Summer is about vacations, and breaks, and relaxing. But people who rely on my reeds and services can't always wait while I ogle national monuments - if you need a reed you need me to be sitting at my desk!
When the orchestra and teaching season dies down, and school gets out, Steve and I like to travel, and we hope that as we move into fuller ownership of our happy middle age we will do more and more of that. But you can't just up and leave a business for months at a time. I've been reading about the lifestyle of "digital nomads", and I want it - but I can't quite be as nomadic with a reed business as someone whose entire income happens in cyberspace. Which is not to say I can't be nomadic at all.
I'm in Peoria this week, performing with the Peoria Bach Festival. It's a busy, active week of rehearsals and concerts, and I'm living in a host's home, and I couldn't truck my entire reed studio down here. But I'm using this gig as an experiment - how little can I get away with carrying for a week away and still mail reeds on time and keep no one waiting?
So far I have the STUFF down to one small tote bag and my regular oboe case. The bag contains my gouging machine, which packs small. (It's in the lunchbox pictured here!). A small bag of shipping supplies. My collection of shapers and a bag of staples and a bundle of pre-gouged cane. The minimum number of tools I could function with - knife, plaque, small block, mandrel. My tiny diamond sharpening stone. A small C clamp and some shelf liner designed to protect the surfaces I work on. And I think it's going to work! So far this week I've not gotten any orders I couldn't fill - though finding the time during this busy festival to work is a separate challenge!
If I were out camping in the wilderness, or in a motel or Airbnb, then printing labels and packing slips might be a challenge - I want to look into tiny portable printers for our future trips - but for now I feel pretty well equipped to travel lean and light and STILL serve my customers.
Of course, this all slightly negates the idea of a VACATION, which I still need and am committed to. It's unclear at this point how much of our three week break will actually be spent out of town, and I'll update the info on my website as things evolve - but as I travel with my family to the Grand Canyon this summer I will NOT be making reeds. Everyone deserves a few days off!