Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Personal Story: How I found the beauty in plumbing.

Dear Long Time Reader. I started this blog to talk about gardening. I liked to post the contraptions and methods I used to create the plants I wanted to grow. It wasn't often that I would interject commentary on personal topics. Today, that has changed. The gardens have served their purpose. I would like to be able to see them in full bloom next year, but I hope to be somewhere else by then. I hope someone is living here that will enjoy them as much as I have. So on with the story...

You see, back in August, I applied for a Department Manager position at work. I'm currently the Live Nursery Specialist at the blue box home improvement center. I had applied for Plumbing. My knowledge of actual plumbing is limited to hot on the left, cold on the right, everything rolls downhill, and pvc glue is not strong enough for a boat ladder without reinforcing screws. So for me, it was going to be a chance to learn something new. I like a challenge at times. That's why I planted a sago palm in the ground near the chimney on the south side of the house. I like to push a bit to find the limits. I'm certain it will overwinter just fine. The drainage is sharp. The chimney is warm.

Wait, this wasn't supposed to be about plants. Let me continue...I wasn't all that thrilled, but I didn't see any other option if I wanted to advance. No other departments were available. I was excited to be the only applicant they were really interested in. I gave what I considered to be a great interview. The store manager said he was very happy with it. I still didn't know anything about plumbing.

When I got to work this evening, I noticed on the schedule that I was to cover the plumbing department's lunch tonight. Carla and I laughed. Nothing like throwing you to the wolves. I think I did okay. Most people were just pointing at empty holes. They needed something that was in the racks above. Not exciting, but it did make time pass faster.

About 20 minutes before I was scheduled for lunch, I got a call from the HR guy. He asked if I could come to the training room. The store manager wanted to have a talk with me. We went into the office and had a seat. He said that he was pleased with the interview I gave. He said it was a strong interview. And he wanted to offer me a department.

I tried to look surprised. I had been forewarned last week. Carla will be the new Plumbing Department manager. He offered me Outside Lawn and Garden. It was either that, or stay in my current position. I accepted. It's a raise. And it's going to be very useful to me in the future. Thank you, Carla. I love you. I hope you're okay with all this. I'll find out tomorrow.

Apparently, losing a lot of weight makes you more susceptible to cold temperatures. I've already worn long sleeves to work for the "chilly" nights. The electric blanket was on last night. I'm not looking forward to dealing with certain customers for another Spring. They are the ones you see coming and lower your head hoping they don't recognize you. It worked a couple weeks ago when I had a customer approach me and ask if I knew anything about plants. It was an odd question as I'd talked to her before. Before I could answer, she asked, "Where's the bald chubby guy with the goatee?" The rest of our time together was a bit awkward to say the least. She knows she can trust me. I know what I'm talking about.

There's also the routine of lifting heavy objects only to set them down again. However, it offers me a chance to learn. And I'll lose that final 15lbs by the end of April as things ramp up before heading into Mother's Day when we have our biggest weekend of the year. There'll be tables to turn for the "Fresh Cut" Christmas Trees. There's probably 500 concrete blocks that need to be picked up and moved several times. Twice. We have to reset the tables in January. It's cold in January. Moving heavy objects is good work that time of year. Pallets are pulled out and swept under. You move a lot of stuff to clean a garden center. I'm really good at cleaning. It was my therapy before gardening. I still have some of it left in me. I want it to be perfect. I'm sure I will be disappointed. There's just not enough time in the day.

So it might seem odd that with this in the works, I would try to sell my house. I don't need this house anymore. I'm ready for a containerized garden on a small, south facing patio somewhere. A few have asked what I plan to do when the house sells. I have a plan. I remember talking it out with Todd on the front porch while he was here. We'd sit out there after dinner and share a single cocktail. I'd smoke cheap cigars and blow the smoke in the direction opposite him.

It's changed a little bit since then. I don't want to be someone's gardener. I don't want to prune anyone's hedges. I've dug enough holes to last me a lifetime here. Instead, I might build a little garden of container plants around a cute shop. I'll sell the plants. I won't have to grow them all, but I have methods for doing that as well. I told you, I learned a lot in this house. I'll probably call it Seventh Street Cottage. Seems appropriate. That's a couple to a few years away. For now, I need to focus on the present.

I start my new position in 10 days. Until then, it's still Carla's show. I just need to learn a few things from her. She's going to have to show me the seedy underbelly of the department. There's a lot of paperwork. Let's not even talk about George. Overall, I'm excited. It's going to be a great opportunity.

It's 62 degrees. I've got the windows open in the office. I'm still winding down from a long day of work. I can smell the tea olives. The house is still for sale. I wish I had some decaf coffee.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Congrats Tom on the new position.

This was a good posting although it makes me kind of sad, as I've learned and been inspired by your blog about gardening. But, life moves us in different directions and we have to go with the flow.

I'm trying to cut back on time spent in the computer as it is taking away from living life.

I wish you well in all that you do, wherever you go.

And, thank you very much for my two gardenia babies. They are doing very well so far and growing still.


Jimmy said...

I have been with you from the git go.

You have had a good year personally and professionally.

You have really grown since the start of your blog.

The cream always rises to the top.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

FlowerLady, those two cuttings came from Carla's yard. I hope they do really well for you. They'll most likely bloom next spring for you. I hope you enjoy the fragrance as much as I do.

Thanks Jim. Your dianthus is blooming again. I've divided it, moved it, ignored it, and still it blooms.

Ginny said...

Yours was one of the first blogs I read when I found blotanical - I was looking for bloggers from North Carolina. I have continued to read and be inspired. I hope you'll continue to share your story with us, especially as you work towards your goal of starting your plant shop.
Congratulations on your promotion and best of luck as department manager!

Cindy said...

Tom, yours is one of the few gardening blogs I follow. Hard to believe you could settle for containerized plants after all you've created on Seventh Street. You're still so young.

Congrats on the new title! I'm sure you'll wear it well.

Cindy (natal)

Kris said...

You've certainly got your ducks lined up, Tom. Congrats on your new position. You've always had ambition and it shows when you tackle something in the house or garden that is new to you. You don't shy away, that's for sure.

It's an interesting story how you bought the house for a form of therapy. It obviously succeeded on several levels. Most folks would have just settled in there from then on, but you are ready to move on, try new things, and explore options. Kudos.

Betty819 said...

Tom, Congrats on the promotion! Thanks for sharing this news with your readers/followers. You certainly have been my mendor this past year and yours is the first blog I follow every day. You have accomplished so much since living there. You have beautified your neighborhood. You have proven to yourself a lot of accomplishments. I'm so proud of you and wish you the very best life can offer. I just can't see you in the plumbing dept. You are so suited to the garden dept. Things have a way of working out for the best, even thought at times it is happening, sometimes we don't fully understand why and how things happen. Does your friend Carla have a blog or website?

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Thanks ya'll. Kris, this house has been a labor of love and hate. :)

Betty, she doesn't blog. She's been watching and learning from me on the gardening front. I've been helping her and giving her plants. Her yard was beautiful this year.

LeLo said...

Thank you for sharing a personal post. I, for one, love the personal posts. Your transformation of your space, garden, self....are fascinating and they all go hand in hand, don't they? You are not the first of my friends/bloggers/colleagues of gardeners talking of moving on to no or small gardens. It's the work of learning something new that drives us, and when we've accomplished it, well, we've accomplished it. I look forward to what is coming next in your life. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

David - Pinewood Cottage said...

Tom - congratulations on the move at work. I found seventh street cottage when i was trying to find ways to grow crepe myrtle cuttings - i didn't even know what blogging was. i never dreamed that two years later i would feel so sad about you ending your blog and selling your house. i wish you all the best.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Oh I have no plans to close this blog. It's been a huge part of my life for the past two years. Winter Solstice will be my 2 year anniversary. I'll keep blogging, even if just to complain about the weather and the white flies that are collecting on my potted plants inside.

pam_chesbay said...

Tom - Jim's right - the cream always rise to the top. You'll continue to reinvent yourself and have discoveries and adventures.

Like Cindy, this is one of the few blogs I read, so I'm glad that you'll continue. I like your style - appealingly spare - but I enjoyed this conversation. I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Take care! Pam