Friday, August 28, 2009

It's been a long time posting to this blog...

We actually changed over our blog to wordpress. I didn't realize that this one was still active until I posted yesterday. Here's the new address: if you want to follow the one we'll keep up to date. Anyway, I just copied and pasted what I wrote on the other one so it's repeat information.

Here's the latest...

Let's just say that 2009 has been a trying and turbulent year. I know we aren't alone in that feeling and everyone has their own story. Ours isn't much different than the norm. I've learned that staying positive will get you through the challenging times, but keeping up that state of being is very difficult when you lose someone. It's taking awhile to peel back the layers and get back to the reality of what has happened.

We started the year off working on the China studio plans and excited about our new endeavors. Business was slow at home, but then it usually is that time of year. So, it was the perfect time to focus on growing it instead of worrying about the future. I would continuously tap into Earl's positive energy and use it as my own fuel so we could be productive and stay on track. Generally, I'm more conservative and restrained. I like to play it safe and secure. Earl is the adventurous one and is willing to take risks. He's been right in the past, so I've learned to follow his lead... usually... but not without being heard.

As the months progressed, there was a looming dark cloud hanging over us that was whittling away at every attempt to remain positive. For every good thing that happened, a bad thing followed. It was testing us at every step of the way. It was like we were fishing in a pond of emotions and didn't know what would end up on the end of the line. It was a sign that life was about to get really difficult...

At this point in the blog, I decided to edit what I originally wrote. It was an account of our struggle with the sadness and loss of Earl's Dad, Arthur Elon Harper, back in April. I guess it just got too personal to feel comfortable about sharing the unfortunate events. I do feel compelled to share how important he was in our life.

Art & Meche have supported us every step of the way in building our business and we owe our success to the opportunities they presented to us. Art helped us build out our first studio on Lucile Street and our second one on Airport Way. If we needed a set built, he did it. If we needed to travel for a shoot, he'd stay at the house and babysat his grand-animals. He even sat for some test shots that Earl used to pitch a new concept to a client. Never a complaint or a request too big or too small. I feel the loss every day because of all of the reminders of him every where I look. Working on the farm I'm constantly encountering things that I need to fix. Everyday I find an opportunity to ask myself... "What would Art do?". Eventually I figure it out because he taught me well. He was the master of improvising, recycling, and reusing resources at home. I used to follow him around so I could learn what he was doing and how he was going to fix what was broken. I don't think he liked me being his intern. I asked too many questions. I could tell because he'd stop and take a really long break. He knew I'd get bored and wander off to do something more productive than watching him think. His patience was always outwardly in tact though. Eventually, he would just come over to the house and fix random things while we were at work. He knew we took on a lot and were working hard to keep on top of everything.

We did have a nice memorial for him. A lot of people came to show their respect and share wonderful stories. We roasted a pig and partied like he would have wanted us to. It was a great celebration of his life. He is missed dearly. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends extending their support to us and Earl's mom. I can't thank everyone enough.

Earl's take away message from the experience has been to get healthy, train for every marathon & triathlon he reads about and don't miss out on all the things he wants to do. Life is short. Work hard, play harder. That's always been his mantra.

For me, I guess I've just been too sad to realize the lessons and the message. I've been burying myself in farm work and studio work. I'm taking for granted that I'll get to the right place at the right time.

On a more cheerful note, business has picked up. We have some new clients that we are super excited about working with. The branding efforts are starting off strong and we're looking to build it up big for longevity and impact. One of the clients has been a long time goal of ours to get. Another is a brand new surprise. And yet another is a huge worldwide established company with far reaching opportunities. The Raleigh and Diamondback catalogs are complete and they are really happy with how the China shoots went including all of the money we saved them. Earl is getting ready to go to Interbike again to see what sort of interest he can spark up. We have some projects that will keep us busy and a big catalog scheduled in October. Things are turning around and I think Art would be proud of our hard work.
Art Harper
February 1, 1940 - April 7, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Digs

Check out the new studio at our Guangzhou, China location. There is still work to be done, but it's coming along. It will be up and ready to go for the first bike shoot this Spring!

This is our 'mantra' for 2009...

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Evolutions...

Yeah, that's right... "evolutions". It's the first of many for us in 2009 and we are starting off with a bang! By definition, Evolution is a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Harper Studios has been 12 years in the making and has grown to make another entrepreneurial move. As I update this blog, Earl is on his way to China to start the next chapter of Harper Studios. If all goes as planned, we'll have two locations; one in Guangzhou, China and the original Seattle headquarters. Both will be feeding each other's success. Our standards will remain the same... high quality imagery, exceptional service and expediency for fast turnover times. Everyone knows, time is money, so you can figure that into the equation too.

We've been asked so many times... "What about the economy? And isn't it risky?" Yeah, it is, but these are the times to be proactive about change and anchoring your future. Companies are cutting back in order to survive and they need to save dollars somewhere. In order for them to stay strong in their industry, they still have to advertise. We are finding a way for our clients to still be able to advertise, promote, save money & time while growing our business and client base. It's a win-win situation based on service and forward thinking.

We'll keep the blog updated on our progress!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving and AC/DC. What a combo.

Earl and I want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and words regarding our sweet Chica passing. It's taking time getting used to her not greeting us with a toy and her tail wagging weapon. I guess that's why people say "time heals all wounds". She was the best and we'll miss her. Thanks again, friends.

On a more cheerful note... boy, these long weekends are hard to recover from. Wednesday we prepped for the big Thanksgiving meal at our house. Thursday was full of last minute things to do and time just won't slow down to give you a break. On Thanksgiving Day, our family and friends started arriving around 4pm. The fire was roaring and the drinks started pouring and the food made it's way to our plates. Earl planned about 14 different dishes for 13 guests. I begged him to pair it down a bit. He dropped the pumpkin gnocchi and the turnip dish. We all ate ourselves into a food coma and had to struggle with the idea of choosing between seven desserts. Some of us didn't make it to the dessert table. Instead they headed straight to the Sambuca to gentle the stomach. I needed two glasses just to make sure it worked effectively.

Friday was recovery. Saturday we did farm work and then braved the mall mobs to make the iPhone purchase. Love it! Not sure what I did without it before. Earl is quick to remind me that I was against the idea all along. Just maybe I fight him on such things so that he has the opportunity to point out when he's right because it makes him feel so good to do so. See, I actually argue with him to make him happy!

On Sunday, Earl shot on location with Gene. They worked up some really cool shots of a Diamondback bike out in the woods. I saw some of the outtakes and they look sick! Yeah. I don't really talk like that, but couldn't think of a better adjective. After he finished, we headed down to Jim & Jen's in Puyallup to pre-func for the AC/DC concert. They live a few blocks from the train station so we walked over there and caught the Rock-n-Roll train with all the other AC/DC fans and it dropped us off right by the Tacoma Dome. The bars were packed. It was a crazy scene but really fun. The concert was awesome, although our seats were pretty high up. You can tell by the photos that I had to zoom in a lot. Thank goodness they had the big screens to see what was going on.

Needless to say, Earl & I were pretty tired the next day. I don't know how Angus Young can run around like he does and have so much energy.

We had our Mandarin lessons on Tuesday. OMG! It's a really difficult language. I can finally say the time in Chinese, but by the time I'm done saying it, the time has already changed. Thank goodness Wendy, our teacher, is really patient. We have another lesson Friday and we need to practice greetings.

This week has been pretty good. Getting a lot of stuff done at the studio. Earl was on location today with Karen shooting some dry bags. We left the dogs home today because Vinnie got into something and he stinks really bad. Looks like part of my weekend is dog washing, then disinfecting the bathroom after the dog washing, and then getting ready for our friend Nikki to come up from Portland for a visit. Earl's planning a big meal for the special occasion!

Well, that's it until next week. Oh, we're doing a Toys for Tots drive Tuesday night. Should have a good turnout!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Queen LaChica continues her journey...

Today was not a good day…….
It was inevitable, we knew this day would come when the vet discovered the tumor in Chica’s stomach. People have a tendency to pretend that all is well even with reality looking at them, telling them something different. Today, reality caught up with us.

In the back corner of our lot I dug a hole large enough and deep enough to lay her down. Even with the tractor it took some time to get to the right depth. As I mindlessly worked the controls for the backhoe, my mind wandered back to better times. I remembered when I bought a new book on training your puppy to be a hunting dog, within a few days Chica let me know her thoughts by shredding that new book, hardcover and all. I remembered the time one morning when Doreen picked her up and set her on the bed next to me where I was still sleeping. Chica promptly crawled over and almost took off one of my nipples with her needle sharp puppy teeth. When we would come home from work she was always their waiting for us with a big smile on her face. Don’t ever believe that a dog can’t smile.

After I finished digging the hole, I walked back to where she had laid down to rest. Through the tears, I thought for sure I had seen some movement, as if she were breathing. I knelt down and began shaking her and calling her name, I think I even convinced myself that she didn’t feel as cold as she had earlier. Once again, reality was there to remind me that she was gone and would not be coming back. The other three dogs all seemed to understand that something was different. Osa whined and licked her on her face, Vinnie pawed and barked at her trying to get her to play. I don’t think Jaeger knew what to make of everything, he just stood back and stared at her intently, his brain trying to process what was happening.

Doreen helped me load her into the bucket on the tractor and I slowly drove her down to her resting place. Along the way I could have sworn I could hear the soulful sound of bagpipes drifting up and out of the fog covered green belt. She would have deserved it. We laid her down as gently as we could, then by hand we began to fill the hole with dirt, making sure to break up any of the big dirt clumps. The last thing I saw of her was a little patch of white on her muzzle. I tossed another handful of dirt to cover it, and it hurt because then I knew, we would not be seeing her again.

Today was not a good day, today we buried our Queen……. And we will miss her.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Harper night at The Corson Building

We just had one of the most enjoyable evenings of our lives with ~ 20 friends. If you haven't been to The Corson Building for a fresh 'Farm to Table' dinner, don't hesitate another minute to share it with family and friends. It was awesome.

Matt Dillon, the chef extraordinaire, is a big meat fan, and he's not afraid to use it! We had five different meat species and the one vegetarian in the group turned meatatarian for the night. That's how good it was.

We pre-funked at the studio with a few drinks and then walked over around 6:30pm. They greeted us with wine and we pretty much took over the whole restaurant. The first course was smelt cooked in what seemed to be in a ceviche style. It was dee-lish! I'll be saying that a lot. The next course was pig heart and kidney. Also very tasty. Never had it before, but would definitely eat it again. The third course was Japanese eggplant with clams. Another flavorful dish. Followed by that was rabbit loin with foraged porcini mushrooms and then arugula salad with mint. I loved the rabbit. It was so tender. The main course was pork loin and pork skirt with squash, chanterelles and onions. I already had a food high at this point, but this dish sent me over the edge. There was no coming down off of this one for quite some time. Dessert consisted of pecorino with baked apples and candied walnuts. Each course was perfectly paired with an exquisite wine by Mark, The Corson Building's own sommelier.

Thank goodness Laura had the sense to write down everything we ate. I poached her list and the Corson photo for the blog (with permission of course). My food high kept me from thinking logically and all I did was eat, drink and chat. I did take a few photos though. As sketchy as they are, you can tell everyone had a great time.

After our fabulous dinner, most of us headed back to the studio for post-funk. It was a 'school night' so a few folks headed home. We had more beer and wine and celebrated Mickie's birthday with dee-lish-us cup cakes. The party finally broke up around 1:30am. Needless to say, Thursday was a real challenge to stay vertical all day. I was still drunk on food or wine or lack of sleep... maybe all three. However, there was comfort in knowing that I wasn't alone in my day of delayed response times.

I think we are going to plan on doing this once a quarter. Friends who are interested, send us an email and we'll put you on the list.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


We recently had friends come visit from New Mexico and we did a weekend trip to Leavenworth, WA. Jeff is Earl's college room mate and Jen is his lovely wife.

We went to Costa Rica with them back in February and boating the San Juans a few years back. On both of those trips, we encountered near death experiences, but that's another story. Needless to say, I think we all were a bit hesitant about this one. But how dangerous could Leavenworth be? Jen's running a marathon and we're drinking beer as she runs by. It is Octoberfest you know.

Here is the marathon start line. Jenn is in there somewhere. The guy up front won it I think. Jen did awesome! The weather was pretty good; cool, sun breaks, a few showers early on. It didn't stop her from running or us from cheering.

After the race, we had to rest a little bit. It was exhausting watching all of those people run and then cheering for them at the same time. I mean, we had to stand in one place for awhile and then jump in the car and relocate to another spot so we could see Jen run by. We finally got some chairs from the condo so that we could cheer properly.

When we were all rested, we got our second wind and headed into town. Probably a good idea we decided to walk. We hit the beer garden right away. You could tell we were Octoberfest Amateurs. We didn't have crazy hats, real beer steins or lederhosen. Next year, we'll be prepared.

There were three huge tents to party in. All of them had German bands playing the chicken dance and various polkas. There were rules like no standing on the tables or the benches, no drinking on the dance floor and I think there was one more rule, but I don't remember it. Once in a while you'd hear a ruckus and look over to see a snockered participant on the floor. He broke rule number one. You could tell because the bench was tipped over and he was on his back with beer all over him.

We all had a good time. Earl & Jeff were in rare form, but what do you expect when two college room mates meet up with tents full of beer. They were in heaven. Can't wait to read Jeff's blog about it I guess he'll have to update it now.

Later in the evening we met up with some fun folks at the next table. This guy actually had a Grand Poobah hat, like the Flintstones! Cool. A fellow partier let me borrow her weiner hat for the photo op. Good times!

If you get a chance to celebrate Octoberfest, do it! What a blast!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interbike Trade Show & Stuff

Earl left yesterday for Interbike in Vegas. Sounds like he's meeting some awesome people in the bike industry. I did question him as to why I hadn't heard from him until lunch time. Too much tequila last night? I got no confession. Didn't really expect to. I know a lot of the folks Earl is going to see and I can predict a bit of trouble and chaos. So far the craziest story has been $100 bet to run down the escalator in underwear only. Chris (last name witheld) won his $100 for streaking, but gave it back because he wanted to do it anyway. I'll post if there is anything more to add. Gotta love Vegas stories.

We started our Mandarin lessons last week. UGH! What a difficult language. Thank goodness we go over the same material for three lessons. I keep falling back to my weak Spanish and pronounce the vowels with a Spanish flare. I don't think that will work in China. I play the CD's in the car and the dogs get really nervous when they ride with me. Not sure what that means. Maybe they hear a strange voice but don't see anyone besides me in the car.

Work has been good. Keeping busy with different projects and making headway on organizing some things. Our China plans are coming along. Exciting times.

The farm is good. Getting about a dozen chicken eggs a day. The horses are fat & happy. The goat is just fat... never seen him happy... probably because he's a goat. The ducks are only giving me two eggs a day. Time for a talk... with the axe. Not really. I talk tough, but that's it. But really, the return on 11 ducks and only two eggs! Enough free-loaders. That's what the dogs are for.

Chica has an abdominal tumor. Taking it day by day with her. We have her on some anti-cancer Chinese herbs. Hopefully it will buy us some quality time with her. Jaeger & Vinnie should be thinking about hunting season. All they seem to do is eat & play. Like I said... free-loaders. Osa is doing great. She's really protective of Chica and wouldn't let Vinnie near her when she wasn't feeling well. Vinnie is close to 100 lbs. He can manage to pull himself up to see what's on the counter, but can't get his butt in the back of the truck. Might have to get one of those lifts or a ramp. I weigh 20 lbs more than him. No wonder my back hurts.

Well, that's a wrap. Can't think of anything interesting to add. Until next time...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good times, good food, good friends, good life....

Labor Day weekend was busy for us. Work at work, work at home, socialize at work, socialize at home. Yep-- life is rough! At least it's an even balance. It's always a good time when you can work and enjoy your client's company with a cold one. Friday, Karen P. was over for a shoot, Matt & Heather stopped by to share their great news about expanding their Schooner Exact Brewing Company Teri & Mickie stopped by to pick up the donations from our GNO for the Treehouse for Kids organization. After the work day was done, we headed home to host a small dinner party for Gene, Brighty and Manny. Earl made an awesome dinner of course.

Saturday and Sunday was farm work. Starting to get things ready for the rainy season. My buddy Kevin came over and rode Fancy and gave me a riding lesson. Apparently my mare is so fat in the belly, he thought she was ready to foal. Just another fatty on the farm! No one goes hungry around our house.

On Monday, Earl made an awesome Spanish feast to share with a few friends. Dennis, Laura, Casandra, Lisa, Wylie, Matt & Jenna (from the Corson Building all came over for a farm tour and a feast. Moses & Chae (Wylie & Matt's dogs) came along and ran around the farm with our crazy canines. Earl made tortilla de patata, grilled linguica, fried smelt, tuna stew, paella, spanish olives and we had a boat load of great wines that complimented every course! I think we finally wrapped up dinner around midnight or so. Dennis & Earl tried to solve the world's problems until 4am. Tuesday morning came early and I had to jump start into clean up mode since my Dad, Step-mom and Uncle were arriving later that day for a week long visit from Georgia.

We took them over to Leavonworth yesterday. What a beautiful time of year to go. It was warm and the flower baskets lined the streets. Not too crowded and we drank great beer. Today they are visiting Pike Place Market and doing touristy junk. Tonight we are going to our friend, Scott Fuller's, gallery opening at Evo. Planning on meeting a bunch of friends at the studio or there to enjoy his larger than life art work. Check him out... Great stuff.

Tomorrow is another dinner at the farm with the fam. Sunday morning we are watching our friend Jennifer Block do a sprint triathlon in Federal Way. Just one of her training stints for the big Kona Ironman in October! Yep, that's right she qualified for one of the hardest races known to man. And she's raising awareness for Niemann-Picks Disease too. Check it out to help her out... Great things come from great people.

We just wrapped up the Raleigh & Diamondback catalogs just in time for the big Euro trade show. The BDA work is getting final touches and we are taking care of wrapping up a few other projects. Earl's looking at his schedule to plan bird hunting trips and his next business trip to China. It's going to be a busy Fall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Finally... an entry in the blog.

Well, Earl started this thing back in January. Obviously we don't rush into things too quick around here. Since everyone else seems to have a 'blog', we figured we'd give it a try too. I'm guessing it's an easy way to update friends, clients, family and strangers on the happenings in 'Earl-World'. The content will be of business and personal nature since they both overlap in our lives.

Right now Earl's in China on business. Last we spoke, he ate a pile of fried chicken feet. Apparently they were better than the last time he had them. He's known for eating odd things. He returns in a week!

I just returned from a short trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went with a few friends to the Reichert Celebration which is a big Quarter Horse show with beautiful horses and big dollars. My friend was showing a 2 year old QH gelding. We had a lot of fun.

Now, it's time to get back to work and tie up loose ends.