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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