Friday, November 14, 2008


Well, it's been a while. I keep telling myself that I'm going to write in my blog, but of course it never gets done...held off to another day, week, month. I still want to go back and write more about the days that I was in Salzburg this summer (July) with the group...and give captions to all the posted photos, etc. Maybe during the holidays !?!? (yeah, right, as if there will be time then!!)

Meanwhile, the update of Sonyasphere.... things are going well here at The Rock. I'm about finished with the new 2009 European Summer Study Program brochure. Just finalizing the course and workshop offerings... it's going to be another wonderful program JULY 7-30, 2009. I will have to update the website next... so many things to do... things in the office are always hectic and busy, although I must admit we are 'down' (a.k.a. slower) than we were this time last year. I blame it on the economy, and the times we are in right now... our clients are being cautious (and maybe smart considering the price of things right now) and just seem to prefer making ONE trip for the season rather than their usual two or three (going home for the holidays either at Thanksgiving time or Christmas time -- but not for BOTH).

"The Office" is a combination of all my businesses in one... AIRPORT ORBIT, INC. (a transportation service), CSA TOURS (an international tour company), LTS or LENZ TRAVEL SERVICES (a private corporate travel agency), and also where I handle all my properties as a landlord. In this office there are three of us....well 3 and a half (the half being LuLu).
  1. Me,
  2. Anna Connell, who has thankfully been with us since the mid 80's...a long time friend and loyal employee, I could not function properly without her (personally or professionally). She is married to Master Randy Connell, and I say Master because he holds a black belt (6th Degree) and is the owner of the ATA Taekondo Center and school (there are three branches in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio). I went to high school with Anna, and have known her since, well, high school. She was a Senior when I was a Freshman and we were in the marching band together... she was in the Flag Corps, I was a drummer (more on that later!!). She grew up on a farm and had horses (I'm so envious), and though she is quite the businesswoman, she is also very much a homemaker, gardener, and a fantastic baker. Her mother was German, and so she learned how to bake delicious cakes and pastries with flare from "The Old Country". She has a passion for baking with blueberries (and has them growing behind her house)...and we here in the office get to reap the benefits of that passion! Anna and Randy do not have any children, but they do have two cats that keep them well, entertained. Randy's new hobby (which, as a work-a-holic himself, I'm happy to report he has actually taken some time away from his school to enjoy recently) is car racing, and they have been spending some weekends going to the races. Randy has even placed a few times, and won money! I enjoy hearing the details about the races, how the people that race go for an entire weekend, rent parking spaces and hang out in the lots - they cook-out and everything... many park RVs and spend the entire weekend there (Anna & Randy stay in a hotel). It's interesting, and obviously something I know nothing about. I still can't imagine watching my husband race... I'd be sick! Anna said, of course, it is nerve wracking.. but Randy enjoys it, and that's what it is all about.
  3. Monique Mostard, who's been with us since the mid 90's, and another dear friend and loyal employee. When Monique started working here she was married and had two young children... she is now divorced and raising two teenagers! Time flies! I've really enjoyed watching, and of course more so hearing about her JD and Kaitlynn's times. JD is a senior at Mercer Area High School (they live about two towns over, north of Slippery Rock) and well, hasn't made life easy for Monique, even though I can happily write that he is a good kid and a real sweetheart.... but again, a teenager!! And all the joys and pleasures that seem to come along with it...Oh boy! He is a soccer player, a singer in the choir, plays baritone in the marching band, an actor in school theater productions, and now is playing on the basketball team...VERY active!! He also works on occasion (and when/if he ever has free time) for my parents, or well, my Dad - helping out with house work, chores, chopping wood, etc. It's been fun watching him grow, and grow... he stands taller than all of us now! A real cutie pie and knows it (his mama spoils him more than he deserves!!). Kaitlynn is really, well, I hope she does not read this, but perfect in almost every way! She is in the 8th grade and at the top of her class. She is also quite active, in Girl Scouts, band, a member of the Academic Games (which does very well in her school district for - quite the competitive young lady), plays soccer, was in cheer leading (but I think she is done with that). They both grew up reading and are still avid readers... Kaitlynn always has her nose in a book or is at least carrying one around with her at all times. She is kind hearted and sweet and... she is absolutely beautiful... but I don't think she realizes it yet (which makes her even cuter!). Monique, of course is active in everything they do, she is involved in all the clubs, bakes cookies for all the events, chaperones the trips to the football games (and every where they go), rides on the buses with all the students, hosts events, sells all the fundraising goodies, runs the concession stands - all of it. She of course also is very involved with their day to day activities, school dances, friends, and such - it is amazing. I don't know how she does it... and holiday season is just around the corner, that means practically every night she'll have some sort of event, performance, game, function, or banquet to attend! On top of that, Monique has a guy (a.k.a. 'man-friend') ...his name is Jim and he is really great.
Anna and Monique both book shuttles and flights... they basically run the travel end of the businesses, I handle all the financial things and everything that has to do with my properties. I've been trying (and I really stress TRYING) to let them handle more and more responsibilities. Of course the CAN do it, it's ME letting them that is the issue (yes, that is my way of saying I'm anal retentive and controlling). Everything I do is always too much for me to actually do in the course of the day or time frame that I have to do it....... from calling plumbers and electricians to handling tenant issues, to dealing with merchant credit card disputes, to writing brochures, to leasing empty rental units, to making advertising decisions and going to town business meetings.... it's a whirlwind! It never ends, it's my life! I deal with it and can only because of Anna and Monique. They are the ones that make sure the office is open and running each morning, they field the calls... they keep me sane. I'm a very lucky gal.

Now.. back to the OFFICE... the atmosphere in the office is good, we have a cozy space, and are now located in the lower level of the building...Austrians would refer to it as the KELLER. My office has always been down here, Anna and Monique used to be (as in 4 years ago) upstairs, but several years ago I moved them downstairs and decided to rent the upper level which currently is leased to the local ReMax office). We had so much unused space upstairs it was ridiculous, and the businesses were becoming more and more telephone based. In the 90's we used to have maybe 10 clients in a, we get MAYBE 4 clients physically in our office a week - MAYBE! The move downstairs was difficult for us at first, only because they had been spoiled with large rooms, big picture windows, and high ceilings for so many years, and we were not used to sharing our daily space. But we adjusted quickly. I have my own office, but had a huge window put in the wall that divides me from the main office. I always keep my door open (it has a window too), so I can see and hear what is going on. I know when the drivers are coming in to get their paperwork and can see if their is a client waiting for service. Of course LuLu is here with us most of the time, and she loves having all of us to go to...for love and tummy rubs... she can easily stroll desk to desk and get her never ending amount of needed she is taking one of her many afternoon naps on my can see the main office through the huge glass window.
Going-ons here in the office make up each day in my life... and of course, every day is new and interesting, every day has its surprises. Some days are stressful, other days we are falling asleep at our desks. Some days we have major gab sessions, other days we barely talk to each other. Some days we have eventful conversations with clients, other days they seem to bore us out of our minds. Some days the mailman (Tim) is late, other days he is early. Some days we get good local town scoop other days not so much...and although I may complain about having to go to work, I enjoy it and I enjoy the SPACE, I like the home I've made for us here in the office. We spend at least 8 hours a day here (me more than that) it should be comfortable! Recently I had the chairs re-upholstered in a nice tapestry material, with paisley type designs, to give it an even "homier" feel (less office-ish). Of course we have desks and computers... it IS an office after all, but it is nice, and we like it... I like it!

We decorate for holidays and seasons, right now it's all about fall leaves, dried flowers, cornucopia things, little pumpkins and the like. We did have our Halloween stuff up, but that's over now. After Thanksgiving we will get out the Christmas stuff... wreaths, a little tree, lights, and little holiday things for our desks. I even ordered poinsettias again. It's been a couple years since I've ordered them, I was just over them for a while, but the idea of them now seems nice, and JD is selling them for chorus, so I guess I was sort of obligated. We could choose between red, white, pink or marble - we made a group decision and are going with RED.

  • Anna vacuumed the little leaves have still been blowing in when someone opens the door.
  • Tony, one of my awesome and tatoo filled college student helpers (he mows, and rakes and does handy work for my properties) came in and took all our trash out...a usual Friday chore! Tony's German Shepherd (he has three grown black German Shepherds) had 10 puppies last week, so he showed us photos of them...ADORABLE.
  • Craig, another college student helper, came in and gave me the update on his projects (he put in a beautiful step made of bricks by the front door of one of my apartments) (his usual way - even in the winter) and smiling, Craig is fantastic!
  • Monique was kind enough to go out and pick up all the cigarette butts that fell off the railing of the upstairs apartment down onto and all over the ground by the back of the Hair Studio, next door (thankfully I have bright pink, rubber gloves at the ready in our basement storage area...meant just for such type jobs!).
  • Nicole (my 12 year old niece...note, soon to be in just a few weeks away, of which I have been reminded frequently!!) stopped in for her usual "hello" and hang out.
  • We have hard candy by the ride board (where we mark down all the booked shuttles for our transportation company) and the drivers have been dipping into it... but sadly, no other sweet treats are out (not that I'm complaining, Anna brought in fresh blueberry bread just last week).
  • was Payday, so just about all of the drivers came in to pick up their checks, sign up for next week's runs, confirm their weekend trips and hang out. Eugene brought his wife Irene (and it was great to see her), Richard brought in his brother... everyone was happy, why not, it's Friday, and it's not snowing!
So yes, it's a family business, but even though I am officially the only FAMILY left here , we are ALL family here in THE OFFICE!

Have a great weekend!


Wanda said...

So glad to see you update Sonyashere! It's been so long! Great post...I cried at the last sentence. Did you do that on purpose? What camera are you using because the office photos are wonderful! Tell everyone I said Hi!!! And, by the way, are you sure someone can be "filled" with tatoos? I don't know...I only have two! lol

Wanda said...

I just saw Choo-Choo your adopted sea-monkey. I only have a purple duck!! I am SO jealous!! Where do you find such cool things???? You always find the coolest websites! I am a complete geek compared to wait. Did I say that?????


Dad took those photos years ago!! I agree, they are nice ones (taken during one of our art show openings).

Anonymous said...

I hope Anna and Monique read your blog and know how much they mean to us. They are there for us and hopefully we return the love. Mom