Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Little Madness. . .

"A little Madness in the spring Is wholesome.. ."-- Emily Dickinson

Spring has arrived in Arkansas, both officially and weather wise. It is hard to believe that the tulip magnolia that was covered in snow only two weeks ago is in its full glory in spite of heavy rains and wind. The little purple flowers that the lawn man calls "winter weeds" and I call spring flowers are thick in parts of my yard. He wants to cut them or spray them or something lethal, but I told him to leave them alone. It isn't as if I had real grass out there, and when you look down on them from the porch it is like a purple carpet.

With all the special services at the church for Holy Week, bookstore sales have been doing very well. I have all the Easter items on sale and have sold nearly all of it, even some of the very tacky things that I thought would never sell.

The NCAA is in town for some of its basketball games and everyone is going wild trying to make a good impression so they will come back again. So March madness is in full swing and I for one am glad. I am too cautious, however, to plant anything yet, I will wait for April 15 as recommended by the Extension Service. That doesn't stop me from drooling over various plants at the garden center and I may be forced to buy something and nurture it on the sun porch until it is safe to put it out.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Heralds of Spring

The heralds of spring are covered with snow! The magnolia soulangiana at the corner of my house with its fat buds ready to pop into bloom is covered with snow and the blooming daffodils in my neighbor's yard, (I'm too lazy to plant my own) are bowed down with snow. Snow in March in Arkansas is rare, two snows in the same week in March never happens, but that is what we are having this year.

The very old native holly at the other corner of the house is full of berries this year and the contrast with the snow is beautiful. I suspect it was planted when the house was built in 1957 and it continues to thrive even though it was planted too close to the carport and my neighbors have a privacy fence that crowds it on the other side. The beauty of native plants is that they manage to adapt to the circumstances.

I am sitting at my computer looking out into the back yard where the show is still falling, slowly at times, but right now very heavily being driven by a north wind so that it looks like real winter weather. It is supposed to taper off but it has started sticking to the streets and the temperature has dropped to 32 degrees and going further, so tomorrow is going to be difficult if you need to get out, which I do. I have a volunteer work day planned at the bookstore and I really hate to have to cancel it, particularly since I am not sure who is planning to come. I guess I will just have to play it by ear.

Bella is fascinated with the snow and has spent most of the afternoon sitting on the mantel where she can see out into the back watching it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Retirements and Career Changes

I have had more careers than most people. Right after high school I worked in the bonding department of a large insurance company, before going to Washington to work for the Department of State. I stayed there several years and then joined the Foreign Service. I made that my career for 30+ years until I retired and returned to Arkansas in 1987. A few months after coming back, I went to work at a large Catholic hospital managing the physician continuing education department, something very new and different and actually something I was not qualified for but I learn quickly, and ended up having an interesting well attended group of courses over a period of six years.

Because of the office atmosphere around me, I decided to retire again, making it retirement #2. I started my own business and found that it is true about being a small business owner, you can work half a day--and you get to decide which 12 hours that will be. So after several years of that, when Daddy died, I retired again, #3.

I soon realized that I would not survive without some intellectual stimulation and let one of my former clients talk me into coming back to work for her on a contract basis. That worked well for several more years, but this year while doing the annual mail out for the membership directory, I realized that I was sick of dealing with all the incompetent people that doctor's hire to run their offices, so, although I have not broken the news to my client, I have just gone into retirement #4.

As most of you know, back in December I took on a volunteer job at my church, running our book/gift store. It had gotten into a financial and physical mess over the past several years and was in danger of going under. The deal was five hours a day weekly and a little time on Sunday around the 10:30 service, for which I have a couple of volunteers that take one Sunday a month. Of course that rule about part-time work kicked in and I have been putting in 8 and 9 hour days, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have recruited more volunteers, done a complete physical inventory, and unloaded some of the worst of the gift items to various charity thrift stores, 75 stuffed animals went to various children's home, hospitals, some to the police to carry in their trunks for traumatized children, etc.

I have the bank balance back up where I don't worry about paying bills, and have discovered some rather sizeable credit balances with two of our main book distributors so things are looking up. I have begun to buy some jewelry and unique gift items. I went to the annual convention last weekend and sold lots of stuff, had a good time, and met lots of people. I haded out 75 business cards with all the contact info on them and have already had two people call with requests for special orders (an area where we make a lot of money).

So I am on career change number 5--anyone out there who can beat that?