The last day of April. Tomorrow starts our busiest week of the year, UF graduation week. It builds each day and the Saturday is insane. We have to order s much beer and food, make so much prep. It seems like we are prepping all day. I love it. I likebeing busy and having a jam packed week of graduates and families. I was just remembering that last year I was strangely sick. I get sick so very infrequently but I remember getting flu like symptoms the weekend before and then not being able to go in. I think I missed the whole week and only felt a bit better on Saturday. I was so mad. First off being sick is hard for me with nothing to do, but then missing all the business too?
This year I am definitely NOT sick. I am manic and working around the clock. I am tired is what I am. My mind is a little fried from having too many things bouncing around and wondering how to tetris all the tasks in oer the next month as I get ready for the Grand ReOpening. I have so much to do.SO much.
I made a table of cassette tapes last week and this week I made one of polaroid pictures and I'm already starting a new one of sea shells. I wonder if I have a picture....Here is one from before I poured the resin on it....
And here are some of the displays I'e been working on, and I've also been getting the projector installed and the screen, for Nacho Night.
I made a mistake ordering the screen. I should hae gotten one that was about a foot bigger but I made a measuring mistake and decided not to send back the screen after it arrived on a 45' semi truck. I do such stupid stuff sometimes like assume the pencil mark on the ceiling was where the blocking for the screen was instead of getting out my tape measure which is always close at hand. I beat myself up about that for half a day but moved on to other mistakes, ha. I make so many decisions each day that I am bound to mess up a few things. Today my head was scrambled from a terrible nights sleep last night due to seeral unrelated factors, a fight with a teenager in the morning, and just an overliad of projects to do. I got in a solid 15 and a half hour workday somehow in the end, but don't have huge things to show for it. I could list a bunch of little things, but I prefer the days where my 15 and a half hours can realy be visible, like the days I get an entire cabinet or shelves built and installed, or get a large portion of tiles up, or make a new painting or table. But in order to have those days I have to have these days where I prep a lot of things and tie up loose ends on projects.
That's it for now. I do have to sleep some too and maybe tonight it will work out for that.
Still in the thick of it regarding the evils of the world like internet. Had to call Cox to hook up internet at a house I own and need to rent. The odyssey went on for hours. It's like I am a magnet for interference in these issues. When I get close to machines or computers they malfunction; When I start trying to contact huge service providers the world breaks down into pieces.
After well over an hour of getting passed around the phone/ internet/ world, I was suck having to get my sister to say that she had used MY modem for service at MY house, and now she could release the modem back to me.... My sister was taking a nap. I called her 7 times then finally gave up.
When I am able to avoid news. computers. service providers. internet. phone calls to huge companies. When I avoid those potholes and sinkholes, my life goes along pretty good. But even 2 or 3 hours wasted in one day with this nonsense and I am defeated, overwhelmed, pissed, and depressed. I have to tell them my email, my pin number, my phone number, my name! I have to tell them all this 3 or 4 times as they pass me around from country to country. Why can't they retain my identity as I get passed around on their computers? Here's an instance where I WANT THEM TO KNOW WHO I AM! See my history, my logs, my life story! PLEASE!
But when I am painting, or making collage, when I am making tiles or making new tables, when I am drawing T-shirts, bumper stickers, or mugs... I am happy then. I am most happy and satisfied when I am alone and making things and cranking out products like tile or pizza, like paintings or podcasts.... but when I am stuck in between one and another, I am not in the groove this way or that, I am gathering materials for this thing and thinking about that thing, and not able to DO either thing yet.... I feel frustrated, stuck, unproductive, slack.
That's the place I was in lately. I was between "big" projects but needing to tie up a lot of loose ends. Finish a few big things, and quickly DO a few little things. I am cursed and blessed with extreme "super concentrated" motivation. My wife came up with the analogy recently of Satchel's being "Super Conventrated." She said instead of diluting the brand which is the American way of franchising and/ or opening more stores, I super concentrate by obsessing over this one location and every minute detail therein. It's true. I want to super concentrate that shit like a hundred million times. I want to make it strong like cinammon essential oil. A drop can overwhelm a tongue.
I am definitely coming out of the funk that was the last fire, or the two fires combined, or the fact that life has dealt me 2 fires and a ton of heartache and extra work. I may never fully emerge from the funk but as business retunrs to something resembling normal, I am able to catch a deep breath. One, maybe two. And I can imagine a time when these memories are not still so fresh and painful. I can finally start to imagnie that my life could get close to where it was before BOTH fires. Happy, light, and naive.
Well, probably not naive and light but certainly maybe happy.
This blog is supposed to be about LSE and its evolution and maybe it is. Maybe my personal struggles and mindset, philosophy and experiences are parallel to the toy store/ bar and rebuild of Lightnin'. I can't pretend to separate the two anymore. My interior life is Lightnin Salvage and I spend much of my personal space thinking about improvements and enhancements to the space there. It's THE SAME SPACE AS WAS THERE BEFORE THE FIRE> The same space but with different floors and walls. But the same physical space. The same. So much the same.
Ten years. I imagine in 10 years the new LSE will be as incredible and interesting as the old. I have spent my life improving my position, leaving something that I thought could never be repeated and inventing something even better. I can easily go over several specific times where I was living some life in pure dreamland and could not imagine something better and/or bigger. Each time I outdid the last scene and world to invent a new world that rivaled the last. I know these facts like I know the world is round and that art is essentially problem solving. I know it deep down.
The realization and supposition that all the new LSE needs is time and activity to grow past the old LSE< <<< < is as strong as the force is to Luke Skywalker. But I also see we are not there yet and so I have to grab on to the future instead of the past. I have to find a strap or handle that allows me to grab and hold like a madman, with belief based on past, that the future is brighter than the past or the present. All of this requires faith, strength, longsuffering, humility, and love. All good things to enjoy.
So I focus on enjoying them.
And evangelize that I will rebuild it better. I will bring it back to where it was and then keep going and going and going. What else can I do? Give up? Retreat? Raise the white flag? Not tonight. Tonight I will imagine the new heights, the new ideas, the new and better places I could go. I will tell you whatever we did before is peanuts compared to where we're going. Whatever joy and pleasure you got from yesteryear is faded when compared to the good times ahead. It's super concentratated now because I will one day die. I plan to use the last of my years to super concentrate the art and unload it for public consumption.
But i'm only 50 so let's assume I am only 2/3rds through my time. Well dang. The first third I was figuring it all out, the second third was setting it up and making mistakes and slipping back half the time, and now the last third I am about to start jamming. My plan is to now really get to work making art and helping folks to smile and wonder. We just shook the Etch-A-Sketch and it's time to draw something really good this time. Now I know how this thing works.....
April 11. Sigh. I'm so tired of the hassles of life. Like Verizon. What a pain these internet and phoneservice companies are. THey take so much of our money and yet the support is so bad. I have a house in St. Augustine and our only choice there for internet is Comcast. Oh Lord! Comcast is the worst company I've ever dealt with. We've canceled service twice now only to eventually call them back because we want internet. Verizon has been terrible this week. I have 7 phones on my account and had to order 2 new ones. They said I could pick them up at the store but I couldn't. They said i would get them shipped in 2 days but 4 days later they say that the order is stuck somewhere. The company we use for propane, Amerigas, is terrible. Our tank has been leaking for so long and the costs through the roof. I need to fire them and find a new gas company but sheesh, there's a string of hassles in that project. It's like Verizon, I want so bad to just cancel my phone and go back to 1986 when I was a senior in high school and cell phones didn;t exist. I could do it. I could actually do it because I really hate phones. But the account is in my name, 7 lines. Changing to a new carrier is a nightmare. cancelling is a nightmare, and dealing with the company is a nightmare. Hmmm, no waqy out of it really. Stuck.
I am trying to get some parental controls on my kids computer. oh its awful. There's only one service I can find that can help protect a Chromebook and they have no chat line, no phone number, the service is super complicated, and when I email support I have to wait 2 days for a reply that is not helpful. I want restricting my kids screen time to be easier and all of the apps and startups out there and none of them can address helping parents control their kids screens? It should be easier. We should have a way to monitor every device from one spot easily in the house. It's not out there. No one has figured it out. It makes me crazy.
But I am supposed to be talking about LSE and work and how things are going. I'm not supposed to be complaining about the fristrations of adulthood. I got off on a tangent I apologize. I have so many probelms with technology. It's like I have a terrible forcefeild around me that makes my interactions with computers unbearable. Even as I type this and look up I find my cursor has moved randomly up a paragraph. It's a anti computer forcefeild I tell you. I have it.
But back to Lightnin Salvage Enterprises. I am slowly making progress building out the store. I'm hoping to get most of it done in the next month and have a grand reopening. I will have the party whether i am finished or not but i will certainly stress myself out trying to get as much done as possible. Business is really picking up lately and it's good to see folks having fun and getting back into the habit of coming in. It's good to see the regulars. Good to see the kids all happy and free. It's good when I come to work and find someone has brought me homemade ice cream pie. Yes, a customer brought me some ice cream pie and a note that said they liked the place and the blog and the pizza and so here's so ice cream. Wow. That was cool. If you're reading this thank you.
There are other work related things I have been dealing with lately that are difficult and fristrating and many times I think "Why would anyone want to do this? Run a restaurant? It's crazy. There's just too much to deal with." but I don't want to get into all of that. It's bad enough I complain about Comcast Verizon and Amerigas. Honestly I'm just at the end of a long stressful day. Life is good. I get to eat pizza every day and talk to wonderful people. I get to make some art now and then. I love what I do and the challenges are part of the reason I love it.
But I will admit this: These fires have changed me. They've made me more callous and more tired. They took something from me, some bit of youth and vitality, some bit of wonder and charm. Every day I tend to focus more on the mountains of work in front of me than the rich years behind me. I wonder why I had to lose all that and how I will ever find the energy to rebuild something better. Because if the past is the best part then I shouldn't keep going like this. I have to hope that the future will be better. But then I feel overwhelmed trying to imagine how I can do all the things caught up in my head and heart. I would need about 10 or 20 full time artists and craftspeople to fulfill my vision for the next few years. I don't have the budget for that. I'll just keep plugging away and wishing I could sleep better and longer.
Just a bad day folks move along. We all have them. We all get down now and then. Lose our optimistic attitude and feel tired. Exhausted even. I do it to myself. I don't really know how to "take it easy" or pace myself. I've even lost a bit of enthusiasm for the tile factory because right now I have SO MANY TILES and NO TIME to install them. I need to spend a few weeks putting tiles up because at this pace I will have to rent a warehouse to store them if I don;t get them onot the building. BUT>>>> It could be after the grand reopening before I really have time to tile. I really need to finish building out the store. I really must finish that, or at least get to over 95%.
I need a new pillow. I need the most wonderful pillow ever made. I wonder where to get that. My pillow has basically gone bad. You know what I mean? It happens slowly over time and tonight I just realized it's broke. That pillow needs to go the landfill now. I am going to search the closets tonight and look for some old reject pillow that once someone thought was worth buying. Maybe there is a pillow here that will be better. Maybe the whole problem is I just need a new pillow for my weary head. My tired and ragged brain.
Easter Sunday. I had such a nice day with family. I am truly blessed and lucky, fortunate and thankful to be surrounded by so much love and support. I realize how big of a deal it is to have these things in life.
We had Easter dinner at 2pm. My wife and kids of course. My mom was the first to arrive with 4x enough rolls, and cream corn. Then my aunt and uncle arrived from a few hours south... and soon after my first cousin and his wife and 3 kids. My wife's parents came from across town, and another close cousin who is like another aunt, drove up from Orlando area. My son and I hid Easter eggs my mom brought, and some of the big ones were full of quarters and the gold one had quarters and a sacagawea dollar coin. The youngest got the most eggs because my daughter assisted him but she might have given away some of the money, I'm not entirely sure but I heard rumors. We had desserts and talked in groups and everyone was having a good time and we had blooming flowers in pots, granny's china and everything.
After much talking and slow desserts we all made a caravan to my sisters new house that she just closed on less than a week ago. A couple of the kids jumped in the pool which was "colder than the springs, not as cold as the ocean a few days ago," as my son put it. Everyone went nuts for her house which if a house could be a button this house would be it. Cozy as can be right away. She had to bid against 3 people on day 1 of the listing. Sheesh, the drama....
We got home and cleaned up, my wife and I together for a change, while the kids got into the phones like they do. My wife she's the best. We're married 20 years this Wednesday so I'm planning a little something to mark the occasion.
Oh, and the restaurant.... the restaurant has a mind of it's own lately, and I'm trying to understand it. Broken doors, missing chairs and tables, lots of renovation and decoration, lots of ideas and new "junk" making it's way through the LSE front doors. New projects hatching and others incubating. It's big.... the stuff that I hope can happen there is big, and good. It's changing all the time in spite of me, and I have to see what it does. I'm so fortunate and blessed, lucky and thankful.
Changing gears here I liked this series about a guy I know in Panama City who made this series for Lowe's.
March 6. I struggle this time of year with allergies. It's better than it used to be by far but it used to be that I was unable to function as a normal person. Now I function almost normally but I am physically miserable the whole time. Well, it's not that bad I guess but I do have to work much harder at keeping myself motivated. Motivation comes pretty much like water most of the year but in the spring it is sheer will that gets me into work and on task. I hate the cold. I hate the cold and the fall is ok but sorta stressful and that's why I love summer best. Summer is a glorious time of year. The days are long. It's hot. I have no allergies and I feel like I can pack two days into one because I move faster and work longer. Anyway- summer is coming and I'm thinking about it because it takes a long time for it to cycle back around. I'll be listening for that first cicada song. I love it when I hear that.
Yesterday I did a collage of very old wallpaper samples on the men's room door. It took all day despite the fact that I assumed I would be done by lunch. My wife knew. She always knows and makes fun of me for my predictions. I'll say I'll be home in an hour, and she laughs. This job will be easy and quick. Eyes crying laughter emoji to her. Today I did a couple hours of mosaic and a few hours of carpentry and painting. Then I came home and glazed tiles and then started a new collage. It was a productive day for a guy who can barely sleep from the congestion, has chapped lips from mouth breathing all night, and whose eyes are itchy like poison ivy. I'm not sure how to write "whose" there. Is it who's? whos' or whose? Or should I just rewrite the whole sentence and say that in a way that I don't have to say " a guy who's. eyes..,." That kinda stuff hangs me up in writing. I get frustrated with grammar and punctuation too. It's a bit embarrassing but I like to think I can pull it off if I get sort of stream of consciousness with it, you know? If I ramble and take turns and tangents maybe all the mistakes can just seem like part of the charm and the style.......
So I am rolling along in the daily grind. Wishing I could enjoy the gorgeous weather a bit more but it's a curse. So beautiful and blooming but I've got to have a handkerchief always handy. There's a d in handkerchief. I just learned that right now.
Feb 21. I had pepperoni slice for lunch and my wife made wonderful Indian food for dinner. At work my main accomplishment was making a shelf for mugs and dressing. Also starting a new section of store built around the ATM and a booth. My wife is working in the greenhouse, repotting, fertilizing, and pruning. The plants took a big hit this winter, even the greenhouse couldn't fully protect some of them. I really want to come to terms with the time frame ahead of me for building out this new gift shop. I had thought originally I could be done in March but lately I am pushing that timeline back to May? I guess if Elon Musk can miss on his projected timelines to accomplish stuff, I can too. I'm coming to terms with it. I am trying to not get so anxious about how long it is taking. I am trying to enjoy the journey. That's what I'm supposed to do right?
Two days ago I decided to do tile instead of carpentry. I worked in several areas but the following picture is one area by the door where I want to highlight posters of upcoming events....
Feb 18. I've had a lot of pizza since I last wrote a week ago. I had to go to Jacksonville so I met a friend at the original V Pizza downtown. Cool old warehouse spot, high ceilings, long communal tables, and they had 3 wood fired ovens lined up right there in the dining room so you could watch the cooks. I'm a big fan of the kitchen and the dining room together. I wanted that for my place but the building I got wasn't set up that way. The pizza was good. A thin wood fired pizza with some meats. Also got a calzone. Me and my friend had some of each. The pizza wasn't cooked enough for me. I like it real crispy but I know if they always cook it like that people will complain. The cheese and toppings are high quality but I prefer a little more sauce. Still an excellent pie and calzone. I had the lefotvers for dinner that night in St. Augustine. I had some business there so having the leftover pizza and calzone made me very happy. That was all I ate on Tuesday. Since I was in St. Augustine I got Mellow Mushroom the next day. The pie I got was surprisingly double the cheese I am used to from them. It was fine, but too much cheese for sure, I got tomatoes, tofu, onions, pepperoni on a small pie. It's odd that I hear complaints about the price of our pizza but V Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, even Pizza Hut are more expensive for what you get. Our medium pizza often feeds 3 people at about $6 per person. Anyway, I had the 2 leftover slices for breakfast the next day. Last night I had a SatchPan pizza with pepperoni, beef, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and carrots. It was by far the best pizza I had this week. I brought home a SatchPan cheese for my daughter who ALWAYS wants a SatchPan cheese slice. Heated it up for her at 11pm when I got home.
I could just make a blog that is a pizza journal about the slices I eat throughout the week, but I'll spare you.... It was a busy week at Satchel's. I put in some long days Friday and Saturday, working on the new gift shop all day and running food and chatting with customers at night. I made a fair amount of pizzas Thursday night, I went to see the band but ended up in the kitchen as we were short staffed.
Speaking of pizza, let's show a picture of one because what could be better that eating pizza? Pictures of pizza:)
Feb 11, 12:17am. I've been painting some tiles tonight after work but checking in quickly to report about my dinner tonight. Playing on the success of last nights slice, tonight I used a medium dough and stretched it to a large size so pretty thin. Topped with extra cheese and then black pepper, red pepper, oregano and parmesan cheese. Brought it home uncut and then cut a large slice out and 3 minutes in the toaster made it perfect. Enjoyed with a local lager. So good.
Feb 9. My slice tonight was extra cheese. Then I put a generous amount of red pepper, black pepper, oregano, and a bit of parmesan on it. One of the top 10 slices of of my life tonight. It was slightly undercooked or it may have cracked top 5. Cheese slices make up almost all of the best slices of my life but this "extra" cheese slice with plenty of spices was simply phenomenal.
after work i've been glazing tiles and working on a new collage. today i was working on two new displays for LSE, pictured here for your enjoyment.
February 8. Today my sister bought a house in Gainesville and my son got a drivers license. These 2 events meant I only had a couple hours to work on LSE in between but hey, sometimes there's more important matters.
Confessions of a pizza-holic: As I write I have beside me and am eating a SatchPan cheese slice I brought home last Saturday. It is delicious. I will admit also that I had to go to Archer Rd a couple days ago and ended up hungry and stopped and ate an entire Blaze pizza. It wasn't bad. On my 50th Birthday in January I didn't want to leave my house but ended up going to the new Hungry Howies near my house, in my pajama pants, and got a pizza which I ate in 3 sessions. Yesterday I had pizza for lunch (no surprise there that's a regular thing I do...) but yes, I eat pizza "almost" every day and it freaks my wife out.
Once years ago when my kids were play fighting to the point that one of them was about to get hurt, I wanted to say to them, "Hey, it's all fun until someone gets hurt, COOL IT!" But I thought about that and thought about how "adult" and Charlie Brown grownup it sounded so I said instead: "KIDS! What am I thinking right now?" Somehow in my mind I thought the kids would be able to put themselves in my scenario, realize I was worried for their safety, and say back to me what I wanted to say to them... that someone was about to get hurt. No. They both answered almost as a chorus, "...About PIZZA!." This joke is now ongoing. They still wrestle and fight and now I always say, "What am I thinking?" and they always answer "ABOUT PIZZA!" It's true. I think about pizza a lot. I love Pizza Hut, Digiorno's, Freschetta, Hungrie Howies, Dominos, Lil Ceasars, Mellow Mushroom, Big Lous, Ameraucana, Italian Gator, Blue Highway, Piesanos, Humble Wood Fire, Blaze, and just about any pizza except maybe the school lunchroom or gas station variety. It's a blessing and a curse. And by the way, that list of pizzas is in no particular order. I could rank them according to a very fine tuned scale but I'm not doing that for public consumption. Suffice it to say that the lowest score on the list would be a B- (80 on a 100 scale.) In other words, I pretty much love them all.
I want to add a bunch of pages to this website. Pages about the PineCone Contest or the Annual Nacho Night.... I've got tons of material to get posted and now that I am in charge of the site I will get it all on in my own sweet time. But it's a low priority. I have so many real tangible physical things to accomplish that this site will be a back burner for most of this year, or maybe half of this year. It will grow just like the physical space will grow.
It's almost midnight, let me look for a picture to share....
Ah. Here's Judy who is my neighbor and old friend who is purchasing and filling the new LSE with toys and stuff, just like she's done since the original LSE >>>
January 31. I just wrote for an hour, the longest post I have ever written. But I lost it somehow, in my ineptitude. I told you about my life, my dreams, and about time. Now I will go to bed, and let all that be gone to the void. Computers. My biggest enemy.
Here's a booby prize, a large collage I am working on:
January 10th. Geez it's 11:57pm so in 3 minutes it's my 50th Birthday. The pressure is so huge. Everyone wants to know what I'm doing.... And I was a bit stressed because what I really want to do is just hang around my house all day and work in the studio and clean my shop and just chill at home. I don't want to party or go out. So that's the plan.
I just spent some time updating the Satchel's website. Got pictures of some mosaic tiles on there, some info on our grants, and some info about parties in LSE.... Feels good to finally get some of that done.
In honor of my 50th Birthday I'm going to put a picture of my cat on here...
Of course that has nothing to do with my Birthday but I went to my photos and that was one of the most recent I took because when our cat got in that basket well, how could I NOT take a picture?
After many months of insanity trying to get the bar back open, and then a month of logistics and the holidays... I finally got back into mosaic tiling this week. I just finished filling the kiln today too with a new batch of tiles. The tile factory is back in action and the mosaic on the building will be happening weekly also.
My mind is exploding with all the things I want to do. I have so many more ideas than time. I'll just do the one day at a time thing for now, what choice do I have?
I went to a Gator basketball game tonight with my sister and nephew. I ended up sitting with my friend and employee Marvin who had some open seats beside him:
December 15. Finally coming around to a more normal existence. Sleeping better, not as anxious, working a bit less.... Well, today I worked 12 hours but there was a lot going on today that was out of the ordinary. I am finally feeling like talking to people again. I really enjoyed making some pizzas last night for the first time in a while.
I made so many big mistakes. Costly mistakes, like buying an extra locker. My brain was just not working and I did not check over my order good which is so stupid when it's a $3000 order of lockers.
Speaking of lockers, here is a picture of our break room locker setup. Made me think we were like in the Ford plant or something.... so many lockers!
And the next photo is one of the offices. Two ladies work in this office and they both want standing desks. The space was long enough I was able to create 2 standing desks and a double seating desk in between. One woman wanted her standing height at 3' and the other at 3 1/2'. I had gotten 2 estimates to build this and one other desk. One estimate was $4000 and the other was $1800 with me doing the sanding and finish work. I spent a couple days building this, and less than $100. I've still got build and install drawers under the standing desks, but even though i waste money on mess ups like buying an extra locker, I save money by building my own stuff. Also, I'm certain the $4000 version would have been much nicer.
Just now coming to the realization that I have to keep at it, make the upstairs happen, the sound and live music right, the gift shop into a reality,,,, I'm just one guy, with my work cut out. one day at a time. I live by these cliches
for now i rest still
december 5th. one year ago was fire and destruction. today we opened to hope and a new beginning. The perfect soft opening: the bar was still sticky. the computers were down half the day, and the smell of polyurethane from the upstairs floors came through the A/C vents into the new space.
I had fun. finally. my good friends came to cheer me on. i only have a few and I was so happy they came to see the place and see me. i screwed up the bar top finish but tonight it hardly mattered. we drank and laughed and had fun. thanks y'all. it's gonna be a good vibe sorta spot.
i can't wait to hit the bed now...
I love gainesville. I've never been so tired. here we go again..... let's crank it up and make something new.
Hard work. 19 hour days. even did a 19.5 hour day a few days ago. I'm not proud of it, it is stupid. But I just can't stop. I am obsessed. I am so looking forward to being open and resting some. Really resting.
Tonight I sealed the bar top, and did a thousand other little things no one will notice but needed to get done. Here's a couple pictures:
My family misses me. I miss my family. It is sad to be gone so much for my business. I hope I can make it up to them somehow.
We're softly opening very soon. I will update here again when I can.
November 29th. 11:49PM.
The fountain machine arrived 2 days ago. We got it unboxed and moved inside on Monday.
Tuesday we got the ice hopper sanitized, the machine lifted to the box where it sits, and the soda syrup lines hooked up. Tomorrow the plumber is coming to hook up the water and drain lines. The water tees to non-carbonated beverages and carbonated ones. The line tees to the ice machine that sits on top of the fountain. This is all stuff that is about 99.9% outsourced in the restaurant industry. Outsourced to Pepsi or Coke.
But me? I choose the road less traveled, the hard road, the road that leaves me wondering if I am sane but certain I am alive. I get a thrill from conquering the thing that seems too complicated. In this case it is fountain soda, soda in general, and the equipment to maintain soda system.
In the pictures above....Jimmy the Draft Dr installs beer taps.... The new look from the ole barn... "The Red Dragon," the 75" of soda syrup lines that had to run underground from the out of sight syrups to the fountain in the new dining room.... Getting inspiration for the new soda fountain from the old soda fountain up front....and my 16 year old son, the coolest kid around.
I gotta get the bar stools installed. I gotta get the soda machine fired up. I gotta caulk-a-lot and fancy up. I gotta bring all the "STUFF" in. I gotta decorate a little bit and find some time for my kids and wife. I gotta sleep, and eat, and shower. Gotta brush, and drive, and figure stuff out. I gotta think, gotta dream, gotta push myself through. I got payroll coming up, and so many bills, and the bank account.... and the mental health, and the employees and the customers. I need to make extra soda now. We are doubling our soda production overnight. Practically. Essentially. Basically.
Actually it is hard to express how much work making homemade fresh soda is, delivered to a fountain, with filtered water and ice.
But everything right now seems impossible. And it's not.
November 28. I must have taken pictures of something today. I know I took pictures of the sign and posted on Instagram but what else did I photograph? B-side stuff? I will know in a minute when I look....
Today was half a day excited as a butterfly and half a day slogging through shit. I see before me the 3/4 butterfly days and I know the full happy days are close. We got a sign today, (See Instagram.) We also got beer taps. We got window sills. We got power to the walk in cooler. We got shelves in the closet and shelves for the wine stock. We got 2 semi circle booths inside the space. We got a foot rest finished for the bar stool sitters. We got ethernet plugs for the POS system. We got an app that shows all eight cameras, on my phone.
But even though I took a bunch of pictures today they do not show up in my Google Photos. I don't know why (Maybe because they were sent as texts and Instagram photos???) Here is the only picture that shows up from today....
My mom texted me this and I'm like, "Who is that?"
It's Dan Mullens of course. But I am too busy to keep up with all the news, I am so busy. This morning I slept in so late... I woke up and wondered what time it could be. I checked my phone. It said "6:30" and I was like WOOOOOOOOOOOOW! I sept EIGHT HOURS. This was incredible to me. I had been sleeping 3-4 hours every night for a month, and I woke up and saw I had slept 8 hours!
So yeah. Dan Mullens. Cool.
But didn't I take other photos today? I thought I did? Whatever. Who cares? I need to sleep again tonight.
November 26. 2:10am. I should be sleeping. I am starting to feel an excited anxiety. There is a scenario where I could open exactly one year from the fire...December 5th. It would mean a lot of scheduled things have to come together in one week. It would mean 17-19 hour days this week. It would mean a hell of a lot to me if I could open exactly one year later though.
Time will tell. Time always tells.
Whatever happens I am about to get so happy to get open and take a break and a breather.
November 20. Still exhausted. Always exhausted, even when in Sunday recovery mode. Could not sleep last night worried about the floors. They were originally going to grind them down Friday and seal them Saturday. Sunday they would cure.
They started Thursday and ran the grinder machine 3 long days until late Saturday night. Sunday they sealed and today they look like crap.
After they poured the slab I sealed them to keep them from getting ruined. (Next 2 pics are of the slab after I sealed them.
Now they just look bad . (I'll post a picture of the worst part tomorrow.)
They did not grind them evenly and I never expected they could look so bad, especially in the bathrooms.
But I am not mad. I have had so may disappointments now I just want to get open and hope I will forget about the wasted money and ideas gone wrong. I can fix it all eventually I think. I can solve each bad decision in the next few years.
But the money I waste and spend wrong is embarrassing. I wasted $5000 getting the floors redone and could have done better just cleaning and resealing them myself in a weekend. I wasted over $2000 on trying to paint a fancy rust paint on the fascia and soffit. I was sent the wrong paint and I did not know it, and in the end have ugly soffits and fascia and will have to sand and repaint down the road. I spent $250 on an antique light fixture that does not work right and now I have to find something else at the last minute.
But I made lots of good decisions too. I should not expect every decision to be the right one. I tried my best with the information I had and the instincts I felt.
When it opens and I am sitting at the bar enjoying a beer and a cheese slice, I will forgive everyone who messed up and likely forgive the ones who ripped me off too. I paid almost $3000 for a very small roof that joins the 2 buildings, a job that should not have been a dime over $1000. And worse I gave the Rustoleum Company over $750 for paint that I hate, took over 40 hours of my life, and looks hideous.
But I doubt many customers will notice the mistakes. They will notice the things I did right and they will praise me and leave a good review. I may have shaved a few years off my life, but I will likely live through the process of rebuilding. What was I to do? Plant wild flowers where Lightnin' Salvage used to be? Instead of rebuilding? .......................... maybe.
But I rebuilt instead. I wanted to surprise people and do something modern yet retro, clean and contemporary, solid, interesting, and well designed. The floors and the soffits - they failed. The bar top may fail. The booth and table compatibility may fail. I still have so much to do and none of it is a sure bet. Putting it all together is tough. It's above my pay grade.
Tonight I don't even care. I didn't sleep last night from anxiety. It's almost half past midnight of the following day now. I have become so weary from it all I just go through the motions, accept the outcomes, and hope for the best.
November 17, 2017. It's happening fast now. The building was electrified today. The floors are getting sealed. the decks are being waterproofed. I am working 20 hour days now. So tired. Exhausted. I'll get some secret pictures to share here soon.
November 9th, 2017
I am too tired to tell you all about it. Here's a really cool sneak peek of some bathroom tiles. I have been working my butt off lately, working as hard as I've ever worked, to try and get the new Lightnin' Salvage ready before Christmas:
October 17, 2017. Rough day. I am hit from every side with questions, phone calls, texts, decisions, problems, personalities, issues.... It has been mind numbing. A guy came in today to show me baseboards to choose, and then we measured all the linear feet we needed up and downstairs. I've hired a guy to help with finish work like bar top and window sills and he stopped in to go over materials we will need in 2 days for hanging plywood on walls. He is detail oriented so our meeting was long and involved. The plumbers needed me to get the sink I am going to use to place the bracket that holds the sink. The welder was putting up railings and I noticed issues on the stairs. The electrician is always behind and works late at night by head lamp, always working until the last minute and not quite finishing all the little details. Drywall arrived, was placed against the wall, had to moved to get cable to the ATM location, and will have to be moved again tomorrow to allow us to hang plywood on walls. Blocking was missed upstairs that kept me there late. I photographed all the walls so maybe I can look back if I am looking for studs and blocking later. I met with the painter and have to choose colors for doors and trim and walls. I set up a schedule with the guy who is doing the bar floor. Then ADT showed up unannounced to meet and go over security wiring. I am so exhausted mentally and physically. I am hoping that walls going up will start to let me feel better and decision making will slow?? Somehow I doubt it. I am constantly facing new challenges and decisions I had not even thought of. I am ordering things online, calling companies for specs on products, changing orders on the fly, and ah yes, I also ordered new T-shirts today. Which makes me realize what picture I should show tonight. I designed a new shirt, then my wife started designing a shirt and wants to challenge me to see which one sells better. Then my son designed 2 shirts. I will share with you my favorite although they are all cool: The colors are not quite the end product but you'll get the general idea. My son did this one:
October 5th. After the craziness of the day where there are 10-15 people working on the new space and I am being pulled every direction to answer some question that is hard to answer, I stayed late to work in the peace and quiet. I started building out the foot rest on the bar because now we'll have some stools at the bar. The place is coming together fast and the pace is intense for me. At one point it was getting dark and I had just figured out the curve on the wood I was cutting and I had to hold my phone in one hand, with the flashlight on, and the jigsaw in the other cutting a careful curve. Here's a picture from earlier today before I built the footrest.
September 27th, 2017. Well, now it's here. The time where I get manic and my mind is trying to consider every detail and time everything to get done. I am constantly taking notes, meeting people, buying things, and more or less stretching the capabilities of my mind. Soon I'll be doing the bar top, tiling the bathrooms, and meeting more people, buying more things, and burning the candle on the ends and in the middle.
Here are some pics from the job site, and a pic of me and my daughter underwater. We went scalloping with some friends last weekend and my daughter talked me into trying out my camera underwater since it is supposed to be waterproof. Oh, and always gotta throw in a tile pic because I am making SO MANY TILES!!
September 17th, 2017. I have been busy as you might imagine. The hurricane alone was about 2 weeks of distraction from normal life and I'm not done cleaning up from that yet. The construction is coming along slowly but regularly. I am told that things are going to be kicking into a higher gear in the next few weeks as the trusses are delivered and the roof goes on. I think windows and doors are happening too. I am a bit nervous about the next phase because there is so much for me to do as we turn attention to the inside details.
Here are a couple shots of tiles. The first picture are glazed tiles not fired yet so you can't really see the colors that happen after the firing. The second picture shows the brightness of the colors after firing. I make so many tiles it's crazy. I show only a few here but I am really on a tear of making tiles. I wish I could be doing mosaic but the construction above the mosaic and then the hurricane prevented me from working on it anymore. I am planning to get back into the mosaic practice this week.
August 13th, 2017.
The rebuild has slowed to a crawl but I have some exclusive pictures here. The first is my practice wall for mosaic. I have been making tiles for 6 months and need to get some practice so I can see what sort of tiles I need to make and what works and what doesn't. It's been fun. I am using a lot of the first tiles I made and some of them are pretty bad, but the goal of my mosaic is to be bright and colorful and I'm on the right track for that at least. I am also practicing nipping the tiles into shapes, something I haven't done much of before. In this photo there is no grout yet and they grey grout will really help bring it all together. I plan to tile for a few more days before grouting. The reason I am doing this particular spot is eventually it will be under some stairs and have a couple air conditioner outdoor units there so tiling now will be much easier than waiting and working under stairs and behind A/C units.
Next are the columns that are framing the front doors. These were my wife's idea. I really like them. They are very hard to see in this picture and there are bolts sticking out of them that get cut off, but it's a sneak peek:
Finally tonight I will share an interior shot of the new brewery Cypress and Grove where I recently hung 8 of my paintings. I usually only show my work at Satchel's in December but I have too much art in my closet and they needed some color so...
July 23rd, 2017.
My wife had the idea early on that we could have some flags hanging in the new LSE. When she and I first met I made these small "prayer flags" after making a series of linoleum block prints and looking for ways to display them. The fabric seemed like a good way and so those flags have been hanging in our living room ever since. We asked our friend Judy to make a set of flags for the new LSE and she is making these cool scrap sewed flags with all sorts of hand stitching on them....
Then I found the old linoleum blocks and printed some new flags on bright fabric that my mom sewed into squares for me:
But boy did my wife blow me away when she decided to make a set of flags herself. She's still making them and they aren't on a string yet but they are reflections of the beach where she spends a lot of time in the summer.
We already also have a set of interesting flags our good friend John Orth made and we may find a couple other folks to make us a set of flags. This is such a cool idea and I'm so lucky to have a wife who is creative and smart. I love her flags SO MUCH!
I am making tiles like crazy too but it is a slow process. I make tiles so much but still feel like I hardly have any.
Thanks for checking in. I will try and get back here often.
July 11, 2017. I am making tiles and making other things too. I am finally coming out of my funk and starting to feel excited and hopeful again. The walls are going up at the new building and my buckets of tiles are filling up. After this post I am planning to start a podcast for the staff at Satchel's. Optional listening but a way for me to connect with them about what I want out of the place. How I want to present to the world, and what I am doing at home in my studio.
I am sharing 2 pictures tonight. The first is a small sample of the buckets of tiles filling up, and the second is some tester "cove base" tiles I am working on for the bathrooms. These cove base tiles go around the bottom of the walls to help keep the corners and edges clean. They are rough and simple but somehow they seem to be so bad they are good. Does that make sense? Don't answer. They seem to have a childlike charm in that they look like a kid made them. That is practically so.
July the first, 2017. I am legit about to make this into my main blog. I have had a journal since in my 20's which turned into "menu backs" in 2003 (writing on the back of menus...) which turned into a "blog" on Wordpress in 2007, which turned into writing on Medium in 2015, and now just gravitating towards this LSE "blog." My life revolves around LSE these days so might as well put my writing here.
One of the issues we're facing with the remodel is the city now requires two bathroom walls get tile or some slick surface like FRP board. FRP board is some orange peel like surface white plastic panel that is easy to clean. It's great stuff just not something for your restaurant bathroom. The problem is I am making homemade tiles (to mosaic the outside of the new building) so I can't imagine buying boring tiles for the bathrooms. While I don't think I can make enough tiles to do the 3 bathrooms by the time we open, I am now putting a lot of effort into making tiles "for the bathrooms." This brought me to thinking about the baseboards in the bathrooms. So I started making "cove base" for the baseboards tonight and soon I'll check the linear feet I need and do some math to figure out how many of these I need to make. I could be making these for a month or more is my suspicion.
Building a special place for people to gather and celebrate and talk and cry and laugh, is about so much more than the napkins. I like nice napkins and recently we downgraded a bit to a little bit smaller napkin that might save us $40 a week. It's a bit painful but it was also painful to throw away the piles of practically unused napkins folks would leave stacked around the tables. But I'm saving on napkins so I can buy more clay and glaze and make my own cove base for the bathrooms. Honestly I want to make everything. I dream about a day when I make all the plates even.
I'll include some (boring) pictures of my studio. You'll see my first try at the cove base tile where I used wooden rulers to make a jig, and then the actual jig I glued and nailed that I'll use going forward making these special baseboard tiles. Also, I'll include a shot of the crates I have stacking up with square and rectangular tiles, and buckets where I am filling bigger and bright colored tiles which I will break up for mosaic work. Maybe I'll even put in a picture of some ugly tiles just to prove that I am really not that good at this yet but I am learning and I know they will get better so I am okay with showing you the ugly ones here on the blog......
I really should start adding a date to these entries for the record. so today is June 22, 2017.
Getting a building permit took a long time and a lot of work by several parties. My contractor and architect were a HUGE help. They drop everything and run to the building department with updated plans as soon as any snag comes up that needs to be addressed. I have made a lot of tweets and sent emails, talked on the phone and visited the building department several times myself. It took almost 10 weeks but we are stamped and ready to go now.
I am making tiles and having a lot of fun with that but I am also slowly working on these tables for the new place. There are 11 tables. I have 2 new pictures to share tonight and both of these were finished today! I hesitate to show them because I know how cool it could be to walk in for the first time and see them in real life, but I'm too excited about them to keep them under wraps. Judy, who worked days at LSE and was the buyer of all the gift shop goodies, has been working on a table top of matchbooks for over a month. Today I did one of the easier tables which is a collection of floppy discs:
I am going to do something weird now. Since I don't know how to swap the Blog posts from first to last to last to first, I am going to just now start to write new posts at the top instead of the bottom. What this means is that AFTER THIS POST, you will see things from the beginning when I started this section. Unconventional I know but who cares? If you are checking back often it will be easier for you to start with the first post you see, and I am writing this section for the regular lookers anyway. Thanks regular lookers. I love that you care what I am up to. Here's my picture for today: An iPhone 4 and 5 table that I made to remember the iPhone wall we had back in the day.... The backs were more colorful but the fronts are are also interesting. I like to think about how these phones will "age" as new products come out....
In this section I will reveal little details of the new LSE that I won't show anywhere else. In other words, you won't find these pics on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, but only here on the website. In an age where we are overwhelmed with media, I find something romantic about this little corner booth where I can experience something new and secret. There was my favorite booth in the old LSE, if you were walking into the lounge from the gift shop, it was in the very back left corner. I could prop my legs up on the bench and see EVERYTHING in the whole place and still almost be invisible. Well, new LSE will have it's own secrets. I'll store them here. I'll try and update even mundane details every couple weeks at least.
I started to make a couple table tops for LSE. The tables might remind folks of some of the collections from the original LSE.
I really want it all to be a surprise. I want to keep anything and everything about the new LSE a secret, because it's more exciting to watch it and let the expectations build up..... But I also want to share what I am working on. I want the serious fans to be able to sneak peek some stuff. That's why we are both here. You have found the inside track, the secret phone number, the hideaway booth.
The picture above is a table I made. The next pic is the table my wife made. These tables are the obvious reminders of the juke joint I lost in the fire. I am still sad about what I lost. Making these tables is helping me reinvent and reimagine Lightnin Salvage Enterprises.
Realizing I don't want the mosaic to be just rows of cute squares, and that I cannot make one small mosaic tile at a time, I am experimenting with making slabs that I score into smaller shapes. If they break on the lines like I hope, I should be able to make endless patterns and designs using various shapes, sizes, and colors.
This is my home studio. In early June 2017 I moved my kiln from my garage to my studio. I revamped my studio and added the janky roof extension you see in the picture, to make things efficient for the years of tile making I am embarking on. I am now in the "tile factory" (as I like to call it), daily. My goal is to make mosaic tiles for the new LSE. I am going at that goal with a vengeance. It might take me the rest of my life to mosaic the new LSE, but I am ok with that. I like the idea even. I love making tiles like I love making pizzas. It's all art. Here's another "sneaky peek" at the inside of my studio. It is the quiet side of the studio, where I'll be storing tiles in buckets, and my collage collecting cabinet.... The chair is for my wife who comes to counsel me:)
I've changed the name of this section to BLOG because essentially that's what it is. It's the beginning of June and the footers were dug days ago and I spend most of my time in the studio making tile and getting my space efficient for the tile factory. Each kiln load I learn new things about tiles and I am getting more and more decent tiles from each batch. I am learning. I'll throw in pictures of some tiles, my shop, where I make the table tops, and the kiln when I opened it this morning to look at my newly glazed and ready to use tiles. I am having fun. I have no idea how I will arrange the tiles I am just photographing some laying out on the table for fun. I will put more thought into it when I am setting them and many of these early tiles will end up on the back of the building because they are "ugly." I sorta like the sound of that word ugly. Seems like a good band name.
After only 10 short years, Lightnin' Salvage had become the ultimate juke joint:
A junk museum, toy store, Florida souvenir shop.
A bar, lounge, and live music venue.
A playground for the kids, people spontaneously dancing, a Lionel train rattling overhead.
Kids running wild without a parent in sight.
Birthday parties and a local hangout.
Bocce ball, an airplane, a treehouse and greenhouse.
Even the first ever NACHO NIGHT, the last day of Alachua County School, and a big party to celebrate Nacho Libre.
There was a night for storytelling and a night for bellydancing. Folk, bluegrass, blues, rock n roll and klezmer music sharing the same stage. Open Mic night. A pinecone contest. The night of a thousand ukeleles. A place that many artists had a part in creating. A 10 1/2 year art project.
I discovered the picture above on Twitter and I don't even know who took it but I bet it was a patron of the Ole' Barn, a bar across the street. It was a Monday evening, December 5th, 2016. We were closed all day but I had been in installing a new upgraded wifi. Home and on the couch I got a call from a food truck owner who had just finished his Monday night bowling game. He said the place was sky high in flames.... "through the roof!"
By the time I arrived at the scene the next picture is the one I took, and this was as close as I was allowed to get.... I wonder if you can imagine my state of mind. This had been my art studio for 10 years, an art installation studio, and more than half of my business...