Friday, May 14, 2004

Of Rupert, Pigeons and Brownie Camp...

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with two ideas for painted canvas designs. I’d been looking at canvas work stitches to incorporate them into a sampler design for this fall and instead found myself thinking about how pretty some of those patterns would be if worked up in Fantasy pieces instead... I have only tried painting canvas one other time, and I didn’t like it that much, but suddenly my fingers were itching to try these two designs. Thank Goodness Tink Boord-Dill was only a phone call away!! She answered most of this pesky dragon’s questions.

So last night, I had a great time painting away while the Survivor show was on in the background. I was thrilled that I could actually vote for something this time. Watching American Idol and not being able to vote has been SO frustrating!!! I was just thrilled when Rupert won the million dollars. I wondered if Dani was shouting with glee too.

This morning, as we all tried to get out the door in the rain because I need the van to go teach the pre-K literacy program at Erin’s school in an hour, we had a lot of unexpected excitement. There on our driveway were two pigeons. One seemed to be fluffing its wings rather pathetically while the other huddled close and of course my girls erupted into fits of “Oooooh! The poor thing!! What are we going to do??” Since the birds were right in the path of our van, backing around them wouldn’t work and backing over them certainly wasn’t an option even if most people around here refer to them as “flying rats”.

As everyone continued to get ready, I put on my rain gear and donned my bright yellow rubber gloves. I figured that I could lift the injured pigeon over to the lawn, get everyone where they needed to be and call someone if the bird was still there when I came home.
I marched out onto the driveway, hood up against the rain.... only to have the two lovebirds take off!! I guess they’d been doing some post aerial nookie cuddling on our driveway!!
Off came the gloves and away we raced.

I had to come home to check the tracking numbers for our shipment to be sure everything id going smoothly, so I thought I would blog now. Erin and I are off to Brownie Camp for the weekend, so there won’t be any blogging until Sunday. We’ll be in a big cabin, so the fact that it should be freakishly warm tomorrow with thundershowers won’t be as scary as in a tent. Bethany was a little miffed about staying behind with Nick until I pointed out that when it is her turn to go to Brownie Camp, Erin won’t be able to come!!!

Time to dig out my camp blanket with all my badges on it, my Girl Guide camp hat with all my trophies and buttons... and hope that SOMEONE there will know the melody for the song “Barges”. I love to sing harmony on that one, but nobody down here seems to know it!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Holy Shipping Nightmares, Batman!!

Today was one of those days when I needed a knight in shining armor to ride to my rescue... and Nick did just that when he came home... but let me back up a bit.

We spent most of the Mother’s Day weekend packaging up this huge order to go out to one of our US distributors that deals with chain stores. Since I was dealing with a larger volume than usual this time, I had asked Purolator about shipping one palette instead of many, many boxes. “No problem!” they replied. “Just sending your dimensions of the skid once it is ready so that we can arrange everything.” So Monday, I hired the daughter of our LNS owner who is home from University and not yet employed for the summer to help batch the last of the chartpacks. Another friend helped me get half of the shipment over to our printer, who had kindly volunteered the use of their loading dock, a palette and to shrink-wrap all the boxes on it for us. When Nick got home, we took the last half over, called in all of the dimensions to Purolator and were told that I’d be contacted the next day (today) to arrange the last details.

By 2pm, when I still hadn’t heard anything, I called them back to check the status. Their computers had been down the day before, so they reentered the information and put URGENT on the file. “You’ll get a call before 3pm!!” I was told.

At 3:10 pm, I picked up the phone and went through some managers this time, thanks to a very nice Purolator person (who sounded like she was a stitcher because she knew who I was!) When I started to discuss the arrangements with the Logistics person, it quickly became apparent that I was... how shall we say it... in deep doo-doo. The only way they could guarantee delivery by the date I needed was to send it AIR, since they hadn’t contacted me that morning to arrange pickup today! This is when I discovered that the “special shipment” department isn’t really Purolator either...

I then called my printer and told them to stop shrink-wrapping the palette because I was coming down to pick up all the boxes again!! Nick loaded the girls back into the van and we drove across town to pick them all up. We then made a pit stop at Staples to pick up some photocopy paper boxes to help hold all these individual cardboard boxes that get split up for the chain store shipments. Nick backed the van into the driveway and I began to pack them into the bigger boxes while he cooked supper for the girls and made sure that Erin got into her brownie uniform. Luckily it wasn’t our turn to car pool tonight.

Once the boxes were packed up and I had all the dimensions, I fired up the computer to do a multiple shipment which the last Purolator person I had talked to insisted I could to on-line. After 40 minutes of entering all the information, the program refused to go any further due to memory errors!!

Off we went to the airport terminal after another phone call to Purolator assured me that I could get a manifest form there to do all the boxes on ONE waybill.... but once we arrived there, it turned out that was only for Canada!! Bethany sat down in one corner with my gameboy while Nick and I commandeered the photocopier and main room breaking the shipment back down for 3 waybills, even though all my customs documentation was written up for one shipment... and everything made it out on the plane to Toronto by the 8 o’clock deadline. We also made it home about 10 minutes before Erin was driven home from Brownies!!

Now, having relaxed a bit while watching American Idol, I am more philosophical about the whole thing. I have learned that it really is more affordable to do things the more difficult way sometimes (many shipments instead of one) and that when you are working for yourself, you will do those crazy things that are above and beyond... I feel like I have run a Marathon or taken part in some extreme sport where I had to push myself to the limit today and not freak out under pressure.

I am also so lucky to have a true partner that will put up with this kind of chaos and unpredictability. He jokes that this falls under the “for Worse” part of the wedding vows... and I am not sure he isn’t right. It is truly one of the more challenging parts about being the whole company and why I get so angry when people scan my stuff.

The highlight of the day was finding out that my brother’s contact was able to get all of our designs removed from the site! I’ve also been getting a bit of information on some of the offenders, so perhaps I’ll be able to track down a real person this time and take some legal action!

I sure hope tomorrow is calmer!! Boring is so HIGHLY UNDERRATED!!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Pancakes...Presents...Packing Charts to Great Music and Films...

Today started VERY early for a Saturday in our household. The alarm went off at the usual time and we bundled the girls into the van under blankets still in their jammies to get Nick to church to cook the famous Mount Royal Happy Face Pancakes for their Pancake Breakfast. I can’t reveal the secret here, but it does involve a turkey baster...

We came back home without him, but the cold air had done nothing but wake my two princesses up completely, so we played until it was time to go get our own turn at eating the pancakes. Then, while Nick was still working on cleanup, we girls went to the Farmer’s Market, picked up the new covers for the designs we have to batch this weekend and bought the supplies I need from our local needlework shop to try my hand at one canvas design for release in Columbus .

I was given one of my Mother’s Day presents a bit earlier in the week when things were going a bit hectic. Nick had found some lovely “sparklies” for my ears and then today, he tracked down the Josh Groban CD I’d been trying to find with the song “You Lift Me Up”. Not only does the man have the most glorious tenor voice, I truly love the lyrics of that song and may very well wear out that track on the CD should such a thing be possible.

Tonight, after the girls went to bed, Terri came over to help us pack up part of our order while we watched Calendar Girls in the background. It was a wonderful movie and I felt very “well fed” in the movie department having thoroughly enjoyed seeing Time Burton’s Big Fish the night before.

Both movies made me realize that we just never know all the ways in which each one of us touch other people’s lives. We may never see the ripples we cause or the seeds we plant bear fruit, but we all have such an ability to create real differences in the lives of others around us. It was also a reminder of how something that seems like such a simple idea... can sometimes grow!