Friday, August 28
Elmwood is tomorrow, one of my favorites. A few blocks from home in a neighborhood I love. It's gonna rain. Oh well.
This show is not terribly affected by bad weather. People come out anyway, and it's supposed to be "passing" showers. Yeah, like Lewiston with its passing monsoon. But, that weekend, as soon as the storm passed the folks came out from wherever they were hiding and filled the streets. Crazy. Good crazy.
I have half a day to finish up all the stuff that's almost done and then my last Summer show. Seems impossible. I swear it just started. Wasn't I whining about applications just a few days ago?
So, the goal is to earn enough to pay for our coming pilgrimage to the land of the children. I'm sure that will happen. Then I need to get stuff ready for the show in Oregon. No sweat. I promise not to whine that the roads through Nebraska and Iowa are boring. I swear I will enjoy the hours of inactivity. Corm fields are good for reflection and inner peace.
But first...yep. The attic.
Monday, August 24
Saturday, August 22
But see, here's the dilemma. I always believe I will have a great show. I always picture being able to actually, oh, save a bunch of the proceeds because I was so successful. I always picture lines of people waiting to pay me, waving paper money and plastic cards. I always picture sunny skies, temps in the 70's and a gentle breeze.
Wednesday, August 19
Some good friends do the show and we spend the night at one of their homes. The rambling chatter in their sunny kitchen is worth the booth fee. Saturday night is a traditional get together for this group at a Mexican Restaurant. I have my annual alcoholic drink there, a margarita. Or 2.
So, what I'm saying is that I booked this show mostly to pad the gas money fund for our upcoming vacation and to feed my soul. I had realistic expectations.
The trip there is just under 3 hours so we hit the road at 5 and we were rewarded with a Disney sunrise for several miles.
Set up was smooth and when we first saw our spot I thought it would be a good one. Next to the gazebo, in the shade. But as they say in the NFL: upon further review....
The booth was set 8 feet off the path, between 2 food vendors. On my left, frozen wine slushies. On my right, hot fudge and jam. Both were offering samples. As you can imagine, the wine was the more popular attraction. And what that created was a mini wine garden with people slurping slush and chatting amiably in the shade. In front of our booth.
It was hard enough to get people off the path, but when a gaggle of wine slushers obscured us, it was impossible. I rearranged my booth, bringing more product and color to the front. We chatted up anyone who wandered by. I sampled a slushie or 2 myself.
Did I mention it was over 90 and sunny? Upstaters don't do heat well. We are snow people. By 1, crowds in front of the booth were no longer a problem.
I began to look forward to our Mexican dinner.
That was fun. Best Mexican food in New York is found in Bath of all places. San Carlos on Rte 54. Go there. I'll wait.
Sadly, the owner was still waiting for a liquor license for the new location, meaning no annual margarita for me. No matter. We laughed and told stories and there was even a table-hopping magician. My spirits were lifted.
That night we settled in at Leah and Ken's house. Living in the city as I do, the silence of the country is a novelty to be savored. I was lulled by the silence, by the way the moonlight broke through their stained glass panels. It would have been a perfect night had I not made a 3AM trip to the bathroom. Tiptoeing back to bed in the dark, I felt a softness against my ankle, thought it was one of the cats, realized too late it was a footstool, and proceeded to swan dive, grazing my head on an end table, landing on parts of me that should not be landed upon, ending up crumpled between said end table and a chair. I swear, there was exactly enough space for me to fit and that's where I landed. 6 inches either way and I would have really been hurt. That guardian angel of mine is working OT.
Russell sat with me until we were sure nothing odd was going to happen, that I was just bruised and feeling stupid. In retrospect, the best thing would have been for me to jump up, raise my hands over my head, bend one knee forward and declare "Superstar!" like that old SNL skit. I'm too old and bruised for that. The best I could come up with was "The Russian judge gave me a 9"
The next day, hot and sunny again, began with more laughter in Leah's kitchen, bagels and fruit at a sweet cafe in the Village, high hopes. We sold 3 things.
Lots of wine slushie mix was sold, though. At exorbitant prices.
People: all you need to do is mix wine, water and OJ. Freeze, scrape or blend. Free.
Anyway, I made enough for gas to Chicago, but we had a nice weekend and it wasn't a show I was counting on or anything. That's next week.
You have to look on the bright side, and the company of friends is very bright indeed.
Tuesday, August 11
But let's start at the beginning. And remember the man in the white cap watching the rain.
Lewiston, NY sits near a couple of Great Lakes, the Canadian border and Niagara Falls. It is a vibrant area, to say the least. The town makes much of its historic roots and the main street, Center, is lined with charming shops and Victorian homes. So far, so good. I have wanted to try this show for a while. It had a good reputation and it fell on a weekend that is normally available for me. Well, the 2nd Chautauqua show is that weekend, but what are the odds of being called off the wait list for that show?
So, of course, Chautauqua calls me Thursday night. There's been a last minute cancellation. Can I do the show? I told them they were breaking my heart, but, no, I could never be ready by morning and, besides, I was committed to Lewiston. I hoped I was making the right choice.
Set up went smoothly. We had a nice spot, good neighbors. Rain was predicted and it came but it was light and didn't seem to affect the show much. I was content.
Sunday I was going to be doing the show solo. Russell was expecting a guy to work on our house, so he dropped me off and, after settling me in with coffee and a muffin, headed home. My photographer neighbor was watching the weather radar on his cell phone.
"There's a big one coming", he announced, showing me the alarming red blob on the radar heading in from Toronto. As if on cue, big drops of rain started and I pulled all my things behind the tent under cover and settled in to wait it out. The fat drops turned into a heavy rain (see video). My spirits fell. The rain slowed. I got happier.
The couple that had taken refuge with us ventured out, but the man stayed. And stayed. It was OK with me. He was chillin'. My neighbor waved his cell phone at me. "That wasn't it", he said, "the big one is coming now!"
OK, I thought I'd humor him and went to pull my front panels closed. And walked into ..I dunno..Hell? The Wizard of Oz? Sudden pounding rain and hail , blowing into the tent horizontally, the winds so strong I couldn't open my eyes to see what I was doing, the flaps of the tent blowing in and, before I could grab them, straight back out into the street. I was soaked through, my clothes clinging to me (not a pretty sight), my hair plastered to my head (equally unpretty). I couldn't quite reach the top of the panels to pull them closed and then a hand reached over my head and pulled one panel to the center and called "hold this!" and then the man in the white cap pulled the other panel to meet it, trying to zip it, but the wind and the rain made it impossible.
"Your stuff is getting ruined, get it, I'll hold this!" he yelled and so I did, piling everything on the middle shelves to keep the rain away while he tried to hold the panels together. When I was done, I reached up and was finally able to zip the front of the booth closed.
Now we were out of the storm but we could hear it raging. A river ran through the back of booth. Thunder pounded. For the first time ever at a show I felt fear. What if this was a tornado? But the man in the white cap was calmly peeking over the top of the curtains, watching the spectacle and that was reassuring. He didn't look scared.
Then I saw my books. Soaked and already started to curl. Looked like a total loss to me. I was dejected.
From inside our little safe haven, I could hear traffic on the street. That was odd, the man said. I wondered if it was emergency vehicles. He peeked over the top again, but couldn't see. When the rain and wind finally slowed, we opened the front and saw vans lined up, packing up to go home. I looked up and saw blue sky coming. My neighbor came over, cell phone in hand, showing me that behind that scary blob, coming at us now was...nothing.
"I'm staying!" he said, and I said I was, too.
Oh, there was a rumor going around that there was more coming and we were supposed to pack up, but it was just that. A rumor. Some people had no choice. There were canopies destroyed, art work ruined. But many of us took a deep breath, looked at the promising blue sky and regrouped.
My guardian angel took his leave after making sure all was OK, waving off my effusive thanks. I would have hugged him, but that would have only served to make him wetter.
I put my small journals in the rack meant for my ruined, large ones. I spread the rest of the stuff out, trying to fill the gaps.
The minute we opened the flaps, customers came and they continued to come, even as more artists brought their vans to the street and packed up.They were happy to see we were still there. And I was happy to see Russell coming with dry clothes for me.
In the end, we had pretty good sales, all things considered.
But, I swear, if this had been our first year doing outdoor shows, Monday morning there would have been a new posting on Craigs list:
For Sale, used art canopy and display racks. Cheap. Slightly damp.
No offer refused.
But, it's not our first year, it's maybe our 10th or 12th. I know that, as Annie said, the sun will come out tomorrow.
Now if I can just make it come out on a weekend.