Pandemic Day 375

Well, hooray! The Governor this morning lifted the restrictions. So, what does that mean? Masks aren’t mandatory and we can have larger crowds. More people have been vaccinated and positive cases and deaths are down significantly. Cool. That sounds great!
Well, now we are going to be in this new weird space where we businesses want to do the right thing, and we aren’t quite sure which way to go for the best interest of our guests and teams. Some businesses are already posting that they are going to continue requiring masks for the health and safety of their staff and customers. Some businesses are really taking a stand right now in that announcement. I have been wearing a mask at least 12 hours per day every single day for about a year. I think we are all anxious to not have to wear them. I am not sure I want to take a stand about enforcing them at my shop, but I also am not sure I want to just suddenly be loose about it either. I already told the staff we would continue to wear masks for now and until we are certain that we no longer need to. However, I also took down the signs on the door that state that masks are required before entry. I needed to clean the glass anyway and those papers had been there a long time. I could always put them back if we decide that is best.
Right now, it is so uncertain and we want to behave well for our guests and our team. That is the most important factor. I think when our guests feel comfortable without masks, and our team feels comfortable without masks and society as a whole feels comfortable without masks…through that process, we can gently shift I suppose.

Blah. The politics and the pandemic have really made stuff not as fun! Not going to lie. I really am eager to burn all the masks I own.

BSG 1980 Quote

Galactica 1980 Season 1 Episode 8

The Night the Cylons Landed (2)

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Apr 20, 1980 on ABC


Andromus: (to Wolfman Jack) Some day, you Earth people will come to understand just how unimportant you are to running a truly efficient society.

Pandemic Day 327

Some days I wonder if can keep fighting and other days I know definitively that there is no other option. Today was a good day and gave me a little jolt of the dopamine needed to muster up the strength to deliver a good return punch. Still hanging on by a thread and hopeful for a couple of significant pieces to come together and praying that I can keep things from crumbling in the mean time.

Today we took in $60 above our daily baseline. That is two Wednesdays in a row that we were slightly above our daily baseline requirement. It makes me wonder, “why Wednesdays?” I am kind of a statistics fanatic, as you know, and tracking data for a pattern to emerge is my geeky obsession.

So we had a good day, and I live to fight another day.

This is so freaking hard. I am so extremely grateful for everyone who purchases and supports us. The online DIY Take-Home kits are finally getting traction again over the last few days. They had unexpectedly become non-existent in January. We ended up the month of January only bringing in 66% of our required revenue just to cover essentials such as rent, payroll, utilities, taxes, etc. None-the-less, I was happy with the way the month ended. That last week of January made all the difference. The first three weeks…super stressful, nail-biting kind of days.

There are pressing matters that I absolutely have to get a handle on that require our revenues to get up to at least baseline. I have to be able to breath soon. I feel like my time is running out. I am driving DoorDash like crazy, and it is certainly helping. Most weeks, I can clear above $500 and sometimes even above $700. But $500 average is pretty typical working about 3 hours per day 7 days per week. And most of the time, I drive dinner after spending the day at Burst Of Butterflies.

Additionally, I feel like I am keeping well focused on the objective and handling it without falling apart or letting emotion lead. That is a pretty good change.

Eleven Months

It has been Eleven Months since we learned of the pandemic and the shutdown. Of course back then, we thought it would be over in a month or two. Then there was the shutdown in Mid March. But we made the best of it and took the time to rearrange the studio and paint the walls and floors. We manage to keep our staff, without laying anyone off, and kept everyone busy making all modifications to the studio that I had been wanting to do for a long time, but that are hard to do while open. Well, hey, we got shut down and seized the opportunity. For several weeks of the initial shut-down, we used our time and emptied everything to one side of the studio or another as we made our way around painting all the walls, painting the floors, replacing the shelving, replacing tables and chairs in order to accommodate more social-distancing, etc. Additionally, we refined processes, created a warehouse for our new Art-Kit-To-Go business and created processes around that new business.

In spite of all the great changes and improvements, days and days went by with increasing stress and worry. I was fighting to pay bills and stay above water, and I hadn’t set myself up well enough for this kind of extreme and sudden decrease in revenue. Warren Buffet says that you can tell who has been skinny dipping when the tide goes out. It is very true.

In order to figure a way to sustain, we quickly got in gear and developed the DIY take-home kit for pottery and canvas and other types of craft kits. I worked on the website and quickly built the functionality for it, and launched with a dozen products on March 16, 2020. We posted it out on social media like crazy and it caught on. We were selling them every day. Total revenues still came in over 50% below where they were the same time in 2019. So it was painful to say the least. We are extremely thankful for the amount of people who purchased our kits. It kept our staff busy and able to have a job.

Quickly, it was clear that the pandemic was not going to be a short event. By end of March, we had converted our sixth annual summer camp (the biggest revenue event each year) to a choice of in-studio or online virtual camp. I was amazed at how many people signed up for zoom camp each week. I was even more amazed at how many registered for in-studio camp. It was tough, but the kids had a ton of fun, the parents seemed super impressed, and it really, really was awesome considering everything. We pulled it off at two locations in person, plus a dozen or so zoom campers online each week from end of May to end of July. We even added two, fairly well attended, additional weeks at the end of July, on the fly, when school closures continued into August. And our team was absolutely amazing.

During the last eleven months, I sold a rental house to pay payroll; I drove DoorDash seven days a week for extra income usually to put toward payroll; we finally closed our Tempe location at the beginning of August to downsize to the one location in Downtown Chandler; I sold another rental house; we received a couple of small grants thanks to the City Of Chandler and Maricopa County and the awesome people who look out for the small businesses; and still, I fight every day to pay everything. It has been, by far, the most stressful period of time that I have endured. At the same time, it has been the most enlightening and strengthening time in terms of the maturity of our team and our company as a whole.

I promised the staff at the onset of the pandemic that I would fight, with everything I had, to keep them going, and that they wouldn’t have to worry about losing their job. A couple of people from our team did decide to stay home and/or do other things. Yet, the majority stayed to fight the storm with us and this group has become the strongest and most amazing team in the history of Burst Of Butterflies. In spite of uncertainty. In spite of months of seeing no customers. In spite of each of them dropping down to half time and lower paychecks. This team stuck with us and still do. We all have grown and evolved tremendously as a team through this process and I am amazed and grateful for the team that we have in place.

On top of all of this, I am tremendously thankful we are still here. There are many, many businesses who had to close forever. It could be us tomorrow. But for today, I am going to just keep fighting.

Lady Gaga on SNL

Hulu is cycling through Saturday Night Episodes. I may have seen this one when it aired, but not sure. Maybe I watched it with my eyes closed as I sometimes do. Either way, I saw this tonight and the performance was great. Plus, Tom Hanks was the host and he is just the type of person that the world needs more of.

Charlie is gone

When I got home yesterday after work, Charlie was excited to see me. Unlike the last few days with him being somewhat distant, he stayed close to me and gave me kisses and, after he ate his dinner, he came up on my bed with me. While his head was laying in my lap, I patted and rubbed his head and ears and paws and told him that this was our last night together.

Charlie The Night Before Goodbye
Charlie The Night Before Goodbye

I cried quite a bit and talked to him. He seemed normal, hardly coughing. I questioned myself again on whether or not I was doing the right thing.

They showed up promptly at 9am.  I wasn’t ready.  I asked for five minutes.

Then they injected him to relax him and waited 10 minutes and then injected him with the final injection.  It took less than a minute after that and he took his last breath.

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I didn’t expect it all to go so fast.  Lucas and I cried the entire time.  Marcie was also there and it was so awesome that she took the time out to come by and say goodbye to Charlie.

After Charlie’s last breath, Lucas pressed his paw into clay so he could make a box for his ashes with his paw print on top.

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It is now 3pm and he has been gone for over five hours.  My head hurts and I cannot cry anymore today.



Hard Decisions

The vet called this morning about the results of the specialist looking at his x-rays. I didn’t expect anything to be different and I really know that he is at the end of his life, but hearing it made it more certain. His trachea is collapsing and he is dealing with a COPD type of issue that pretty much means end of life. It is not recommended that we let him die naturally as that will mean suffocating to death. I called the mobile euthanizing vet to come on Friday morning to end his life. The vet explained to me that this is the humane thing to do. I am confused why it is “humane” to end an animal’s life to prevent suffering, but NOT “humane” to end a human life to prevent suffering. This is where my reluctance comes from. I have witnessed a human taking the last breath, but it is not pretty and the days and months leading to it are hard on everyone…especially the dying human. Yet, we have no choice…it is the way. And with a pet, that is part of the family and considered just as important and loved as any human member of the family, why can we simply decide when that pet should take his last breath. Why is it that we get to play God or Mother Nature and decide that this furry family member has lived long enough? What doctrine in history or the beginning of time stated that we can forcefully end the life of certain creatures but not humans and label it a “humane act”?

Either way, it seems that Charlie is going to suffocate to death and that is considered to be such a terrible way to die that I should call it and take his life. Even though he and I just ate pizza together and he still eats and drinks and goes outside to enjoy a cool breeze and he still follows me around and seems to be happy at least some of the time. If it were a human, we would take all of that as signs that there is still a lot of life in the person. Yet, everyone keeps telling me that I am doing the “humane” thing by putting him out of his suffering and that he has lived a longer life than most dogs like him would have and that I should just release his soul and end his suffering.

It doesn’t seem that anyone else sees my point of view in this. Why is that?