Monday, July 30, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from a very humid New York.

The last time that I wrote, there had been a big, news making, steam explosion across town. Since then, our friend Mother Nature has been supplying the steam.

Unlike the rains and flooding that have ravaged you all across the Atlantic, our weather is still relatively normal for this season, but still has that insistance that reminds me of why summer is not my favorite season. Just standing on a subway platform waiting more than seven minutes for a train can be a test of one's ability to transcend one's environment. I always carry a book but sometimes that is not enough!

I have been trying to keep up with what all of you have been writing, and admit that I am falling behind. Summer lethargy is a lame excuse, but I will raise it, anyway. It is so delightful to see pictures of your gardens and their beauty.

Although I do not have any summer vacation (holiday) plans, I am gonna take a week off during August, and have been managing to grab an extra day off during the most recent weeks. It is quite fine to have that time off, and the chance that it provides to rediscover my true identity.

However, I find that when I return to work, I face a collection of pile ups that make me ... almost ... reconsider my decision to have that third day off each week.

The shop continues to make and exceed its monthy sales goals, so we continue to share the bonuses. I continue to think that an extra staff member would allow us to extend that glory.

We have gotten our August collection on the sales floor, and it is being well received, even in the heat of late July. Airconditioning and its faux season atmosphere is so strange. We are wearing at least one item each in a light-weight wool. Crazy.

Last week I attended the monthly Focus Group meeting at which we discuss and evaluate the styles from the prior month's collection. I truly enjoy these encounters, because they bring together folks from many departments of the company, and we can really hear each other's thoughts. The meetings last for about two hours, and never seem quite long enough.

My days off did allow me to finish the latest H. Potter book, so if anyone ever wants to assemble a group of those who have read it, I am ready. (We call the stairs that lead to the shop's basement stockroom the "stairway of forgetfulness," as it is frenquently true that one's mission leaves one's memory on the way up or down that flight of stairs.)

Enough of this happy talk. Last week I learned that my assistant manager, the new mom, has elected to have an additional two months's (unpaid) leave, and therefore will not return to the shop before late October. This is not a big surprise, but I admit that I am surprised that she did not give me any personal call/heads up/whatever prior to making her official application to the Human Resources folks to get approval of the leave extension. I know that, if our roles were reversed, my inclination would definitely have led me to talk with her.

So...instead of having my official assistant back in the shop before the end of August, I now face the possibility of having to return my "acting" assistant to her proper shop at that time and then to face an unknown. Rest assured readers, that I am on the case, and do not fancy myself as a martyr. My acting assistant would love to remain in the shop with me. And I will have a serious conversation with the HR lady tomorrow about how to plot the future. (Deep in my heart, I wonder if the new mom and husband might actually be wanting to relocate away from NYC during the next months, as I know that they have done some scouting around various other parts of the States prior to starting their family.)

At midday today, I had my television on to see the joint press appearance of Pres. Bush and P.M. Brown. Mr. Brown showed good manners. Mr. Bush showed his usual usual. As someone who has prior experience in political campaigns, and is still a bit of news junkie, I have to say that right now I just despair. This site is probably not the appropriate place to say any more.

There are many other work-related bits that I will not detail, but there are enough of them to keep me from really getting back into my artwork. I have at least been filling a page or two in my sketchbook. And today, I did take the camera over the the Shakespeare Garden area of Central Park for a few snaps.

If all goes well, I will try to post another picture of one of my still lifes, and some flowers from the Park.

I wish you all very pleasant dreams.


  1. Welcome back Frances!! I imagine your new mon was have been planning to not come back and was anxious not to look you in the eye!There is something sad with the western world that a new mother should feel guilty about opting to be with her child. (please note I am not saying you think she should be back at work but i remember the shock of collegues when I said I was choosing baby over career!). I love teh painting, wha tunusual cups are they syllabub cups? I have never seen anything like them here.

    Glad to hear you are slowly filling the sketchbook, I have shamfacedly discovered I DO have a set of water colour pencils which my youngest unearthed in my studio (grave evidence of impulse buying!!)and am using them to sketch out tile designs...I think of you when I use them!

  2. Yikes..who mentioned sketch books..haven't had mine out for years now....I find all my art stuff now and again...and feel guilty! Just about every new mum does isn't until they have had the baby and the sleeplessness disappears and they begin to enjoy being a mum that they realise work is looming very fast....I know I did it and am watching as daughter in law is now working out how to extend her maternity leave....don't take it personal...put it down to hormones! Gallons of 'em!!

  3. Lovely to read you again, Frances. Super photos too.

  4. I just love the picture of the cups/ have a real gift.

    I love to sketch but too busy with my little business. I must do some over the main school holidays.

    Good to see your blog Frances and thank you for all your support and comments on my Orange Man Blog...I think I am getting there..

    warmest wishes

  5. You are indeed very talented. I've always wished I could draw / paint, but alas I don't appear to have the necessary gene!

    We are finally enjoying some summery weather over here! Don't want to say it too loud though in case it disappears again!!

  6. Must say thanks again Frances for all your lovely comments on my garden. Had a whole morning out there today mowing!

    Well done on the sales figures - I understand our fashion sales this summer in general have been awful -the poor weather, worry about interest rate rises etc. The summer stuff has been heavily discounted, before the autumn collections come in.
    Have lots of friends in Florida who dread summer for the hurricanes etc, but have been lucky thus far! Have a great day. mousie

  7. Good to catch up Frances, I know what you mean about it being hard in the summer months to get the time to read everyone's news, I feel so pushed for time when the days are so long and the weather is so good, life becomes 'outdoor', and my computer remains in the office (if I can call it that, a terribly 'posh' name for a box room piled high with clutter...!).
    Your paiontings are lovely, I saw the one you sent Jane too, you are very talented.
    Thank you for your lovely commments on my blog, it was good to hear from you and have a catch up, Posie x

  8. Sounds like you have your work cut out again. I do wish I could draw just anything! The beautiful landscape here deserves to be captured and I find myself constantly taking photo's.

    I think children do strange things to a new parent. Hang on in there and take care.

    Crystal xx

  9. Hellooooo Frances . . .hard to imagine you living the humid life whilst we shiver in the chill wind - raining now and actually slightly warmer now the wind has dropped. I too suspect new mom is planning not to come back - although may not have admitted it to herself - which is why she didn't talk to you - I bet . . .

  10. Just to let you know I read your blog....everyone has said everything I might have said first. I used to draw a lot, maybe one day I will get back to it. Its a lovely talent to have - not that mine was that great!

  11. Hello Dear Francis,

    Lovely to see you again, I adore those cups in the photo. Great news about exceeding the sales in the shop, but not so good news for you about new mum not coming back until October, if she ever will that is. I have decided - a piece of canvas with some water colours, and I will TRY and see if I can paint something, I have always wanted to create something to put in a frame, although I do not have such great talent as you Frances. As I type this to you, I can hear playing softly Brief Encounter - Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2.

    Hope you will be able to enjoy some time for yourself this August when you break for vacation Frances, you deserve a break. Sending lots of good wishes to you.


  12. P.S. Forgot to mention, thank you for your kind comments Frances.


  13. I adore that painting of the cups Frances. I wish I had the least scrap of artistc ability. Ditto to everything everyone's already said about the new Mum.

  14. Hi Frances - yes I found your comment - and thank you for your thanks and for commenting on my blog. Sunny, but windy here . . . are you still suffering in the humidty - can I have a bit please . . . although I would moan about it . .

  15. Hello Frances,
    Well I am glad to hear you found some time to sit and draw. I like mushrooms as a drawing subject and when I use them for cooking I am observing their shape and patterns. Last week I was shopping but again searching for drawing subjects and bought a huge bag of fresh green peapods. These are another favourite of mine, splitting them open and drawing the row of shiny green peas. We had a picnic on a pebbly beach , I have started a beach journal ,as I always say I should sit and draw here, so I did. I am just playing around at the moment , trying some new materials and ideas.
    I read many positive commments in the visitors book, people seem to be enjoying my work. I love your china egg cup painting, you would find so many similar objects in my home. I continue to collect pretty bits and pieces and keep adding to my clutter. I have ideas to use the many found small broken pieces of blue and white china. They have a lovely charm to them and a mystery of their past, I keep finding bits everywhere I go.
    Today we are taking my mother in law to see my drawings and out to lunch .So I had better get ready. Hope you have a lovely weekend and find time for a walk and doing something relaxing. Look forward to seeing the cups and saucers drawing.Your paintings are very lovely, very country living, yes country dreams .Best wishes Millyx

  16. Hi Frances - having just been in Toronto I can well imagine the heat and humidity that must be an every day thing for you. I can just imagine you, bandbox perfect, heading out into the wall of wet air each morning.
    I so envy you your ability to express yourself through art. As everyone else has said, the painting of the china cups is lovely! I can't help but wish that we could meet for coffee one day - just sit for an hour and get acquainted!

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