Monthly Archives: January 2013

Working from home is a bit of a chore

It’s nice – working from home – except when it’s not.

Okay, yes, I’m writing this in my so-called pajamas (a royal blue oversized polartec pullover I bought on a cold day in Carmel a dozen years ago, over well-worn cotton pants and a long sleeve t-shirt). So?

So that means I’m not rushing to get showered, put together and fed before heading out into gray January day. But it also means my dog and I get to spend another day alone. And sometimes that gets old.

Don’t get me wrong, working from home has worked for me.

In April 1998 I moved my office from the Hancock Building in Chicago to a nice space behind my kitchen in a Lincoln Park condo. In spite of the fact my then husband said, “Only losers work at home,” (what a guy) that was one of my most successful years in business. Eight clients, six figures – from an office off the kitchen. But it took a lot of work to get there.

After Sears sold the subsidiary that was my employer it took a good three years for me to get used to working alone. The motivation was there, the clients were too. But I missed the camaraderie. I missed laughing about a couple of us showing up in the same red blazers and black skirts on Mondays. Missed team meetings where we brainstormed national PR campaigns. Missed the team. Period.

Aw'gy - key player on the home office team.

Aw’gy – key player on the home office team.

Just after Christmas 1995, I said goodbye to my office mates and went home. I told myself I’d take a few months off before starting my practice. My time off included hosting a world-class cold that kept me down for weeks. And after the cold subsided, I began to grieve.

I didn’t know I was grieving.”How long were you with that company?” a friend asked. “Sixteen years, and five in a similar job before that.” That’s a long time to be a team player, and now, the team was gone.

Working from home has meant finding my team wherever they are, and they are located around the country. It means finding the best talent for clients’ needs, without the overhead for a staff. My costs are lower than consultants with offices, assistants, electric bills.

It means having the flexility to write in bed at 6 am. To workout at 10 or noon. To walk my awesome dog. To focus for six or seven hours without interruption. No, I’m not tempted to watch Oprah (is she still one?) or go to the movies. But I’ll admit I’ll occasionally throw in a load of clothes, and I’m free to schedule an appointment when it suits my and my clients’ schedules.

There are pros and cons from working in a office or working from home. The biggest con for me is that while I have a nice home office with a great big window, it’s pretty gray out there these days, which can make me blue. But neither am I  exposed to most of the heat-seeking germs out there this winter.

Enough of this blue polartec stuff. Time to shower and get to work. But first I get to walk my – un, team.

Frozen goose feet and other winter delights

Rich, it’s rich, I tell you!

There is so much to talk about this week – the president renewed, Roe v Wade again, a big fire in downtown Whiting. When I can’t decide what to write, what to say … I  let nature have it’s way. So this post is about goose liver on ice.

geese Not just goose liver (although I am a big fois grais fan and while in France circa 2002, my travel brothers Mark and Ned called it fwa gra. No! It was frog wah – the web between frog’s “fingers.”) Ahem. Not just goose liver on ice, but goose bodies complete with all movable parts.

It was 4 degrees  at about 9 this morning when Aw’gy and I walked the local lakeside road. And I must admit I will always be astounded to see geese sitting, sunning on ice. What IS it about the solid surface that attracts them. And how DO they do it? How can they sit or float on ice? It’s cold!!!

I would have been frozen if not for the layers – a pink n white fleece sweater over a cotton t-neck, fleece Lincoln Park Zoo-socks-sporting-polar-bears inside thinsulate-lined  North Face boots (the WARMEST boots I’ve ever worn), “longies” under jeans, long red down coat, polartec gloves inside polartec mittens PLUS ear covers, a wool knit hat and a hood. I was warm but I was the Michelin uh, woman.

Less than a half-mile from my house I spotted the geese – say, a hundred of ’em – hanging out on the ice in all their glory. They were peaceful, quiet, resting in the morning sun. How do they do it? And why?

“Well, they do have that built-in down,” my friend said.

Oh, down! Right. Goose down. We pluck it and use it in our, oops. My red coat. Oooohhhh. So sorry. You’re goosey Aunt Georgia is on the lake in spirit – she’s been turned into my hood and her liver is being eaten by Pierre and Jacqueline pour diner c’est soir.

These living geese seem so peaceful. Resting in the winter’s morning sun. Far enough from shore that Aw’gy and I didn’t bother them. Close enough that I could enjoy their presence, their peace.

Yes, Michele looked great in that Grecian-style red dress. But these geese looked good too – chllin’ on the local lake. And to think, this is “south for winter” for these winged wanderers.

‘… everyone lies on the Internet’ Excuuuuse me!

Source: GuardianUK

Source: GuardianUK

This Friday’s post was going to be about guns, germs and Dear Abby, but something on Chicago Tonight Thursday evening demanded my attention.

It started with Manti Te’o’s seemingly unfortunate and sudden shift from football star to Internet dupe. Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce and guests Jacqui Cheng, Senior Apple Editor at Ars Techinca, and Al Gini, business ethics professor at Loyola University Chicago were discussing the notion that Te’o’s online girlfriend might have been a hoax from start to ugly finish.

“Let’s face it, everyone lies on the Internet,” Cheng said.  (See interview.) They all laughed.

I am so naive.

Going on two years now I’ve been writing at WordScarab, sharing some wisdom about various things. It has been my goal to be honest without jeopardizing privacy. That means, I exclude some information but I don’t distort the truth. Veracity is vital in the search for nuggets of wisdom.

But with this being the www, after all, keeping things to myself doesn’t keep some goofball from getting the skinny on me. (I liked that, btw, using “skinny” and “me” in the same sentence.) I’ve stopped using photos of my family and friends to protect their identities as much as possible. I’m not afraid to talk about who I am because, it’s my thought, we are all the same, basically, and if you can see yourself solving some dilemma thanks to something you’ve read here, we all win.

I know Ponce, Cheng and Gini were not talking about writers – regular bloggers like me – who are real people, with real stories to share. But it is beyond me as to why someone would create a fictitious character and pass it off as real. I hope to do that one day soon, but it will be in a best-selling novel and not on this blog.

Jewel headline conjures up sweet memories

Last Friday I read with interest an article in the NWI Times about a local icon in transition. “Jewel-Osco to be sold to investment group” was the headline. Oh, darn! was my sarcastic reaction.

I was 7 or 8 when Jewel opened within a block of my family’s sundries store in Whiting, Indiana. And as I recall, it wasn’t too long before our store closed. I suppose it would have happened eventually – Lord knows I probably ate a good share of the profits – but I blame the big box grocer for closing our sweet shop.

Sandrick Sundries - one of a kind.

Sandrick Sundries – a rare gem.

Sandrick Sundries, 194? – 1963 – was a Whiting icon in its time. Located on the main thoroughfare between Chicago’s east side and East Chicago, Indiana, my dad’s store served up so many sundries – from aspirin to toy trucks, sundaes to garbarge-can Cokes, bowling shirts to baseball bats, cameras to snuff. You name it, we had it. Even stamps, milk and hot roasted nuts. Penny candy? The Sputniks are good or would you like Mary Janes?  Three Musketeers? Sure – frozen or not? Stewarts hot sandwiches? The cheeseburgers were good with a chocolate shake.

My brother began working the soda fountain when he turned 12. Can you imagine having your 12-year-old behind the counter today? But Jewel Tea trashed my dream of being a girl soda jerk. It’s okay, the girl and jerk parts  stuck. (Hope that mad you laugh. I know my brother’s laughing now.)  No career behind the counter, inspite of my apprenticeship – in the basement.

While the store took up every nook and cranny of the street-level soda shop cum camera-bowling-greeting card-and Nehi soda emporium, which literally and figuratively supported our upstairs apartment, the basement consumed many of our pre-jerk apprenticeship hours. There were empty pop bottles to rack, syrupy straws and napkins to sweep into piles and cake-cone boxes to break down before torching. It was work, but we were rewarded with Ice Cream Mondays.

I guess I’m glad Jewel will be sold – maybe to keep its name under new ownership, or be turned into some big-name super food seller. Not that I have anything against it. In fact, I’ve shopped there many times over the years – even when it was right down the street. But that recent headline reminded me of the first Jewel Tea coming to Robertsdale circa 1960, and about our sweet little sundries store. There are so-o-o many stories to tell.



What’s Up with Downton Abbey – take 2

In the past five days I’ve downed nearly two seasons of Downton Abbey. It’s been a bit of a binge, really. Sort of glutenous of me to see in short order what millions of television viewers have watched over two years.

And as if eating a whole pie in one sitting, I began to feel ill.

Season 1 set up all the characters, showed us the good guys, the evil and dark souls, revealed the rivalries, the love interests. It was filled with intrigue, twists, a bit of frivolity. Maggie Smith’s character, the Dowager, kept a very tight line between her class and the servants. It was fascinating to see the story unfold.

Season 2 centered around World War 1 and while we were spared the level of

Too much tragedy in Downton Abbey S2 left me with a bit of a tummy ache. Do you think it's because I've taken in eight episodes in 3 days?

Too much tragedy in Downton Abbey S2 hurt my head. Possibly because I’ve taken in eight episodes in 3 days?

detail of a Leaving Private Ryan, we learned very well the pain of war. Loved ones died in France, fiancés came back broken, William returned only to soon die but after marrying his beloved Daisy.  Downton was turned into a convalescent home. A major hooked up with a housemaid and left her with a child, Patrick or Peter returned disfigured. There was so much more. Almost too much to digest in three hours last evening. But I kept going.

Lady Clare nearly died and it so pained her maid O’Brien to watch because of the later’s unspoken crime against her mistress. Lord Grantham – how could you? – kissed one of the maids (yes, I can see why you were disheartened with your wife’s negativity but you seemed above such indiscretions). Sir Richard not only Continue reading