Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Weekend Full of...

Usually I'm full of hopes and aspirations of how to spend a long weekend. This time, I haven't even thought about it...until now. As I'm skimming through the blogs I never seem to have time to visit anymore. Observing other people's creative offerings, I realize:

I want to paint.

I want to play.

I want to sew.

I want to contemplate.

I want to knit.

I want to read.

I want to be.

A weekend full of creative thoughts and activities.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Remembrance

To say that Tasha Tudor was a remarkable woman would be an understatement.

In a world bent on technology and "progress", Tasha contentedly lived her life circa 1830, living with no running water, eschewing modern conveniences. To observe her, you could easily believe she had taken advantage of H.G. Well's Time Machine. She enjoyed dressing in period clothing, preferring bare feet most of the time.

Tasha was an avid gardener. Her heirloom gardening was not only beautiful to see, but was used for food as well. She populated her homestead with a variety of animals from parrots to corgi dogs and chickens loving each as pets.

Tasha gained notoriety and respect as a children's author and illustrator. Her watercolor and ink drawings becoming beloved worldwide. Tasha gained much of her knowledge of painting from her mother who was a portrait painter. Her drawings are delicate, reminiscent of another time when life was simple and family was center. Much of her work uses the animals of which she was so fond, her precious corgi dogs playing a prominent role.

I was introduced to Tasha Tudor by my best friend and roommate from college. Back in the ninety's we both subscribed to a lovely magazine called Victoria. Victoria magazine has been a friend of Tasha Tudor's for many years now, documenting her life through lovely articles and photos.

I think I've become as entranced by the lifestyle of Tasha Tudor as I have her delicate artwork. It is fascinating to me to find a women who, in an age of instant gratification, would choose to spin, weave and sew her clothing, raise her own food and in general, "do things the hard way". To choose to live by candlelight, carry your water to the house from the well, eat from the sweat of the brow--daily; it leaves me shaking my head in admiration and wonderment.

I had recently been thinking of Tasha and realizing that she was advancing in years, was curious as to her well being. I opened the September/October issue of Victoria magazine to find news of her passing in June of this year.

In the midst of a life that I find sometimes a little to fast for my pace, I will stop occasionally and remember a woman who embodied the lifestyle my heart yearns for.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looky What I Did!

So for a person who doesn't really run for exercise, I've sure done a good bit of running in the last couple of days.

I only did it under duress, you understand.

Thursday evening, I was so psyched to go to the gym for a class that has become an unlikely favorite of mine. It's called Bootcamp. The easiest way to describe it is circuit training and exercising at different "stations". The teacher of the class had told me that the schedule would change from Wednesday to Thursdays and this past Thursday was my first opportunity to go.

I actually arrived about 10 minutes early and got on the treadmill to kill time and warm up. Just an easy walk, watching the clock. I noticed people gathering around the door to the classroom, but no teacher. I thought that was odd since she tends to show up early to breath down the neck of the class before her.

Finally, I went over to the door and looked at the posted schedule. Well! They didn't change it after all! It's still on Wednesday! (The people who had gathered were there for BodyFlow, a stretching/yoga class)

Well crap.

Here I am at the gym psyched up for some cardio and my only option at this point is the dang treadmill again. (OH HOW I LOVE THE TREADMILL! *read sarcasm*) I got on and decided to see how far I could run. I realized I can go farther if I think really hard about anything except running. So I did some writing in my head on my book (without a plot). I ran almost a mile before I stopped to walk! Then, after walking approximately a half mile, I cranked it up again to run a solid mile! I then walked for maybe another half mile and called it a night.

On Saturdays, I join a running group that meets. A friend and I walk while they run, then we all go out to breakfast. Except today, my friend didn't come, so what was I to do but start running with a couple of the girls. (Peer pressure, I'm telling ya.) I ran a mile plus a hill before I started walking. I had to walk the rest of the 2ish miles, but I did feel a sense of accomplishment, I have to say.

I may break my arm patting myself on the back...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fresh Hope

Thanks for your commiseration on my work rant.

Yesterday, I felt I'd been redeemed.

We've hired a girl who is about to start cosmetology school and is interested in apprenticing with us. That means she will get a special license so she can begin doing hair (under a licensed stylist) while she is going to school. It will help her get a head start on her career. She has impressed me with her quick smile and apparent willingness to do anything and she is available anytime we need her (for now). We hired her and yesterday was her first day. Here is where she really sold me on herself.... she was standing near me, calling clients to confirm appointments and the phone rang. She stood there for a second and when I realized everyone else was busy and no one was answering the phone, I asked her to grab it. She answered stating the business name and her name. I could have swooned! I'm big on phone professionalism (and in all areas of business for that matter) and it seems that she has it!

It was such a breath of fresh air to have her work yesterday. Perhaps it's simply that her personality is more outgoing than some of my other employees so I'm attracted to her ability to be personable. Between that and her willingness to work, she's charmed me.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Work Rant

Perhaps there should be a revolving door on the front of my salon.

I live in a small community although we do have a university. We often use college students as assistants and they come and go with regularity. Schedules change with each semester and sometimes they are unable to work the schedule we need. That's understandable. There is a good bit of turnover as a result of that. That doesn't bother me.

What bothers me is the seeming increase in people who quit or we have to fire. People who consistently show up to work late, leave early (when the owners aren't there to hold them accountable) and just generally try to do the least they can get by with. We try to be gracious employers; having a meeting, discussing the problem, stating that this behavior is unacceptable. Employees nod, occasionally ask for a raise while they are at it ("because I've been with you for a long time, I've stuck with you when others left...") They leave me shaking my head in wonder.

I find it very simple. I lay out my expectations from the get go, and expect these rules and regulations to be followed. Why don't people just follow the rules?! That's what a job is! Nobody said you had to like everything about it, but while you are there (which is about a third of your day, but less for them because they almost never work an 8hr. shift) you should do what you agreed to do when you took the job. And this is a relatively short term job. This is what they are doing to get through school to do what they really want to do. It's not like they are going to be washing hair and sweeping floors for a career.

I have to do some research to break this cycle. I don't know if the secret to finding a good employee (loyal, capable, self-motivating, trustworthy, one who will work) is in the interview process, or if it is somewhere during the pow-wows we have during their employment. None of the three owners of this salon (including myself) have any business background other than what we have learned along the way.

I guess I get frustrated because, as the old saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." No amount of pep talks can change an employee's bad attitude. I guess it bothers me so much because I care about the people who work for me. I have an employee who has been through some stuff (outside the salon but it affected her work) that she should have been fired for and we decided to keep her anyway in good faith and give her a second chance. I'm all for mentoring and coming alongside people, but my loyalty with them becomes a little thin when, by their behavior, they devalue my investment in them.

Thanks for hanging through my rant. Any guidance from those with more experience than I in this area is most welcome.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Tea Cozy

You know I love coffe. Believe me, I LOVE coffee.

But. There are occasions where nothing will do but a cup of tea. Piping, steaming, fragrant tea.

I've been consistently cold today. You know. Hands and feet perpetually cold. Odd for the middle of August, I know.

I think this calls for a cup of hot tea. Don't you?

Now, I considered other ways to get warm. I think of my hubby as my own personal heater. I swear his body temp hovers at around 150 degrees or so. Unfortunately, snuggling with him means he is sweating in about 10 seconds. Plus this is a family blog, so I couldn't get very far posting about that....

How do you take your tea?

Here in the South, tea is usually brewed, sweetened (heavily) and served over ice. It's a staple at meals and very refreshing on a hot summer's day. Interestingly enough, although I've grown up on sweet tea, I don't make it often at home. I drink it only occasionally.

Others drink hot tea, heating water and adding tea bags or loose tea and letting it steep. Some add honey, lemon, and/or milk as well.

That is my preference today. A piping hot cup of Earl Grey. Lightly sweetened, with milk.

What will you have?
Just let me know....I'm pouring.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vacation Supper

See this Greek Salad?---------------------------->

Looks yummy doesn't it?

Pretend like I made this one.

Because mine looked almost exactly like it. You just can't see the anchovies.


It was delicious.

Did I mention that I can't find the charger for the camera's batteries?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dreamy Morning

I'm having the morning of my dreams.

I got up at about 5am with the intention (been saying that a lot lately) of going to work out. However, with the pain in my head I couldn't imagine the exertion would help a headache any. That's what happens to me when I go a month between massage appointments instead of every other week. My shoulders gather up around my ears and muscles wad up into knots.

Although that doesn't sound very dreamy, drinking coffee (surprise) and visiting blogs is. I've been making my long neglected blog rounds. Over time my list of favorite blogs has lengthened. I used to be able to visit most of them about every other day. Now, not so much.

Some inspiring things this morning:
Alicia's post evokes memories of summers past.
Anahata inspires me with her art.
This sweet lady reminds me to let kids be kids.

I think I love blogs about as much as I love coffee.

Combine the two and I'm in a swoon.
Yes. I'm very relaxed now.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the muscle relaxer I took either.

Of course not.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coffee--The Other Wonder Drug

I'm a user.

Unabashed and unashamed user.

I zoomed through my day yesterday, weaving in and out of activities. Seamlessly moving between clients and the business of business that inevitably comes when you own your own salon.

I was effecient, effective and happy.

I made calls, tracked down information, gave an employee a pep talk and did hair almost all at the same time!

I had two cups of coffee before my a.m. meeting with the two other owners of the salon. We met at my favorite local coffee shop. Of course, while there, I had the biggest non-fat latte that they serve. I sipped on that through the morning till lunch.

Occasionally, I go to bed looking foward to the next day if only for the coffee that I know awaits me in the morning. My sister just made my coffee dreams come true when she began working in a coffee shop in our hometown.

I guess we would be safe to say at this point that I love coffee. Hot, cold, frozen...just make it good quality and I'm all over it.

I think I'm addicted.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm Not Here...A Travelogue

You may observe me going about my day to day life, but I am not is a portion of my daily travelogue....
Outside the door of the inn, I pause, squinting in the bright sunlight. First order of business: a big, floppy straw hat. I observe the town; much the same way I watch movies--paying little attention to the action played out before me but watching the scenery behind.

Lush flowers trail from window boxes, colorful, handpainted jugs sit by door steps and hang near doors. Beyond the whitewashed buildings, I see cypress trees their edges black and jagged against the cerulean sky. I follow the cobblestone streets to the market area where there is an eclectic mix of items for sale. Some of the shops are clearly aimed at visitors looking for tourist totchkes to take back to friends and relatives--proof, I guess, that they were actually here in this spot. I bypass these, preferring to delve deeper into the city for the local wares. I do find the perfect hat, so my time spent is not in vain.

I wander through the streets breathing deeply of the sea air. I love exploring a town this way-- peering into windows, taking note of this shop and that. I could stop and leisurely browse through each one but the pull of the sea is strong. I vow to come back soon and shop to my heart's content.

All roads in this town, I discover, eventually lead to the water. The view literally stops me in my tracks.

The sea sweeps out to the edge of the world. the water sparkling like a beautiful blue topaz gem. I walk through sand almost as fine and soft as confectioners sugar, becoming firmer as I reach the water's edge. I slosh through ankle deep water then stop, marveling at how clear the water is.
A flock of white birds fly over my head looking for all the world like a ribbon trailing across the sky.

The rest of the world comes into focus as I begin observing people around me. People of all shapes and sizes filter in and out of my view. I feel safe enough behind my dark sunglasses to watch unabashedly.There's a family with a cherubic child of about two years old. I laugh when the squealing child runs straight for the water arms outstretched as if to embrace the entire ocean. A couple of older ladies walk by heads bent in deep discussion clearly working to solve the problems of the world. I raise my water bottle in silent salute wishing them much success. I spot a scrap of white and make out a sailboat bobbing on the horizon. I sit for the next two hours watching and vicariously sharing snippets of other people's lives offering little in return for the privilege.

Finally, the sun begins to sag in the sky and I decide it is time to move on as I have fulfilled my goal...
To see, sit and soak in the sea.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Into the Halls of Higher Education

Looks like fun times ahead!!!
Let's go!!!
Sure daddy, I'll stop long enough for a picture....

"I got to go!" (said when daddy started fiddling with his camera.) Happy to see teacher!

My girl crossed another major milestone this week--school!!
She has been looking forward to it for weeks. Everyday this week, she has said, "Mommy, I love going 'at' school!" or "Mommy, I can't wait to go to school!" "Can we go again tomorrrow?"
I ask you, how can I weep in the face of such eagerness and enthusiasm?
Yes, I'm losing my baby, but I'm gaining a precious little girl!

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm Not Here...cont'd

You may observe me going about my day to day life, but I am not is a portion of my daily travelogue....

I awoke to the sun streaming through the open window. I had no idea what time it was, nor did I care. I only knew that I was famished and in desperate need of coffee. I lay for a moment in the bed; piled high in a nest of pillows and sheets. I stretched luxuriously wiggling my fingers and toes. I reveled anew in my new found freedom and gave a little shriek of delight as I discovered it all over again.

I sat on the edge of the bed, letting my feet rest a moment on the cool floor. A glimpse out the window drew me--I pulled back the curtain.

I had been so tired and numb from travel the night before, that I had registered very little as I arrived at the modest inn where I am staying. It was twilight when I arrived and I had moved through check in functioning on auto-pilot.

Stepping out onto the narrow balcony, I survey the vista before me. I am in the heart of this little village. The inn is set up on a hill, the town spreads out before me, cobblestone streets weaving in and out among the whitewashed buildings. Achingly bright colors pop against this white canvas. Beyond this is a turquoise sea. I rush to dress, eager to begin the exploration of my new surroundings. Comfortable shorts, a soft cotton tunic top slipped on over my bathing suit will be my new uniform. Sturdy sandals comfortable enough for walking complete my ensemble.

I eagerly make my way downstairs, following my nose which directs me to the delicious scents wafting from the dining area. The coffee is hot and fragrant. I sit for awhile sipping coffee and eating breakfast while looking over brochures trying to decide what to do first. I was never good at making decisions, so I gather up the brochures and head out the door feeling serendipitous.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy We.

You know?

Being married is an eye-opening experience.

And not just because I was naive and an ingenue.

I've always been of romantic mind. What girl doesn't dream of her prince riding up and sweeping her away and she lives happily ever after with stars in her eyes?

Yes. Well.

That lasted until the next morning when it was pouring down rain and he was wondering if he really could take care of me like he promised and I was worried about him because he was worried.

Reality bites.

We coasted along the first five years learning each other's quirks and preferences. Arguments were polite: "...but sweetie, that's not what I want to do."

The next five years found us a little more comfortable with each other. "Sometimes I don't like you, but I love you..."

The next five years, I thought I might be able to relax a little, I knew him inside and out, I'd grown up a little; now I could settle back and just enjoy being married.



The rules changed. Fifteen years later, DH lets me know that all these years, he's been elevating me as his queen, and not really saying how he really feels.

He's changed. I've changed.

We aren't the young, naive kids we were. We've grown up, gotten knocked around by life, grown up and matured a bit. Perceptions about a lot of things have shifted.

Now what?

The man I'm married to today isn't as quick to let things "roll off". Frankly, neither am I. I've become much more independent and less of a "clinging vine". He has strong opinions and I can match that strength with the opposite viewpoint.

It was time to scrap what we had.

Next question...walk away? I mean, this was hard. We weren't the same people we had married in the beginning. If life was going to be this full of sparks, flying this often, I wasn't sure I was up to this for another 30 or more years.


I'd promised.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health...

People break promises everyday.

But I couldn't.

Besides, what kind of friend drops a friend when times are tough and they don't like them or agree with them anymore?

Also, we had experienced one of the biggest miracles that could ever happen to us. We created a child. I feel so strongly that our girl would benefit from both of her parents raising her, that I just couldn't leave--and I didn't want him to leave either.

I would think back over our history. How we met. How in love we were. I longed and prayed for that again. I prayed a lot during the past five years. I couldn't imagine that God would lead me to this man then allow me to be miserable for the rest of my marriage. (Much of the misery is probably due to our own making, I admit)

We've been through a lot. Ups. Downs. Mistakes. Victories. Life.

As I look back over the past 22(!) years we've been married, I'm filled with gratefulness. Gratefulness for a man who is consistent. He knows what he believes and stands by his convictions. He loves me steadily, through good, bad and ugly. He loves me well and although sometimes his love is clumsy, I can trust him. He is a fine man, gallant, courteous, protective.

He is my husband.