Friday, May 29, 2009

Pricing Formula

I'm back in the workshop again. I had one more Craft Council shop committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon to help wean me off of 4 days of AGM meetings. One of the tasks of the shop committee is to review new product coming into the Craft Council Shop at Devon House. Its a great committee to be on because I get to see a lot of amazing new product before it hits the shelves and I also get to think about product from the sellers perspective.

The price of a product is one of the most crucial elements that we consider when deciding if a product is a good investment in terms of shop space and potential sales. When I come up with prices for my new products I break everything down into a fairly simple formula, based on the cost of materials and the time it takes me to produce it. I can't recall who taught me the formula, but I'm pretty sure it was someone at the Craft Council, the Government Craft sector, or maybe even the Historic Sites Association.

Wholesale Price = (Materials + (hours worked x hourly wage) ) + 10% Profit

Retail Price = Wholesale Price x 2

Materials: This is the replacement cost of everything that goes into the product. In the case of a pair of an Elfshot earrings, it includes the cost of the stone/glass, wire, earring hooks, card hang tag, and ink to print the tag. If you pay for studio time or kiln firing, thats in here too. Sometimes you can undervalue the real cost of materials because when you are just starting a new product you tend to use the things around you. You have to think about the real cost to replace those materials when you run out and you have to go out into the woods or a store to replace them.

Hours Worked: This is the total time that you spend on a product from start to finish, including the time it takes to tag it or package it and make it ready to sell. I tend to only think about the workshop time and underestimate the time it takes to assemble and card pieces. I'm not recommending that, just pointing out a trap that I fall into. Sometimes you undervalue your own time, so just imagine you are asking someone else to do the work for you. If you had an employee who worked at exactly the same pace as you, how long would it take them to make your product from start to finish, ready to ship?

Hourly Wage: This is how much you pay yourself for your labour. That's a personal decision and I pay myself a bit more today than I did 10 years ago. Bear in mind that minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is currently $8.50/hour and will be going up to $10/hour by July 1st, 2010. If you are paying yourself less than that then there is something very wrong.

As an aside, I took the clues for the little raises that I've given myself in my hourly wage over the years from the products that I made and priced a decade ago. I haven't raised the prices on many products and they have slowly become more profitable for me to make because over the years I've gotten a little faster at making them or found ways to streamline the production. Something that took me an hour to do in 1999, might take me 20 or 30 minutes today. If I was making 1 pair of earrings in an hour for $10/hour in 1999 and I can make 2 pairs in an hour today, then its kind of like I'm earning $20/hour because I've gotten faster and can do more in an hour. I don't know if I explained that very well.

10% Profit: This is 10% of the total that you come up with from the labour/materials part of the equation. It pays for your business to grow and covers the incidental costs of running it. I tend to think of it as the part of the price that pays the phone bill or keeps the electricity on, but its also the part that helps you order new materials for future work and gives you the time to go to meetings or write applications for gallery shows or funding.

Retail Price: Whatever figure you get from the wholesale equation has to be doubled if you are going to wholesale your product. The retail price is what stores carrying your product sell it for and its the amount you should sell your product to the public for. Its not an exageration. It takes at least as much of your time and effort to sell a product as it does to make it. Think of all the time and costs associated with preparing for and attending a single craft fair. It takes a lot of time to sell a product, which is why I prefer to stick to wholesale and let someone else do that work for me, but that's another topic.

Well, there's another post that snuck up on me. I was planning to talk about Groswater Palaeoeskimo harpoon heads today, or maybe some of the demos and workshops that I have coming up in the next few weeks. If I mentioned pricing it was going to be a sentence or two. Oh well, come back next week if you are interested in box based plano-convex endblades and the harpoon heads who aren't complete without them.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions: Assorted earrings from the Korea, Craft Biennale boutique order.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Music! Craft! Food! Blogzapoppin!

A read a while ago that the secret to having a popular blog was to be generous. I've been feeling stingy lately -- here are some of the sites that I've been slow in sharing.

While you're visiting these links, why not listen to The Novaks new album? Things Fall Apart hit the stores yesterday and you can preview almost the whole album on their website. The album will play in a sperate browser window so you can leave it on in the background while you surf.

Here are links that St. John's craft producers sent me for the AGM regional report.

Blue Dragon Clay. This is Maaike Charron's blog about her adventures in hatching her new ceramic enterprise. You can follow her progress on her blog (I'm especially excited to watch her cephalopot designs come together) and you can purchase her products from her Etsy shop.

The Grey Islands. Ceramic artist Mike Flaherty is documenting a ceramic art project that he'll be undertaking on the Grey Islands, off the east coast of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. This promises to be a fascinating read over the upcoming months.

Hooking Our Lives. Frances Ennis sent me this link about a recent hooked mat show at the Five Island Art Gallery. Over the past winter, 20 women in St. John's worked on 30 hooked mats which were unveiled on March 8th, 2009, International Women's Day.


What Dish? My friend Tiffany has a very cool blog dedicated to food, especially good, fresh, local food. I think the hook for me came a couple weeks ago with a fajita recipe that included tequila. Tequila Fajita is fun to say. If Tolkien had heard of Tequila Fajita's I don't think he'd be so impressed with "Cellar Door".

A Wicked Scoff This is a new food blog by one of the best guys that I've ever done fieldwork with. He's got a sixth sense for food -- he just knows what works and what's going to be great. Apparently, his Extra Culinary Perception applies to other peoples cooking as well. When we worked together on the Northern Peninsula, we ate in a restaurant where I had to describe to the waitress that a poutine was fries with cheese and gravy on top. When my poutine came out, it was a plate of fries with one Kraft single draped over fries in a gravy puddle. Since that low point, he's moved to New England, where he's discovered Duck Gravy Poutine -- which I've never tried, but which, surely must be the King of Poutines.

Finally, I know you want Lori news - so I've cut out the middle man and she can now post directly to this blog. I intend to keep up my regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule, but you can expect to see posts by Lori soon. I believe she intends to explore the many benefits of having a craftsperson as a partner and why flintknappers are so easy to live with.

Photo Credits: Screen grabs from the various websites and blogs plus Lori's picture of us during the studio tours.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Craft Council AGM Weekend

The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's AGM is almost over for another year. We have one final meeting and lunch at at the Anna Templeton Centre this morning. There have been a couple long days, but the food is always plentiful and good and everyone gets along so the meetings aren't hard to participate in.

The Studio tours on Friday were fantastic. We had perfect weather and every stop was a highlight. Llamas at Linda Lewis'. Lori bought a big pot from Steve Thorne at Pothead Pottery. We had a massive lunch at Cara and Pam's in Upper Island Cove. Their house is bright and whimsical -- its kind of like a giant pop-up book and Pam built an incredible multi-tiered deck in the time that Lori and I have been trying to get a contractor to come and give us a quote on ours. Dennis Minty's property and studio were serene.

The actual AGM was fairly quick on Sunday morning and we were out before 1:00. It was a long run day on the Tely10 training schedule so I did 10km for the first time in 5 years. My legs feel like jelly and I was in bed and nauseous for the rest of the evening, but at least I finished. Every Sunday is a long run day for the next two months and this week taught me not to stay up drinking scotch on Saturday night and then go out for a hangover KFC dinner two hours before the Sunday run.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top, Cara's Joy, Upper Island Cove
Middle, Steve Thorne and the Pothead Pottery that Lori bought
Bottom, Incoming Chair for 2009-2010, Brenda Stratton, and Past Chair, Janet II reviewing documents

Friday, May 22, 2009

AGM Field Trip Day

Today is the first day of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's Annual General Meeting and Gathering of Members. We're starting with studio tours to Pothead Pottery and Frosting Studio, Cara's Joy, and the Human Nature Company.

I'm looking forward to the AGM weekend, it always feels hectic heading into it, but its always worth it. I got the fibre optics done that I needed, so I won't be distracted by work.

We also made some small progress on the homefront. We want to build a deck this summer and after a month of trying, we finally got a contractor to come by on Wednesday. We don't have the quote yet, but at least we were able to get someone to come by the house.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Photo Caption: Fibre optics ready for findings

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dark Tickle Order In Progress

Today is a workshop day - I'm finishing fibre optic points for earrings and brooches. I need over 160 fibre optic points to fill all the orders that I have scheduled between now and the middle of June, but only a small number of those are needed for the Dark Tickle order that I'm actually working on. I have 45 on the go in the workshop and I'm going to focus on finishing those today and getting the Dark Tickle order out the door before the AGM weekend.

The Dark Tickle Company makes a range of jams and sauces from Newfoundland and Labrador wild berries. They're fantastic. They operate out of an Economuseum in Griquet - a stones throw from the L'Anse aux Meadows Norse site. Economuseums are a cool concept that originated in Quebec, they are fully operational craft businesses that showcase both the modern production and the history of the craft.

You can find Elfshot products for sale in the Dark Tickle Company gift shop.

Photo Credits:
Top: Tim Rast
Bottom: Dark Tickle Company

Photo Captions:
Top: Fibre optic blanks in the workshop
Bottom: Dark Tickle Company retail area -- some of the finished Fibre Optic jewelry will be sold here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lost Stone

For the next day or two I'll be working on obsidian Lost Stone necklaces and earrings. These are a relatively new product for me -- I made the first ones in 2006 and started wholesaling them in 2007.

The inspiration for these came from a Ramah chert necklace that I made for a friend's wedding in 2006. I made a Ramah necklace for the bride and cufflinks for the groom. These were gifts. I'm pretty limited with how I can work Ramah chert, because the stone comes from an archaeological site and has federal and provincial protection. If someone gets permission to collect the stone, then I can work it for them, but I don't sell the stone myself.

The Lost Stone necklaces and earrings that I sell are made from obsidian or flint, which are also translucent, like Ramah chert. I call them Lost Stone because they are made from flakes, which I normally don't keep. They are the by-product of flintknapping. Each flake is simple and somewhat random, so the jewelry I make from them emphasizes the colour and pattern in the stone more than the shape imposed on it by the flintknapper. I make the necklaces in two sizes, large and small -- small necklaces have 5 or fewer pendants - large necklaces have more. Small flint or obsidian Lost Stone necklaces retail for $115 tax inc and large necklaces are $155.25 tax inc.

I had no idea I was going to talk about the Lost Stone series today. I had a very confusing week last week and I'm trying to get as many small jobs out of my head as possible. I got two wholesale orders finished and out the door last week, plus the remainder of the sandbox dig items heading to Gros Morne. I received a couple new wholesale orders to fill in June and we had a few visitors to the house last week who stayed anywhere from an hour to 3 days.

Then on Friday, when I got back from my run I started hiccuping. It lasted for 12 hours. I'd manage to stop long enough to fall asleep and then 2 hours later I'd wake up and start hiccuping again. By the time Saturday came around I was exhausted, confused, and stupid. Hopefully this week is a little simpler. I only have two orders to finish before the AGM starts on Friday.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: 3 Large Lost Stone Necklaces. The top two are obsidian, and the lower one is flint.
Middle: Ramah Chert necklace - the inspiration for all other Lost Stone necklaces.
Bottom: Large Lost Stone flint necklace and earrings.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Calling St. John's Craft Producers

Next weekend is the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's Annual General Meeting and get together (May 22-24th,2009). This year's activities are taking place in and around St. John's, especially Devon House and the Anna Templeton Centre. We'll be doing a studio tour out of the city on Friday to New Harbour, Upper Island Cove, and Clarke's Beach.

If you are a craft council member living in St. John's, then I'm your regional representative. I'll be giving a report and slideshow of news and photos submitted by St. John's craftspeople. Please send me your news and gossip before next Thursday (May 21st).

Ideas for news:
  • New Commissions
  • Upcoming or recent Gallery Shows
  • Births
  • Interesting vacations
  • Awards
  • New Products, House, or Studio
  • New websites or blogs
  • Graduating or going back to school?
  • anything you want to share with other craftspeople

The same goes for every member across the Province - you'd be doing your regional rep a favour if you send them some news and photos for their report. If you aren't sure who your representative is, you can find the list of names and contact information inside the Craft Council Newsletter.

If you'll be in St. John's next weekend and would like more information on attending, I can forward you the information that I have or you can contact Candace at the Craft Council.

Photo Credits:
Top, Tim Rast
Bottom, Nancy Jacobsen

Photo Captions:
Top: Lobster Dinner at the 2008 AGM in Lumsden-Wesleyville-Norton's Cove (They should just put Norlumsleyville on the map)
Bottom: Brenda Stratton, incoming Chair of the Craft Council Executive, on the cover of the new CCNL Newsletter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I start every day with 4 chocolate covered espresso beans and a neverending cup of coffee.

Despite that, today might be more of a tea day. Lori's mom will be coming in later this evening and a student from the Anna Templeton Centre is stopping by this morning. For their History of Craft course the students need to interview a craftsperson.

Tea is a pretty versatile drink and contains tannins, which make it great for antiquing artifact reproductions. It will turn most organic materials, especially the more porous ones like antler or whale bone, a warm yellow/orange/brown colour. Its a good match for naturally discoloured artifacts found in archaeological sites. If you scroll down to the previous post, you can see a good range of discoloured organic artifacts in the photo of the bear head amulets. Tea will also turn iron black, which is a useful trick for matching the look of wrought iron or iron that has been treated by conservators.

Most of the pieces that I antique are small enough to fit in a mug, so I just make a cup of tea and instead of adding milk or sugar I pop a harpoon head or knife handle into it. That's how I stained the top knife handle in Monday's post on Dorset Palaeoeskimo knives. Staining time varies from an hour or two to overnight. The density of the material and surface finish determines how quickly it will soak up the stain. A porous bone or rough antler surface will absorb more stain than dense bone or a highly polished surface. If I need to stain a larger object I'm allowed to use the glass lasanga pan. In a larger container I'll use more teabags.

One important thing I learned from tea is that you can't rush the drying stage. The porous materials that take well to tea can soak up a lot of water and take a long time to dry, especially in Newfoundland. I learned an embarrassing lesson when I shipped tea stained reproductions that felt dry to the touch but that arrived with mould growing on them. I can avoid that by letting the reproductions air dry more completely and wrapping them in a moisture wicking layer, rather than bubblewrap and plastic.

For more complex colour matching on artifacts I'll apply ochre and charcoal to the surface. The advantage of tea over those pigments is that its colourfast. You don't need any surface fixatifs or sealers to hold the colour in. With ochre and charcoal you need to seal the surface or it never stops coming off on your fingers and clothes.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Elfshot reproductions of Maritime Archaic Indian barbed antler spears. The one on the left is natural antler and the one on the right has been tea stained. Approx. 7 1/2"
Middle, left: Iron chisel artifact from Ivvavik National Park, Yukon (top), Elfshot reproduction; tea stained black (bottom) Approx. 5 1/2"
Middle, right: Tea staining the barbed spear
Bottom: Whalebone brace from Ivvavik National Park (top), Elfshot reproduction; tea, red ochre, and charcoal stained to match (bottom) Approx. 9"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dorset Palaeoeskimo Knives

The Dorset Palaeoeskimo were seal hunters who lived in Newfoundland from about 2100 years ago until 1300 years ago. In the animal kingdom, the polar bear is the top seal predator, so its not surprising that polar bears show up frequently in Dorset artwork.

In the Province, there have been Dorset carvings of polar bears done in soapstone, bone, antler, wood and ivory. One of the most common artifacts are small polar bear head amulets that range from naturalistic to highly stylized. They tend to have holes gouged in them (the Dorset didn't have drills) positioned at the mouth and the throat. Sometimes they have eyes and ears and noses and other times they'll just be the stylized outline of the head.

One of the diagnostic stone artifacts found in Dorset assemblages in the Province are wide, side-notched chert knives. They tend to be widest at the base and taper towards the tip into a triangular shape. There have been at least two handles found at Port au Choix that fit these knives, one of which is on display at The Rooms. Both handles are made from bone or antler and have flared protruberences near the end. The handles also have four sets of 4 incised lines. I think these handles fall into the range of the highly stylized polar bear carvings found at Port au Choix and other sites. The protruberences are the jowls of the bear as seen from above and the 4 sets of incised lines could represent 4 sets of claw marks. On one of the handles, the middle incised lines are more pronounced at the end where the bears nose would be and may have been gouged out to indicate nostrils.

I believe the whole knife is meant to represent the polar bear, which would have been a very powerful and important creature to Dorset Palaeoeskimo seal hunters.

Reproduction Dorset Palaeoeskimo Knives
(Antler, Sinew, Hide Glue and Chert)
$126.50 Tax inc

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Polar Bear in Croker Bay, Devon Island
Middle: Collection of Dorset Palaeoeskimo Polar Bear carvings on Display at The Rooms
Bottom: Elfshot Reproductions of Dorset Palaeoeskimo Knives.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Week in Review

So much happens around here in one week that its tough to keep track of it all in just 3 blog posts/week.

On the Homefront: We spent a second Sunday organizing the basement and obliterated the back room pile. Pretty much everything it swept aside and stored on shelves. The treadmill has its own space in the back half of the basement and we rearranged the TV half of the basement so we can still watch tv while running. We also passed the 500 km mark on the treadmill since we got it in November!

On Monday and Wednesday we finalized the mortgage refinacing paperwork with trips to the Lawyers. We got a fantastic new interest rate, freed Lori's parents from the deed, paid off all our student loans and found enough left over money to pay for the deck we want to build this summer. Now all we need to do is find a contractor in this city who'll return our phonecalls.

At the Craft Council: I had a Human Resources meeting on Tuesday morning at the Devon House. My term is up on the executive later this month, but staying on the shop committee, the HR committee, and the board means that I don't have to worry about missing out on anything exciting.

In the Workplace: After delivering the Historic Sites Association order, I've switched gears from working on 1 order for 3 weeks to working on 3 orders due in one week. I have two wholesale gift shop orders and a mock dig program on the West Coast to supply with product before May 15th. In the workshop, I'm working on Dorset Knives and Groswater harpoon heads. In the office, I'm still working out the details with Parks for a very big job that will fill up my schedule for most of the summer.

Life: Lori and I went out on Wednesday night with our neice who turned 10 this week. We left the "G" rated siblings at home and took her out for pasta and a "PG" Zac Efron movie. I don't think "tweens" had been invented yet when Lori and I were that age, so it was new for all of us!

I started training for the Tely10 this week. Which sounds much more impressive than it actually is. Week 1 of the training schedule seems designed to build confidence as much as anything else. I've stuck to the schedule since Monday and so far I've only had to run once, cross train once, and rest two days. So far so good.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Progress in the Basement!
Middle: Completed Ulus - two of these went out in the HSA order
Bottom: In Progress; Dorset Palaeoeskimo Knives and Groswater Palaeoeskimo harpoon heads.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Historic Sites Association

I delivered one of my biggest wholesale orders of the year yesterday. It was for the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and is primarily for their store in Port au Choix.

The Historic Sites Association is a provinicial organization that operates the Heritage Shops that are found in all of the National Historic Sites in Newfoundland and Labrador. Of all the stores that carry my product, the Heritage Shops are probably the best fit. The museum in Port au Choix is practically an infomercial for the sort of archaeological reproductions and jewelry that I make. Many of the Palaeoeskimo and Maritime Archaic Indian reproductions that I make are based on the decades of archaeological research that has been done at Port au Choix.

I owe a lot to the HSA. I can remember meeting Carol Ann Tobin in their old offices in Pleasantville when I was just starting out. She spent time explaining to me the differences between wholesale and consignment and how to price and present my product. She impressed on me how important consistency in pricing is. As a craftsperson selling directly to the public, its important that my prices match the prices in the stores that I sell wholesale to.

One of the most important lessons I learned from the HSA was to view Elfshot as a business with a long lifespan. When I started Elfshot I was a graduate student at Memorial University living with other students. It was an interesting place to live because we were all experimenting with craft and selling our product at craft fairs around town. One of the people I lived with would work for days and days on one piece and then sell it for $20-$30 at a fair. It seemed crazy to me, she was paying herself less than $10 a day just for the sake of a sale. My philosophy was the opposite. I would rather not make the sale than sell something for less than what it costs me to make it and pay me for my time. If the product you sell doesn't pay for the time it takes you to make it and give you a little extra to pay your bills and eat, then how are you going to be able to continue making it? Working with the Historic Sites Association showed me that there are reliable, long term customers out there who will place orders with you year after year if you have fairly priced product. By fairly priced, I mean fair to the customer and fair to the producer - if its too expensive then the customer won't buy it and if its priced too low then the craftsperson can't afford to produce it.

The HSA also publish a series of archaeology themed books about Newfoundland and Labrador. I carry several of their titles. This is a good one about Port au Choix by Priscilla Renouf who, along with Trevor Bell, was my MA supervisor.

Photo Credits:
Top:Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador website
Middle and Bottom: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: HSA Logo
Middle: Groswater Palaeoeskimo earrings inspired by artifacts found at archaeological sites around the province, including Port au Choix
Bottom: Ancient Cultures, Bountiful Seas, MAP Renouf, 1999

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maritime Archaic Indian Bird Headed Pins

I've been working on Maritime Archaic Indian bird headed pins for the past few days. They've always been a good seller and this spring I need about 20 of them for various customers around the province. I like making them because they don't have to be repurposed from their original function -- they were hair pins 4000 years ago and they still work as hair pins today.

This is a detail from a map made of a Maritime Archaic burial at Port au Choix, NL. You can see one of the bird headed pins still in position at the back of the head. You can find this drawing and much more information about the Maritime Archaic Indians in Jim Tuck's book, Ancient People of Port au Choix.
I try to use caribou bone for the pins, although I'll sometimes use moose. The end product is indistinguishable, but moose are an introduced species and have been in Newfoundland for just over 100 years. Although there were moose bone artifacts identified in the Port au Choix collection, caribou would have been more readily available to the Maritime Archaic Indians when they were living in Newfoundland from 5500-3200 years ago.

I use long bones that I get from a local butcher during hunting season. Ribs are long and flat enough to give you the basic pin shape, but they are a much weaker bone and will break more easily. All of the pins that I made this year come from two tibias, 1 caribou and 1 moose. I like to use tibias because they have nice straight shafts and flare at the ends. The flare gives you the extra area that you need at one end of the pin to carve the bird head.

There were several migratory bird species carved in the original pins and I mostly make loons and mergansers, which were among the most common types. I leave some of the pins natural bone colour and some of them I'll cover in red ochre. Most of the Maritime Archaic artifacs found at Port au Choix were covered in red ochre. For the pins intended for retail shops, I'll make a seal skin baratte to fit each pin. This is bit of speculation - there wasn't any leather preserved at Port au Choix. They might never have existed, but they help 21st century eyes recognize the function of the pins.

Elfshot Bone Pin Reproductions, Maritime Archaic Indian
Bone, Sealskin
$25.88 tax inc.

Photo Credits:
Top: Tim Rast
Middle: Jim Tuck, Ancient People of Port au Choix, 1976
Bottom: Erick Walsh

Photo Captions:
Top: The latest batch of Elfshot bone pins, natural and Red Ochre
Middle: Detail and map of Maritime Archaic burial, showing an in situ bone hair pin, ca. 4400-3300 B.P.
Bottom: An Elfshot bone pin and sealskin barrette.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Schnell Girls are Fast!

Whenever I fill out paperwork in Newfoundland, the person on the other side of the desk asks where I'm from. Rast is a German name and I grew up on a farm in southern Alberta. I moved to Newfoundland in 1996. My mom was a "Schnell" from Saskatchewan -- Schnell in German means "fast" while Rast means "to rest". I think most people who know me can see that the Rast side won. In the past few years my dad has discovered a new nap between breakfast and lunch that I'm looking forward to inheriting one day.

The Tely10 Road Race takes place on July 26th this year and I'm hoping that I'll be in St. John's to participate. In this Sunday's edition of the Telegram (May 3rd) they are publishing a training schedule leading up to the race that I'm going to try to follow. I have some Schnell cousins in Saskatchewan who are very fast. Shelan and Renee Schnell have been running and winning marathons and half-marathons for the past several years. I'm just hoping to finish.

My mom (in green) wasn't a road racer, but she was fast in her own way. Dad told me a story a couple years ago from when they were courting. At the time dad was living in Alberta and mom was in Saskatchewan and dad would drive out to visit her on weekends. On one trip, mom was quiet and moody and eventually she confessed to what was troubling her; "We've been dating almost six weeks now and I don't even have an engagement ring yet." So dad had to bring a ring the next time he came out.

In a completely unrelated topic - yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of Lori and I getting our house on Craigmillar. We are celebrating with a final trip to the lawyers today (hopefully) to sign off on our new 5 year mortgage!

Photo Credits:
Top, Bottom: good question
Middle: Audio Visual Services, University of Regina

Photo Captions:
Top: Dad demonstrating how to remain a bachelor into your 40s
Middle: Renee winning a 10k race in 2005
Bottom: Color coded Schnells, Regina, Christmas 1969; Uncle Gary (blue), Aunt Janet (orange), Mom (green), Aunt Phyllis (yellow), Aunt Karen (black), Grandma Schnell (brown)
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