Amerisize

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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

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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

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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.

Snow Parade

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One of the great things about living in a rural community bordering the Great White North is some of the charming ways people carry on their traditions. We got blasted with a pretty good snow the morning of our local Christmas Parade, so this young lady adapted by having her small pony complete with lights pull her on her sled. I’d take real scenes like this over the well rehearsed parades in big cities any day.

Coupon Surprise

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I was at our small town Christmas Parade this past Friday when one of the young men in costume came by handing out what appeared to be $50 dollar bills (pictured). I’d been exposed to just about every clown back flipping form of giving away a coupon you could think of in college so I waved the guy off as I was taking photos. This didn’t stop the people around me from seeing the mock $50 dollar bill and flocking to grab one from the apparent bag of $50’s this guy was carrying around. So it begs the question, is it dishonest to disguise your business coupon as a $50 dollar bill, or is it a lesson in greed for all those who rush forward to take advantage of the mentally ill clown?

Pet Peeve Number 3

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Co-workers who bring crummy snacks: nothing turns a stomach like arriving to work only to find some amorphous blob pushing the definition of food sitting on the counter. If you are going to take the time to treat your colleagues please invest more time and money than a $1.50 on an item from the half off shelf at your local Texaco gas station. This may result in my producing a burnt walnut string bean surprise for the Christmas party.

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