Thursday, November 22, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Happy Thanksgiving from New York.

It is now Thanksgiving evening, not at all the same idea as the eve of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving in the United States is a holiday begun to commemorate a day very early in our country's history. Some say the first thanksgiving was in Massachusetts. Some in my native Virginia say no way, we were there first.

In any case, giving thanks for our blessings, and for our daily survival is never a bad idea.

Today I can give thanks for several immediate blessings.

First is that the strong cold symptons that were attacking my bio system on Tuesday night now seem to be in abeyance. Yes, I do have a sniffle now and then, but no fever or threat of germ/virus entrenchment.

Second is that I can even communicate tonight, since this morning I spent lots of minutes on the phone with a geographically distant person on a computer helpline. My computer was on life support, and its life was supported. Cheers to global resources.

I am still somewhat concerned about what has recently caused more problems than I have previously ever experienced on the computer. But for now, glad to be with you.

Usually on Thanksgiving, I will take the two block walk over to the edge of Central Park to see some of the famous Thanksgiving Day parade. It is always fun to see the reactions in the faces of the watching children to the progression of bands, floats, and huge balloons. Today, I stayed home and made sure to banish my cold. Those folks who did get to see the parade pass by were lucky in the weather, no rain, no sleet, no snow. Moderate temperature.

My day was spent working on more of my watercolor painted Christmas cards, and taking in lots of liquids.

Lucky me ... tomorrow I have also scheduled as a day off, so if I do feel ever better, it will be a great opportunity to get out and about. This is such a glorious time of year in New York, that there really is never enough time to enjoy all that is on offer.

(I am still on the hunt for shoes/boots, and that hunting trip alone could take a week.) Maybe it is better to just let the perfect pair of footwear to find me.

Hoping that this will actually get posted, as I am still typing and clicking without my prior confidence in the system.

Pleasant dreams to all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good Friday evening from New York.

Winter is pushing its way into our city. The wind today was very strong, creating brilliantly blue sky, but also creating the need to bundle up. The trees in the Park are still mostly green, but by Monday, I expect they will have gone orangy, golden or even ruddy.

Right now, I feel as if I have somewhat squandered my day off. But then, if I pass by a looking glass, and see my splendid new hair cut, I revise that opinion. Do any of you also put off getting your hair styled, for various reasons, well beyond the prime time? And then, when the appointment is made, and the appointment is kept, and the stylist works the magic with the scissors, just take a look at yourself and think ... wow, that really did make a difference?

Well, that is my pattern for decades.

After this afternoon's visit to my stylist, even the blustery breezes could not disturb the shape that had been skillfully returned to my hair. What a treat.

The treat was welcome after yesterday, during which I logged in a twelve-hour work day. My choice, I keep reminding myself that I do make the schedule! The day began with a monthly get-together of various shop managers, designers, merchandisers, advertisers, etc., at which we review the pluses and minuses of each and every item in the prior month's collection. It is so much fun to bounce our opinions (and those of our customers, too) around the room. We all learn a lot, and hope that these sessions will yield an even more successful collection in six months' time.

After the meeting, I returned to the shop for the requisite responsibilities there, and then finished up with an after hours meeting with all the members of the staff. That meeting went well, and was also a time for sharing info, and ideas, and problems and solutions. (We had caterers bring in lovely sandwiches, salads and beautiful pastries. And...we also opened some of the white wine we keep on the premises for such occasions.)

When I got home, I found a phone message from a former colleague from a long ago career (I have known her for over 20 years.) She is in NYC for a quick visit and I look forward to seeing her tomorrow. How I hope that when she drops by the shop, the atmosphere will be relaxed enough for me to have a real reunion conversation.

Here are two more clothing selections I have made from our current collection: a black cashmere sweater with a v-neck line and some frontal shirring detailing and 3/4 sleeves. And an oddly appealing, to me anyway, green silk/linen skirt with embroidery around the lower foot of the skirt and some tulle around the hemline. The green is sort of a blued-loden green

Readers, I plan to wear this skirt over narrow black silk or velvet trousers, and under a black velvet dress/tunic. the black cashmere sweater will go over the dress. Good thing that I got the new hair cut, so at least that will be chic without doubt. Oh, will most likely wear some black boots. (My intention is to be able to sell at least some of these components to customers day after day!)

The company for which I work has been honored as one of the "best places to work in America" for several years and is up for this recognition yet again. So, this Monday, reps from the team that makes that judgement will be visiting my shop in the afternoon. This should be interesting. I suggested to my team that they should just be their usual fine selves. Nothing unusual. Just regular appearance and performance.

Then last night our vacuum cleaner (hoover to you?) died suddenly. We very much hope that the responsible dept of our company will be able to send us a worth replacement before Monday. We don't want our store to be a most dusty place to work!

Pleasant dreams to all.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Last Sunday, I returned to the shop after my gloriously relaxing and self indulgent weeks off.
Truth teller that I am, how I wish that I could have been able to have many more weeks at home, reading, painting, visiting with friends, writing, walking in the Park, looking a good and bad art in galleries and museums. Truth teller that I am, it was necessary to return to the job.

And so I did.

Unsurprisingly, nothing terrible occured during my absence, but also many chores and responsibilities were also left unattended to. I just felt so "wanted" upon my return. Last Sunday was a bit of a demon day, with so many unanswered phone calls, e-mails, customer-related questions, etc. But all in all, it was not awful to go back to the scene.

My new mom assistant had returned to work while I was away, so we had many items to discuss during the past week. I cannot expect her to catch up instantly, yet need to update her as quickly as possible about the most pressing developments/changes during her six months' leave. We are getting there.

I am a bit concerned about the eventual impact on our business of the current sub-prime mortgage credit crisis flowing through the economic system, but so far our customers still seem quite ready to hand their credit cards across the counter, when they find clothes that they do like.

I played a bit of catch up with my own clothing selections, choosing three new items from the current collections, a very bright orangy-red wide v-neck merino wool tunic, black velvet narrow leg trousers and a black velvel cap-sleeved, ballet necklined, knee length dress/tunic. I still have to choose additional items, but these three will add some interesting combination possibilities to my existing wardrobe. The idea is to illustrate for the customers how flexible our clothing can be. Everyone can find her own way to wear it.

Now. On to culture and mortality. Abrupt swerve from the frivolity of fashion.

This morning's radio news told me that Norman Mailer had died earlier this morning. When I was a young adult in New York, he was very much a presence in the city, even running for mayor at one point, but aside from that he was a prize winning novelist, who was politically attuned. In Brooklyn, everyone knew just which was his house ... the one with the beautiful blue stained glass swan window.

He was a talent, an icon, but also an accessible icon. Nowadays, the celebrities of art and culture often seem to live in another universe. In the 1960's and 70's, this was less true.

About ten years ago, I went to a book reading at a neighborhood bookshop. The featured author was Mr. Mailer. That bookshop fell under the relentless pressure of Barnes and Noble some time ago.

Anyhow, I took along to the reading my aged copy of Mailer's great Vietnam War era book, Armies of the Night, hoping that he would sign it for me. Well, of course, he did. But what memory I still smile at is that the legendary macho icon Mailer, just looked up at me from the signing desk at which he was seated, smiled with a twinkle, and said, "I never can remember, is it Frances with an i or an e?" We chatted a bit more, and then he wrote a sweet note in my yellow-paged old book.

And so tonight, another literary person of note has left us. Perhaps those of you who live in other parts of the world will also feel, as you grow older, a bit of sadness when you learn that someone you have known all your adult life as part of the cultural world, will no longer write, paint, play music. Of course, it is good to appreciate the future talents, but how I do cherish the art that has accompanied me so far though my own live.

Pleasant dreams to all.