Friday, June 1, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good Friday Evening from New York.

Is there not a song about Summertime, when the livin' is easy?

How can I enter into the pre-summertime mood so set?

Hereabouts, the weather has left spring weeks before the calendar will announce the change.
All spring flowers have vanished. We are fortunate, however, that roses have joined the parade.
Some New York neighborhoods have streets that feature only concrete sidewalks, ugly streamlined lighting fixtures, trees that just hang on, hoping that they will survive through autumn.

I am so fortunate not to live on such a street, or block as we call it here.
At this time of year, the pear, apple and tulip magnolia trees have shed their blossoms and are in full green folliage. They are joined by mimosa, maple, ginko, and others.

My street is a mix of four/five story brownstone houses (some housing lots of tenants, some housing very lucky rich families, plus perhaps one tenant,) and a smattering of larger apartment buildings from 14 to 20 plus stories tall, built at anytime from the 1900's through the 1980's.
We have been used a film sites for movies and tv shows, like Law and Order.

Around the bases of these urban trees are often planted hardy flowers like begonias, impatiens, and colorful bits of coleous (spelling!) and ivy, etc. However, some of the brownstone owners take it a bit further and go for roses and rhodedendron, and ferns and other bits that really soften the edges of our sidewalks. The birds like it as well.

Wait a minute, I have lost my thread. I was going to say that I am working every day of the week and am so longing for a day off without guilt. Today was to be a day off. Perhaps by mid-week next week.

Meanwhile, I did go out of town (city) to attend yet another round of manager meetings at the off site location that we visited a month ago. This is an hour away on the train, and is in a direct flight path of a suburban airport. Sealed inside the conference center, one looks out the huge windows at manicured lawns, golf courses, where no one plays golf.

As one gazes through the sound proofed windows (letting the attention drift from the meeting goingin the flourescent lit room inside the huge window) one sees a quick, dark shadow. This is followed by a muffled, yet still loud sound. The low-flying jet passes across the sky to the horizon. Pause for ten minutes and repeat.

Because of this take on nature appreciation, during the two day sessions, I tried to always take a chair in the various conference rooms that allowed me to face away from the huge windows.

Enough of this criticism. Actually parts of the meetings were quite helpful and informative. I used every opportunity to lobby the power brokers for more staff for my store. In one meeting, we had a sort of break through moment, in which other shop managers divulged that they, also, work incredibly long hours, and feel that we need lots more staffing help.

(For some time I have felt that I was carrying that call on my own, and wondered if I was doing myself a damage by carrying that flag. But after these meetings, all the cats are well out of their bags, and I think that the company will be upping the staffing.)

It was so good to get out of that sealed atmosphere, and get back to the beautiful main hall of Grand Central Station last night. Even the nasty air of the subway was welcome, because of its realism.

And to return to my block, and smell the roses, and see how the impatiens have grown, and to ride the sloooowww elevator in my building up to my floor, and to unlock my door and lay my suitcase down, and remove the dirty laundry, and the heavy shoes and reports that were take-aways from the meetings, and to take my shoes off, and to wash my face and hands. Bliss to be home.

I slept so well last night. Today, I worked a long day at the shop to catch up on my missed days.
Since it was technically a day off, I tried not to get involved in customer-related activities on the sales floor, while concentrating on back office duties, but once a customer catches your are hooked! We are delighted that our spring collection is so successful; it remains difficult to fit in all the other shop duties. Today, I made sure that my staff knew how much I appreciated their holding the fort during my absence.

Everyone was encouraged to select her June clothing allowance (this means picking out some styles from the June collection that will be pretty much free clothing --- idea is that we wear clothes we like and look good in, so that the customers will want to emulate us.
We will all look freshly good in our new outfits over the weekend.

But again, I returned home in late afternoon, rode that slow-moving elevator, unlocked my red door, and entered my sanctuary of sorts. I know that I am quite fortunate to have my life and its daily events, but also feel quite comfortable in remarking on where the aching lodges.

Certainly this rambled a bit, but sometimes I do want to give you all an idea of what city life could be, knowing that it will make you appreciate your breathing room even more.

Back to work tomorrow.

Pleasant dreams to all,



  1. Fancy Suzanne Vega coming in the shop, I have been a fan of hers for many years.
    Another coincidence. Summertime, the song. I have been trying recently to add it to my playlist but it's not available on the Project Playlist site. I love the words, they always run through my head too.
    I sneaked a look at your company website and loved what I saw. Imagine being able to choose clothes to wear for free, wow. What did you choose?
    I hope your wish for more staff is granted and you will not have to work so much overtime.
    Thanks for calling by the diary,

  2. Hi francis , you always describe your days so well and i really feel the sanctuary you have behind your red door just to shut out the city for a few hours and the exhaustion of legs walking on concrete all day. But your block sounds wonderful and fresher for its greenery..xxoo

  3. I love reading of your life, I can imagine the clanking slow elevator, the relief to get home, I have no idea of 'fashion', what do you all wear ? x

  4. I don't think I could live your life. I'm such a potterer.... Tell us what clothes you chose!

  5. New York is a place I would love to visit some day - you paint such an evocative picture of it.
    And what a great perk to be able to choose clothes from the new season's collection!

  6. Good evening Francis,
    What a treat, to be able to choose what range of clothing to wear from your new season's collection.
    Song - fish are jumping, and the cotton is high, great song, I love those lyrics. You paint such a wonderful picture of where you live in N.Y. Frances. Hopefully you will be able to have extra staff on duty, enabling you to have some more time for yourself.
    Warm Wishes.

  7. Hi Frances - by now you must be home for the evening - with the time difference I think it's 8 pm for you. You really painted a living picture of NYC in the summertime. I used to visit there often in the 4 years I lived outside of Philadelphia, and stayed with a friend in Manhatan - talk about feeling like a country mouse!
    Your experience at the conference centre sounds draining. I could feel your relief to come to your red door and enter your sanctuary.
    Come on over for a drive in the cool air any evening!

  8. It is a nice perk for you to be able to choose a selection of clothes from time to time.

    Lovely blog-We do appreciate our life in the country.But your life sounds equally interesting.
    Funny how we always think the grass is greener..

    warm wishes

  9. It is such a contrast reading your blog and you describe your city views so beautifully.

  10. Wonderful window onto NY city life. Glad you get to smell the roses from time to time!

  11. I love reading your blog ..I can see it, smell the heat, hear the noise.. you write so well..thank you

  12. Good evening Frances, I hope that you made the most of your free clothes. Having looked on your website you have a fatastic range to choose from.

    You always paint such a detailed picture of your life and I love the fact that we now know that the elevator is slow and that your front door is red.

    Thank you so much for letting us take a little peak into your very interesting life.

    Take care - Jacqui x

  13. Gosh Francis only you could make a NY sidewalk sound so beautiful. "Summer time" is one of the songs that we used to sing the kids to sleep with when tehy were little, sucha lovely lullaby. Although I seem to remember the story is much sadder!

    I have been thinking of you covering teh maternity leave of your very pregnant staff meember and wporking even longer hours than ususal. Lets hope the powers that be listen to your call for help.. well at least you can still smell teh roses!

  14. Hello Frances, At last I'm starting to catch up and read a few blogs again. I was pleased to read that you do have a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers to break up the concreteness of NY. Sometimes you must just yearn to leave the Big Apple and fly off to a country paradise don't you?

    Suzanne vega, wow I used to enjoy her songs, though some are very sad, such a wonderful haunting voice .

    Warmest wishes from Sussex England