Tuesday, August 23, 2011


When I saw the movie "UP", I got the largest chuckle out of the dogs and their "SQUIRREL" and immediate inattention.
Now, once again, I am reminded that SQUIRREL and SPARKLY ('my' inattention word) have nothing whatsoever in common.

Going back slightly in time ... to when the ground squirrel was trapped in our garage and had to 'eat' his way through our garage door to freedom.  And then, once outside, decided that back inside the garage was the bestest place for hiding nuts, hanging with his friends, and getting out of the elements .. so  he moved back in!  Many many nights of listening to him and what seemed like 37 of his closest friends paying 'roll the acorn' and 'hide and seek' within my bedroom wall, it was time to get a trap.
After several live trap attempts (said squirrel would go into the trap AND remove the ear of corn with him without setting off the trap and on another try, went into the trap, couldn't get the corn out with him (we had tied it to the inside wiring), stayed and ate all the corn off the cob and then, again without setting off the trap, took his bounty and went back into our 'walls'!).
Now it was time for the exterminator who came and set up several traps as well as attaching a 'can get out but cannot get back in' trap to the hole in the garage door.  He caught several large mice in his trap, but the squirrel remained free to cavort within the walls ... I'm sure the fuzzy little guy had painted his face 'blue' and was yelling 'freedom freedom' while he scampered about in relative safety!
Finally it would seem the squirrel left for the day, we sealed the hole back up with a metal plate, and silence once again (after MONTHS!!!) within the Koch household walls.  The cleanup mess in the attic would take weeks and involve throwing out just about anything that had been stored up there, including most of my Christmas decorations.

Fast forward to summer and the advent of warmer weather (what am I saying? Hot hot hot weather) and the need to use my car's air conditioning system ... which just was not putting out any cool, much less cold, air into my car.  Getting ready to drive to the Columbus Market in early June meant that I would need my AC and vents working properly, so drove into the car dealer (after finding one who still worked on Saturns .. deep sign .. how could they stop production of such a wonderful brand???).
After waiting at the dealers for a bit, the mechanics called me into the garage to show me what they had found ... a huge squirrel nest had been blocking my vents!  Fuzzy little  #&%(*  had gotten into my car's blower system and decided, since I wouldn't let them in my walls any more, that my VUE was the second best home!   Got that all cleaned out to the tune of I've not forgotten how much money, and drove merrily on my way to Columbus in a 'cool' vehicle!

NOW ... I am getting ready to fly to the Fall Baltimore Market and on the day before I leave,  had errands to run.  Once again the weather is hot, but rather than try my AC, I just turned my air vent blower up to 'high' ......  CLUNK THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP ..,,,, quickly turned off the blower!  What the hell was that?  Turned it on to *1* .. no problem ... turned it up to *2* .. no problem ... turned it up to *3* .. THUMPITY THUMP THUMP.  Oh shit what in the world is going on this time?  Another nest??   Don't turn on the fan motor again .. just opened the windows.  Flew off the next day - a Thursday.
Drove back to the shop on Tuesday, cool morning, didn't think about the fan.  Drove back home and back to the shop on Wednesday.  Wednesday night driving home it was quite warm, turned on the fan ... nothing happened.  Thursday, started smelling a smell.  Didn't think too much about it as the car had been parked on the other side of the house that night where we came across a dead animal (of some sort - phew)  and disposed of it bu burying it.  Friday, smell is there.  Saturday smell is stronger
Yesterday, Monday took car into dealer.  Kind of thought I knew what had happened.  Remember that THUMP THUMP THUMP?   Yeah, my mind went there too.
Service department called me that afternoon ... I was right.  There WAS a dead animal (they didn't know what it was) IN my blower motor!!  It had EATEN its way through the plastic housing that covers the fan area! Was completely blocking the motor, it wouldn't turn at all!
Need a new fan motor, need to have the fan area sanitized .. so far the cost is $400.00 - they don't know what all else has to be replaced until they can remove said SQUIRREL (I know it is, was!), and get everything cleaned out.  I am SO NOT a happy camper.  Saturn Vue  =  Sqirrelmobile
Some kill squirrels with their cars by driving over them, I kill them by trying to get cool!
I am now joining Nick on his mad dash squirrel attacks out our back door and across our deck and into the yard.  Him with his ferocious bark/growl (ok, so it's really a loud yelp/squeak - out of an 85# Golden, it is a ridiculous sound!!), me brandishing a pick axe (if I had one, I think we have one, just don't know where it is, if we have one!)!  And, don't think I'll swerve out of their way anymore when they stand in my lane and try to stare me down.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I got Crabs while in Baltimore!

Yep .. crabs!  And I'm proud of it too!
1st indication that I was getting Crabs was while in the "Meet The Designers Class" on Friday afternoon.  Cecille of Just Another Button Company had made and assembled the cutest little crab pincushion for each of the class attendees.  AND .. enabled those 30 some shops (ONLY!!) to be able to get more CRABS too!
Sydney The Crab Pincushion (on the right .. his gal friend is shown on the left) is very limited!  Like I said, only 30 some shops are able to get him to you!  We were making all kinds of crab jokes ... I mean, obviously Sydney is a SOFT shelled crab.  If you stitch a black squiggly line on his back, you'll have a CRACKED crab.  You can stitch a couple of these up and give crabs to your best friend.  If you changed the color of his 'felt' to blue, you'd have steamed crab.   I'm so glad I got crabs from JABCo!!!

 My second indication I was getting crabs came on Friday night.  We went in search of crab dinner and found G&M Restaurant - they are known for their Crab Cakes!  There were 6 of us and everyone was ordering the single crab cake platter.  Now I know crab cakes .. I love crab cakes .. I know how 'big' crab cakes are .. so I, being the little piggy that I am, ordered the TWO crab cake platter.  These babies are 8 OZ EACH!!!!!  All lump crab, no filler!  Needless to say, we did NOT have dessert, and I had an entire crab cake for my lunch the next day.   They ship fresh nationwide ... I sure wish Dave liked seafood.  Oh well, he'll have to have mac and cheese when I order and receive my crab cake in the mail!!!
Had crab every chance I could while in Baltimore ... yum yum!

Thursday night I went on a "Night Tour of Washington DC" ... took the Marc Amtrack train from Baltimore to DC and got to see (and eat in) Union Station ... what an incredible place that is!  I thought we'd be just looking at the sights from the bus window, but the trolly we were on stopped and gave us 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there at the Jefferson Memorial, at the Lincoln Memorial.  I got to see the Vietnam Wall, and the Korean Memorial up close and personal too.  Very very moving!!!  Lots of info gained about our capital city and it was so much fun!

Saturday night I was invited to attend a baseball game at Camden Field (Orioles vs my Tigers ... and my Tigers won!!!).  Sullivan's Floss company reserved a sky box suite for us, and we had dinner up there, watched the game, had pictures taken with 'the Bird', and partook of the most incredible dessert cart service ever!  Again, yum yum

Oh .. how was the actual Market??   Sorry ... got carried away.
MARKET WAS FANTASTIC!!! Absolutely Fantastic!  I bought lots and lots, had time to smooze with my designer and shop friends, and bought more and yet more!  I only wish that the designers who chose NOT to attend (too far, etc, etc, ) had been there!  Everyone I spoke with was having an incredible show!  A note to those designers who didn't attend:  If distance IS a problem, the show does NOT have to be a 'cash and carry' only show for you.  SHIP YOUR MODELS - that's what we want to see .. your new stuffs stitched up - and Take Orders!!  Let's all work together to make this industry, and it's shows, the best it can be!!

My best part .. coming home with one suitcase weighing 43# (still under the prohibitive weight limit for Delta) and the other weighting 57#.  That suitcase should have cost me an additional $90 to get on the plane, but .. the wonderfully harried desk clerk refused my credit card and yelled ... next!
YIPPEE  I was able to get ALL my goodies home with me this time!  Love it!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane ...

... at around 4:00am tomorrow morning!  Actually, I'll be riding in the car TO the airport at 4am, my actual flight is at 6:00am!   A couple hours layover in Atlanta, then I'll be landing in Baltimore.
May be doing a 'Night Tour of Washington DC" Thursday evening .. I think I am, but not actually sure how that's all going to work.  I'm rooming with Penny from Ewe Count - always so much fun!

Friday (for me) is a Retailers Round Table (where we share ideas and such) and a "class session" entitled "An Afternoon With Your Favorite Designers" with Blackbird Designs, Cherrywood Design Studios, Dames Of The Needle, and Just Another Button Company.  We'll have chat time with them as well as get a special kit from each one!
As for the evening, I MUST find 'crab for dinner'!!!!!  And then, there may be some "early bird shopping".
The actual shopping is on Saturday from 9am till 6pm.
Saturday night I am in for a TREAT .. I've been invited to join (Free Ticket) a select group in a private suite for a baseball game at Camden Yards with the Baltimore Orioles AND... wait for it ... how cool is this?? ... the Detroit TIGERS!!!!  I've been told there will be food in the suite too!  This will be my first ever major league ball game, and of course .. my first time in one of those 'game boxes'!
Shopping resumes on Sunday from 9am till 4pm, then it'll be time to figure out HOW I'm going to get my purchases back to Michigan with me!  I'm going with a suitcase IN a suitcase - I've already weighed it and I'm within the limits so there will ONLY be a $25.00 baggage fee.  I also have several broken down shipping boxes in the suitcase, in case I go with UPS for some of it.  I will be charged $90 for a suitcase weighing over 50#, so .... we'll see how creative I can get!  Flying back on Monday morning. and I know that you'll want me to have everything with me upon my return to the shop on Tuesday.  Shipping UPS means it will be closer to the end of the week before those boxes will rejoin me.  Wonder if the hotel has a scale for weighing my 2 suitcases??
Always look forward to going to Market .. seeing old friends, both designers and other shops, as well as seeing the new stuffs up close and in person!  You know the stitched model is always so much cooler to see than just the cover picture on the chart.
Not sure why most of my 'favorites' will not be attending the Baltimore Market .. could be the timing, as this year Market is the early part of August as opposed to the middle or end of September as in the two years past.  The timing of market had been changed following surveys sent to not only the shops, but also the designers.  The September timing wasn't good for the designers, as they wanted to get their Halloween and Holiday designs out to the shops earlier.  The shops also wanted to have more time for the Halloween designs to be stitched up and promoted in their shops.  So .. we have an earlier date.  The other problem is the change in location.  Again, according to the survey responses, there was an overwhelming demand to have the Market shows 'rotate' around the country, instead of always having them in the same location.  Of course, the best location that everyone wanted was ..... "close to me"!!   So, we're in a new location this year and I'm excited .. I've never been to the east coast (other than a stay in The Big Apple many many many years ago) and going to a location known for their 'soft shell crab' is perfect as far as I'm concerned!!!!
I hope to be 'tweeing' and 'facebooking' (Stitches N Things) over the next few days from Market ... stay tuned!!