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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good Evening from New York.

Tonight on the television there is coverage of a steam pipe explosion on the east side of our midtown. This would be far away from where I live or work, but near to transportation hub Grand Central Station and the art decon architectural wonder of the Chrysler Building. Various forms of public transport have been disrupted, even though the actuall street blocks involved are not vast. The main lasting worry is of toxics, and asbestos that may have been moistly spewed into the air.

I am glad not to have been near it. About the time of the accident, I was still in my neighborhood mega-cinema, indulging my Harry Potter fandom in the newest film. If I had not read the books, I do not know what I might have made of the movie. But I have read the books, and greatly admire Ms. Rowling for her achievement.

I love the look of the film, and its coy references to all sorts of things, from mythology, to modern politics, to old films, to ... all sorts of things.

The cameos from actors that I love are wonderful, although I do think that we saw one peek too many of Mr. Fiennes. But...Staunton, Gambon, Smith, Oldham, Rickman, Bonham Carter, Thewlis, Thompson, Coltrane...and others, what a treat. There was rather a lot of steamy vapors (my theme tonight is steam!) and shattered glass, but I so enjoyed being transported.
And I did not mind that the editors left a lot of Luna in the film. And... n.b., exJane, that wallpaper with the family tree....

So, I emerge from the theatre to see a number of sophisticate fire dept. vehicles speeding down Broadway, and do not smell smoke. I assume that something has occured, but not in my neighborhood and that I will see it on the news. True.

I had treated myself to the movie, to celebrate actually taking a half day off.

Early this morning, I got to the store about 7:30, to prepare for the 8 a.m. meeting. I travelled in a torrential rain (that may have contributed to this evening's steam set off ... the rain, not my commute, please forgive my sloppy writing.)

Meeting went fine, but at its end, as I tried to just tie up a few loose ends before commencing my "day off," I noticed drips from the ceiling of my office, and summoned the building's superintendent. Sure enough, the rain had found some vulnerable points to enter. I notified all necessary parties within my company, and the super said he would notify the landlord (his boss.)

I then left the store! One small step for delegation.

Tomorrow we shall try to re-set the sales floor with our August collection. It is beautiful and should sell well. I do how that today's expected deliveries of the balance of the collection have arrived. I resisted the temptation to call the shop to check. I will find out tomorrow.

After all the rain, it is very humid here tonight, even far away from the steam.

Pleasant dreams to all.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Sometimes I think that my calendar and clock are playing tricks with me. Messing with my mind. I wonder how was it possible, decades ago, for me to do so much more in a day. Have I slowed down. Has that relativity thing caught me in a tangle?

Days have passed since I last wrote here, and right now I really should not be writing. I have a very early meeting at the shop at which I have to do a long-postponed presentation of a customer service oriented exercise. I do not want to be at the shop at 7:45 a.m. My staff certainly do not want to be there at 8 a.m. The company requires it. We have waited to do this for months. We are advised that we must do it or else. Or else, what?

That is my thinking not like a manager but as myself. I will be at the shop very early and we will get past this required hurdle. We may even enjoy it.

Tomorrow I have scheduled as a day off. Once past the hurdle, the day is mine again.

Trying to remember how to work my camera (remember in early July my exuberance at beginning to play with it) I will try to post another photo alongside these words. It is of another old painting of mine. I haven't had time to learn how to set up my little camera easel, so I just shot the painting against a carpet on the floor.

Another sign of falling standards.

It is such a pleasure to visit the site and see all the generous words from lovely people. Have patience with me, as I try to rejoin you all as more of a participant, and not just an observer.

Pleasant dreams.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

An early good evening from New York.

I have added a picture of one of the two entrances to my corner subway (tube/metro) station, to give you all an idea of my neighborhood. As days go by, I plan to show you around my neighborhood, and even...for the some corners of my very small, cluttered apartment.

This will all go to show why I do have country dreams!

To have this third day off this week is such a splurge.

Even better, this morning I had an e-mail from my assistant manager, who now, thankfully, is recovering from the difficulties she encountered giving birth to her precious new baby boy.
I will be talking with her later this evening. Any of you who have read my prior blogs will know how worried I have been, and how reluctant to call her home phone to inquire. My delicate patience is now rewarded. has this free day gone? Apartment is a bit cleaner than before, but still not ready for any magazine shoot. Just wait until you see some views. It is a challenge to take photos that do not betray the massive piles of ... magazines, art materials, needlework projects, newspapers, books waiting to be read (with no more room on the shelves.) Well, you may be getting my drift ...this is no glamor spot! But it is home sweet home to me.

Weather here today was not as lovely as before, the overcast skies lingered past last night's July 4 fireworks. Humid too. Bit of a shower.

I went down to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) (attention, UPL!) to see the Richard Serra exhibit. Had my member's card scanned by a no-doubt-very-underpaid-MOMA employee, and up the escalator I went to do my stroll through Mr. Serra's metal curves. Think of a wrought iron maze that slants toward you as you explore its depths. Or think of cautiously entering a snail shell (albeit a huge one, organgy metal, 20 feet tall, tipping toward you as you enter its opening. I have been to many of Serra' s gallery shows, and seen it on display out of doors (best place to view it) and made quick work of today's reunion.

Hard to tell what my fellow museum visitors made of the show. In NYC, no one wants to let on any sort of dismay at any emperor's new clothes. I enjoyed looking at various folks' clothes and tried to figure out who was from what country. Japan, definitely. Also Italy. Not sure about the rest.

Dropped by the other midtown palace of style, Bergdorf Goodman, hoping to meet up with my long time make-up lady (who is now head of her department.) But she was lucky to have today off, so I just got a lipstick ... Another Valuable Method to Chase Blues Away, and returned back to my neighborhood to the mini-greenmarket (too early for real tomatoes) and took care of other grocery and wine needs.

I checked on the goings on at the shop, so that tomorrow won't be too much of a shock, and also was able to make contact with a dear London friend of many years. Since my work day has gone into overdrive, and the five-hour time difference stands between us, I have been having a hard time getting a catch-up telephone call with her. She just got back from a trip to the south of France (Sally ... so sunny and hot that it was hard to stay outside for long!)

What I did not manage to accomplish today was to add anything to my sketchbook, but right now I feel as if that activity will come more easily in the next few days.

Perhaps a page has been turned from my excessive devotion to the working day.

I wish very pleasant dreams to all.


City Views, Country Dreams ... Five Steps to a Smile

Good morning from New York.

I have been tagged with the question about ways to cheer up, so thought I would start a little bit blue and see where this goes.

Sometimes, just listening to music is good; almost always dancing to music is even better.

Going for a walk and watching what is going on all around is a good shake up of the status quo.

Housecleaning can take care of dust on furniture, floors, and give a rinse to one's mood, too.

Reading, book or magazine or even ... a blog ... can help to change the mood station.

For me, drawing or painting will always take me to a totally different state of mind.

And, of course, I have some terrific friends to connect with and share both good and not so good times.

I realize I have gone past five, but maybe even taking a nap (getting caught up on rest) can be cheering. And then there are all those food groups!

All of these methods seem obvious when one is not down in a particular dump, but can be quite handy to call upon in gloomier moments.

Now, let's have a big smile!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Tomorrow is the day that we celebrate our Independence Day. 1976. From England.
And here am I on the eve of Independence Day, being so glad to have so many people across the Atlantic with whom to communicate.

I have today celebrated my second private independence day, with a second day off. Tomorrow I will return to the shop to see what has happened while I was away, and also to see if any customers want to buy nice clothes on a holiday. As a "civilian," I was never one to shop on holidays, usually preferring to get together with friends, or travel somewhere.

Thanks to all who gave comments on my initial posting of a photo. I got opportunity today to play with my new toy, the digital camera. I took some shots around the neighborhood and also in Central Park. Those pictures I will eventually share with you.

After taking care of a bunch of stored-up errands this morning, I had a stroll in the Park, and then ventured downtown to have a much delayed hair cut. Now I am not so shaggy as has been true for the past busy weeks. To commemorate both the haircut and the new camera, I prevailed upon my lovely stylist to click a photo of her handiwork. And have posted it here (I hope!)

The salon is not too far from my shop, on... or actually above... lower Fifth Avenue, and the photo looks across Fifth to some other older buildings. This area has been through many eras, and is currently undergoing somewhat of a resurgence. Lots of shops at street level, above are residential lofts, salons, music studios, photography-related businesses and studios, internet-related businesses, design studios. The average building is about 12 or less stories tall, so daylight is possible at street level.

After the recent doings in London and Glasgow, I note a bit of increased police presence in New York, but really not too different from our contemporary "normal." When I was taking the photos round town today, I could easily have included some overhead helicopters in some shots, but elected to go with the clear, beautiful blue sky.

Hoping that the beautiful weather that we have had for the past two days will speed across the ocean to you. There is a tulip magnolia tree near my corner in full summer leafiness, that somehow is now producing its second 2007 crop of blooms. I will definitely have to take a picture to show you.

Pleasant dreams to all.

Monday, July 2, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

July has somehow crept into our lives. This was a gorgeous blue-skied day, and I am thrilled to report that I did not go to work!

Trying to follow the advice of all who have been giving it, I tried to tie up some loose ends yesterday, like...doing the payroll for my staff. Believe me, that is priority numero uno for all of us. I also had a "guest worker" from another of our shops in for day one of her two-day try-on.

If she likes being with us and we like her being with us, it is quite likely that she can transfer to our location. I gather that she would like to work with our group more than she likes her current location. Sometimes the sun can shine in many ways.

It turns out that our shop did have a very profitable June, and so we will all share in the bonus for exceeding the goal. All seem to be happy.

Today I got up early, did grocery shop, laundry and met the new manager of my apartment building when I presented her with my huge rent check. She seemed a pleasant sort, and I was glad to have our first encounter so easy and gracious. (It still remains to be seen what will happen with the building as its inevitable conversion into a condominium takes place. Many blogs will take on that topic I am sure.)

Over the weekend, I had a shocking surge of memory and realized that I had forgotten to send birthday wishes to a very dear friend who is currently out of town. This afternoon I called her and got caught up with both her and her husband. They will soon return to New York and we can have a real celebration then.

Also today, my very well-traveled friend, who only recently returned from Italy and France, takes off again with husband for Switzerland. When we spoke this morning, we both said that we hoped that the only travel difficulties they encounter will the the now predictable delays as various security maneuvers unfold. I asked for a postcard of chocolate or watches ... or a Klee.

Now...the big news of the day. I bought the camera!

Please do prepare yourselves for all sorts of trials and errors. I am really looking forward to experimenting to see what this new wonder can perform.

I have only just begun to read the many manuals that came with the camera, and find it very difficult not to sort of jump ahead of myself. Since I am also treating myself to two more days away from the shop this week, there will be welcome opportunities for me to begin to feel my way around what the little marvel and I can create together.

It is great to know that there are so many experts hereabouts who will be able to lend hands and brains when I eventually get myself into some intractable technical tangles.

I am gonna try to start tonight by posting a picture of a self-portrait I painted some years ago.

Relaxation is so pleasant.

Pleasant dreams to all.