my summer’s are intense and this one especially so.
one of the things i feel i am best at is problem solving. for example, currently i am working on a home renovation. the house i live in was built in 1961 by my grandparents. we’ve added a deck and porch but never addressed the larger problems of the bathrooms, kitchen, ungrounded plugs, rusty plumbing, outdoor laundry room, and limited kitchen space. finally last year we started the big renovation. i get an office that isn’t in the living room, and we tackle all the things that need to be improved. currently we are in the thick of it and so every day and week there are dozens of problems to solve. where do the plugs go, what kind of light, what will the cabinets and siding look like. the fixtures. anyone who has done this sort of thing knows the struggle. it’s a wonderful struggle but a struggle nonetheless. on top of that the restaurant is busier than ever. while it is also running more efficiently than ever and the crew is dedicated and smart, still problems arise weekly that have to be solved. personnel problems, maintenance problems, logistics. then there’s the family. the kids go to camps different weeks, there is a visit to the in-laws on the horizon, we are moved out of the house so our belongings are in boxes and stacks. there are personal struggles as well. how to find time to paint? how to best organize my time and days? how to enjoy the family while also juggling the renovation and restaurant demands?
i make lists. constantly make lists and set reminders and alarms. if i don;t set a reminder then i don;t get that thing done. lots of times i am too busy when the reminder comes and i have to make time to reset the alarm for a new later time that i imagine will be appropriate. the bank account has to be constantly monitored and maintained. the bills have to get paid. the kids need attention and encouragement, instruction and time. time. time. time.
while i have abandoned the hope of stained glass projects for now, and do not find the luxury to write, i am carrying a painting around with me to work on in between other tasks. i am actually getting a fair amount of paintings finished and always waiting for an hour to make a frame and finish a painting or collage. i’ll continue to have my yearly show of paintings in december, and this year should mark my 19th or 20th year of showing new work every year. while i don’t make a big fuss over advertising my work, or trying to promote my work, it is one of the staples of my life that help me manage the madness. the times i sit with the brush painting are the calmest and most peaceful times. the work tends to mirror my state. lately they are whirling and spiraling, textured, and hopefully reflective of my year and the tension between the peace i seek and the intensity of my activity.
my love for the customers and employees is not diminished. when i am working at the restaurant i am happy, even if sometimes also troubled. fortunately i have amazing people around me who help manage my business. if it weren’t for the staff i have assembled, my restaurant would not be so successful. i am keenly aware of the wealth of truly good people who help me daily.
my mom has macular degeneration. this condition has worsened in one eye to make seeing from that eye very difficult. there is now the chance that the other eye could worsen at any time and render her legally blind. my mother is wildly independent. driving a car is her freedom, and preparing a sunday meal for my family might mean she takes two or more trips to the grocery a day for several days in preparation. she loves to drive and travel and be independent. nothing could make her more upset than feeling like someone else has to help her. as she discusses her condition and prognosis it is easy to feel her fears. as she has aged she has had to battle a couple cancers among other things. while she has always been there for me and been ready to drop everything for any small need i may have, she is not excited about having the tables turned. the only escape from growing old is dying young. our bodies break down and living through those inevitable bodily breakdowns is a struggle of a whole different level.
i connected with a friend i haven’t seen since high school this week, theo. it’s been almost 30 years since we’ve talked. we shared lunch and caught up. he told me about bobby fankhauser. bobby was a close friend i knew through junior high and high school who i had wondered about many times and even tried to locate on Facebook a couple times. he went by rob as an adult which is why i didn’t find him. bobby died of a heart attack in his sleep two weeks ago. my friend theo and bobby had become close after high school and had been close friends the last few decades. theo had to speak at bobby’s funeral. theo was obviously shaken and disturbed by bobby’s sudden death.
one of the app ideas i have is a cliche app. the app would be a long list of cliches under themes like life, death, sex, food, friendship, neighbors, money, work…. and i thought it would be cool to somehow make little vignettes or short cartoons or videos where the cliche would be acted out or somehow expressed in images. maybe these short clips could be sent to someone or posted in response to an event. it’s a silly idea. it’s one of those ideas i will likely never get to. it’s so far down on the list of things to do that i’m surprised i’m even bringing it up at all. but i bring it up because i like cliches. life is fragile. be here now. no one ever got to their death bed and wished they would have worked more. seize the day. it’s the little things. keep it simple. don’t cry over spilled milk. better safe than sorry. if you build it they will come. rome wasn’t built in a day.
that’s not the app idea i am currently working on. the one i may have mentioned in a previous post or two. that app idea is still in progress with my programmer friend in colorado who is trying to learn a new apple language called swift. hopefully soon i can share that app and a link to the companion blog here. hopefully i am able to keep breathing real life into my ideas. that is a big part of what keeps me inspired and motivated… bringing paintings and ideas and things that live in my head into the real world. they are all silly and fleeting and tiny in the scheme of things, but it is a gift and a curse i live with every day. my lists get longer and then i check off stuff. they shorten for a time and then get longer again. ideas bounce in my head, pulse in my heart, and electrify me veins. it’s self absorbed in a way i know. but it also is just part of my DNA. something i have accepted. something i try and manage. my poor wife just shakes her head.
and so my goals right now are to “take it one day at a time.” i hope to make my restaurant a more interesting place, with consistently good food and service. i hope to continue to find ways to make it more efficient. i imagine the spectrum of efficiency as an infinite one. i hope my mom lets me give back a fraction of what she has given me in the coming months and years. i hope my kids learn critical thinking and problem solving. i hope i can be a constant and positive influence, despite my own shortcomings. i hope to help the employees who need my help, to work through the problems that come up like a good family would. it’s a struggle because while i know it’s easier to let go of an employee who is having a struggle, it’s my responsibility to follow the harder path which seeks a solutions to their issues, to find a way they might fit in the puzzle, stay in the family. i hope to serve the many customers with humility and earnestness. and i hope to continue to make things that brighten, lighten, enliven, spin, churn, entertain, and express.
i’ve stayed up way too late again…. the early bird gets the worm. absence makes the heart grow fonder. actions speak louder than words. all in a day’s work. that which doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. today is the first day of the rest of your life.