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Back in Business!

Framar

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Today I took a very deep breath and made the run for the border. Only one Nexus lane (no other passenger car lanes even!) open on the Peace Bridge, Customs officer, wearing a mask, asked my citizenship and what was I bringing with me. I told him Covid supplies for my shop and he admitted me. Just like that.

Picked up a carload of mail and packages from my neighbor, and went into the shop (hid my car on the side street so I could work uninterrupted). Opened mail, tossed the junk, discovered three live plants, one really dead spider plant, and two not looking so great (jade and aloe - but they have proven unkillable in the past). My neighbor has even less of a green thumb than I do. But the snake plant (Sansevieria) looks better than ever!

In the back room I discovered a ceiling tile had dissolved and fallen onto a bunch of stuff (mostly covered with plastic because my ceiling has been leaking on and off since 1982). Landlord's handyman said they are working in the apartment above; finally got rid of really bad tenants with unsupervised children who caused many floods. Admired the new air conditioner that he finally installed after my two years worth of begging.

Also discovered some slightly water-damaged matboard and a slightly moldy stretcher frame from when the power went off for 5 days and my freezer's ice jam melted. Going to restretch the canvas it before framing and treat the bars with a bleach treatment. One of those tourist palette knife paintings.

But all in all I am pretty pleased to be back.

I have about a week's worth of framing to finish up, I set up a nice little hand sanitizer and free mask stand, and listened to the messages on the answering machine. Several regular customers worried about me; one or two worried about their framing - will be making a lot of calls tomorrow.

Got knackered really fast so I went home (after FINALLY depositing my stimulus check in the bank!) and was astonished to find two Nexus lanes open on the Canadian side of the bridge. But I was the only vehicle. Remote agent asked me how long I had been in the States and I told him I had been at my shop, he asked about my health, I said I was fine, and he asked if I was bringing anything back with me. I said "paperwork."

And that was that. (Although the agent did not say anything, I believe I am only allowed to go to doctor's appointments in Canada, though. No shopping, no visiting - only 14 days of quarantining every time I go to Buffalo - but I have stocked up on catfood and peanut butter and chocolate so I ought to be good for a couple of months now).

So I plan on going over again tomorrow to do more organizing and try to get started on the 6 month-old framing orders.

Officially reopening next Tuesday - Mama Lucy will be so happy to be back in her domain! And so will I!
 

Ylva

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Glad to hear you made it back into the shop! Did it feel weird???? Are you officially allowed to?

One of my customers lives in Canada, but visits Gloucester often. I re-framed something for her that had been in the store since January (she only comes once in a while). She and her husband picked it up a few weeks ago. I was surprised, but she told me that they were allowed to drive into the US, just not fly (at that time).
 

Framar

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I guess because I own a business I am allowed to go back and forth. Students have been all along. And medical people. The catch is I am not allowed to go anywhere outside of my home in Canada except for doctor's appointments. So no shopping (which I have been doing) or visiting (which I did once in 6 months when my BFF dragged me to her house on my birthday).

And yes, it felt super weird to drive across that bridge again after 187 days.
 

tedh

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Wow!

I’m hearing that flyers are allowed in, while coming in by car is the reverse. My ex-landlord, the guy with the model train business, may be able to enlighten me. Looks like while the official line is a closed border, in reality it’s anything but.

Maybe there’s hope I can pick up stuff in Ogdensburg.
 

Framar

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Day Two: Once again there was scant traffic going into the States and the guy just asked where I was going.

Starting to wrap my head around the shop again, did a bit of cleaning and organizing and I believe I found all the orders I had tucked away here and there. Washed the stretcher frame down with a bleach solution and restretched the canvas. And was greatly relieved to discover that the LJ frame I had yet to order was NOT one of the discontinued profiles. YAY!

But then the absolute best thing happened on the way home. On the Canada side of the border they asked more questions, got a lot of contact info from me, and pulled me over to the side to talk to the people from Health Canada.

So . . .

I am now officially exempt from the quarantine restrictions! I can go forth and back and still shop in Canada, provided I do what I have been doing for the last 6 months all along: wear a mask, wash my hands, social distance.

And why is this? "Because you make money in the United States and bring it back to Canada."

Mama Lucy is going to be so happy when we officially reopen next Tuesday!
 
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Framar

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Oh, and get this - I discovered that Jitterbug is planning on discontinuing the use of my dear clamshell cell phone (which still charges up to 90% power after 10 years) and they are sending me the updated version for free (last time I looked they were charging $80 for it plus shipping) and the shipping is free as well!!!

The lady, Agnes, and I got to talking and when she found out I was in Buffalo she said her son went to school in Buffalo and still lives here. I told her my usual line about coming home from Woodstock and going to work for a frame shop - and she said she went to Woodstock too!!! So she said she was going to send her son to me so I could be his framer.
 

Ylva

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All awesome Mar!
I can tell how happy you are to be back to the shop and I am happy for you. Mama Lucy might not be as happy as you think....I assume she did get used to the other kitties?
 

wpfay

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So good!
 

tedh

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So happy for you!

How about putting in a good word for the guy who owns a frame shop in Maine and wants the same commuting privileges?

cough cough
 
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Framar

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Mama Lucy never got into anything other than an adversarial relationship with her three boys and poor Hari. So it has been six months of hissing and yowling and spitting. She will be ecstatic to the "the only cat"again in her beloved city, and the boys will have fun hunting for her for a couple of days.
 

neilframer

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Oh, and get this - I discovered that Jitterbug is planning on discontinuing the use of my dear clamshell cell phone (which still charges up to 90% power after 10 years) and they are sending me the updated version for free (last time I looked they were charging $80 for it plus shipping) and the shipping is free as well!!!
You mentioned your clamshell phone...
I have this photo from a wedding that I went to last year in Arizona and three of us showed off our phones..
It's me and two of my best friends from the ski town, Telluride Colorado...
image3.jpeg

I still use my phone every day and it's actually only about 5 years old.
It has a camera but I really only use it for making or receiving calls and texts.
We have 6 computers at work and I have two at home.
I don't want to carry a computer around with me all of the time..:cool:
 
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Framar

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Aha! That red one in the middle looks like my new Jitterbug. I use it to call out-of-area customer numbers to tell them their work is ready because I cancelled long distance on my shop's land line.

I have spent the last six months glued to Facebook and the G and ebay and last two days at the shop seemed very restful for both my eyes and my brain to not have the Internet in sight. I figure when I am at the shop and a customer needs some info, I just tell them where to search for it on their $1000 phone!

And yet I now have both an American cell phone and a Canadian cell phone. In case my car breaks down or I am at one of those places where you have to phone before you get there. Or to receive a six digit code to sign back into YouTube or whatever. I never even added any contacts to the Jitterbug - I am old fashioned - I carry around a little list of people's phone numbers.
 

Framar

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Day three: Joined a few rock-hard, unforgiving frames; matched up all of the order slips with the artwork, called one dear customer who was worried about me and he and I had a lovely chat - plus he has a military shadowbox for me to create for a friend of his.

Found out that now that I am reopening I will have one less competitor. This framer has been a friend since the seventies and he was never able to find anyone to take over for him so he is retiring and closing for good. He told me his kids had zero interest in framing. This makes me so sad - he is only a little younger than I am.

At the border tonight I had to re-sort out my status as a person with an exemption - very nice young man in the booth though (a ginger like Prince Harry) - so everything ought to be good.

Not used to being on my feet for hours at a time. Could barely walk when I got out of the car. My new hip is wonderful but my knees and calves were screaming at me. Thank you Voltaren for the bit of relief!

Off to bed now - totally knackered.
 
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Framar

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Day Four: Almost beginning to feel like a real framer again. Finished joining the frames, cut some mats and glass; ready to do the fitting tomorrow.

One customer knocked on my front window and begged me to take a metal frame that needs its glass replaced. We spoke in the doorway, and I got her phone number. I feel awful because I always have a hard time recognizing faces and now with the masks it is even worse! But it turns out she is an American living in Canada and she came back to the States for the first time this week after six months - just like me!

Legs and back not hurting as much today, but I was parked halfway down the street and hobbling with a cane. Saw a young couple cross the street ad go up to my door (after I was in my car) but they read my "Reopening on Tuesday" sign, and I did not see any angry gestures from either of them. Years ago I could have run back to talk to them, or take their order, but not today.

Oh - and my LJ chop came in from FedEx but the delivery guy was not my Whovian friend, Joel. Hope he did not have his route changed. Hope he's on vacation or something. I have not seen him in six months - I was so excited to see that FedEx truck drive up. Darn.
 

Framar

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UPDATE: I have officially been open for business since Tuesday. Only two customers have picked up their orders, but everyone seemed thrilled when I called to say I was back. Everyone says they have stuff to be framed. But the anticipated tsunami of customers has never materialized.

Shop Cat Mama Lucy is not back yet - I have been struggling to get her into her carrier. I have been scratched, bitten, and on the receiving end of a lot of stink eye. She appears to be fiercely hanging on to the tatters of her Feral Card.

I forgot how many robo calls and wrong numbers I used to get. Yeesh.

But all in all, it is good to be back.
 

GreyDrakkon

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Everyone says they have stuff to be framed. But the anticipated tsunami of customers has never materialized.

I forgot how many robo calls and wrong numbers I used to get. Yeesh.
Just wait, they'll all wait for the same day and the same hour and it will be chaos.

The robo callers have been out of control both on my landline and my cell. Even with blocking each number just slows them down a tiny bit.

As for the cat, I'd suggest putting food in the carrier and leaving it out all the time so she just gets used to it being around, but I think you mentioned you have other cats so they'd just steal the food.
 

Nikodeumus

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Framar, thanks for sharing your back to work experiences this way.
It's been very interesting to read.

If you don't already do it, I would suggest setting appointments for customers.
Especially if you have a lot of them chomping at the bit to bring you their work.
I switched to appointments when COVID began.
I doubt I will go back to walk-ins.

Keep the updates coming!
 

Ylva

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I ditto the appointments. I still get a few walk-ins as well, but the appointment system goes well and is well received by my customers. Plus it is so much easier to plan my week.
 
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Framar

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I am still receiving earnest Quarantine reminders from the government of Canada, but I have been told by more than one official to ignore them. Apparently the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Last week I had one customer pick up work from March, and all the ones I phoned who sounded so excited for me to be back have not shown up. Some with work completely paid for, too. Go figure.

Of the people who have come in the door, all have been wearing masks and not one has gone near any of my bottles of hand sanitizer. Guess I will have to ask politely for them to use it (like they do in the Great White North).

Was becoming kind of discouraged by the end of the day on Friday when a young customer came in with two pieces to frame (she frames two pieces a year). And right after I opened up on Saturday a NEW customer came in with her phone and an email from the artist. I winced inwardly, but she told me what he wanted on his piece (2" dark brown or black wood with 3" white mat) and of course, she wanted a ballpark. So I grabbed a Lisbon antique black off the wall, she loved it; and I gave her a quick ballpark of $700 for the job. She immediately set down her phone and wallet on my counter and dashed out to her car to retrieve her piece, and between the two of us we managed to wrestle it out of its mailing tube/package. And that was that.

Mama Lucy is still not back at the shop but I have found an animal communicator and am arranging an appointment for us. I am pretty sure she really does not like being at my house with the other cats taking turns to attack her.

And in the mean time, as executor of my neighbor's estate, I have been overseeing the departure of the Tenant from Hades, and touring the ruins she left behind her. For a woman who was constantly complaining how broke she was, she left over $100 worth of unopened groceries and sundries behind in addition to overflowing trash cans and garbage everywhere and her blasted grandchildren left sticky stickers all over the walls which are pulling off the paint. In slightly over a year's time this cute little house went from neat as a pin to white trashed And yes I am going to change the locks! But she is gone and she returned the keys and some relatives of the people next door want to buy it already. I will be so happy to have this off of my shoulders! Just need to speak with the lawyer and see if it is OK to put it on the market.

I am exhausted!
 

tedh

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Selling the house could take a lot of your effort, but the 4% executor fee will be a nice lift. In today’s market, you may be surprised at the increase in value. With cleaning, staging and making it look new, you could really max the price. Take your time, talk to at least three realtors, and listen.

I just finished the executor role with the estate of a friend; he had sold his house before passing, so the lawyers did 99% of the work. I had waived the fee, and I’m glad I did. His family needed it more than I did.

One of my staff worked all summer to prep and sell her in-laws’ house and her parents house. In both cases they sold for way above what they thought they’d get: one went from $580 to $710. And another friend listed her aunt’s for $495 and got $750.

You could be in for a wild ride.
 

Framar

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Yeah, my neighbor had always been thrilled that his house had been appraised for $113 over ten years ago and it was appraised last Spring for $350. The best realtor in town, highly acclaimed and recommended by a lot of friends, said the market is so hot; not to bother with staging it. Anyone who buys a house will redo everything anyways and I just want the whole thing over with. And I would rather sell it at the appraised price to relatives of the really nice neighbors, instead of getting into a bidding war with total strangers. We have a very small neighborhood and we all have each other's backs. And most of us have been here for decades.

Of course the probate thing is taking forever, thanks to COVID, but I believe I can sell the house before the probate is finished. Have to go see the lawyer again, but am reluctant because no one in his office wears masks. :(
 

Larry Peterson

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One of my staff worked all summer to prep and sell her in-laws’ house and her parents house. In both cases they sold for way above what they thought they’d get: one went from $580 to $710. And another friend listed her aunt’s for $495 and got $750.

I know you Canucks are tad different but aren't there some zeros missing?
 
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tedh

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The house price increases up here are nuts. A simple bungalow in Ottawa is selling for $600,000. That is crazy, compared to a price of $350,000 three years ago.

I’m a person who lived through the 18% mortgages of the early ‘80s. I can’t figure out why interest rates are near zero, and don’t want to be involved when they start to climb to normals, and most homeowners will be under water.

Last: how in h3ll can our kids buy a house?
 

tedh

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And I would rather sell it at the appraised price to relatives of the really nice neighbors, instead of getting into a bidding war with total strangers. We have a very small neighborhood and we all have each other's backs. And most of us have been here for decades.

Here’s hoping they don’t flip it for a fast $100K profit to a Toronto real estate agent who’ll rent it out to some noisy bunch of **********s.
 

Framar

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More new customers! And they all seem to have been awaiting my return. Weird. One gentleman asked me if he could use the hand sanitizer. Um - YES!

More old customers came in to pick up their stuff, too - all expressed how happy they were that I was back.

Seems so odd to actually be earning money again!

Shop Cat is still home - I spoke with an animal behaviorist tonight - she gave me some ideas to try and we will talk again next week.

Meeting with real estate agent Saturday morning - she knows about the people who want to buy the place but we decided they get notified when it is going on the market. That's it. It will be listed.
 
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Framar

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I hugged a customer today!

Backstory - this wonderful/crazy/lovely artist-lady has been coming in to my shop for over 30 years. She is the most delightful PITA, she pays well, she frames everything. And she loves to hug people.

She come in the door - we both hold out our arms and yell "Hug!!!" and then we hug. We have been doing this for years.

So before I opened my shop back up, I thought, "How am I gonna survive without being able to hug her?" I was in the dollar store and bought a 9 x 12 cheap plastic drop cloth for a buck and a half.

When she appeared on my doorstep this afternoon - I said, "Stop, stand right there, don't move, close your eyes!"

I opened up the drop cloth, draped myself in it from head to foot - and have her a hug. She was thrilled! She said I was the only person she had hugged (other than her husband) in 7 months. She even phoned after she got back home to thank me.
 

Nikodeumus

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The house price increases up here are nuts. A simple bungalow in Ottawa is selling for $600,000. That is crazy, compared to a price of $350,000 three years ago.

I’m a person who lived through the 18% mortgages of the early ‘80s. I can’t figure out why interest rates are near zero, and don’t want to be involved when they start to climb to normals, and most homeowners will be under water.

Last: how in h3ll can our kids buy a house?
Real estate is terrible here on the West Coast of Canada also.
I'm a gainfully employed adult and I will never be able to afford a home of my own.
It's ridiculous!
 

Larry Peterson

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Real estate is terrible here on the West Coast of Canada also.
I'm a gainfully employed adult and I will never be able to afford a home of my own.
It's ridiculous!
Move to Wilkes-Barre. I bought my 3BR 1.5 Bath 1600 Sqft circa 1900 home for $26,500 in 2010. There are no zeros missing in that number.
 

Framar

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I have every reason to believe the house has been sold (and not to the person who had been yapping about buying it for months!). Needs to pass house inspection and septic tank inspection, and the kids who are buying the place have parents with money and she is a teacher and he is a contractor. They sound quite smitten with the place, and have many plans to make it their own. It had a brand new furnace, new AC, new roof, new windows, half basement, large lot - a dream home for a couple starting out (with $$$).

Makes me very happy and even more relieved (like a very large albatross has been around my neck for the last year). And if my dear friend is looking down on all of this from some cloud in Heaven somewhere, he is smiling for sure.
 
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framah

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Real estate up here on the Downeast coast of Maine has been crazy this summer.

Houses are going for more than the asking price..people are bidding them up.
Best bet is that when they escaped from NYC and down that area, they ran up here and found that they could wok from home up here so they bought.
 

tedh

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The area south of Portland, including Wells and Sanford, is so beautiful. The commercialism of Freeport hasn’t hit, the coast hasn’t been plagued with high rises, and there’s still a lot of quiet beach. Hopefully it will stay that way for a long time. Freeport, Myrtle Beach, and Jekyll Island back in the ‘70s were the same. Then the money flooded in.
 

Framar

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My town is becoming a bedroom community for Toronto. Idiots who make a lot of money in TO and apparently do not mind the hellish one and a half to two hour commute. Fort Erie is rapidly filling with McMansions - most of them ugly gray monstrosities.

My goal in life is to have the wherewithal to make some sort of airtight last will and testament which will preserve my swampy acreage forever and not a soul will be allowed to build anything on it. Maybe in 200 years it will be our Central Park amidst the horrendous highrises and homeowner associations.
 

neilframer

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In my neighborhood in central Phoenix people are buying up the older single family homes like mine.
I've owned my home since about 1993 and it has a pretty large front and rear yard.

Now they are buying houses like mine and tearing them down to build 2 story 20 unit condos on the same land.
I see this happen all around me and I am constantly contacted by companies wanting to buy my house I believe mainly because of the square footage and the land space to put up another condo complex.

Sometimes they are also building a new house around the old one using part of the old brick and mortar as part of the new house and then putting a modern facade on the front.

I like my house, it was built the year I was born and I live very close to where I work.
When it cools off, I can ride my bike to work.
cute like a boss GIF
 
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Beauty, Brawn, and Brains: Wizard Z1 CMC

Framar

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The little corner gas station and garage about three blocks from my shop is now a five story condo with underground parking and amazing sun-blocking capability.

There are fights going on all over Buffalo and even Fort Erie against the condo-ization of the place. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to live in a condo or a housing development.

Malvina Reynolds was right. Condos are larger than little boxes but they're all make out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

 

neilframer

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I have a 65 foot Aleppo pine tree in my back yard in central Phoenix.
These trees can live 150 years.
It shades the back yard and is green the entire year.
It does drop needles and pinecones but I like it.
The main trunk is huge and it would take two people to wrap arms around it and even the side branches are very thick.
It's something like this only much larger..
aleppo_pine-14E404FB3E17EED3B22.jpg
We also have many palm trees, orange trees and grapefruit trees in the neighborhood.
I used to have a large peach tree in the back yard that put out tons of peaches but it died of old age years ago.

If I sell my home I'm sure that the first thing that would be done would be to cut the pine tree down to make more room for more condos.
 
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Framar

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Seems to be two kinds of customers: the butterfingers and the stockpilers.

Butterfingers bring in frames with broken corners, broken glass, torn paper, warped mats.

Stockpilers bring in stack of items that they have been saving up to be framed. These are my favorite kind of customers. I am so happy to be busy again! My bank account is starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

Mama Lucy has a brand new top-loading carrier and I brought home the blankie from her shop blanket fort and she has been making biscuits and snuggling into it for an hour so far tonight. It smells like her "home"and maybe it will help her to remember the shop and get into the darned carrier and return to Buffalo next week. Fingers crossed.

And I got to meet the "kids" who are buying the house - they seem very nice, met her parents too, also very nice. I get good vibes from all of them. Plus they have a cat and a dog! Yay! And in less than a month the house will be theirs! Yay!
 

Framar

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The shop cat has returned to the shop! She was absolutely amazed when I dropped her into her new top-loading carrier in Canada and she emerged into HER shop in Buffalo not 20 minutes later.

After a quick tour to make sure everything was OK, she spent almost the whole day weaving around my ankles, slow-blinking, trilling, chirping, jumping onto my lap, rolling around on the floor, and PURRING! And I recreated her beloved blanket fort where she can hide in warmth and comfort when she does not wish to see any of her admirers.

Now my shop is complete again - and I can work peacefully knowing my companion has returned. It is nice to have company again even if she is tucked away and snoring away like a buzzsaw.

108_0207.JPG
 
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