Friday, March 31, 2023

The End of an Era

We were married in 1976, both 19 years old, young, in love, happy and driven.
One year later, after living in an apartment close to Swan Lake, we had saved up enough to put a down payment on this lovely, and with the help of the best in real estate, my granddaddy, we purchased our first home.  

In 1979, we were expecting our first child and he was working 7 days a week 12 hours a day, at a company with side jobs to make extra income.  I was working too, in a job I HATED.  I couldn't wait to have our baby and QUIT to become a stay at home mother.  

Little did I know I really did not quit work, it was just more manageable and enjoyable.  
In that year, 1979, the same month we had our little girl in this tiny 900 square foot home we started our business, Alrac Electric.  We were very young and new parents, but had a tense dedication to make a buck and save.  I had high school accounting knowledge, a great accountant who mentored me, and he had the electrical know-how.  We started our business.  That first year it was a struggle but he worked non-stop and we survived.  About a year later we had to have employee help.  We had our first big job, a manufacturing building of which the wife of the man who owned it is/was still a customer of ours after 44 years.  The Hubby/Robert handled the work part and I kept my nose to the grindstone, crunching the numbers, making sure all the bills were paid.  One evening, in the middle of the job, he came home and was just beside himself, thinking we were done, we were not going to make it, that we were going to lose our shirts on this job.  His confidence had left him.  He just knew that he had failed.  I stayed up late into the midnight hours to again crunch numbers, what we were spending on the materials, payroll, etc.  The next morning I told him, yes it looks on the outside like we were failing, but in the long run, we will make a little money, we will be fine.  In the red on paper, does not mean we are losing our shirts, that is just on paper.  When you look out at the long picture, we will be okay.  He trusted me.  He seemed to exhale the fear out and went back to work and kept his head down, making it happen while I carried on doing the number stuff.  It has truly been a partnership in making Alrac Electric a successful company.

We kept at it day after day.  Every morning in that tiny little 900 square foot house with the baby asleep, we would get up, make coffee, have breakfast and wait for the employees to come in the living room, ready to work.  For 10 years we lived in that house, but it wasn't always the location of Alrac Electric.  

1983, we purchased a lot of land and built a building.  Again, with the help of my granddaddy he took us to his savings and loan in Broken Arrow, where he knew people, boy did he know people.  We got a construction loan.  Robert was absolutely TERRIFIED to do that.  He hates to owe money of any kind, I don't care if it is a dollar, he hates it.  I told him we would be fine, we could handle it.  Our tiny little company was prospering, we had work and we could not do it out of our little home anymore.  
We stayed in this location for 30 years, through many jobs, many employees and another baby.  The original building was added onto twice, and with each expansion more purchase of property.  After thirty years of business here we were bulging at the seams and landlocked with no hope of any kind of expansion.

For many years Robert had his eye out for another purchase of land or building(s). We had amassed enough money we could do that.  He had always loved this stone building and tried to purchase it once before but just couldn't make the deal happen.  He had a vision and I supported his vision.  He has never steered me wrong in what he saw.  So about 10 years ago we bought the stone building, with a massive pole barn building in the back.  We sat on the property for a few years to build up the money again and then...
built the building beside it, fixed up the pole barn and the inside of the stone building.  The added building has 4 units in it and we've rented out two of the units for several years with the last two, used for Alrac.  The old location we still own and it has been continually rented since we moved out of it.  The two units that Alrac used will be rented out too.

Today we say goodbye to Alrac Electric, a company we have nurtured and built to an extremely successful company that survived 44 years in the ups and downs of the construction industry and economy.
The stone building, the first floor is my new art studio and the second floor one of our son-in-laws has a music practice/recording studio.  The pole barn is his man cave, he deserves it!

Today we will invoice out the last invoice to the last customer and in the next few months I will pay the last of the bills, and collect the last of the accounts receivable.  My work may not be quite done, but his is.

I hope to see him this happy everyday from now on.  He truly deserves to be fully retired.  Oh it will be a bit tough for him as he is very driven person, but I don't have any doubt that there will always be fish to be fried up and a dance to be done by this guy.

Happy Retirement Robert, I love you!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Moving DONE plus Art Show...

It's DONE...all moved in.
My former area of work is no more...
Transformed into a new comfortable space.  The drafting table is where the file cabinets were.  It will stay for him to finish his final billing tomorrow and for me to use for drawing.

NOW...this is my whole entire area for painting, painting, painting...
It's not all done yet, but the organization has started with the most amazing help of B!  Thank GOODNESS I have her because I COULD NOT get it all done.  

Frankly the past couple of weeks have been overwhelmingly exhausting.  Moving carloads of art work/supplies several times a day, loading and unloading, in between being Granny Taxi to little Min and trying to navigate my new work desk to finish that job, I am more than overwhelmed.  In fact, I dropped Min off at school after making a couple of load and unload runs then running quick to pick her up from downtown from her catechesis class to then driving her to her day school at 61st & Yale, knowing it was lunchtime and heading back to the "new" studio, I was asked at her day school by one of the teachers how it was going.  Oops, wrong time to stop and talk to me.  I was vulnerable to falling apart at that moment.  There was the director, and two teachers in the hall and I fell apart.  I just hit a brick wall.  It has been so much that my mental capacity is at that breaking point and my body is breaking down too.  My tummy has been in turmoil to the point that sometimes while cooking dinner I almost want to throw-up with the thought of even eating it.  This nearly 67 year old body is to the point of collapse and I can't let it happen because there is still so much more to go.  Come June/July time frame we will again be having the three year old with us more, but she will be a bit older, that helps.  And the move is basically done, that helps.  Work will be sort of over, that helps.  I think there will be a breather in there somewhere.  

This weekend we are heading to the cabin and will have a mini celebration with our cabin friends on Saturday night, and a bit of drinking will be happening!  The Hubby is really in his head with this final day tomorrow and needs to get away.  We thought about staying to Monday but can't.  Have to be back Sunday night because I think we will have Min so they can discharge with Max on Monday and HEAD HOME!!!  Just in time for Easter.

Oh gosh, every second of our lives right now are changed by the minute.  I can hardly plan anything because of it all.  I, my art group, Tulsa Artist Guild, is having an art opening on Thursday evening.  THAT I have to do as I'm in charge of the caterer and food, and I have art in the show!  Looking forward to it.

If you are in the area and would like to come to our show, here is the info.  Please join us.  There will be very yummy refreshments and lots of beautiful art.  I have three paintings in this show and this the art sells very fast usually.  

Sunday, March 26, 2023


Change, is anyone okay with change.  Change is difficult for anyone, good or bad.  We've had a lot of change in our world lately, the grownups, and the kiddos in our life.
This one has been through it, with a new brother, not living with him yet, and her momma being gone now for 3 months, and spending a lot of her time with me and her Auntie Biff.
When Max does finally come home life will not at all be the same for her.  She will probably have to drop out of her day school because of the possibility of bringing home germs to Max.  
She's had some bright times at school, meeting new friends, like this little guy she met at the hospital.  His little sibling is in the hospital with the same thing as Max so there is a bond there.  Plus the family lives in Tulsa so they may get to see each other many more times.
This little guy who knows the hospital as his norm, will very soon (probably next week) have to adapt to a whole new surrounding at his actual home with a 3 year old sister and 3 cats.

Snicklefritz has also gone through a ton of changes in her very young life.  First we lost her Great-papa then her Mimi, then Max's entry into our world.
And with Min spending so much time with me, day and night, for weeks, her previous room was taken over by Min.  So we had to adjust for Snicklefritz and make her own space for spending the night, a more grown up space for her.  She has been so wonderful letting that happen, without grumbling, but with joy in helping with the process.

Now we are at the time where WE are retiring and the "shop" as she has known it since she was 2 years old is changing.  She's actually known our offices since birth but her first 2 years were at the other location where I watched her nearly every single day of her life (minus weekends!)  Since this is the last week of actual business as we've known it we have been gearing up for the auction of equipment, vehicles, tools, office supplies, etc.  So moving drafting tables out and file cabinets and having bags and bags of shredding stuff and boxing up files we have to keep for a bit of time.  All that kind of stuff has to go to storage.  My desk as I've known it for eight years will be in the auction and we had to make a new area for desk work because even though we won't technically be in business, work will still be done with reports and stuff until tax time next year, collecting the last of the accounts receivable and paying the last of the bills, changing the names of accounts, closing accounts, so much to do.  You do not realize all you have to do to shut down a 44 year old business.  

This brings to the changes, for me.  You see I'm yet again moving my art studio.  

It has always been the plan that I would move into our office with my studio.  
I've had a studio in my home for several years...

then Linda and I moved into a shared studio with artist Gil Adams, calling ourselves, Studio 3.
When the landlord rented our space out from under us we had to shift very quickly to another location where Gil left our happy threesome (maybe not so happy for him.)  It was his idea for us to be in the studio space with him, but he's a guy, a guy that had a hideout from his wife, where he could go and eat ice cream late at night and watch TV without his wife knowing.  We cramped his style, he was okay with the split and going his own way.  

So Linda and I moved into a larger space, calling it Lemon Tree Fine Art.  We've been studio partners now for over 6 years, happily.  In that 6 years I have amassed a ton more art supplies, created a lot of paintings that frankly were bad and either will have to be painted over or hopefully sold (the better ones.)
So I am moving yet again, packing up tons and tons of art stuff, making trip after trip to the new space.

The new space, our old office that we are cleaning out now.  The downstairs of the stone building as of next week will be the previous location of Alrac Electric and the new digs of Carla Hefley Fine Art! 

Back to Snicklefritz.  This is all so much change for a little girl and she's so feeling it, I'M feeling it.  It's like a tornado everyday to get it all done and frankly I'm quite exhausted, physically and emotionally over all of it.  I've had to change my business area and will be creating my new art, creative area all very quickly.  It is a lot.  Plus with Max and watching Min.  I honestly can't wait for summer to get here to take a breather, rest a bit.  I want to paint but frankly, I'm not sure where my paints are at this moment.  They're in piles and piles of art supplies.  To top off all of this, The Hubby will be in my art space a lot because it is our building and his "man cave" building is across the parking lot.  Hmmmm, not sure how this is all going to work out creatively with him in my business a lot and trying to dictate how I use this new space.  Saga to continue...

Monday, March 20, 2023

Loss and Hope

This week we say goodbye to yet another dear friend.  This guy, Tom, was a cabinite until he and his love decided it was time to move back to town.  They lived full time at their cabin, built new by them, for a few years.  We've known them at least 20 years, our weekend buddies.  They moved back to town just in time for him to do battle with cancer, which did not this time, unfortunately.  Oh my we missed him so much when they moved back to town but now, will miss him forever.  Tom was the guy who was quick to call The Hubby when we hit the cabin area to come over and smoke a cigar with The Hubby.  He would come over and we would talk books and life in general.  I will never fix potato salad again without him in mind.  He requested it time and time again.  

One of the greats he was, and ACCOMPLISHED.  His obituary in the paper yesterday was awe inspiring.  I had no idea he was a pilot at one time.  I did know he was a great lawyer, was once JAG for the military.  Quite a wonderful gentleman.  Tomorrow we go to say a final goodbye to a great friend.  Lots of prayers for his wife Peggy as she has been through the wringer of emotions and loss lately.  A month ago she lost a grandson and now her dear husband.  

On to some good news.  This big guy is close to coming home this time.  He's nearly 14 pounds now and next Tuesday will have another procedure on his GJ tube and the plan is he will be home later that week!!!
There is the distinct hope he will be here for Easter and we could not be happier.  Our dear Maximilian, our warrior.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Whitetail and a Lullaby

I finally, FINALLY finished this sweet one yesterday.  I've been working on it piece-meal, one stroke at a time lately because, as you know, my time has been limited.  Plus I've begun the process of moving out of my studio.  So I go in and paint an hour or so then I load my car and deliver to the shop.  Then I go back and load again and take that afternoon or the next morning.  It will be a long slow process until it gets to stuff I cannot lift or move myself.  Then the son-in-law and hubby will step in. 

This painting, the reference photo, I took last fall on a golf cart ride with The Hubby at the creek.  There were about seven deer getting a drink.  It was such a wonderful sight and I knew someday it would be a great painting, someday.  I posted it on Facebook and within a few hours it has racked tons of likes and one PURCHASE!  Yes, I sold it off of FB to an already familiar collector.  Carol has purchased at least eight of my paintings and this will add to her collection.  At first she said the price was too steep but about an hour later she said she wanted it.  Thrilling.

18x24 oil on linen

Also have to share a sweet, SWEET video of little Min singing a lullaby to Mighty Max.  This lullaby is one I sang to my girls and the grandgirls many many times.  I don't even know all the words exactly and definitely don't sing it right, but I love the tune.  It came from a Bing Crosby movie many years ago.  OMG, hearing Min sing it and ON TUNE is absolutely amazing.  Sweet little girl.  She can't wait for her little brother to come home.


Thursday, March 09, 2023

Max - Day 67


Max update,

day 67:
Y’all, prayers are powerful. Max had a great day. He only had a vagal/bradycardia episode once, right before I left only because I accidentally gagged him with his pacifier
(he has such a sensitive gag reflex), but there was no vomiting, thankfully. I was able to catch rounds this morning and we discussed a few different things we could do in the next few days to help him recover from all the emesis/vagal-ing/bradycardia episodes. We opened his gtube to gravity in a diaper (basically, letting the g-tube drain any bile or mucus to a diaper attached to the end of it) and immediately when we opened it he relaxed and his face softened, and after that he was the happiest little guy and had three long, peaceful naps, which was SO needed. And we’re keeping everything in his room really quiet, keeping him swaddled and “organized” as the occupational therapist puts it. Low stimulation for now….keeping him calm in an effort for him to recover.
I’ll be meeting with the pediatric surgery team and GI soon to discuss the nissen/fundo plication procedure and schedule it, just to make sure we have it in the books in case we do do it. We want to avoid it though because we just don’t want to have to put him through yet another major surgery. So we wait and we’ll see how he does in the following days.
But we’ll take today and put it in the bank. Those smiles and coo’s just fed my aching mama heart to the brim. To see him feeling so much better was just the best.
Thank you for your prayers! Keep them coming, please. #mightymax
#maximilianrobertmancini #stmaximiliankolbe #hlhs #hypoplasticleftheartsyndrome #halfahearttwicethefight

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Kiddos Update

Lot's happening around here, some not good, some wonderful, some in a holding pattern.  This kiddo has finally snagged a job, a job she wants!  That is one worry off my mind for her.  With us closing our business that meant she lost her part time job with us, along with her hubby's job with us.  But it finally happened and she is on top of the world.  I/we will still need her to finish out the closing, she is invaluable!  

This weekend Snicklefritz and I FINALLY got some time together, just us two.  We even got to the studio to paint, which she has been wanting to do for a really long time.  It was a short spend the night but it was a spend the night and we had a great time.  Tonight she is going to see Hamilton.  We saw it a couple of years ago and for some reason is back in Tulsa.  We didn't want to see it again and I know it is her ABSOLUTE FAVORITE, so we gave them our tickets.  I'm so very excited for her.
I've also started packing up my studio and actually moved some today.  I have a lot more to go but it has started.  Kind of sad and I will so miss Linda and our visits.

On a good note, last week Min made it to her day school every day without incident!  Today she even made it to her catechesis class and then I picked her up and was onward to her regular school.  She didn't even wave goodbye, just made her way to the jungle gym.  So glad she has passed those dark times.
She also got to go see her Momma in OKC.  It has been so tough on EVERYONE to be split up like they are, we are.  But Max is a priority for her momma right now and she is being taken care of to the utmost.  

Max update, 🏩 day 66:
**Specific prayer request: please pray that Max’s severe reflux resolves. We ask that it resolves without the need for any more variations of feeding tubes or surgery. Thank you.**
Heart-wise, he’s doing well, considering. But this reflux is just awful.
They’ve tried all sorts of variations of meds, and today they put in a transpyloric tube (a TPT), which goes through his nose, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. Since he had that placed this morning, he’s still had emesis twice, vomiting bile, with two episodes of bradycardia (low HR).
I don’t understand it. We don’t know why he started having trouble after the g-tube was placed. It’s so upsetting to witness him have these episodes. I fight back tears every time.
If this continues, they may consider a surgical procedure for a Nissen wherein they tie the upper part of the stomach with the lower esophagus. Or we wait till he’s 7 kilos (he’s 5.3kg) to place a G-J tube. It could be another two months before he’s 7 kilos.
They said that feeding is the most frustrating part of this. Babies often have reflux, but having reflux with a critical heart defect is a much bigger issue. It’s not uncommon for heart babies either.
His second surgery, the Glenn, usually happens around 4-6 months. It’s completely within the realm of possibility that we may never get him home between now and then.
I have avoided going home for various reasons. Yes, I have been in OKC since January 2nd, and have not been home once. I’m a nervous driver even when not stressed. I’m terrified of having a panic attack on the road, or God forbid, I get to Tulsa and have to turn right back around for an emergency. I worry that the second I’ll leave, something will happen. And I worry about no one being here to advocate for him. I’m the only one who sees him every day and can literally sense when he’s going to brady/vomit before even the monitors pick it up.
I need to go home and be with Minerva. I need to do this drive and wrap my head around going back and forth.
Thank you for your prayers. We need them.


Friday, March 03, 2023

Retirement and Sunshine

Today we said goodbye to one of our oldest employees.  Mark has been with us for over 30 years and I can tell you we are all taking this hard.  We were fortunate to find him another job with another former employee who has been in business 13 years now.  So we feel good to keep Mark employed somewhere.  He's just not quite at retirement age yet.  So far we have three employees left and two are going out on their own and not sure about the third just yet.  The Hubby is really feeling this kind of loss and now questions what he's going to do in retirement and is wondering if he can stay busy.  Oh I reassured him staying busy is his middle name and he won't have a problem doing that.  He has a lot to occupy his time when we do close the doors with our rental properties, getting them ready to lease and we are losing one of our long time renters right at April 1, so that space will need to be leased too.  He has never been one to sit and do nothing, it's just not in his DNA.  Still this is a harder thing to do, to stop working, close the doors, tell customers we will no longer be able to help them.  He's finding that the hardest and today another hard, thing, say goodbye to an employee and friend.  

When NOT taking care of a three year old I've been trying to do some office stuff like prepare a goodbye letter for some of our customers.  I tell you I've printed that stupid letter threes times, having to shred his corrections or additions or deletions to the letter.  Tonight I finally got it done, folded and stuffed envelopes and stamped, ready for the mail.  While preparing dinner and after dinner, while he cleaned the kitchen, it is DONE!

I can't tell you how much better this week has been with Min.  Week before last we never left the house because she was naked baby most of the time.  She was deep in the potty training regression and I just wasn't going to make an issue of it and cause further damage to her thinking.  She's an extremely bright little girl and works things out before I can usually.  Then last week, things were a bit smoother and I was even able to take her with me to the office to do a bit of work.  Reminded me a lot of taking my girls to work and then watching Snicklefritz nearly every day at the office.  I'm just not as young as I used to be and it sure is evident.  This week was even better and we were able to get her to school for the entire three days of school.  Diapers are not allowed in her little class so because she was either naked or diapered we had to stay put that week.  I was able to get her out of their house each day and even though I had to go in and assist in the dressing a couple of times, we got out smoothly, without a screaming match or having "Mean Granny" make an appearance...LOL!  This week also brought a beautiful day, nice enough to allow us to go outside and let Min run and play in the sunshine.  She had such a great time.  It was her first time on a tricycle.  I remember when Snicklefritz learned to ride it and we would spend hours out there while she rode.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Maximilian Update

Well, we don't have good news for little Maximilian today.  He has been doing so well but hit another speed bump in his journey for home:

"We’re not going home tomorrow. Not going home Monday. Not going home anytime soon. He’s not tolerating his feeds, his episodes of emesis cause bradycardia and that’s just not okay….and there’s lots of discussion happening on what the plan is and that’s all the information I have. He’s still doing well, considering.

Please pray though. Just when I think we’re in the clear, we hit another road block.
I’ll be honest and share that I’m struggling especially hard today. It feels like a nightmare that I can’t wake from. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my job, and I miss my cats. And I worry about Minerva. And I just can’t bare the thought of my baby struggling any more than he already has. "