Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letting Go

Sometimes you just have to let it go. Now, I promise not to go on and on about sappy stuff, but rather about tangible things and knowing when to give up on pushing to sell them. This past weekend, I participated in a town wide yard sale, and although the town is small, this is about the only way I can actually have a yard sale where people will come because I live in such a rural area. So after sorting, marking and folding for a day and a half I packed up 3 loads of 'stuff' and drove over to my brothers robotics shop parking lot which is located on Main Street thinking this would be the perfect, most traveled area to be in for this event. The 'stuff' I was trying to sell included a collection of baby and kids clothes, toys, and baby items. Almost all the clothing was priced at $1 or less and most all of it in great shape. I even had 2 boxes of toy action figures and a box of socks and Halloween costumes for FREE.

My house has no storage space, other than the bedroom closets, so I really needed to eliminate the unused items to make room for the stuff we did use. Most of the items had been through a couple of previous yard sales, and I was beginning to give up on ever getting any kind of compensation for all of my hard work. So, this sale was my 'last straw' I guess you could say.
I think after 6 hours of yard selling Saturday I had less than 10 customers. (I won't count the lady that came and took all the cute little baby socks for free.) My biggest sale was a lady that bought $27 worth of toys. Everything else was pocket change.
So, here I am, finally ready to just "let it go" and I am making a trip to Good Will. Hopefully someone will appreciate that $50 remote control lizard thing my son just had to have only a few short years ago, and that beautiful teddy bear quilt/baby shower gift that was never used.

Ok, so maybe the teddy bear quilt will go back in the closet... but that's it.

I'm learning that business can be kind of like a yard sale too. You work hard to get a collection of inventory ready for customers, then you advertise, promote and advertise some more. If your business is online, you also have to figure out exactly how to get those huge photo files to compress small enough to upload on the internet, without loosing the wonderful clarity and detail of the product. Then you wait and hope that someone, somewhere will see your stuff and love it enough to purchase it. When they don't you end up with tons of inventory of stuff no one wants and you have to decide what to do with it.

Most all items in any store that don't sell right off the bat get discounted eventually, but the big retail chains don't have a lot of personal attachment to their merchandise like those of us who sell hand made items. Because I created these unique designs, made the decals, then designed and made the packaging for each item I do feel a little bit more attached to them and I am less willing to accept the fact that they just aren't selling as quick as I need them to. Since I don't have a lot of extra space, I have put things on sale, donated a few items, and given some as gifts. I just don't have the space to store it for too long if I want to make new ones. So, I've learned to make most of my decals only on request now, and the inventory that I so carefully built up for that craft fair last fall... well , that is still slowly being distributed as mentioned above. I'm sure I will get to the point of being ready to just give it all away like the "stuff" from my yard sale, but I'm just not there yet. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Giving Thanks on Independance Day

My family recently had an eventful holiday weekend, which leaves me feeling thankful and blessed, for things beyond the intended anniversary of our country's independence. Though a bit out of season, I liken it to Thanksgiving not because we had turkey sandwiches for supper, (which we actually did) but because I found myself counting my blessings for the things that happened to go right during a string of sudden bad luck.

We had planned a short camping trip at Spring Mill Park with my parents for the July 4th weekend. Since the drive was about two hours, and it would take about an hour to set up camp we wanted to leave as early as possible once we got home from work. We packed up and left home right on time and made it about half way into the drive when we noticed smoke in the rear view mirror. We pulled over on a side road and got out to inspect the truck and camper and were surprised to find the truck transmission was leaking fluid onto the exhaust, causing the smoke.

Blessing #1 - my husband is a mechanic and knew what the problem was and how to deal with it.

The truck has a temperature gauge specifically for the transmission and because it didn't look to be overheating, we opted to continue on with a watchful eye. We only made it another 10 miles before we had to pull over again, this time in a parking lot of a small business, already closed for the day. We decided to unhook the camper and drive back into the nearby town we just left to pick up some transmission fluid just in case we got low. The truck did fine without the weight of the camper behind us and once we got to Walmart, we decided to wait a while and let the truck cool off before trying to continue our journey. The kids were happy to browse the toy section for a bit, then I decided we'd better go ahead and get our supper (yes - turkey sandwiches from the superstore's Subway!). After we made our purchases and agreed enough time had passed, we added some of the newly acquired transmission fluid to the truck and headed off down the road again to pick up our camper, put the sandwiches in the fridge for later (just in case we were left temporarily stranded) and hoped for the best.

Blessing #2 - Cell phones & car chargers.

My parents had left earlier than us by about an hour, so they had already reached the park when I called to inform them of the unfolding situation. Soon after, the road we were traveling turned into hills with an immediate drop off on the side of the road and only steep grades for the occasional side roads. This worried us because there was nowhere to pull over quickly and although the temperature gauge still looked normal, we knew the extra power needed to pull the camper through these hills was going to cause more trouble. I was very glad I had bought the sandwiches, because it was beginning to look like we wouldn't make it to the camp site in time to grill burgers. Sure enough once we pushed, or rather pulled ourselves through the hills the truck started billowing smoke, a lot worse than before, and we barely made it to a small parking area on the outskirts of the next town. My husband quickly jumped out of the truck to look underneath and yelled "FIRE! Get the fire extinguisher!" I grabbed the extinguisher and thew it to him - it didn't work. He then tried to smother the small flame with a rag while I quickly got the kids out of the truck.

Blessing #3 - we keep rags in the truck (it worked!)
Blessing #4 - the kindness of strangers.

Once everyone was out of the truck I looked up to see a man running towards us with a cooler full of ice water. My husband pretty well had the fire out, but they splashed some of the water up on the exhaust to be sure. We thanked the man and told him about our issue. It turned out he was a First Responder and was just down the road at a town festival. He said the rest of the emergency entourage would soon follow, thanks to the concerned call of a passing motorist. Within minutes we had police officers, first responders, and firemen parked all along the roadside. We thanked them all for doing their job so well and politely declined the offer of one to pull our camper the remaining way to the park. We managed to drive a few blocks into town to a gas station to let the truck cool down again. I called my parents who decided to drive back to possibly pick us up, then we got out the sandwiches and made ourselves comfortable.

After sitting for almost an hour we continued on the last 15 miles (closely followed by my parents) to our campsite and proceeded to set-up in the dark. The original 2 hour drive took us 5 hours to reach our destination and, surprisingly, the transmission temperature gauge never got higher than half way.

Blessing #5 - my children were mostly well behaved during the entire ordeal.

We gladly fell into bed that night happy to have made it amidst all the problems of the day, and only slightly worried about getting back home on Monday. The rest of the weekend wasn't too bad considering the way it started- afternoon rain one day and missing out on the cave tour the next day didn't seem quite so bad considering the larger picture. We did manage to visit the Pioneer Village which was the best part of the weekend. Here is my creative attempt and preserving that good memory.

On Monday, after a temporary fix, our truck did manage to make it to the halfway mark on our journey back before we decided to throw in the towel and hitch a ride with my parents. The guys came back later with reinforcements to get the darn thing home. I am still counting my blessings and very thankful that all turned out ok, but really who ever said camping in a camper isn't roughing it, has obviously never been camping with us.

Here's hoping you had a wonderful Independence Day and found a few blessing of your own. Until next time!