Friday, March 31, 2006

As The Tower Crumbles...

Anyone who has been reading "Comng to Terms..." since the old days (and I know there are not many of you left out there...) remembers that I was known to post a political rant or two.  I haven't been sharing my political views here, lately, as I have been writing for a political blog as well as posting my personal stuff here.  I wrote the piece that follows for "The Blue Voice."  But I think it's worthy of being shared here in j-land.  Because I would like you all to start thinking about the mid-term elections coming up in November...

I read an editorial the other day that explained how the "high ideals" that the GOP embraced with a flag-waving flourish around the time of Bush’s second inaugural have run smack into the realities of culture wars and protectionism. Yes….it sounded wonderful, back in January of 2004, to shout that the United States of America was ready and willing to carry the banner of freedom and democracy to the world. A couple of pesky roadblocks sprang up along the way. Like that the objects of our crusade failed to throw open their doors, fling off the chains of thousands of years of cherished customs, and embrace our Western ideal of the highest form of human government. And that our own leaders were so busy "spreading democracy" across the world that they forgot to nurture and support it inside our own borders. As if there is a finite supply of freedom, and for every ounce we bestow upon someone else, we lose an ounce of our own.

To the GOP, idealism seemed a handy tool to make their wealth and power-driven agenda palatable to the American people. Unfortunately, the GOP lacks recent experience with concepts such as the good of mankind and universal understanding. They had no idea where those ideals actually come from, nor how to control them. High ideals are meant to give birth to an agenda, not to be manipulated after the fact to conceal one.

Ideals have to be anchored in reality, or they get so high, they are out of reach. The GOP hadn’t a clue that there has to be some connection between lofty, abstract creeds and the guy sitting next to you at the lunch counter. Leaders like FDR, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and even Bill Clinton, understood this. That you can’t just stand behind the podium, point to the sky and proselytize. That at the end of the day, you had to climb down off the dais, sit down and share a meal with the folks you meant to lead to that higher plain. You take your direction from the people. You need to know what they care about. You need to care that where they want you to lead them will be a better place for them—economically and practically, in their everyday lives—as well as a loftier plain for mankind in general. You need to understand what they are willing to sacrifice, and what results they expect. That’s how you get them to follow. That’s how you change the world. The Republicans, in their headlong rush to stockpile as much power and money as possible while their foot was in the door, understood only that their time on top was most likely limited. They could not spare a single second to listen to the people. Certainly not the Iraqi people. Nor even the American people. At least, not the ones lower on the food chain than, say, corporate executives.

Now, that idealistic Tower of Babel constructed to hide the GOP’s selfish, materialistic, xenophobic truth, has begun to crack and fall. Leaving the stark the image of a party whose real credo is "Build wealth, protect wealth" laid bare for all the world to see. The people—the American people, the Iraqi people, the people of the world—are beginning to take stock of the sacrifices they’ve been asked to make, and the results they have been cajoled to embrace, and two and two are adding up to zero. And now, now they’re casting about for a better answer. Who can blame them? And who is going to step into the vacuum and provide the leadership we so desperately need?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm Free!

Today will be my first full day since before Halloween to experience life without the ½ inch long acrylic prostheses that vanity dictates I attach to the ends of my fingers every winter. Seriously, I love acrylic nails. But if you actually have to work for a living, manual labor type work that is the bread and butter of my business, they become at best an annoying luxury, at worst a handicap.

This year, in a fit of insanity, I actually toyed with the idea of just filing them down to a manageable length and seeing if I could nurse them through my busy season. I allowed myself to entertain the theory that beautiful, well-manicured hands would enhance my image and impress prospective clients…so it would be worth the pain in the ass, and $20 every three weeks, to maintain them. An unforeseen cash-flow crisis started to erode that dream…and when one of the acrylic appendages in question popped off while I was making dinner last night, the die was cast for its nine amigos as well. I sat down in front of the television last night with a bottle of heavy-duty polish remover and a pry bar.

So today I sally forth into life with slightly sore, short and stubby unremarkable fingers. Maybe I’ll purposely drop my debit card at the grocery store just for the thrill of being able to pick it up.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Assistance, Please...

Does anyone know what kind of evil buggar I picked up with my computer that is now making every font size on the internet look like ant tracks????

The Answer...

For all of you who were dying to know, this:

Is an aerial view of this:

Like I said, bad weather, boredom, a camera...and cheap wine.  Result in a curious fascination with unusual objects.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ten Good Things--Week 2

Last week sucked. And I made a promise to do a "Ten Good Things That Happened Last Week" list every Monday. I might be sitting here a really long time trying to flesh out that list. I think this is going to turn out to be an interesting feature… One of the world’s most finely-tuned pessimists wringing ten good things out of every seven days. At least it won’t be one of those fluffy, syrupy optimistic gushes that one feels in need of a turkey baster full of insulin after reading. :-P

Well, anyway...let's give it a shot:

  1. To go into detail on this one would be TMI. Suffice it to say it happened on our first night in our romantic, candle-lit little cabin retreat. A good time was had by all.
  2. We took the dog down to the local pet shop and used their "wash your own dog" set-up. Dog became a cleaner, sweeter smelling, slightly-less-hairy traveling companion, and I didn’t have my bathroom turned into the aftermath of a tsunami. Definitely worth the twelve bucks to leave the mess for someone else.
  3. I think I may have found an espresso machine for my business that will cost me less than $3000. Keeping my fingers crossed..
  4. Speaking of my business, found out from the tax lady that it actually made money last year. We were hoping, trying even, to lose money—in the interests of netting a comfortable tax refund. But hey…looks like I can make money without even trying. Might play well when I start going from bank to bank with my hand out…
  5. Found a wonderful new restaurant in our favorite vacation hang-out (Florence—on the Oregon coast directly west of Eugene.) I’m always of two minds when I find a great new place to eat. Excited about the discovery, quickly followed by frustration that it isn’t mine.
  6. Husband seems to be back on board the entrepreneurial train. Suddenly, he is gung-ho about the prospect of us having our own business together. This has happened before, only to have him lose interest when we can’t make it happen immediately. Now, I just have to figure out how to keep him engaged while we work out the details, which could take many months.
  7. Found the last piece of the plumbing puzzle for the downstairs bathroom remodel. My new john now has a functional toilet, running water, and a drain in the new sink down which that water can flow. Ah, the wonders of modern plumbing!
  8. All cats present and healthy when we returned from our five-day vacation. We have a "cat-sitter" come in twice a day to feed them, but it’s always a little iffy when a third of the brood are old and have health issues. First thing I do is walk in the door, count noses, and make sure everyone is breathing…
  9. I bought a new purse! This is an occasion…I get very attached to purses; I can spend months looking for the perfect replacement for the current model that I carry until it literally disintegrates.
  10. I drummed up another event for the business—an indoor event at the coast in May. Stopped by and scoped out the facility last week, and it looks like it will work marvelously well for us. Plenty of cooking equipment, so I won’t have to bring my own.

I will have to get into the habit writing these things down as they happen. Since I’ve started losing five zillion functional brain cells a day due to estrogen depravation, it’s getting hard for me to remember things that happened as long as seven days ago… And, looking over the list, I see it IS pretty boring. An unfortunately accurate reflection of my life in general, I’m afraid. But it really does help my outlook to spend at least a measly hour one day a week focusing on positive energy. It is SO the opposite of my usual tendency to wallow in the negative.

My dear old friends Jackie and Mary jumped on the bandwagon during the past week with their own lists. And all of you who commented about what a good idea it was, and then didn’t do one, what are you waiting for? J

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What Happens On A Rainy Vacation...

Vacation. Rain. Boredom. And a camera.

  Okay...what is it?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Soggy Saturday

My sunny California get-away, beaten into oblivion by financial realities, has morphed into a gray, rainy Oregon coast wash-out. It was too late to cancel the husband’s time off by the time we figured out there was no money to realize the California dreamin’. The always-available alternate plan—hopping in the truck and taking the trailer to some quiet, woodsy destination in one of Oregon’s many and varied state parks—also was sabotaged by sad reality. The truck is at the "diesel fuel injection" doctor, even now probably being diagnosed with an ailment that can be cured to the tune of, oh, about $2k. If we’re lucky.

I suppose it was just as well that the camping option was denied us. Who would have wanted to spend four wet, weepy days trapped in an 8’ x 16’ shoebox with a damp dog, a cribbage board, and several bottles of cheap wine. Instead, we have dragged the damp dog and cheap wine into what could have been a wonderful little cedar shingled cottage on the lake…could have been, that is, if the sky had not spent 75% of the time opening up to dump buckets of Oregon sunshine upon us. We’ve been treated to a few snatches of sunshine and tempered breezes…just enough to make us really understand how miserable it has been the rest of the time. Sigh! Not at all what I had in mind when I first hatched the idea of this little get-away back in January…

We’ve been trying to make the best of our mostly soggy time… Had a great dinner at a new restaurant on Thursday night, and haunted some of the gift and antique shops along Highway 101 between here (Florence) and Waldport, about thirty miles up the coast. One junk shop proprietor had bought out the contents of a gift shop, which included several boxes of glass Christmas ornaments that my sister and I had a great time picking through. Such sparklies never fail to lighten y mood, and I left the store with nearly a dozen of them carefully packed in a box that also struck my fancy….

In another store, I happened upon something that cried out the name of someone out there in journal land…it made its way into my bag and will be sent out to its new owner on Monday morning…

Well, I suppose I had better rouse myself to get up, get a shower, get breakfast, and get on with the business of the next-to-last day of our soggy vacation. I’ve whined enough for one day…

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ten Good Things Weekly

In a previous post, I lamented that blogging just did not seem fun any more. Last week, I participated in the first meme I have tried for a long, long time. And it was fun. It wasn’t socially redeeming, it wasn’t great, thoughtful, meaningful Writing…it was just fun. So, I thought, how can I make this kind of fun a regular feature in my journal?

Another phenomenon I have witnessed in a few blogs is the "Friday Random Ten…" This is where ipod owners randomly list ten songs they have downloaded onto their little escapist electronic contraptions (can you tell I have no particular love for ipods?) Though I have no interest in impressing my fellow bloggers with my eclectic tastes in music, I decided I do want to do a "Ten Things" list once a week. But, what I’m going to list is ten good things that happened in the previous week. I decided to do this list on Mondays, because the nature of my business will keep me away from the blogosphere on many Fridays over the months of my season.

So, here is my first weekly, "Ten Good Things" list, published, predictably, a day late:

  1. Finally gave up on the idea of doing my own taxes, collected all the stuff, and trundled it over to the tax lady’s office.
  2. Received a last-minute email request to cater an event…luckily, that weekend is available.
  3. I spoke to the bald eagle sitting in a tree next to the path on the dike. (S)he blinked at me…
  4. I backed the trailer absolutely straight into a campsite, on only the third try. (Slightly aided by the gentleman in the campsite across the road, who obligingly removed his truck from his own driveway, giving me plenty of room to maneuver J )
  5. I finished a living room art project I’d been putting off since Christmas.
  6. The special order faucet for our bathroom finally arrived, allowing husband to complete that project (which was started before Thanksgiving.)
  7. I remembered to bring my field glasses with me on our walks with the dog.
  8. …thus getting a great close-up look at a blue heron that was sunning on the channel, standing motionless with wings at half-mast.
  9. At last, spotted the hummer responsible for the mysterious disappearance of liquid from the hummingbird feeder. The level had been dropping, but I never saw a bird, so I thought the feeder must just be leaking.
  10. Flowers! Plum trees, daffodils, hyacinths, and the first early azaleas. Despite the wintry chill.

Whew! That was harder than I thought. Evidence of the lingering affects of my winter funk, I guess. I’m thinking it will be easier next Monday…

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy Vernal Equinox

It’s finally here. After what seems to be one of the longest winters on record (which still is not convinced it is out of here…)

According to the forecast, it will start raining again tomorrow, and rain into the foreseeable future. But, today is a gloriously blue and yellow day. I am hoping this little break in the weather on such an opportune day is a hint that the newly arrived season will more closely resemble today than the rest of this coming week…

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Favorite Fours

Cynthia (A Crazy Quilt Life) tagged me, but she didnt' thinkI'd really play. It's been a long time since I've done one of these. I think I lost my thumbs this past winter...[obscure Dick Van Dyke Show reference that no one will get :-)]

Four jobs I've had in my life:

(Oh, my! How do I choose…?)

Production worker, Little Monk Home Winemaking Kits

Pizza Queen!!

Manager, Le Chatel Bakery, VRC

Production Manager, Ultimate Baking (biscotti!)

Four Movies I Can Watch Anytime:

Gone With The Wind

Little Women

While You Were Sleeping

Holiday Inn

Four Places I have lived:

North Suburban Chicago

Willamette Valley

Suburban Portland

Columbia Valley

Four favorite television shows:

Boston Legal

Judging Amy (reruns)

What Not To Wear

Designed to Sell

Four Places I have been on vacation:

The Baseball Hall of Fame

Grand Canyon

Door County, Wisconsin

Glacier National Park, Montana

Four of my favorite dishes:

Red Robin’s Mile High Mud Pie

Hot, crispy, batter-dipped French fries

Fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies

Spaghetti with garlic bread

Four Websites I visit daily:

The Blue Voice


Dogpile (Search Engine)

Weather Channel Forecast

Four Places I would rather be right now:

Toiling away in the back of the house of my own restaurant

Washburn State Park, feeding the jays from my hand

Getting off the plane for a six-month stay in Europe

Anywhere warm, dry, and sunny

Four bloggers I am tagging:

Tina of Ride Along With Me

Meredith of Another Country Heard From

Jackie of Pixels, Politics, Posies, and Pussycats

and Judi of talking to myself

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Winter, Spring, and Words

Tina wrote on Sunday about the power she gains from some combinations of words that suddenly seem to come to life for her. Her latest discovery is, "It is what it is." I so understand what she’s talking about with these five little words. I recently discovered them myself, and they have unlocked a lot of chains for me.

I found another set of timely words for myself the other day. It’s not a motto…it’s more like a sound byte. But it explains a lot of what is going on in my life right now. And it might even go a long way toward explaining the general "blahness" that seems to be afflicting just about everyone in the Land of J these days.

Only 30 percent of those polled by the Los Angeles Times believe that the country is on the right track. That is such a historically low number it's a surprise Americans even get out of bed in the morning.

The current political scene in our country is so dismal. War. Bigotry. Hatred. Political infighting. And there’s nowhere you can go to get away from it. If you turn on the television or radio, open a magazine or newspaper, it roars at you like a constant gale, blasting away and wearing you down until you are simply…numb. The world, seen through the darkened lens of our national moral turmoil, looks drab and bleak and hopeless. The fitful weather of the last gasp of winter only serves to enforce that lethargy induced by the sheer weight of the depressing issues we face on our political landscape.

Personally, I’m languishing for want of Spring. I’m desperate for soft, warm breezes, coquettish sunlight peeking out from between the clouds, and bright green knobs of new life breaking through the dark, damp, icy earth. And for the warmth of charity, the light of wisdom, and the life of understanding and new leadership to break through the murk of the cold political fog that has settled upon us. I don’t want to hear that "It is what it is." I want to know that it can be so much more…

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Journal Reality, Part Deux

In a comment on my last post, Celeste likened the journal community to an apartment building…where people come and go, with or without notice. I like that analogy; it explains a lot. Many other commenters displayed a kind of blasé attitude about the impermanence of journal relationships. I really believe they are speaking from their own hearts and experiences. And I wish that my life had unfolded in such a way that I could have that same (healthy?) attitude toward the comings and goings of other people in it.

Unfortunately, I’ve always been a loner. I live a lot of my life inside my own head.. I don’t know where that came from. I was a smart kid. Often, the teacher’s pet. But never one of the "in" crowd. Partly because I could never follow the sheep, and pick on the kids that everyone picked on. I stood up for them. I treated them kindly. Which, oddly enough, gained me a unique position in the grammar school social stratum. I was nobody’s enemy, but nobody’s friend. Too respectable to be bullied by the hip kids, too smart for the outcasts to befriend. Limbo. I got used to living in Limbo.

It’s not like I never had any friends. There were special people who were welcomed into my limbo and stayed awhile. They were generally very special people, and they usually stayed quite awhile. My best friend in grade school was my best friend until we had each passed our tenth wedding anniversary. So this concept of people coming and going in my life, like a constantly evolving ensemble cast, is not really within my frame of reference.

And an apartment complex? Hubs and I bought our first house two years after we were married. We lived in exactly three apartments, and two of those were parts of old homes. The one gigantic "apartment complex" we lived in was so close to the nearby airport that we were jolted awake every weekday morning by the sound of the rich commuters’ private jets revving up for their early morning departures. In the apartment we moved to in order to get away from that, our upstairs neighbor sniffed gasoline to get high, and our downstairs neighbor was the landlord’s son, who thought it was perfectly within his rights to blast his "tunes" at top volume, preferably anytime after 2 am. Needless to say, we never really got into the "neighbor" dynamic of apartment living. So I missed out on that little life lesson as well.

So, perhaps I am a little more sensitive than your average person would be to the transience of journal relationships. I’m used to a very few, very close, very long-term friends. When I "let someone in" to my life, I expect them to stay for years. I have a really hard time with connections that don’t go far enough below the surface to grow roots. The problem with these internet friendships, especially the ones formed in the journal community, is that they start out looking like a fast track to the kind of deep, lasting bonds I’m drawn to. People write about intimate things, serious things. There, right before your eyes, is a veritable garden of people who feel the things you’ve felt but have never been able to articulate; who know the things you know, but never thought another person in the world knew. Instant soul mates!

But, then, it turns out that they’re really….not. That they’re not looking for the same thing out of these connections that I am. Or that they’re not looking for anything at all other than a place to vent. To work it all out. Or to just…write. Getting a kick, as we all do, out of the fact that there is someone out there reading their little missives. But not really looking for it to go beyond the writer/reader relationship. And when they don’t feel the need to write anymore, they disappear. To them, I’m sure, that’s the advantage of the internet. The anonymity. That freedom to slip in or out at will.

I admit, I have made as cunning use of that anonymity as anyone. But it is a double-edged sword. If you would keep yourself from being known, then you cannot know—anybody else. We explode into each others’ lives and then we…just cut and run. It’s all very confusing; after more than two years out here in journal land, I still haven’t got to the point where I can play the game without getting hurt. And yet, I don’t seem to be able to say, "To hell with it!" and just walk away either. There’s the rub…

So, here’s another post. Undoubtedly to be followed by another, and another. Because I can’t walk away. I can’t even define what magic this place still holds for me. And yet, I am held. For another day…another month…another year. As long as my acrylic-nail-challenged, arthritic fingers can make some kind of sense or feeling spring from this keyboard and makeit to at least one other person’s eyes. And heart.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reality Finally Sets In

At least a dozen times in the past, I’ve waxed poetic about how the community aspect of journal-land took many of us by surprise. My original "About Me" from 2 ½ years ago cryptically referred to the fact that I was coming off several bad years in a row. I stumbled into the j-land community at a time when I was more than needy.

Within twelve months of putting down my roots in the virtual neighborhood, I had hooked up with more people that I considered friends than I had ever had at any one time in my life. Friends with different lifestyles. Friends from all over the country. I felt so rich.

But I didn’t know—maybe nobody knew—the dynamics of on-line friendships. By the time the second year had passed, the reality of the "community" was beginning to dawn. The transience of the relationships. The "burn-out" factor. The factions, the cliques, the tugs-of-war. Most disconcerting was the way people just…disappeared. You could think you were best buddies with someone one minute, and the next minute, they would just fall off the edge of the earth. Disappear. Go private, or shut down altogether. No explanations, no goodbyes. Journal land became a very odd place to be.

And so it is. Still. None—not one—of my original j-land friends writes with the frequency or the abandon that we used to. For the most part, they don’t even stop by any more…or, if they do, they choose not to leave any evidence thereof. I would love to say that I "get it;" that I understand that the relationships have changed and that I can function just fine with things the way they are. But the truth is, I can’t. It really hurts me. I’ve had too many very important people go out of my life completely over the last decade. People that I loved went away, and I couldn’t stop them. And I feel that I’m going through that all over again, on a smaller but more daily scale, with all my journal friends.

It used to be, you visited a journal, you made some comment—any comment at all just to show you’d stopped by. Now, unless you have "Something" to say, you don’t comment. It just isn’t done. And it’s almost become a game of, "Okay, if you won’t leave a comment for me, then I won’t leave one for you." Some convoluted game of paybacks and wounded feelings.

So now what? Much as I would like to hold this together, I feel like I have no control whatsoever over the direction my journal experience is headed. The handwriting is on the wall for me with some of the people I’ve felt closest to in j-land. I feel like I sign on and just wander around empty hallways that used to be filled with friends chatting and laughing, trading anecdotes and crying on each others’ shoulders. It’s gettin’ kinda lonely out here…


Thursday, March 9, 2006

In Like a Lion...

This season has truly been a "Winter of the Soul" for me.  And it just doesn't want to go away. 

Eleven days until the vernal equinox.

Winter is getting in its parting shots...

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Getting Through The Dry Spots

The land of journals has changed drastically for me. I am amazed at the permanent alteration that was wrought to the fabric of my journal experience by the AOL blow up. The immediate immensity of the emotional response shocked me. Still, I always thought that when the dust settled and people had time to sort out their feelings, things would go pretty much back to normal. But that didn’t happen. The place I used to go to meet friends and trade stories no longer exists. AOL decided that we needed to grow up and realize that our virtual haven was, indeed, part of the real world. And the mass "coming of age" dispersed the journal community…kind of like a high school graduation turns people who have been as close as family—or closer—into strangers in a matter of a few months. Last night, I tried to describe to my husband what journaling was like now. What came to me is, I don’t see any of the casual, fun people from all over the country who kind of just came to chat anymore. I seem to have moved into the realm of the "serious writers." (Actually, I called us "intellectual snobs…") And a lot of the fun has gone out of it.

I once got myself in hot water with some folks in the land of journals by suggesting that many people who kept journals on AOL were not really writers. (I don’t know why anyone would be upset not to be a writer. Like any other talent, it is often more of a burden than a joy. At best, it’s a roller-coaster existence. You create something satisfying, and you soar to the rooftops. You go through a dry spell, and you fall through a crack in the floor. What is it about right-brained talents that we who possess them always feel we are on the brink of losing them? Why this ever-present fear that the font of words, or notes, or colors, is not bottomless?)

As it turned out, those people who felt "dissed" because I suggested they were not writers, provide the lion’s share of the fun and diversity in the land of journals. I think many of the most vital, interesting folks in journal land were not really happy with the sedentary nature of the journal community-- being chained to their computers for large blocks of time every day. The "AOL graduation" gave them the perfect excuse to disentangle themselves from the convoluted ethereal chains of the virtual community and get on with their active lives. And I really do miss them.

Or maybe the problem is this: When I decided that the journal land reformation was going to be my ticket to "take my writing to the next level," I took myself out of what was left of the journal community, and started…I don’t know…going uptown?. I tried to hang out where I thought the real writers should be. But real writers have turned out to be…well, kind of boring. And self-absorbed. And just WAY too serious. Lest I offend those few people who still do read my journals, let me assure you that I include myself in among that serious, boring, self-absorbed group. I’m not really happy about it, but it’s exactly what I am.

Still, I’m in this for the long haul. And, like anything worth committing to, you have to realize the road will ultimately take you to more of the good stuff…you just have to stick to it through the bad stuff to get there. Maybe the level I’m at right now is boring and uninspiring, and decidedly not fun...but I think I detect a slight rise in the roadway up ahead. Going up to the next level maybe? The one that can be serious and fun?

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A Shot of The Good Stuff

Last weekend, we were in Newport (Oregon) serving food to the mostly tipsy patrons at the 29th Annual Seafood and Wine Festival. I had great plans for this, our first event of the season. Optimistically, I had projected a 25% sales increase for the weekend. Since last year was our premiere year at the festival, I just naturally assumed that the word was out and that we had nowhere to go but up. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prove me wrong…we ended up actually seeing fewer customers this year, though our new-season price increase bumped our total sales by about 8%. Needless to say, I was disappointed. During the season I sort of live and die by the numbers… So I’ve been in a little funk the last few days.

But last night, I received an email. I almost deleted it, because, as a rule, I don’t open emails from people I don’t know. Imagine my surprise when I opened this one:

I had one of your Salmon Dill puffed pastry sandwich pouches at the Seafood and Wine Festival in Newport this last weekend. It was incredible!

Do you have a restaurant in Scappose? If so, can you give me your hours and location, please?

Thank you, I will look for you next year at the festival, but I hope I can eat your wonderful pouches before then.

Thank you –
(a happy customer)

To say that this message made my day…week…month…would be an understatement. I wrote back and asked how she got my email address, since I only remembered giving out one business card to someone scoping us out for another event. Turns out she had emailed the Newport Chamber of Commerce to get the information. How sweet of her to go through all that trouble just to let me know that she enjoyed our product!

Look how someone taking a few minutes out of their busy life to say thank you, send a compliment, give a virtual pat on the back, can suddenly change the whole color of life. Words cannot express how grateful I am to this woman, and to whatever Greater Force led her to send that message at such an uncannily perfect time. It was an upper for which I did not even know I was so desperate.

Moral of the story? We’re so eager, these days, to complain, to bitch, to degrade. We deal with over-worked, underpaid people daily, and the qualityof service we get often reflects the degree of over-workedness and underpaidness with which these folks cope day in, day out. Years ago, when I was the one standing behind the counter, I knew how far a kind word or a compliment could go to brighten our bleak world. Since I promoted myself to "entrepreneur," I had forgotten…

Is it so much harder to thank or compliment good service than it is to complain? Why don’t we do it more often? And, you know, I have a feeling if we did do it more often, the quality of the service we receive would rise apace. This dismal pool of acrimony, conflict, and despair that is twenty-first century America could surely use an infusion of positive energy. I, for one, am going to try to carry this lesson with me for as long as I can keep it imprinted on my old dog/new trick brain.