Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas

If I had a bottle of what my mama calls champy-champ in the house, I'd open it tonight.


2012 has been a real humdinger and it is drawing to a close. 

I am very happy.

With what's happened and what I'm working on happening.

Now, without further ado...

Friday: we went to friends' Xmas party. I walked through the door to find Annaliese in this party dress, which she has NEVER before had occasion to wear out of the house, weeping because she broke her tiara. I pulled out my fancy gift-basket ribbon and made two blond braids and the tears magically dried.

 Caspian wanted to look special and handsome too. Which, as everything is all over the place these days, was a difficult proposition. We settled on daddy's red ski hat and Annaliese's reversable jacket turned to the brown-with-red-piping side that she never wears.

He charmed everybody. They were both very well behaved AND the only children at the party. We were there for nearly three hours and we all had fun.

Sneak shot of Annaliese's room. After removing the fake ceiling (and hundreds of staples), working on the walls (two coats of paint) and the floors (K. sanded; I did about five coats of tung oil and one of wax), the kids moved into their own rooms Saturday nights. It's a good thing. They're right across the hall from each other, with a tiny bathroom in between.

Today I went to work and Kagan baked cookies with the kids. 

When I got home, we put the cute gingerbread shapes into packages and signed them and wrapped ribbons around them and walked the mile into town and left them on friends' porches and doors and for a few who were home, handed them directly to them. We even sang Miss Dixie a carol. 

It was wonderful and we all enjoyed it but this crazy girl wasn't in a picture-taking mood.

Per our usual, we ate fondue tonight. Caspian passed out instanteously tonight and we are on the couch in front of a fire waiting on Annaliese to wind down so we can move in the big presents from the garage.

A note on present-buying: K. and I decided three years ago that every year, we would give our children something to wear, something to read, and something to play with, with a couple of smaller gifts to be from Santa in the stocking. 

We bought our children the presents we wanted to this year: a new bike with bell and training wheels, special-ordered from the hardware store on Main Street, for Annaliese; a beautiful easel that Kagan made fully stocked with Melissa and Doug art supplies from the children's bookstore on the Square; two hardcover books from the same bookstore; a hat from the local department store that's considered ritzy; a dress from the seamstress next door with an A on the chest; candy galore; a set of Melissa and Doug dolls, a doctor's kit, and a rocket that operates off of foot power for the stockings. 

I am enthused about all these presents and again, we bought what we wanted to with no consideration of price. 

The grand total? $300. 

I am very pleased with all of this and it feels sustainable in the best possible sense of the word. For us, for our kids, for our community. 

Ok. Preaching over. I dig the three-present thing though, and recommend it highly. It helps focus the field in a good way. Not my idea, but I'm glad we adopted it.

Tomorrow, we feat and open presents and hopefully, weather permitting, go on a long walk.

The day after, I bundle my cherubs into Boatie and head to Virginia. A two-day trip; we'll arrive Thursday night and wake to a Virginian Christmas with my mother and sister. We're all really excited. Staying for ten days!

K., on the other hand, is also very excited: that we will be out of his hair and he will be able to do what he will in peace and quiet.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Geese Are Getting Fat

Oh, so it's pictures you want????


First, this kid:

Does she look dazzlingly enormous to anybody else? Every weekday morning except Monday, I hustle the kids into their clothes and through breakfast and into the car and down the drive and to the store and across the road and through the door and into the store so I can make coffee, set out jams, turn on cooler lights, unlock doors, etc. This takes about 15 minutes. Annaliese usually disappears to her desk behind the counter and emerges when it's time to dash to their respective schools at 7:50am with a sheet of printer paper covered in letters. This is homework. She gets a prize if she brings in homework. The other day she wrote out the alphabet, for funsies.

This is our future kitchen!!!!!

K. and I have a perfectly beautiful house 3/4 quarters of a mile from our farm. Do we think we should live in our empty beautiful house while attempting to work on things like below? No. Does this make any sense? No. Is it how we roll? Apparently.

This is our Christmas tree! Which has fallen over twice (once the cat, once the kids) and I really need to check the water level, self. 

It is NOT one of the beautiful fir trees the BTC sells because K likes to cut one down and in these here parts, they only have cedars. So we have a cedar. I love the lights.

This is my son. He is heart-breakingly sweet and very punchy and endlessly chatty. This morning he told me he loves me more than sunflowers. And then we started talking about sunflowers, and when I promised we'd plant a bunch this summer, his whole body spasmed in excitement. The reindeer bag is from today's Christmas party at his school, which he attends 8am-12pm. 

 Annaliese had her pre-school's party yesterday. She loves Miss Allison, far left, who is the Real Cindarella. Apparently. Her school runs 8am-11am and Annaliese adores it.

Sitting on the roof with my son. 

Kids and I went to my old garden (I MISS having a garden fiercely) to pick some old woody radishes for the rabbits.

I made the kids hug.

The booty-shaking, however, was all them.

The store is endlessly hectic. This week alone...

I got called in on my day off (AGAIN) because someone was sick. Someone else stole $200 from me. Same person stormed out and quit in a blaze of drama. Someone else sobbed behind the counter. Someone else started working for me. A produce cooler bit the dust. The special Christmas hams arrived, and are not what we thought they would be. I need my old weekend cook to work tomorrow, and then AFTER his shift is over, I have to fire him, because the NEW weekend cook is good to start Sunday (Merry Christmas, right??!). 

But I think I am learning to let it go more than I used to. I have fired people. People have quit. Equipment has failed. Customers have complained. The power has shut off. Employees have brought an amazingly diverse array of drama through the door as reasons not to work, to work, why they can only work x but not y. We have made mistakes. We have lost money. 

We're still here. So, I try to let it go, to go home and be with my family and stop anticipating whatever will go wrong next. 

Tonight, we're going to a Christmas party with good friends. Tomorrow, I'm finishing the kids' new rooms and I AM SO EXCITED. Sunday, we're baking cookies and K and I have a date (!!!) to go see the hobbit. Monday, I work until 3, then it's fondue and family time. Christmas, it's just us and it will be peaceful and happy and the store is closed so NO ONE CAN CALL ME. The day after Christmas, the kids and I pile in the car and drive north to see my mama and my sister and all my Virginian near and dear. 

Lots to be excited about, in other words. 

Peace and love to you and yours!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Yesterday K brought the kids into the college town 20 minutes away where I was sitting at a nursery, finishing up my weekly grocery deliveries (people come to a central location and pick 'em up) and left them with my so he could go eat dinner with some buddies from his office days.

Friday night! Me! The kids! In a different town!

We went to the dollar store and I gave them each five dollars and a basket so they could buy Christmas presents for folks.

The process of shopping for others as opposed to themselves was interesting to watch.

Caspian found the whole thing stressful; Annaliese found it invigorating.

Gender, much?

We then went to a sushi restaurant and ordered soup, scallops and mixed vegetables, fried rice, pan-fried dumplings, edamame, California and avocado rolls.

Oh. and SHirley Temples.

The rule was they had to try everything.

Caspian hated it all. He'd take a bite and shake his head mournfully. No, Mama, I don't like these beans anymore (even though he used to love them). In other words, he was being three. I didn't force the issue. He didn't even care for his shirley Temple.

Annaliese adored the dumplings and edamame and gave the scallops and fried rice a good whack too.

She wants to be a chef right now.

It was really fun.

We live a pretty quiet family life. Trips to the zoo or the weekly jaunt to the House of BBQ or church are adventures. The dollar store and sushi? Big damn deal.

It may be selfish of me, but I like that the kids are so excited about the out-of-the-ordinary jaunts.

They've been making their Christmas lists. We've already come a long way from last year's "Band-aids and a Spotting-scope": this year it's bikes (we got it! they are getting bikes!), toy kitchens (no.) princess dressed (she HAS those) and "something to eat" (guess who.)

Love these munchkins.

Caspian had a good time even if he didn't like anything.

Annaliese had a much better time than this picture might suggest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Technology digression:

I do not like using the iPhone to take pictures, and yet, since i have one, I never hunt out the good camera for pictures. Which means I never take pictures. This should change, stat.

We sat down last night to a good dinner and I was looking across the table at Annaliese, who has had some sort of time-melting growth spurt lately and now seems, oh, about 18 instead of four, nearly five.

I made some comment to that effect and K said, "it's like you're here with us for the first time in awhile."


That is true.

Very odd, because the book was relatively a minor pain in the ass, and yet something about doing it was more than the Big Deadline Dread that I remember from school. Basically, it filled me with dread and terror the entire time I was writing it, and now that I'm not, voila! Nothing externally has changed but internally, no dread and terror.

Good change.

Makes me wonder if I should ever write any more books.

In store news, we need to make more money/employees continue to be a gigantic pain in my rear/people SUCK right now, it's all sandwiches and Christmas trees and no grocery shopping, which isn't FUN for me, I like the grocery shoppers!

So basically, the same as usual. In hard facts, I am encouraged by the all-time high average sale in the store (Rose by over $2/person in November, thanks to turkeys and Christmas trees), the percentage of growth compared to last year (37%, one month to go), and the record-breaking lunch/week the store experienced last week.

Did you just fall asleep? My husband did.

In farm news, our vision is clearing. K is close to finishing the porches. I've been painting and refinishing the floors in the kids' rooms and hopefully they'll be sleeping in their new rooms Christmas Eve.

The kids play outside a lot more than they used to. Right now their favorite game is Chef: they prepare intricate and beautifully laid out meals on short pieces of board: dirt, carefully mounded; magnolia leaves; acorns; screws.

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree together.

I'm liking December.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

It's December!

Sent my book into my editor this morning.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Trench Warfare

I haven't been my best lately. Not eating all that well; not sleeping deeply; not getting enough exercise; not being present enough with my family, let alone my friends. There are a lot of very legitimate reasons for that (moving-- into a house we plan to tear apart, so what's the point? the book, due in 3 weeks! endless technological and logistical store difficulties! a photographer in town to shadow my every move for five days!)

But suffice it to say K. and my friends and family and even myself have been cutting me a break lately. This is not the time to re-start my exercise regime, or make a lot of lists. This is the time to do the best I can, for now, until the book! deadline is past, until I have a spare unaccounted moment. Sometimes you gotta be in the trenches for awhile and now is that time for me.

Still. Having all these things and people that matter so very much is, on some level, exhilarating.

See ya in December.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Very Pondering Post

Home from work and sitting on the porch letting the kids watch too much TV so I can drink some caff tea in peace.

It's a beautiful day.

I have, without a doubt, been spending entirely too much time inside lately, and so every time I am not inside my sense of smell comes alive and gets all happy.

I am wring out by the rollercoaster of the week-- per usual on Saturdays-- and so sitting on the porch is as active as I can manage. Maybe tomorrow I'l make it to the garden, or take the children on a hike, or something.

Maybe we'll go dig up little baby trees at the farm and plant them along the driveway, or wherever we want.

It's ours now.

As much as I love our bright and cheerful and airy house, I am severely tempted to move the necessities into the dark and old-lady and rather awful new house so we can begin settling there. It'll take forever. We're not even sure what we should do to fix the house, or if we should just build a new one, and so until that's clear in our heads, we'll just be puttering around, working on fields and the barn and whatever else strikes our fancy.

K's there now, lucky dog. On his tractor no doubt.

Despite the financial worries of the store (will they NEVER end???) and the lack of time to do anything besides work and child-mind, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

When I was growing up, I worried about two things pretty incessantly:

if I could be happy. If I was fundamentally lazy.

I can be.

I am not.


The children, ages 3 and 4:

-Annaliese slipping into our bed right after dawn. Caspian (recently) already there, pulling back the cover for her and tucking her in beside her and hugging her with his free arm.

-Annaliese, telling us that one of her friends is a cheerleader. That she wants to be a cheer leader. "I want to do everything," she says brightly. And means it.

-Caspian, starting a conversation on the produce run, strapped into his car seat in the passenger seat of the BTC van: "Do you like tigers and bears? I do."

-Caspian, during most of soccer, kicking the ball once every game and running off the field for a congratulatory hug. Not a competitive bone in his body. He did enjoy hugging his pretty coach, though.

K., vibrating with impatience about this farm. He is like a coiled spring set loose. It's very gratifying, him taking over this ambition of mine, because i don't have enough hours in the day and I love it when he does projects I wish I could do.

I realized recently that we think of each other as such a team unit that it doesn't really matter who actually does what: it matters that it gets done. Maybe because we got married so young and basically grew up together? I don't know. But I like it. Not that we don't keep bitter score of domestic trivia-- unhelpful and unavoidable-- but in the big picture, it's us, checking off the master list of the things we think are worth doing.


I turned 30 this year. It was my least fan-fared birthday and probably my happiest. I ate dinner with K and the kids on the porch, partook of a ridiculously wonderful applesauce 6-layer cake K made, got cards from my mom and my sister, opened a few presents.

I'm 30 now. It feels momentous, but in a good way; like when you begin something you've been anticipating, but you're ready, you're rested, you're prepared.


Plans this weekend: eating fried chicken! With Dixie and K. Sleeping in. Working on the book. Being at the farm. Taking at least one solo walk. Cooking these fancy sausages i bought. Getting to the library on Monday. Welcoming Mom at some point for a visit.

Sounds good.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


It is officially fall: first night heat on of the season, crisp days, red leaves, pumpkin soup at the BTC, the whole she-bang.

Today both of the kids left for the afternoon: Annaliese to a birthday party a fellow mama generously offered to take her to, and Caspian to a neighborhood park for a play-date with a sweet blondie whom he adores.

Annaliese heading off:

Playing with the boy until his date arrived:

K. and I seized the hour and went tromping through the woods at the farm. It's not quite in the bag yet: we're supposed to close next weekend, so there's still the ? in our minds if it's actually meant to be ours.

We hope so, though.

At one point, hiking up the stretch of wooded hill that comes with the meadows and the great arched oak trees and the old barn and everything else, I stopped and just breathed in. The smell of the woods in the fall. A smell I grew up with and now my kids will too.

That makes me very happy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

YaloWhat, YaloWho? YaloMe, YaloYou?

So, 2011. Didn't have a baby, start a business, renovate a building. 2012: more of the same, until now!

I have been on the fence a long time about where we live. Pretty much since we moved here. We've bought property, made friends, and started a business all with a caveat: for now. For now. For now.

Not forever.

Until now.

At least, forever for now.

Which is a big difference.

Last fall, I was done. One hundred percent ready to sell up and move North: somewhere where we wouldn't be so progressive. Somewhere we could just SHOP at a store like mine instead of trying to make one. Somewhere with cold water and snow and public schools that send kids onto national, 4-year, high-profile universities. 

Somewhere easier.

So we knocked on that door. K. sent out job applications. I sent out business-selling feelers. We looked for property. 

And nothing happened.

Except: the store swung up, sharply. Dixie came to work for me. The store hit the beginnings of a stride. The weather was flawless. We got a lot of publicity, the New York Times article, the book deal. The building began to make money. Our friends became our friends rather than our acquaintances.

And K. quit his job, spent the summer in New England and driving through the West with an eye for a better life somewhere else.

In the mean time, I was driving around Mississippi in my produce van, thinking about how much I've come to love this place. How this place is making room for me, with my different last name and my every-other-week church attendance and my wonderful crazy store on Main Street. How much I love the ease of our life in our small town, and the stretch of cotton fields, and the arched pecan trees, and the feeling I have that I can work here. 

I am running into a limit of language here. But in this town, I have the feeling that must possess pioneers and missionaries: that what I do matters HERE: more than it would elsewhere.

(As pretty much everybody can see, I really love what I do. I have had a few people tell me lately that they think it's wonderful, my job, because it's so good for the town. 

Well, that's not why I do it. I do what I do because I am good at it, because it matters somehow to me, because I can see the way things could be and I can make them so if I just work hard enough.

It's not materialistic (though I fervently plan to earn a small-town living from it), but it's entirely selfish at the same time. I do it for me. Not the town, or the farmers, or the environment, or the building, or anyone besides me.)

I was thinking, all summer, that it might be too late for me to move. That my roots have sunk down and now it would hurt to move. I like it here. A lot.

But I wasn't sure about K. He wasn't even HERE all summer. What if, to follow a dream of his, we had to move elsewhere?

I was afraid.

And then, the other day, I was behind my copper counter, and my phone rang. It was K. I answered. 

He said, "the farm is on the market."

My heart rose into my throat. I knew exactly what he was talking about: 20 acres of fields and woods within walking distance to Main Street. A piece of property we'd tried to buy when we first moved here. A piece of property that had always tugged on our hearts, though we'd put it pretty firmly out of mind when we renovated our house and moved here. But lately-- like in the last six months-- we'd begun to feel that we were done with this sweet house. That it had served its purpose: to shelter a family with a toddler and an infant and serve as a practice ground for our design and lifestyle ideas.

K. told me how much the sellers was asking. It was less than we'd hoped/feared. 

(Though the listing price is ALSO more than we're paying.)

So that launched a big conversation that we'd kind of danced around for awhile, so K. could get his bearings in this new world he's in.

I said, "I don't want to buy this place unless we're staying."

And K said, "it feels like the right thing to do." And, "we're staying." 

At least, until we're not. Things can always change. But right now, we're staying, which is a lot different than planning on leaving at some point in the not-distant future.

The money part is going to be tight. It's going to be a little crazy. But here's what it looks like we have:

Our dream farm, with a less than dreamy house on it.

Our current house, which we are listing for sale as soon as our contract is finalized on the farm.

And K: handy, amazing, get-it-done K, who is not tied to a 9-5 job right now.

Seems like it was meant to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Sunday To Me

Yesterday was one of those Saturdays that I crawled home. K. met me at the front door with some miso. Put me to bed. I slept. I woke. We went on a walk (the kids were at a park, playing with a friend).  We lay on our backs and looked at the blue sky. We came home. He went off to install a bathtub (the never-ending landlord duties, but hey, our building makes money!) and I took the kids on another walk, downtown, for a pulled pork sandwich from DeDe and boiled peanuts (which the kids now love) and snocones and impromptu dancing at the crawfish joint.  We passed a wedding reception in the old Ford dealership on Main Street and the kids oohed and awed and pressed their faces against the glass. We threw our peanut shells on the street as we walked home in the dusk and the kids chattered and waved and played games and it all felt so effortless, so utterly unlike the morning.

Funny how a day can turn around.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anniversary, belated :)

K. takes all the pics these days and so I have no pics of us on our anniversary night. He does, and he is in a truck heading towards Columbus right now to buy a bathtub.

Long story.

I married K. when I was 22. In many ways, I was not the person I am now; we shopped at Safeway and Trader Joe's and went to the farmers' market down the street all of once, for instance. I was painfully young.

That did not stop me from making a really good decision.

Happy Seventh, Baby! 60+ to go!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


For the last few mornings, I have awoken to my kids laughing in their room while they lie in on their beds, paging through books together.

I am very happy my family is home, all in one place.

Things I learned from K's summer sojourn:

1. I am not that much more productive without them.

2. Sleep is very important to my mental and emotional well-being.

3. Shadow contributes 45% of the mess of the house, shockingly.

4. Regular meals are over-rated.

5. After I've read a book and slept in, all I want is for my family to come back!

6. My husband is cool and sexy and my best friend and it is a lonely life without him.

7. Girl-time IS fun, though. I should do that again soon.

The weather is perfect and the a/c is off and we have no plans at all to go anywhere soon and that feels really, really good.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

These Monkeys.

Fridays are ALWAYS rough for me. 

With kids, without kids. With kids along for my deliveries in torrential downpours with no a/c in the car, it was extra ROUGH.

I couldn't really even enjoy these too. 

Luckily, they enjoyed themselves without me. 

Aquatic delights at the Garden Center....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I just heard a song on my Pandora station that I associate strongly with my single sophomore year of college. My single with the yellow duvet cover that I would lie on and dream of K because I was so sick in love.

Now I'm listening to it as the kids play on the porch of our Mississippi house, painting together as the rain patters on the roof.

I still like the song. I still love him. I still have the duvet cover, too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


This morning, I was sitting on my little boy's bed, watching him put his own shirt on. I said, "how did you get so big?"

And he said, "I grew up when I went to Alaska."

I love this kid.

Also, I didn't know he knew about Alaska.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Store Post

I had to take a bunch of pics today for a magazine and thought I'd post 'em. 

Mostly, I work hard at the grocery and my very good friend Dixie runs the Cafe. Unless I am re-working logistics (we have a new tea set-up!) or running out sandwiches or bussing, the cafe isn't my deal. Dixie sets the menu, orders, does specials, and actually makes everything. Me, I'm unloading watermelons and pricing peaches and calling the milk man.

I knew she was good when she converted K., who is not easy to please. Yesterday he ordered Dixie's special, which included pimento cheese, something he's always avoided, just because she told him it was good. And he loved it. 

It sounds good, right? I just devoured special number 2 and it was ridiculously fabulous.

Our cafe is very informal. But we have a sign we can point to from the front of the store.

Dixie making my special to go. She's not a camera-smiler but she sure can cook.

K's sandwich.

Some hipsters who didn't order lunch. Their loss.

REALLY their loss.

Friend and neighbor chowing down. I gave her the sandwich in exchange for me being all up in her business taking photos.

Lori running plates. She's a good 'un too. Currently trying to persuade Dixie to do special dinners on the weekends. I say the odds are slim.

Kids on their way to the store for lunch. Annaliese ended up heling Dixie make Caesar dressing. She was standing on a cooler slicing shallots.

The super-fancy menu.

Simple but really, really kickass.

K and I ate all over the place in New England and didn't really find anything like the store. Fast, inexpensive, and really good don't seem to exist all that often. You have to go to a proper restaurant for really good food, which is kind of a shame. Because sometimes you want a really good $5-$8 lunch, and if you're not in our corner of the world, you seem to be out of luck.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Annaliese has patches on her tongue. The dentist tells us it's normal. Anyhow, her grandparents noticed and assumed it was from scarring, so they asked Annaliese how she hurt her tongue.

She told them that once, a long time ago, she was watching me cook and licked the stove.

They completely believed her and now

a. they think I am a terrible mother and

b. Annaliese thinks "fibbing" is the most fun game ever.


Monday, July 23, 2012

I'Ma Coming Home

K. has been doing such a nicely exxhaustive job of documenting this summer that I haven't felt like blogging.

Tomorrow, I head home to Mississippi after 24 days away. 24 days! And guess who's not ready to come home yet?

They plan on following me in another two weeks. There are ice cream cones left to eat, apparently.

I'm not bitter at all. But my heart aches at leaving my family.

August 10th. That's not so far away, right?
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Sunday, July 01, 2012

It's Time To Go

I'm stepping away from routine and the store and Mississippi for the next three+ (July 1st-24th) weeks to join my family in the north. Plans: cabin, extended family, lake, coast of Maine.

I am thrilled and petrified.

In a weird way, though, I feel like I can't afford not to take this trip. I want for my children a childhood that has plenty of routine and hard work and projects but also play. If I decide that I'm so indispensable to my business that I don't come join them for a few weeks, what am I actually telling them?

I know that the store will mostly be okay. It won't be perfect, but it'll be alright. Heck, it's already not perfect, but

I am very anxious about it all, though. I really, really am.

Hopefully that will melt away when I'm out of this heat (it was described as hell's breath and it's an apt description) and with my sweetie and my kids.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


In the almost month that I've been solo-ing it, I haven't written as much as I'd thought (though I have written more days that not). I haven't run like i thought I would (though I have walked). I haven't really gardened at all (it's very hot, very dry).

But I have worked on the kids' room.

It's a pretty room, a little awkward with the windows and doors and high open ceiling. We didn't pay it much attention when we moved in, and after three years of continuous use by infants and toddlers, it needed some.

So here's what I did!

-Clean it.

-Paint the back wall, which was a scribbled-on drywall, with chalkboard paint we already had.

-Order some hanging paper lanterns from World Market, about $45 worth.

-Buy some "vintage" wrapping paper sheets from Square books in Oxford, $3.99 each.

And voila!

However, one more thing has been itching at me. The kids need a low dresser or something to go in between the beds. Something for a lamp and a book, since we often let them settle with picture books at night. Something with a little storage space for clothes. But something low, since their beds are low, and I don't want to block the window.

I kept thinking about a bright fire engine red something. And I looked around and everything wasn't what I pictured or was over $250.

So I went to check out, since I like to torture myself with cheap furniture I don't have access to.

Guess what was $99 plus $40 shipping?

I splurged, y'all. It is exactly what I had in mind to rest between their beds. I am a little concerned about the corners being head-bustingly sharp, but I'll wrap them if need be.

So! a $200 make-over, and I think it's a much nicer place for our kids to sleep and play.

I'm excited about them coming home to see it, come August.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Night

I got over the boredom and it's been pretty nice again. Of course, it helps that I have a date now: July 1st. That's the day I wing my way north for 3+ weeks of freedom!

Not quite sure how the store will fare in my absence but it'll just have to cope.

It's been very tight monetarily as of late since the new deli has yet to rake in the big bucks. I find myself wondering if writing will help bridge gaps? Which is such an odd place to be in. We've grown drastically and yet the bills seem always just out of reach. I don't really worry about our personal finances at all, but the store takes a lot of mental space. Every week, people waiting for their paychecks, and they can't bounce. Massive utility bills, equipment loans, taxes, taxes, taxes. Boo hiss.

Haven't really be home since Wednesday, other than to sleep, so it's great to be on the porch, drinking an adult beverage and watching Louie chase his tail, with little on my agenda tomorrow besides my personal projects and sleeping in. If Louie lets me. He's quite the despot.

I am ready to see my family again. K floods me with pictures which is fantastic and helps a lot.

Look at these faces...

Can't believe I'm their mama!

Not to mention...

well, shoot, there's a hunky pic of k in his swimsuit on his blog but I can't save the darn pic as a pic.

Anyway, he's pretty cute himself.

Hope you have a great Sunday. I plan to!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Thing They Said Would Happen Has Happened

Missing my family terribly this morning. It's cool and grey and so the whole escape-the-heat premise of the summer in Vermont seems silly, and I have cleaned the house and napped and now I want my family back :( But of course, it's too soon. The mountains of writing in front of me have barely shifted. Miles to go before I take off up North. I'm very cavalier about money, lucky that way, but the ball is in my court right now, and I've got to take advantage while I can. Make hay while the sun shines, wot wot.

Read this quote today, refers to the Icelandic banking crises, but evokes so much more: 

So the rule now is, be humble, know your limitations and play to your strengths. And instead of thinking you know everything, ask questions; seek help.


I've gotten much better about doing this. It's why the store is still alive.

Something really satisfying happened yesterday: a middle-aged couple who lives about 12 miles away came back. They came about a month after we opened, thought (rightly), "oh, they don't have much," and haven't been back. Until yesterday. They wandered around with open mouths and delight on their faces: the cafe, the deli area, practically everything in-fact, was brand-new to them. They confirmed what I already knew: we've come a far, far way. 

I'm proud of that. It would have been nice to be an amazing store from the get-go, but it's perhaps more satisfying to continue evolving into something our customers really respond to. 

And the ground rule of that process is off that quote: know your limitations. Play to your strengths. Ask for help.

I am shocked and amazed and awed by the store, my customers, the attention we've received, a frigging book deal for heaven's sakes. Of course, absolutely no one, least of all me, is making what America would consider a living wage (luckily, it's cheap down here. Luckily, my house is paid-for.) The store never has any extra money, constantly juggles what money has to go where, is perpetually drowning in paper-work and the bureaucracy every small business faces and is carrying a lot of equipment-related debt. It's not like we're just selling groceries and making money hand-over-fist. My old mercedes wagon rolls around north Mississippi laden down with watermelons and bread and everything else; someday, I aspire to buy a used delivery van. Dixie's still cooking on a cheap electric stove. We still have days where we look around at an empty store. Every dollar is clawed-for. This week, for example; average sale per customer was down over a dollar per, which is huge. No extra money at all this week. Let's hope the store's having a good sunday so I can pay everybody and not start negative for the week tomorrow.

But we are still here. We are doing a good job. We are being rewarded in ways including money but also attention, thanks, and the delight on our customers' faces when we go the extra mile and bring them something remarkable. And of course, a book deal.

I think sometimes people only define success in terms of financial recompense. And yes, we all need money to live. But living in Mississippi has taught me the intangible value of recompense: community. Ease. Gratitude. Enjoyment. Importance. Safety. (In two-plus years of business, we've never had a customer bounce a check.) My children can come to work with me and stir cake batter, chop artichoke hearts, run next door to visit Miss J., play with neighborhood kids, eat butterfly-shaped sandwiches made with love by Miss Dixie. 

I could earn more money doing something else. I'm not sure I could make a better living. 

Now, back to the grindstone, so someone in New York City will give me a check that we can tuck away for whatever we get excited about next; K & A LLC tends to take on big projects, and it's been at least a year.

Picture: First tomato of the season, of a completely rogue plant that came up in a bucket on the courtyard side of the house. Improbable as hell but loaded down with these fluted tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

They Have Gone

And the house is very still.

My family left Monday at 6am and my mama left Tuesday and so last night I grocery shopped for MYSELF, came home, cleaned house, and went to bed. Got up to stillness and sunniness and got right to work on the writing projects I've been waiting to start. Did work, had a meeting, pruned a tree, and the whole evening is laid out in front of me like a gift.

It's extra-easy to enjoy it because the kids and k. sound so happy. They even managed to enjoy 2 grueling days of driving. This seems like the right thing for our family, so far; I hope I get lots of work done fast and then can take a couple weeks of guilt-free and rejoin them.

Monday, June 04, 2012

My Baby Turned Three

Caspian turned three yesterday. For his birthday, he wanted: a party. A bear for him to snuggle with. Bubbles. A party hat. Cake. Presents. Friends.

He got all of those things, except the party hat, but for a little while, he did have a fancy birthday balloon. He got a rocket ship and paints and a shovel and a bear and bubbles and little animals and wee cars and his own dish, cup, and plate. He got kisses from me and hugs from his friends and as much cake as his little belly could hold.

He is three and he says three with a lisp--- "thwee" so it is extra adorable. He is smart and funny and tells great stories about bears in woods and old ladies and rats and all kinds of things. His eyes get limpidly brown when he's tired. He still loves his paccy at night and we're all okay with that. He no longer ever wears a diaper, not even to sleep. He still likes bugs, and now he likes rocket ships too. He shows suprising amounts of concentration on painting, gardening, and fishing. He is always up for going on a walk. He wakes up at night, once in a while, and cries hard until I come in tired and grumbling, and then he says, "I need a hug."He is such a funny dear little guy and I'm so glad he's in our family.

As usual, Annaliese had an unqualified great time at the party (I barely saw her up close):

Caspian opened every present with a look of wonderment and a "Oh my Gosh!" Even for the battery pack snapper part of his rocket ship.

He wanted to take some pictures of him and me. I was good with it.

k set up a killer outside area: kids played in a huge tent, the canoe, and adults and kids alike slid down 40-feet of homemade water slide down the backyard to near the garden.

He's so darn cute. The hat Eliza gave him when he turned 2 is aging nicely.

Bombs away... dads got into this and slung kids down on inner tubes tirelessly while grownups drank bourbon and ginger on the porch.

And toddlers ate peach cupcakes with brown sugar frosting. Baked by moi, I might add. I am not a baker, but something compels me to get int the ktichen every birth day and make my sweetie and my kids something gnerally awkward-looking by hand. The cupcakes were a hit. The yellow cake with fudge frosting fortunately tasted better than it looked. It all took forever and used an obscene number of dishes. That's okay. In my case, it's the effort that shows the love :)

All-in-all, a tired kid with a new teddybear went to sleep last night. Newly three.
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