Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Knackered and Chuffed

Last weekend I had two shows in two different states. I know that is like whipping myself with thorny branches but they are both good shows for me and do not always fall on the same weekend. The first show was in Bellevue Ky. It is my favorite show to do. As soon as I pull in the lot someone yells " Dennis is here ! Let's get over there!" Which 3 or 4 people do. They then unload the van and carry my stuff to the booth I have had for 6 or 7 years, tell me they are glad to see me and wish me a good show. I have a lot of friends who do the show and even though that may mean too many potters, we all do pretty well and it is great to see old friends. The volunteers bring around treat bags with fruit, nuts, Chex mix, and chocolate. They bring water all day and ask if they can go get some lunch for you. No where will you find a general art show that appreciates its artists this much. I have a very loyal customer base there and at least half a dozen early risers said they come just to see me! There is a guy who for 8 years has come every year and bought a nice pot for his mother's birthday. About 3 pm he and his family were passing the booth and I heard a WHOA ! There's our guy ! Then they came in and bought Mom's gift for the year. How in the world can you beat a show like that?  Well, all week 90% chance of storms were forecast. At 3:30 we were told a big one was coming and we might want to pack up. I had arranged for a friend from our club to come help me pack so I called and asked her to come early. I finished with a coup[le of customers, she arrived and we started packing about 3:45. At 4:00 the wind suddenly went from breezy to hurricane. I believe it hit 75mph. There was no time to strip the sides off the tent and even with good weights and my racks staked to the ground the whole booth was about to go. Nikki and I grabbed the pots and put them on the ground and tried to keep the booth from sailing to Oz. Those wonderful volunteers ran over and grabbed on and at one point there were about 6 of us holding on for dear life. In less than a half hour, it was over . Two inches of rain, a few broken pots, everyone drenched to the bone, everything I owned soaking wet. Miraculously we had everything in the van by 5:10. It had been sudden and intense but it was over. Other people were not so lucky. Tents were ruined. Some flew into their neighbors. Work was damaged but everyone pulled together, no one was mad at anyone. No one was injured. I gave Nikki some money. She claimed it was too much. Given what she did under those conditions there is no way it could have been enough. Without her help and the volunteers, I would have lost it all. When I got home, I was amazed that with the weather gurus scaring everyone all week and closing over an hour early I still had strong sales and was only a couple of hundred off my record for that show. You roll the dice every time you go out.

Sunday I was in Loveland, Ohio. It is only 20 minutes from home so dawn didn't have to crack as early. I was moving slow but moving. I checked in and found my prayers had been answered and my booth was close to the unloading area. You can't drive into the park and have to cart everything in so this is a big deal to a crippled up old man. They have High School kids help move stuff too and they are appreciated but nothing beats being close. I was elated to see my old friend, jeweler Lydia Morrison was next to me and around her corner was my friend Trish McLennan. It is great to be with friends and have some camaraderie and mutual support. Trish told someone that I had extra shims for leveling things. I shared. Later some of Trish's friends stopped by and asked if they could pick up lunch for me, My friend Judy did some booth sitting for me and had a woman 90% sold on a set of bowls when I returned. The customer hemmed and hawed a bit about not being able to match up a set and said she would come to my next show when I had more stock. Ten minutes later she came back and said Judy had caught her in the midway and talked her into mixing colors ! Some friend from my old bicycling days stopped by, friends that I jam with on Sundays came and bought stuff too. Everything was much drier than it was the night before, I was exhausted, I had a pocket full of money from a very good show and to top it off, Trish had her 20 yr old or so son with her and I hired him to help pack for an hour when he was done with her. $20 well spent.

Monday I eventually got moving and scrubbed down the tent, dried the side panels, and finished airing out the boxes. Oh, back to the title. I have friends in the UK who occasionally try to teach me a little of the Queen's English.  Knackered = Totally exhausted.  Chuffed = very proud. Proud of the friends that I have, the customers that keep coming back, and that I am able to keep doing this because of them

Monday, August 15, 2016

Still Alive and Kicking

Hi everyone. It's been a busy summer. In May I had my best show ever, I was up about 75% over last year.  The weather was beautiful and it was the day before Mothers Day. I sold a ton of pots but before noon, my back started screaming  at me and if it were not for help from some wonderful friends I would still be there in the middle of the street.

July, the big event was Tina and I went to NY State to see our son and meet his partner Sarah and her two boys who recently joined our family. Our daughter Kate and her husband Lucas came up from Charlotte and we had a regular family reunion.We had a most excellent visit and were even close enough to Guy Wolfe to pop over for a visit. We also did some modest hiking, kayaking in a swamp, and spent a day at STORMKING sculpture park. The picture of Ben and is family is blurry because they never sit still and I kind of like it that way. The landscapes are the view from their home near Patterson, NY.

The end of the month found me at Plain Folk CafĂ© doing open mic.  Thanks to everyone who came out and my friend Ed for sending me the picture.

The most recent event of the summer was an Art Show in Yellow Springs Ohio. This is usually a very good show for me so I was looking forward to it. However, as the week went on, those idiots on TV were loudly predicting an 80% chance of storms. People stayed away in droves. There was some traffic the first hour and I made a few sales but they left early and the second shift never showed up. It was hot. It was humid. I hadn't felt well to start with and set up was exhausting. Then I noticed I forgot my phone/ Luckily I was able to use a friends phone to call Tina and she brought it up about 11 but I really didn't need it. The crowd was thinning and the one buyer who really needed it was long gone. We has a couple of spritzes of rain the about 3pm the sky opened up for a half hour. That was about the end of it. One of the volunteers came thru and said we could pack if we wanted and I started drying stuff off and slowly putting stuff away. It was still 7pm by the time I left and I only sold about a third of what I did last year. You roll the dice every time you go out and this too is part of the game.

If you have come this far with me, I am going to give you some tips on shelves and weights.
 Super light and stiff shelf unit Sets up with 2 carriage bolts w/ wingnuts

 The old light bulb still flickers ! After shimming the shelves, I use the eyes to stake the frame to the ground. Super solid and secure. These were great on grass.

 My current tent weights are large ammo boxes attached to the frame of the tent by the top of the legs with tie down straps cinched tight. Even in the big blow, nothing moved. They are easy to handle and pack too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Past Repeats Itself.

This post is simply a cut and paste from 2010. Ted Strickland was running for reelection as governor of Ohio. He lost to Kasich. He is now running for Senate against Rob Portman and I think every word of this still applies.

The pottery schedule has been light this week so my old brain has had time to wander around.I made a mistake by wandering past the election ads on the T.V. Contrary to the lies that are spewing from every corner, there are a few things that I still believe.

Ted Strickland did not singlehandedly put Ohio in the fix we are in. He has brought school funding in line with court orders. His predecessor fought it and studied it to death but never really tried to comply.He has worked to bring both major parties together in the state house and has been effective in doing so.He believes in Law, Education and the strength of Ohio.I have met with Ted several times and feel he is a good guy with our collective best interest at heart.

The State budget does have problems. Guess what, in a worldwide recession people lose jobs. In Ohio that has been lots of jobs. Many of them the manufacturing jobs that have been leaving Ohio for 20 years. When that happens, government's expenses go up and tax revenues go down. No mystery here.If the Republicans had a quick fix, why didn't they tell Arnold so he could fix California where they pay their bills with IOU's and pay state employees minimum wage when they pay them at all?

As CEO wages have  gone through the roof and middle class wages declined, I'm still waiting for Reaganomics to trickle down to me. It didn't work then, it won't work now. The only thing I got was the bill for the tax cuts added to my tab.

For 20 years after WWII auto manufacturing drove our economy and manufacturers made promises to unions that were unsustainable.Then they bought KIAs and Toyotas and sold them as Fords and Chevys.The laid off American workers couldn't buy them and for the workers that made it to retirement, too many of the checks are bouncing.

For 30 years after that, housing values drove the economy.People learned that if they didn't have money for a  car, home improvement, vacation, or to pay off a credit card they could just borrow against their house and get a tax deduction for doing so. When housing crashed, there was no equity to borrow against. Even if you want to sell, most people can't because they owe more than they can sell for. Builders can't build because there is nothing for people to borrow against for home improvements and so it goes.

 Health care reform is not bankrupting America. We already pay for almost all Americans health care, just in high priced ER's instead of lower cost clinics.

Respect for each other and the constitution(all of it if we like it or not) will not bring about the downfall of our nation. Knee jerk reactionaries are a much bigger threat. I don't want to elect someone who says she is just like me (even if she is a witch with super powers). I want someone smarter than me. Well, at least harder working.

No matter what lies are told and what promises are made we are not getting out of this for a while yet.We are not getting out of it until we quit name calling, finger pointing, and ignoring laws just because a loud group of us doesn't "want" some legal activity to go on.I may or may not want a mosque near ground zero(even though there was one in ground zero).Doesn't matter, first amendment trumps what I want. All the noise and hatred makes us look like the noisy haters our enemies make us out to be.We need to return to the idea of consensus, not just majority.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait, and Wait and Wait

Hello everyone. The back seems to be healing. Slowly but healing. Dr. Says it's a sacro-iliar sprain. All I know is de back bone connected to de hip bone and that's where it hurts. I have returned myself to light duty and while it is not pain free, it's a lot better. On to other things...

Back in February, my buddy Tony Clennell from the land of the ice and snow suggested that we trade mugs at the North Carolina Potter's Conference in early March ( See earlier posts).I was shocked that he would propose a deal that was so lopsided in my favor but never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I agreed. We had a swell time in NC and I gave Tony a humble little mug . Being the gentleman that all good little Canadian boys are raised to be, He even found nice things to say about his new mug. He had brought along a bunch of pots and put them all out on the sale table. He sold everything he brought. Good for him. He insisted that he would mail me a mug after he got home and off the road. A few weeks later, he mailed me a mug. Apparently all the ice and snow up there removed one digit from my 4 digit address. We have lived here 25 year on a country road. By the time that box got to Ohio, the post office claimed it was undeliverable. Probably never got to my carrier's truck because the numbers start at 1000. So back it went, sledding it's way north, waiting for Lake Erie to freeze so they could cross etc. Round trip took a month. Tony said he would re-mail . I sent a couple of good American dollars to help with the extra postage.( None of that colorful stuff they just carry around for the pretty pictures) Tony mailed it last week. I received it today.

The Mug I Gave Tony
Much Traveled Package

Isn't She Spectacular?
The Elusive Oxblood Red !

In other news, I am trying to be a "Stand Up Guy" to help with the back. It is taking some getting used to but I think it will at least be good for platters and big bowls

As always, thanks for stopping by. Leave a comment to let me know you were here.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting by with a Little Help from My Friends

Once again I have been letting the old blog slide for too long but there really hasn't been that much to write home about. After the NC Potters Conference I came home inspired and made some pots. My back started hurting. I bought a used wheel and moved it out of a basement, back hurt a little more. I go in a rush to finish pots for Springfair. Sitting on the stool and throwing wasn't bad but straightening up afterwards was an ordeal. Life marches on. Last week I packed and loaded. That didn't feel too good either but I took my time and it was mostly ok. PS. The ammo boxes are my weights. They are full of gravel and work very well. Don't look bad either.

I had been asked to post some booth shots and frankly I took some quick shots during set up and got nothing of the booth after I stocked it. Life got hectic. The shelf units all have a single brace about a foot wide that attach to the uprights with a carriage bolt and a wingnut. The mug board is attached to the table behind with a strap and the foot hidden under the table will take some weight if needed. Everything is very stiff, light and quick to set up too.

6:30 Saturday morning found me pulling up to my booth. I got just a little help then the person who was helping me got called away and I finished by myself. I parked the van walked back up the street and started putting the booth together. I worked slowly and by 10 it was basically together. Time for coffee and a treat then stare at and reshuffle. We opened at 11 but there were plenty of people at 10:30. I had the corner booth right where most people came into the show. In that spot it usually takes a while to make the first sale. It was almost 11:30 when I did but it was over $100 so I was off to a good start. The crowd got bigger, I sold stuff and I wasn't doing it all $20 at a time either. The day before Mother's Day moves some nice BIG bowls and bakeware( the gift that keeps giving back)

 By about 1 pm it was going well but I had bent over too many times and started having back spasms. I had stashed a couple of Vicodin that I saved from my last major injury and taking one helped. People kept coming, and buying. Robin ( one of my regulars) had wanted small plates last fall so I made 10 "on spec" in her glaze. She showed up and bought all 10!!! That helped a bunch. I saw a friend who said she was volunteering but would be done in a little bit. I had a brainstorm and hired her to help me pack. Nikki came back at 5 , I took my last Vicodin and we set to work packing up. She is a very hard worker and a multi talented artist in her own right but is great at following instruction when need be. We had everything boxed in 45 minutes ! At that point other friends, both exhibitors and volunteers descended on my booth and told me to get the van while they knocked everything down. I pulled up, told them how the big jigsaw puzzle went together and by 6:15 I was driving off the lot. Nikki, Lauren, Jeanette, David and Trish will never know how much I appreciate them. Without their help I would have been loading at 9 o'clock.

This was a club show and all the vendors know each other to varying degrees so it is always fun to do. I was happy that everyone was saying that they did well. I had no idea how much I had sold but I knew it was good because I ran out of wrap and was down to my last couple of bags,( always a good sign.) When I got home, I was too tired to count the money so I asked Tina to do it. I was shocked at the total. Just the cash was a couple hundred less than my total receipts last year. When I added in the square I was floored. This ended up being my best show ever by a solid margin. Sunday was spent taking pain killers and sitting with a heating pad on my back but today is a lot better as long as I don't do anything crazy like put on my socks or tie my shoes!