Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ready or not...

The rubber hits the road! The Episcopal Church's monthly newspaper, Episcopal Life, contains an article featuring my new business in its November issue. My subscription has tended to arrive toward the end of the first week in any given month, so as I've been targeting getting the web site ready for action, that has been my "last resort" timeframe. Well, surprise! In the mail yesterday the issue arrived and there was the article in all its splendor on page 14. This is really pretty neat stuff, but the web site isn't ready! I know this for certain because I decided to investigate some of its features from the administrator standpoint and discovered that--wait, what's that? OMG!!! My first order!! Although the product information is mostly in place and you can load up your shopping cart, the ordering and processing part of the site has not been tested, and in its basic format it is not performing as desired. My work is cut out for me and my web guru! Oy, oy, oy!!!

Once I figure out how to post links on the blog I'll include a link to my web site. In the meantime, here's today's mountain life picture! Stunning, isn't she? Have a glorious day (it's beautiful here).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Another service comparison

Kip's and Kath's posts to yesterday's entry reminded me... Yes! Absolutely compliment good service! Last week Ken and I were in Chattanooga for a small business seminar, and afterward went out to dinner. The restaurant we chose had a twenty-five minute wait, but we were told that we could sit at any available table in the two bar areas that flanked the main dining area. We decided to do that. In the area that looked the least smokey we saw that there were a number of tables, and we chose one. After being ignored for several minutes while two waitresses cleared a littered table (priorities, gals), we finally flagged one of them down and asked for menus. A moment later someone came to the table and told us that the area where we were sitting, separated by a stairstep from the direct area around the bar, was not "open" seating. We were expected to leave, because it wouldn't be fair to other parties who were waiting for 25 minutes. Although she was right about the fairness aspect, it was wrong for her to put us on the spot because of someone else's error. We won't go into the fact that there were at least four other empty tables near us. So we left. Around the corner from that restaurant was another we decided to try. As busy as the first one was, this one was empty! It was out lucky night, a trainee was our server! The woman with whom she was training looked like she was barely awake. It looked like we might be 0 for 2 that night. The waitress got my wine order wrong (since when does Chardonnay sound like White Zinfindel?), but the trainee took care of it. "No problem!" she smiled. When the bill came both glasses of wine were on it, as was a charge for a bowl of soup, when I had ordered a cup. I brought it to the trainee's attention, who again said, "No problem!" When the bill came back, she had removed the soup entirely. We bent over backwards telling her how much we appreciated her attention through the evening, and made a HUGE point of telling her how well she handled the bill mishap. I told her that compliments, even when deserved, weren't always voiced, so I wanted to be sure she knew we were pleased.

Okay, that was long-winded, but stories tend to get that way, eh? Three attempts to upload today's mountain photo failed, so I'm afraid I have no visual relief to offer right now. I'll try again later if I can. I'm off this afternoon to do the work of the Lord and won't get back until tomorrow night. Enjoy your day!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Service, noun, an act giving assistance to another

I have a thing about customer service. It's not rocket science to provide good service, in any situation, by anyone. So why is there so little of it around? A month ago I had the experience from hell: an order I had placed got shipped to someone else. Thank goodness the unintended recipient was able to call me (my phone number was on the invoice) and tip me off! When I called the company to let them know what had happened, service was the last thing I got. Disbelief, excuses, nonchalance, even blame placed on me! Phone calls weren't returned, there was a hang-up involved (on their part), no accountability was taken, and never was there an apology, never mind an interest in setting things right. By contrast, later that week I had to call the state department of revenue to track down why I hadn't received my tax certificate. The woman who answered the phone commiserated, wasn't sure she could do anything and suggested that I reapply, but took my name and number. Not long afterward she called back to report that she had found my paperwork in a pile somewhere (bless her for looking!), and went on to offer to process my request and email me the tax number so I could move ahead with necessary purchases for my business. Thirty minutes later I was good to go! Isn't this a shock? A small business failed to provide while a state employee came through!

I'm thinking that one way to keep me honest to the purpose of a blog is to focus on an experience of service each day. Good ones. Bad ones. Musings. Maybe even barely related episodes if it's a slow day, LOL. If possible, I'll try to include some sort of picture from daily life here on the mountain, too, just for visual relief. Today you get my dog, Dooley, working on his bone. Another day you might get a chicken from next door, a cup of morning coffee, me milking a goat (yes, a goat)--whatever comes to mind as an aspect of life that I might otherwise overlook or take for granted.

In any event, I'll try to keep this place interesting. May you have good service this day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Is this cool, or what?

I'm so proud of my brother! He's a contract remodeler in Connecticut, and one of the houses he remodeled (in it's entirety) is featured in a book being released on Thursday called "Inside the Not So Big House." I was lucky enough to get a tour of the mostly-finished product a couple of year's ago, and it is awesome. Thursday night the owners of the house are graciously co-hosting, with Jamie, an open house for clients, as well as a book signing with one of the authors of the book. Wish you could see the house, it is an amazing work. A review of the book on Amazon includes this quote, "From Rhode Island to San Diego, the 23 homes featured here illustrate exceptional attention to detail. Each offers inspiration for those building or remodeling to transform their home into an expression of all that is important to them." If you're in a bookstore and see the book, go to page 50!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Going, going....

Sold! Yes! You can be the lucky recipient of some adorable holiday items featured on this blog.

Act quickly to snatch up the remaining "Trick or Treat" goodie bag kits. Each kit includes the makings of four goodie bags, complete with "sleeve," treat bag, pre-cut ribbon, and assembly instructions. All you have to add is the candy (or other treat). I have a few kits remaining at a special price of $5 each (plus tax if you're in TN), and shipping. How many can I send to you? These are the perfect little item for teachers, colleagues, hair-dressers, your favorite UPS man (wink, wink!), baby-sitter, and those are just a few ideas! Act now, Halloween is just around the corner! If Halloween isn't your thing, place your order now for treat bags for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Valentine's Day.

For the longer range shopper, check out these gingerbread man gift bags! At $3 each (plus tax if you're in TN), and shipping, they're a bargain for that extra special touch to go with that carefully chosen gift for someone special.

Email me if you're interested in making a purchase, and we'll make arrangements.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Greetings from rainy South Carolina!

And welcome to Melrose, my family’s tree farm. It’s been a challenge to post here this week since Internet access is long-distance dial up, but I wanted to get at least some word out during out trip here.
At this time of year, in this part of the world (inland, hilly area rising from the banks of the Savannah River) the weather can do just about anything. We began this fall’s maintenance project on a hot and overcast day earlier this week, with pressure-washing and sanding old paint off the front porch floor, posts and railing consuming most of our time. We had a second, gorgeous day for priming everything and beginning the final coat of the posts and railing (see first pic), and then the deluge struck. It’s been too wet and humid since then to return to finish the task, but the weather looks promising to complete our project on Sunday before we head back home on Monday.
In the meantime we had guests for dinner Friday night, so we returned the porch furniture for entertaining on the primed floor (see second pic). It’s been too wet even to venture out for pictures other than the pyracantha out by the old pump house (yes, that would be the third picture!). Assuming that the weather holds for Sunday we’ll be busy wrapping things up on the front and doing a bit of work on the back, so it’s likely this will be it for photos of this year’s Melrose adventure. Once we’re back on the mountain it will be a busy week leading up to the next craft show, but I’ll try to pop in with a word or two to stay in touch.
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Don't get used to this!

Okay, I confess, I'm on a roll with this blog thing, but I'm sure the thrill will fade before long. We'll see!

This afternoon the AOL welcome screen had an item about fall colors in New England and it made me sort of homesick. So, since I know there is at least one Floridian in my life who misses fall colors, I thought I'd post a couple of pictures that I have that depict this glorious season. So here ya go, a feast for the eyes. Enjoy!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

~George Eliot

I don't do tech!!

Well, I was trying to post this picture with my profile, but blogger help isn't very helpful. "All you do is this!" it says. So I do that and I get an error message that the URL address exceeds the maximum number of characters. Uh, well, then tell me there's a limit from the get go! So I rename the file, upload the picture again. Error Message! I've exceeded the size of the image now! Uh, then tell me there's a size maximum when giving the instructions! I've reached my threshold of tolerance for tech this afternoon, so for the time being please enjoy this picture in the post. One of these days I'll attempt to tolerate tech once again and try to get this sorted out and move it to the profile. In the meantime, if other bloggers have some advice (please be kind), I welcome the help from those who have been there. Have a pleasant afternoon!
(PS--it turns out that there is a notice about URL character length and file size, but it's listed under "known issues." Yes, that's the first place I don't go when I want to start something new. Mea Culpa)

Now what do I do?

Okay, so I've succumbed to the blog bug and created my own. What in the world am I thinking? LOL! Well, I guess that's what this is for, to communicate what I'm thinking, and to share things going on in my world with the people I care about. So, here goes!

It's the first of October and the beginning of the fourth quarter, for those who note such things. For me it's something of a home stretch. The first quarter of this year began with uncertainty about funding for my job. Before an eleventh hour miracle made it possible to keep paying the bills, I began contemplating what else I might do with my time and my energy (as a way of earning a living). I began to put some things in place to ease out of the existing job and move toward another. In the second quarter I juggled a variety of travel and made the decision to "go for broke" with a life transition. There were two things I wanted to pursue, one Church-related and the other more "soul" connected, and I divided my time between moving forward on both of them. The third quarter began with establishing a new business! There were legal and financial logistics, not to mention the necessity to get busy with my new endeavor, a card company! In the meantime I learned that the time was not ripe for the Church interest to pan out as a means of employment. It was time to plunge into the creative world and make a go of that.

As this fourth quarter begins I've got an inventory of over 500 hand made and photo greeting cards, and I'm beginning to put together some other paper products for sale at an upcoming craft show. I've got my first show "under my belt," and a web site for Internet sales is on the verge of going live. During these next few months it is my aim to spread the word and begin to get established as a card crafter. Doing this is one of those quasi dreams that I never really thought to pursue until the last year. Now it is wonderful to have a dream, and to begin to realize it. I have concerns and anxieties, but I also have confidence, and am excited about what I am doing and the possibilities that are "out there." The world can be my pearl, and I've always liked pearls!

So, I'm off and running, as a card-crafter and a blogger. Now all I need to do is pick up some speed...


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