For thirty years, I would tally up at the end of the year the amounts I spent on classroom supplies, student projects, school initiatives, graduate courses, educational books and videos, bulletin board materials, and so on and so on, just in case I would be audited to prove I had spent those hundreds of dollars at my job. Living on a pension is different than having a full salary, particularly when I no longer have a partner with a pension or salary ... (teachers don't qualify for spousal SS income.) But I am fortunate in that Rick and I had finished mortgage payments a few months before he died, and had only an equity loan for the remodeling and roofing of the upper barn to pay off. It's less than the mortgage amount, and I can manage it within my budget.
The reason I'm sharing this is to reassure all of you that my giving healthy discounts to faithful quilters is not putting me in any financial distress. As I've explained to some, I've already earned my living once, and have the pension to show for it. If I can continue to pay just the utilities from the shop sales, I am content to continue to run this shop as a cooperative for quilters.
Instead of tallying up school material purchases, I've tallied my sales for the year. I offer 20, 40 and 50% discounts on all of my fabrics ... and have a rack card in the shop that tells who gets which discounts and why ... it averaged out this year to a 31% discount overall ... which means I still had about 19% over the cost of the purchases to use on utilities. So what I'm doing is working well enough. My pension covers my household expenses, and the shop is finally able to earn enough to pay for itself while still providing an opportunity to meet quilters' needs with discounts and without stretching their budgets, nor mine.
I feel satisfied in being able to do what I do ... I love teaching young and old to quilt. I love learning with them new techniques via You Tube. I love sharing ideas and beautiful fabrics and cups of tea or coffee with those who visit. I'm happiest when I'm finishing a quilt for a veteran, or a smaller one for the fire and police departments to have on hand when needed.
I would be lying if I said life is good ... I miss Rick every hour of every day. When I'm in the shop, I can feel his presence still there. When I talk with newcomers about the few remaining vintage and antique machines, I feel his warmth sharing the information with me. When someone mentions his woodworking, or his sense of humor, or his patience, strength and generous spirit, I remember his love and his confidence in us together.
I am sad when I think about how ready he was to work in his new space ... to take advantage of the insulation and windows and light in his new workshop upstairs ... of his plans to be sorting through patterns until his shoulder would have healed enough to get back to his wood art. I intend to chase some of that sadness away in the next year or two by learning to use his scrollsaw to finish some of the work he had begun ... it is there waiting for me ... patterns afixed to panels of Baltic Birch Plywood, pilot holes already drilled and ready for the tiny saw blades ...
When good weather returns, I'll continue to spend three days in the fabric shop, but will spend some of the rest of the week upstairs in Rick's woodworking shop, with his sixties music playing loud enough to hear over the sound of the machinery. And I know he will be with me there. This, I believe. He often said, when cutting out wooden ornaments and while I painted them: "It is always Christmas at the Palardy's house." I will make that true again, in time. There will always be little ones looking for Santa's helper shop. There will always be grownups enjoying the smell of freshly worked wood.
Meanwhile, thanks for your patience, your company and your support.
Wishing you a peaceful, loving Christmas and happy new year ahead.
~ Terry (and Rick in spirit)