Friday 30 September 2022

Woodwork: seat extender

A year ago, I did a work trip to Cape Town and I took Rusty with me. The bakkie is a single-cab and the passenger seat is a bit wider than normal. So that she would be comfortable, I had a bag in the footwell of the passenger seat and her cushion spanning the seat and the top of the bag to give her a bigger area to spread out on.

We had the most awesome trip, visiting dealers and staying in dog-friendly guesthouses.

I've been taking the dogs with me when I go to the storage garage. They love doing anything with me, including riding shotgun, waiting, watching, helping and sniffing around. They know the storage property now and they know them. The dogs are safe and happy there.

Fitting Rusty and Rosy - and sometimes Bella too - on the seat is a problem. 

Rusty is a medium-sized dog, weighing in at 20.5kg. Rosy is a small-sized dog, weighing in at 10kg. Bella is a little dog, weighing in at 3.5kg. 

I've built a 'seat extender' so that the dogs have plenty of space and cannot fall off the seat if I have to brake suddenly. I made it out of pallet wood (legs) and a piece of plywood, and shaped it to fit perfectly between the seat and the cubby hole. The space underneath can still be used and is easy to access from the open door.

Before the seat extender...

After - with the seat extender

My furry assistants helping (by looking cute) with a courier drop off.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Time wobble

A guy emailed me about a rudder kit for his kayak. I replied to say that I had kits, I'd need to check on the right one for him and that if I didn't have it, I would make it up for him over the weekend.

I went to the storage garage this afternoon to fetch stuff for the courier and while I was there I checked on the rudder kits. I had the right one. I packed it to bring home so that I can box it for sending.

I've just sent him an email with an invoice.

On my order list, I make a note of the date I receive orders as well as what, invoice number, amount, payment date, when sent and how sent. It gives me a quick view so that I can see what I'm missing and who I need to chase. I don't usually refer to date orders are received but if I need to cross-check on how long it takes to get something out to customers, then it is useful.

So, I'm updating my list tonight and I see that I replied to him on 29/9. 

That's today.

He sent his email to me last night.

I thought that he emailed and I responded a few days ago. That's a time wobble.

Oh well, he will be delighted to be sorted out the same day.

Monday 26 September 2022

VAGABOND: Moving of stuff and getting my assets back

 On Tues, 6 September 2022, I wrote about my disappointing day in court, which really hit me hard that day, and the next. I had only half a day to wallow in my misery before the action of moving, moving, moving fittings and kayaks for the other kayak companies and also my YOLO moulds, stock and fittings in the 2.5 days that followed. It was exhausting and I was thankful for the weekend to recover. I needed this because the week that followed escalated in intensity.

Monday, 11 September 2022

I sleep like a dead dog. Regardless of what I going down, I fortunately sleep. There isn't much that can keep me awake once my head hits the pillow.

Saturday morning 04h00 I woke up. I lightly dozed for 45 minutes, still feeling awake. I got up, fetched my laptop from my desk and started to write, composing an email to my attorneys about 'what next'. The same happened to me on Sunday morning at 04h00. On Monday morning, I completed my email and sent it off. With the warrant fulfilled and my assets locked up, I asked them whether I needed to go to the police station to file a criminal case of theft. 

By lunchtime, we had a letter from the sheriff's office confirming that the warrant had been fulfilled and that we could make arrangements to collect our stuff. This included my Vagabond moulds, fittings and kayak stock, the shop product inventory and the fittings for the Finnish guy, which had missed being released by the landlord the previous week (whether intentionally or not - I think the release of the US guy's fittings was a mistake the week before). 

We could now make arrangements to collect our stuff - and there was a lot of stuff.

I'd been looking for storage space for my moulds for weeks, struggling to find spaces with width, which is what I needed to get a forklift in. I planned to speak to my storage garage people the next day about a spot on their side.

In my previous post, I forgot to mention that on the Friday, my attorneys sent a 'settlement proposal' to the landlord. This requested payment by him for the extensive legal fees incurred by us as a result of his actions against us and a buy-out of me in return for discussing a manufacturing and marketing agreement. Via his attorney's assistant, we got an almost immediate no.

Now, after the weekend, the landlord's attorney told my attorneys that he would be discussing this with his client and would let us know around lunchtime. Nothing by close of business this day or the next or the next and still nothing to date.

Tuesday, 12 September 2022

I arranged with the sheriff to collect the shop inventory, which can fit in the back of my bakkie. I had the dogs with me for the day and they enjoyed the outing between the factory and storage garage.

To move bigger items, I would need a trailer and workers, which takes a day to organise. I booked the workers and the trailer and arranged for the factory to be opened in the morning. 

In the afternoon, I dropped my Vagabond trailer and demo kayaks with the Great Brak River Conservancy on a farm just outside of George. They had river clean-ups planned for the next day and Saturday 17th. I was happy to loan them kayaks for these initiatives. The dogs loved this farm visit and I enjoyed meeting and chatting to the lady. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2022

With a 4m trailer hooked and a number of workers, we got to work pack up Vagabond's fitting stock, of which there is a lot. I had a storage garage in reserve for two weeks - just waiting for my stock to be released.

I actually had a garage first booked in early July but ended up passing it on as I didn't have my assets. Finding storage in George can be like looking for hen's teeth. I was fortunate to locate a very accommodating bunch who have responded to my needs as they have arisen.

While we were moving and loading stuff, we get a call from the landlord's right-hand guy to say that he had just received instruction from the landlord to get the forklift and to dump Vagabond's kayak moulds on the pavement outside the factory.

The landlord had held on to our assets for three months by this stage, had cost the customers a fortune in legal fees and now 1.5 days after receiving confirmation from the sheriff that the warrant had been fulfilled and the attached assets released, the guy wants to dump our moulds - that he has been trying to take - on the sidewalk. We're talking almost a dozen moulds with a replacement value of R2.5-million.

And, I had nowhere to move them to because I'd still been unable to secure a wide enough space.

I called my attorneys but they said that it wouldn't be worth the hassle of even trying to get more time because they landlord is like he is. They are right. This is the landlord's little power game and he wasn't likely to budge.

On my next trip to the storage garage, I spoke to the people there. They had a 12m-long unit for me, which could work at a pinch but which would be incredibly difficult for us with only 3m width and 200-400kg moulds. A forklift cannot get into this space holding the moulds. My garage people started putting out enquiries to other storage people that they know.

My hands were full with moving - loading at the factory, driving to the garage, unloading and neatly packing - and I couldn't do much but hope that something would come through.

At some stage in the afternoon, I thought of the lady on the farm that I'd met the day before. She is very well connected in her community. Could there be a shed on a farm in the area? She sent out my message to her network and literally within a few minutes a lady had responded to say she had space. I called her. This was already after 16h00.

Later, she sent me a video and I knew the space that was a bit bigger than a double garage would work. I told her that I'll take it.

With loadshedding on, I couldn't get through to the people at a rental company where I was trying to secure a forklift to be delivered to the storage space the next day. I got in my car and drove there. Nothing. Sitting in their parking area, I called another company. They had nothing but recommended another. I called them. This was now 16h45 and the friendly guy confirmed that they had availability and that they could deliver the forklift the next morning. He asked me to call the lady that makes the bookings at 8am.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

At 8am I called the lady, confirmed address and arrangements and was at the factory with a 6m trailer to meet the workers.

On the factory side, friends with a nearby business loaned us their forklift and driver to extract the moulds from the vertical racks in the building and to put them on this big double-axle trailer. We did three loadings and three trips with moulds and a fourth with the cooling jigs.

On the other side, the forklift company came through with punctual delivery of the forklift there. We got in our driver to drive on that side.

The moulds went in beautifully and we finished the last load with just enough time for me to return the 6m trailer to the hire place only a few minutes after closing. I booked the trailer again for the next day, dropped the workers near their homes and headed home myself.

Friday, 16 September 2022

I'd earmarked this day to move Vagabond's kayak stock to storage. I don't have a lot of stock but I do also have some kayaks from the other brands and all of it amounted to three loads.

On our first trip to the storage we created 'hammocks' out of rope to suspend the cooling jigs from the roof beams of the garage. This gave us space on top of the moulds to stash kayaks, which I would need to access to get them out to customers. This took a while but was well worth the effort.

The three loads of kayaks went in and as I locked the garage door, I felt relief at finally having all my assets secured 12-weeks after all of this started.

I did some exceptional trailer driving and reversing this week, finally nailing 90-degree manoeuvring.

While this was all going on, we had been trying to get a container booking for the USA guy to get his waiting order of his own kayaks off to him. Most of the order was ready when the doors closed and in August the balance of shells that needed to be outfitted were completed. Shipping, since lockdown, has been a nightmare and it usually takes a few weeks to get a provisional booking that can be bumped at any stage. We had expected to load this container on the 14th but after delays in Durban, the ship would no longer be stopping in Cape Town and so our booking was moved to the next ship in the line.

On this afternoon, we got a provisional loading for Monday morning (19th). 

Over the weekend that followed, I did not wake up at 4am. Container loading was confirmed on Sunday morning. I booked workers and looked forward to sending off these kayaks - and his two moulds.

Monday, 19 September 2022

The container loading went really well and I delighted to add the seal to the full container. 

Three of the workers stayed with me to start stripping the shop of its shopfittings. We removed display pallets from the walls, dismantled banner frames and un-bolted storage racks. We only had about 2.5 hours but we did well.

A guy from a steel place down the way saw the doors open and swung past, interested in a kayak. He expressed an interest in buying some of my steel, which has a lot value.  

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

We were back at the shop to undo things, move pallets to storage (I planned to repurpose the wood) and move the moveable kayak display racks. 

The steel guy planned to come during the week to cut out the racks, which are too big to get out the doors (they were welded and assembled inside).

On Wednesday and Thursday I had some time to catch up with admin and find my feet while waiting for the steel guy. Tied down with work, the steel guy's assistant hadn't shown for work for days so we didn't do the racks.

On Friday (23 Sept) I went to the shop armed with a broom and dustpan to throw out rubbish and clean up. All that is left are the steel racks.

Over this past weekend, I started on my project of repurposing pallets from the shop

Monday, 26 September 2022

My mission today is to send out communication to my dealers, customers and suppliers. My capacity for communication has been saturated and I've needed some space to think, without dealing with drama and moving stuff, which is very demanding.

With YOLO, I need to sit down with my new moulders and get this up and running within a couple of weeks.

With Vagabond, we're on ice until we find a way forward. 

This whole situation has hit us really hard and will do so for months to come with no manufacturing and our main South African summer season starting now.

We have made excellent inroads in the South African market the past few years with customers now going into stores to specifically ask for a Vagabond kayak. We were looking at a bright season ahead.

For now, I need to lick my wounds, dust myself off and start working on new plans.

Woodwork project - pallet wood shelving rack

 From my ongoing woodworking project list, #6 got a jump on #5 with a pallet-wood shelving rack that I assembled this weekend.

Last week, I pulled out the pallets that we were using in the shop at the factory as product display racks and for the shop counter. Already painted, these are ready to be repurposed.

A while back, I turned to YouTube to find the best technique to take apart pallets. Methods vary from cutting out the planks (waste of material) to levering the planks using a crowbar or hammering the planks from underneath to lift them from the nails.

Whichever the method, it is not easy to pull planks from pallets, especially when the wood is dry because it is prone to break and splinter. Fresh pallets, which I've work on before, are definitely easier. 

I hammered and levered to separate the planks and it took far longer to gather the material than it did for the actual assembly. I kept the 110cm length of the planks and made the shelves the width of five planks at 505mm. I ended up making the bottom shelf using five planks and the middle and top shelves using only 4 planks. Five was overkill and just adds weight.

I do have paint, but for now I'm leaving the unit as is. It has heritage and a story.

I plan to make another of the same size and one that is taller for home. And then one or two units for my storage garage where I have kayak fittings stashed.

Thursday 22 September 2022

What is your funeral song/s?

My mom's cousin's husband died last week. My mom was a flower girl at their wedding 61 years ago (we went to their 60th wedding anniversary celebration last year). He was 84, life well lived. He'd had cancer, recent major surgery and although he was out of hospital and doing very well on the day of his death last week, it was maybe a pulmonary embolism that got him.

My mom went to the funeral yesterday in PE and returned today. With my aunt and her partner visiting, we got on to the discussion at dinner about singing and the hymns we're 'forced' to sing at funerals.

I can whistle a good tune, but I don't sing. I loathe hymns in the pamphlets at funerals (and weddings) and I don't see the point of them being sung by the friends and family. I favour the setup where a good singer sing the deceased's favourite song/s instead, without making the congregation to join in.

Then I asked my family, "What is your funeral song?".

As I asked the question, two songs popped into my head for my funeral:

The first one - I just like it. I even 'sing' it and delight in the silliness of it. 

As for Maxwell... My dad has always been a big Beatles fan. He plays guitar beautifully and sings. He probably curses the first time he did Maxwell for me as a child because it immediately became the one song I always asked him to do. 

For these two songs that both popped into my head, they're mostly on point as they both deal with death (OK, so Maxwell is murder, or more appropriately a serial killer who wields a silver hammer) but they're both upbeat and funny and easy to sing, which works for me.

If I go before you, please make sure these songs are on the pamphlets.

And no service please. No priests. No churches. 

An afternoon tea, with cake and cucumber sandwiches, and scones with cream and strawberry jam. And these two songs. Sorted.


I like music but I don't sit and listen to music. I hear songs on the radio, mostly. I pay little to no attention to the words. Strangely, there are songs that I sing along to - I know the words and they tumble from my lips, but I pay them no attention. I'm not interested in and I don't comprehend their meaning.

Instead, I latch on to melodies, rhythms, instruments, harmonies. I'm a nightmare with CDs because I don't listen to full songs and I'll play a section of a song that I like over and over again because I like the drums or a chord change. I'm the person you don't give control of your remote to.

In thinking of a 'beautiful' funeral song tonight that could be played at my funeral, I had no doubt that 'More than words' by Extreme would be the one. It is one of my all-time favourite-favourite songs. I've been singing along to it for 22 years, not realising that the lyrics are actually so appropriate to who I am.

I found the music video on YouTube tonight to post the link here and the penny dropped as I watched and followed along with the lyrics on screen.

My Love Language (and my language of everything) is 'Acts of Service'. While words may play a big role in my life in terms of writing and communication, I show love and caring through what I do, not what I say. As this is the language that I understand, it is what I expect in return. This is what this song is about.
How easy, it would be to show me how you feelMore than words is all you have to do to make it realThen you wouldn't have to say that you love me'Cause I'd already know
This song caught my attention so many years ago - after hearing it for the first time - for the beautiful tune, beautiful acoustic guitar, and beautiful harmonies (and beautiful Nuno Bettancourt in the video), not the lyrics. But, how appropriate they are for who I am.

Saturday 17 September 2022

VAGABOND: High pressure, demands and moving of assets

 As if last week Tuesday in court wasn't enough, the nine days that have followed were an escalation of intensity - physical, emotional and mental. I'll take you through last week.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

On Wednesday, the day after we appeared in court, my attorneys sent a letter to the sheriff's office demanding their final account reconciliation following the auction of the factory assets that took place at the end of July by the close of business the next day.

After an auction has taken place, the sheriff draws up documents showing the lot numbers that were for sale, who purchased them and for how much. This gives the total income from the auction sale of the Judgement Debtor's assets. They then calculate their expenses for organising the auction, advertising it, their commission, any opening-and-closing of the building and even storage of items. This comes off the total income and the balance is paid over to the Judgement Creditor, in this case the landlord. The Sheriff's documents include the Distribution Award, which details the income recovered, expenses and payout. The balance outstanding on this was only R806 - after a payout of R1m. 

These documents were issued a week after the auction; but it took us a further two weeks to get our hands on them with nothing forthcoming from either the sheriff's office or the landlord's attorney and nothing sent to the Judgement Debtor, the factory company, either. I physically visited the sheriff's office a number of times, I emailed too and my attorneys emailed both the sheriff's office the landlord's attorney. Nothing. 

After an auction, when the warrant has been satisfied, all items under attachment should be released. This wasn't happening. As customers of the factory with our assets under attachment - for nine weeks by that stage, it was in our interests to push for getting these documents.

While we continued to try to get finalisation from the sheriff, the landlord began contacting the customers of the factory to say that he was starting his own kayak moulding company and that he wanted to discuss manufacturing and marketing. All this while holding on to our assets under lock-and-key and having issued us with a summons to appear in court to defend our claim to our assets. We received the summons three weeks after the auction, for which he got paid out the money - to the tune of R1-million that he had claimed. That he bought the factory's primary assets - well, that was his choice.

In the days before our court appearance, the landlord sent letters to most of the customers saying that he had issued instruction to his attorney to release their assets. To Vagabond, he sent a letter telling of his plans for his new kayak factory and threatening "an expensive and long-lasting process" involving Vagabond in his attempt to recover new expenses that he is claiming from the factory. He aimed to recover these debts by seizing Vagabond's assets unless Vagabond "puts an acceptable alternative on the table". Keep in mind here that the factory was his tenant and Vagabond is a customer of the factory. Separate legal entities and all that.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Thursday morning dawned with a notice from the landlord to remove everything that was not disputed by 13h00 the next day from the factory.

In a separate section of the factory, we have had around 100 kayaks (most not mine) waiting for container loading. The global shipping crisis is still in effect and getting bookings can take weeks.

These kayaks, and others that had been dispatched since the building contents were attached, form part of a list of orders that were given permission for release in mid-July. When we got this permission back then, we started looking at container bookings and by some miracle got a confirmed booking for one container to Europe that following week; this rarely happens. This was when the landlord reneged on this agreement and locked the doors the day before container loading. After no action from them, we initiated an urgent High Court application that night - and won with costs. We loaded that container. Days later they appealed, wanting us to recall the container and unload it. We won again with costs.

The High Court order forced their hand to re-confirm release of the remaining items on the order list. We got another container out in August. The kayaks for the last two container loads have been sitting as we are struggle to get confirmed shipping bookings.

In addition to the kayaks waiting for shipping, other undisputed items now also included the moulds for the two overseas customers and the fittings for the one. There were also my YOLO moulds, packaging and fittings. This is a lot of stuff to move. 

I had arranged the day before to meet the sheriff at the factory on this Thursday afternoon to extract my YOLO stock and fittings. He recommended that I contact the guy across the road from the factory who has some space. This was nice of the sheriff - he hasn't done much in our favour this whole time.

I called the guy and met him briefly but as he didn't have his keys, we didn't see the space. We were to meet with him the next morning. I successfully removed my YOLO items, leaving the heavy moulds for the next day.

Before close of business, we received the final accounts from the sheriff. The amount outstanding on the warrant? Just short of R13,000.

There are a few things to consider here:

After the auction, there was R806 outstanding. I'm not entirely sure how this works but the sheriff should have requested balance of payment from the Judgement Debtor, the factory, to settle this. Nothing. They hung on to documents and hung on to assets. The sheriff's costs would have increased over the five weeks since the auction with coming out to the building top open up, which goes on the landlord's account. I don't know what the other costs were.

In court, two days before, the landlord's attorney had stood up to say that he thought there was around R24,000 outstanding. This was after being sent away by the magistrate to work on his sums (you'll see an explanation of this in my previous post). They had the audacity to take us customers of the factory to court, to make us prove our claim of ownership of our assets, without even knowing how much was owed to them by the factory (not us!) following the auction. It costs multiples of R24,000 just to appear in court. And then the final amount - accumulated since the auction was held - was 'only' R13,000.

After holding our assets for just over 11 weeks and five week after the auction, all it would take to release everything would be to pay the factory's debt. I issued instruction to my attorneys to make the payment.

Friday, 9 September 2022

I met the across-the-road guy early in the morning to see his space. At this stage, we didn't have any option and across-the-road, when you have 15 moulds weighing 200-400kg to move, 100-odd kayaks and other stuff, is the best place to move things. The only problem with this place is that the guy is charging an excessive rate and we've only got the space short-term for two weeks. Right then, we needed to buy space and time.

With four workers, a forklift (thank you to our friends for their driver and forklift) and a big trailer, it took us 10 hours to move the moulds for the two overseas guys and the 100-odd kayaks waiting for container loading across the road; and all of the USA guy's kayak fittings to my storage garage. I moved my YOLO box stock, on pallets, across the road too (temporary - we were running out of time in the day), and my moulds to a tank moulder in town who will be making my YOLO products.

On Friday morning, Vagabond paid R15,000 (R13,000 amount outstanding and extra R2000 for what would be sheriff fees). This immediately satisfied the warrant and released everything under dispute. 

When my attorney called me, I was packing the USA guy's fittings into the garage. I called Celliers and told him to start getting Vagabond's moulds. He told the sheriff who, instead of calling his boss to whom payments and paperwork had been sent, he phoned the landlord. The sheriff started locking the building. The landlord rocked up.

I've only seen him twice, I think, since this ordeal started. He brings out the worst in me. He treats me is contempt and disregard; and so I respond to this. It is a bit school-ground where he will waggle a finger in my face and I do the same back to him. I can’t help myself.

We still had the situation at hand to deal with and so much stuff to move. Fortunately, at 16h00, the four workers from Parys showed up to help. They have been doing odd work for the landlord, like cleaning his new building. They won't like it, but it is work. Other friends showed up with their open bakkie to shuttle loads of kayaks across. We finished at 18h00, 10 hours after we started. I dropped off all the workers at their homes and crawled home.

I've been enjoying my weekends recently because, unlike these week days that unleash surprises and emergencies, the two days of the weekend come with no attorney letters and demands. I use weekends to recover to face the week ahead.

Where this week included a court appearance followed by demands, deadlines, high pressure, drama and long hours, the next week - this one we've just made it through - would follow the same trend. 

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Woodwork projects 1, 2 and 3 (plus 4, 5, 6)

At the beginning of this year, necessity dictated that I build some trestles to use for signboards. A spark! A new interest in woodwork ignited.

Project #1
I moved into a new place at the end of January. As this house didn't have a stove, I bought a gas stove top and decided to build a cabinet, with drawers, for this to sit on. I pulled pallets from the factory, sanded the planks and turned them into this:

This is my first real furniture project and my own design complete with two drawers on full-extension runners that I got right first time. What a blessing YouTube is. I'm thankful for content creators with their how-to videos.

Using pallet planks has its pros and cons. Sanding is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. But it is also satisfying to transform a rough plank into a smooth plank with pretty wood patterns and it can be quite meditational. 

After making the trestle legs (sanding by hand), I bought an orbital sander. I recently borrowed a belt sander to give this a try - works a treat and saves time. I've got a new project planned that I'm struggling to get to but it will need to use a lot of pallet planks.

Pallet planks are also not quite uniform, not quite even and edges are not entirely straight. But this is, for me, part of the charm.

Their best feature: they're free.

Project #2 - Toy Cupboard
I really needed a cupboard for my camping gear, paddling gear and other toys. Partly to neaten my garage and use space better but also practically to make it easy to access gear to take out and put away. I am so done with crates stacked on top of each other.

When I'm working, I don't like digging for tools. I use a 'tool table'.

For this project, I ordered wood. I drew a design, worked out the measurements and bought MFC (melamine faced chipboard) from a wood store and got them to cut the pieces to size. They also drilled the round holes for the concealed hinges.

I got the carcass built quick-quick and enjoyed using my corner clamp. I only have one so I used two clamps and a corner plate to hold the second corner. 

I learned the set-square trick to check for squareness from a video on YouTube. Yes, it isn't rocket science but if you've never thought of it, then learning this neat basic is revolutionary.

I used inexpensive masonite for the backing and then got to work on hanging the doors. I was really nervous about this because I didn't want to mess it up. I watched a few videos and then got on to it.

The first one took me a long time because I lacked confidence to just drill those holes. After the first one, the rest went quickly and my doors hung beautifully.

I am into wheels. It is hard to move a heavy, fully-loaded cupboard anywhere. What if I want to rearrange my garage? I put the cupboard on wheels and pushed it into the garage. So easy. The wheels are worth every cent.

The front two wheels lock. This is actually quite a big cupboard.

I need to work on my inside-of-the-cupboard organisation.

For the shelves, I used dowels to attach blocks of wood on which the shelves sit.

Using MFC that has been cut to size is quick and easy. No preparation required. You can just jump in with a tape measure and drill. It suits the purpose of a storage cupboard. But, this material is not inexpensive and it actually costs quite a bit just for the material to make a big cupboard.  

Project #3 - Recess spice-and-jar rack
I've been drowning in guavas for weeks as a result of two prolific guava trees in my garden. I've done  lot of bottling and I needed a place to store full and empty jars. The spices have been in a small box since we moved and they really deserve an easy-access space.

Behind the back door, there is a recess where dry walling is used to block off an outside loo. It was the perfect depth to use pallet planks as shelves.

These shelves are not fixed to the wall. I took advantage of the slightly wonky shape of pallet planks to  create forces and tension that presses the side planks against the walls. It can't fall over and will take effort to pull out. The shelves sit on blocks of wood that are connected to the side planks using dowels. To keep the shelves in place I used dowels for these too.   

The spice shelf has a front and is angled to show the spice bottles, which have labels on their lids.

 I did buy a water-soluble white enamel for this project, which I'll be sure to use again soon. The wood was free and time spent on this was a pleasure. I have decided that I'm not crazy about the painting part of the project. It takes time waiting for paint to dry with doing a primer and then the real paint. When just doing assembly, a project can be completed in a few hours. With sanding and painting and cutting and measuring, it can take a few weekends to complete a project.

Project #4 
Project 4 will be what I call a cupboard-cupboard. It will go in the bottom half of the hanging part of my cupboard and it will have six drawers on full-extension runners. The aim of this piece will be to better facilitate my Marie Kondo-adopted tendencies and to make better use of the space. For this project I'm using two different thicknesses of plywood. I had them CNC cut to size. I haven't decided on the painting situation.

Project #5
I'll be building shelving racks in my garage on which to put crates. This eliminates crates being on top of each other that are hard to access. It is far easier to slide a crate off a shelf. I'll be using pallet planks for this project and I'm looking forward to the belt sander session.

I have this really super notebook with a pewter cover that a friend made for me years ago. It is my project book for my ideas, drawings and costings.

Project #6 is probably a tool holder. I have in mind a vanity-cabinet-style tool holder that can be carried and opened like a book to display arranged tools inside, on each side. I haven't got a work bench or workshop so my tools need to be able to move around where ever I'm working. I really don't like toolboxes. I'll try to create a mobile, workshop-wall pegboard.

My aim with these home projects is to use different types of wood materials and to try different techniques. They're all practical experiments that create useful items.

In the last few months, I've become a whiz with a drill and pretty proficient using a jigsaw and sander.
As my skills have improved, so has my confidence.

This past weekend I put wheels on a cupboard I brought home from my ex-office and wheels on an old cabinet that was in the shop at the factory but that I'm now going to use in my home office. I also replaced the old wheels on my gas heater with new ones better suited to the job. I drilled metal for the first time.

I haven't done a lot with drilling holes in walls to mount fixtures so I still find this a bit intimidating. Last year I installed kayak racks in my garage. It went really well and worked perfectly. This weekend, I installed a rack-and-hook set from the Garage Guys to assist in better organising my garage. A breeze.

I am really enjoying these woodwork projects - planning and executing. Measure twice. Cut once.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

VAGABOND: Disappointing day in court

 I had my first day in court today. Except it wasn't really 'my day' in court. 

There is so much about the legal system and court system that I find inefficient, random and disorganised - and hard to understand. There is so much wasting of time and resources and money. This is from a brief glance. It makes me just want to fix, fix, fix.

The short version of a long story that I have alluded to in my post 'Can you be trusted?' (18 July) is that the factory that makes my Vagabond and YOLO products, as well as those for other customers, defaulted on their rent and the landlord took legal action. I cannot find fault with this as the landlord had every right to claim his money.

That's just the short version. The longer, real and more complicated version has more players, agreements, discussions, other parties, and behind-the-scenes intrigue going on for months. I knew of elements of this but I wasn't involved. To even begin to explain the long version (and there are different views and perspectives) would fill the pages of a book.

Regardless, the outcome of the legal action was that an eviction order was granted and everything in the building was attached under a warrant. That includes the assets, fittings and stock of the factory's customers. This was on 22 June 2022.

We submitted affidavits in July, which excluded our 'disputed items' from the auction of the factory assets scheduled for the end of July. The landlord purchased the factory's main assets, the three ovens, with the plan to run this as his own business. Yeah, I know, the beneficiary of the auction purchasing the assets of the tenant that he is evicting to take over the tenant's business. Contemplate that.

A week after the auction, the auction accounting was wrapped up by the sheriff. The auction achieved 99.92% of the total claim. From what I've read, it looks like auctions usually recover 40-60% of the claim...

It took us TWO WEEKS to get these documents with neither the sheriff's office nor the landlord's attorney handing them over. Was this purposeful denial of access? I have absolutely no doubt. 

We finally got the documents on the same day as we were served summons to appear in court specifically to defend our claim that our kayak moulds, fittings and stock belong to us - despite the 600-plus pages of affidavits submitted in July complete with invoices from suppliers for everything.

The problem here is that the auction should have been wrapped up two weeks earlier with a Return of Service and the fulfilled warrant which would have released all the customer assets. We have still not received a Return of Service.

My life, for the last nine of the 11 weeks that my businesses were locked down, has been all about affidavits, coordinating between the customers (two overseas) regarding legal submissions, news, updates, documents, information and trying to get ready-and-waiting orders released for container shipments. I've also had the excitement of an urgent High Court application, which we won with costs and then the appeal, which we again won with costs.

My focus lurched from lockdown to getting counsel, to coordinating eight affidavit submissions, then looking ahead to the auction, then to getting the auction papers, then to the summons and today's court date. Going from one checkpoint to the next has kept me sane. 

I have spreadsheeted and cloud-saved every document in this case by date, type of document, from whom, to whom and gist of the contents for easy reference. I have also extracted quotes from the documents that are relevant to our case and these are ordered by date and categorised with document, from whom, to whom, page/paragraph location and key words to make it more searchable.

Late last week, the assets of the factory's other customers - except Vagabond, YOLO and the ABC shop we started a year ago (ABC sublet shop space only) - were granted release through a letter from the landlord's attorney to ours. Yes, a few days before the court appearance that they summoned us, the factory customers, to because they disputed our claim to our assets. The companies excluded are all mine.

So that really leaves me isolated and still in the fight.

As it happens, court today was disappointing.

In the morning, my attorney and advocate met with the landlord's advocate. Note that my guys had made numerous attempts to get meetings to mediate. This morning's meeting seems to have confirmed the release of some customer assets with the addition of YOLO moulds (they released - not yet in my hands - only the fittings and boxes last week, which is no use to me without the moulds to make products).

They went into court and there the opposition stated that there was an amount still owing to them (keep in mind that they got 99.92% of the claim total of the warrant governing this case and also that this claim is not against the customers). It came out that an auction had taken place and a payout had been done, which they failed to inform the magistrate in the massive pile of documents that had been handed to her pre-appearance. She didn't know. She asked how much was really owing. They didn't know.

She told them to go away, confirm how much they think they are owed and to be back at 2pm.

We go back and this time I go inside. 

There was a show that I watched on Netflix recently. I can't remember which one but I can remember feeling so frustrated and shouting at the screen "Just talk. Just tell them. Just explain clearly". There was so much stupid stuff going on and only because they people did not speak up. I felt like this here. Running on a treadmill and going nowhere.

The opposition responds to say that they are owed around R24,000. You have got to be kidding! In five weeks, neither the sheriff nor the advocate for the landlord said anything about an outstanding amount. Not. One. Word. Instead, they keep our assets locked down and further compromise seven businesses.

According to the sheriff's accounts, another R806 (yes, eight hundred and six rand) would see them receive 100% of their total claim. They were paid out R1m and yet are holding on to the assets of the customers of the factory, who really shouldn't be involved in this dispute, for what they said today is only R24,000? The magistrate commented that this was decidedly less than what he'd said in the morning and she added, quite rightly, that costs more than this to appear in court. "Sort it out," she said. 

The opposition then goes on about the 'kayaks' in the factory that have not been paid for, which they are claiming. And this wasn't even the topic of the argument on the summons. The magistrate did ask him why he brought this up because it wasn't relevant.

Yes, I did half put my hand up to speak as the advocate was just so very wrong about these 'kayaks'. It is a pity that I didn't get to speak. These 'kayaks' are actually blemished, unfinished and un-outfitted shells that have not been invoiced because they have not been completed. Customers are only invoiced for completed kayaks that we order (A-Class) or agree to take (B-Class). There are only really shells there for three of the customers and two of the three want their shells to be outfitted and completed. 

So the magistrate is left thinking that there are a whole lot of kayaks there that haven't been paid for, and that the landlord is claiming, when this is not the truth or reality. 

How can a magistrate decide on anything when she doesn't have even half the correct information?

So then my advocate does a good presentation to bring attention back to the actual issue - something called the Landlord's Hypothec. Basically, it 'allows' the landlord to claim any items on their premises in the event of a dispute. But, thankfully, there are only certain situations in which this applies. And not this one, which is shown clearly in the law and with case examples too.

Of course, you'll be asking around about now, "If the landlord is claiming Landlord's Hypothec, why has he released the assets of the other customers except Vagabond, ABC and YOLO? What makes them different to the other customers of the factory?".

The answer? Nothing makes them different as they are all separate legal entities and they function as customers of the factory like all the others. 

Court didn't even get to this realisation because no evidence was shown. Today was not a trial but more of a instance to set a trial date. It feels to me like a waste of time and money.

We have a court date for 20/21 October.

I'm sure you see the problem with this date. It is for almost two months in the future. I've had no business or trade for 2.5 months already. We start to move into our main summer season in October. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate the math on this and subsequent impact.

So, why is the landlord doing this? I have a few theories - and all are probably correct to some degree. I'm not going to put them down here because this still has to play out. But, they are not to do with being owed any money - the guy seems to have more than enough. Suffice to say, Vagabond is the one with the most versatile and marketable products.

My focus for the past 10 weeks has been on obtaining counsel, then coordinating the content of eight affidavits, then on the auction, then two weeks on getting the auction papers, then receiving the summons and then on today's court date. Focusing on one and then the next and the next has kept my focus - and kept me sane.

So, after court today, with no resolution, I cracked. I am feeling absolutely devastated and shattered.

We still have a step-by-step process to follow. We have to get the full accounts from the sheriff within the next five days. I don't see that these accounts can or will be any different to the documents issued a month ago on 8 August. Why would there be some other set of accounts? The outcome of this determines the next step.

And, all the while, I am the one that loses the most.

As you can imagine, I am neither very impressed right now with certain people or the law.

This whole case is just so absolutely ridiculous. 

I wish the magistrate had asked for a summary of the situation in plain English, which I would have been happy to provide. 

I wish that she had asked why some claimants' assets were released and not others if the landlord is claiming hypothec.

And, I wish that she had told the landlord's attorney that they were wasting the court's time, and our money by summoning us to court for R24,000 - owed to them by someone else - when they got paid out R1m - 99.92% of their claim.

But, she doesn't know this. If she did, I'm quite sure she would have put an end to this time and money wasting and life devastation. 

This is wrong. Just wrong.

Thursday 1 September 2022

Want to write, can't write, what to write

 I've written 28 posts this year. Only 28 posts. This has to be my lowest count - or close to - in the 17 years that I've been writing this blog. 

I want to write. 

It isn't that I don't have anything to say. I do. 

I think of topics to write about daily from observations and conversations. I just don't get to them and the topics flutter away like migrating butterflies. Topics in my head today are replaced by those that arise tomorrow and, if I remember what I thought of the day before, the themes later can seem unnecessary. I sometimes write them down but then the pages of my diary turn to the next day and the next and the thoughts are left behind.

In July, I touched on the legal issues that I've been dealing with. What was two weeks of documents, printing, attorneys and communications has now been eight weeks of the same. 

I have done a lot of writing. A serious amount. Affidavits, backgrounds, briefs and updates. It has been stressful and distressing, draining and exhausting, and yet it has also been interesting, challenging and exciting.

I have learned about Interpleader Summons, Return of Service, Vendue Roll, sheriffs, auctions, warrants and High Court applications. I also know how good it feels to win with costs (twice); something akin to winning at a casino, I presume. I've also learned about greed and the deceitful games that are played. And, I've learned about attorney fees.

We go to court on Tuesday to defend our claim to our assets - moulds, fittings, graphics and stock.

This has been all-consuming and I haven't been able to focus on much else. 

This situation will make for a good novella. 

Despite struggling to face each new day - uncertain of what new drama it may deliver, I have made it through one day at a time. This has been like running an ultra where each kilometer completed gets you closer to the finish line. I have also made a number of major decisions, spent time on trails with my dogs, found mushrooms, completed some woodwork projects, finished a book or two, and I have processed many kilograms of guavas from the tree in my garden. Life goes on.

I've now written 29 posts this year.