Thursday, March 31, 2016

Still on the road.....

I've been on the road nearly everyday since I got this job a month ago. It's fun, interesting, exhausting, challenging..... but I really need a few days at home to pack a house and move!  Trying to buy a new house from the road has been to say the least, very stressful. Our house appraisal came in and good news, the buyers can move forward now, it appraised just fine. So as far as I know, there are no more stumbling blocks and we are moving forward, hoping to be in our new house by the end of the month. Big WHOOP! Our due diligence is over!!!!!!

This has been a long frustrating search, but I think I see the light at the end of this dark tunnel and I am so grateful for it to all soon be over!

 Last week I was in Goldsboro. Seymour Johnson air base is there, the store I was visiting is in the flight path of the base. Across the street is Wilber's Barbecue. When I was 22, I got my first "real" job with a furniture company based out of Goldsboro. My new boss took me to lunch at Wilber's. 30 years later, I was sitting in that same parking lot watching pilots practicing touch and goes as they flew over the restaurant. I grabbed a sandwich and had lunch while watching dozens of planes fly over, so close I felt I could reach up and touch them. It was pretty amazing.

This week I am working at the Southern Ideal Home show in Greensboro. Also when I was 22 I lived in Greensboro and went to this show every year when it came to town. It seems as if I am just repeating my life all over again. It feels good to be back revisiting some of these places. Yesterday I helped the Greensboro crew lay sod in our booth. We just have buildings there, but the sod addition was really fun and made me want to set some gnomes around or something. I was just a participant, but I can see a day when I trick out these buildings with props. I can just see one of the sheds with some antiques and garden things for a potting shed, or a man cave, so many possibilities..... just wait.

 The show is really cool. Our neighboring booth spent the entire day laying stone and landscaping. It is absolutely amazing. There are landscape lights, waterfalls, koi ponds, and check out this pizza oven.... want!  Next week I am doing the Raleigh show and then we move! Whew, I can see a hammock and a nap in my future.....

Monday, March 28, 2016

A month from today.....

A month from today we hope to be living in our new house, good lord willing. We are waiting on the appraisal of this house. If it comes in low we are screwed, so we are holding our breath and waiting on the numbers. Buying a house is so much different now than it was before the banks messed everything up with their bogus loan processes. This has been a nightmare. Lesson learned, we should have had the appraisal before we even listed the house. Who knew?!

Gerry and I took the afternoon last week to explore our new town. It is charming. A town that was once a mill town, now reviving itself with shops and restaurants and what looks like a really good coffee shop or two.  And I spotted several antique stores, whoop!

In Chapel Hill, the parking is premium, hard to find, meters everywhere, expensive and crossing the street, you take your life in your own hands. This little town had not one meter to be found, plenty of parking and we crossed the street without a single car coming our way. This town reminds me of how Chapel Hill was 30 years ago. And its only twenty minutes from here.

We also found a nearby park with walking trails, fishing piers and a beautiful lake for recreation. Yes, I will be spending some time there! So peaceful.

My weeks are spent in my car now. I can't believe a month has gone by with my new job. Quick as a wink. My weekends are spent with cardboard boxes and packing. It is stressful to say the least. I have gotten rid of so much stuff and yet the stuff keeps coming. I know more should go. Why on Earth do I insist on carrying all this stuff through my life with me?! I bought that book everyone is so excited about, the one written about organizing. It's common sense, its actually trivial and didn't help me in the least. I really don't see what all the fuss was about, but it was on sale at Target so I figured at this point I could use some nudging to get rid of things.

One bit of advise was to hold each thing and see if you really really loved it. I did use that advise and got rid of things I might not have otherwise.  At this point, I just want it all out of my sight so I don't have to consider it, so I just box it up to deal with later! Nearly every room in the house is full of boxes.

My Easter Sunday was spent packing and coughing and sneezing. The pollen is coating everything and it's definitely a bother.  Gerry had a hockey game. Wesley spent the day with her new family, dyeing Easter eggs and going to church and doing all the things we used to do together. She called to say hi and it was bittersweet. I envy this family so much, the time they get to share with my child. My Easter things are packed away somewhere, long forgotten. Not an egg was dyed, no bunnies in sight, no Easter basket treats, not even a piece of chocolate in the house. My days are too full, driving from town to town, negotiating with loan officers and realtors and packing a house full of 11 years of memories and furniture. I am longing for a day when I have nothing to do but read a book or weave on my loom, visit a friend, or just lay in the grass and sleep. Right now I am just looking towards that day and taping up boxes.

Hope everyone had a happy Easter!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

End of week three

I've been on the road now for three weeks with my new job. Some days have been great some not so good. There are a lot of white guys out there that don't like a woman telling them what to do! I'm dealing with a bunch of "good 'ol boys" and they are resistant to change. Well, to them I say,
Tough Shit!  I had a pretty big fight with one store manager this week, just making my armor a little stronger for the days ahead...... 

There is a lot of change ahead, so they might as well get ready and accept it. Much to do. Last week I spent a day on one of our lots in building boot camp. Learning pricing, styles, serial numbers, etc. I opened one building looking for the serial number and found a homeless person's new abode. Oh my, the smell....  One day I was cruising down I-540 and two of my companies' trucks passed me side by side. One with a load of buildings, one with a load of trailers. That was sort of an odd coincidence. The more I travel the more Leonard I see on the road. Who knew?

We are still holding our breath for our new house. Things are moving along. We have one more week of due diligence, but as luck would have it, we got the buyers from hell for our old house. They are nickel and diming us to death and seem to think that we have an endless source of money for them to ask for. Now we are waiting for their loan approval, so if ya'll want to cross those fingers and toes for us, now is a good time for it.

Having a new job, having a husband in the middle of basketball tournament season and trying to buy and sell a house is a true testament to a strong marriage. Gerry and I have not had one argument over any of this, we are united, working each thing out as it gets thrown at us, texting each other from whichever place we are working that day. He is getting home from tournament games around 1am, I am leaving in the mornings early to get on the road. There is no time for anything but realtor negotiations, basketball photographs and road travel for us right now. Hoping for a day soon to sit on our new porch and have a beer, take a breath and look forward to some restful summer weekends!

Today is Gerry's moms birthday. We are going to go and be with her today, although she won't know us. It will be sad, it's hard. The two girls I love more than anything, my daughter and my mother in law. Both sadly slipping from me more and more each day. How I miss both of them and the times we used to share. I feel like both are lost to me these days.  I talked to Wesley last night on the phone. Our conversations are long and filled mostly with laughter and news of our happenings. We don't get a chance to talk often now that my schedule is crazy and she is working so much. But when we do get to talk, it is a happy day for me. I only wish she was closer to share our new home and come over for supper a few nights a week. She eats with her boyfriend's family many nights. How I envy his mom, getting to be with my daughter. My new job is taking the place of my mom job and keeping me busy enough to stop thinking of all that I miss, so that's a good thing. But I sure do want her back in our lives......

I leave in the morning for the coast and will be gone all week while Gerry is here dealing with property stuff. Already looking forward to next weekend and this one isn't even over yet!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Notes from the road.....

I'm slowly acclimating to life on the road again. Last week I was in Eastern North Carolina and treated myself to a nice sunset on the New River one night.  I sat there and watched a mama duck with about ten chicks swim past me and off into the sunset. I believe they were all black ducks, but is there such a thing?

I have been off two days since I started, lots of miles on the road already and its just week two. I have some sort of cold or allergy, lots of head and chest congestion. Can't figure out if I'm just tired from stress and the newness of it all, if its allergies to all these hotel rooms that smell of things I don't really like to smell, or if I just got a cold from someone. Anyway, I don't feel bad, just this congestion annoying my head and making me cough.

After last week grabbing a veggie sandwich from Subway every day, I decided that was going to get old fast, in fact it did get old fast, haha! So before I left for Virginia this past weekend, I went to the grocery store and got road food. I cut up carrots, peppers, got some rice crackers, nuts, raisins, yogurts, other good healthy food I can eat while driving and lots of water. This week I had way more energy than last weeks fast food extravaganza. I forgot how I used to travel. I've got to get my road show back in order! I'm trying to hit four stores a day, so there is not time to sit in a restaurant three times a day.

Speaking of shows, I was at the Richmond Va. Home and Garden show this weekend. It was incredibly crowded and our booth did over $80,000 in sales. Yep, that is correct. Sure puts a whole new light on those f' ing craft shows I used to do where I might make $300 on a good day, $3 on a really bad day. Maybe I should have been doing these home shows.....  we sold 5 of these cute little chicken coops on Saturday and they are $1000 each. Lord have mercy.....

This booth was a local lavender farm. They were selling these gronomics beds. We sold these at my last job, made me a little homesick for my pals at 5th Season. They should also look into doing these shows!

I had to go into the hateful Walmart because I did not know where I was, it was convenient and I needed room deodorizer for these hotel rooms that I don't like smelling. This woman literally parked that damn cart and got out right in the middle of the driving part of the parking lot. It did not matter to her one little bit that there were cars trying to drive through, she just got up and left it there, I could barely squeeze by her.... Lord have mercy.....

Today as I was trying to get from Richmond to Fredricksburg,  they shut down ALL north bound lanes of I95. ALL of them. They detoured traffic onto Hwy 1. Oh hell no, said I. Those detours can jam up a town faster than a blink and so I took a nice long drive through the country, finding my way on the backroads. It was nice. I got into Fredricksburg Va. and the town was about shut down from the traffic. One customer at the store I was calling on said it took him 45 minutes to go from one traffic light to the next before he was able to turn onto a side road.

I hate interstates. I hate the 18 wheelers that go screaming down the road scaring me to death, I hate those assholes in the white F150 pickups that want to crawl up everybody's ass, I hate those drivers in their expensive cars that seem to think they are the only ones entitled to driving on the road.... there are so many types of drivers and I hate most of them, ha! I may start hitting the backroads and just get there when I get there. The good thing about this job, is there are no appointments, I just show up and get my work done and no one is really waiting on me.

Tonight I am in Newport News. I found a nice little Vietnamese restaurant and ordered a 33 Export, Vietnam's answer to Budweiser, and a nice noodle dish. Its a Monday night and apparently no one eats out on Mondays. I was the only one in the place, it was pretty and quiet, the food was good and even the music was soothing. Near the end of my meal, feeling relaxed from a nice meal and a good beer, the sound 500 Miles came on, but it was an Asian version. So weird. Do you know this song?
Bobby Bare did it years ago:
Away from home, away from home
Cold and tired and all alone
Yes I'm still 500 miles away from home

It was kinda surreal. I'm having a lot of those moments lately. 


Saturday, March 5, 2016

A New Jounrey

 I'm home today after my first week on the road with my new job. I was at a vendor show for the weekend then headed to eastern NC to see some stores. I am loving this new job! The people are amazing, kind and smart and professional. My bosses name is also Tracy, so ironic. Its a great job and I keep pinching myself, it's still all a bit surreal to me that this job came about the way it did.

Leonard is a company with a solid foundation and a great heritage of quality.  They make storage buildings, chicken coops, horse trailers, cargo trailers and they have retail stores that sell truck accessories and install truck covers and racks. They were recently acquired by an investment group that wants to see them succeed. All factors for making my job so easy. The hard part is where to start. Their retail stores are a complete mess, dated and unorganized and there is no retail plan whatsoever. I'm here to bring them into the 21st century.

Right now I am just visiting stores to acclimate to the company and get to know everyone. Next week I will be traveling to Virginia for the week. First, a home show, then visiting stores. I have come full circle, this is how I started my career so many years ago. I got this!

 I have done many many trade shows during my career. I have been to furniture markets, gift markets, outdoor retailer shows, apparel shows, even shoe conventions. But I have never been to a truck accessory show! This one was crazy. There is a whole world out there I know nothing about. It was really fun. I have this new appreciation for a tricked out pick up truck. Who knew!

My goal is to bring a new brand identity to these retail stores and reach out to a new demographic. They are completely missing the female market and I am easily a model for that customer. There is a lot to do, but no one has a deadline and everyone is just giving me the tools I need to be successful.

I hardly even want to say this, for fear the dream will end and I will wake up, or a sink hole will swallow this place. But...... while I was in Wilmington last week, Gerry found a house, called me hyperventilating and then made an offer on it.  I totally trust his judgement, we have been through this so many times before, we know each other pretty well when it comes to buying a house. The owner accepted our offer and now we wait for the loan to process...... holding our breath and hoping for this to all come true.

Around here, the market is insane. A house will barely come onto the market before it gets snatched up. You have to move quickly, there is no thinking about it. Houses are selling above asking price if they are good ones. That's why we have made offers lately on houses that might not have been exactly perfect, but beggars can't be choosers sometimes. Our house has sold and we have until April 26 to move on. Fingers crossed this all comes together without a snag.

2016 is sure shaping up to be a better year than 2015. I think 2015 will have to go down and the worst year of my life. Wesley's moving was the most painful thing I have ever endured and then the frustration of finding and losing houses and not being compensated fairly at work all took its toll.

The day we accepted an offer on our house a package arrived from India. One of our monk friends, Tashi had sent each of us a gift. A silk tapestry weaving for Gerry and prayer scarves for me and Wesley. And then I got the job offer, and then we found this house. Being blessed by a monk certainly  has its rewards! When I think its safe I will post more about the house, right now I am just waiting to see if this is really happening :) If it is, I will see this guy every day from my driveway. Heaven.....