Sunday, February 25, 2007

Days of Rest

We arrived at the Newport venue to find a completely unworkable situation. I realized that the challenge of doing what they had me set up to do was not going to be offset in any way by increased sales. And the weather was predicted to be awful—rain, hail, wind and snow all in the forecast. So…we left. Didn’t have to pack up, because we had never unpacked.

Did I blow off a potential $3000 event in a fit of pique? Or did I make a wise decision to back away from an untenable situation that would have left me more exhausted, frustrated and stressed out (by a power of ten) than I could possibly afford? Hard to say… But at the boat basin, where we parked the trailer for the night, we sighted not one, but two bald eagles. Those birds that I have come to recognize as my spirit guides for the second half-century of my life. I felt they signified a blessing of my decision. At least, that’s what I chose to believe.

So the universe smiled upon me this weekend. Instead of a three-day working vacation, I got a three-day resting vacation. We skipped over to Eugene on Friday morning, and I got to spend some time with my sisters, and indulged in some retail therapy. I drank margaritas, slept late, and sat on my butt. It felt so much like a guilty pleasure, and I just rolled in it…

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ten Good Things Not Quite Weekly

Hard to believe it’s already been more than a week since my last "ten good things." I’m determined to keep this up…mostly because I’m afraid that if I don’t, I’ll just throw my hands up and go down for the third time. I need to focus on the good things, even though my natural tendency is to obsess about the bad. So, for at least the next however-long-it-takes-to-write-this, I’m going to dwell in the Land of Good Vibrations…

I’m back. The Land of Good Vibrations is apparently a truly effective narcotic. This is the third time I’ve revisited this post, and I’m determined to finish it this time. Last night, I made the attempt propped up on pillows in my bed at the end of a particularly frustrating thirteen-hour day. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far. So now, it’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m sitting in a chair. But I guess that doesn’t mean anything when you’re as many sleep-hours in arrears as I am. At any rate, I’m going to try to get all the way through it this time…

  1. As the weather has become more bearable, and there is actually light in the sky when I am home on some days, I’ve been able to make a few trips out into the yard to see what’s shaking among the flora and fauna for which I have absolutely no time anymore. I was completely bummed when my japanese irises didn’t come up this year. For the past four years, they’ve been the first to wave their brave little petals above the heavy frost of Oregon January. But my neglect of the garden since last summer must have done them in… It felt like spring wasn’t going to happen at all, since I didn’t even see any spikes of crocus out in the fountain garden. Then I followed Ms Dog outside on Sunday, and there woven up through the course mat of creeping thyme were the sleepy little purple heads of my crocuses. I think our icebox weather this winter just set them back a couple of weeks…
  2. On Saturday, the husband finally pulled down the outdoor Christmas lights. Mind you, we don’t just have inconspicuous little rows of colored lights on the eaves which obligingly disappear into the background when they are unplugged. We have swags, and bows, and snowflakes, and even a Christmas tree and rope-light packages that have been squatting on the front deck since just after Thanksgiving. So, just because we had unplugged them didn’t mean the house lookedany less laughably out-of-season in the daylight. Only eight more months before we have to worry about putting them up again…
  3. Though February 14th of this year didn’t have me rolling in romance, it did turn out to be a relatively decent business day at the café. We did quite a nice little dinner, and I think people were impressed and will, hopefully, be back.
  4. We finally got around to doing some "competition shopping" this past weekend. I honestly was afraid I would be totally disheartened by the glorious offerings of other local restaurateurs. As it turned out, I realize that Old Town Café does not fair too badly in comparison to the competition. In fact, I think we can hold our own against any one of them. That is indeed a load off my mind…
  5. We had our first employee meeting since divesting ourselves of much of the dead weight at the café. I spent an entire day writing a five-page outline of what I wanted to say. And I talked almost non-stop for an hour and a half. That doesn’t seem like a good thing…but I have noticed all of my better employees really making an effort to act on the things brought up at the meeting, and that IS a good thing.
  6. This weekend my sister and I will be traveling to Newport to do our first Café de la Rue event of the season. Gonna break out the pocket sandwiches and the napoleons and all that stuff. I NEED the time away from the restaurant (I will be gone for four days….!) and we need the cash flow. And so far, all the prep has gone smoothly enough, considering we really do not have enough hours in the day to run one business, much less two…
  7. Every year about this time, I finally put away all my Christmas cd’s (I have a hard time going "cold turkey" after Christmas. It’s usually at least the end of January by the time I unload the last ones out of my cd players and reload them with non-seasonal music.) But once I start listening to my "other" music, I realize all over again how much I like…the music I like.
  8. Silly me, I bought a plant! Husband dragged me over to the coast to visit the winter version of the Tillamook farmers’ market and of course there was someone selling nursery stock. And of course I can’t pass up a new and different kind of scented geranium. So I have already started the cycle of plants-in-pots sitting on my front deck waiting to be planted. As if I’m going to have the time or the energy to address that activity this summer. Oh, well…old habits die hard…
  9. Though I still miss Spritie terribly, I have been able to put my sadness aside and enjoy the antics of the other animals. For a little while there, I couldn’t look at any of them without my eyes welling up with tears. But as the days go by, I’m beginning to be able to enjoy their individual personalities again. And I really think they are doing their best to cheer me up…
  10. and….


(That last one may be cheating, but it really IS a good thing. I continue to amaze myself with my capacity to deal with CRAP!!!!!)

There it is! And now I’m sure there’s something else in dire need of my attention….

Friday, February 16, 2007

This Ought To Be Entertaining...

There are not many things that could make me wish I lived in Minnesota:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Some Tardy Romantic Musings...or Not

Funny. I was not feeling particularly romantic this Valentine’s Day. I bought my husband a coffee maker. On line. From the comfort of my recliner. On the morning of the day. Really put myself out this year…yep.

And it seems there were others out there similarly uninspired. Some are experiencing relationship challenges. Some declare they’ve never been fans of a day that has become simply another retail opportunity . Personally, I’m just too tired and focused on ninety-six other things to dwell on the warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies being more or less what the card companies say the day is all about.

Cynthia had an interesting Valentine’s Day post. She did a sort of retrospective of her love life, starting in kindergarten… Yikes! Oh, sure…I had crushes on boys when was a little girl. There was even one in kindergarten. But, good lord, not one of those children ever knew I existed, much less invited me to a birthday party or presented me with a verboten ID bracelet. Was I the personification of a wallflower? Well, no…not really. To be a wallflower assumes that you at least went to the dance. I didn’t. Never. Not one.

I was a tiny precocious kid; I grew into a skinny, awkward adolescent who was decidedly deficient in the attributes that attract adolescent boys…the Big Two. So I didn’t get too many second glances from the randy young males of the species.

But that wasn’t the entire problem. There were plenty of girls out there—fat, flat, acne-infested, brainy—who dated, went to dances, had boyfriends, while I…didn’t. Of course, I didn’t "put out." I didn’t even have a decent grasp of what that meant until the lady I babysat for invited me to take advantage of her "library" of sex books (The Sensuous Woman, The Joy of Sex…) But I don’t believe I would have put out if I had known what it meant. My hormones raged as much as anyone else’s, but I had some sense of the gravity of the possible consequences of having sex. And I sure as hell, even back then, was not one who could be cajoled into something I did not want to do. Guys, especially young horny ones, pick up those vibes rather quickly.

And I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, and I didn’t do drugs. By the early seventies, those activities were part and parcelof Middle American teen-age social life. So that pretty much took me out of the action when it came to socializing with boys. Even my girlfriends didn’t like me all that much, most of the time.

Then I left high school. Got out into the big, bad world. Met boys who had not occupied the desks adjacent to mine. Apparently, I was much more attractive as an "unknown commodity" than I was to the boys I had grown up with. So I kind of jumped in with both feet and a "what the hell!" attitude. Luckily for me, I met my husband after only about two years of that crap. If he had appeared on the scene any later, I would not have been interested. As it was, I had just "sworn off" men when he came along. Too much trouble, too much heartache, not nearly a satisfactory cost/benefit ratio…

What’s my point here? It was something that Cynthia wrote in her entry, about taking time to recover the feeling she enjoyed for a short time in college, a time free of any serious entanglements, when she was "essentially alone." A time of strength, of independence and self-nurturing that she would like to recapture. And it just struck me how exactly opposite that was from my own life.

Outside of those few deranged years of doing the "dating grind," I have always been "essentially alone." My personal strength and independence have always been my most cherished possessions, as far back as I can remember, really. I could never relate to girls/women who had to have a man (note to Cynthia—I do not see you as one of these…); the ones who would do anything, date anyone, as long as they weren’t alone. I guess I always wondered, "What are they afraid of?"

So, am I standing here smugly polishing my well-tended independence, looking down my nose at my sisters whose lives revolve around relationships with men? Not hardly. There is good and bad in everything, as we all know. For me, the challenge has not been learning to live without a man, but learning to live with one—for thirty years. It’s been along road, and rarely an easy one, for my harried spouse to walk with me. Beside me most times, behind me sometimes (following? pushing?); now and again conspicuously absent, but soon spotted on a different but parallel road. It has been work to keep him in my life, and myself in his.  And yet, I'm absolutely positive that neither of us would have the slightest idea what to do without the other, at this point. 

In the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And I hope the husband feels the same; or at least feels I have been worth the trouble... 

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ten Good Things Weekly Revisited

As is my way, I’ve spent an hour so this evening going through the Coming to Terms archives. And I stumbled across the little "series" I was running before my world turned upside down with the purchase of the café. You all remember the "Ten Good Things Weekly" lists…?

A couple of things struck me about these lists. First of all…they were just nice to read. Yeah…maybe I had to do a little reaching for some of the good things, but all in all, they were uppers.

Secondly, people responded to them. I think everyone wants to be reminded that good things do still happen. And everyone might also need to be reminded that good things happen to them. There were several people who "borrowed" the idea for their own blogs. And they were welcome to it.

So, I got to thinking… Maybe I should re-instate the "Good Things" entries. As much for my own sanity as for the benefit of my readers. Because if I’m tired of writing about the sucky things, it’s for damn sure you’re tired of reading about them.

It’s almost midnight on Friday night, and I have to be at work at 8:00 Saturday morning. But, by god, I’m going to sit here and write until I come up with Ten Good Things from the past week.

  1. The crappy, icy, frosty weather broke, and we had some nice days. Nice enough for folks to sit out on the front sidewalk of the café eating ice cream. (You have to realize, though, that Oregonians break out the shorts and flip-flops whenever the sun comes out, actual air temperature notwithstanding. It got up to maybe 50 degrees—ice cream weather for any card-carrying Oregonian…)
  2. Lovely weather precipitated lovely walk with dog out on the dike on Sunday. During which we had our first "Sam" sighting of 2007. ("Sam" is our resident eagle who calls our little stretch of Multnomah Channel "home.")
  3. I ordered and received, within the space of less than a week, a new desk/hutch unit for my bedroom. The better to contain some of the nightmarish paper clutter that has taken over my life since we bought the café (which seems to manifest itself most outlandishly in the bedroom—the room in which I now spend at least 80% of the time I am at home.) It’s a neat unit, and I am pleased with it. All I have to do now is transfer the paper anarchy from the floor of the bedroom to some organized spaces in this desk-thingy…
  4. Wi-fi was successfully re-installed at the café this afternoon. At least, I think it was. My recalcitrant beast of a laptop refuses to properly recognize the connection, but customers don’t seem to be similarly inhibited. So, that’s a good thing…isn’t it?
  5. Ascertained that the sucky business at the café this week was traceable to the opening of a new (much anticipated) restaurant about 8 miles up the road. This happens every time a new eating establishment opens anywhere in the county. New place enjoys rip-roaring business while everybody and their pup goes out to see what it’s all about. And the rest of us feel the squeeze… Then, in a couple of weeks, things settle back into their  normal routine and the faithful come trooping back to their old haunts. Of which we (I hope) are one. At any rate, it was a relief to figure out that this was the reason for our recent lax sales. I had been trying to figure out if we had poisoned someone or something…:P
  6. Crappy business at the café also afforded the opportunity to get a lot of extra cleaning done. The place is finally starting to look like something I can be proud to call mine…
  7. I found my kitchen countertop! (at home…) It had been covered by five or six months’ worth of mail and "Papers That Need Attention." Now, it’s just…clean. I could actually cook in my kitchen., if I had the time or the inclination. Which I don’t. I have an entire restaurant in which to cook. And I make it a policy not to bring my work home with me…J
  8. Found a couple of dynamite sandwich recipes on the internet that I’m dying to try as specials at the café. And then there is the lemon sour cream cake…
  9. Got caught up on ALL the bills today. Both the business and the personal. Of course, our bank balances are going to be a bit anemic in the next few weeks. But, hey…there will be a few nickels left rattling around in the bottom f the change jar…
  10. MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER WEEK! A real ball-buster. (If I had balls. Or even estrogen…)

And you thought I couldn’t do it.

Funny story—I just woke up. Apparently, I felt the need to catch a few z’s between things eight and nineof my "Ten Good Things."

Hope my readers aren’t similarly effected…

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

And So It Goes...

The death in the family has left me a little fragile around the edges. Yesterday afternoon, I got the card in the mail. The one that the veterinary office sends after they euthanize your pet. The condolence card.

"If we measure lives not in time but in grace,

in the joy with which they lived, and in the love

they leave behind, then we have much

to learn from our pets."

That was more than enough to start the tears flowing again…

I tried to start out the day today with a positive outlook. I didn’t have to be at the café until noon. Powered by three cups of coffee, undiluted by anything resembling solid food, I was able to crash through some housecleaning and organizing that has needed to be done since about…last September. I was feeling very accomplished…quite proud of myself, in fact. It appeared that things might just be looking up.

Until about 3:00 pm. At which time the caffeine buzz wore off. I realized that business was going to suck for the third day in a row. And I found out that my latest hire—with whom I have been extremely pleased—has accepted another job and will be all but unavailable to me after this week. Shit.

Last weekend, I looked at the business bank balance and realized that we had lost something like $6000 in the last two months.

And I can’t seem to beg, borrow or steal decent employees.

And my cat died.

This evening, I stood out on the sidewalk—in the dark, in the rain—looked up at the sky and said, "Could you just give me a break??

I don’t know who I was talking to…

Sunday, February 4, 2007

We Interrupt This Program...

I’m sorry. My series on death—and life—has been interrupted by life—and death… I’ll get back to it as time and mind permit. Right now, it’s my day off, and I am in the process of sitting on my butt, single-handedly consuming a bottle of cheap champagne, and attempting to digest the events of the last seven days. The better to pack up and go on to next week… Come along with me on my Voyage of Assimilation.

I have such sweet online friends. Robin sent me an email expressing sympathy and "checking in" on me. Thank you, my friend… (I hope I have your leave to share the text of your message.)

"I know your house feels sad and quiet," she wrote. But the problem is, it shouldn’t. And it doesn’t…not really. After all, we still have six cats and a dog. The band is still playing. And it’s a lovely song. It’s just…different. Some important instruments—the trumpets? the violins?—are missing. We simply need time…to adjust to the beauty of our life’s new music.

On the weirdness of life—My husband took our sweet kitty to the local vet on Thursday morning. Though I voiced philosophical doubts about not letting nature take its course, and not honoring "The Universe" by letting him die naturally, the husband was not in favor of allowing our dear old companion to die by inches. In the end, it was not too difficult to talk me out of the empiricals. I said goodbye (twice) Thursday morning; then Dad took our boy to the vet and held him while he drifted into his final sleep.

The weird part? Back in December, I had ordered tickets to a Bill Engvall comedy performance and presented them to the husband as his Christmas gift. Performance date? February 1, 2007. Ugh! So, let me get this straight. I’m supposed to kill my cat, and then go out for an evening of laughter and merriment. I don’t think so…

We SO wanted to give those tickets away. We tried calling one of the girls who works for me. Cel phone. Voice mail. My favorite technology nullifies yet another opportunity for human interaction…this time, a gesture of (desperate) generosity.

Ooookaaaayyy… Let’s drag ourselves downtown, get some dinner, then go to the box office and give back the tickets. At dinner, who should show up and be seated right next to us but another of our employees? The one who had no idea who Bill Engvall was, and was not the least bit appreciative of the offer of the tickets. No help there.

Right. We’ll GO to the show. After all, we own the tickets. If we should become overwhelmed by sadness or the inappropriateness of our having a good time on such a tragic day, we can always get up and leave…

So we went. We laughed. It was hilarious. I don’t know why we didn’t just…short out. Crying all day, laughing fit to pee all evening. Sometimes life is just too bizarre

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Words

Thirty years of childless marriage have by no means meant that our nest, or our hearts, have been empty. From Tiger—born in my family home when I was 13 and sent to live with me when I married at 21; to The Boys—Alvin and Theo, motherless mites toted home from the vet’s office 2 years ago, we’ve shared our lives with sixteen cats. Crazy cat people? Maybe.

But we’ve come to learn a thing or two about cats. Just as there are girly girls and manly men, there are catly CATS. Enigmatic. Aloof. Deigning to occupy common space with you, acknowledging your existence when it suits their fancy. They allow you to believe that they like you very much, which they communicate through the occasional purr, snuggle, or head butt. But they are CATS, above all, and any appearance of dependence upon anyone, particularly a non-CAT, would be most unseemly.

And then there are the ones who barge into your home and heart, spread out and take over. They can buddy up to the CATS, but they leave no doubt in your mind that what they really are is small, furry, four-legged people. They lavish you with an embarrassment of love and affection, and expect the same in return. They look you in they eye when they talk to you, as if for all the world they speak the king’s English. They miss you when you’re away, and greet you with a commentary when you return. "Where have you been? I missed you. All I had to keep me company all day were these CATS."

Those are the ones… The ones that remind you what an extraordinary blessing is the love of those very special companions (you could never think of them as merely pets…) Even the heartbreak when they leave you, always years before you are ready to let them go—what a tragedy that a cat’s lifespan is less than one-third of your own—can’t dim the remarkableness of that unconditional love, can’t deter you from opening your door, and your heart, to another, and another, and yet another.

He was such a one. Sprite. Our "Hairy Butt." All he ever wanted to do was be with us. And after sixteen years, we have no idea how to be without him. Our hearts are broken.