Saturday, May 28, 2016

I'm good

Wesley sent me this photo on her birthday. She has become fascinated with horses lately and for her birthday she wanted a horseback ride.  We sent money for her birthday this year so she could have a nice weekend on the beach. She found a ranch at Bodega Bay, found a sweet AirB&B and had a festive 23rd birthday. The first one we have not celebrated with her. Somehow we survived :)

We are indeed surviving a lot these days. The house thing continues to be a pain in our ass. We signed preliminary closing papers on our old house Thursday. The buyers however do not want to rent back to us while we wait to close on our new house, it would have been three days. They wanted to pay for us to live in a hotel while we waited to close. Uh, no thanks, I already live in hotels. So we opted to move their closing day. Another delay. I won't believe we are moving until I turn that key in the lock! We were supposed to be in our new house yesterday, loan delays.... it just never ends.

But I'm good. I had a great week at work, I have such an intuitive thing for retail, I watch shoppers in our stores, I understand inventory, I get visual presentation and I am taking a lot of initiative to introduce new ideas for our stores. I think I will make some positive changes for these stores. I have been feeling kinda smart these days, haha! I even looked at my loom this morning and thought about weaving something. Soon.........

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This is my life now

One year ago my life was so different. Wesley was living with us, I was working at a beautiful garden store, a job I loved and did well. All was good, life was in balance. We rented a cabin in the mountains around this time and had a quiet vacation. Bliss.

Now I spend many nights in a hotel room. I have been in a Richmond Va hotel room for three nights now. I brought my own food, even popcorn for the microwave, and this is my little world. Hotel rooms and my car are where I live at least three days of the week. The other night I was in Tennessee, had grabbed a salad for supper. It was raining steady, chilly and gray outside. I just sat in my car in the parking lot and ate my supper in my car. It might sound dreary, but actually it was quiet and peaceful and a moment away from everybody. I just sat and watched the rain. A refuge from the storm I'm living in right now. We still don't know when/if we are moving. Story for another day.....

My car is piled with tools, luggage, computer, camera, cooler, bag of food, coat, shoes, stuff for work. Shelves, slat wall hooks, banners, merchandising stuff.

Driving at night makes me bleary. The view from most of my rooms is a parking lot or a fast food place off the interstate.

I am in the middle of several big renovations. We gutted this poor building. Windows were falling out, holes in the walls clear through, nasty carpet. This company has been so busy making money, they forgot to look around and see what needed to be reinvested in the properties. Its a big mess. I am dirty and tired most all the time. But slowly seeing amazing results.

I'm hanging out most days with a bunch of seriously hard working good ol' southern boys. They sweat and they get dirty. And they actually make really good money. They say yes ma'm, they hold doors for me, they don't curse around me until they hear me get mad or frustrated, then they go ahead.... its funny. They are so polite, so southern. Nice to be around.

This is Chapel. He has been with this company for 40 years. He travels as one of the repair crew. Hardest worker, hardly ever says a word. Smokes a bunch of cigarettes.

Check out that wall paneling. Remember that stuff? We had it in our den when I was a kid, my mom was so proud of it when we put it up. It's gone now from this store. White slat wall replaced the useless paneling.

I'm trying to help the stores get a handle on inventory replenishment. I keep getting projects dropped in my lap that I really didn't know were a part of this job..... I fill out and place reorder tags on every single item in the store before I leave or I find the least productive employee and give them something to do :)

This was a how my car looked on my way to a remodel in Eastern NC. last week. My truck is finally in, but they are putting artwork on it. Cannot even imagine what I am going to be driving down the road! But it will nice to rest my car. I have put 7000 miles on it in 3 months, whew!

I'm also trying to get stores to understand that if product is in their warehouse, customers are probably not going to see it. I pulled a bunch of stuff today in the Richmond Va store. Another not what I signed on for..... 

This job pushes me out of my comfort zone most days. I have been asked to design some store fixtures. I am included in designing marketing items. My opinion is asked for frequently and is often followed up on. I am learning about things I didn't know existed. Its hard every day. But somehow rewarding many days. And the people are just so great, most anyway. There are a couple of rotten apples, but aren't there always?

I look forward to a time when I have a crew that goes out and does this work and I just coordinate it. My body sure is getting strong again though! I have no more arm pain, my upper body can lift more weight than last year, legs are stronger. Back aches. Fingers hurt. Feet hurt.

We learn, we grow, we get stronger....

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Self loathing....

Mother's Day started my week off on a really bad path of wallowing in self pity, and the week has been a tough one. Six hours in the car on Mother's Day, a nursing home visit, packed that night and left first thing on Monday. Two store remodels and three others to just add some finishing touches. Monday I left the house at 8am and worked in New Bern until 1am the next day. Got a few hours sleep and back at the store bright and early to finish up, then drove to Jacksonville, then Goldsboro, then Wilson. This is not sustainable..... 

But I arrived home last night to a very sweet Mothers Day card from Wesley. Its the littlest things that mean the most sometimes..... I was mean to her on Mothers Day, feeling all sorry for myself, then had a big wallow of self loathing when I got this card. I just don't do commercial holidays very well. And those around me suffer..... sometimes I'm just not that great a mom.... sigh.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mothers Day, moms!

One year ago today, this was Gerry's instagram post. What an amazing day it was, watching my beautiful daughter walk across the stage at the Stevens Center and graduate from UNCSA.
And now she is in California with a whole new life. This is the first Mothers Day we have been so far apart. I wallowed in self pity for a minute and then Gerry and I went out and got a beer on Franklin St, laughed and watched the Kentucky Derby, and it was all fun again!
Happy Mothers Day to all you moms!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

No place I would rather be........

I'm back home today after three days in three states and eight stores. I drove from Tennessee into NC on Tuesday and stopped at the state line visitor's center to pee and get something to drink that would make me have to pee some more. The interstate visitor centers on the state lines are always a pleasant place to stop and take a break.

Someone wrote a post on their blog a few weeks ago about our politics here in NC and there was a comment that said something like "no way could I live in the south". I remember thinking when I read that comment, "No way I could NOT live in the south." I love North Carolina, born here, lived here most of my life, no place I would rather be. Its deep in my soul. Yes, our Governor is an idiot and if you have been listening to NPR around here, he proves it more every day, with his uninformed comments. But the people that live here are not idiots. Gerry has been photographing transgender folks all week for a story the AP is doing about this pee bill, as I am calling it now. He has met some interesting folks, and in my travels this week, so have I. There are good people here, let us all pee where we want to you stupid politicians!

The visitor center on I 26 crossing into NC is really beautiful and there is a little trail that leads to an overlook. You can see Mt. Mitchell in the distance, the tallest mountain on the east coast. It was nice to get out and walk a few yards from my car and feel like I was deep in the mountains. Traveling this much is taking a toll, mentally and I am trying more and more to find ways to take care of myself. Taking food with me, trying to get some nature and I bought a new book, so I try to find a little time to read too. The spirit must be cared for.

Rhododendren is in full bloom up in the hills. I lucked out on this clear blue day with temperatures in the 60's, the air was crisp and spring was rocking and rolling.

This is why I am seeking solace wherever I can find it. The stores I am charged with "fixing" are an f'*ing mess. When you are breaking all sorts of sales records and so busy slammed with customers you can't even take a break, your store goes to hell. Leonard just had the biggest month in the history of their company and yay, business is good, but I have a long road ahead. I have never seen retail stores in such a mess. All of the guys are amazing though and 99% welcome me with open arms and are glad for the help. I did run into one mean ass woman this week who I chose to ignore because my day had been a good one and she was not going to rain on my parade. Some people just gotta act like a bad ass, its really boring.

I have taken over the Leonard instagram for a little creative outlet. Its fun trying to make a good photo on a Leonard lot! I think is the instagram location.   I love this vintage poster I came across in one of the stores. Mr. Leonard raises these cattle, apparently he is famous for them. I would love to see us do a retro ad campaign with these one day.

Beautiful day up in the mountains

I got lost looking for one of our stores, they had moved, no one told me and my GPS took me to an empty lot. The lot was near a house that had an old Leonard greenhouse in the backyard. Love this vintage Leonard stuff I'm coming across!

Nice to be home. I am meeting so many kind people and getting to spend time traveling the South that is so engrained in my mind. So many memories as I drive the backroads and the interstates. But it sure feels good to sleep in my own bed! Life is very different now, but I do love that paycheck in my account every Friday. The trade off is on most days well worth it. But I'm tired.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

And then I saw Jupiter

Road weary.... and its only Tuesday. I left home early yesterday, drove to Mount Airy, then up to Bristol Va, spent the night in a skank motel, it was free with my Choice Hotel points, good thing because it sure as hell wasn't worth paying for. There were holes in the carpet, holes in the shower ceiling, it had an odd odor.... I'm just so tired of these "economy" hotels. They suck!

 I have a minimal travel budget that does not allow for Marriotts and Hiltons, which I am used to staying in, and I am not enjoying these stays one damn bit. In Charlotte, the desk clerk gave me a room that was the one and only room in the entire hotel that had construction going on literally right outside the window, the construction guy was looking right in at me when I entered the room and he watched me as I turned right around and went back to the desk clerk. Honest to God, how could she not have figured this one out!??  I'm going to have to talk to somebody about this. I am gone for the next three weeks and I can't take many more nights in these toxic chemical boxes. 

I ended my day today in Asheville NC and my listed hotel was a Quality Inn that I am familiar with. The hotel just direct bills my company so it is nice to not have to pay and turn in expenses. This place was fine, but the smell of the cleaning chemicals in these places is killing me. My allergies go into overdrive every time I walk into a room. I left the door open in this room and turned the AC way down, ran the bathroom fan and it went away. I had to go and get something for allergies, my head just completely closed up. WHY!?!?!?!? 

I needed some real air, so I went down the road to Whole Foods, got some good fruits and salad and a six pack and drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and had myself a little picnic, watching the sun set. Heaven.... I have sat at this same spot so many times with Wesley and Gerry, homesick now....

And then I met Jim from the local Asheville astronomy club. While I ate, I watched from a distance as he fiddled and fiddled with this gigantic telescope and wondered what he was going to look at. He walked over after a bit and said if I would like to see Jupiter, I was welcome to come over, it was just coming into view. Well now, why not? Beer, Kale and a Jupiter viewing....

I saw Jupiter and three of its moons, the same ones Galileo saw years and years and years ago. Jim lives five miles down the road, travels alone in his little RV there and hangs out with the local astronomy club. I admire his contentment with his solitude. He said he comes to this spot nearly every night when its clear and sets up his telescope. What a life.... he was very kind.

Then, when I got back to my hotel it was lit up like.... well, like I don't know what! I just burst out laughing at this sight. What in the world?!  It was like they were waiting on the Wizard of Oz to show up or still celebrating St. Patricks Day. Sure was festive and an interesting follow up to the mountain solitude and Jupiter with her moons.

Life on the road is good and bad. Lonely sometimes, but never dull when you just look around. I'm ready to get back to my bed though!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Whites only.... wtf?

We met with our realtor today to have a beer, get a check from her and discuss where we are with our new buyers. We have come up on one small glitch. Of course.... it couldn't be all smooth sailing. The buyer's attorney uncovered a covenant from the 1950's for our neighborhood that says only caucasian people are allowed to live here...... WTF! In that case we have several neighbors that are in violation because our neighborhood is a mix of races. I wonder how we missed this when we bought the house.... our realtor is African American and our buyer's realtor is lesbian, so neither are very amused by this new information. I am just ashamed for whatever fool declared this covenant to begin with, and thank goodness it is in reality, unconstitutional.  It also says our house has to be so many feet off the road, we measured, it is, but our plat is wrong. Can anybody get anything right?! Like this covenant would really hold up anyway, but still....

We are in a holding pattern, while new inspections for our new buyers take place. They have been very pleasant to deal with, unlike the devil's children we finally got rid of. Last week they had the house inspected, septic inspected, a contractor came, mom and dad came. I was out of town all week so poor Gerry had to deal with keeping the house up for all of the traffic in and out.

I have been home two days, head back out tomorrow for Tennessee, the next week back to the eastern part of NC then the next week to South Carolina. I'm tired, we are living out of boxes, we are still living with uncertainty, though not as bad, we think this contract will stick. I really just want my life back.