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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Big List, NOT a bucket list.

A bucket list implies "before you die." I want this stuff to start happening now.

Along with the yearly review of things business which I covered in the previous posting. I have a list of other things I want to be able to do. Some of them have been waiting for a long time. I don't know how I am going to accomplish them, but I want them done..and with the house and studio oriented tasks the sooner the better.

There has to be a way right?

House and Studio:
My first and most important wish is to get the studio out of our basement and into an outbuilding. The trouble is we don't have an outbuilding. So we'd have to build one. Our dream building will have about double the space we currently have in the basement. many windows, at least one garage door and a small area for retail. We found the perfect building while at the local Grange Fair. a two car garage with a little extra room for about $13,000 delivered. It was huge and could be insulated, wired for electricity and the space divided. Unfortunately we also would need to excavate, pour a concrete pad. Get running water and have some sort of drain system..though I think a floor drain would work for us. I estimate the final cost at around $30,000. This, in case you wondered, is about 2400 mugs at wholesale prices.*sigh*

The most important home repairs we need all take place in the old section of our basement. The first is we have a massive crack in our foundation which is where our basement flooding problem comes from. I don't have any ideas on this one. I guess we need to have someone come and look at it. When it pours it actually looks like a little waterfall. Fortunately there is a floor drain for small rainstorms, but when we have 4 or 5 day monsoons we have to head downstairs with a sump pump and a shop vac. It gets old really fast. Truly it is also dangerous because it has come within inches of a 2000 degree kiln. if water seeped into the hot kiln I think it would be like a boiler explosion. The house would just be gone and parts of us scattered over Port Matilda PA. If the kilns were in a new outbuilding I could tolerate a little flooding.

Next is a water softener. The water in our house is so hard we've had to replace two kitchen faucets since we moved here 4 years ago.The water to our bathroom sink is at a trickle and we regularly soak our shower head in CLR to keep it flowing. This is driving me crazy.

The next thing is we need to rearrange the floor plan of the house. Some of the folks who have been to our house know where we're coming from. We have some ideas, but need to consult someone as to the actual possibilities. I think there are walls to be moved. Some of it I know we could do ourselves, but some of it is way out of our expertise.

Once this list is kicked, there will be celebrating to do, and the thing we want to do more than anything is travel. On the list of places to go:

All of our National Parks,

I'd prefer to do most of it on the road. A pickup and an RV. However this will require 2 things we don't have. One is an RV, the other is the several weeks a year to take off across the country. I suppose if my house list gets accomplished we'll be able to work out the time and the RV because we'll be on a roll of amazing things happening.

Then of course we'd like to head back to Ireland. We're just not done with that lovely country yet. Then Scotland and Wales.

Rowan would like to get back to Greece, and then of course Turkey is right next door, and we have friends who have offered us lodging there.

Life is short and we work too much. How can we make this happen?


Monday, December 26, 2011

Hughes Pottery Yearly Review

Charles Hughes

Every year at this time I go through a period of yearly review.

The last few years I've had the pleasure of adding my beloved wife and partner to this review. Where were we last year? Where are we now? How was the time in between?

Rowan Rose
 Last year we decided that we work way too hard for not enough return, so we decided we were going to work smarter. Mainly by trying to work steadily throughout the year, whether we had show deadlines or not. Slow and steady wins the race right?

Sort of. We did this thing. Made a list, followed it, kept working, but then something crazy happened. Our sales increased. So when the show deadlines came up, we had to rush anyway. By the end of the year, we were working from 10AM till we were done. moving from task to task and integrating errands, lunch and whatever else came up into the middle of the day, returning home, I'd often crash about 4-5PM, nap for an hour, then eat dinner and head back to the studio from 7-12, then crawl into bed, thoroughly exhausted. This got old. We kept doing it, and saying "we need to get this under control" but we didn't and the orders came in, and the sales increased and we found ourselves paying most of the bills on time, but we still had no time for ourselves.

The bad thing about having a life with no time off is that eventually the body rebels and you have to take a break. We notice 2 things starting to happen when we're overworking. We get sick, and before that, we stop thinking and planning and acting and start reacting instead,. That leaves us feeling buffeted by life events and we feel like passengers on a runaway train.

Day to day, this comes out in less frequent grocery shopping and more frequent grabbing a bite out as well as endless exhaustion. We cook here in the Hughes/Rose household. We cook really well, but sometimes we just stare blankly at each other and head down the street to the Brothers Pizza, and when we're rested and thinking we plan out serving sizes, and when we're exhausted we just order stuff that sounds good, eat it without much tasting, then psych ourselves up for another 5 hours of work. It fuels the motor, but certainly not well.

So after much discussion about our future this year we agree on a few things.
1)We work too long and hard.
2) we need to manage our available time better.

We need to set a work schedule. A real work schedule, and we need to stick to it.

We need to do errands before or after work hours like everyone else and pay attention to the things that make our lives worth living. Love, family, hobbies, outside interests.We also need to schedule days off, vacation days. Days that we don't work, days that we can use for relaxation, or household projects. I think if we do these things our productivity will be focused and our lives will achieve better balance..and we might even enjoy it more.

It will be the grand experiment for the year.

There are more questions that we're considering, such as the universe seems to be calling us to do more wholesale and less consignment, only one consignment shop place left on our list beside the Shop at the Renaissance Faires. We had 4 new wholesale accounts open this year. We went through another year on Etsy and found we are making 60% our income online now.. Just 3 years ago it was 0%.

Times are changing. Starting Jan 3, it'll be 8-5 with an hour of breaks and on the 6th we're going to take our first guilt free scheduled vacation day.