It's Saturday morning, I'm sitting at the kitchen table in my pyjamas, feet are bare and feeling the cold but I'm too lazy to put socks on, a cup of steaming hot coffee sitting on the table to which I take tentative sips from, the house is quiet and listening to the serenade of birds outside the kitchen window (real country stuff this), Greg has taken the boys to a country football match (Ned's playing his first match, under 9's, he's so proud) Millicent (the seven year old anti-Christ) is in her room playing or rotating her head, either way she's preoccupied which is a good thing and I'm supposed to be studying but instead I'm texting, tweeting, emailing and phoning trying to get in touch with the web guys because the company website isn't working.
Cue second cup of coffee.
That means I'll have to get up and walk over to the kitchen so instead I look over to the stove and will it to turn itself on, which of course fails. So I try harder and feel a vein starting to throb near my temple.
Millicent walks in and sees me squinting with concentration at the stove and asks in her angelic voice "Mummy, what are you doing? Do you have a headache?"
I turn my attention to my daughter, squinting at her pretty little face and will her to clean her room, which of course fails. She stares at me for a while, shrugs and pads quietly back into her bedroom which I've dubbed the Bermuda Triangle.
I should be studying. I need to be studying. Why aren't I studying? Instead I look at the big pile of picking slips that I've brought home with me and groan inwardly at the amount of work I need to complete before Monday. I throw a glance around the kitchen and lounge, it's a bomb site. There are children's clothes strewn over the lounge; my kids once home from school, strip their clothes off and run around in their knickers/jocks - in the middle of winter! I've stopped trying to understand and just accept it now as some quirky hereditary trait from my mother's side of the family. Toys are left scattered on the carpet as booby traps for adults, Greg's been in the kitchen and left a trail of destruction and two half emptied boxes of fruit & veg have been placed near the fridge.
The fridge is groaning because it's full so I tell it to shut up, which of course reaches the anti-Christ's ears and from the bowels of her room yells "Mummy, did you just say shut up? That's a dollar into the swear jar and I'm telling daddy you swore."
'I didn't swear Millicent. I just told the fridge to be quiet!'
'No you didn't mum, you said you-know-what.'
'Shut up isn't a swear word Millicent' I counter argue.
'It's not a nice word mummy, you should know better!'
'Just concentrate on collecting souls why don't you,' I mutter sweetly walking over to the kitchen to make myself another cup of coffee.
Just over three months of trading under our new banner and we're busier than we expected. Where has the time gone? One minute we're counting down to the launch date, the next we're organising two packing teams and a gazillion boxes to be packed.
And in all of this whirlwind fury I'm trying to balance a domestic life and a business life and what a comedy of errors it has been. I'm constantly working which is what I signed up for when we started the business up again, but I didn't expect to be so time poor.
Mornings are usually a rush of getting the kids ready for school, telling them repeatedly to 'brush your teeth, put your shoes on, seriously, put your shoes on, will you please put your frigging SHOES ON?!' Then it's an hour and a half drive to the warehouse and my mobile rings constantly along the way. By the time I reach the warehouse I have messages and texts from customers, suppliers and my Greek mother singing me happy birthday to the tune of the Zorba.
Armed with picking slips and refunds I sit at the computer and work away, taking note of all the emails flooding in and my in box becomes one list of flagged items. Sarah who works for us and acts as general admin supervisor and Greg's PA, is at the table working and chatting away...to imaginary friends I think.
'You know something Sarah?' I say as I face to turn her, 'I'm sure you can talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles.'
Without pausing for breath she replies quiet seriously 'Oh yes I know' and warbles on about something and anything....to those imaginary friends I think.
She makes me laugh, seriously, she makes me belly laugh. We have a great team working for us and over due course I'll introduce them to you on these pages but for now, I'll end here and try to clean a little bit before I hit the studying.
Til next post ~ Mary
Friday, December 14, 2012
And here we are with over a month or so to go before we declare The Local Grocer ‘open’.
It ‘s a bit overwhelming when I stop and think of everything that still needs to be done, and so it makes sense not to stop and think less I hyperventilate myself into a quivering mess somewhere between the laundry basket and the shoebox full of silkworms.
I’d be lying through my big mouth (actually, it’s quite a small mouth with a good set of teeth thanks to some heavy duty braces back in the 80’s) if I said we weren’t a little apprehensive about the whole magnitude of it all. But as I’ve mentioned before, we have a great support team giving us the emotional support that I personally find really important. There’s nothing worse than trying to be a wife, friend, mentor, mother, house cleaner, business owner, bum wiper, nose wiper and closet sherry drinker (my personal favourite) and not have people you can call who will talk you out of setting the house on fire and shooting the husband. Sometimes it’s nice to have the decisions taken out of your hands.
Once the business is in full swing, Greg & I will have to be super organised (there’s that dirty word ‘organised’ again) so I’ve been making a priority list. So far it reads:
1. Buy a pencil sharpener.
I mean in all honesty, we have no idea how busy we’ll be once we open; it could be a landslide or it could be crickets chirping. But I do know we’ll be working our backsides off in the first year, nurturing the business, getting the word out to people, helping our growers and basically living and breathing the cause once again – but not driving ourselves to an early grave doing it.
Today I'm in the library typing this. Trying to work at home with a talkative 4 year old that JUST. WON’T. STOP. TALKING has driven me away to a cave filled with books and quiet. I threw our 4 year old into Greg’s arms and said “here, for you, Merry Xmas” and I ran away. I love our library so much that I have my own special corner. The only time it was taken away from me was when some electrician decided to do some electrical work on the security cameras overhead. So I patiently waited…on a plumply padded stool…tapping my foot…. asking, “are you done yet?” every ten or so minutes. In the end I put my earphones on and hummed very badly to some Latvian folk song, which got him finishing the job quickly!
Shhh - the librarian is lurking .
On the days that we’re not working or chatting to you on our Facebook page, we’re out on the road hunting down growers (with the aim to shoot to kill if they don’t supply us) or screeching the car to a halt when we come across something cool like a raw food café.
The Raw Kitchen in Fremantle is such a place. Nothing but raw food is served. Wheat, sugar, dairy and gluten products are BANNED. Now I was hankering for a coffee (or as my New York-en friend would say “cawfee”) but I saw they were offering almond milk smoothies.
I’d never had nut milk before.
Thought I’d live dangerously.
You know, like skydiving.
And so I ordered, and I tasted, and I swooned onto the table we were sitting at. It was INCREDIBLE. My taste buds wept with joy and I had found a new love in the nut world. So now we’re introducing it to the kids and so far one is converted but the other two need the thumbscrews tightened just that little bit more.
Til next post
Posted by The Local Grocer at 6:21 AM
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
It was a sad, heartbreaking decision – but in hindsight it was the right one
Time with our kids was overridden with work and our little ones are still at an age where time with them is precious, even if around arsenic hour I want to bury them in a deep hole where no sound escapes.
So with the business closed, the heavy work burden had gone and we had our time back, but we still weren’t sleeping at night.
We would lay next to each other, conscious the other one was awake and we’d talk into the early hours discussing the business, the alarming amount of growers walking off the land, lack of choice in our food buying, the dilemma of our food security and how it would affect our children’s future – you know, a light discussion before falling asleep.
We talked about starting again but the very thought of it raised fear in the pits of our stomachs. Our savings were running very low and we were living on bare essentials; frugal living had been taken to another level and our kids were sensing the tension regardless of how much we tried to hide it. I must admit, there were times when I yelled or snapped out of sheer frustration which was followed by an apology and a gut full of guilt. Damn it! That 'mother of the year' award was nearly in my grasp.
It was hard not to think of ourselves as failures and there was a small period where we spent time doing nothing – I guess we were somewhat shell shocked. Greg caught up on his sleep (I thought for a while there he was entering in and out of a prolonged coma) and I caught up on housework while wishing I were back meeting with growers and talking to our customers (anything than cleaning the bathroom and doing the washing!) In hindsight our pity party was quite boring really. Next time I’ll throw in a colossal amount of comfort food, drink champagne, get drunk and vent on Twitter!
But we got back on track and to everyone's relief I stopped digging shallow graves for the family (I was digging them out of sheer irritation of being idle). Greg landed a job doing pilot escorting and it was inevitable that we would start the business up again. I mean seriously how could we not? We’re addicted to dirt, fresh locally produced food and to the cause.
Once we had tied up our loose ends and we were physically and mentally rested, we made the decision to start again. First thing we needed was capital. With a new business plan in our back pocket, we put the word out and people responded. Some we refused as investors as we felt they didn’t fit in with our ethos, regardless of the dollars they waved in front of us. But we persevered and eventually found a team of people who believed in our cause, shared our views and have now become our shareholders. This team is very important to us as they provide us with much needed support, both emotionally and financially, something that was promised but not met before.
So here we are. Round two. However this time, we intend the business not to encroach into family time, because even though our kids were spawned primarily for their internal organs (our superannuation), we want them growing up loving us, not hating us because we were never around (or because we sold a few kidneys for a caravan and a four wheel drive).
Till next post
Posted by The Local Grocer at 9:15 PM
Friday, June 29, 2012
Where do I start?
It’s been a long pause between updates as I sit here in our town’s small library, history seeping through it’s white washed walls. To my right, tendrils of sunlight stream through the window onto my desk as I type diligently away on my laptop. It’s impossible trying to write at home with distraction in every corner of the house; the children, my husband and the stem of household chores growing higher each day, so I’ve escaped for the morning to update the blog with no interruptions to entice me away whether it be bound by duty or pleasure.
This past week has been one of the most difficult in our business due to external and internal pressures. Our Internet has been down for over two weeks forcing me to use our local library and their Internet service to run our business. Telstra has no desire in helping us until they’re ready and have made that abundantly clear, so we have no choice but to wait. The librarians have become accustomed to my huddled form in the building’s furthest corner; making business calls in hushed tones and printing out picking slips. It really is a ridiculous scenario but I guess we have to adapt where we can when Telstra drags it’s feet in fixing the problem.
There are also other factors concerning the business Greg and myself; in essence we’ve had to put out spot fires from all angles and we’re both feeling punch drunk at the moment. Exhaustion is taking its toll and with help being promised but not delivered, we’ve come to the end of our working capacity and hard decisions will now have to be made.
Sometimes I think ‘what in the fuck are we doing? Why are we putting ourselves through these long hours, little money and exhaustion?' Why indeed?
With a sigh I push my chair back and savor a long stretch. Arching my back, stretching my fingers to the ceiling and closing my eyes, I surrender into the exquisite sensation a stretch can bring.
I wish I were a cat right now, curled up in a patch of sunlight sleeping the days away with naught to worry about.
Putting my glasses down I walk over to the printer and while collecting my papers, I hear what sounds like the evil black lord Darth Vader himself standing behind me. Deep tunnelling breaths expel from lungs struggling to work, raking painfully in and out. I stop to listen and stifle a girlish giggle at the thought of Darth Vader returning his library books. Grinning I turn and the smile drains from my face. An elderly man in the harsh grips of emphysema is browsing the military shelf and struggling to breath he nosily inhales and exhales, coaxing his lungs to work harder. I lower my eyes and guilt fills me. God Dammit - I pegged that one wrong!
I gather my papers and return to my laptop. Today is proving to be the end of a very stressful and hard week. At least I have my children and their internal organs, which I can sell off if we continue to dip financially. I smile at this silver lining that’s been presented and muse over the possibility of my 6-year-old antichrist becoming a little mellower in her moods with only one kidney.
Time to go, the library is closing – until next time…..
Posted by The Local Grocer at 9:53 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2012
It’s been a long spell between updates as we start to get busier. Much happening and I’m still trying to catch my breath. Firstly, a while back on an early Tuesday morning, I went with Greg to the Canning Vale wholesale markets. I can tell you it was noisy with sounds of forklifts and horns punctuating the already assaulting sound barrier as these machines zipped about like insects on speed.
I had taken my iphone and recorded some footage but it didn’t work out; apparently I held the camera the wrong way (I do the same to roads maps) as I tailgated Greg like some stalkish paparazzi as he sampled and inspected produce.
He introduced me to the wholesale sellers as ‘my wife Mary’ but they (all men) insisted on calling me ‘darlin’ which didn’t help me much when ‘darlin’ lost her husband and stood aimlessly about looking for him – I should’ve worn a skirt.
Our buying spree finished, we hit the road driving to one of our growers and can I add, what a huge difference in ambience. From frantic forklifts noise to peaceful acres of apple trees, meandering geese and the haunting sounds of bird melodies.
I know which one I prefer.
Back to the business; work is getting busier and our hours longer as we shunt out twenty-two hour days, which means we’re doing something wrong. We need to scale these hours back. Working a twenty-two hour day has the ability to turn me a little loopy with tiredness around the seventeen-hour mark and snitchy around the twentieth. At this point Greg and our packer snap their heels, saluting me crisply when I start barking orders because wielding haphazardly the sharp knife we use for cutting up pumpkin, gives me ultimate shed power.
Even our children upon waking up in the morning are becoming used to us not being in the house and our two little boys, dressed only in Wiggle jocks, enter the shed barefoot and shivering demanding their breakfast. This of course is after they relieve themselves against the paddock fence, scaring the sheep and wetting their toes. Millicent is the smart one who at the age of six has no qualms at her mother not being around when she first wakes, instead she relishes any spare minute she can hoard to stay in a warm bed and waits until I trundle back to the house.
Yep, takes after her mother that one.
Speaking of which, my house is a mess, the kids bathroom is like a science experiment with the toilet hosting some chemical warfare, I’m behind in my assignments and I don’t think I’ve shaved my legs since Cleopatra removed her beard . I feel as if I’ve lost a part of me since starting this business. My time and effort has been poured into this venture and I’ve become distant from the things, the creative and quirky things that make up who I am. And I’m tired. So, so tired. Splitting myself between work and family is wearing me down and not giving my children the attention they deserve plays on my mind.
Sometimes I spend private moments crying because I think I’m a crap mother and guilt overwhelms me. Sometimes the tears are because I can’t be everything I want to be to for my husband and children and I come crashing down mentally.
But I always get back up. I’ve never been one to stay down for too long plus I’m learning how to balance, and juggle, and be a contortionist without wearing the ‘I’m certifiable and proud’ t-shirt.
Bah! What did I expect, a smooth ride, no extra stress and the same amount of grey hairs as to when we first started this journey? Even my hairdresser told me to stop kidding myself as she plastered my head with pigment dye and tisk -tisked under her breath at the new colony of greys sprouting out of my scalp.
Here’s something up lifting - not long ago I had someone remark how easy I must have it working for myself, especially working from home.
“Oh yes” I replied after finishing our last twenty-two hour shift. “I basically work in the morning and then watch porn in the afternoon while I wait to pick the kids up from school, Oprah is so yesterday” I replied.
Honestly! Please don’t make such vocal assumptions when I’m dead on my feet, else I will stab you repeatedly and while doing it, think up a new fruit box line I could add to the business.
Anyhoo, I may sound somewhat flat but in essence I’m excited where we can take The Local Grocer in terms of connecting people with local produce and bringing growers back onto the land. And I’m excited about old fashion service being that we treat our customers as people – not numbers.
Price check that Coles and Woolworths!
Tomorrow will be a better day.
Posted by The Local Grocer at 7:54 AM
Monday, April 16, 2012
Slept in (see previous post).
Went to the library to study. Bogan mother wasn’t there, in fact, no one was there – just the librarian who I nodded at and said “hello miss.” And for the next two hours I studied in blissful peace, except when the little old lady with the grey frizzed out hair, lilac cardigan and tomato red gumboots sat down at the table and rummaged frantically through the newspaper pile.
Which proves you don’t have to live in the city to experience strange sights.
Didn’t think much of work today – okay, that’s a lie. We briefly discussed ideas again.
I think my kids hate me – especially Millicent my little antichrist. Must make more time for the them even if it means drawing mermaids for an hour or watching those bloody Wiggle DVDs that do nothing for colour blindness. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with them (the kids not the Wiggles) and felt even guiltier when Greg echoed the sentiment.
I think I’ll hand in my ovaries in and let him wear them.
In the mean time I’ll try and unravel the secret that is balance between work, running a household, being a mother and a wife. Don’t hold your breath for any quick answers, like Indiana Jones, this journey could be perilous.
Posted by The Local Grocer at 3:29 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday 13th April
It’s Friday the 13th. Maybe that would explain why my coffee tasted like onions this morning. Ned went on the delivery run with Greg today so I took Millicent to the library. They have a room just for children with a childproof gate. I liked that room.
I went to the grown up room that had big oval desk with the leather insert placed in the middle. I sat down with my laptop and tried to study. I say tried because there’s a new breed of Bogan mother in town who brought in her unruly kids and screeched at them to be quiet as they ran amok.
I hope her kids give her an infestation of worms.
Meanwhile, I saw that Millicent was enjoying some reading time with the in house resident reader. It sounded quieter in there so I joined then and sat in a blown up kiddie chair that had to have some air let out before I could get out of it.
Didn’t get much study done so I’ll try again tomorrow.
In the evening, Greg and I brainstormed more ideas for the business although he looked tired while I was talking and stood in front of the fridge for a while staring inside at nothing in particular – I think he may have dozed off and was holding onto the door for support. He claims he wasn’t asleep but I don’t believe him.
There were no packing boxes tonight and a sleep in tomorrow – hoorah! I always tell the kids not to wake us up in the morning because we’re old and we might die of shock if they come in too early and wake us suddenly – especially on a Saturday. Saturday mornings are notoriously bad for grown ups dying if you’re not careful.
They avoid us like the plague on Saturday mornings.
Posted by The Local Grocer at 8:42 AM