Wedding Preparations

My studio is located here at the Beckwith Estate. Aside from offering rooms to travelers (note, we are not a B&B – we simply rent rooms in the mansion), I also operate a photography studio.

When weddings come along, there is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scene. I clean my lenses, camera sensors, charge batteries, reformat flash memory cards, organize my camera bag, and more. I often find it funny when someone says, “Why so much to photograph a wedding?” What they don’t see is for every hour I’m out photographing, behind the scenes I may work an additional 1-2 hours before and after the wedding.

As I tell people, being a full-time studio owner equates to about 10% behind the camera, and the other 90% is other stuff like marketing, bookkeeping, sales, etc. If I wanted to be taking pictures 100% of the time, I would have to go on welfare.

My cousins left this morning. They are heading to Kirtland, Ohio. It was sure nice to see them.

Todd Knowles and Family
Todd Knowles and Family

On my mom’s side, there was a generation split. Both my grandparents were married previously, and the children from their first marriage had children older than me. Of the children shared by my grandparents, I was the eldest. It kind of went like this….

Brent & Mark (me and my brother)
Jeff & John & Becky (cousins from my mom’s sister Shirley)
Todd & Eric (cousins from my mom’s brother Allen)

Yup, there were these pairs of boys. It was like me, Jeff and Todd, and then Mark, John and Eric. (Becky came along later and was younger than all the boys.)

My grandparents left a good legacy. All us boys served missions, as did our grandpa, and Uncle Allen. We’re now just starting to come in to the 4th generation of missionary age children. I believe my daughter Rebecca might have been the first in generation 4. (Cousins: You’re welcome to comment. It would be nice to hear who all has served missions and where.)

Of the rest of my grandparent’s children, my grandpa’s daughter Gwen had several children, but they were closer to my mom’s age. It was their children who are closer to my age. My cousin Keith’s kids were the one’s we played with, as Keith and his siblings were my mom’s age and OLDER!

On grandma’s side, there was Lorna and Virginia. Their kids were about older, and when I was little, I felt like they were a lot older. They were teenagers when I was a kid, and to a kid, that seems really old. My cousin Barbara watched (babysat) Mark and me when our parents would do things. The other kids, Ann and Allen (Lorna), and Frank and Greg (Virginia) seemed soooo much older when I was kid.

I have no doubt that Grandma and Grandpa K are smiling down upon us.

Networking, Working and Cousins

Thursday mornings start off with the Tri-County Networkers meeting (http://www.tricountynetworkers.com/). One of our presenters couldn’t make it this morning, so I give a short presentation about how to update the web page for the group.

Elizabethe has been feeling under the weather, and has been coughing all day. I’ve been trying to be real careful so I don’t get it. Respiratory ailments and I do not get along.

Work consisted of working on the Route 31 book’s text, and trying to drum up more participation in the book. I find it funny that people’s first reaction is, “Route 31? Why?” Then it changes to, “Route 31? COOL!” You don’t know what’s in your backyard until you look, and Route 31 has a lot to offer.

My cousin, Todd Knowles, stopped in with his wife, Lisa, and 3 of their children. His son Trevor graduated from West Point and they came this way to see the church sites (and sights), and are heading to Kirtland, Ohio, next. I had a fun time showing them the house and talking about its history.

Small Towns and Villages on Route 31

I’m doing a book on Route 31. I want Route 31 to be as popular in Western New York as Route 66. I had the privilege of photographing the Macedon village trustees tonight. It was fun meeting them and telling them about my Route 31 book.

Village of Macedon's Mayor, Under-Mayor and Trustees
Village of Macedon’s Mayor, Under-Mayor and Trustees

Today was also the Rochester Referral Network’s meeting. I was the presenter, and it went well. I talked about choosing the right size portrait for a room, and clothing colors for a portrait.

Age and Fatigue

I’ve been paying close attention lately to my physical activity and diet and its relationship to fatigue. My conclusion is it is neither… it is age. Well, that’s not entirely true. Ever since I was diagnosed as being hypoglycemic (back in the early 1980s), I do notice that certain foods make me irritable and tired. But, I just can’t keep the pace that I used to.

Perhaps I just need to take a power-nap in the middle of each day. Back when I was riding my bike to work I used to take my lunches, ride to the park, and lay on the lawn and take a nap. Now that I’m riding my bike in the mornings, perhaps I need to go back to a similar routine.

Stress plays a big factor too. Being one’s own boss may sound glamour, and I know a lot of MML people use that to entice people to join their throngs. Don’t fall for it. Being your own boss can be one of the most stressful things you will ever encounter. Stress causes fatigue, and if you want to feel tired all of the time, yeah, be your own boss.

You see, when you work for a big company, things will get done if you get sick, or take vacation. When you are your own boss, things don’t get done unless you do them.

Hire someone?

First, before you can hire someone, you have to be making enough money to afford payroll taxes, disability insurance, and other fees associated with hiring an employee. Then, you have to find someone you can trust with your livelihood, train them, and hope they do a good job.

Wow. Thanks for letting me talk this out. Age plays a factor, but stress… yup, that’s a big factor in the fatigue I’m experiencing.

Mowing the Lawn and Rocks

The last time I mowed the lawn I hit a rock and it ended up costing me several hours and $70. This time, I was more cautious about the rocks and Elizabethe helped by going out scouting for rocks before I got there with the tractor.

The grass was so thick I was emptying the catcher bins quite often. It took me about 5 hours to get through the project. The mountains of grass clippings will be used to mulch the garden and areas where we don’t want weeds.

Our weekend guests left today. It was fun seeing the children of this family enjoy our yard. Right before they left, the Porters from Jamestown stopped by to say their goodbyes before they move to Indiana. Their kids too enjoy our yard and it was fun watching them play hide-n-seek in the secret garden area.

After I got cleaned up from mowing, Elizabethe and I did a little trip to Newark for my Route 31 book. We stopped at one place, but the smell was so bad we didn’t even enter the restaurant. (I wonder how food establishments put up with bad smells coming from their restaurant.) So, we stopped at Bee Tee’s. It was great, and they will be reviewed in my Get It Done On 31 ™ book.

I’m feeling overwhelmed again. I realize I have too many open projects right now. But, I’m learning how to manage a full-time business. It isn’t easy, and I keep reminding myself it will be worth it.

A Conversation About L.D.S. and Business

I had an interesting discussion with my home teacher about business and church members. Now, before I continue, I want to point out that no single event has triggered this. I am not singling out any individual or person. Instead, I am speaking in general terms.

The conversation started something like this… “It is funny how many members of the church think that because they are members of the church, other members of the church who are in business for themselves should give them a discount.” (Or, in some cases, provide free services.)

I was guilty of this years ago when I asked a fellow ward member if members got a discount. I had a twinge of guilt overcome me and I repented of that practice. Now, being a business owner and reliant upon my business sales, I wouldn’t dream of asking another business owner for a discount. I’ll take one if they offer a discount, but I won’t ask. And, bartering is not the same. But, even if I’m doing a barter, I would rather it be on a cash-for-cash basis so I can track the transaction, thus making it a quid quo pro transaction.

At the Beckwith Mansion we rent rooms to travelers. We do not provide any services. We simply provide a clean room and linens when you arrive. This allows us to greatly reduce the cost. We rely on income from room rentals to pay the taxes, mortgage, utilities, and upkeep of the property. If we lived in a smaller house, we wouldn’t be offering these services, but because we live in a large mansion, we can do this. Our rates are about 50% lower than any local hotel, but then, you sacrifice having your own private bathroom, room made up daily, and things like that. Yet, we often have church members ask to stay for free.

Elizabethe largely runs the house. I mow the lawn and do some of the maintainance around the house and yard. I, on the other hand, have my business too. It is necessary to pay some of the other bills. I use a little spreadsheet that calculates my breakeven-point. I take my breakeven-point, and I add to that how much I have to contribute to our living expenses, and that is the what I charge my clients. Now, if you’re a business person, you’re thinking that Brent doesn’t charge enough to set aside anything extra to grow his business. That’s right. Yet, I still have church members who ask, “Do I get a discount?”

I don’t want to get in to charity and service. That’s an entirely different matter. It would be one thing for someone to say, “This family has no place to stay because their house burnt down”, than it would be, “This family has flown out here from Utah on vacation and needs a place to stay (free).” One is a matter of misfortune, and the other … well, bad taste.

I provide discounts for customer loyalty. If I believe a customer is going to keep coming back again and again, I’ll take that in to consideration. But, it doesn’t make business sense to give someone a discount just because I know them through church or any other organization. After all, if I did that, I would not have the money to pay my bills and I would become a burden on the community eventually.

A friend from many years ago had a successful business. Another member took advantage of him, and using the church as a common bond, convinced him to do business with him. Things turned bad, and my friend lost a lot of money. Fortunately, my friend was a strong member of the church and didn’t use this other man’s actions as an excuse to leave the church. (See the story of Thomas B. Marsh, his wife, and Mrs. Harris.)

We are asked in worthiness interviews if we are honest in our business transactions. What does that mean?

Do we expect a fellow saint to lose money on a transaction? Is that honest?

Do we expect a fellow saint to buy from us just because we go to the same church? Is that honest?

Something else to think about… Another friend of mine had a landscaping business. He refused an ad in an LDS oriented business directory saying, “If all church member owned businesses only did business with other church members, what type of message would we be sending?”

This same friend, who while serving as bishop, was very community minded.  I recall when the youth wanted to do a car wash as a service project.  The bishop did not approve it stating that the car wash across the street would suffer, and by doing a “free” car wash, we would be doing a disservice to the business across the street.  He further added it would hinder the missionary efforts of the church.  I watched him turn down other proposals over the years for similar reasons.  I learned a lot.  Yes, the youth had their hearts in the right place wanting to do their free car wash, but the bishop was pushing them to come up with other ideas for service that wouldn’t have negative effects on local businesses.

So, here are some things to consider (the first part being the wrong reason, and the second part, being the right reason)…

  • Am I doing business with a fellow saint because they are a member of the church, or because they offer the quality product and service I need?
  • Do I expect to be given preferential treatment because I am a church member, or because I’m a loyal customer?
  • Do I expect free services, or am I willing to pay what others pay?
  • If business transactions go wrong between me and a church member, will I blame the church, or will I keep things between me and the other member?
  • Do I enter business arrangements because a church member introduced me to the business, or do I prayerfully study it out on my own?

I guess the bottom line is this… It is okay to patronize church member owned businesses, but treat them just like any other business.  It is their livelihood — their form of income.  Just as you wouldn’t want your boss to say to you, “John, because this next customer is a member of your church, we’re going to cut your hourly wage by 50% while you work with them”, you shouldn’t expect a church member to reduce their earnings.

Day 4 of the Tour

We photographed the breakfast at the hotel this morning, and then after a bit of a rest, we hit the road for the last day of the tour. We did a little detour to Tipperary Hill in Syracuse. The story behind Tip Hill, as it is also called, is known for a stop light that has the green light at the top, instead of the bottom. The standard is RED, YELLOW, GREEN. But this light is reversed, and here’s why…

The light was installed in an Irish neighborhood, and the following morning, the neighborhood boys took rocks and broke the red light as they felt it was an ethnic attack against the Irish to have the green light on the bottom. When the city replaced the broken red light, again the rock throwers broke it out. Finally, they decided to reverse the lights and that stopped the vandalism.

We made our way back to Route 31, and continued the drive home in the reverse direction.

After making it home, I spent the rest of the day copying all the photos and making backups. Now comes the hard part — organizing the pictures and writing the book.

Day 3 of Our Wild-n-Crazy Tour

We spent last night at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Liverpool, New York. It was wet and drizzly, but we managed to get a few outdoor shots of the hotel. (It is on Route 31, and we’re exchanging services in kind as part of the book tour.)

Our journey today took us to the eastern end of Route 31. We did have some rain throughout the day, but we managed to stay mostly dry. It did impact our being able to take some pictures, so we will have to take some makeup trips.

We had a wonderful dinner, which you’ll read about on www.GetItDoneOn31.biz next week.

Day Two of the Route 31 Trip

Since day 1 ended near home, we stayed the night at our homes. I picked Paul up early again this morning, but this time, his clock was off and he wasn’t quite ready yet.

We got on the road and headed straight to our 10am appointment at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. There we were met with smiles and a friendly staff who posed for the book. (Wayne County has a great sheriff, and his staff was equally friendly.)

The rest of the day was met with rain and drizzle. You can see more in a few days on http://www.GetItDoneOn31.biz .

And They’re Off

I threw some ice in the ice chest after eating a good low-carb breakfast, and headed to Canandaigua to pick up Paul. Once we got his stuff in the car, we were off to Niagara Falls to start the Get It Done on 31 ™ Tour. (See www.GetItDoneOn31.biz)

Bill and Patsy Gerle were going to meet us there. They are a couple I taught while serving in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Patsy called at 10am and said Roger wasn’t feeling well and they were going to drive straight to my place. She then asked about urgent care clinics. That didn’t sound good.

Paul and I got to the start of Route 31 – a fancy neighborhood over the bluffs above Niagara Falls. We turned west, and began our route. (For more about the tour, please visit http://www.GetItDoneOn31.biz. It will take about a week for things to get updated, so there is no need to go there today.)

When we got to Rochester, I talked to Patsy. She was directed to take Bill to the E.R. I asked where, and Paul and I drove directly there to give Bill a blessing.

Bill was in great spirits, as was Patsy. We talked for a bit after giving Bill a blessing, but like most E.R.s, it was pretty hectic, so Paul and I went on our way.

Patsy came in late and spent the night at the house as they admitted Bill.