Saturday, May 01, 2004

Packing charts on a Summer evening...

It’s only May Day, but it sure felt like summer today! The sun was shining and the temperature soared into the high 20s (about 78 degrees) which was a welcome and very far cry from the 1/2 inch of snow we woke to last Sunday morning.

A very good friend of ours came over tonight to help package up leaflets and chartpacks for a few orders that needed to go out and to make some headway on the huge order that came in on Thursday. It almost felt like a warm summer evening and since Erin still has her heavy blankets on the bed, she kept coming down to complain that she couldn’t sleep. I think hearing grown-ups laugh and chat had something to do with it as well.

Even though the actual batching of charts is somewhat of an assembly line process, it is fun to do when you either have something good to watch on television (I often use batching as a way to justify what little TV I watch) or to have good company to chat with. Burdens shared don’t always come up with answers or solutions, but sometimes I think it helps to just be able to talk to other people. We had the chance to both share and listen tonight and it made getting through the piles more bearable. My Nanny was right - Many Hands DO Make Light Work!!

Friday, April 30, 2004

Angst and Affirmation...

It’s been a VERY long day. I once vowed to myself (and to Nick who has to put up with listening to me rant) that when I started to only have negative things to say about the cross stitch industry that I would just get out.

Today, I came very close to hanging up my needle and just walking away from everything.

Supply teaching with a local license for $100.00 a day was looking very appealing as Nick struggled to find supply teachers who could speak French. At one point today, running away to another country to raise pygmy goats was looking far less stressful and more rewarding that being a cross stitch designer that people could steal from. Being informed about a foreign site that was hosting over 20 of our patterns illegally was not something I really wanted to face less than 48 hours after listening to someone tell me why she couldn’t afford the “pricey patterns”.

I never wanted this blog (or my career as a designer for that matter) to be an extended pity party... just the chance to give a more honest look into what it really means to try to do what you love as your career. At one point, after more than 2 hours of trying to sift through sites seen through translator programs (when I really needed to be proofing my article and instructions to go with my Just Cross Stitch ornament, I could actually feel my blood pressure spiking and took a break for lunch.

“That’s it!” I thought as I took my frustration out on the breakfast and lunch dishes. “I work too hard at what I do to have it be so easy for people to steal what I create!” Bubbles flew, pots gleamed and I even tore a hole in my rubber glove. “I am SO tired of sounding negative! I just want to go back to earning a regular paycheque!” Even a phone call from a very dear friend didn’t quite dispel the frustration (though it did make me feel cared about!)

Nick was a sweetheart about cooking supper so that I could fax a more complete list of class selections to the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival for their show this fall before their office closed in Toronto. We had a great supper, but my stomach was still a bit in knots over the days events. I joked about everything from learning how to be a short order cook (Nick knows I can’t handle the smell of grease cooking very well and am a bit of a spaz with sharp objects when I am in a hurry) to running off to some remote corner of the planet where there are no computers.... but I was having serious doubts about continuing to design.

Nick went down to check his e-mail and play a few games on my computer, when suddenly he came bounding up the stairs. The fax had beeped and there was a huge order from one of our distributors which will have us scrambling for the week to batch up. A kitting company I had contacted called back with the details I needed to submit my project idea to them, a store called with an order and there were two more waiting on the e-mail for me tonight.

Coincidence or affirmation?? It feels more like affirmation to me... and a reminder that you have to have both sun and shadow in your life’s design. There are far worse shadows that could have fallen in my life right now. As hurt as I felt by the fact that these posters seem to want to ignore the fact that there is a PERSON behind the designs they are scanning, that is nothing compared to the pain that so many people around this world are facing right now.

“Count your blessings instead of your burdens!” I think to myself as I wrap this up before heading off to bed. “That way you won’t sound like you’re whining!!”

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Beating Your Head Against the Copyright Wall...

I am SO mad right now, I had to come home and put it all down in a blog while the anger, frustration and almost tears are fresh. I’’ve been having “pre-show jitters” already, even though Columbus is just over 5 weeks away. Then my show release lineup had to change yesterday because one of the designs I had planned to release has to wait longer until after the publication it will appear in (long story). So... maybe I am not as objective as I should be.

I walked into the local Staples store to drop off my master patterns for 3 orders that just came in and as I stood and the counter I noticed a woman with a stack of over 40 cross stitch patterns and books making copies at the self-serve copier. The store was really busy and I am not generally one to like making a scene... but this was just such a HUGE amount of copies being made, methodically, one of each page, that I would have hated myself if I had stayed silent.

I politely introduced myself and explained what I did for a living and then asked her if she knew that what she was doing was illegal. The woman got quite defensive and replied that patterns cost too much money, so she had no choice but to copy them... and besides... everyone was allowed to make ONE copy. I explained about the concept of working copies and how that was different from making your own copies and then handing the pile back to “her bowling buddy” who had lent them. I asked her if she had thought of just borrowing the originals from her friend a few at a time and making her working copies while she had them in her possession and was actually stitching them. “But I want to do them all and I got not enough money to buy them!” she insisted. “My friend said I could make my ONE copy!” I explained that it was her choice, but that making copies was as illegal as downloading music without paying for it or taking that pattern from a store and then left before I started to either foam at the mouth or cry.

The whole way home, all I could think of was how much money I was investing in myself during the next 60 days in terms of airfare, hotel, display unit to be shipped ahead from Canada because that was still less than renting it onsite, pre-shipping models because I am going alone and will only have 2 suitcases, model stitchers, framing costs, table rental, Sample Spree, meals etc. in order to produce patterns that SOME people feel they are justified in copying because they are “too expensive”!

Sometimes it really feels like we are beating our heads against a copyright brick wall. I have no idea if that woman will ever change her mind about what she was doing, but I know that at least I have said my piece as politely as possible. (Maybe I should have had an ultimate Dragon hissy-fit and made the whole store aware of what was going on, been hauled away for disturbing the peace and appeared on the 11 o’clock news..... that would have gotten a lot of media attention for copyright issues!)

Then I remember the Barry Manillow song from last week’s American Idol... “One Voice” and hope that will be true eventually.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Of Snow, Trios, Attitudes and Bounty Hunting Cows....

Ok.... Spring can come ANY time now.... Just when Nick and I thought that we could put away all the winter coats, hats and boots, it snows!! Of course, Moncton didn’t get the wallop that poor Newfoundland got. They were supposed to get over a foot in the middle of a strike with no one to plow the roads!! We were watching TV last night as the rain poured down when all of a sudden, it got very quiet. I looked out the window and there was a mini-blizzard of swirling, white flakes coating our lawns, bushes and roads. YUCK!!
The year I was married, it actually snowed here on May 8th, just 2 months before I was due to be wed and I was convinced that spring would never arrive. What I have learned now it that there are some years when we go right from Winter to Summer in just 3 weeks... so this may be one of those years.... sigh!

This morning, I sang the very low notes (Tenor) with two other wonderful ladies at church and we had SUCH fun!! It was one of those toe-tapping gospel style numbers and it was hard not to boogie too much while I was singing. As nervous as I was before hand (I’ve only sung one other time with a microphone and BOY does your voice sound MUCH louder to your own ears!!) it went off very well, so that felt rather satisfying.

Erin and Bethany were both having those kinds of “unconditional love” days... the ones where parents have to constantly override the urge to mail their children to the other side of the world in a box with lots of air holes and enough broccoli to sustain them on the journey...
We’ve been having lots of reminders about treating people the way you wish to be treated... or speaking politely instead of rudely, but I am just now getting a taste of how much attitude both my headstrong little girls are capable of. I know that I don’t want doormats and obedient, timid little things for daughters, but I do want to work on everyone at least being civil! Still lots of time to work on this before they are both in their teens!
Maybe I will get some grey hairs after all!!

We also went to see Disney’s Home on the Range this afternoon and both girls have been quoting favourite passages ever since. How can they remember things so clearly when I have to pause to remember where my car keys are??

As much as I love my whole family, I also love the quiet of retreating down to my office and getting things done once they are asleep or off at school/work. Quiet is highly underrated!!