Yesterday’s workshops were successful and profitable. I started at 7:30 with the drive and then carried three boxes full of books and papers long distances — sore arm muscles today. I did the workshops and then went to the store, where The Empress told me that we needed to get rid of small online orders.

I understand that. Small online orders aren’t profitable, and we’re not really set up for mail order. The website has I think been doing the job of sending people to the store, but people in other states and even other countries order things that we don’t have on hand, and it’s a bother. Especially if it’s a small order, where the shipping costs to bring in their items and then to send them out can really eat up the profit. She wanted to refuse to fill them.

We can do that, of course, but only if we want to announce that we don’t really want any orders at all. “Would you just rather not do any mail order at all?” I asked her. What about a surcharge, she said. “We can fix our shipping so that it encourages larger orders,” said I, “but often people do a small order first to try a place out before they make a larger order.”

Then she suggested that we needed a date by which that part of our business would quit being a pain or we would shut it down. I reminded her of the conventional wisdom that says that you shouldn’t expect results from any marketing effort for the first five months. It has been three so far.

“If you don’t want to do this,” said I,  “let me know.” I am spending most of my time encouraging online orders, after all, and there is no point in my doing that if The Empress doesn’t want them.

She needs a couple of days to think about it.

She was also not ready for me to pack the product for tomorrow’s conference. “I could drive up again tomorrow to pack it,” I said, “but I would rather not.” However, there are uncertainties there, so I left without having packed. I may have to drive up today to do so, or The Empress and That Man may pack and deliver it, though I suggested gently that I was trying to keep them from having to do it.

By then it was a nine-hour workday, and workshops take a lot of energy even before considering all the trips to and from the car carrying heavy boxes, so I drove home tired.

“What’s for dinner?” was my greeting from #2 son. “We need to leave in 20 minutes.” I had forgotten gymnastics. My husband also remarked that they were cutting hours at his work for the next three weeks, after which they would have a complete shutdown for two weeks.

I figured I could read and relax during the gymnastics class, but one of the participants from the morning workshop was sitting right by me, so that was not on.

At last I got home, finished some chores, and sat down to watch Maggie Smith in The Millionairess.

At that precise moment we heard an odd sound from the laundry room. The sound turned out to be what you get when a rubber pipe splits and an enormous jet of water shoots out over the entire room, soaking the ceiling and the walls and the floor and everything in the room.

My husband leapt onto the washing machine and wrestled the plumbing into submission, or at least made it quit with the fountain imitation. I manned the shop-vac and the boys brought towels. I had been impressed by my husband’s presence of mind, knowledge of how to turn off the water, and indeed by his ability to leap onto a washing machine at his age. He must have figured that he had done his part in the presence of mind department, though, as he moved immediately to frenzied shouting. I don’t think he had really recovered from our last round of plumbing catastrophes.

We took everything out of the laundry room, pantry, and crafts cupboard, cleaned the floors, festooned all the trees and patio furniture with sopping wet clothes, and then took everything back again.

Did I mention that it was 80 degrees in the house? All this work took place with sweat-glazed faces as well as sopping-wet clothing. And random yelling.

It only took an hour or so. I sat on the porch for a bit and watched the fireflies before going back in to handwash some clothes.

Today #1 son is leaving for Bonnaroo, having persuaded his dad to lend him his beloved new car. This will of course mean that my husband has to drive #2 son’s car to work, still with some vestiges of ketchup on it from the tagging incident I mentioned before.

I will be getting ready for tomorrow’s conference and the Friday workshops, and youth choir begins today, as does the women’s summer Bible study. Then I have my own choir.

The Empress is planning to call me during the day when she decides what to do about the vendor’s space for tomorrow. It seems very likely that she will do this while I am leading the youth choir. Not because that is necessarily the most logical time, but just because it would continue the dismal pattern.