Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's weird being by myself.

But I am looking on the many bright sides: rooms stay clean after I clean them. I eat whatever I want for meals and do not scarf it with an arm hooked around my bowl because someone else prefers it to their own meal. I have not dealt with another human being's bathroom needs.

And I'm joining them in three days so I better relish it while I can!

I am trying to get a couple things done for the store while i have more time. One of them is accomplished: a logo. Here it is. I love it. A local lady-- who eats lunch with me daily and has a gallery down the street and whose oldest boy plays soccer with Annaliese and who is awesome at all things vintage-y-- made it for me. In exchange for a little cash and a lot of store credit.

I kinda want to tattoo it on my butt.

But I won't.


The store in general has been doing awesome but this week is sucking so let's hope that changes.

K. said a really nice thing to me last week. He said that he thought that if I inherited millions of dollars, I'd probably keep doing what I'm doing. I probably would. It's an odd thing to feel born to be a small-town grocer.

In news of K, I guess it's okay to announce that he quit his job 2 weeks ago. He's still working there-- until the end of March-- because he gave notice the right way: he's leaving with bridges intact and letters of recommendation in hand. Handily, mere months after our moneypit of a building stabilized financially what with the 4 paying tenants we have and hope to keep, knock on wood.

He is not moving to another job. He is walking out, looking around, and seeing what evolves.

This scares the pants off some members of our family but maybe naively, not me.

I fell in love with a tall boy who was pretty poor, by my standards, and by the luck of the draw he ended up making a lot of money, more than our peers, enough for us to pretty much do what we want, enough for me to stay home and then open a store and work for free. He has made a lot of money for awhile now. We've bought our home and the building and two vintage Mercedes and paid off the Vermont cabin and the other toys (not all on our own, thanks Dad!). And lately we've been looking at each other and thinking-- well, okay, either we yuppie it up and get a cleaning lady and a leased fancy car and enjoy this lifestyle a little more, or we change it.

He's 31. Been working in the same industry since he was 22. Either he changes now or be'll be closer to 40 and less likely to jump over to something else.

So he's jumping.

And I am really proud of him. I'm betting he lands on his feet. He always has before.

In the mean time, no more cleaning lady :(

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Sound of Silence

It's me all by myself at home today. First time in... two years.

Rather wondrous.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I have been more than a little strung out in the last 2 weeks. Mama, apparently, has had her quota, and anxious hysteria has ensued.

However. The kids be doing alright.

This afternoon:

Annaliese, fooling around:

15 minutes ago, the children, spied out the window, picking flowers together:

Now they're putting them in a mason jar.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The beginning of Something

My cousin Nick is coming for a visit today and he has brought New England with him: it's like 18 degrees out there. RIDICULOUS. I secede.

This week has maybe, potientally, been a game-changer, and I can't talk about it yet. So there. I'm excited, though. Change is good. Change is how you get what you want.

I was reading manager blogs yesterday on tips how to fire people-- uh-huh-- and came across a piece of wisdom that I will paraphrase: the right person in the job can increase productivity by a factor of 5. So don't settle for the almost-right person, because they're hurting your business.

Well, that explains my cook's impact... she is right, and she has impacted my business in an exponential kind of way. Plus she makes Annaliese lunch every day.

We had a completely average week at the store last week. No special events, no crazy surge of shoppers, no holidays to boost sales (other than Valentine's Day, which did sell a few extra cupcakes). And yet we paid our own way. We hit a number in sales that seems unremarkable now--- average, even-- and yet, it's what I was thrilled to get to last spring. There is growth, is what I'm saying. There is growth. People from outside the community still ask me often-- are you doing ok? Is there demand for a little store like this, with imported pasta and cane-sugar sodas and organic yogurt?

It hasn't been a slam dunk. But apparently, slowly, one elderly lady swearing my apples are the best, or the bank teller telling me yesterday that the grass-fed local rib-eyes have the best flavor, or the old guys eating biscuits and gravy on Saturday morning, at a time, there is.

There are not a lot of locavores in this town. There are very few rich people. But everyone wants two things: their food to taste good or cost less. Its definitely and either/or.

We try to appeal to both. On different items. Hence the 99 cent/lb apples and the imported pasta.

I super love selling food.

Most of my customers still shop at supermarkets, but the longer I spend away from Kroger or Whole Foods, the more repellent I find them. People tell me every day they have to go there for --- fill-in-the-blank-- brand, and I nod, but whatever. A brand is a brand. I'm kind of happy leaving all that targeted marketing, that deceptive "freshly baked!" labeling, that generic versus name-brand ingredient scrutinizing, behind. We don't have as many options in our shopping as Krogerites, but on the other hand, I know exactly where my food is coming from. I know precisely where the money I spend in little stores go. And shockingly, the assumption that prices are higher mostly isn't true. It's true on brands. Not true on produce, or bread, or coffee, or other staples.

And that's not just my store. K and I went to a little hipster market in Portland last summer and then we went to Whole Foods. The little hipster market's produce was across the board more varied, more local, and cheaper than Whole Foods.

I wish everyone would eat small. The world would change.


I can really go on about groceries as of late.


Family? Kids are great. Caspian is eating like a horse and has the body of a future boxer and now weighs a pound less than his sister, who still has half-a-head of height on him. He seems wildly popular in this town. Yesterday we left them at the church for a youth event and when we came to pick them up, he was getting touted by all the big kids, who were trying to orchestrate his winning at musical chairs. He also snuggled up to me this morning and told me how happy he was it was family day. And he's completely potty-trained -- at 2 and a half-- with very little effort from me. Caspian's awesome.

Annaliese has been a champ lately at the store, and at French lessons, which she adores. Twice a week at 11am she runs up the stairs behind the store to Madeleine's apartment and gets tutored by this very hip arty girl in French. She comes back down and our cook makes her tell us something in French before she gets her lunch. She then takes her lunch and flies down to the front of the store, where she usually watches a cartoon and eats her sandwich, carrots, and pickles at her little desk in front of the window. Sometimes she disappears next door to the dress shop and watches Miss J. cutting fabric, or I'll find her in the kitchen with Miss C., icing a cookie.

It's a charmed life. She's pretty independent at the store, because she has to be; I'm working. It's harder having her there, but conversely, she seems to be thriving. And she is learning to love her vegetables.

And K.? K is handsome and funny and last night we had a true Mississippi date: after dropping the kids off at the church party and before the art council event we were slated to attend, we got take-out crawfish from the little former gas-station down the road and then pulled pork sandwiches from the trailer that sells BBQ on the weekends next to Sonic. We grabbed the one can of beer in our fridge and sat in the booths of my store, getting spices and BBQ sauce all over our hands. K's good.

I am anxious for spring because I want to plant my sunflowers and zinnias and morning glories and crazy heirloom squashes and melons.

We are going to be harvesting our first rabbits this week.

The daffodils are out.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Little Carnivore

This morning, my children talking about what they want for dinner. Caspian wants chicken. Annaliese said, "but we don't have chicken in our refrigerator. We'll have to go kill one. Because our chickens are YUMMY!"

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Happy Saturday!

It's been a long week.

K and I had a fight. It was his fault. I was right. An ancient toaster met an untimely end.

Just kidding honey. You were totally right.

Then we went out to dinner and a gallery opening downtown last night and now we're best friends again.

(I was right.)

The kids have been a little omnipresent, but on the upside, Caspian has taken to putting his pudgy little-boy hands on either side of my face and calling me his sweet mama.

That boy is going to go far in life. Everyone he meets wants to kiss him.

Two perfect raincoats arrived in the mail-- pink ladybugs for my girl, neon camo for my boy-- which they love and Annaliese has been living in hers. Good thing since it's raining daily.

The rabbits have been grazing the orchard, which is not all that level, and they keep tunneling holes out and so we have learned to catch rabbits with a fishing net. It's a lot of fun.

K. has to go to sunny Florida at 5am tomorrow and that bums me out.

A few pics-- a friend snapped them for a mag publication that's no longer going to happen, so now they're mine!--