My New Job (I have one now!)

Just got a new job.  And it could be my dream job…

I grew up in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland Ohio. A modest city, but we were too busy playing outside to notice our lack of worldly goods.

We played Red Rover—and nobody cried, either.

And Kick the Can. (Which had several names and variations…) In the winter, we went outside just like when it was 80 degrees and sunny. No such thing as too cold or bad weather.

We didn’t have property, we had a yards.

Nor did we have landscaping. Just some greenery around the yard that we called bushes, or shrubs. Simple, generic terms. And the trees? Out there to be climbed.

As for mulch, my first experience shoveling it was as a first time homeowner (and adult) in a Mentor subdivision. After we put in some new beds

Not beds that you sleep in. Beds as in landscaping.

The only ‘beds’ we had in Euclid, were in our bedrooms. And about the only time we were inside was to sleep in them.

The lots (or yards…) on our street were about 50 feet wide, with just enough room to run a driveway between houses. And I’m not kidding. Our ‘yard’ was .19 acre.

Which is why we needed to play in ALL the yards. Thankfully, nobody minded…

So I grew up in the city. And now I live in Perry, Ohio. Which isn’t really country, as it is fairly close to several cities. But it is bordering on rural.

My new job?

McGroarty Enterprises.

What do they do there? For starters, there is a nursery.

As in plants, not babies. They also teach others throughout the United States–even as far as Australia–how to grow plants. There is an office in the small house that sits on the nursery property. That is where I’ll be working.

Probably a good place for me.  Really, what do I know about plants?

Not much.

When we moved to Perry, we built a new center hall colonial. I had no idea at the time, but they leveled the old nursery to make way for our subdivision to roll through.

What I did learn while living on that property?

How to STEAL old nursery stock.

Just beyond our property, there were a few pockets of mangled up plants all mixed in with briar and weeds. Nothing had been pruned in years. Finding these plants and trees in the brush wasn’t easy. The couple of times I went back there, I was a bloody, muddy, scraped up mess afterwards.

Me: C’mon Daughter, we’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: Huh?

Me: Like grab that shovel over there and I’ll get the wheelbarrow…

Darling Daughter: Why?

Me:  I told you. We’re going shopping.

Darling Daughter: For what?

Me: I need a tree. You can help me find one.

And so we did. We dragged home a large stick, the size of a broomstick. Maybe 5 feet long, the top was thinner than a pencil. And we quickly planted it.

Took my then husband several days to notice my ‘stick tree’ in the new bed, bordering our deck. He was probably too focused on the 20’ x 40’ deck we just finished building, or the pool.

When he found out what we had done, he had a fit! Then kept telling me it was going to die. Of course, this is the man who gifted me several flats of ‘full sun’ flowers—then instructed me to plant them in the shade. They were dead within the month. All of them.

Anyways, I think I am safe to relay this story now. It has been about 7 years and I only ever dug up that one tree. What would I be charged with?

Grand Theft ‘stick tree.’

I stopped today to take a photo of that tree—the leaves aren’t on it yet. But the trunk is at least 10” in diameter and the tree must be 30 feet tall. It is enormous. It was pretty when we moved, but it is quite a gorgeous tree now.

My daughter and I chose that particular tree because the stick/trunk was white(ish) in color. Instead of yucky dark brown.  We thought the white was much prettier.

We had no idea what the tree was. Turns out, it was actually a really nice tree.

And like I told my then husband, we needn’t feel bad. (or criminal) I SAVED a tree that was destined to  become a basement…

There were already plans to extend the subdivision; the new roads were even in by then.

So, how am I qualified to work in a nursery?

Given the above example, I obviously have a green thumb.

I love the outdoors. Love plants.  Have always kept my landscaping weeded, mulched, trimmed, pruned and looking pretty in all the houses I have lived in as an adult. In fact, I find weeding relaxing.

So, I’m interested in plants. Which is a start.

And my job is primarily in the office. Answering customer emails, editing photos for the websites, researching and writing articles on plants and keeping an eye on the message boards and such.

Likely, it won’t be long before I’m out there crawling around in the dirt taking photos of the new Japanese maples that are getting planted soon.

Back in Euclid, we often made Mud Pies in the summer.  Meaning we SAT and played in the mud.  When we got in the bathtub at night, the water was brown. When my own children were little, I always thought it was a good day when my kids’ bathwater was brown. Dirty kids = great fun, right?

Maybe the same can be said for adults?

Given the chance, I’ll be in the dirt learning to plant and tag the new stock…

The more I learn, the better off I’ll be with the office side of the operation anyway.

This job might be many people’s personal hell. But I’m thinking it might be quite the opposite for me. Right up my alley…

I get to write AND I get to go outside.

Does it get any better?

I Played Hooky From Work…with no regrets!!

Last Wednesday, a couple of My Favorites burst through my front door just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Because she knew Alex and Mackenzie were over, my daughter arrived a few minutes later.

Yes. We had plans…but the girls were a bit early. I was pushing hard to complete a work project, so that we could head to a neighboring community for a “Take Pride in America” event.  It featured the United States Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps, Silent Drill Platoon and Marine Corps Color Guard.

Though I knew I could spend more time working, I chose to shut down the computer.

There was every reason to send the girls off without me. I could easily have continued on with my project. I knew that I might be working late into the night—possibly all night due to the choice I made.

On paper, our Funny group of five makes no sense. But when we are together, it makes Perfect sense. My daughter and I. Alex and my Godchild (I dated their father for a couple of years.) And the girls’ mother (my Former Flame’s ex-wife).  Yet we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

We loaded into my Trusty Honda, with my Godchild at the wheel. She likes to drive. I rode in the backseat with my daughter and Alex. The Former Flame’s, ex-wife rode shotgun…white knuckling it as her daughter drove. We were laughing before we hit the end of my street…and the fun continued until we pulled back into my driveway about five hours later.

If I came from another family, I might live my life differently.  Make different choices.

But I come from family who always put People first. Always.

Take my Uncle. He is a busy man. He holds an important job for a large international corporation—he carries a heavy load of responsibility, stress and puts on long hours. He is one of the hardest working, most dedicated people I have ever known.

Yet every year, he takes a vacation day on Aunt Kate’s birthday. Every. Year.

And I am quite sure he schedules meetings around this and has to shuffle his schedule to make this happen.

Uncle Joe -- in Relaxed "vacation" mode a few weeks ago...

He also spends a week sitting on the beach in Hilton Head every summer with Aunt Kate, their son and daughter-in-law. No laptop. No phone on the beach. Nothing but family time. And again, I’m quite sure that it takes some doing to make this possible.

Incidentally, Uncle Joe–by anybody’s standards—has a very, very successful career.

Even more important, he has a successful 39-year marriage and a son and daughter-in-law who adore him. That is no accident…

He knows what is important. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard him talk about it. He lives it. It is clear in his actions, the way he conducts his life…each and every day. No words necessary.

In turn, my aunt wakes up each day to make his coffee. She could sleep in. But she doesn’t. While he gets ready for work, she puts his coffee in his favorite covered cup—so that he is ready for his commute. (They live in Virginia, about 30 minutes outside of Washington D.C.)

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

My father always put People first, as well. Didn’t matter what he had to do, he never missed a ballgame, concert or anything my brother and I did growing up. In my 40 years, he has AWAYS had time for me. Has NEVER been too busy when I needed—or just wanted him. Honestly, I cannot remember a time he lost patience with me, judged me or yelled at me…

He was a wonderful husband to my mother while she was alive. And he is now a loving husband to Jannie. My father has also had success in his professional life, along with lifelong friendships and relationships.

Again. Not an accident. From what I have seen, successful people tend to know how to balance their lives. How to work hard at in their professional lives. But they know when to set that aside and embrace the People in their lives. They know that People come first. That without the People, financial and professional success mean little.

My children and I spent a week in Hilton Head sitting on the beach with those mentioned above. In many families, we would not all ‘hang’ together.

My father is what many would consider ONLY a brother-in-law to Aunt Kate and Uncle Joe. (My mom and Aunt Kate were sisters) In many families, my Dad may not have stayed part of ‘the family’ after my mom passed away. Especially when he re-married a woman not Aunt Kate’s sister. It doesn’t work like that for us. My Dad’s wife is one of us, as well.

Because of the type of People I’ve always been surrounded by, I didn’t have to think too hard about shutting down my computer last Wednesday. And it was a magical evening…

I don’t know a damn thing about music. Cannot play a note. Nor can I sing one, unless I want my dogs to howl in protest.

There was a good bit of pageantry and ceremony.

At one point, my Godchild whispered in my ear, “This is almost like Catholic Church.”

“Huh?” I said, not getting her meaning.

“Stand. Sit. Kneel.”

We had just stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Then sat back down…She had a point!

But when the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps marched on the football field in their Crimson Red coats and pressed white pants, I was in awe…speechless. (A rare occurrence for me…)  Their matched sets of silver instruments were stunning—their every movement in sync. They played Perfectly…

Honestly…those who know music might want to check out Alex’s blog. (It is below this one) Alex goes off to college this week with eight years of band under her belt, so she appreciated a lot of ‘musical things’ that are beyond me. What I understood was that I was in the company of people I love, respect and who are important to me. And I was watching some of the most talented young men and women in our country perform—and the experience was breathtaking.

After The Drum & Bugle Corps finished, the US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon executed an impressive drill routine with rifles and fixed bayonets. There are no words to describe it…I won’t try.

I admit to sneaking glances down the row of bleachers to catch the look on Alex’s face. You see, the young man she dated for four years in high school is at Marine Boot Camp as I write this—this display carried a different meaning for her. (Her mother was sneaking glances at her, as well.)

It was an evening I will never forget. It was not to be missed. Yet it would have been easy to skip the event. To wrap up my project on the computer at home and miss out on this experience… (I admit it crossed my mind for a few seconds)

But I am a product of my family. A person who has never been told by her parents that they ‘didn’t have time…’ (Or even later in my life, by my Dad’s wife Jannie)

My mother was fond of telling us that we make time for what is important to us. And she was right.

I believe our lives are comprised of little decisions, little moments. When we string them together, and look back at our memories—with any luck, we have taken advantage of every opportunity to spend time with those we love.

When we do that, we are truly happy and filled with joy. And we radiate that and bring it with us out into the world—and tend to find success in our community, professional lives,  friendships and relationships with those we love.

And as we move through life, we add to our circle of People—if we’re lucky. Which is why I spent an evening with Alex, my Godchild and the Former Flames ex. Because they have a place in my family now. (And thus a place with my Dad, Aunt Kate and other relatives…)

I’m not sure what will crop up needing my attention this week…but I can say with certainty that I will be sitting in the bleachers to watch my son’s football scrimmage on Tuesday.

Whatever it takes.

Because I understand that we never know what comes next. That is why the smallest choices–the little things–add up to mean everything…Because we can never be certain that we will get another day–Or another chance.

SUGAR…Dinner of Champions?

Yet again, I am a Role Model for Perfect Parenthood.

Busy yesterday putting together a brochure for a freelance job and preparing for a Writers Group Meeting, I didn’t quite have dinner together.

Okay…my cupboards were as bare as Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.

Is there sugar falling from the sky?

Although my ex-boyfriend and I no longer date, his children, my children and I often spend time together. And despite her brother being my ex-husband, we are pet sitting my sister-in-law’s dog this week.

I swept out of the house at 6pm to get to my meeting, leaving behind; my two teenagers, the ex-boyfriends three teenagers, a couple of boyfriends and three dogs. With the potential for more teens to stop by…

In the car, I rang up the ex boyfriend to let him know that I was out for the evening and that I had left a houseful of unsupervised teenagers with no food back at my house. He got another call and said he would call me back. It’s a good thing I didn’t wait…

Charles Atlas

My ex boyfriend is on a bender of a health kick. Complete with exercise and lots of healthy food. He has dropped a fantastic amount of weight—and quickly. At the rate he is going, he will soon look like Charles Atlas.

If I were a betting girl, I would guess that ‘Charles’ consumed some concoction of protein and veggies–while our children ate sugar cubes??

‘Charles’ let the children know that he had plenty of ‘good food’ over at his house. And that they were all welcome to come on over when they got hungry. He has always been a good sport about a slew of kids, my two dogs and even a couple of cats making themselves comfortable in his house.

A couple of kids’ ears perked up at his offer, because my ex-boyfriend is known to be an excellent cook. Then his daughter (the one I refer to as my godchild) described his new eating habits. Gone are the huge dinner-breakfasts of pancakes, hash browns with homemade creamy sauce, bacon, sausage, eggs, and biscuits. Gone are the Mexican feasts, Avocado cheeseburgers on thick buns with homemade French fries…

Instead of heading over there for healthy food, the children ran to the store for the ingredients to make “Puppy Chow.”

It looked so much worse, than what I pictured during my ride home...

“Puppy Chow” I said, visualizing the children drizzling chocolate, butter and sugar over real dog food.  God knows, we have enough of it in the house this week!

“No,” Said my daughter “It’s Chex Mix cereal, chocolate chips, peanut butter, powdered sugar… “

“Oh,” I said, beginning to get the idea. I’ve never actually made this Puppy Chow junk before, but per my daughter it is TO…DIE…FOR…

The dialog in my head…Great! Just what we all need…another snack to like…

Because I already have a long list, I try to avoid sampling new snacks, treats, or baked goods. And I do believe there is butter in that recipe, as well–because we no longer have any.

As I finished my drive home, I figured that peanut butter is protein, sort of. And there must be fiber in Chex Mix. As for the chocolate, there are always reports about dark chocolate being healthy—there must be something redeeming in chocolate chips. I couldn’t think of a way to spin the powdered sugar or the butter.

The reality? The teenagers ate a congealed mass of sugary goo with zero nutritional value for dinner last night. And the parents’ were MIA while they did so. I’m sure the children think we are Role Models for Perfect Parenthood. For now, until their sugar buzz wears off.

a teenage finger...or a doggie tongue??

Thank goodness I didn’t want any Puppy Chow. What little I could have scraped out of the Tupperware container was ruined, because our doggie guest stuck his slimy tongue in for his share.

The kids did clean up my kitchen per my instructions. Somehow, it fell apart  while they ‘hung out’ during the day.

Unfortunately, they laid waste to it while concocting their Dinner of Champions. Because they are

Does this need an explanation?

wonderful children, I am sure they will clean it up themselves. Positive of it, actually. Because I am not cleaning that mess up.

After all, I got up at 5:30 this morning to shuttle my son and his buddy to early morning football workouts. And also because it is a one can of Diet Coke morning. (Two cans is much better…) But one can is better than none.

My daughter likes to tell people that I am “addicted to coke.” She means Diet Coke. The Cardinal Rule in our house is that nobody drinks the last Diet Coke. They know that I cannot function without it.

Who am I kidding? I can hardly function with it. Otherwise, the children would have had dinner last night. Instead, they ate a Tupperware container of sugar slop.

I am confident that last night was probably an educational experience for the children. They must have learned how awful it feels to consume empty calories in the evening. They will certainly feel sluggish this morning. And swear off the Puppy Chow in the future…

And because ‘Charles’ and I are usually responsible, attentive parents—we will be making dinner tonight. I am almost sure of it.

Me and My Shiny Objects

While majoring in finance at a liberal arts college, I was required to take a Fine Arts course. Which to me felt like disaster waiting to happen. Honestly, stick figures stretch my artistic abilities. Ceramics seemed the best option, though I couldn’t imagine producing anything that resembled ‘Fine Art.’ With little choice and no idea what lie ahead, I pressed forward determined NOT to allow a failure in Art to ding my GPA.

As it turned out, I LOVED Ceramics. Loved molding the clay with my hands and using the potter’s wheel to guide hunks of sludge into lovely shapes. And I got to slather glaze onto gray clay, turning my projects into Shiny Objects! Even better, glazing was an imperfect science back then. The final result of each masterpiece was a surprise. Pulling them out of the kiln was like opening a gift.

At the end of the term, I headed home eager to share my rather mediocre–but respectable enough for an A–creations with my family. I rushed through the back door with my box of projects cradled in my arms. And stumbled into the kitchen, sending all of my hard work into the air. In a split second, my almost Fine Art was a mess of colored clay chunks, scattered across the kitchen floor.

It is true that I am a disaster with delicate items such as pottery, china and glass—and yet they have always fascinated me.

The Family Silver: I remember asking my mother if I could ‘pretty please’ polish the dull silver. Seeing her chance to avoid a task NOBODY enjoys, she quickly gathered a heaping tower of silver, the jar of goopy cleaner and plenty of rags for me. My mom was just helping me out, sort of like giving me Play Dough or a toy.

A delicate & beautiful Johnson Brothers china plate. Recently found at an antiques store. Currently unbroken...

The China Cabinet: We never used our Lenox China. NEVER. As a young child, I was forever dragging out teacups, plates, and saucers to run my fingers along the patterns and to enjoy their cool smoothness against my fingertips. I occasionally insisted on using several place settings for a meal, knowing that I would be hand washing them. Looking back, I cannot fathom that I never damaged any of it.

My Mother’s Engagement Ring: My mother used to smile indulgently as I slid her Shiny Sparkler onto my finger. When it wasn’t on her finger, she kept it in a little box on her dresser. I must have been about 4 years old when I took the ring outside to play. And LOST it! Though we never found the ring, she never got angry or made me feel badly. Thankfully, I have managed to hang onto its replacement.

My Grandfather’s (rather extensive) Carnival Glass Collection: Nobody spared it a glance. Except for me. I studied it, appreciating the rich colors, textures and intricate designs. After he passed away, I inherited several pieces—but only because nobody else wanted “that ugly crap.”  I still display his glass treasures in my home.

Lastly–The Glitter Obsession: My daughter was exasperated by my affinity for glitter. I felt the need to add a dash of sparkle to each and EVERY elementary school project she completed. I won’t lie. I sometimes unloaded entire bottles and tubes of glitter. “Just a touch of shimmer. A little something extra…” I remember saying. This went on for years until she finally put a stop to it. She still cannot stand glitter.

With my lifelong passion for Shiny Objects, carving out a career in glass, china and antique collectibles makes Perfect sense. I am cautiously optimistic as I continue to move forward each day—and backwards on the rough days. Unsure of my destination, but knowing in my gut that it feels right. Just like the clay in my hands many years ago and the feeling that flares up with the discovery of each new ‘Shiny’ treasure.


My space at the CRAFT & ANTIQUE CO-OP. For local readers: 1871 N. Ridge Road in Painesville, Ohio.




After completing my 4th weekend of being a Co-op Vendor and of listing items on eBay, I am beginning to understand what I’ve gotten myself into.

And it feels an awful lot like work! Thankfully, it is thus far work that I love. And I’m the boss—the person who decides what goes into my Co-Op space, how to display it, the pricing, what gets listed on eBay, and how items are presented for auction. So far, it is going quite well. But I am exhausted

Even more so than when I had a 9-5 job. With a ‘real’ job, somebody else is responsible for EVERYTHING; the budget, inventory, paychecks, insurance and the headaches that go along with keeping a ‘business’ IN BUSINESS. Though most employees work hard, the burdens that come along with business ownership fall to somebody else.

Before wandering down this path of (potential) Self-Employment, I knew that. Heck, I graduated college with a business major—we certainly studied these things. Yet, I didn’t really KNOW.  As things begin to take shape, I make my adjustments.

Which led to my spending this past weekend moving my home office to the finished (thank goodness!) basement.

Previously, my computer equipment was in the 20’x20’ family room–directly off the kitchen—in the hub of my humble home. A humble home that never seems to be EMPTY. There is (1) fluffy, (not so obedient—but nice) golden retriever, (1) five month old (marginally behaved) mutt, my (2) teenagers, my (somewhat) ex-boyfiend’s (3) teenagers and the (sometimes large) assortment of friends, boyfriends and people who are dragged home for sleepovers, movie nights and ‘family’ dinners. So, the idea that I could possibly run a home-based business from the upstairs was obviously not well thought out. Was I delusional? Especially, as I am still trying to decide if such a business is possible?

Besides the lack of privacy—we won’t go so far as to call it Organized Chaos…or to label my home Noisy—I needed to move the office to the basement, because after only a few weeks, I had begun to feel that I was NEVER off work. The computer winked at me each time I walked into the family room. It beckoned me to check emails, balance a checkbook, or to research an item to potentially list on eBay…and a few minutes quickly turned into a few hours.

The worst part of the main floor home office? In order to feel done with work, I had to clean up a mess of paperwork, eBay items, packaging materials, Co-Op merchandise…and more–at the end of each day! The mess started in the family room, but spread–like a wine on a cotton tablecloth–into the kitchen, dining room, and garage. With everything in the basement, I can turn off a light and be DONE for the night. There’s no need to clean up. I can leave everything ready to begin again the next day. Best of all, the upstairs is clear of all work items—and ready to be lived in.

Already, I’m finding that I am able to relax again. And to enjoy my downtime—something that will be in short supply in the coming weeks, if all goes well.

Please stick with me and I’ll keep you updated. If nothing else, I am having fun and there will stories…