30 December 2011

Resolving To Do Less Busy and More Funnerer

Not a lot to report this week because we are running about like Headless Chooks – or Hitler’s Chooks as an Irish friend always sounds like he’s saying.  We had our second best week ever, and have been opening several boxes a day just to keep the shelves looking stocked.  Can’t complain about that.

So I still haven’t gotten around to trying to get photos onto a separate page of the Blog (if that’s even possible), but everything I would have photographed I’ve already sold anyway.  But I’ll get there.  I also haven’t even looked at most of the copper, and the pieces I was able to put out yesterday were sold yesterday so there went the copper display again, but it’s okay because there’s plenty more where they came from.  And we really do have some lovely wooden items to come out, but nice old wooden things always need a decent wax to present them to their best advantage, and we haven’t had a chance to get to work on them yet.  But we will.  Real soon.

The only out-of-the-ordinary thing that happened this week was that I fell down nine steps on the way home after work one afternoon.  Goodness knows how it happened – one minute I’m walking up the steps and the next I’m flat on my back half way back to the carport.  And boy did it hurt – I could hardly breath for the pain and I thought I’d broken my hip.  But it turned out to be one of the few occasions when it was handy to have a bit of padding on the hips, and even though I bounced off a sticky-out rock on the way down and I’m still limping a few days later, no harm appears to be done.

And I don’t even have the faintest bruise to show for it!  For that much pain, I want evidence of my suffering via dead impressive big black bruises.  But nup, if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know I had nearly killed or broken myself.  I was once bitten by a python, and by golly that hurt too, but after the bite marks went away, which was quite quickly, there wasn’t even a decent scar to show for it.  Same with that wretched meerkat that bit me on our last buying trip – no sign that I was ever mauled.  I’m afraid I don’t cope well with pain and I want evidence that I’ve been through it, but I’m thwarted at every turn.

Doug has been telling me a lot how glad he is that I didn’t break my neck and kill myself, which is a lot better than him saying Rats!  But it has made me consider how quickly and unexpectedly bad things can happen, and how we’d better be sure to have a good time as much as we can.  So this is my New Year’s Resolution – have a good time in 2012.  I think that will be much easier to keep than my usual Resolutions, and we are already off to a good start by skipping off to Europe twice a year for our buying trips, which are always terrific fun.  So it’s for periods in-between the sojourns that we will need to keep the good times happening.  Can’t see why that would present a problem, and it will include simple things like more walks on Noosa beach.

And yes, for all the When-Will-Your-Website-Be-Ready Nazis out there who nag me a lot – I’m working on it!  Okay not really, but I promise I will in 2012.  And finally this will be the year when the rest of our long-awaited house will be built.  These are my Harder-to-Keep Resolutions, but should still be achievable.  We’ll see.

22 December 2011

It's Here!

The first part of our shipment has been released by Quarantine and we have started presenting it for sale.  And hurrah, it’s going like hot cakes!  It’s always such a relief when your new stock is so well received because we buy as best as we can, so if no-one liked it that would be an issue that would be pretty hard to overcome. 

Doug went down to Brisbane on Monday to be present for the Quarantine Inspection and to pick up the first load of things that Quarantine had no interest in (they kept more than half, but he still had a van load to bring back).  And right in front of him the Quarantine dude got his knife out and started bodging at the items!  Doug pointed out that we’d rather not have knife marks in a 300 year old coffer, and that we were quite prepared to pay for fumigation rather than have our stock ruined.  The Quarantine guy seemed quite surprised by this attitude, but stopped digging his knife in the antiques.  What is in the heads of these people?  They don’t seem to care less about what they’re potentially ruining, and if the item is going to be fumigated anyway then why not just do that?  I have no wish to import some terrible bug, but I always offer to have the entire shipment fumigated every single time, so there’s no need to go hacking away at my stuff.  But it never changes.

Anyway, while Doug was collecting the new things I started to clear some shelf space in the shop by packing away some of the older stock.  That turned out to take quite a few hours because I have to clearly record everything I put aside so I can readily access it when I want it out again, but I had Billy Idol and Blondie and AC/DC and Status Quo turned up load and bopped about the shop while I worked.  And no smart arse cracks about my age – as revealed by my taste in music – will be entertained, thank you.  It’s a retro shop – I play retro music.  That’s my story, anyway.

Eventually, though, I had to write a sign and stick it in the window because people I don’t know were coming in (even though the door was closed and the Closed sign was up) saying Oh no, you’re not closing down are you?  I rather think I would not be quite so chipper and inclined to bop about if we were closing down, but I assured everyone that it was in fact the opposite of closing – the arrival of new stuff.  And then I needed to write another sign and put that on the door because not enough people were reading a bright red sign smack bang in the middle of the front window about the new things arriving and were still coming in to offer commiserations.

So then we had Unpack Day on Tuesday.  I must say that Unpack Day beats Unpack Night hands down – it’s hard work but at least you get home at a reasonable hour.  And thanks to a couple of very kind friends who came to help, it was done faster and was more fun than usual.  Doug had to be sent home to get more boxes late in the afternoon, when we realised that we didn’t have enough to fill the shelves, even after unpacking for a few hours.  And we had to get in early on the Wednesday Market Day to put the descriptor and price tags on the last few items, and then we were set.

The response has been huge.  Hurrah!  I knew I had bought an awful lot of beautiful glass, much of it Art Deco, but when you see it out together on the shelves it looks great.  Today I had to get up early again (which sucks) so I could get a few more boxes sorted so they could replace yesterday’s sales.  If this keeps up we shall run out of stock well before our next trip in March 2012, but we’ll see what happens.  You expect a lot of activity in the week before Christmas, although January tends to be our best month.

I haven’t even started to look at all the copper we bought, most of the enamelware has yet to make an appearance, some really lovely lamps need to be rewired before they can come in, most of the lovely scales aren’t out (although I did sell those excellent lolly scales yesterday), and all in all most of the stuff isn’t out yet.  But nonetheless I’m very happy with how the shelves look, and even happier knowing that I haven’t picked the eyes out of the stock but instead just opened random boxes. 

Eumundi Green (a local community newspaper) has now advised its readers that I have a selection of photos of some of the new stuff on the Blog.  I had said I was trying to figure out if I could create a new page with photos, not that I had done it and there were pictures to be seen!!  So having been misreported the pressure is now on for me to get over being a Techno-Numpty, and if it’s possible to put some photos on a separate page I shall do that.  Very soon.

15 December 2011

Cats and (Silly) Cows

I've been doing a lot of talking about the cat in the last week. I swear I'm going to make a sign to hang around her neck:

Yes I am real.
My name is Calypso.
I am a Bengal.
No not a tiger, a domestic cat.
My originating breed was an Asian Leopard Cat.
Yes I was expensive.
Yes it's rude to ask how much.
No you may not pick me up.
Yes you may pat me (for a while).
Yes you may photograph me.
Don't forget to look at the antiques while you're here.

I think that will cover the same questions I've been asked eleventy-hundred times as well as point out that people have actually come into an antiques shop, not a cat show.  Having said that, Calypso is gorgeous and getting more gorgeous every week.  She’s almost four months old and is getting a long gangly leg look that is very cute.  She is a media megastar now, having had her photograph appear in Eumundi Green (the local rag), although I have copped a deal of criticism for her photograph not doing her justice.  But hey, you try photographing a kitten who has decided she's got a rat in her head and is dashing from pillar to post, with a deadline for when the photograph must be submitted.  I don't know how animal photographers do it.

Last week saw some good selling in the shop, and so far this week is shaping up to be better.  Finally we’re starting to sell Christmas presents, so it turns out that there will be the Spirit of Giving after all this year, not a bunch of Scrooges.  Things don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful, and people seem to be really taking care to select something that their loved ones will appreciate rather than dashing in and making quick decisions.  Mind you, we’ll see what happens on Christmas Eve, with the last minute shoppers.

The wait for the new stock is becoming interminable.  The Customs Agent reported on Monday that the ship hadn’t even been fully unloaded yet – and it arrived the previous Wednesday.  But hopefully it will go directly from the ship to the Agent and they have a fumigation chamber on site so fingers crossed it will go straight into fumigation.  That way there is a prospect of picking it up next week.

We do still have a bunch of furniture from previous trips that hasn’t made it into the shop yet, though, so we can still continue to put new things out.  I put a heap of jewellery out yesterday and promptly sold a fair bit of it, and in the window we put a beautiful small Georgian English walnut chest of drawers, which is a little over 200 years old.  Small chests of drawers are always more popular than whacking great pieces, because it doesn’t matter how big or small your house is, a dinky chest of drawers will always fit somewhere.  This one has book-matched veneer, which is always a good sign of quality because it was quite wasteful of the wood to achieve the ‘mirrored’ effect.  It’s a lovely little piece, with the additional benefit of its original locks and key, plus it has a pull-out slope above the top drawer which is a bit more unusual.  So anyway, we’ll see how long it lasts.  The last time I had a small chest of drawers they weren’t as good as this piece but they didn’t last a week before they were hauled off to Sydney in the back of someone’s car.

I must say I am partial to Georgian design, which I find sits nicely with Art Deco because they both have simple, elegant lines.  We’ve got Georgian furniture with 1950s Scandinavian lamps,  Australian 1960s chairs and Art Deco coffee tables in our lounge room at the moment (it changes from time to time) and to my eye it works because we keep the lines simple.

Someone from a nearby shop was complaining over dinner the other night about Customer Fatigue, where they had a whole bunch of rude and extra demanding customers to deal with.  Touch wood, but it’s been a long time since we had someone like that, and I do have my favourite television line in waiting to use on the next horrible one to come in.   But I did just have a stupid woman come in, who said What are you doing open on a Thursday?  I said We’re always open on Thursdays.  And she said No you're not!  I told her that we’ve had the shop for almost three and a half years now and although I might have been living in a parallel universe in that time, in my reality the shop had been open every Thursday for that entire period.  And in homage to Myth Busters I said I reject your reality, and substitute my own.  And she just looked at me blankly.  If one was cruel one might say bovinely.  And I am cruel, so let’s just call a spade a spade and say she was a silly cow.  I hate it when people don’t get my clearly very amusing jokes. 

And then she said Well anyway I’m on holidays and don’t normally come to Eumundi during the week.  So like she’d know when I’m open during the week!  She seemed to be taking the opportunity to have a little brain holiday too, I think.  But stupid isn’t horrible, just tedious, so my favourite television line remains in reserve for future use.

08 December 2011

The End (of the wait) Is Nigh

What a good week.  Friends came by to help set up the shop’s Christmas Tree, which we decided to decorate with jewellery.  So we blinged-up the tree and had a laugh and a bit of fun doing it, and it looked pretty.  For the coming week the plan was to deck the tree with kitchen utensils (fa la la la lah, la la la la).  Nice, French, enamel kitchen utensils.  Trust me, it would look good.  Undoubtedly odd, and not your usual Christmas Tree attire, but it would look good.  However, Douglas came up with the fabulous idea of decorating the tree with lots of our hand-blown glass Japanese fishing floats.  They’re about 100 years old and beautiful.  Each one is unique because it’s hand-made, and they should glint nicely in the light.  So this idea wins, and that is the decorating plan for the window today.

We’ve decided to not have a Christmas Tree at home this year, because it is certain that I would soon be reporting on The Great Christmas Tree Disaster, with Calypso seeking to be the furry angel on top of the tree and it all ending in tears.  She is sufficiently ratbagish and knows no fear, plus she’s a baby for whom a real tree with gently waving branches and lots of twinkly baubles would be too much temptation.  She went absolutely nuts when she noticed a giant stick insect outside our kitchen window this morning, and tried to shimmy up the window frame to get to it.  She crashed and burned (and spilt water and cat food everywhere) but the point is that she didn’t hesitate to try to climb when something interesting caught her attention. 

The very first thing she did when she came into the shop after the Christmas Tree in the window was erected was try to pull it down.  Every time she goes near it she starts batting at it and chewing the pine needles and testing the strength of the branches, and that’s under my supervision, let alone by herself in the middle of the night in our lounge room.  So there’s no point ignoring trouble when it’s so clearly staring you in the face, and this year we shall go Tree-less and see how things shape up next year.

Meanwhile, yay!, the good ship Bunga Raya Dua has finally docked in the Port of Brisbane with our new shipment aboard.  So far so nothing from Customs and Quarantine, but we live in hope that they will live up to their claim of clearing goods within 3-4 days of it being offloaded from the ship.  So far it’s never been less than a fortnight to get clearance from them, but a girl’s got to have something to hope for and dream about, right?

I have taken the quiet time prior to the arrival of our new shipment to catch up on some reading.  Am I the last person on the planet to have finally read Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?  And the other two books in the series, naturally.  It took a while for me to get my eye around all the Swedish names, but what good books they are.  Got me intrigued early on, and then I had to devote almost every waking moment to them until they were finished.  One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you can elect to not be particularly employed whenever you want, and I elected to lay around reading books this week so that was that.  We shall run about like idiots once we take delivery of the new shipment, so resting and building up my reserves was entirely justified.  That’s what I say.

Of course that means that I am now horribly behind in getting the description and price tags ready for the things that will be put straight into the shop once we take delivery.  So I have a few days of solid work ahead of me, but I’ll get there.  We are sufficiently well organised that I know exactly what is in each box (okay it’s more-or-less rather than exactly, but mostly I know what is where).  And that means I can predetermine what stock will come out on Unpack Night.  Unpack Night happens the night on which we have taken delivery of the new shipment.  We hire a truck and dash down to Brisbane to collect it, then bolt back home, throw the boxes into various storage facilities, then bring the boxes of stock for which I have prepared the description and price tags straight into the shop and unpack them that night.

Unpack Night is getting bigger every year, as various people decide to get a jump on everyone else, and see the first of the stuff immediately as it’s being unpacked.  Many things don’t actually make it into the shop because they are snapped up as soon they are lifted from the boxes, but hey it’s the quick and the dead around here.  So anyway, Unpack Night tends to be a long night for us, but it’s fun and it signals the start a busy and interesting period in the shop.   Plus it’s the date upon which I can officially start planning the next trip.  It’s The Rule – I can’t start planning the next trip until the stock from the previous trip has arrived.  Don’t know why – it’s just The Rule.

01 December 2011

Getting Impatient & Fidgety Now

The fascination with Calypso continues.  One woman came in this week and asked what breed she was, and when I said a Bengal she said OMG, you mean you’re allowed to own tigers in Australia?  No, I said, she’s a domestic cat.  But she looks like a little tiger, she said, are you sure?   I promised her I was sure that Calypso is actually a moggy and not a man-eater in the making (although you never know …).  And anyway, she clearly looks like a little leopard rather than a tiger.

She continues to terrorise the entire household, with all of us – humans and bigger moggies – covered in itsy-bitsy kitten-claw-sized scratches and I have yet another kitten-tooth-sized hole in my finger where she tried to accept a cat-lolly from me in the midst of a frenzied play session, and missed the lolly as she dashed past but got my finger.  As Doug says, she is 2kg of Bloody Maniac.

Our good news of the week is that the freight company called and said our shipment is definitely on track for a 6 December arrival into Brisbane.  Hurrah!  This year we should have our new stock well before Christmas. 

But meanwhile we wait.  And get impatient.  And squabble over TV shows.  What is wrong with Inspector Rex, I ask you?  According to Doug the show is just about some stoopid mutt doing improbable things, to the amazement of it’s stoopider human companions, and what’s more it’s in German which is even worse because then you have to concentrate while watching it.  And that just goes to show how little Douglas knows.  Inspector Rex is actually a Wonder Mutt, a Master Mind Mutt, an absolute Paragon of Muttdom.  And if only his handlers knew enough to say Schnell! Befestigen Sie die Eurozonen krise, Jungen (Quick!  Fix the Eurozone crisis, Boy) then the world would be a better place.  That’s how good Inspector Rex is.

By contrast, what a bore is Ice Road Truckers?  This is what I was forced to sit through instead.  And I swear the narrator on that show moonlights as a John Wayne impersonator.  If only he had said Howdy,Pilgrim, I could have been absolutely sure.  But he did mention that the trucks were going to Dead Horse (a classic western name) and he even said at one point that the trucks were locked and loaded (and how is that relevant to anything but guns?).  We’re talking the John Wayne of the cowboy movies, where his slow-but-every-word-correctly-enunciated diction seemed somehow appropriate, not the John Wayne of the Green Berets, where his slow-but-every-word-correctly-enunciated diction was just silly in emergency military situations.  His whole crew would be dead before he could finish warning them.  Plus he was waaay too old to be a Green Beret on field operations in any case.

But I digress.  Yes the Ice Road is indeed made of ice, and I for one would have to be paid an awful lot of money to drive on it.  Bits of this road are just Arctic Ice, with nothing but Arctic Ocean under it.  Personally, I like a bit of dirt under my roads.  But other than that, the show is a big yawn.  The trucks go up the road, the trucks go back down the road.  Except for Virgil (or whatever his name was, but a good cowboy western name would be Virgil).  Virgil was the only entertainment on the show because Virgil, while reaching for an unidentified item on his dashboard, drove his giant truck off the road and into a ditch.  A big icy ditch.  And he wasn’t hurt, so you were free to mock at his poor driving skills.

So then the question became:  What was Virgil reaching for?  This was conveniently skipped over by John Wayne, in his slow-but-every-word-correctly-enunciated diction.  But it was the only thing on the show worth paying attention to.  Why wouldn’t they mention what Virgil was reaching for?  Why the conspiracy of silence?  What could be so terrible/embarrassing/illegal that Virgil invoked his You Can’t Blab clause with the show’s producers?  Now I shall have to die wondering.  And yet, in keeping with the western theme created by the John Wayne impersonator/narrator, I like to think that the true story is that Virgil had already reached for the chewing tobaccy on his dashboard, and crashed off the road when he went to spit it out the window, only to realise that the window was shut because it’s dang cold out there on the Ice Road.  Now that would be stoopid.  You wouldn’t catch Inspector Rex doing anything of the sort.