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I hate August… and Gremlins

October 3rd, 2016

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Do you ever feel like there are forces out in the world conspiring against you? Messing stuff up every which way you turn. Maybe it’s Gremlins. Like the pointy eared, green, scaly, don’t-feed-after-midnight kind. If that’s the case and Gremlins actually do exist they were out in full force during the month of August. Which is why I made that bold statement in the above headline. And it’s also why I’m currently sitting here still looking at the above pile of junk. It’s fun junk of course, but it’s been sitting in the middle of my living room for going on two weeks.

Let’s go back to the beginning. The beginning of August that is. Actually more like the beginning of July. I think my mood started to sour around the 4th. And I blame my mother for that. I blame her because it’s around Independence Day that she always makes the statement… “4th of July… Summer’s over.” And it’s true. After the 4th summer is all downhill from there.

You see, August is a stressful month for me due to two things… my job… and my other job. At the start of August I was deep in the throes of two freelance design gigs, both of which I had known about yet put off for several months. I was finishing up the design of a wedding invitation suite and a business logo redesign. I was in the proof… email… fix problem… proof… email… fix other problem stage of the game on both projects.

In the middle of all of this fixing and emailing I was also working on postcards for our Fall Willow Station Sale and trying to get all of my prep work done on my Willow Station projects. The first Gremlin sighting involved my printer. I had sent my wedding invitations off to the printer to get a quote on the cost. It was a decent sized job with lots of parts and pieces to it. I got the quote back along with a note asking to give them at least a week to ten days to get the job completed. No problem, I thought, we are right on track. I let them know that my Bride wanted everything by Labor Day weekend so if I had it at least a week before that we would be fine. I sent all of the files off on Aug. 8, a good four weeks until the final deadline. That same night I sent my Willow Station postcards to them as well and the next morning I woke up out of a dead sleep and said out loud: “Crap! (I might have used a different word than crap but I try to keep this blog PG rated) I forgot to change Stacy’s menu!” I had sent a copy of the previous postcard to our Baker Extraordinaire Stacy so she could make changes to her menu… and then I forgot to make the changes to her menu. So I scurried to my computer, made the fixes, and sent out an S.O.S. email to the printer. Gremlin No. 1 shoved out into the sunlight.

So during the same time that I slayed my first Gremlin the world of the York News-Times just kept on a spinning. We had entered the most dreaded month of the small town newspaper calendar… and yes that month would be… August. A trifecta of pain-in-the-butt special sections was hurtling my way: the York County Fair Souvenir Fair Edition – which contained millions of photos of smiling kids with their smelly animals and you had better get the right kids name with the right kids photo or be forced to endure the Wrath of Mom; the Fall Sports Preview – which contained millions of photos of mostly non-smiling high schoolers in their smelly sports uniforms and you had better get the right kids name with the right kids photo or be forced to endure the Wrath of Mom; and finally a marathon week of Back-to-School pages which mostly included schedules and supply lists for the ten area schools that we cover. Of course any good mom had already downloaded those schedules and lists a month before we printed them but at least they couldn’t say we hadn’t printed them.

Before I had to start thinking about the Fair Edition I had to think about “Plink-O”. You see our Digital Dude at the YNT had built a “Plink-O” game (the Bob Barker “Price Is Right” version NOT the Jimmy Fallon “Tonight Show” Drink-O version) for us to use at different community events. He had debuted it at the 4th of July Fireworks Show before he had a chance to get it painted. It was a hit, so he later spent a day in our parking lot killing off several cans of spray paint while painting it white. He then asked me to paint “Pinball” and York News-Times across the top (I guess we had to change it from “Plink-O” to “Pinball” for legal reasons?) I agreed to do it and then just filed it in the back of my mind until, of course, the week before the fair. So for two straight nights I stayed late and from deep within the depths of the YNT building (the old, creepy deserted press room) painted this…

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the pegboard made it a challenge along with the size of the thing. I mostly had to stand behind it and paint it all upside down until I got to the bottom portion…

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which involved trying to find a some-what comfortable position while sitting on the grimy floor. It turned out pretty good though and we had one of the best booths in the Mercantile Building.

I had also slowly started to figure out what I would all be making for the Willow Station Sale. Stuff like this (in their early stages)…

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pumpkins made from a neighbors leftover fence posts and another neighbors recently cut down tree branches…

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and wood slices awaiting a paint job.

I had drawn up all of my “Fall Words” and converted them into digital files for my “Words Guy”, that would be Mike Wall at Custom Wood Products and his giant router machine. I had also figured up, according to the words I had digitized, the size of signs I needed my Design Assistant to make. Believe it or not, but I’m to the point where I have to make him an “Instruction Sheet” for each sale…

I used to just be able to stop by and give instructions but now we’re making so many different things it gets confusing. So it’s best to put it down on paper.

And here’s where Gremlin No. 2 made it’s debut. I had gotten a text from Mike saying my words were ready. I stopped to pick them up before work one day and brought them over to my Design Assistant’s shop. When I pulled up I saw all of the signs for my block words lined up on his make-shift sawhorse table in the garage. All painted and awaiting their letters. “Oh good,” I thought, “He’s got the signs ready to go.” I was greeted by my Assistant Design Assistant (that would be my mom) whose job it is to paint the letters that I don’t end up glittering. I opened up the back of my Trailblazer and my Assistant Design Assistant took one look at the box of words and letters and said, “There’s no way you’re getting all of that done in time for the sale.” “Don’t say that!” I snapped. “Never say that. It may be true but don’t put it into words, it freaks me out.”

So I grabbed one of the script words and took it into Joe’s Workshop just to make sure it fit on the already built signs. It fit, but barely. “Hmmm… that’s strange. It shouldn’t be such a tight fit.” I thought. “Oh well at least it fits.” I then headed out on my 15 mile trek to work. By the time I got there my phone was ringing, it was my Design Assistant. “Hey we’ve go a problem here.” Ahhh, there you are you pointy-eared, scaly-skinned little devil… otherwise known as Gremlin No. 2.

You see as I was backing out of the driveway I told my Asst. Design Assistant to maybe have Dad check and make sure the individual letters fit on all of those freshly painted boards since the other words had been a tight fit. Yep, you guessed it, didn’t fit. They were too tall. They were the exact height of the boards. My Design Asistant wanted me to immediately get on the phone and call my “Word Guy” and have him re-cut the letters. “Not possible.” I said, “When he texted me to pick up the order he said that he hoped there weren’t any problems because he was leaving the next morning for a two week vacation.” We debated what to do. Dad thought he could maybe trim the letters. It wouldn’t be hard on the straight edge ones but the curved ones would be a different story. I vetoed that I idea because no matter how good he is there was no way everything would come out even. We finally decided the only thing we could do was buy new lumber and have him re-cut and re-paint all of the boards. I hated to do that to him but we had no other choice. Plus now I have a bunch of boards all ready to go for the Christmas sale. I still don’t know where I went wrong on the measurements but we managed to dispose of Gremlin No. 2.

Gremlin No. 3 followed right on the heels of No. 2. One Sunday night (by the way I just typed the word “night” incorrectly and my autocorrect changed it to “Ishtar” what?) I received an email from an old client I went to open it and it said she had sent me something using Google drive. I just assumed she had another job for me to do and clicked on the drive link and my phone went berserk! It started dinging like crazy. I was getting a random email ever single second and when I went and looked at my sent folder it was sending out a random email to everyone on my contact list from me! For some reason, while this was going on, I happened to look at Facebook and saw my old client had just posted “If you get and email from me don’t open it! It’s a virus!” Too late. The only thing I could think to do was write a similar post warning my contacts not to open my email. My phone eventually stopped dinging after it had reached the limit of emails able to be sent in an hour. And after researching the issue all I could do was reset my email password and wait 24 hours for Gmail (which had shut down my account) to reset it and hope that I would once again have email. I’d have to wait and see if that Gremlin had been killed.

In the meantime it had been over ten days so I decided to check in on my wedding invitations. The response was, “Yikes, we got them but are running behind.” So much for ten days. I asked that they at least get the Willow Station postcards done asap as those needed to get in the mail. No problem, I had them in a few days. Meanwhile, project work continued…

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and things weren’t all bad, the little kids from Kansas stopped by for a visit…

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and ate some corn…

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husking is hard work. I (along with the above little Cornhusker and her family) were invited to a wedding…

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during which I cried while listening  to little brother Jordan give his toast (way to go George). A wedding also means I quickly had to make one of these…

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congrats Nick and Taylor. And I was even dragged by my family to the NU Red/White Scrimmage…

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where I got to see the National Championship banner be unveiled (that’s it behind the bright, white spotlight)…

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and witness my Design Assistant, wearing the only blue shirt in a sea of red (I’m shaking my head while typing that sentence… who wears a blue shirt to a Husker volleyball game?) give Lil’ Red the evil eye…

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and of course because we were in Lincoln and my mom and sister Kelli were in the vicinity I ate at Tico’s… so things weren’t all bad.

But back to the Gremlin’s. No. 4 showed up a few weeks after I had delivered the final business logo I had been working on at the same time as the wedding invitation suite. I woke up and checked my email (yes, I finally got that to work again) and saw I had something from Andi.

Andi is the owner of Infinite Productions, she creates the most amazing wedding videos. Nothing like the wedding videos of old. These are full on films where she actually interviews the bride and groom, films all of the prep the day of, video of the happy couple just like in a photo session (my favorite is the one where the couple went to the County Fair in their bridal gear and she filmed them on all of the carnival rides) and then films the ceremony and reception. Often times she even does a same-day edit and edits everything together on the spot so they can show the video at the reception. Mind boggling when you think about it.

Andi had decided to do a rebranding of her business and asked me to design a new logo for her. I was thrilled to do it and after much emailing back and forth we came up with a final version. All was good everyone was happy. And then I got that email and the subject line just said: LOGO spelled wrong! Yes, you read that right. I had spelled the name of her business incorrectly on her brand new logo! I mean who does that? But then again, she hadn’t noticed it either. She said she had posted a video online with her brand new logo on it and some random guy out in the social media universe (you know the kind that lives to make others feel like idiots) had taken a screenshot of her logo and posted it back to her saying “yeah, your logo is spelled wrong”. Jerk. She said a ton of people on her end had looked at it, she and her husband had seen it a million times and even her new web designer who was currently working with it on her new website hadn’t noticed it. In my defense, it’s a really low, long drawn out font and there’s lots of “i’s” in the word “infinite” (I had left the one out between the “n” and the “t”). Arrrggghh, you dumb Gremlin! I’m shoving you in the blender and hitting purée. I quickly fixed everything and sent her a brand new batch. I’ll share my logo making process in a future post, once Andi officially gets her new site launched.

So with that taken care of it was time to check on the invites again. I emailed on a Monday and was told they would be done on Wednesday. I emailed on Wednesday to see if I could pick them up and was told they would be done on Thursday. I emailed again on Thursday and was told they were having problems with the type being legible and the background colors not matching on all of the cards. Are you kidding me! I was supposed to be able to pick them up yesterday and now I’m being told about these issues? I called to find out the problems and ended up making fixes and resending absolutely everything. I called the next day to see if I could pick them up and was told they wouldn’t be done until Monday. Ok, so here is where I exploded. And I feel really bad for the poor woman that answered the phone at the print shop but I had already made arrangements with the Bride for her to pick everything up on Wednesday and now I wouldn’t get everything until Monday (that is if they kept their word) and I still had to do some assembling. So that left me one day, technically not even a day because I would be at work for the vast majority of that day working on the Fall Sports Preview. I’ve lost track of what number Gremlin this is. So on Monday I picked up the invites… apologized to the poor woman that answered the phone… and headed home after work to start assembling. Unfortunately I was at work until 10 p.m., so assembling these little beauties…

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(the band and tag that holds all of the separate cards together) didn’t start until 10:30 p.m. and since there were 500 of them, continued until 6 a.m., when I decided to take a short nap and then woke up, showered and was back at it by by 9 a.m. Around 10 a.m. my Design Assistant called and asked if I had picked up those cans of spray paint he needed, oh yeah, I had to stop at Wal-Mart, my least favorite place, on the way home the night before to pick up spray paint for the new boards he had to make. “Yes I did, but can you come over and get them? I’m kind of busy right now.” And then I heard my Asst. Design Assistant in the background “Is she working on those wedding invitations? Why didn’t she call us to help? We’ll be right over.” So they came and not much later sister Kelli showed up and I had an honest to goodness “Sweatshop” going once again. We finished up about an hour later and I packaged everything up, left it all by my front door for my Bride to pick up and headed to work.

Product work then continued…

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and the Saturday before the Willow Station Sale Kelli showed up to help paint words and then during halftime of the Husker football game Ang and Tami stopped by and were soon put to work…

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no idle hands at my house. In all honesty, Ang and I probably spent more time watching the football game than working. Thank goodness I have good friends who turn into great help.

And speaking of “great help”, some “great help” stepped in once again to help me deal with Gremlin No. 7 (is that right? Are we up to No. 7?) Over a month ago my friend Missy had asked me to help out with paper products for a baby shower she was throwing. I had made invitations and shipped them to her four weeks earlier and then started working on all of the other items she had requested but then things got busy. On Labor Day weekend she messaged me wondering how I was doing with everything since the shower was the next weekend, which was of course the same weekend as the Willow Station Sale, crap! Once again I had filed that job in the back of my mind. So I opened up the email to see what I all had left to make. She had found six different baby shower games on an Etsy site that all included game cards for each guest and she needed 70, WAIT DID I JUST READ THE NUMBER 70!!?? cards for each game plus 70 name tags and additional misc. items to decorate the food and gift tables. Luckily I was able to just purchase the majority of the games off of the Etsy site, download the pdf’s and then print them. But the printing took time. Then I had to figure out how to get everything to Missy since she lived several hours away, in the unfortunately named town of Colon, and really didn’t want to have to express ship everything. Luckily my Design Assistant’s would be going to Lincoln on Tuesday for one of my mother’s, what seems like bi-weekly, dentist appointments and Missy worked at one of the Clinique counters in Lincoln. So if I could get them done in time they could hand deliver them. On Labor Day I brought a giant stack of pages, with four cards per page, over to my mother and she got to cutting. I told her it might be a good idea to call in re-inforcements, so she called my Aunt Jennie and they set to work…

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(Mom’s going to love me for posting that picture) when I brought the next batch over she told me to make sure and let Missy know that all of the cutting was being done by two elderly women and she hoped she wouldn’t hold it against them. Another Gremlin squashed.

Set up day for the Sale had finally arrived and I was really hoping not to see anymore Gremlins. Kelli, the Design Assistants and I hauled everything out to the farm and then Kelli and I got to setting up…

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all the while sweating like stuck hogs, it was hot! And we were in an un-air conditioned shed …

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Sister Kris had sent pumpkins and sunflowers from Texas…

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oh and owls, don’t forget the owls…

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and finally we were ready to roll. The horror that was August was over, it was September 7 and all that was left to do, besides a million little last minute things, was open the doors to shoppers the next day and hope that no Gremlins had been fed after midnight, multiplied and decided to attack the farm. But if they did…

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Batman would be there to protect us.

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