bananarama on iTunes. Glass all day. Longing to be in Montana/live in Missoula is fruitless. When I get the University of Montana Alumni magazine I should just throw it unopened. It's like crack (I imagine), one little taste and I crave more to the point of madness. But glass, you say...

An intern is a wonderful thing. I am doing less and getting more done. The new shelves are cut and in the kiln. Oooooh, flatness... Sophie is putting away all the new glass and frit and I am going to quick get a load in before beginning the great photographic essay that will be my catalog. I still have to tackle my site and figure out how to put everything up there as tightly organized as possible--I need drop-down menus for series, style and stand type, and I need the picture of the work to change appropriately... and I haven't figured out to do this yet. Either that or I don't have drop-down menus, I have a separate product listing for every piece in every style, for every series and every stand type... The mind boggles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let There Be Work!

Coffee in the Kavarna Cafe (formerly Jupiter Coffee) go cup (a super size Dancing Goats blend--very dark--with an extra shot of espresso. Hey, if it can make goats dance...), "Electric Barbarella" by Duran Duran on iTunes. I am back from Dropping Jessie at school, putting up her Superstar board and reading two stories to her class. I go back at 2:30 with cupcakes... (The Enjolie perfume song plays in the background again).

Yesterday I was a Mommy all day. I did nothing but work on J's Superstar board... for 16 hours. I got up at 4:30 in a panic because I hadn't done anything on it all weekend. The weekend was given over to three birthday parties (with two more coming up this weekend and next) including one at our house with silly string and a pinata and an elaborate dinner cooked by Dave. I swear the end of May is busier for me than Christmas with all the parties and celebrating. But back to J's board: Who know choosing photos, printing photos, cropping photos, taping photos to bulletin board paper, creating captions for photos, printing captions, cropping captions, taping captions to bulletin board paper, outlining groups of photos in ribbon, and writing a "here's me" page about J. could take so long! I thought, two hours, tops. Hah.

My glass delivery came yesterday too, just had it dropped on the pad outside the studio annex (i.e., on the driveway outside the garage) and I'll unpack it (get Sophie the Intern to unpack it) today. Another order came in over the wonderful Internet yesterday--my first one through! It is one of my current customers, but it highlights my continued need for an online catalog and a complete set-up on Maybe next week.

Today, into the oven--with new shelves so I don't have to worry about the warped shelves curving panels which are supposed to be flat. I have no idea where I am in my firing schedule, but I know it's behind. But I don't regret a second of yesterday, the weekend past or the weekend to come. Some things will wait, some things shouldn't have to. This is J's week to be the class Superstar (the last one of the school year) and a crappy bulletin board would just not do.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Week Winds Down

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, "Ain't Wastin Time No More" by the Allman Brothers on iTunes. Yeah. Got very excited this morning about the Neatreceipts software, but then came crashing back to earth upon discovering it's for Windows only. Winblows. Of course the Filemaker Pro I am using is also for Windows--I run it inside the Parallels desktop along with Quickbooks. Don't get me wrong--it's not that I commit to Mac, I am just cheap. I have years worth of software and I can't see buying all new just because I switched computers. I switched before and didn't have to upgrade. It's ludicrous to make me do it now.

Some people like to have the latest versions of all their apps. These are probably the self-same people who like new cars every couple of years. Me, I like comfort and stability. Why on earth would I go get new every year when it means having to spend time figuring out the new features and interface and dealing with buggy new software? I really resent that Quicken and Quickbooks make me upgrade every couple of years (the online downloading of bank transactions is phased out for older releases). I understand they have to make a living and there are only so many people buying their product so they need to get them to buy it multiple times to stay in business. It still sucks.

But glass. I need to focus on glass. I have been kiln forming (used to be called plain old fusing before it became frufty) for 20 years now. Well, 20 years in August. It was always a part-time thing for me as I couldn't support myself on it alone... I started to fill in the details between then and now, but, really, all that's important is that I put the real birthday of my studio and business at summer of 2003. That's after we moved to Atlanta and I built the new studio in the lower level of our house. When I decided it was time to either make glass my entire full-time, professional focus or declare it an expensive hobby and get another job.

The point of the above info? The other day (yesterday?) I wrote that I didn't have shows till August and that it was a bit scary. But what I missed is that--if my work is good and I have placed it well (in galleries where it matches the taste of the clientele)--the orders will come in by themselves over the summer. Not as many as I would get all at once from a show, but in dribs and drabs, and enough to provide the small bit of income necessary to support the development effort I put in for next year's designs and an entry for the Niche awards (again. third time's a charm?). That's what wholesale is all about--not having to do shows every weekend in order to sell work. It's taken three years to get to point where the theory meets the reality, but it's beginning to now.

On the nuts and bolts of glass, by this afternoon I will have cut over 40 sheets into pieces, and I already know I don't have enough for the orders I have going out between now and June 15. I have another 90 sheets coming on Monday and about 500 lbs of frit. That should get me through for awhile.

Now off to pick up the new router (wireless computer, not wood router) and two new shelves for the kiln (time to have new FLAT shelves!).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Technology and Glass (again)

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Home" by the Barenaked Ladies on iTunes. Looking for grounding this morning--though the BNL song might not have been the best choice. Moved on to a "home" theme set on iTunes (anything with home in the title or artist name) and the current song is "My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen. For heaven's sake, aren't there any cheerful songs about home?!? As I look over the rest of the titles "I'll Be Home for Christmas" jumps out at me. Maybe I should just go slit my wrists right now. Getting out of THAT set and heading for the Drive By Truckers "Shut Up and Get On the Plane". That's better. Some days you just have to suck in and buck up.

The network problems continue today like the plague of locusts they are. Finally narrowed it down to the router has gone bad. (Or the DSL modem doesn't like it anymore and is sabotaging the signal. Whatever.) Why do they do that? You go to all the trouble of reading the reviews, asking friends, etc., so you will get something that is reliable, has good coverage and doesn't cost an arm and a leg and then it DIES for no reason out of the blue after only a year of use. Heck, I keep FISH longer than I can keep a wireless router! And forget warranties. Like I would want another one like this if it goes bad. The frustration of the downtime is worse than the cost of the new router. Right now I am hardwired directly to the DSL modem so I can post.

But it's not like I have a lot of computer time today. Parent-teacher conference at 10:20 and then GLASS to make.

Yesterday I took my intern out for a spin, and wow do I like the mileage! I could get used to having an assistant/employee/whatever. I cut half of the pieces I need to ship in the next 30 days and Sophie made all the morceaux for them. She also refilled my frit jars (I work from 1 lb jars and store the bulk in 5 lb ones) and brought me sheets of glass to cut as I needed them. I was so ahead of my game that I even fired six dragonfly tiles I have had languishing dusty for over a year. If I had someone half-time I could actually see getting Siyeh Home off the ground and retailing kitchen and bath tiles and the Architectural Clear series from my website. If I had someone full-time I could even retail glass and frit in small quantities and specialty supplies (like my ring molds) though my website. I could really get used to this!

Back to earth. I have an intern for another month and a half. I will get done what I can get done in that time. Today I will start her entering business cards into the contacts table of the Filemaker Pro database I am creating. We will finish cutting and making morceaux this afternoon, and I will make my artist cards to have them printed up. Next, we'll photograph all of my current work now that I have a permanent photography area set-up. (Oh technological joy: Now I have no internet connection at all, and no phone either. I might as well live in Paso Robles.)

The net is back going to post before it goes away again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Computers and Glass... Welcome to My World

Coffee in the Los Angeles skyline mug, "Ventura Highway" by America on iTunes. Another sick day for Jessie, another juggling day for me--though I won't be obsessing over weekends away today. Yesterday, in the midst of everything, I managed to ship the wrong piece to a new gallery. I wasn't too far off--they ordered an Ocean round in a Nouveau stand and I sent them an Ocean rectangle in a Nouveau stand, but it highlights my continued state of mental disarray. Yesterday--after a really wonderful weekend away--I added emotional disarray to the mix. But that is yet another topic for time and Stranded in the South.

Today, today. I have to futz with my network. I began losing wireless and wired connections yesterday, and I am wondering if it was either some weird glitch running Windows inside Mac (with network access) for several days, or a hacker attack--also against the Windows. For the time being I have disabled the desktop machine but Sophie (my live-in intern and goddaughter) will revolt if I remove her internet access permanently. Unfortunately she uses Windows Messenger (installed on the Win 2K parallels desktop on my iMac... that's just sick) and my outages coincided with her furious messenging. I blame Bill Gates.

Then there is the glass portion of the day. I have eleven orders to go out in the next 30 days then... nothing. I don't have another show till the Buyer's Market Summer Show the beginning of August. Normally I would be heading to Chicago and would need to get a bunch of work done for it, and then I would have a few commissions to do after the show. But now I have nothing between June 15 and August 4. It's a bit scary. Maybe I'll use the time to put in a pond... or put up the cruise pics!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Wear Many Hats (Shoes, Socks, Scarves...)

Coffee in the Chicago skyline mug, "Watershed" by the Indigo Girls on iTunes. No post yesterday as I was On Vacation. We went to Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina and it was simply lovely. It took me back to the weekends of my childhood when I either camped by the Lochsa river with my parents or went to my grandparents' place on Flathead Lake.

Now several hours later I might actually get this posted! Jessie caught a cold on the beach and is home today with a fever of 102 so work in the studio has been delayed. I am starting a sore throat as I write. I can't even remember what I was going to write today. The day is a jumble of glass artist, Mommy, summer vacation manager, human being. I talk with another artist about collaborative work and advertising for half an hour, then I look at cabin rentals on Hunting Island for future weekend getaways, then I give my child aspirin and wipe her face to help soothe her fever, then I diddle with the network which keeps dropping my connection... Days like this make me wonder how people actually manage to work at home. It is so hard to keep the separation of activity and mindset when the living and working spaces are so closely aligned. I crave a solid block of time doing one thing--preferably a glass thing (though I find myself obsessed with booking cabins in South Carolina state parks today...).

Now it is mid-afternoon, I still haven't posted--nor have I been down to the studio yet and I have an order to pack and ship and another one to deliver before the day is out. South Carolina can wait. J seems to feel better so I am going to leave her watching a movie while I head down to the studio.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ritual, Routine and Rhythm

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, "Too Long in the Wasteland" by James McMurtry on iTunes. Two days without posting! The first day it was 5:00 pm before I realized I hadn't posted yet and I was too busy to do it then. Yesterday I started a post, but then went down a rat hole and didn't see it till 5:00 when I was, again, too busy to finish up so I trashed it. This morning has also had its share of rat holes, but I am giving up in exasperation on the one that has been driving me nuts, and I am settling in to post. Both the irregularity in my posting and the current rat hole dictate the title of the posting. The trip to Vegas, the review of the lasers for the book and having a live-in intern have blown my rituals, routines and rhythm all to kingdom come and I am scrambling to get them back.

Missing blogging *without noticing it* is a sign that either I am in the midst of a major life change or I am in worse shape mentally from the over-extension of the past two weeks than I thought. The rat hole just highlights the situation even more. I sold a couple of pieces at ACRE to another artist's husband. He wrote me check. I remembered the check yesterday and went looking for it. It took me an hour to find it, but I did just before I left to get Jessie from school. I went to put it in with today's deposit this morning--and I can't find it again! I looked for well over an hour and it is just nowhere. I have a set place where I keep checks to deposit and a routine of putting them there as soon as I get them. I have a ritual of blogging every morning. What the heck is going on?


And three hours just went by between starting this post and now. Three hours of database creation, gallery order confirmation, other artist collaboration, vendor communication, editor clarification, and other artist order commiseration. Perspiration, irritation, exultation, the day is full. I think I'll just keep getting on with it rather than writing about it.

Next week: the trials and tribulations of creating your own data-management tools. The problem with being a former software engineer who specialized in designing and implementing workflow and data management systems is that I have a low tolerance for the off-the-shelf stuff I can afford and am not even really impressed with the stuff I can't afford. My current jumble of Excel spreadsheets no longer meets my needs and I have an intern so...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sweet Home Georgia

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug (maybe in honor of the bachelorette--she lives there), "Don't Cross the River" by America on iTunes. Wicker basket of mail on my left, coffee on my right, three (final! final! final!) edits on the book to review asap. I've already cleaned the pond filter and soaked all the plants, and that's about the day. I couldn't do any more than today than I've already listed if I tried. The rest of the day I am going to lie in my sky chair and listen to my audio book.

Got in last night at 11:15. Made it in two days, though I won't say easily. The jury is still out on whether to drive next year or not. I would love it if it were a family trip. It's the easiest drive I have ever done--the route is flat and straight, and there is almost no traffic on it. There isn't even a rush hour anywhere. The closest we came was in Albuquerque, and we were through it in no time. But when I am away from Dave and Jessie I desperately want to get home, and I'm just too old for two back-to-back 1000-mile days at the end of a show (set-up, show, breakdown), after already driving 2000 miles, after loading up... Why am I even thinking of this right now? Any brain cells I would normally use for calculation and analysis have taken the day off, and I have this record of what it was like to do it this time so I can look back next year.

Now off to the day--what there will be of it. I end the post listening to "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and today--with the substitution of Georgia--that's exactly how I feel.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Going Home

No coffee yet, "Home" by Marc Broussard on iTunes. We're in Amarillo and plan to be home tonight. I am too old for this... stuff.

I was the next to last one packed up and out of the hall after the show on Friday and I was still out by around 9:00. Went straight to the Monte Carlo and showered to transform for the bachelorette party. Dinner was at Olives in the Bellagio at 10:00 and we closed it down. Who knew you could actually make them turn up the lights in a restaurant in Vegas to get you to leave because they were closed!

The rest of the weekend (that's to say Saturday) was a blur of all the Starbucks coffee I could drink, hold 'em poker in the poker room (I lost, but since I had already lost my debit card at the convention center I didn't lose much). Saturday was both the Mayweather De La Hoya fight and the Kentucky Derby so Vegas was packed. We managed a last minute limo (well, an Expedition anyway) for the night in spite of the crowds and headed out at 6:00.

Dinner at Delmonico's was fabu and the Thunder From Down Under was beyond good. I understand some (all?) of the group went to the Olympic Gardens (or whatever) last time and it was a bit too much. The TFDU was... just right. Yum. There is a photo (an official one) that I plan to scan when I do the cruise pics and I'll put them all up together.

Hit the road at 6:00 am the following morning (that would be yesterday) and now you know the rest of the story. Of course it's only MT story. The rest of what happened in Vegas as I slept will stay in Vegas.

Friday, May 04, 2007


No coffee yet, the distant hum of traffic and the cheep of birds for music. Everything is over today. Last night at 7:09 I finished going over all the corrections to the lasers for the book with my editor. Thank heaven I have her, because I would never in a million years have caught all the layout, alignment, font size, etc. issues there were on every page. They have a lot to correct in a very short time. And I had my own textual errors that I corrected--even though this was not a time for editorial editing. Given that we are 16 pages short (that's over 10% of the projected length and content...) I wanted to make sure that what remained was as tight, accurate, and readable as possible. And a the end of the day, it's got potential to be a great book.

Today is also the end of the ACRE show. We go through 2:30 and then begin breaking down and packing up--my least favorite activity for a show. Well, maybe I like set-up less, but during set-up the potential of the show still exists whereas at breakdown, it's all over but the mess.

It has not been a great show, but it is the first year. Unless something goes drastically wrong, I will do it again next year. (But next year I think I will figure out how to ship--or plan to extend the trip and go on to California or down to Arizona.) So far I have picked up three new accounts in three new states and had one small re-order from an existing client. I am also doing a TON of trades with other artists--I have three going right now and am probably going to add to that number today.

Right now I am sitting on the balcony of my room a the Courtyard hotel overlooking the pool. I don't know how it happened, but at this moment I am so relaxed, peaceful and happy. I could sit all morning listening to the grackles and watching the ripples in the water against the blue pool. Of course there would have to be coffee. Maybe it's being in the west again. I love it here.

However, instead of sitting and dreaming the rest of the day, I am going to pack up and head over to the convention center to hang out with friends. Tonight we move to the Monte Carlo for the bachelorette extravaganza (tomorrow--whoo hoo!). I hope the day will bring more orders, but if it doesn't, I will still count the show a success.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Day 2 (Yawn)

Vente coffee (double cream) in a Starbucks go cup, the chatter of bored, restless artists waiting for buyers--punctuated by the occasional burst of hysterical laughter--in the background. Day 2 of ACRE, and the pickings are lean. I have had one order for the whole show with not even a request for information this morning. Yesterday I had a handful of requests for price lists and information. I would be more discouraged if there were throngs of buyers streaming past my booth. There aren't. If buyers in the aisles were salmon swimming upstream to spawn, they would be on the brink of extinction.

So I have time to finish the edits of the book. And that project is going extremely well. I worked on it till 10:00 last night and got up and back to it at 4:00 this morning. Now at almost 11:00, I have only about 40 pages of projects (faster reading than basics) left. My analysis? Even at a trim 128 pages it's a damn fine book--and I am its harshest critic.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Diet Pepsi in a really, really big go cup (good thing my booth is close to the restroom), the hum of buyers and artists chatting and commercing for music. Yes arts fans, it's live from the American Craft Retailer's Expo in Las Vegas!

I've been up since 5:00 am which not a big deal if you consider that I live in a time zone three hours earlier than this one. But I have to say that it doesn't work to treat the mornings as if I were on the east coast and the nights as if I were on the west... There has to be time for sleep. I have been up since then because yesterday I discovered to my GREAT dismay that my book is only 128 pages long. It's supposed to be 144 pages long, I wrote it to be 144 pages long, and I was forced to cut it back in February when I was told it was too long. Turns out it wasn't too long, and it's a mystery how it ended up short. Also turns out that it's now too late to do anything about it without pushing the publication date back to next year. (And for any smart ass out there who feels like saying I can put all the cut information in the NEXT book, I have to remind you that there won't BE a next book!)

I cried a lot between yesterday and this morning, but I am finally reconciled to the publisher's decision to go ahead with only 128 pages. And make no mistake, it was their decision. They didn't ask me, write me, call me, apologize for the major screw-up, acknowledge that they made a mistake, zip, zilch, nada. But we move on. I have to hold to the thought that it is still a very good book (whose Amazon sales ranking is on the rise again!), and 8 pieces of paper are not enough to either make or break it.

Now for the show. I picked up a great new gallery in Asheville, NC today, the Grovewood. They--and everyone else so far--love the new stands. I am all set-up, I have pricing on the pieces and I only have a couple of documents left to create... oh yes, and an electronic catalog. But if I don't get to that till next week I'm not going to sweat it! I can't believe it's already 2:30 pm--the day has flown. Tonight is the show party, but we are giving it a miss. With all the furor over the missing book pages I haven't been able to focus on editing the lasers (the book layout in black and white) so I must get to that tonight.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass

No coffee yet (and that's a crime) "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" by Nick Lowe on iTunes. It's neither random chance nor indicative of the set-up yesterday. Instead, it's a gift from Ren, a kind of a break-your-leg-good-wishes song (and perky! I LIKE perky.).

It's 6:20 am, I sit on the tiny balcony of our room and bask in the sunrise. Bask is an appropriate term as it probably already in the 70's. I love the west. It's glorious out here! I cross the Continental Divide and I'm home--except for the whole being-three-hours-behind-everyone-else thing. I woke at 6:00 and my first thought was I need to call Dave to tell him to play the message I left last night on the answering machine for Jessie before she goes to school. But it was already 9:00 in Atlanta, Dave was at his desk at work and J was probably sitting in circle time.

Last night Bill and Elaine from Elliott Metal Works dropped by my booth at 7:00 and Elaine was talking to their kids on the phone as they got ready for bed. I panicked when I remembered that it was 10:00 in Atlanta and I had promised to call Jessie every night at 8:30 to tell her good night. Bill and Elaine lent me their phone to call, but Dave was apparently on the treadmill and didn't hear it. J heard it and went in to tell him it was ringing, but she came up behind him and startled him. Ever tried to turn around on a moving treadmill? All I'll say is it's a good thing they have emergency shut-down cords on those things.

One more thing about the drive that I forgot to put yesterday: I can't wait till they have the new alternate route from Phoenix (and also from Interstate 40) up to Las Vegas done that does not include going over Hoover Dam. It's not actually an alternate route, it's just an incredibly high over pass that goes over the canyon beside the dam. It's enough that there are security check points that all vehicles must exit the road and pass through before crossing the dam now (all of that glass and stuff in the back of the minivan *could* have been plastique, I suppose), and that it's one twisty lane in both directions, but it's really beyond the pale that there are crosswalks filled with dawdling, gawking tourists every 15 feet as you traverse the dam proper.

Pedestrians in cities know how to cross streets (quickly), and you would think they would cross a highway that much faster. But there must be an I'm-on-vacation-the-world-must-move-slowly thing that hits them just before they lollygag over to look down at Lake Mead from the top of the dam. I finally bellowed at the woman in the last cross walk to thank her for taking her own sweet time as she finally made it to the other side. She would have made a nice hood ornament. For the return trip I don't care if I am at a bachelorette party ogling the Thunder Down Under the entire previous night; we are leaving at 6:00 am and I am missing the whole tourists-as-potential-road-kill experience.

Guess I should close with how the unload and set-up went yesterday, but it was so trivially easy there's almost nothing to say. Today (for other people) will, I'm sure, be another story, as will breakdown and load out. But those are not for me to worry about now. Now it's time to read my book before heading to the show to finish setting up, maybe after hunting down some coffee!!!