Friday, June 1, 2012

It Feels Like Home

The last few days have been really good to me. I've had a really productive week and I feel like things are really lining up for me. I've been making a lot of personal progress, and things have been going well with the more nuts and bolts part of my life too. Its really nice.

This week we had a meeting at Casa Bueno. That may not sound very interesting, but in the five years I have worked there, I have never once seen a staff meeting. Not once, until now. This week our regional manager from corporate called a meeting and we got together to talk about changes the company is making. I'm pretty excited about it. The meeting itself wasn't full of too much news, not anything we hadn't heard already anyway. It was more of a chance for our RM to talk to us about company philosophy and the new direction we're moving. The interesting stuff is the actual changes that are going to be made.

Our stores are all going to be remodeled, over a period of time of course. The big note there is that we'll have to earn one, and frankly, I think we can do it. If the talk we had was any indicator, we're on track already. My staff know how to relate to guests. They know how to act like professionals. They are full of enthusiasm and energy when they work. I like that about our team. You only had to look at them at the meeting to see it. Outside of the people who had just finished a shift and were in uniform, everyone took the time to clean up and look nice, even though no one was going to see us. We care about what we do. Everyone sat close to each other, and though there is a little grouping off, the groups still talked to each other. Everyone had a good time together before we got to the brass tax part of the meeting. We're getting new uniforms, which I can't wait for. They'll look a lot more professional, much cleaner and much more in line with what we want for our company. We're designing new lines of food and new plating for old favorites. We're updating our style, and I think we're all excited about it.

I spoke to Mr. Boss yesterday about whether or not he would let me do some off the clock liquor classes. Its one of the few things I think we really need to work on. When you work in a Mexican restaurant, its pretty important to have a working knowledge of both tequila and import beers- if you want to sell them. I want us to, and an increase in liquor sales won't hurt anyone. My idea was I would come in and offer once a week to take volunteers to study tequila that we carry and learn how to sell it. The overagers would have a tasting class so they would be familiar with the flavors of the alcohol. I think it would work to all of our advantage. If I picked up a pizza and we relaxed, I think it would go over well. Almost every Italian restaurant I know of has something like this and I think we would benefit from advanced knowledge. If you, as a guest, don't know that an Anejo is better than a Reposado, and I don't tell you then I don't get that upsell and you don't get as nice a drink. We'll see. If he agrees and it works, I think some of our other trainers could offer classes on hospitality and menu knowledge, and we could really improve our personal product. That's where we can get better. Because really, our food is excellent, and having eaten there for five years (15000 meals, I've done the math) I would know.

In other non-work but still work related news, Sakura and I are making huge progress on our Litha ritual, which is the next holiday we have coming. We're already blocking it out, and its nice to see how things are shaping up. Usually I do ritual alone, and I won't have time to practice and this makes things much simpler. He and I (to the amusement of my neighbors, no doubt) have spent enough time wandering around in my back yard to start tanning. More important than our crispy skin, though, we've found where the kinks are in the ritual, and we're ironing them out. Spell supplies are almost completely purchased, and we've moved on to writing a detailed outline that rather looks like a play. It tells us exactly where to step, where to move and when to do it. I like it, because reading through it as we write it out helps me learn all the words. Because the memorization part is coming, and that's going to be the hardest part.

Most rituals run between and hour and an hour and a half. That is a lot of prose to keep in your head, even if you did write most of it. It is nice to have Sakura on board because that means I have half the memorizing to do, and I like that. My memory isn't what it used to be. On top of that, having him there means if I hit a wall, he can have my back because he knows exactly where we are headed. There are other challenges of course. We bought a fire pit this week. Prior to this we just used one that was dug out in the back yard. Unfortunately, or blessedly depending on how you look at it, Hydra -the giant five trunked walnut in our backyard, has gown so that she hangs over the fire pit. Good for her, until we light a fire. So, the fire pit must be moved. We've relocated farther back into the yard, but digging out another spot seemed like a pain in the butt. So when Kitten and I were last at Local Home Improvement Center, we looked at the fire pits. We found one that looks like a gigantic cauldron and fell in love. As soon as it stops raining (no, I am not complaining, we needed it badly) we're going to head out to the back and make a beautiful place for our new fire pit to rest.

Of course, the fire pit itself is only one of the challenges. We've got to figure out how to build a flammable figure that looks like a person (its not what you think, I promise) so we can chuck it in the fire. This little effigy also has to have a stomach that opens so we can put things in it. I'm thinking on it, and I haven't come up with a good solution yet. Given time, though, I'm sure we will. I just need to have it figured out by June 13, which is when we are doing our full practice run. (We are using a lot of fire, practice prevents accidents)

With all the work on Litha we have of course been thinking about personal transformation. This leads us to thoughts of our goals and what we want for the future. I think things are shaping up nicely. Sakura has decided (well, decided a while ago) that he wants to move up to Portland with us when we go. We've got another two or three years depending on how things shape out. We had discussed with him that of course if he came at the same time we did, which we expected, that he could stay in our home with us until he found a place of his own. Then the thought struck us all, why not get a house big enough for all four of us, and just do what we pretty well do now- spend every day together?

We liked it. Everyone agreed. Which meant a few days of sitting and planning out what sort of house we would like, how much space we would need, and how much money we would want when we finally took off for the rose city. The decision we reached was we wanted one with two master suites or with an in-laws quarters. We appreciate Sakura's need to have his own space and be able to be away from the ladies every now and again. We agreed a family room or a great room would be necessary, because he has a ton of books too, and a library is a must for all of us, and we'd like it not to be in our dining room area this time. We all agree we want a separate space set aside from the rest of the house to practice our Craft in, somewhere sacred and used only for that purpose. We want a big kitchen, a place to entertain guests. We also want a guest room, so our families and friends can come to visit us. For Sakura and I, there was also the yard. We need one. We need a big back yard, with a privacy fence and plenty of green. I want a deck or a covered porch to fill with ivy and climbing roses and put a hot tub on. The hot tub, for me, is not negotiable. I want one. It will be good for everyone's health. Plus its great after a long day at work.

It seems like a lot to want, but believe it or not, we found plenty of houses in Portland proper, not the suburbs, that fit this description, and most of them fell in the $170,000 to $250,000 range. That sounds like a lot of money, but we've all taken the time to do a budget as a family, and in three years we'll have approximately $100,000 to pay as a down payment on a house. Even at a 6% interest rate, lord save us, that would put us at a mortgage of about $400 a month, if we did a 20-30 year mortgage. That's less than what we pay now. Its completely feasible.

As if the Spirit has been hinting this at us all along, Sakura's lease on his apartment is up this month. Last week, the renters that we didn't care for in the house next to us moved out. The house will be for rent in a few day's time, and its well within Sakura's price range, especially now that he has a new job. There is no such thing as a coincidence. Ever. For us, this was a signal that we've got the right idea, and next door is the next best thing to in our house, which we would happily welcome him into now, were it not so effing small. 900 square feet is barely enough for three plus the cats. There's no way any of us would be happy if we added more.

Either way, we spent most of last night looking at homes. We took time to break, study the lesson for this week, and do our meditations. But, for the most part, we talked about our new home. We talked about budgeting, about what kinds of jobs we wanted and expected. We talked about school and financial investments. We talked about living in a child free household. We also daydreamed about box seats at the opera, symphony and ballet. (Yeah, we're snobs) It was a great evening for us, as a family. I feel more at home, happier and more on track. Kitten and I were talking about it Wednesday, that its nice to have people who help keep you on track, who give you perspective, and who push you towards your goals- not roughly, but with gentle love and encouragement. Sometimes its easy to lose sight of the big picture. But life is always a matter of how you frame it.

I've got a really beautiful life. I've got a lot of loving people who make life good for me. I'm lucky because when I do move, one of the best women I've ever met and her delightful husband are already waiting for us. The people I love will be coming with me. There's a few I'll be reluctant to leave behind, but that's not saying that over the next three years I can't talk them into coming with us too. As for my future home, I hope that I'll be able to fill it with as much love and laughter as the one I live in now. Those thing have a tendency to multiply, I know, so I don't think it will be too much a challenge.

Lucky, Lucky me. I'll leave the light on and the key out when I get there. You know you're welcome.


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