Friday, February 20, 2004

Say It Isn’t Snow.....

The alarm went off at 5:15 am this morning because Nick knew that it would take a while to snowblow the driveway. The city plow had made 2 passes down our street last night JUST as we were heading up to bed. Since the winds were still almost 100 km/ hour, Nick decided to just leave it until the morning. I’ll admit to being just a wee bit glad to be the one on “radio duty” as I took over the whole toasty warm bed and listened for the weather. It reported a final snowfall count of 62 cm, just over 2 feet, but Halifax and parts of Nova Scotia set a record for a single day’s snowfall in their area with almost 3 feet!! As the machine chugged and paused, chugged and paused outside, I heard them cancel school again for the day. The roads were still being plowed and most of the school parking lots hadn’t yet been touched. With the sidewalks buried and most side roads to one lane, there also weren’t too many safe places for kids to wait for the school bus! I slid out of bed and flashed the outdoor light to get Nick’s attention, but he decided to soldier on and finish the job. It took almost 90 minutes. For most of the lower driveway, the snow was drifted more than a foot taller than the snowblower, so he had to first break things up with a shovel and then snowblow it. The left side of the driveway has snow banks taller than either of us, so the snow also has to be blown to the right or it tends to fly back in your face.

As the sun rose, the temperature did too. It was actually a lovely day and so, in true motherly fashion (and in desperate need of some time to organize my day) I turned both kids out in the snow of our backyard with their dad who was clearing off the deck so that our “emergency exit” is available. Things went smoothly until Bethany decided to clamber up on the snow pile ON the deck next to the shoveled path... and fell off of it face first onto the hard, bare deck. Those two top teeth that were a bit loose are now VERY loose and she still has a bit of a fat lip tonight. At the time, the sight of blood and the jar on her already sensitive teeth were enough to send her into a howling frenzy. Mommy and her ice pack sprang into action.

By lunchtime, I had sorted out which new orders needed photos and got my negatives together. We also had to pick up the 9 boxes of Runekeeper books that were still at the printer’s, so off the family went in the car!! I bribed my children with the promise of lunch at Wendy’s... because Bethany thought a Frosty would feel good on her sore “tooths”. We picked up the boxes, dropped off the cow proofs (yes, proofs not poops!) to Milk Maritime for the corrections to the English layouts then headed down to the self-store only to discover that they were still in the process of clearing a 3 foot high drift from the front of our unit. We helped shovel out our door and opened it, only to discover a disaster!! The high winds had somehow found a way to force a LOT of snow into our unit!! Three or four open boxes of leaflets were filled with almost a quarter inch of snow and in the corners near the door, there was enough snow to have really puddled if we’d never discovered before a thaw hit. Nick and I used the car scraper brushes to sweep out the area, sorted out the open boxes, shook most of the snow off and brought 3 boxes home to sort through and remove any damaged product... but it was about half and hour of heavy box tossing.

By the time we got home mid-afternoon, errands now complete, Nick was starting to fade. I sent him up for a nap and brought the girls down to the playroom next to my office in the hopes of getting all the packages for the post office sorted. By 4:30, I told Erin to wake her father in an emergency and left them playing while I did the post office run up the narrow back streets of our subdivision. At least 75% of what I wanted to get shipped today got up there in time... so that ‘s pretty good.

Tonight is date night... so the computer stays off and I get to spend time with my husband. Since he was still yawning a bit at supper, it may actually be more of a bet to see who can not fall asleep in the other’s presence... especially since the NEXT storm is supposed to hit tomorrow afternoon!! Say it isn’t SO!!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Of Blizzards and Small Successes!

We knew the storm was coming. All the channels told us so. With the sun shining and a beautiful sunset last night, it was hard to believe that something so fierce was bearing down on us... but by 5 am, the winds began to howl and the snow was falling fast and furious. Since then, we have huddled in our nice cozy home and just stayed put. Almost everything around town has been canceled. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, who are being hit even harder than us, have declared states of Emergency and all of the plows have been taken off the roads. We haven’t even seen across the street for most of the day, let alone seen any signs of plows or snowblowers. I think everyone is just waiting for it to let up before they go out to do anything about it. After all, why exert yourself with the 100 km an hour winds are going to blow it all back in. We can’t get out our side door because the snow is up to MY armpit (that would be over the heads of some of my shorter friends!) and yet the front door and steps are completely bare!

The site I mentioned in yesterday’s blog has taken down ALL of the albums where they had patterns for download and has just left up the ones that are for trade, so I think that in this case it might have just been a stitcher who didn’t know any better... but to think that there are digital files out there that could still resurface (unless they did delete them completely) is still a sobering thought.

One of the biggest dangers about getting such files “for free” is that most of the time, the quality of the scans is so poor, it would actually be very hard and not at all relaxing to stitch from the charts that those files would print out as. Yet, if a person thinks “since I got a copy for free, I don’t need to buy one”... they never pick up a copy until the time comes for them to stitch it. Then, when they want to get a clear copy at a local shop, there may be the risk that the designer or those charts are no longer available... because the designer has moved on to something else.

I am SO humbled by the many cyberhugs that filled my e-mail box today (thank you everyone!!) and it was indeed a reminder of how many HONEST stitchers there are out there. In reading over last night’s blog, I can hear the frustration in my tone and the discouragement... but I cringe at the thought that it also sounded a bit whiny. Such is the nature of capturing a moment and its feelings in time. One of the whole reasons that I wanted to start this blog was to provide a peek into the real life of a designer.. with all its joys and frustrations. Last night, I had indeed stomped up to Nick and said “You know what... I think I will just finish off my next big dragon, release it as DD-80 and just stop there! “ Yet this morning, as I woke for the second time (we got to go back to sleep once we heard the schools were canceled!) the idea for a new design was already swirling around in my brain....

I am done printing covers for my chart packs and the two English files for my Milk Maritime projects are done, so I am going to go up and stitch on a Bent Creek design for a bit tonight. It is a perfect night for stitching and I want to relax with someone else’s design in my hands for fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I Just Don’t Get It... But It Makes Me Want To Cry!

Thank goodness for eagle -eyed stitchers... but it is also so hard to open e-mail and find out that something of mine has been posted to a Russian site again. I spent the day working on both Milk Maritime projects, meeting with my client this afternoon after a very late night last night building the files. She really liked the “look” for these pieces and while we do need to make a few changes, I can basically get the English version squared away tomorrow so that then I can do a “save as” and start working on the French versions. Since New Brunswick is Canada’s only Bilingual province (Quebec is Unilingual French), we have to have both versions for the school system when these newsletters go out. Since I had my thoughts on cows all day, I had no idea that half a world away, someone in Sweden was sharing one of my patterns on a Russian site for any and all who visit there.

I just don’t get it.... Do people really not see it as stealing? Do they think that I have unlimited funds to draw on or that my salary is similar to a famous author or recording artist?? To put a pattern down on a scanner, break it down into electronic sections and to post it (on a site or in a group) is basically to slap the designer who spent all those hours designing it in the face. It is to rip something to shreds in front of their face and make them wonder why they took the time to share that unique vision and inspiration with the world.

Even as I spoke with someone today in the bank lineup, trying to explain what it is that I do... I thought “most people just don’t understand.” When it comes right down to it, I take an idea and nail it down onto paper. I happen to create an image with thread instead of paint, and then make detailed instructions so that other people can have the fun of watching the same image grow beneath their needles... or take my suggestions and have fun creating something that is not only partly mine, but something uniquely their own. So WHY should something I work to create then spend my money to produce as a pattern, carry inventories of in my self-store and pay printing bills for be so EASY for them to STEAL?????

I’ve had such fun releasing my latest designs in Nashville and running around with a sword... but tonight, as I think about how I may have to spend money on legal fees instead of a trip to see my brother this summer overseas... I wonder if I won’t be moving back into illustration more when Bethany starts school in the fall. At least then, if a project gets “shared” without my consent, it will be the publisher taking on the battles instead of me putting our family’s money on the line!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I Love It When A Cheque Arrives On Time!

Maybe it is a carry-over from those bygone days at University when mail was so important. Once a day there was that trek to the mail room when you opened your box... just to see if there was mail from anyone back home. I know that at Mount Allison, one of the highlights was seeing that bright orange “PARCEL” slip that meant you might have a care package with some FOOD in it!!! On days when there was no mail, some of us often waived the little metal door back and forth just to circulate the air in there in the hopes that the next day would bring something instead of just empty box.

I am still like that at my postal box or when I stick my nose out in the freezing cold to reach inside our brass mailbox. I think longingly of the mail slot in my grandparents door where you could hear the mail hit the foyer floor each day with a satisfying slither. I am sure it was also a bit drafty, but not as bad as having to open the whole door and let out the warmth!!

I had the pleasure of getting a long-awaited cheque in the mail today for an order than Nick and I batched and shipped to one of our US distributors back in December. They in turn shipped the product to the chain store they deal with in early January and Net 30 after that date, mail us our cheque! The nice thing about this order was that it was from a press run that I had already paid for, so THIS cheque is able to help cover the Runekeeper Saga I finally had printed and just released in Nashville. To have this cheque arrive a full week before my invoice is due is a nice change from the juggling and balancing I sometimes have to do!

Now if only there was a parcel slip with the possibility of some Kraft Dinner or cookies from my Nanny...

Monday, February 16, 2004

Of Cows and Cold... Of Robots and Reorders...

Well, I know that life was going to be a bit crazy between Nashville and Myrtle Beach... but I didn’t imagine quite how much! Luckily I don’t have any more outdoor photos to do because the temperature has plunged back down to the horrid “take your breath away” cold. I’m actually in the middle of cows again with two projects for Milk Maritime. It is fun drawing the mascot Moo-moo or this time even a glass with a cape and good biceps, but working on complex projects in a short time span means losing a bit of precious sleep hours.. . which is hard now that the high of the trade show has worn off.

Bethany is still quite the shadow, as if she worries I will take off again without notice. She knows that we all go together to Myrtle Beach... but is still very clingy. Erin has a project due at the end of the week. She has had to build a robot with her parents (not functional... unless you want to have moving parts) and we’ve had great fun making a circuit board out of wires and cheerios or wrapping wire around chopsticks to get a good coil. We found some cool kitchen gadgets for hands and are hoping to borrow a neighbour’s garage to spray the whole thing silver by Wednesday... but her classmates keep bragging about their walkie-talkie insides or remote control car legs. I tried to explain that mostly girl toys around the house means not a lot of parts to incorporate.... but it is quite amazing to watch how competitive everyone is getting just in Grade 3!! Sigh! What ever happened to just being proud when you did YOUR best???

It is also very satisfying to get reorders from shops that attended Nashville already! It adds to the blur of the week but in a happy way. I am aware of growing pains as every now and then the company gets beyond what I can comfortably handle myself. Once Bethany is in school this coming fall, I shall see which of my graphics clients I truly want to keep and assess everything else as I also get back into more freelance illustration projects.

For now, I put my nose to the cow grindstone and dream of slightly warmer temperatures... it can’t possibly be THIS cold in Myrtle Beach, so any extra warmth will be a welcome change!!