I know, I know, I need to start talking about how tranquil everything
is. I think my focus on the upheaval in life is just making it worse. The summer tourist season has started in earnest so that just means every day is just a little busier than, say, a day in February. On a good note, every day is busier than a day in February and we have managed to recover some of the ground we lost during the long cold spring. Our new part-timer is settling in and up to speed on the various tasks around the store so that transition went smoothly enough. We also hired an intern for the summer through Common Wealth Development's job training program. To be totally honest, I am horrible at delegating. You know that saying "give a man a fish, you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for life"? I used to always say to Pamela, "oh, here, just take the fish." So, having to communicate what is in my head, to parse a job into distinct tasks that I can train someone to do, and to check on them to make sure they are doing them correctly, is not my strength. Common Wealth Development has been super supportive but it has been an added challenge to be in intense training mode. Meanwhile, I am cat-stting on the East side of town and having to adjust my routine (and allergy medicine - allergies this time around have been really horrible), and Sachi is between houses. I have learned a lot about the complicated details of buying and selling a home (which seem more complicated since 2008 which just makes me feel like the banks are punishing us for bad behavior on other peoples' part) but if all goes according to plan, I will be helping her haul boxes in a few short weeks and THEN things will "settle down." Ha ha.
Being July, and we are coming up upon my second least-favorite day in my shopgirl life. The first is inventory in January and the second is Maxwell Street Days. The reality is that both events tend to go pretty smoothly, but that is only, I believe, because of all the thinking and worrying and work that goes into them in advance. We are planning a sale on Friday and Saturday of Maxwell Street Days which will involve select items from the shop marked down 50%. This is the first time we've done such a sale so there will be plenty of deals. We are going through the drawers and other hiding places around the shop, clearing out inventory. It always feels good to clean up, but for the moment, the office is rather jumbled. Oh, and there was a fire next door at the Orpheum which had me thinking for about an hour what I would have to do to get the store back up and running if all the inventory was lost due to smoke/fire/water damage. That was a stressful 60 minutes and it actually took me most of the evening to recuperate from that. I think a lot of adreneline built up in that amount of time. The firefighters had to walk through our office and hallway (the aforementioned crowded with boxes spaces) so I expect they will come back to check in on us but if they could wait until after Maxwell Street Days, that would be lovely. Oh, and the A/C was dripping in the back hallway so the other piles of boxes for our studio garage sale (held on Sunday of Maxwell Street Days) had to be shifted out of the way. I am also going to Atlanta on a buying trip in a few weeks. The timing of this trip is really not great but this is the big gift show that I went to last year, at which I figured out the plan for our Christmas window and picked up some new vendors for the fall/holidays. Buying is definitely one of my strengths and a perk of this job but it is nonetheless an intense task.
Now that we have decided to stay in the space we are in, I've been thinking a bit more about some new fixtures and some rearranging, some shelving in the office. It is fun to think about, but also feels like one of those games where you have one space free and you have to move all the numbers around to get them in some kind of order. I'm quite sure that if I pick the right piece, the tasks can be accomplished with a minimum of duplicated effort. I just have to choose the piece. I have been talking with a couple carpenters about some light work for the window so I am excited about having something new in time for the holidays. While installing a window one early Sunday morning and thinking about these projects, not paying attention to where I put my foot, I stepped down on the edge of a vintage suitcase instead of the floor. I am generally a "could have been worse" kind of thinker and this could have definitely been a lot worse. There was one second where I was lying on the floor thinking 1) I'm glad we didn't exempt ourselves as owners from worker's comp and 2) am I going to have to drag myself to the door and wait for someone walking by to notice and help me out? After that second, I realized that I could get up and wasn't nearly as injured as I could have been. A suitable volume of Facebook friends expressed concern quickly enough that made me feel like I had company and that help was at hand (even though I was briefly tempted to drive home to Mommy and an ice pack). The cute vintage latch on the suitcase totally gouged into my ankle though - there was a small amount of blood and a big dent and it was quite sore for a while. Not sprained, but not great, either. That was a Sunday, early morning, alone in the store. Thank goodness I wasn't on a ladder. I stayed off my feet that day and most of the next day (read a great book in my parents' backyard: Will Allen's Good Food Revolution -- VERY inspiring. It made me feel really good about things in general, our state and his work in specific). It has pretty much taken two weeks for my ankle to heal - I can finally rotate it without any twinges and the cut has healed over. The biggest problem after the first couple days is that the strap of my usual work sandals hit right across the spot and to help it heal I thought it would be best to not rub against it constantly. As a result, I have been wearing flip flops and other open-back shoes which are really not appropriate for standing in all day long. By the end of the day, all I want to do is put my feet up instead of walk around the charming East side picking from among the many delicious eateries. Yes, it HAS been a bit of a pity party.
Finally, I seem to have misplaced my camera. Ugh. I had it last in the office and I don't really feel like it is lost - I can totally see myself moving something and looking up to see it. I can imagine myself having it in hand and setting it down somewhere in the shop when I got distracted by another task. But I'm usually so careful about such things. And so far all the moving that I have done has not revealed it. It's been a week and you really think it would have shown up right now, so now I am trying to move on from the stage of denial into the stage of being sulky. I am generally good about getting pictures off of there so there was only about a month of shots, but there was video of Lily as a baby that I haven't known what to do with. I'm kind of bummed to think of that being lost forever - at the same time, since I've got thousands of pictures for every year of her life, she will still have plenty of documentation. The video wasn't particuarly great as that was never my strong suit. Still. The thought of being without a camera was causing me some stress but I have made plans to borrow one for my trip to Atlanta and Sachi brought in hers so I can continue to share pictures with you (though, I have to say, from the few pictures that I've taken for this post, that camera and I still have to get to know each other - I'm not so happy with the pics). Meanwhile, August is my birthmonth so I am going to get through the chaos of July, clear out the office for Maxwell, do some of the rearranging/reorganizing and maybe see if the camera will still appear before I start shopping and making requests for birthday gift certificates to the Camera Company. A few of my friends have fancy big cameras and that is tempting but I really need a small camera that I will carry around with me everywhere I go - like the one that is lost right now which I am missing... oh, camera, come back! was I mistreating you? didn't you know how much I appreciated you?!
Meanwhile, as far as arrivals at the shop, we had a little lull but now we've entered into
the July 1 ship date zone from our New York orders. I've received a few
shipment notifications via email so I have confirmation of arrivals;
other things just show up on our doorstep. That initial moment of
unpacking is always a fun one - you never quite know what each day will
The arrivals for the week included three boxes from Japan filled with mini paper clips, note pads, notebooks, writing paper, envelopes and more. When I first started opening the box, I was totally transported back in time to our childhood days. In those days, we did not have a lot of money and also Japanese food was really hard to come by. (Sometimes when it seems like the world is so slow to change, I think about some little things - 35 years ago, there was nowhere in Madison to buy Japanese food, now there are zillions of options. It's really amazing how many more choices we have!). I think there was eventually one Japanese grocery store in town but we drove down to Chicago once a year to stock up at Star Market. Additionally, our dad's uncle in Japan would occasionally send us boxes of goodies. The boxes were always so mysterious, filled with different scents, mysterious writing, tins and wooden boxes tied with twine or patterned with traditional Japanese patterns. Opening the box with the Japanese customs slip to find all sorts of little squares nested tightly felt so much like the same experience. Odd sometimes how you repeat those little moments in your life.
We also received some card orders. I know, I know, we're running out of room. If my little construction projects come to fruition, that will be resolved to some extent. There are several more card vendors on their way from our New York buying. I would love a few more spinners but in the meantime, they will just be squeezed into the assortment as space allows. We particularly love the graphics of this card company - most of the cards seem like they would be great as little pieces of art. I think my favorite is "Congrats on your Mister, Mr."
That pretty much covers it for the first week of July. Unfortunately for me to say, "I'll work on that when things settle down" is an early start to the refrain that runs through my head throughout the holiday season. It does not bode well that I'm already thinking it, because I know for sure that January and February of 2014 cannot withstand all the pressure I'm putting on them to get things done.