Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ben's Souvenirs

A year ago, TIME magazine did an article about Ben and his antique printing presses. The opening line of the article went something like this:
"There's nothing Ben won't do to get his hands on a letterpress."
We both laughed about this little exaggeration. Well, I should have noticed it was only ME laughing. The author, apparently, nailed it on the head. After it was published, Ben was getting calls from around the country from people thinking he might be interested. Uh, they were right.
We've had presses shipped in from Canada, the East Coast, the Midwest, and now the West coast.

(Ok. Here is where I need to get sidetracked and tell you a funny story about Ben's hair in the photo. Last year he told me he wanted to shave his head, but he wasn't sure. The last time he had done it was in 7th grade. I was like, "Oh Please. Just shave it. It is the end of Summer. If you hate it, no one is going to see you anyways." Well - I kid you not - Ben called me from work the next day. He left before I woke up. He said, "Briar, TIME magazine is doing the article. They are sending a photographer out tomorrow." I said great. He says "Uh, I shaved my head this morning." So, I was a little wrong about no one seeing it.)

So, after Disneyland, Ben set off on a little adventure of his own. I headed to Vegas with the girls and he took off in a huge rented truck. He picked up 2 nice presses in Los Angeles and then drove 8 hours north to San Fransisco to pick up a piece of crap. He'll disagree with "piece of crap" and agrue it is a "thing of beauty." OK.

This is where "Rusty" - as I now call it - lived for 2 years waiting for Ben to come get it. "Mr. SweatPants" here is not a printer. He collects stuff and thought this press was so "beautiful" he had to have it. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
Although letterpress printing has been growing in popularity over the last few years, letterpresses are no longer made. You have to grab them when you see them. Many times you hear of them in people's grandparents' basements, or in a dusty corner of an old business. Many times, the current owners have no idea what they are. There is no letterpress store to buy a press, or parts for that matter. Once they are gone, they're gone. Forever. Some of our presses (the pretty ones) date back to the late 1800's. This one is one of the newest, oddly enough. It is from the mid-1900's.

This rusty fork lift had no brakes.

Ben spent the night on the road, curled-up in a sleeping bag in the cab of this truck. . .along with all of the other semi's.

Oh look! Another fork lift with no brakes! What is up with that?? This is at his studio unloading the presses.

The studio all shuffled around awaiting the arrival of the new presses.

Everything all jammed in together. Ben told Jeannie that he told me he thinks he's done. That he has all of the presses he's wanted. She just looked at him and said, "That's really mean. Why would you tell her that? You know you're lying." She's right. She always is.

Well, I hate to end this whole Ben-adventure on a sour note. But guess what, I'm going to. He moved 3 presses across three states and countless others on moves across town to new locations. He's amazingly careful and uptight. No injuries (even with the 3,ooo lb. one he pulled out of a basement through a window well. Jamin, I know you remember well.) Well. well. He sold one of the smaller ones (my favorite one) to a woman. She was there to pick it up the same day Ben was unloading our new ones. She had a truck and Ben had a fork lift (without brakes, remember). Long, sad story short, he bumped the wall and down came the little beauty and it broke in half. . .feet away from the awaiting truck, and just moments away from the awaiting check. It's been around for more than a century and this is how it had to go. Yah, that sucked. Instead of putting it on her truck he pushed it around the corner to the side of the building; its temporary graveyard.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The trip continues. . .

Well. It takes me forever to post. I know. And this 10 day trip we went on is going to take me 10 months to post.

OK. So after Disneyland we headed to my dad's for a day. I don't have those photos yet. If my dad was your dad, you would know why (he takes the pictures, it's his "job"). The next morning, Ben and I separated. We (me and the girls) headed to Vegas, and he took off in what I consider a semi-truck to San Fransisco to pick up some California souvenirs of his own (will be explained next post).
We got lucky and my brother, dad, and sister Josie were all visiting my oldest sister Megan's house as well! Not planned, I swear. It was great great great. We went out on their boat Saturday. The chop was pretty high, but we didn't care. This was our only boat trip of the year.

Tay always can find a nice spot to pull up her blankey and take a few "drags" off her fingers.

Josie and Charlie

Lake Meade Marina

Avery and Grampie Dune

Ok. The way you find out how cold the water is, is by asking someone who is already in, "How many screams?" The more the screams, the colder the water. It was "3 Screams." Thankfully my dad, Jake and I got used to it because we ended up treading water for 45 minutes in a cove. Everytime we got close to the boat, they would have to hurry and move the boat away from rocks.

After 2 days, Avery was pretty Dad-sick. She just wanted to talk to Ben on the phone and would think of everything and anything she could come up with to keep him on the phone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

San Clemente

Every Summer as a kid we would spend a week at San Clemente. We have "our spot" - it could be the 4th of July, crawling with people and any one of us could walk right to our group without any word. We have our candy store, our grill dogs, our "crab lady" who has had her spot in front of us for 20 years, and our pizza place. San Clemente is filled with tradition for my family. So, it would be wrong to visit and not make a stop there. It was weird, being the end of September, the place was deserted. We got to take our cousin Elle who just lives up the street. After going for a swim you HAVE TO - it's the rules - take a walk to the end of the pier to dry off. Well, that didn't happen and so I am now keeping my eyes peeled for a lightning strike. It would be worth it though, because we had a beautiful day at the beach.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Disneyland. . .The Happiest Place on Earth

Ok. So we spent 2 days at Disneyland. Oh wow. You would have thought Santa Claus escorted us. These girls were on Cloud9. The McGees came with us the first day. It was great. We were there right when they had set up for Halloween. We couldn't have asked for better weather or 2 better days. It was just nice to dedicate 100% of our time to the girls. . . not having to stop to pay bills, or be on the phone, or wait for Ben to get home from work.

Ok. This was the "IT-IT" of the trip. Amy told us about Ariel's Grotto. You have dinner and each one of the princesses stop by, one at a time, at your table to talk and take pictures. Well, out comes Belle first and the girls sit up straight and kind of stop talking. . .waiting for the big moment. Then every few minutes more and more princesses come out. They were all around us. Téa claps her hands super hard and yells "Can life get any better than this!!!!" afterwhich Avery lets out this deep grumbling groan - I've never heard before - and screams "I just can't stand this!!!" through her tightly gritted teeth. They almost wet their pants.

Poor Aves. She and Tay had a big day. But I think we kind of overdid it for Avery. You see, Ben and I aren't perfect. No no. We're not. We make some poor choices, even in our old age. One such poor choice was putting our 4 year old (and 6 year old, for that matter) on The Tower of Terror. We knew what it was, I'm not going to plead ignorance. But, hey, they met the height requirement so it must have been ok. Right? Wrong. Their cute little bums were all the way off the seats. The picture that they take for you as you're falling just showed Ben and I on the outsides facing in, tending to our screaming kids. They are so little that you couldn't even see the tops of their heads in the photo. She kept saying, "I don't like the big "elebator." I don't want that." Sweet thing.
We had a great time. They were the perfect age. They KNOCKED OUT when we got back to the hotel. That's all I ask for.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10 Days on the Road

We got back a week ago. It was a great trip. We are all still happy and healthy . . . which I consider a huge blessing considering how much time we were on the road, and that on the 5th day, Ben went off on his own in, well, basically a semi-truck to pick up a few California souvenirs of his own (explanation to follow later).

Well - it started in Las Vegas. We got to stay at Ben's sister's house for a few nights. It was so fun to watch the kids play. I've got 2 girls and she's got 4 boys. They get along beautifully. Each one gets their own car and everyone's happy. They got a babysitter and we went out for sushi and then crepes at the Paris hotel. So nice to be together without kids. (Thank you Emily!)

Sunday we took off for San Clemente, CA to my sister, Amy's house. This is where the pictures begin, because we got a new camera that day!

We all headed off to Disneyland the next day.

Amy took this one of Elle waiting for us to arrive.

Amy said she found the girls at 5am coloring.

Friday, October 05, 2007


If you know what I am talking about, I really hope you laughed as hard as I did.
Ohmigosh. So freaking funny.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Our newest nephew. Ben's brother Collin and cute Rosemay do great work, don't you think?? So so cute. But too too far away. Living on opposite coasts isn't working for me. . .