We’re Doing a Safety Video

Normally, when I get up for the Sunday “twenty miles and home before anyone else gets up” ride, the crowd hazards are pretty light (now that the Pandemic overflow appears to be waning). Then, some rides I think if I only had cameras running already, I would have the entire safety video shot in one ride. Today was that day, the one with boat loads of opportunity for the video. If Russ had been with me, he’d have called out “DA alert” several times.

I said “Hello” or “Heads Up” intently to at least 3 adult riders coming at me in my lane without looking. The little kids who didn’t stay in their lane don’t count because It’s our job to look out for them. But, on that subject, there was the Mom who’s kids moved over right when she said, just like she said, but Mom didn’t have the dog on the leash under control, so I still had to stop and then Mom still fussed at her kids for “not getting over”.

Then, there was the guy who was playing music loud and weaving at first, but he got straighter as I approached. I called out “Passing on your Left” twice, really loud to be heard over his music. He straightened up in time for me to pass him and then turned left off the path right in front of me just and I pushed hard on my peddle for the pass then quickly followed with the brakes. I’d be surprised if he ever knew I was there.

And, there was the woman who was weaving and texting. She was all over the place and riding so slowly she was having trouble keeping the bike upright. I caught her on the fly and she was still on the phone, but had at least gotten off the bike. She gets kudos for that, but she was standing on a paved strip at a sharp “s” curve on a hill. It was right where people who get surprised by the curve turn out to avoid crashing into others. Some days…

So, the safety video will be our little thank you to everyone. Hopefully it will be fun and funny. All the people who support us will get a link with a short update when it’s done. Unless they opt out for some reason I can’t imagine, even the people who choose to support us with no reward will get this.

Tuesday Trippin’ May 10

Training wise, last week was significantly better than expected. Weather lined up for me to ride immediately before and after, and the break was only 3 days. In April the break was 4 days and we had 3 days of rain immediately before. We walked about 3 miles on a trail during the April trip, but I didn’t take hiking shoes. I ached from unusually low exercise when I got home.

I mentioned the need to shift over to walks for recovery exercise just before this trip. We ended up dong that. The Pensacola Bay Bridge is under re-construction, but the pedestrian-bicycle path on one side is complete. The bridge is 3 miles long. The first night we walked about a mile and a half. The second, we walked 5 miles.

Russ on the Pensacola Bay Bridge

5 or more miles is the length of walk I originally planned for recovery walks. That may be a touch on the long side, but I used to be able to do 5 miles pretty easy at any time without prep. Lately though, I’ve done more yard work, which technically qualifies as recovery activity I suppose. But, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve even walked around the neighborhood with my granddaughter on her scooter. I’ve been spending all my cardio time on the bike. The bike is awesome, but I need to make myself walk for the change in activity too.

I really wanted to walk the whole bridge in both directions, just because it seems complete, but when I looked back from the 2.5 mark at how far away the starting side shore seemed, I decided to turn back. I could have made the extra distance, but in the end, I was glad that I turned when I did and Russ was too. I expected soreness the next day, but there was none and my feet felt really good, like a bit of cross training was the thing I should be doing.

I’m not sure what I will settle on as the right distance for a recovery walk, but on the bridge with all the wind, it seemed more like a primary exercise day, which was fine for that week when I had less opportunity to ride. Some sources say 20-30 minutes is enough for recovery. But, more could be needed after a century ride than shorter forms of exercise. The key will be in how the rides are going. As long as my body feels better and my stamina is not reduced, it’s likely the right amount of recovery exercise.

If the recovery walk is shorter, it will fit better into a still photography day than I first anticipated. That may not reduce my project hours any, but it should improve the photography rewards. It is easier to carry a camera on a walk that only needs 20-30 minute intervals of elevated heart rate than one that needs 1.5 – 2 hours.

The Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails are not alone. There are beautiful hiking trails on both ends of our project, including portions of trail that may be added to the Appalachian Trail. I’m excited about the potential.

I’m going to leave it here for this post. I’ll put some of my other thought in separate posts. Have a glorious day and we’ll see yo on the trail.

The Two Trails Together are 94.5 Miles Long. Why Do You Talk About Riding Centuries?

Short answer? We’re going to ride from east of the east end to west of the west end, or the other way around.

On the east end we will start at storage units, hopefully the ones 2 miles from the 0.0 marker will have availability when we begin the project. If not we’ll go for the next closest place with availability.

On the west end we’ll have a cool down period (or slow down depending on the weather). We’ll stop at a storage unit on that end too, unless we end up with accommodations that provide storage. In which case, we’ll stop there.

We can know that we will be riding at least a hundred miles, but not exactly how many until the details are set.

What Will you Upload?

I expect the upload to include at least 95 miles. We’re going to upload trail miles, primarily pretty miles at regular speed before cool down. On the east end the trail goes on and looks trail like for a bit east of the 0.0 marker. We will include that in the upload.

Both trails will be extended. I don’t expect that to effect us, or even be finished during the term of the project. But if it happens while we are riding, we’ll consider adding on the extra if they add to the project. There are some roadside miles in the middle of the trail that run beside a heavy traffic highway but on either end we’re not likely to upload road traffic areas even if we end up needing to ride in them ourselves.

Why allow $992 for Water?

I mean, we would drink water whether we were riding or not, right?

It’s the little things that kill your success, but not in the “Forego avocado toast and you can have a McMansion” way, in a more real way.

Yes, we drink water straight from the filter on the fridge when we’re home. Water on the trail has to be planned though. Hydration is critical.

The fountains on the Silver Comet are always turned off in the winter, from well before danger of first frost until well after danger of last frost. I don’t get this. It takes more than a frost to freeze a pipe, but that’s how it is. Since the pandemic, the water has been turned off year ’round.

When the fountains are on, I would likely fill at Tara Drummond, Cedartown and the Chief Ladiga visitors center on the state line. Water availability becomes more sketchy as you move west and, if you started on the east end, that’s when you’re tiredest.

What can you get for $992 on the trail? That’s a $4 allowance per rider per ride day*. That may be generous on average if the fountains come back on for part of the year, but the rest will come from some other bucket in the budget if they don’t.

Casual riders can decide on a ride to ride basis if the nominal cost of going out on any given day fits easily inside the resources they want to use. But, when making a commitment to ride twice a week every time it’s rideable for 62 weeks, accounting for all of the places where you will drop a grand is as critical to a successful project budget as hydration is to a healthy ride.

*There’s no allowance for training days because we can carry enough for most of those days.

About the Intro Video

The intro video is completely home grown and shot cell phones. I shot some footage, but Russ shot most of what we used, then edited it on Kdenlive. He is self taught with the help of instructional videos and learned it for this project. He learned Audacity for this project as well.

The intro video is all shot with one of three Galaxy S somethings. The trail ride base (or background ride) was shot using Russ’s Galaxy S10+ with a DJI OM5 gimbal stabilizer. I haven’t checked to see if any of what we used for other parts was made with my old Galaxy S8 Active. Anything I shot after July when I bought the S21 Plus that I wrote about here was taken with that phone.

Using the gimbal was interesting. It was useful to reduce the shakes and bumps and it looked cool and weird mounted to the handlebars with the phone attached. I was riding behind Russ watching it operate. The phone looked (and was) vulnerable sticking up from the handlebars. The gimbal looked slightly organic in its undulating battery operated movements. It was attached to a GoPro mount that was completely stable, but didn’t look like it. Later I shot some of my own and the movements look so much bigger on your own bike.

Riding through the puddles in Brushy Mountain tunnel was a bit scary. Not only do the device documents tell you not to drop the gimbal, they say four separate times not to get it wet, unless it catches fire. If it catches fire, you are supposed to put the fire out with water.

Riding through the tunnel, or any other puddles, I can slow down and reduce the chances of getting the thing wet, but other riders may or may not. After riding with it for a few miles, the handle had rotated and I was afraid it had loosened and might drop, so I took it off. I wasn’t able to get it to turn off though. I removed it from the handle bars and then took the phone off of it.

It wiggled at me as if to say “Where’s my phone?” The two clamps on the disc made it look like the face on a puppy or Grogu shaking its ears to get them dry. I shoved the handle in a pocket in my bike tights. I hoped the device would get separation anxiety there and shut down. The moving part was free, so I didn’t expect it cause any problems if it didn’t and It had shut off by the time I got back to the car.

We chose to shoot with the phones and gimbal instead of the equipment that we plan to use for the project because, even after buying the gimbal, it was the least expensive way to achieve a usable introductory product. We’ve made similar choices with other things along the way.

We will switch to GoPro Hero 10s for the project to get the rugged durability, better image stabilization, the ability to stream one camera and the weatherproof qualities. The GoPros and other equipment we plan to use for the project is not harder to use. Switching will not be difficult once more appropriate equipment is funded.

Most audio was recorded with an external microphone. I set the the Mic on a tall stool in my small walk in closet for the dampening, and set the laptop on a big box of fireworks (we’ll have to use them to celebrate when we get funded). The box was about as tall as the mic, so I was able to read the script I wrote without having it draw me away from the mic. I sat down in the doorway and leaned in and up. We wanted it all a little bit high so it helped my diaphragm and projection. As a set up, it worked reasonably well. Beside needing something written to keep me as brief as possible and on track, my untrained voice was our biggest challenge. Winging would have been nice, but the video would have been long and winding. Russ also took audio off some cell footage I took of Sandhill Cranes wheeling above.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 9

These flowers have been sitting on this memorial bench on Big Creek Greenway for days.

I stopped to photograph these flowers, not when they were fresh on the first day that I saw them, but several days later when they still sat there untouched.

The bench has a memorial plaque. It says that the person being memorialized and his grandparents spent many days experiencing joy on the trail. That speaks to me. The first time I got to spend significant time with my grandson, I was picking him up and taking him to the trails, first by the Chattahoochee River, later the Silver Comet and finally Big Creek.

At Big Creek there are mountain bike trails and he saw signs for RAMBO, the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Biking Organization. In middle school (as soon as he was eligible) he dropped La Crosse, to join NITRO and mountain biking was the sport that stuck. Both are good organizations. He’s taught sportsmanship and to care for his bike, and he does volunteer work with the group too. He’s been on the team ever since. I enjoyed watch him try out all his team sports, but I felt good about taking him to the place where he found his thing. We don’t do the same kind of cycling anymore, but I take him to trails like 5 Points where I can walk while he rides. He just got his license and drives now. I don’t have to take him anywhere, but the connection remains, and I feel good about his thing being cycling.

One of the nice things about cycling is that it can start as soon as you get a sense of balance, and with recumbent trikes, it can last well after you lose it. I know riders in their 80s who are 20+ years older than me, and they ride standard road bikes for long distances. There are all kinds of cycling for all kinds of needs and wants, from motorized to hand powered with 1 to 4 wheels.

Cycling can connect generations like it did for me and my grandson, or the people on the plaque, for clubs or tours. It can help maintain health and increase longevity, even reduce health insurance rates. You can start at just about any age. It gets you outdoors and active.

One of the things I hope our video project will create is connection and inspiration between anyone willing to connect and for any good thing a person aspires to do. I hope that some of the people who see what I’m doing say to themselves that they ought to pursue riding, or something entirely different, especially the ones who never considered it before. And that people who were feeling old or depressed or isolated or powerless decide they can do whatever thing hanging around in the back of their minds that they aspire to do.

The only things that make me special enough to do this project are that I thought it up, I had the conviction to pursue it, and I have the determination to finish it. Anyone can do that.

I’ll be happy to give people some new exercise, health and entertainment options. I’d be honored to shift the perspectives of people who haven’t yet realized what is within their reach into the perspective of those who have.

I hope that your memorial, whether it is on a bench or in the mind of the people you leave behind, will come far into the future. I hope it says exactly what you’d want it to, and more than you ever dreamed it might.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 1

Well, we got Covid in the house. Again. Russ and I have spent some time in camp chairs in our bathroom working on the video (because there’s more room in the bath than there is in the bedroom) doesn’t seem reasonable to have more room in the bath, but that’s the way it is. With 7 people in the house and Covid, well, you just have to make things work. The thing to be thankful for is that the vaccinated people have had light cases and the boosted people have, so far, been negative/unaffected. I hope it lasts.

According to Johns Hopkins Georgia is dropping off of the 184K new cases per week high (but not quickly enough). My granddaughter is bouncing around at home on her second pre-school closure. I love every minute I get to spend with her, but having the schedule upended is inconvenient. I feel qualified to write a hilarious comedy bit right now, but I’d have to do it anonymously, to protect the innocent, and wait until people everywhere are ready to laugh before I publish it.

I did get a couple of rides in between one thing and another. The last was late and at Big Creek Greenway. I almost didn’t go. I didn’t think I had time, and I was talking to my mother as I drove. I made the mistake of starting a new subject just before parking. I was kicking myself for planning badly. But I got in an almost full length ride, and there were deer in large quantities, both in a field where they tend to hang out, and crossing the path right in front of me.

Popular “Kodak Moment” on Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway

These guys are reliably here during some seasons. I feel like I should go back and set this up properly with the Nikon and the tripod, but I don’t have one of those honkin’ big telephotos that weighs 3 times as much as the camera body, so, I suspect this will forever be that “easy” shot I never like my version of. And, it’s the shot all the passers by take. I tend to like the road less traveled.

The real shot to get was on the trail itself. A 10 point buck and two does crossed less than 10 feet in front of my bike, and I almost missed seeing a 6 pointer that didn’t make it across in front. The points on the smaller deer were quite small, not nearly so majestic as the buck I got a better look at…if I’d only had a camera running…

I really appreciate Big Creek. I’ve been going there for around 7 years, since we bought the current house. It is in a direction that has allowed me to ride when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to and the streambed is cooler than the Silver Comet in the heat of the summer. The crowding that kept me away early in the pandemic has eased and it’s about 10 minutes closer to home than the Silver Comet. Now that I’ve found the completed extension, I get to do a few hills which feels like a much better workout than the flatness of rail and stream beds. The greenway is a good bit shorter, and has a different character, but it has a lot to recommend it.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 11

We had good rides since my last post, not pushing too hard through weather that was on again off again like a Georgia winter. We took some time for the holidays with family, or at least I did. I went to south Alabama to see my mom and sister early and without Russ. He didn’t have the time off. It turned into Christmas Past, the Christmas of my childhood when I was the grandchild. Now I’m the grandparent. The celebration has morphed primarily in who is alive to attend and which house will accommodate us all. Sometimes people drift, especially in fractious times like these. I wasn’t sure I would ever see that again.

Normally Russ and I alternate which family we spend Christmas with and which family we spend New Years with. But, with the pandemic, we stayed home last year and enjoyed time within our bubble. That was nice because the bubble was bigger than normal with my kids home to roost. The down side was that by the time this past summer rolled around, it had been a year and a half since I had seen my mother. Russ had seen his Dad a couple of times for various reasons, but seeing Mom came later. I’ve always visited often. Even when I lived thousands of miles away I visited at least twice a year.

But, through the pandemic I’ve tried to behave in a low risk manner, wearing masks, getting vaxxed, not being the person who exposed my bubble to unnecessary risk. At times that seemed like a hopeless venture in a house of essential workers and school aged children with shared custody. I really felt the weight of visits not made as well as the weight of not carrying illness home to mother. Russ saw his Dad twice before I saw my Mom. That really isn’t relevant. He made a last visit to a dying relative and we went a graduation this summer before I went to see Mom, but it felt bad when Russ had seen his family twice and I hadn’t seen mine. Mom is 88 and a content homebody, but some days when we talked she mentioned how hard it was to be protected instead of hugged.

So, I made my commitments to be home this year, and then. Omicron. Potential attendees for our gathering included vaccinated people, people who had Covid on the first round, people who had it on the second, some who had it more than once, newly minted and entrenched political anti-vaxxers, and people of unknown status. It would have been the year not to go, if we hadn’t already had so much forced time apart. And, at the same time, a virus doesn’t care about all the times you were careful, it just transmits on opportunity.

We talked about having a fire pit outside. People were agreeable. Usually it’s a little cool in south Alabama in December, and the piñata would be destroyed outside anyway. (the current strategy on piñata design is to make them last through several swings of the high school sports kids while being reachable for swings from the littlest ones, without rendering the treats into powder before it was all over).

I didn’t expect many people. We’d never celebrated the whole deal with the generations of friends and family, the piñata and the roast beast on a different day. But everyone showed. Everyone. All the family, all the friends that normally come. One person left early when they learned they had been exposed to Omicron two days before, but everyone else was there. And, they all showed about the same time.

Mom keeps the house hot because she’s sedentary, so it was hot when people showed up, and then a full house made it hotter, like an Omicron oven. It was so warm outside, no one needed the forgotten fire pit and thankfully it didn’t take long for people to migrate outside to watch the kids climb the tree house and play basketball in the drive. But, I tell you, no one was carrying the virus that day because they didn’t get out the door that fast, and two weeks later no one had been sick. We were lucky, when what I try to be is smart.

For just one afternoon we were all those Whos down in Whoville, and then poof, back to the real world and that little bit of trepidation while I waited to see if anyone got sick. And, also, wondering in the back of my mind if that thing, that Christmas of my childhood that just happened once more ever will again.

Six Degrees, The Etsy Store

I’ve written about my/our Etsy Store, Six Degrees a couple of times lately. It’s relevant to this site in general because the site and our shop were both in existence long before there was a Silver Comet cycling project to dominate the last year and a half. And, it’s relevant to the project because the shop reviews are the tangible thing I have in my current life to show that I deliver on promises and follow through to make people happy.

Rating Section of the Banner of the Etsy Store Six Degrees run by Karen and Russ. You can scroll down from the Six Degrees link above for an explanation of your shop name.

I’m going to go ahead and give the store, and recent challenges, its own full (long) post here so people who are interested in that can read it. People who just want to see that I can successfully run something can click on the links to confirm the 5 star rating in photo above. And, people who aren’t interested in either can skip to cycling.

I go back and forth between “I” and “we” when talking about the Etsy Store is because, in its current operation, I’m doing everything, until I can’t get it all done and then Russ helps. That works for our lives right now and it’s all good. I do it with the Silver Comet project too. That’s because until he can give it full time focus, that’s working the same way. The Silver Comet project was also my idea, and it seems strange to say “We thought” when I can only speak for what I thought.

In both ventures, we are a team and that’s what makes things work.

The store can have a positive effect on the project by providing credibility, so, there’s a big reason to keep it going. I don’t know if it will be a two way street. At one time I was concerned that the project could tank the Etsy store. If a lot of curious people who were thinking about supporting our cycling project clicked on the Six Degrees site, (those who weren’t interested in finding that long lost treasure or trinket that they remember their great grandma having) it could destroy my conversion rate, but now I’m not really sure it matters for so many reasons.

I’ve recently found out that if a seller’s store goes viral or gets some smaller atypical boost in traffic, Etsy throttles it, sort of. The store and its stock disappear from showing up in regular searches until the boost is over. I’m sure there is some rationale, but none of the sellers I’m aware of who have experienced it were able to come up with positive comments on the matter.

There are a lot of mysteries I’ve tried to figure out. Last time I subscribed to an SEO service, I was shocked that my rank in comparison to worldwide stores was so high. I was shocked because it’s a sales based rating and my financial return on effort is ultra low. Some people are making good money with Etsy, but the cliff drops fast. At that time, I was in the top few percent and the cliff still dropped well in front of me.

Things have changed a lot at Etsy since then, but not in ways that help sellers like me, and the fees are due to go up before the end of the March.

The summary that sellers get never includes cost of goods sold, overhead or other business expenses

The shop is near the front of my thoughts now in part because the last quarter is supposed to be the busy season and this year… not so much. That’s not just for me either. And, it’s not just about changes created by the pandemic. Shipping has become a real burden and a pressure point for many sellers. According to Etsy, 50% of buyers who choose not to buy on Etsy give high shipping cost as the reason. On the other hand, look at that summary.

There was a time when some sellers on Etsy and other sites padded their prices with higher than cost shipping fees and some even added in handling to further increase their margins while making the purchase price look low at first click. It was pretty clear what they were doing. Buyers quickly learned to look out for sticker shock on the bottom line and hit cancel. While etched in the minds of buyers, those times are long gone, and shipping just keeps on getting more “extra” for buyers and sellers in every way. Now Etsy pushes sellers to cover shipping with their item prices instead. If my shipping isn’t “free”, my listings are lower in placement. If my shipping isn’t marked “free”, I get a notice saying that my shipping is too high on every single listing I publish. They also charge us sellers fees on shipping now too. Whatever the buyer pays for shipping, we pay a percent of that to Etsy.

Low volume sellers of things that are large or average size and weight (like me) are feeling the shipping pain the hardest. Sellers who offer small expensive things like fine jewelry can absorb shipping expense most easily. Their costs have increased the least, and covering that increase goes unnoticed to the buyer. Those who sell bulky or heavy items at low cost are struggling to stay in business. In this case, large as defined by the USPS means either packaging more than a square foot in area, or that weighs over 4 pounds. If you are shipping outside your postal region, or across several postal regions, you can watch the price double and quadruple as you edit the data to reflect the current sale. USPS Priority boxed have been reduced in size and quality as well.

Many sellers, including me, have taken large numbers of heavy or bulky listings out of their shops because shipping them is too expensive, and, I haven’t taken enough of mine out. With the 4th quarter USPS price hike. I cancelled orders totaling $20 and $40 because the shipping (on a small teapot and a medium small bowl) was going to be $70 and $80 respectively. Every time I’ve checked, alternate shippers were more expensive. When the losses were lower I’d eat my mistake and ship anyway in the name of customer service.

Now I offer the buyer the chance to pay additional shipping before canceling the order. I send a screen cap of the shipping cost when I do it because the cost is so incredible. People expect Amazon. That is a completely different animal and customers don’t understand why Etsy sellers can’t be the best parts of everything that Etsy was in the beginning while also being the best parts of what Amazon is now. How could you expect them to understand? They can order things from Amazon or Target that come in oversized boxes and weigh way over 4 pounds and do it repeatedly. Unless they have a background in online retail logistics, they don’t know the significance of regional warehouses, and if they did, there’s still a certain amount of market dynamics that will cause them not to care.

I personally buy intentionally, but I’ve spent a large part of my life being extremely price sensitive. When people don’t have much stuff or a limitless budget, conscious capitalism is a luxury they can’t take the time or the resources to figure. And, customers in general can’t truly appreciate the effect that “custom” or “unique” has on the number of hours it takes to produce an item and get it in front of them either. Makers and sellers are having trouble coming to grips with it. Many craftspeople and sellers don’t do the math, and they’re there for the whole process! It’s no surprise that buyers don’t

It’s not just the cost of shipping something that stays sold either. Returns cost everyone, but not everyone sees it. I walked on Kennesaw Mountain today behind some ladies talking about ordering a lot of swimsuits and cover ups in several sizes. One of them said “It beats trying them on in the store, and if I don’t get to go on the trip, I can just send it all back.” As a shopper, I so get it. I don’t want to risk being stuck with something that doesn’t work for me, and companies like Amazon, they found that pain and they fixed it. They take that risk away from the buyer, but, that only works for high volume companies selling mass produced goods at a high enough markup to cover losses from returns, the opposite of what people doing business within Etsy Terms of Service are doing.

Small sellers without repeat customers can’t charge $139 membership fees to cover part of the overhead of having a delivery fleet with the footprint of Amazon. On top of that, delivery services (public and private) give significant… read that HUGE, commercial shipping discounts to the big volume guys. Sellers who drop ship through sites like Amazon get all the big discounts and if it’s coming from overseas, they get international benefits from the Postal Treaty and still have to triple the markup to cover returns. They rely on the economy of mass production and high volume sales for their profit margin. How on earth can a buyer understand that they can get free shipping from China, but it costs $80 to go from Atlanta to Seattle?

Things are upside down (like they are in so many other parts of the economy and the world at large). Sellers like me don’t get big discounts. We make it possible for the big guys to get them instead, and my trips to the post office take half an hour at best because the close post office location closed. When my turn around time is short, I’m usually going for only one package. The same story echos through every facet of the business. My prices have drifted upward and I still end up thinking about a regular job when making trips to the postoffice at a loss.

The early emphasis at Etsy was on small makers of original works or curated vintage and unique supplies with sellers who often work from home, the opposite of what Amazon does best. But, even though they still market that to buyers, Etsy now allows “production partners” and puts increasing pressure on sellers to become more like Amazon in ways that don’t fit for small businesses. And, it’s becoming increasingly hard for buyers who are not makers themselves to recognize the difference between hand made and mass produced. The entire nature of the beast is changed.

It’s not that I couldn’t find a thing to sell and make a profitable business from Etsy or some other platform now. It’s that once I was able to make it support me, I wouldn’t have my heart in it. I need purpose as much as income. I love making things with the techniques of dying art forms, or saving some little known object from an obscure death. I love feel and weight of old things and tiny little stitches wrought with love that make a textile project take an enormous amount of time to complete. I love keeping tools and furnishings that were made when resources seemed limitless out of the scrap yard. Vintage and antique things take time to find, clean, research and bring to the customer, but I love the rabbit hole I fall in when I discover some something that I didn’t know about. One of my dream jobs would be to do research for History Detectives. When I get a customer who found a ceramic pot her deceased aunt made it makes my day, not just my day, really it keeps me going. Last week I had a sale that cost the customer a total of almost $50. After spending $26 to ship cross country and deducting other costs, I barely got my expenses back. I figure the buyer almost never knows it worked out that way. But, for the other sale last week that worked that way, a cup, the buyer wrote me a personal note saying that she broke the one she bought on vacation with har children and had been looking for one for years, and that takes all of the sting out of a sale that pays nothing for your time.

It doesn’t take the sting out of needing income though. In order to sell enough at a high enough price to support myself, or even make a profit would require me to spend my time and my mind on things I care much less about. It wouldn’t be the empowerment to makers working from home that Etsy was in the beginning. It would have to take advantage of economies of scale with a large proportion of passionless performance of marketing tasks while spending large amounts of advertising cash to feed the marketing monkey. If I was going to do that, I would rather work someplace more secure and less fickle for better pay and, most of all, a higher purpose.

We each carve out freedom for the things that are most important to us in whatever way we can and try to make most meaningful for us. I have happy customers and time to meet other obligations with my current Etsy store, but it isn’t supporting us, or even me, and that isn’t a sustainable way to make my life work.

So, I’ve put the Etsy store, at least for the near future, on probation. It’s a dream I don’t want to give up, but can’t really afford to keep up either. I have an unreasonable amount of “treasure” to sell (as well as things I can’t fathom why I ever bought), it makes sense to keep the store going, at least until I rejoin the workforce. And, if I create cycling project related items while pursuing the Silver Comet video project, it is an established site from which to make those available. I’ll put as much on the site as possible with increased focus on items that have never been listed. I’ll slowly stop renewing the oldest listings.

So, for now, we’re still hang around between making the best of things and wait and see mode. It’s been an interesting journey filled with hope and learning experiences, just like whatever we do next will be…

Fantasy Island

Every once in a while when I go through old pictures trying to better manage them and purge things I’ll run across a photo of something I really like that was listed on Six Degrees or personal stuff I had in the house when it burned and I remember really liking it. That happened recently with a craft. I had taken a wooden bird house and covered it in washi paper and other decorative papers. I did several with paper scraps I purchased in Japan at a doll making business, but I had a favorite. The desire to create still burns bright. I regret that the shop hasn’t showcased that much.

Fantasy Island for the store, of course, would be to sell out of the things we currently have listed starting with those that are in front on the shelves (so we don’t have to unload the shelf to get to the back). Then to have time to list every market ready item in the basement quickly and a clear brain on calm mode to write listings well. It will all come together, research is fast and flawless, write ups have almost no typos, and those items all sell too. They’ll sell to people who have been searching so long for that thing they lost or broke and nothing will cost significantly more to ship than I allowed (so that we make enough to pay for advertising the video project). Everything falls together like clockwork, the project funds, the basement becomes so orderly that I’m willing to show my unruly “before” pictures in a post beside my now beautiful workspace “after” pictures and I’m ready look for creative potential in a new direction after the video project ends. That’s some dream! I’m ready to do the work. I hope it all works out. But, we just got notices of fee increases, from Etsy and the Post office and sellers are angry enough to strike over the Etsy increases and policies.

Tuesday Trippin’ November 2

Did you know that there’s a natural lull in the average conversation at twenty minutes? I think it’s related to the average attention span being about that. I had a little bit of a lull recently. It was time, partly because I got this respiratory infection…not that respiratory infection. I’m slow to get well from those, really, really slow. Part of it is because I needed a break. I had a dip in my cycling mileage that was significant enough to miss the cardio endorphins and get a little depressed. It’s strange to me when I get depressed and there’s no emotional cause, feeling it in my body and being aware in my mind, but not having a situational cause out in the real world for the desire to cry. My depression was just a reduction in the normal flow of endorphins produced by exercise.

I’m a little back on track this week, but still not fully recovered. The trail is beautiful with the fall colors and the crackle of leaves has me running sound recording options around in my head while I try to plan the best option for recording fall sounds without ground noise. I may have to put calling the crews and finding out when they will clean the trails into my weekly mix of factors that determine ride days.

The temps have dropped lately. They’re in that range where it would feel warm if it were spring, but since I’ve spent months trying to adjust to the heat, it feels cold instead.

I’ve been using a Buff and other brands of neck gaiters in headband style to cushion the deep red marks left on my skin from my now properly fitted helmet. It’s working well enough that I don’t think I’ll seek a different option for several months. Well, when it gets really cold I’ll want fleece on my ears. Right now, I’m pulling the gaiters down over my ears at temps where I wouldn’t normally bother to cover them and it feels cozy and comfortable. I like it. When the temps rise again, I’ll want something breezier. I’m expecting my warm weather solution to be a sewing project.

We’ll get high resolution focus back on our goals soon, likely this weekend.