Memory Pull

Memorypull

It had been over a year since we’d visited the Alameda Hot Springs Retreat in Montana, but that didn’t stop our dog Barley from digging in like a tractor and pulling me to the room we stayed in previously right after I hooked him up to the leash. I continue to respect our animals abilities for memory and emotion as I move forward in this life and spend more time with them.

Native Dawn

Nativedawn

Wonderful to get up for a walk at 6:30 a.m. and catch a scene like the one above as your dog sniffs the ground at your feet. There is nothing like a good dose of fresh air and silence when you’ve been over rushing in life.

Thanks for the Tweets

mackenziepizza

100 years ago America would have been entering World War 1 after what historians termed the “Quiet Time” as most of Theodore Roosevelt’s and Taft’s terms were without the chaos and conflict we’ve come to expect on our nightly news these days. While that century started out quietly as it climbed toward war, I’m still at a loss for what exactly this century is. We began with 9/11 and have only increased our fear and disillusionment as demagogues and oily politicians attempt to apply simple answers to complex questions.

One thing I do know, is there are many things in our culture we have come to accept as normal that are actually quite abnormal. My latest edition in this complex world of bullshit came over dinner two weeks ago. We needed to get out of the house for an hour, so my wife and I drove the mile or so to Mackenzie River Pizza, a place known for attracting families and a relaxed atmosphere. Nothing special about the food, but the booths are comfortable, and it’s located in a relatively quiet part of town. My wife has very specific food allergies, so we were pleased when the waiter announced a new “soy” cheese, gluton free pizza they were offering that week. To “die for” was his exact quote.

Ten minutes later, the pizza arrived and my wife sniffed at it suspiciously as she was well rehearsed on her food choices. “That’s regular cheese” she insisted, so we called the waiter back and requested a double check on the cheese before she’d even handle a slice. Turns out, a new cook started that day, and he had no idea what soy cheese was, much less where they kept it. From that moment on though, a little drama played itself out that was not only oddly excessive, but somewhat embarrassing.

The waiter wrung his hands, apologizing for five minutes before spilling out half off coupons and announcing the meal was “comped” on behalf of the owner. I could even take home the real cheese pizza in a box if I cared to have it. He suddenly disappeared as it became the manager’s turn to address us. He literally groveled on his knees at the edge of the table, “I’d like to give you two additional $10 off coupons,” he said, “good at any of our locations across the state.” A bit confused at this point, I looked him in the eye and asked, “this was a fumble for sure, but we’re not going to sue the establishment or anything, what exactly is going on?”

Turns out, most of the customers, not just ones with allergies, upon learning there is even an extra crouton on their salad have been known to have massive “rage outs” when something is prepared incorrectly. The manager had developed this routine delivering prizes and coupons as his way to placate fire breathing idiots fishing for goodies.

So I thought about a disturbing cultural trend I’ve seen developing since the beginning of this very unique century. Acting like a cutthroat asshole is rewarded by our system; no matter if you are President of the U.S. or someone who’s at a local deli. Businesses are so afraid of getting a bad Tweet on their services that they often rush to send coupons and goods with a smile. While that may be a good business model for social media in the short run (increased profits), it is killing us as a compassionate, caring culture. We are being trained like circus animals to overreact as quickly as possible to any small mistake we can hang on someone else. Kind of like that chicken that played a piano at the state fair for a food pellet. We need to start asking, “Is a $10 off coupon really worth the cost of losing our humanity and sense of community?”

 

Amerisize

blogbottles

I was in a favorite local restaurant recently when the owner pointed out a new item he started carrying that week. It was Ginger Beer, and if you’ve never tried it, the ginger gives the beverage a kick not present in the average soda; so after your introduction, it’s easy to become a ginger beer addict. I wasn’t disappointed by the new line, but found myself trying harder and harder to speed up the flow of the liquid as I drank. I knew something was different so I turned the label around and found it was bottled in Australia. Then it made sense, the small mouth on the bottle was more culturally appropriate for a country that didn’t associate meal time with massive portions, all you can eat buffets, and Double Big Gulps. Just as I’d found in Japan, much of Europe, and Thailand, consumption was more about enjoying flavors and pairings over machine gun eating. It’s good to have these little moments of awareness to understand how much of our lives, even little things, are guided by cultural perception.

Dog of Devotion

dogsits

I’m a big dog lover, so I was very impressed by the discipline displayed by this fellow sitting on the lip of his owner’s 4 x 4 last Saturday. Even after parking next to him and walking by he stayed focused. He certainly earned his best friend status for the month.

Farewell to a Family Friend

My brother wrote the following to honor a close friend of the family who recently passed. He was both my brother’s and my football coach and teacher. perryfootball

 

How Perry Impacted My Life
by R.M.K.
 
            Almost 40 years after graduation I often think about Coach Stubberfield and the way he positively influenced the direction of my life. He was not only a good family friend, but a mentor to myself and many of my class in 1977. There is one memory in particular that comes to the fore when I think of him. It was during the football season of my senior year and our class was filled with tough, great athletes who were battle hardened from several gritty seasons on the Mac High grid iron. We were undefeated after five games and were ranked third in the state, just behind our number one rival Forest Grove. We were slated to face off in game six that season, knowing full well the winner would probably go the distance in the state playoffs later in the year.
     The team was in the locker room the night of the game suiting up when I noticed you could hear a pin drop. We were very subdued, completely intimidated by playing one of the top teams in the state, and overwhelmed with doubt. Nobody was making eye-contact or speaking. Perry stood up a moment to look out of the coaches window when out of nowhere, the door flew open and in a rage he stormed out wearing a beet-red face huffing like a bull. He spit as he spoke, and he didn’t hold back as he discharged his words with a force few of us would ever forget. “Are you kidding me!” he roared, “What the hell is going on here!? You’re as good as anyone in the state, and you’re AFRAID!?”
     Nobody moved, frozen in time watching as our coach came unglued at us for standing on our heels before the game even began. “This is the MOST important game in your life and you’re going to waste it defeated before you ever take the field!?” We looked at each other, completely stunned. “I think this is the best damn team in the STATE and you will NOT sit this one out! You’re going to strap those helmets on and do yourself proud. Pull yourselves together because you WILL get out there and knock somebody on their damn ASS! GOT IT!? We FEAR nobody!”
     This short speech seemed to go on for ten minutes as the team came to life. By the time he finished we were slamming our lockers, pounding fists on each other’s shoulder pads and screaming like frenzied banshees. Someone yelled, “LET’S GO! LET’S GET OUT THERE AND BEAT THESE GUYS!”
     We couldn’t dress fast enough. When we took the field about two minutes later and we must have looked like troops attacking a beach. We were cocky and confident.
     We fought like hell against a very powerful Forest Grove team that night. They went on to barely wrestle a 6-2 win over the grizzlies, but left with a new respect for our school and our athletics program. After the game Perry looked all of us in the eye and said how proud he was of us and how a defeat is never truly a defeat when you leave everything you’ve got on the field.
     There are times in my life when I have to speak before a crowd, or deal with a tough client as part of my work when my thoughts go back to that game with Perry. I think of how I need never give into my fear when something really counts; how we all have so much more inside to give than we think we do. I thank Perry for that lesson. He will be truly missed. 

Winter Harvest

Rockies16.jpg

As I pass massive berms of snow pushed along the edges of streets and parking lots on my morning walk, a local travel agency Posts 81 degrees in Maui and 88 degrees in Cancun. While I have been to both places, and truly enjoyed the change in environment, I have to say that I feel winter gets a bad rap. Watching young kids place letters to Santa in a special mail box outside the toy store downtown, Alpenglow on the Rocky Mountains at sunset, and cross-country skiing at Izaac Walton Inn all make for a special season in the Northwest. Winter can be hard, it’s true, slipping on ice and extra caution behind the wheel are not things I enjoy, but it is also a time of hot cider, ugly knit Christmas sweaters and warm cozy fires. When I lived in Phoenix I missed all that, and painting snowmen on your store window will never be a substitute for the winter experience.

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