Friday, September 29, 2006


Yesterday I met two friends at the New York Botanic Garden. We had tickets for the Chihuly exhibit that is there at the moment. If you don't know who Chihuly is go here. He's a glass artist whose work is very organic. It often resembles plants or sea creatures. In this case they placed a bunch of his pieces in and around the garden. The ones in the Haupt Conservatory were lit up after dark. It was beautiful. If you live in the NYC area and can get there, go, before October 29th when the exhibit ends.
This piece is called The Sun. It weighs 4600 lbs and is made up of about 1000 pieces. It took 6 people 4 days to assemble it.

After wandering open-mouthed through the exhibit and deciding that we must take glass blowing lessons, we adjourned to Arthur Avenue.

Arthur Avenue is the Little Italy of the Bronx. It still has some of that old neighborhood feel that the Manhattan Little Italy has lost; it was buried in tourist traps and an ever expanding Chinatown. We went to a place called Mario's. It was perfect. I fully expected Nicky the Nose and Charlie Stubs to show up to meet the Don. The place was filled with neighborhood families, the air redolent of garlic and olive oil. Our waiter too was perfect, just the right New York accent and ready with a smile. We ate too much and laughed a lot. The perfect end to a beautiful day.

So, if you should find yourself on Arthur Avenue, go to Mario's and have the Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce (or the Fettuccine Alfredo-it's a tough call), the Tiramisu and a cappuccino. And say hello to Nicky the Nose for me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So close...

It's done. Well, almost. One last short training session and I will be done with the Pit of Despair. The move was a horror. An absolute and complete balls up. Everything that could go wrong did. The store still doesn't have its real lighting and is lit mostly by construction lights-you know, bulbs in yellow plastic cages. Classy. The computers still aren't all over there although they should be by the end of the week. No inventory has been done so who knows what the store really has. The newest emergency is that they (that's right, they, not we) have to be out of the old store by the end of the month. The new tenants want in. Amazingly the place has already been taken. By Nike. I have high hopes they will do a good job renovating. The place could be gorgeous with some care and attention. At the very least they need to gut the rear end and replace the bathrooms.

On the business front we are approaching Zero Hour. The site is almost done. Now comes the entering of the data and the images. I have to take a bunch of pictures. Think good thoughts for me that they come out well. Then it will be time to crack a bottle of champagne across the bow and let her go out into the wide world. My heart's all a-flutter. Or maybe that's the butterflies in my stomach. Don't worry. I'll let everyone know when happens.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Today's Items

The evil day has come. The cats have discovered the toilet paper. I knew it was coming when I found the roll edge hanging down to the floor with claw holes in it. I came home this evening to find the whole thing unrolled and lying in a pile on the floor. I sat down on the edge of the tub and laughed and laughed. I suppose if it keeps happening it won't be so funny. I'll have to try hiding it behind a towel (the towel bar is right above).

The Pit of Despair continues its move. A mess. A total and complete mess. How we are going to open on Thursday is beyond me. The cash register area still doesn't have power or data ports. And there is dust covering everything. If we turn the computers on in the dust bowl all the hard drives will be clogged in an hour. But there is no reasoning with the big cheese. To give you a clear example of what we are dealing with: the owner asked that we flatten the paper stuff had been wrapped in so it would take up less space in the garbage. Three days to opening, stuff is still not all out, computers not installed, and he is concerned about paying a bit extra to the garbage company. I am not making this up.

But there was a very bright spot in an otherwise annoying day at The Pit. Today a former co-worker of ours came in to work for the day. He is very kind and always brings candy when he comes. Yesterday he went to the ComicCon. While there, far away from the Pit, he bought a calender featuring a Star Trek character and had her sign it for me. (He knows I am a Trek fan). How incredibly sweet and thoughtful is that? I can hardly stand it. I think it's his mother's influence. She is an impossibly elegant and charming woman. The kind who can walk into a 5 star hotel that she's never been to before and have the entire staff at her beck and call as soon as she steps in the door. You couldn't possibly grow up around her and be anything but gracious.

Monday, September 11, 2006

2996 Tribute

Five years ago today we all experienced a great tragedy. We can still hear and feel its echoes today, especially those of us who live in New York City for we have a physical reminder of that day. The workers at Ground Zero did an incredible job and now only a neat hole remains. It looks like any other construction sight. Unless you know what was there before. The Towers stood for almost all of my life, they were a fixture, ever present. Every now and then when I pass the site I still experience a moment of disbelief that they are gone. Even so, I was fortunate. The one person I knew who worked in the Towers got out early on that day, even before the second plane hit. Others were not so lucky. There are 2996 names inscribed on the memorial. This entry is a tribute to one of the fallen.

Laura Marie Ragonese-Snik was 41 years old in 2001. She was born on August 29, 1960. Wife of John, mother of James. Every workday she commuted from Bangor, PA to her job at Aon Corporation. She loved to laugh and she loved to sing and would jump at the chance to perform, be it in church or on a karaoke stage.

Though Laura lived in Bangor she was a New Yorker. She went to John Jay High School in Brooklyn. There she met her best friend and future sister-in-law Maria, a.k.a. Reasy. In 2001 they had been friends for 27 years. And they still are. Maria and Laura's family have created a non-profit organization called Laura's Angels. Maria wrote: "A very powerful author, Anna Quindlen wrote: “Sometimes the lights go on for the darkest possible reason.” That is, in essence, what happened to me after the events of 9/11. The choice was before me; I could either sink into the darkness and despair that threatened to consume me at every turn, or I could find a way to do something positive in the name of our loved ones. With the help of my close friend, Diane DeWitt, I chose the latter, and that is how “Laura's Angels” came to be."

It began on the first Christmas after 9/11. Maria and her friend Diane decorated a tree with hand made angels. They asked each of Laura's family members to take one as reminder of Laura. To Maria's surprise the angels did not get packed up with the other ornaments in January. They stayed out and provided comfort to Laura's family. Maria decided to extend the gift to all those who had lost someone on September 11 and Laura's Angels was born. Each year at Christmas a tree is chosen and decorated with 3000 angels, one for each person lost on that day so that we never forget them. Maria has plans for Laura's Angels. She hopes to create a network for families and survivors and to work on a permanent memorial.

All of the letters and tributes to Laura speak of her as a bright joyful person. Think of her then in joy. Remember her life and keep peace in your heart. Spread it around so we never have to lose another life to hate and ignorance.

Laura's Quilt Square

To read other tributes please go here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

At Long Last

It has finally arrived, The Pit of Despair's last day in its current location. The hoards have been out looking for bargains and yesterday they were buying everything. It's amazing what people will buy if they think its a bargain. Even so, they won't have bought enough. There will still be much to pack up, a lot of it breakable.

Picture it: piles of merchandise and mountains of boxes, huge rolls of bubblewrap careening around the floor as the staff work to wrap it all up. The manager has set up a system to keep it all in order and woe betide the employee who forgets to label a box. The system is on a spreadsheet, a thing of beauty in itself, that should probably get framed and stuck up on the wall in the new store. But we know the best laid plans of mice and men...

Pray for us, gentle reader.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Home Stretch

We have reached the part of my work project that I was dreading. I must hand the system over to the masses. The people at the top have not bothered to play with the system to learn how it works. And they are not the sort of people who can extrapolate from previous experience. They also cannot problem solve. We bought our new system from a dealer. The dealer rep who has been training us is very sad that I am leaving. He likes me because I have hardly needed him at all. I can read a manual and I can learn from trial and error so I have not called unless I really could not find the answer. He knows that once I am gone he will be called on to deal with the masters of The Pit. I do not have a lot of sympathy. He makes much more money than I do.
Anyway, I am training people as best I can. They will learn what they will. Eventually I will be gone and they will have to fend for themselves. At least the sales staff will be able to function and the floor managers will know what to do. They do know how to learn.
On the positive front I got the hourly rate I wanted for my work once my official time as an employee has ended. It was a bit like pulling teeth or prying something from a body in rigor but I did it. I feel pretty good about that. For one brief shining moment I will actually get what my work is worth. Yay me.

Monday, September 04, 2006


When I started this blog I'd intended to chronicle the start of my business. I haven't really been doing that, mostly because it isn't all that interesting. There have been some trials and tribulations with the website, troubles with ordering because a number of vendors are unwilling to sell to web only stores, clerical work, and cooing over product that has arrived. I find that as the time gets closer when I will leave my job completely and plunge fully into this business that I am swinging between idea filled optimism and stomach tightening anxiety over the state of my financial future. Open any good book of quotes and you get all sorts of pithy sayings about challenges being the spice of life and how being comfortable means that you should move on. All I have to say to that is hah! I've been told that in a year I will wonder what I was worried about and I really hope that turns out to be the case. But whatever happens it is true that I can look myself in the eye each day and I don't have to go around seeing myself in a bad light. (We all know how I hate doing that.) May all the gods of new businesses smile on me.


I have been fiddling with my blog template and have actually managed to make some decent changes in spite of the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing. Fortunately Blogger lets you preview any html changes before saving. I still have to figure out the outer margins and change some colors, including the background. I probably need to look at some books so I can find the right code to change. Anybody got a recommendation for a good HTML book?


Friday, September 01, 2006

Different Views

Following Lady Epiphany's lead I set up a Johari window with links in my previous post. Only one person followed the link. But that was interesting enough. The window has you pick 5 or 6 adjectives to describe yourself and then others can pick too. In the window you see the two lists. Out of the 6 that I and my visitor picked, only one was duplicated. In Lady Epiphany's window only 2 are repeated (she had 3 visitors). I find that fascinating. We see ourselves differently from how others see us. We think we know what sort of image we present to the world but in reality we have no idea of how that image is perceived. And then of course there's the fact that we are often hyper-critical of ourselves. Perfectionists out there will recognize the problems inherent in holding ourselves to a higher standard than we hold anyone else. We need to learn give ourselves a little slack and to accept praise when it comes to us.