Saturday, October 21, 2006


Phone Quotes

Come on people! I can't count how many times I have answered the phone to hear someone say "How much would it cost to frame my picture? It's 36" x 12" (or whatever)".
I always give the same answer. "Which frame and which mats did you want?"
I always get the same reply. "Uhhh...I don't know."
When I explain that we have about ten thousand frame samples and several hundred mat colours, they say "Well, an average price."
So I tell them it could be anywhere from $150 or $180 to several hundred or a thousand plus.
This really isn't anything you can do over the phone.
I think for fun I'm going to call the local grocery store today and ask them what it would cost to have a dinner party for eight people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


The Doctor Is (three knuckles) In

I live for one-liners. I just love those little zingers that, if delivered at just the right time, will cause your beverage of choice to erupt from your nostrils. Don't ask me why, but this morning while I was in the shower, I recalled this priceless gem that was said by my business partner a couple of years back. It still cracks me up.

A somewhat regular client was in the shop and the BP was looking after him in the front of the store while I was working in the back. Being a very small shop, there are no secrets. You can hear everything in this place. The client was talking about his advancing age and all the maintenance involved. He was describing his recent visit to his doctor and mentioned the fact that he had received a prostate exam.

"Have you ever had a prostate exam?" the client asked.
"Not by a doctor", BP shot back without missing a beat.

If I had chosen that minute to take a sip of my water, I would have spit it all over somebody's artwork. Luckily, it only caused me to emit some Homer Simpson-esque groan of disgust, shock and laughter.

Ahhh...good times.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Another Cheap Bastard

This post is for no other reason than for me to vent.

Early last week I had a woman walk into my framing shop. The first thing out of her mouth was "I hope you aren't as expensive as "The Other Place". Even with their 25% off it was SO expensive! Our friends, "The Smiths" sent me here."
"Well, first of all, if you're looking for discount framing, you've come to the wrong place. We use all preservation material, and quality material and quality work is not cheap. With framing, you get what you pay for. And if "The Smiths" sent you in, they did so because they know the kind of work we do."

The woman lays out a hideously framed picture on the table. It is a black and grey toned sketch sporting a (God help me) pink mat, a green inner mat and a pink frame.
"Oh dear God, tell me you're getting rid of that mat and frame."
"That's what I was planning. Why?"
"Because THAT is horrible on that picture."
"It just doesn't go anymore now that we've repainted. I'm thinking of going with a beige mat with a gold frame."

I proceeded to give her "The Lecture" about not framing to match your decor, but to suit the piece, and I began to select the correct tone of grey for the top mat.
"Oh, that's so drab on it. I wanted something lighter on the wall."
"You might want to consider a brighter picture then. This is a very drab picture and the best thing for it is a grey mat with a black inner mat."
"Well, what if we compromise and go with a white mat?"
"Whoa. How is THAT a compromise? It's going to look horrible. Your eye is drawn to light before dark, and a white mat would just detract from the picture."

Let's avoid a whole lot of pain here and jump ahead about an hour and a half. She had four pictures that she wanted to do, and each one was more painful than the last. The one that killed me was a professional photo of their "cottage". The place was a mansion. The side featured in the photo was nearly all windows and balconies facing the lake. Cathedral ceilings, beautiful stonework, great design. I can't imagine what this place would sell for.

At one point the woman took a quick run home to bring back another frame that she wants to re-use on another piece she brought in. That's right. She wants to re-use some ghastly gold frames on the pieces we were looking at. I managed to steer her in the right direction for the black & grey piece and the cottage photo. The other two were a poster and print of golf scenes. Those ones were the ones using the old frames. She wanted off-white (boring) mats on the pieces, but I showed her how much better they would look with complimentary mat colours on them. She was won over. The price (less than 200 bucks per piece) seemed to give her some grief. I decided against my better judgement to give her a blanket 10% off price which seemed to ease her mind somewhat.

"I'm just not sure what my husband will think. He's so used to off-white mats and gold frames. Tell you what. We're going to the cottage this weekend and we'll take a look at what's there and I'll get back to you."

After a total of about two and a half hours, she was gone.

Friday arrived and I got a phone call from her saying that her husband wanted to come in this week to look at the pictures. No problem.

First thing this morning, up drove a Cadillac SUV and in they walked with another framed piece they wanted to use as comparison and another piece that the artwork had slipped down in that needed repair. There was something about the husband I didn't like right off the bat. Maybe it was his taste.

The husband asked me if we could fix the picture and I told him that we can do that. I explained that the original framer should do it for free if it slips like that (as we do), but we could do the repair. "Oh, ok. Well, then I'll take it back to who did it the first time." (Translation: I'm cheap and would rather not spend any money.)

I showed him the first golf picture with the green mat that perfectly matched the golf green and the accent of yellow that was captured in the foliage in the background. We showed him how the off-white would look on it, and he was actually accepting of the colours we had selected. Good start.

Next I showed him the black & grey piece with the mats and frame his wife and I settled on. He was a pain in my ass. He complained about everything. He said he preferred what was on it before. Pink and green? Excuse me? Did I mention his taste? But after showing him a number of different options he was clearly overwhelmed and just shot back at his wife with "I don't care, pick what you want." (Ya, Mr. Passive-Agressive)

The cottage picture was next. It had a warm taupe top mat that picked up the stonework and siding, and a warm amber inner mat that perfectly matched the glow of the lights shining through the windows. We actually had selected a gold frame because it worked on the piece. Naturally he wanted to see off-white mats again, so we did the song & dance and again he said to his wife "I don't care, pick what you want."

As I was working on the computer confirming codes in their work orders, the husband asked me, "Do most people take this long to pick colours and frames?" Without looking up from the computer, I replied, "Most of our clients walk in the door, drop the work on the table and say 'call me when it's done' and leave. They understand that we know what looks best on their art."

Fast forward about half an hour, and they finally left after much bitching and moaning on the part of the husband about the price of every component in the price of the framing. Even though their cottage is all windows, he insisted on using regular glass instead of UV blocking glass. "It won't fade" was his verdict. OK, buddy, whatever gets you through the day. They also requested that their work be rushed so they can take it to the cottage next weekend. I noticed right after they left that they had accidentally left behind the slipped picture, so I called their house and left a message. Before they arrived home, he must have realized it was left behind and he came back in.

"I'm just thinking, it's quite a drive back to where the artist is who framed this, do you think since we're leaving so many pieces here for you to do that you could fix this at no charge?"
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of doing your work for free?"
"Well I figured since we're giving you quite a bit for these pieces...."
"Whoa. Hold up. Half of the pieces we're framing for you are using your old frames. We're not making anything on them. It's a rush order. I was stupid enough to already give you the discount that we give to our regular customers, and now you expect me to do this work for free? And why exactly would I do that?"
"Alright, if you don't think it's fair, then just charge us for it then." (he was actually backing down!)
"I am willing to do the work and I will give you the percentage off on this too, but I will not be doing it for free. This is not just some hobby to fill my days. This is my living. And I don't appreciate some ass-hat pulling up in his 60 thousand dollar car flashing pictures of his million dollar cottage and nickle and diming me.
- Note: the italics represent dialogue that did not actually happen, but I sure wish it did!
"You know," he started, "when I first came in here I was prejudiced."
"I know. I could tell."
"It just seemed like a huge amount of money considering we're using two of our own frames."
"Bear in mind that this is custom framing. We use high quality materials and we do quality work. Most of our new clients are sent here by our current clients because they know what kind of work we do."
"OK, I can appreciate that. We'll see you next week when we pick up."
"Have a good day."

I just have that sinking feeling that these people are going to be more grief than they're worth. The cheapest people are always the biggest pains in the ass. I'm just waiting to see if they call back in the next couple of days for some other issue. If that happens, I'm going to tell them to come in and get their belongings because we will NOT be doing their work for them.

Come on phone....ring!

Friday, October 13, 2006


I'm An Adult Now

I give up. After the whole Thanksgiving stuck-in-the-backseat-of-my-car episode, I finally relented and admitted that my sporty 2003 Honda Accord V6 coupe is simply not....practical. Yes, boys and girls, I'm growing up. It's time to admit that I'm the adult that I've unwittingly become.

I recall some twenty years ago, my friend Darryl and I would talk about what we believed would be our untimely deaths due to our mis-spent youth. "Two Hooterville Youths Die In Horrific Alcohol-Fueled Crash" would be the headline. The funny thing is, we continued to refer to ourselves as "youths" (or "yoots" to Vinny fans) as we neared our 40's. OK, we STILL do it! "Hooterville Youth Falls And Breaks A Hip". We just don't feel old enough to be considered "men".

But as I found myself prowling the car lots and taking great interest in Honda Pilot SUVs (I just LOVE my Hondas), I realized that it has happened. Adulthood has tracked me down. I am partnered with The Squeeze for over 11 years now, I own a business, we own a home, and I am a father. I am lugging strollers and swings and carseats around. I need to do this.

I did some internet research and found a well-priced 2003 Pilot in a nearby town and Wednesday evening I took the drive there to test it out. The Squeeze was working in that town on that day and met me at the dealership shortly after I took the SUV out for a test drive. We worked out some numbers, determined what they would offer for my car (which in my opinion is never enough), and calculated what my payments would be. I took The Squeeze out in it for a quick spin, and he was impressed as well. "I think it's a good idea. You should go for it", he said. I was somewhat shocked. Normally he is the voice of reason, and I'm the impulsive, determined one with the crazy ideas, and here he was encouraging me. Surely, the planets are out of alignment.

We returned to the sales office and I signed some papers and shook some hands. I've added on about a year and a half more payments than I had remaining on the Accord, but I really can't continue to drive that car with a baby and her accessories. I'm sure a number of our full-figure friends will rejoice in knowing they no longer have to contort their way in and out of that back seat again.

Saturday we make the trade. I will hand in my keys, a void cheque, and my car. I will drive in a sports car driving 41 year old youth, and will leave an SUV driving adult.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Thanksgiving (Thankfully it's over!)

I called my mother about a week ago to see if the family is getting together at their house for Thanksgiving. Usually our whole extended family, all the aunts, uncles, cousins and their countless offspring converge at a little community hall that many of the relatives are members of. It's not much really. Just a long rectangular building with a good sized kitchen at the back, and at the other end, lots of tables and chairs. Between these two ends is a section that works very well for a buffet station. Well, bad news arrived earlier this year when the town sold the hall. That, it appears, will be the end of the huge 100+ people Thanksgiving dinners we did every year. It's a shame really, because aside from weddings, funerals, and other cheery gatherings, that's about the only time we all got to see each other.

Where was I? Oh yes. I called my mother to see if they were having dinner at their place as is often assumed. I was planning on having Brynn overnight on Saturday, so I would bring her along to be with the family. My mother's response was pretty non-commital.

"Oh, I don't know. My hands have been bothering me so much (arthritis). I peeled three potatoes last night and they hurt so bad I couldn't even cut them up. I won't be able to do everything, and I won't be able to bake."
"Well, who said you have to do everything? We can all cook. We can all bring a dish and just get together there to see each other. There's enough of us to do that, you could just sit back and relax."
"Well....we'll see."

So I set to my scheming. I e-mailed my sister. She's what I consider to be the voice of sanity in my family. I wrote to see if she was willing to go along with the plan to have everyone bring something. A few days passed and I hadn't yet heard back from my sister, and I was sidetracked with work and life in general, and finally got the chance to call her on Friday night. Naturally, I got the answering machine.

I had to work on Saturday, and after that I picked Brynn up from her mother and brought her home to our place. The younger the child, the more stuff you have to cart along. I had her swing taking up the trunk. I had her exersaucer in the back seat beside her, and her stroller in the passenger seat. I need a bigger vehicle. This Accord isn't cutting it with a child.

Not only did The Squeeze have to work that day too, but he didn't get home until around 8 or so (it's a blur, really). I was so pre-occupied looking after the baby, trying to keep her happy and again beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed whenever she was fussing. Thank God for a little toy that my friend Joanna gave her the night before. It kept her occupied and happy for the most part. After The Squeeze got home and I had Brynn down for a nap, my sister called me back. Turns out they were in Vegas for the week and just got in Saturday morning. So, after doing laundry and all that other necessary 'back from vacation' stuff, she gave me a call. It turns out that her daughter (my niece) was told by my mother that dinner was, in fact, happening at their place and that I was coming with the baby. Wha? OK, nice that I was told about it! Apparently my mother was making the turkey, her usual crock-pot full of sausage stuffing, and a huge pot of potatoes was already peeled and ready to go. My sister was bringing a broccoli dish, and my sister-in-law was bringing a salad. Why, oh, why am I always the last to know? Of course, since I now have the baby with me, any chance of making something to bring along is nil.

After fighting to set up her collapsable playpen/basinette and giving Brynn her 10 pm bottle and putting her down until her 2 am (or whenever) bottle, we got to bed too. Fortunately she slept until around 3:30, was fed and put back down without incident until the 6 am feeding. After that one, I put her in bed between The Squeeze and I and she snuggled up against me. OHMYGOD it was so sweet! I can't express the total bond I was feeling not only at that point, but also while feeding her, cradled in my arm, and having her hold and squeeze my thumb and finger with her tiny hands. I probably got about two or three hours of sleep in total that night, but I was feeling alright.

I gave her another bottle around 10 am, got her washed, and changed her into the cutest little pink frilly dress and white leotard with pink puffy shorts. She was smiling and laughing most of the time...until I had to put on her little sweater and hat. She HATES hats. We got her into the car and started our drive to Hooterville. There was a bit of crying at the start, but that quickly faded as she drifted off to sleep again. The only thing I could think of to bring to dinner was some treats. Carrot cake, fudge brownies, date squares...things like that which could easily be bought at the local grocery store. So I ran into the store to grab them while The Squeeze comforted the again crying baby. She's fine in that car seat as long as it's moving.

We arrived at my parents' house around noon, and as soon as we took the blanket from the top of her car seat all hell broke loose. The house was holding over 20 people, and I think it was a bit much for Brynn to take. My sister bent down close to see her, and Brynn just started to wail. The Squeeze and I took her out to the sunroom where it was quiet and got her settled. But as soon as anyone else came up to see her, she would break out crying again. She was NOT a happy camper. The Squeeze and I decided to spell each other off so we could get something to eat. I wasn't feeling much like eating, and had just a spoon of a few things and a piece of turkey. We were taking turns with Brynn in my parents' bedroom since it was the quietest place in the house. She was fine sleeping propped against our shoulders, but as soon as we tried to cradle her she would start the crying again. It became clear that we needed to take her home to her mother. She's got the magic touch. So we packed everything up and left by 2:00. Shortest. Thanksgiving. Ever.

She got very worked up in the car. The crying got worse and as I was driving, I just got so distressed. The Squeeze asked if I would like to get in the back and have him drive. It sounded good. So I managed to wedge my plentiful ass between the seat and the door frame and sit beside Brynn. She was very red, very teary, and her cries were interrupted with phlegmy coughs. I managed to distract her after a few minutes with a little toy I hung in front of her, and she drifted off to sleep at last.

We finally got her to Weezie's place and once I got myself extricated from the back seat we went in to visit for a few minutes. Brynn was back to her old self again, smiling and laughing in her mother's arms. How can I not take it personally? The thought of taking her for a week in February as planned is scaring the hell out of me.

Thanksgiving Monday we had The Squeeze's brothers and nephews over. We managed to get the house cleaned up and orderly before they got there and I was feeling pretty organized. Dinner went well, despite the fact that I hadn't yet excavated my turkey platter, gravy boat or wine glasses from the mountain of boxes in our garage. When our guests left and everything was cleaned up we went downstairs and flopped in front of the TV for a bit before bed.

Now that all of that is behind us, I'm making some phone calls today. I think it's time to trade in my beloved 2003 Accord for a 2003 Pilot I saw at a local dealership. Honda has made a great SUV, and even though I've always thought SUVs were for idiots, it's a matter of practicality. This thing can hold 8 people. Or two adults, one baby, and a mountain of accessories. The best part is that I won't need the jaws of life to pull me out if I ever need to sit in the back with Brynn.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Time Flies. But The Freaks Remain

I can't believe it's been a year since I've started rolling my eyes here on virtual paper. My first entry was right after my 40th birthday, which means I'm 41 now. Or 39 if you subscribe to the decreasing number after 40 theory, which is sounding pretty good to me right now. Just think, 20 years from now my daughter and I will be the same age. OK, that's just weird.

I've got a boatload of work ahead of me today, but it's pretty mindless assembly line type stuff. We have a contract to frame around 30 pieces for a client, and they are all pretty much the exact same thing, so it's going to go pretty fast.

But of course, it wouldn't be a day here without some crazy request. The first thing this morning, I got a call from some woman at so-and-so's office:
"Remember you framed this thing for me umpteen years ago?"
"Um, ya, sure." Of course I didn't.
"We have another job for you if you can do it."
"Shouldn't be a problem."
"There are three certificates we need done, but we want them to match another one we had done."
"Sure. Was it one that we did?" Luckily, being computerized helps in this case. We keep every number of every item used on here so we can easily duplicate a piece if required.
"I don't think so. This one was done ages ago. It's got a sort of gold or brass frame and a kind of green mat. Does that sound familiar?"
(Can you hear my eyes roll?)
"Hmmm...well, we have around 8 or 9 thousand mouldings here, and about 50 or so different greens, so we'd really have to see the one you want to match so we can get the right mat colour and hopefully find the same frame if it's still available."
"Oh, so how will we do this?"
"Well, the best way would be to bring in the one you want to match."
"Alright. I'll see if I can bring it in with me."
"That would really need to be done, because I guarantee if you came here without it, you would be overwhelmed with the possibilities, and the odds of picking the right pieces without having the other one here are next to none."
"OK, I'll try. Oh, and so if I bring everything in this afternoon, will I be able to have everything ready for tomorrow morning?"
"Excuse me?"
"My boss would like to have this all done for tomorrow morning. Is that possible?"
"Absolutely not."
"Really? How come?"
"Usual turnaround time is one to two weeks. We need to order the mats and the frames from our suppliers, and most of them deliver once a week. Then we need to cut the mats and assemble the pictures."
"Oh, you don't have everything there?"
"Like I said we have 8 or 9 thousand moulding samples. If we carried stock of all of those mouldings we would need a place ten times the size of our shop."
"OK....I guess I'll just drop them off then and he'll have to wait."
"Sorry. Unfortunately, custom work tends to take a bit of time to do."
"That's alright. Then I'll stop by later on with the certificates."
"And don't forget the piece you want to match."
"I'll try to get it."

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! Are these people sent to me as a test of some sort? Here, frame these things, but have them look like the one someone else did years ago, but I can't bring it in to show it to you. Ya, no problem. Let me get the wand. Can I make a diamond for you from a piece of dog shit while I'm at it? Maybe sprinkle some magic pixie dust and make a unicorn appear? What the fuck?

I'm really thinking I need a vacation. Luckily The Squeeze and I are both taking a week off later this month. We're not going anywhere or doing anything besides working on the house, but it will be nice to get away from here for a week.

Let the countdown begin.

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