Unfortunately, unlike some folks in New Jersey and further up along the coast in Massachusetts, we did not get thirteen inches of the white stuff. We only got three inches, so I went out once with Rachel along for the ride, and we did the client sites, and came back to do our driveway.
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I had been concerned ~ well, suspicious really ~ that it would snow while I was up at the conference and I'd miss it, but I made it back in plenty of time.
Saturday, after the conference, I headed over to Worcester to visit some family, and hear a bit more about the Asian longhorned beetle and all the trees that were cut down to try to keep the pest from spreading. As mentioned in yesterday's semi-conscious post, I had dinner with my mom and her two sisters and with my grandfather's sister as well. All four of them were flirting with the waiter to one degree or another, so I spent much of the time shaking my head or saying "oy" or something like that. Despite all that ~ or, in all truth, because of it ~ the waiter took two "buy one get one free" coupons when it clearly stated one per table. So he made up the extra in his tip.
After getting more stuff from my great aunt to bring back for the kids, we went back to my Aunt Susan's and talked, looked at some pictures I had on the computer, and watched Blazing Saddles.
The conference went great, I learned a lot of useful bits of information, had a lot more bits that confirmed I was on the right track, and found a whole bunch of vendors that I'd like to work with. I went from having a couple of tentative contacts with possibilities to discussing things (one of whom has never gotten back to me) to a number of companies that offer viable solutions to all of the needs I had and then some. I've gotten challenged ~ both from the vendors and the sessions ~ to bring the skills I have up a notch or fifty, and that will benefit my customers greatly.
The section of the books I am currently studying ~ Edible Forest Gardens
(hands down, the best books I've seen on permaculture) ~ is going in-depth into the structures of the soil and the soil food web, and that was a recurring theme in the conference. Although I had some soil-testing gear on my wish-list for the company, I'm now convinced that I need to up that in priority. I, at least, need to pick up one or two things and then expect to use a lab for the tests themselves. At some point, it will be important enough for me to make sure I can do the tests myself.
Because the general purpose solution worked in my yard, I was attempting to bring that to others (at least until that solution proved to be ten times as expensive as other commercial offerings) and I realize that, to be able to charge people, I need to be able to offer better service than a one-size-fits-some-and-hopefully-you solution, and actually be able to fine tune it to the specific needs of the site and desires of the landowners.
I did talk to some other vendors about permeable pavers, rain collection systems, and a few other things I had looked into and hope to be able to offer at some time in the future. I also made contact with a lot of great people in some aspect of this industry ~ the vendors, growers, landscape architects, some folks who were just interested parties, as well as fellow design-build-maintain contractors like myself.
Also, if you ever get a chance to listen to the Forest Service's Kevin T. Smith talk about anything ~ even if he's just reading off the ingredients list on a cereal box ~ go and see him. He is a great speaker, combining a depth of knowledge with an entertaining delivery.
Also also, one of the speakers from NH used "wicked" at least three to seven times in her portion of the talk, and that made me smile and think of the homeland.
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I had mentioned, the other day, how I had dinner with firesign10
and family, and I have to go into a bit more detail. First off, I think Mr. Bear tried to adopt me. He showed me his Fantastic Four action figures, set up a game for me on his Leapster, and offered me the best bits of whatever food was on his plate. He also thought I should go home with them, and when he found out I wasn't coming over, he asked if we could set up a playdate. He's about a year and a half older than Mr. B, and if we could ever get those two together, they'd have a blast.
Conversation covered everything from work to commuting to bass playing ~ which reminds me, I should have mentioned this: firesign10
, you folks should come to the Musical Day cookout on the 25th of May! (okay, really I should just announce that to everyone, but, in particular, you guys should bring down the basses and guitars and so on! =) (I should also verify if it's going to be on the 25th or another day that weekend, or, even, the next!)
Great people, and it was great to meet them!