Friday, June 24, 2011

Container Arrival

I am constantly asked about my shopping forays in France and Belgium.  One of the questions always asked is "How do get your things back?". Do I send them via a shipping service like UPS or FedEx?  How does it work?  Well, I send them back via a container.  A 40 foot container.  It requires hiring packers, brokers, shipping agents, shipping company, trucking company, crews to unload and more.  Cheap, it is not. Easy, it is not.  But, when it arrives ...... like Christmas morning!

Coming 'round the bend!

I live in the South Carolina Low Country right in the center of the "Old Town".  Delivery day requires a fevrent prayer for good weather as there is no warehouse loading dock.  Nope, just a beautiful, sandy dirt street that runs along past my house where the low branches of massive oaks dripping with spanish moss challenge the best.  You try backing a 40 foot container into my "loading dock" area!

It's here, finally!

Bolt cutters are the preferred way to clip the special lock, however I can almost never find mine (who misplaces bolt cutters!!), so its almost always a hack saw to the rescue.

A peek inside and notice the lack of any kind of ramp.  Everything must be unloaded straight from the container down to the ground.  No easy feat when you have awkward pieces weighing hundreds of pounds!

And the doors open!! Let the fun begin!

With a holding area like this, you keep fingers and toes crossed that the weather will be one of those glorious Lowcountry days!

Its all hands on deck, including a little help from my friends!

So, how do you "ship"?


Thursday, June 9, 2011

All I want for Christmas

Now I am sure you're wondering why, after this horrific winter most of you have had (I live in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina and we definitely do not do winter, well, not to the extent that most of you do) and your our buds are finally springing forth, I would talk about what I wanted for Christmas? Well, I am Southern and I do not do snow. Only this past December, I got snowed in. In Belgium, for 2 days. When you're on a buying trip, your time is limited. Very limited, as in I do so NOT have time to be snowed in and I'm Southern. I DO NOT DO SNOW.

I'm snowed in and on the phone with my esteemed friend, the renowned Janet Wiebe from the great northern city of Houston cussing discussing the adorable antics that my current shipping broker is employing. As I think of digging myself out at the lovely crack of dawn and try to figure how I'm going to get where I need to be given the fact that there's 16 inches of snow where I need to be, none of the warehouses I need to visit have one ounce of heat and the anticipated high tomorrow will be a balmy 21 degrees Fahrenheit, my thoughts turn to Lou.

Lou is Janet's right hand. Her marvelous, highly competent, steady in a storm, unbelievable, reliable. take pictures, tag item, log item, eagle eye don't miss this, assistant. In a word - amazing.  I'm thinking about the rest of my week buying in Belgium. Only a few days to find the treasures I need. The end of my conversation with Janet is, "can I please have Lou for Christmas"? She promised to ask. Yeah, right! (who can blame her?)

the famous Lou

Dear Santa,
 I promise to be really, really good this year. May I pretty please have a Lou for Christmas?

p.s.   Ear muffs would also be much appreciated

So, I must have been really good so far this year, because Santa came early and I got the best "Lou" ever!  My friend, Stephanie, came along on the last buying trip (just returned a few weeks ago) and it was without a doubt the most difficult trip ever!  Stephanie not only was a real trooper, but she schlepped, hauled, loaded, loaded and reloaded some more, kept me calm during horrific driving conditions, cooked, was a GPS whiz, ultimate list maker, photographer and so, so much more! And.... she did it with amazing grace, laughter and joie de vie!  After 3 grueling weeks, 5000 kilometers and 1 major robbery, not only were we still speaking, but she said she can't wait to go again!  Merci, merci beaucoup Santa!

 The Amazing Stephanie

Who's your Lou?


(Obviously this post was started earlier, in March actually and finally finished in June after 3 straights weeks of 90 plus degree weather. Took me that long to thaw out and I guess I just needed to wait until I had the good fortune to find my "Lou".)