Succulent Ramblings

I like to ramble on about my plants... and other things! My hope is to log the progress of plants and talk about my frustrations with others. So, tune in, turn on, or drop out (if you find it boring!)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here I am, about 3 weeks into...oh, I'll call it "semi-retirement."  We (my mother and I) sold our business!  I haven't been able to say one word publicly about it being for sale so I've been excited to get on here and SHOUT IT TO THE WORLD!!
My mother started the business in 1984, when she was sorely disappointed with the catering that was being brought into the office where she worked.  She's a good cook, and she said, "I can do better than this!" And the director let her give it a try, and they were impressed.  She was working for a central office of the United Methodist Church, and she was hired to do some small (and large) functions sponsored by the church.  And it grew. She eventually rented a space in a warehouse - 1/2 of one bay.  Put in a kitchen, and advertised in the phone book.  And it grew.  She started getting wedding receptions.  I helped at almost every event.  It was my part time job. (I was working full time as a full-charge bookkeeper for an HVAC company...)  In 1990, she rented a hall where another caterer had been catering.  She went from rent of $385 a month to $3000 a month!  My mom - she has brass balls!!  Not a job on the books... she opened a little cafe on one end of the hall and called it Karen's Kitchen, and stayed open as a bar until 1 a.m.  So she was essentially working 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Like I said, brass balls!)  Eighteen months later, she had an adequate calendar built and closed the cafe and just catered private parties.

By 1993 or so, she had been trying to get me to come into the business full time.  But I was making a decent living, by then not just a bookkeeper, but an office manager/bookkeeper.  She wasn't paying herself even half of what I was making, and I couldn't see how it would be fair for me to come to work for her and make MORE than the person who had sacrificed so much to get where she was... But as fate would have it, in early 1994, I had a falling out with my boss and quit my 10 year job at the HVAC company.  I went  to work for a small home builder, and my mom went on a hunt for a 2nd location, and in late summer 1995, she bought a hall in Papillion.  The home builder had been paying me a mostly full-time salary, but he didn't really need someone full time, so I suggested he didn't need to pay me to be there full time and started working part time for him, and running the second location part time as we built a calendar there.  About a year later, I trained someone to do the bookkeeping for the home builder and went to work managing the 2nd location full-time.  I wasn't making anywhere near what I made at the HVAC company, but Mark had gone to work for the union and he was making a good living with good benefits, so it worked out...

We had both the original location and the Papillion location for three years, through 1998, and then the owners of the original location decided not to renew our lease for 1999, so they could turn our space into office space and expand their business.  So we were back down to one location.  But by then, Mom was almost 60 and ready to slow down, and it was established enough that the business could support both of us.  Oh, there were years when it wasn't exactly supporting us in any kind of grand style, but we're both simple folks and it was enough.  It wasn't long after that that Mom made me a full partner in the business and put me as 50% owner of the building as well.  By then, I'd worked for a half dozen years and still wasn't making what I'd made when I left River City, and this was a long-term commitment for me, so she knew I was going to earn that half as the years went by.  

Around 20056, Mom was getting the "itch" to retire, and we looked into selling the business.  I was nowhere ready to be done with it yet and thankfully, she was respectful of that, so over the next few years, we found ways to cut her participation back, but keep her salary the same, so that she would have more free time, but could still have enough to live on.  She spent a couple of years training one of our employees who had been acting as a prep cook as well as dishwasher to cook exactly as she cooks, since that is what our clientele had come to expect.  There came a point when Mom felt comfortable NOT coming in the morning of a wedding and letting Amanda do it all, with her at Amanda's disposal on the phone and ready to come in if needed.  And she even eventually trained Amanda to come in on Tuesdays and do her Tuesday cleanup and make the list for our food needs for that week.  At that point, Mom's schedule had become around 3 hours on Thursdays to do the Sam's and grocery shopping, and then around 5 hours on job day, when she would show up an hour or so before a reception started and stay until the job was mostly done, so if it was a one job week, she would work maybe 8-10 hours, and on a two job week, it might be 13-15 hours.  

Then in 2012, Wes (my brother) was informed that his mesothelioma had "turned on" and it quickly became apparent that he wasn't going to beat it. In May of 2013, Mom went out to Wes & Sally's (in Indianapolis, about 600 miles away) to be there for Wes and help Sally in Wes's final days, as it seemed his end was imminently close.  She anticipated being there perhaps 2 or 3 weeks, but she was there for 3 months to the day.  I came out one last time the week that he passed, my plane left to come home only 36 hours before he let go.  Leaving him knowing the end was so near was the hardest moment of my life...

Anyway, my point is that we ran the show for three full months with only phone calls back and forth, I picked up the slack of the Sam's and grocery trips and it all worked out.  It gave me confidence that if Mom was "called home", I could keep the business running. BUT, at the same time, it made me realize I really didn't want to do it without Mom... I also think this triggered Mom's own feeling of mortality and wanting to have some retirement time, and in late 2013, we talked to another broker.  Let's just say that the broker needed us to have better bookkeeping to show a potential buyer what the business was worth, so we decided to spend 2014 doing exactly that.  At the beginning of 2015, we listed the business with a broker and... well, let's just say he obviously was NOT the right broker.  Our contract with him was up last February, and we listed with a new broker in April.  By mid-May, we had a hot buyer.

It took weeks of negotiations, and we got pounded down pretty good, but I think we were both ready to just be done with it.  My hip and back have been so bad the last couple of years, doing the work has often been excruciating.  And the stress of making ends meet during the "down" times in the business has taken a toll on me, I believe.  It was time.  But of course, I haven't been able to really say anything in a public forum like this because we worked with brides, and the last thing a bride wants to hear is that her wedding venue is changing hands, which is understandable.  I hope by now the new owners have contacted all of the brides we had booked and made them aware of the change...

So we closed on the business/building on 7/1, and now it's time for me to start looking for work.  I've got a hot prospect I'm hoping will work out.  It's actually a bookkeeping job I applied for way back in late April, when things were SO slow that I certainly would have no trouble picking up a part time job.  They still have not hired anyone (as far as I know) and I had an actual in-person interview (finally) a week after we closed on the business.  They're hoping to have someone start around the first of August.  I thought the interview went well, so I'm still hopeful it will come through.  Interestingly enough, it's a small HVAC company!  I think it feels like fate since the job I was at for 10 years before I came into the business with my Mom was with an HVAC company, and the one I might retire from is an HVAC company!

On to other things!  Yesterday was 100 degrees, and today is supposed to be 100 again with a heat index around 115!!  I'm hoping I won't even have to leave the house... That's pretty brutal.

Yesterday, I took Lucy to be groomed and get a senior wellness checkup as she's been under the weather lately.  I thought it might just be the heat, but the doc says most of her lymph nodes are enlarged, and that usually points to cancer.  Her blood work will be back today, and they sent off a "sample" of the stuff in her lymph nodes to see if it's cancerous.  **Sigh** She's older than either Smokey or Remo lived to be, so I've kind of been preparing myself to lose her for awhile, but that doesn't make it any easier.  I hate it when it comes to this point because you can't ask them, "Sweetie, are you still enjoying life, or are you ready to go?"  I know you can read them pretty good, but really, how can you tell when it's time?  Mom's kitties were both past the point I would have waited, but maybe I'M selfish, and what I mean by that is maybe I let go too soon so that I don't have to see the suffering.  It's just not a decision I look forward to making again.  I love all my babies so much...

Well, I think that's enough for today.  I need to get back into rambling here more now that I have more time on my hands!  In fact, I'm thinking of trying to find a way to "blog for a living."  Maybe I could be a wedding blogger!  I have enough experience in the biz, I could do that!