Friday, February 6, 2015

Yoga for the Brain

The other day I got to thinking about when way back in 1979, I was fortunate enough to go to work for the post office as a part time clerk. And when I say "fortunate", I mean blessed. The salary and hours afforded me a luxury few working mothers have. I went in at 6 am and was off by 1 pm. While I wasn't able to see my kids off to school, I was home before them, got to be a home room mother, never missed a school program, was a PTA officer, and best of all, I was given precious time with them when they were small.
 
One of our station managers during that time was a cute as the dickens woman named Linda. Linda worked right along with us and twice as hard to see that all went smoothly. She was also a great people person. When an irate customer came to the front window we had a method for trying to help calm them down. First the full time clerk would try, then if they were still ranting, I was next to try. I'm the original peacemaker and hate confrontation of any nature, but when even I couldn't soothe the savage beast, then it was Linda's turn.
 
I can still see her, coming around the corner, walking up to the counter, smiling pleasantly and looking straight into their eyes, very calmly asking "What will it take to make you happy?"
 
For whatever reason, that one question would shut down their anger and allow her to talk them off the ledge. Oh, they'd sputter for a bit, but when she'd repeat the question, you could actually see the wheels turning. Try as they might, they really couldn't pinpoint why they were unhappy with their service...unless of course their paycheck had been delivered three streets over on more than one occasion!
 
But the point is, most customers left our PO satisfied and happy. Satisfied because they believed they had won the battle and happy because all they wanted in the first place was to vent, to be heard and know they mattered.
 
As I sat in the bathtub ('cause y'all know that's where I do my best thinking and listening),  the thought popped into my head, "what if no one is really happy."? I see all the negativity on FB, the slurs, tacky comments, braggadocio, and wonder if they know what happy is.
 
Is it like those customers at the Post Office? Do they have the need to pick and win fights, if for no other reason, to demonstrate their superiority. Or could it be frustration and a feeling of inadequacy brought on because everyone else seems to have it all and to have it altogether?
 
Is it that the Internet has a way of unleashing our evil twins, allowing us to say things we would never think, much less do, in the real world?
 
(For the record, I'm not pointing any fingers here. If I'm going to be honest, I find myself resembling Kermit on more than one occasion.)
 
I asked myself this question last night, so now, in my best Linda voice, I ask you the same one.
 
What will it take to make you happy?
 
And before you answer, dig deep. Go beyond happy for the moment or the day and contemplate having it for a lifetime.
 
Children bring happiness and it's an incomparable joy, but with them can come unbelievable heartache.  Too many times, we build our world around them to the point they are our only happiness. And when the time comes for them to leave the nest in search of their own happiness, we are at a loss as to what to do with the rest of our lives.
 
Outward beauty is only temporary...unless you're Dorian Gray. All the makeup, plastic surgery, etc. can't change our insides. We can plump it, pump it, suck it, augment it, but until the day comes when sunshine can be injected into our veins or a mirror to reflect our true heart, all the Botox in the world won't bring lasting happiness.
 
I hate to keep using cliches, but it's true...fame is fleeting...sometimes going as fast as it came. And depending on the type of fame, with a heavy price tag beginning with a lack of privacy and ending with a "he/she used to be..." 
 
Money can't buy happiness. It can only buy things for temporary gratification and things don't last. It can bring peace of mind, but only for the physical needs like food and shelter. It can't protect us from life's dings nor provide nourishment for the soul. And no matter how much money we have, it can't buy us one more day than our creator gives us.
 
Expecting life to move smoothly with no hiccups along the way is impossible. We gave up the chance for a perfect existence with that first bite of the forbidden fruit.
 
So, I'll ask you once more.
 
What will it take to make you happy? 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

With a Side of Grace

I recently heard the term gospel bird and was instantly taken to another time with the memories those two words conjured up.
 
Fried chicken and Sunday dinner.
 
Being from the South, I heard supper and dinner used interchangeably for the noon day meal. In fact, I've heard arguments over which is correct! Growing up, Mother referred to mealtimes as breakfast, lunch and dinner...except on the Lord's Day and that was always dinner. Didn't matter if we ate after church or in the evening, it was always Sunday dinner...period!
 
A special meal, made even more special by what was served. Pot roast, cooked all morning, so tender a fork was all that was needed for digging in. Coconut cream pie with meringue high as the sky and lightly browned. Freshly snapped string beans, floating in a rich pot liquor, spiked with bacon drippings.  New potatoes awash in peppered cream gravy. And cake...lovely, decadent cake.  Sometimes a Hershey bar chocolate drizzled with ganache and sometimes a rich pound cake, but always made from scratch...never from a box. It's a wonder I didn't weigh two hundred and plenty by the time I was a teen. Second helpings weren't only expected, but encouraged!
 
You would have thought my mother and grandmother were feeding Coxey's army the amount of food they fixed, but they knew there would always be at the very least, one extra pair of shoes under their table when the dinner bell was rung. Sometimes the preacher and his family, sometimes a friend brought home from church, but always enough for everyone.  No one ever left that dinner table hungry...not if those two had anything to say about it!
 
Chicken and dumplings, chicken and dressing, all hard to beat, but my most favorite Sunday dinner had to be when my grandmother fried chicken. To this day, I've yet to meet the person...man or woman...who could fry up a chicken like my grandmother. She always cut up her fresh fryer and used a perfectly seasoned iron skillet to fry it up in. Slowly and painstakingly, she let it turn brown before turning, but only after it was the right shade of brown would she lower the flame and cover it with a heavy, vented lid.  How she got that bird so perfect is a mystery to us all. Never burnt, all the beautiful, perfectly browned, crispy crust in place, tender, moist, but never greasy. The special piece, the pulley bone?  That she set aside for Mother, her only child and no one dared reach for it. Only after Mother was licking her fingers, were we given it to pull apart and make a wish.

What I would give for that bone. I promise y'all up and down, my one wish would to be sitting at the table with all of them just once more.

Nothing was wasted including the drippings. Law, armed with a can of Pet Milk, she turned those little flakes of fried goodness into another brown masterpiece.  Brown gravy, liquid gold, call it what you want. All I knew was as she slowly stirred until the gravy took on a glossy sheen, the waiting seemed like eternity.  Just waiting for my turn to take a hold of that big old serving spoon and start ladling it over fluffy, buttery, creamed potatoes whipped together with again...you guessed it...Pet Milk seemed like forever. It was an art and sadly, a secret recipe she took with her to the better world a'waiting.
 
Gospel bird?
 
Indeed!
 
Marie's fried chicken was a religious experience commencing with prayers of thankfulness, a chorus of hallelujahs and ending with heartfelt amens.

I feel certain she arrived at Heaven's gate with the perfume of fried chicken clinging to her like a robe of silk. And if God, in His infinite wisdom, sees fit to have it on the menu for Sunday Dinner?

For me, that will be heaven indeed.

~Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never grow hungry and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.~John 6:35
 
 
 
 
 
   
 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year of the Sheep

~My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.~John 10-27

How many times do we hear the phrase "Where did the time go?"
 
I say it...you say it...shoot fire, we all say it, but honestly, I have never felt time fly as much as I did this past year. Seems like I had just put a fresh out of the package 2014 blotter on my desk like yesterday. But as I rip off December, I see a lonely brown piece of cardboard as the only remainder of 2014 and I know another year has slipped away.
 
And boy oh boy, what a year it was!
 

2014 was a year of change and challenges.
 
Cat Daddy retiring. Brandon graduating and starting college. Graycie moving to Middle School and Bella starting Kindergarten. My best friend Sherry being diagnosed with breast cancer. Losing some very dear friends. All important. All tests of my faith, strength and sanity. Adjusting, stretching, learning things happen when least expected. Coming to understand red letter days aren't always big events, but are often times composed of small victories.  But mainly learning a calendar is just to remind me what day of the week it is, not what rules my life and remembering to always use a pencil with a good eraser when making plans.
 
I'm not going to start the new year off with my Top Ten Posts of 2014. That would be an exercise in futility and y'all know how I feel about any form of exercising! With only 13 posts under my belt for the entire year, it would be silly of me to list 10. Besides, the 3 left out might feel slighted and gang up on me!
 
 
For the record...don't expect a list of New Year's resolutions either.
 
I make 'em...I break 'em and end up feeling guilty as all get out. Why on this green earth would I be foolish enough to set myself up for failure? Why indeedy when I can just as easily set myself up for success by reaching for goals I have the ability to complete.
 
Why resolve to lose 20+ pounds when I know, short of having my lips sewn together, that's never going to happen...at least not while there's a cookie left in the world.  Instead, I'm going to give away 20+ items gathering dust in my closet to those who need them more than me...starting with those size 10 jeans that would never see the light of day otherwise!
 
I could resolve to once and for all organize my pantry...and I really could. It's not rocket science for corn's sake, but with C.D. around 24/7, I ask you. Any guesses on just how long before it would be one hot mess again? Why set the stage for an argument over which shelf the jar of butter beans should be on when that's a fight that...well...isn't worth a hill of beans. Instead, I'll use that energy to fix a pot of butter beans for supper, making us both happy as pigs in sunshine.
 
 
Oh I could say...with the best intentions I might add...I'm going to set aside 30 minutes a day for exercise. But y'all do the math. 30 minutes exercise + 1 chubby lady = Pie...and I don't mean the trig one! I might manage for one, maybe two days, but in the end feel guilty for the 363 and a quarter days I didn't. Pi is an irrational number which leads to the conclusion it's irrational for me to think I'm going to do anything other than go 'round in circles fussing at myself for having the will power of a gnat.
 
 
Rather than setting aside time for something I don't like, doesn't it make better sense to spend those 30 minutes doing something I enjoy...like stepping outside for starters? Hearing the birds, smelling the rain, breathing in the fresh air...this I think would do my body more good than sweatin' to the oldies.
 
And speaking of outside!
 
 
I could promise y'all up and down to be more faithful about blogging on a regular basis, but I won't and can't lie. Simply put, until He gives me the words, I won't be doing posts on random ramblings. I can't. Words are too important to be thrown about willy nilly...leastwises they are to me. So until the right words come, rather than having my face stuck to this screen, I think I'll throw on some suncreen instead, step outside and feel the sun on my face.
 
 
The only challenge I've given myself for 2015?  To stop just pinning recipes to Pinterest boards and actually try fixing one a week. With over 400 recipes pinned, (assuming I don't add any new ones...as if!) according to my calculations, that oughta keep me busy for the next 8+ years!
 
I guess what I'm trying to say is this. Rather than be burdened down with what I should be doing or what others are doing, I'm planning on spending 2015 being happy, grateful and blessed whenever and whatever the situation is because nothing is random. Not the good, not the bad. All serve a purpose, His. And while I don't pretend to have the answers as to the why, I know in His time all will be revealed if I listen closely and seek Him daily.
 
In the meantime, I will be happy to have been given this man by my side, children a phone call away and beautiful grandchildren...all who love me. Because God has chosen them for me, I have riches untold.
 
Grateful to God for Sherry's friendship, her triumph over cancer and for allowing me to be with her as she's needed me.
 
And blessed?
 
It would take one mighty big abacus for me to be able to count my blessings...beginning with each of you.

 As I roll into 2015, I know I'm greatly blessed and highly favored and for that, I'm most beholden.
 
Most!
 
I also know my strengths, talents, shortcomings and weaknesses. But I also know the power to use the first two to overcome the last two is within me and that's what I'm planning on doing in 2015...all the while praying for His guidance in every step I take.
 
So not to toot my own horn y'all, but I lift my glass to 2015 and to me being me in all my chubby glory...no apologies.
 
Or as the great Popeye was fond of saying...
 
~I y'am what I y'am and that's all that I y'am!~
 
(Gifted to me by the amazing Lisa of Tarnished and Tattered fame. What a lovely way to be seen through someone else's eyes!) 
 
Toot Toot!  
 
  
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Talking Trash Unplugged

I readily admit I'm a dinosaur...a throw back to pen and pencil sets, boxes of party invitations and simple white thank you notes.
 
I come from a place long ago and far away where the web was something we cleaned out from under the beds.
 
A cell phone was where you made your one call...usually to a lawyer.

A twitter was me at 15, all worked up and waiting for the cute guy in the back of the class to call. 
 
A text was written words, found within the contents of a book...which btw was something held in one hand leaving the other hand free for turning the pages to read...licking the index finger optional.
 
I didn't do research with an ISP, but with the DDC...Dewey Decimal System.
 
And back in the day, our social media consisted of Friday announcements...including next week's lunch menu...coming out of a scratchy, school loudspeaker, the daily Courier Gazette newspaper and the back of the Sunday church bulletin. Any information missed by these three were covered by the network. Not the network we use today, but the working network of Small Town America mothers who collectively, could ferret out and deliver more information than Yahoo ever could...on its best day!
 
It's not that I grew up during the Dark Ages. No sirreebob. I had, after all, seen the movie Desk Set for corn's sake!
 
I knew computers were these huge behemoths that required data entry cards. Back in the day, key punch operators were in great demand, but sadly have gone the way of the dodo bird and the guy with the cocked hat who greeted you with "Fill 'er up ma'am?" and "Check under the hood?" Heralded as the time saver to beat all times savers, computers have wreaked havoc since.
 
What they didn't say at the time was eventually time saved meant less employees needed. Now these tellers, cashiers, etc. spend their free time twiddling their thumbs standing in an unemployment line or asking "Super size it?"
 
(Listen up all you teachers out there. With the increased handing out of pc's instead of textbooks in schools...you could be next to join the ranks of the obsolete if we're not careful!)
 
I don't know about y'all, but I like talking to a real person, not an AI. And please,  don't even get me started on Siri!  That chick is supposed to understand several languages, one being English, but I'm guessing Twanglish wasn't included in her programming nor is it in her wheelhouse! Fact is, we're not even on speaking terms until she drops her high falutin' attitude!
 
(But I squirrel-gress.)
 
What I'm getting at is that with...ahem...progress, comes change and not always for the best.
 
Gone are passing notes between classes and family discussions around the supper table.
 
 Why bother when a text can be sent during class and as far as catching up with one another as a family? That now takes place at opposite ends of a couch or a house.
 
(If evolution is for real, I for one shudder to think of the coming generations of goose necked kiddos that will be a direct result of their ancestors staring at their laps 24/7!  I know that area below the equator is the center of a teenage boy's world, but really. As grown ups, can we not got out to dinner or a movie without constantly checking our phones?)
 
Gone are typing and shorthand classes. Once prized skills, now replaced by cyber shorthand with garbled messages containing nothing but letters like lol, brb, and omg. Which begs the question...WTH?
 
Gone is learning to tell time on an actual clock...with hands...and with it, knowing that 20 'til 7 and 6:40 are the same cotton picking thing.



And lest I forget, heaven help us if the power ever fails. No one...and I do mean no one...below the age of 39 knows how to make change without a screen to tell them. And I cringe when they count it back to me! Oy vey!

(Sometimes...just for gits and shiggles you understand...I like to confuse the heck out of them. If My total is say $9.01, I'll hand 'em a twenty and a dime. They usually manage in time to figure out how to punch it in, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the heck out it. As I watch the dazed look in their eyes, I think to myself..."That'll learn ya, dern ya!")
 
What's sad is that as the computers get smaller, so do our lives.
 
The art of conversation is disappearing right along with the sharing of feelings only to be replaced by hastily sent emoticons.



(Farewell interaction face to face. You've been replaced by Internet chatrooms and Facebook!)
 
But for me, a lover of words, one of the saddest things progress has wrought is the demise of the written word...down to the threat of removing cursive writing being taught in school.
 
I can't conceive a world where beautiful handwriting isn't considered a gift, a talent...an art form.
 
(If I can't get to Paris, at least I have a beautiful friend who remembers me. Thank you Cindy for the card...although I still don't know why you couldn't have hid me in your carryon!) 
 
To think that some will never experience the thrill of opening up an archaic mailbox to pull out a card or letter with their name hand written on it. To never know the joy of checking the postmark for some distant, exotic land or just from the next town over is inconceivable to me.
 
 
( I had hoped for a souvenir named Jacques, but a card is almost as good! And being thought of even better than Jacques!)
 
 How sad to miss the excitement of unfolding the pages and reading words written in a handwriting, that much like a fingerprint, is unique only to the author. To never have  memories tucked inside an envelope, as it and its contents are placed in a box for safe keeping to share with future generations. Gentle mementos, tucked safely away to be reread over and over to our heart's content. Rereading and remembering as if it was just yesterday. And knowing it was sent, not just with a stamp, but with love.
 
How can we cheat future generations out of such a treasure?
 
There's only way I know of and that's to go back. Now I know they say going backwards is a mistake, but I have to disagree. There are times when it is best. Times, for example, like dancing the Texas two step or walking out of a room buck nekkid. I happen to believe this is one of those times when doing it the old-fashioned way is actually progress in reverse.
 
I say it's high time we pull our heads out of our butts laps, start taking the time to remember how to visit out loud, say we love you without it only being on FB or in a text, and most of all, learn to love the sound of our own voices.
 

 
I'm willing to give it a go and I'm thinking this ought to be a piece of cake.
'Cause y'all know me...
I already got the last one down pat!
 



 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pot Calling the Kettle Verdigris

I wrote a post yesterday and besides being really long, it was...if I say so myself...really clever.  For instance, I had wrote...and I quote... the last three great inventions I personally had witnessed were pantyhose, push up bras and air conditioning, but y'all will never get to read the rest of it.
 
Why you ask?
 
Because I shelved it.
 
Again you ask, why?
 
Because it was about the pros and cons of Facebook.
 
Man alive, I was on fire, ranting and raving about the pits and perils of FB'ing with way more cons than pros.

It was a pip!
 
But as I was proofing it, would you believe it...my spellcheck quit working.  Now I'm not one to turn in homework half done so I stepped away to let my computer...and me...cool down.
 
After a while, I sat back down and reread what I wrote and guess what?
 
I made myself angry!
 
How dare I take it upon myself to tell people what they should or should not do when it comes to Facebook.  How dare I take it upon myself to be Her Supreme High Horse...a self-appointed judge, censor and all around know-it-all?
 
If I had hit publish, y'all I would have been just as guilty as those people on Facebook I was criticizing for thinking they knew best.
 
Simply put...I'm nobody's boss and I don't own an answer bag.  A red.neck Chic bag...yes, but a bag with all the answers to life's questions...no.



If I truly was the Grand Poobah of knowledge, trust me,  I wouldn't be sitting in a tiny house still in my pajamas nor would I be schlepping junk around for a living and shopping at TJ Maxx.
 
Instead, I'd be traveling the countryside on a lecture tour, dressed to the nines, wearing a tasselled fez and getting paid a butt-load of money for sharing my wisdom on how to succeed at life!
 
So no, I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus. Y'all have the right to publish, share and say anything you want...fact checked or not (but oh how I wish...).  I am not the FB police and there is no gold badge pinned to my pushup bra'd bosom to say otherwise.
 
From now on, if I happen to be on FB and read or see something I don't necessarily agree with or like, I'll just discreetly scroll by it. No where is there a law written saying I have to do differently. For me, it's just that simple.
 
BTW...did you happen to notice I said if?
 
I ask because it's an important if.
 
SQUIRREL ALERT!!!
 
You might want to get comfortable or take a potty break right about now 'cause I'm fixing to talk the ears off a billy goat!

(Don't ask me where I found this. It was so long ago I don't remember, but if you know the source, please let me know!) 
 
When I signed on to Facebook I had hoped to reconnect with old friends and make new ones...and I have. I've even been blessed to be reunited with family I hadn't talked to in years. What I hadn't planned on was the green eyed monster becoming a frequent guest as well, but I'm only human...and a girl human at that. And let's face it ladies...we are our own worst enemy when it comes to feelings of inadequacy.

(By the by...do all these words make my butt look big?)
 
A daily bombardment of perfect families, perfect homes, perfect lives...not to mention perfect makeup...well how on God's green earth was I supposed to measure up?
 
Sometimes I'd see photos of projects and all the "likes" and comments that would pour in and I'd think whoa Nelly. Didn't I see that idea somewhere else like a hundred years ago and yet, they have the audacity to take full credit for it? Really? Is that the way to get noticed...by stealing someone's ideas? But as the old saying goes...not my circus, not my monkeys...which I will readily admit to stealing from an old Polish proverb.
 
(Have I ever mentioned I can't remember your name seconds after meeting you, but I can remember who did or said what first forever? It's a glitch in the ol' brain waves y'all and a curse!)
 
Reading success story after success story on shows and knowing the shows we were doing weren't nearly so profitable left me thinking I was doing something wrong.
 
Don't get me wrong. I was happy for those who were achieving their goals, but truth be told, I was jealous as hell well.  I found myself questioning myself...and the answers I came up with weren't flattering.
 
But then I had an epiphany.
 
What if, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't have to be true to be on the Internet.

One word...wow!
 
Now I'm not about to start calling anyone a liar. Law no! Remember, I'm not the Grand Poobah, but rather a chubby lady who tries to see the whole picture and not just the photo shopped one.
 
We all want to put our best face forward and to that end, we all tend to spin things just a smidge...including me twirling her tassel! Well...maybe some spinning more than just a smidge and by more, I mean creating a whole new identity in Bizarro World.
 
So maybe, just maybe, all these perfect people aren't so perfect after all.
 
And maybe, just maybe, they think anything less than perfect is not worthy to share.
 
What if maybe, just maybe, they're not trying to convince me, but themselves life has to be one big ol' perfect and pretty photo.
 
But the thing is that even with this realization, I still find myself going Kermit from time to time. So I've come to this conclusion.
 
I'm a flat tire in dire need of changing and the first thing I need to do is remove the rusty lugnuts keeping me from rolling forward.

(I'm going in!) 
Henceforth, (I know...very GB sounding isn't it?)...ahem...henceforth, the everyday comings and goings (you know...the boring stuff) of Debbie and Danny will be the only things I'll be posting on my personal page.  I'll still be sharing my brain farts as they come and go, but anything related to antiques, markets, Cat Daddy appearances and the continuing misadventures of the Ups...Floozied and Hurriet of As The Wheel Turns fame...will now be posted on my business page, Talking Trash.
 
Henceforth, if you send me a friend request, unless I know one of the following, I'll probably redirect you to my business page.
 
1. Your significant other's name.
2. At least one of your kid's names.
3. Your dog/pet's name.
4. We actually have met at some point in time.

(Of course, #4 will require you to remind me...for as Jenn says "I'll meet you today...and I'll meet you tomorrow!")
 
If we are blessed to meet in real time, hit it off and if you don't mind looking at photos of me and mine puttering through life...gravy stains and all...then you can bet your boots you will be my friend forever and not just on Facebook!

Jealousy and fear are stagnating. I refuse to be a prisoner of either and I think it's time to use my get out of jail free card.

It's a start.

Besides...I never did look good in green.
 
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cloudy With a Chance of Silver Linings

For those of you who don't do shows...especially outdoor venues...I'd like to offer the following comparison.
 
(Getting things just where I want 'em!)
 Preparing and doing an outdoor show...especially a long one...is much like having a 10 lb. baby.
The body doesn't snap back as fast as one would like it to.
There's a lot of pain...not to mention yelling...involved before it's over...especially in the lower back.
And it takes at least 6 weeks to fully recover.
And like child birth, one is not ready to do another until the memory of the labor pains fades.
 
(If it's a blurry photo, y'all know I took it!)
 
This show was no exception and I came home feeling as if I had just delivered quadruplets!
 
(I look like one hot mess straight out of the delivery room!)
 
To say it was hot would be an understatement. Y'all, it was hotter than Egypt and respite only came after a torrential thunderstorm the last Thursday of the show.  Hey...at least it was cool the last three days of the show and just in time for load out.
 
The crowd was there, but honestly I have no idea who these people were. I have never in all my born days spent so much time wiping rings off the furniture where people had set their beer bottles or glasses of ice tea. I got to wishing I had packed coasters to hand out! Not that they would have probably used them mind you. Fact is, they'd probably have asked for salt and tried to eat 'em!
 
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
 
To add insult to injury, they also felt like load testing every chair in the joint. At one point I considered charging a quarter per butt. I think I could have doubled our money, but Cat Daddy nixed my idea. His brain fart was to go to the Dollar General and buy up all the packages of tube socks which I nixed. I figured they'd only want to buy one pair at a time...or worse...one sock!
 
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
 
Then there were the secret shoppers and by secret I mean they had no intention of buying anything. They were looky-loos, there to secretly photograph ideas for copying with nary a never mind to think to ask permission. Just pull that ol' phone out and start snapping. I even caught a certain "no photographs please" celebrity (whose name I won't mention) blatantly taking photos of a license plate display we had worked our tail ends off putting together. It got so bad, I finally started taking photos of them taking photos of our handiwork. You should of seen the looks that got!
 
(Oh yes I did)

 If it sounds like I'm on a tear, heaven help me, but yes I am.
 
Y'all know me...right? I'm the original Pollyanna, but this show tested even my patience. I'm proud to announce no one went home missing the tops of their heads or half their behinds. How was I able to keep my temper in check you ask?
 
Because as hard as this show is to do and in spite of the trials and tribulations,
(Did I mention I'm thinking of changing my name to Job?)
it was a success.
 
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
 
Success can be measured in many different ways. For me, a successful show is measured by the people who have touched me and I them. Success is having perfect (and I mean perfect in every way) come up and introduce themselves with the feeling as if they've known you forever. There isn't enough money in the world to buy that feeling. In fact, it can't be bought or sold...it's too priceless.

For every four "tire kickers"  who came by, there was that one who knew what they wanted and were a delight to work and visit with.
 
For every water ring I wiped off, there was twice as many tears of joy wiped off at seeing my birds of a feather I only get to see twice a year.
 
For that one guy who thought our needlepoint chair was there just for him to sit on while checking football scores, there was that one happy shopper who bought the whole set to take home to her family.
 
 
Yes it was hot, but when in Texas isn't it? Heck, everyone who's ever been to Texas knows we only have three seasons...summer, football and Christmas! As far as rain goes, it's either a drought or a flood...no in between. And goodness only knows, that part of Texas will take any moisture from the sky...be it buckets or dribbles...down to the last drop God sends.
 
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
 
As far as sales go, I have to admit we're kinda spoilt. I always set two money goals in anticipation of what we can reasonably expect to do...a minimum and because I'm a glass half full type of gal...the maximum. We're used to doing about half our sales opening weekend and that didn't happen this show. It took the full length---9 days---to reach our minimum goal, but reach it we did. (It may not be polite to discuss money, but actually we were about halfway between the two...which ain't half bad!) I'm sharing this with y'all because it's one of the main reasons we go. No where else can we move that much merchandise at a fair price quickly. Forget what Country Living said. Zapp Hall is not the field for bargains, but that's a whole 'nother post (along with the copycats with their surreptitious photo bombing) and I'll be addressing both in the near future...grrr!
 
The second reason we put up with the heat, rude people, fire ants, scorpions, snakes, and anything else thrown at us, is the glorious sideshow of people who inhabit that field with us for nine days.
 
(Photo courtesy of Give Me Props)
 
This motley crew I share dirt all up and down Hwy. 237 with are like no others on the planet. They're vagabonds thirsting for adventures, bold, brazen, more than a little throwed off and good...good hearted, good natured, good for a laugh, and most importantly, good friends.
 
They make me laugh, cry and remind me constantly of how blessed I am to be able to do what we do surrounded by love and laughter.
 
(My pot o'gold filled to the brim with wonderful memories and friends found at the end of the rainbow!)
 
In six months, when the aches have become distant memories, you better believe I'll be ready to go again. For again, just as in childbirth, what I bring home...and not just in my pockets...makes every pain in the butt well worth it.
 
 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Antiques 101---The Misadventures of Floozie and Hurriet

When I set out to write this series of helpful hints, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to share, but all that went out the window as soon as I realized I'd probably be preaching to the choir.
 
C'mon.
Y'all have heard the same advice over and over.  I knew to help you, I'd have to be honest...brutally so...and I didn't know if I could do that.
 
 
Not that I have a problem with being honest. As I've talked about before, the most important thing I want folks to take away from our booth is a honest deal. We've staked, as well as built, our reputations on honesty. We've never purposely hidden defects in anything we sell to a buyer. If it's been repaired...we say so. If we're not sure of the provenance of a piece...ditto. We've lost sales because of it, but we've also gained loyal buyers for the exact same reason.
 
We can buy replacement merchandise all day long, but at the end of that, or any day...our reputation cannot be replaced. We won't short sell our word just to make a sale.
 
So class get out your #2 pencil and as my mother used to say...this is gonna hurt me a lot more than you.
 
 
I can't tell you what to buy, but I can advise you as to how.
 
You are first going to have to decide what you want to sell and how much you're willing to invest in the beginning. Only you know your start-up budget, but be prepared to keep good records. I didn't at first and there's no telling how much of our own money we poured in before I started keeping track.
 

SQUIRREL ALERT!
If anyone ever writes a book called Bookkeeping for Dummies...I'd be the first in line to buy it. Even after all these years, I am still the messiest record keeper on the planet!
 
Now that you've got an amount in your head that you feel comfortable with, let's move on to the next order of business...and no, I don't mean buying.  While I know it's the best part of the business, you're not ready yet. Just so you don't go all antsy with me, I'll tell you now. That's a future topic. Okay?
 
 
Before you start buying, you have to decide what you want to sell. Sounds easy...right? I'm here to tell you it's not.
 
Some will say to buy what you love and that's good advice, but I would say buy what you know.
And if you don't know anything...start learning!
 
Get out and visit shows, malls, anywhere there is selling going on. See what catches your eye.
 

If you find yourself spending a lot of time drooling over the palest of pales or hanging out in the tent full of repurposed items, you may have found your niche.
 
If you can't get enough of the painted furniture or glassware curls your toes, by all means, take note.
 
Look, see, touch, feel...learn!
 
Also, pay attention to what is selling...and the area in which it is selling. What sells in Texas, might not in Timbuctoo.
 
Let me add one other thing. Although small, there is a distinction between junk, vintage, and antiques. Deciding which you want to sell will be part of your homework.
 

ANOTHER STINKIN' SQUIRREL ALERT! 
 
Don't tell anyone I said this, but for the record...it's all used merchandise no matter what the age. And with that in mind, remember crap wasn't made just yesterday and not always in a foreign country. (Where do you think the word shoddy comes from. Google it and learn.) It's been made for hundreds of years and with that comes the possibility if it was crap a hundred years ago...it's still crap. All things don't necessarily improve with age. Heck, even some wine will turn to vinegar.
 
Point is, if junk is your thing, be prepared to buy the best junk you can afford. Same goes for vintage and antique. My advice is to try and buy as unique as possible. You want your merchandise to stand out in the sea of sameness from time to time, you'll find yourself surrounded by.
 

One thing I like to do is buy and sell in piles. Some call it bundling...others bulk. I like the word piles. Law...y'all ought to see the looks I get when I say I have piles!
 
One sad little milk glass bud vase, sitting on a table, all on its lonesome, will often get overlooked. BUT...10 different little milk glass vases, each with a flower tucked in them? How can anybody miss...much less resist...those I ask you? It's a service as well as a marketing technique that hasn't failed me yet. I've resisted the temptation to sell just the one and instead waited and spent the time gathering an instant collection with a wow factor. Yes, half the fun of collecting is in the hunt, but some people don't have the time to chase down enough vases for an upcoming wedding, shower or special event. Photographers have bought my piles to use as props for styling shoots. (I can't wait to see my wedding cake macrame' hangings gussied up in an upcoming wedding and the toppers styled in yet another wedding...both in October!)
 
 Simply put, I've done the leg work and saved them a ton in aggravation, tires and fuel. I call that a win/win for all involved.
 
  
(FYI...A. Being unique in your offerings is the first step in branding. But we'll get to that later! B. Most of these items featured have already sold. I rest my case!)
 
Feel free to mix the three if it floats your boat. I personally prefer a dark eclectic look. Actually, mixing things up is a good beginning for more than one reason. It appeals to a broader range of  customers and it keeps you from getting trapped in the cookie cutter vortex. Plus, the mixing of trends is extremely popular right now in decorating.  And lastly, it will give you the chance to find what works and sells for you before you invest too much money and time in dust catchers.
 
Speaking of trends, I feel myself trending off subject. Hopefully, I've given you some information you can study on and filled at least one page on your Big Chief tablet.
 
Until the next time when we'll be discussing trends...
 
Class dismissed.