Minggu, 31 Agustus 2008

Rick Warren's Big Saddle/Come Back

Last night we watched the "faith" Q & A session run by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback. We missed the first few showings of it.

This DID bring us further down the decision road. The way the two candidates spoke of their own faith, or didn't speak of it, as well as their comfort levels in this environment, gave us additional information and perhaps insight.

Watching this, I realize now, is how McCain reminds me of Richard Nixon. If you're really young, Nixon ran against John F. Kennedy although he eventually did become President after that loss. Neither McCain nor Nixon is/was any good on television. Neither seems comfortable with himself let alone someone else having control over a situation in which he is participating.

McCain means well. I paid particular attention to his response about the "Cone of Silence" question when Warren was greeting him. He didn't answer the question asked but tried to make room for a clever response. He truly did not want to lie so he just didn't tell the truth. That cone thing was probably a bad location for a POW anyway. Imagine.

His sense of humor truly was activated for this event and I was pleased to see he can deliver a funny line of his own or a good writer's creation. I had not witnessed it previously. And, he was moved in stating, and we in hearing, his biggest moral failure. Many Americans relate to him right there, right now. Let's hope it is not a vote getter. We saw his human qualities more during this event than elsewhere.

But, as in his inclusion of "drill...right here, right now", he never caught on to this arrangement being an intimate conversation opportunity. He revealed very little about himself; he responded by looking briefly at RW then turning to the camera and talking and it just didn't feel right, as a viewer, to not have him look RW in the eye when he answered the question the pastor put before him.

Watching him more recently, at the intro of Sarah Palin, he looked over her shoulder repeatedly, at her papers on the podium. What, in case he needed to help her with big words? I have not doubt he's a good man, personable, thoughtful, devoted to his senatorial position and constituents. It is sad to see him being thrown in as the RNC's sacrificial lamb, a toss confirmed by pitching us an up and coming, raw not rare, VP candidate. At times he seemed to be thinking, "Now, who is this woman and what did I tell her she could do?". Gov. Palin will be someone we will see again. This is it for Senator McCain.

It's difficult for me not to be swept up by Obama; I'm still holding on to my vote and quelling my inclination to stop reading and listening because I just want to believe in America again. But I do have to say, when he was asked about America's biggest moral failure and came back with, in his lifetime, it is us not living up to Matthew 25's verses, my heart leaped and tried to take my voter registration card with it. He is right...well, he did get it from the Bible. He gets it.

I like Obama as a person. He knows our Bible better than I know it. I like what he says. I like how he says it and his choice of words. I like that he conversed with Warren. I like his VP candidate and believe Biden is a good backup. I like his family. I like that he is composed, assured, contemplative, thoughtful, prepared. I like how he puts people at ease. I think our country is falling in love with him. I am thrilled he occasionally refers to us all as friends and never insults us by claiming us as "my friends". I despise those who try to take him down by calling him "messiah". That's wrong and rude. Criticize what he wants to do; don't give him a religious toned label thinking Christians will be offended and change their minds.

These two men received the same prep material and guidelines. One appeared to take them and "go with it". The other appeared to "go along with it".

Neither candidate will ever put into play all he is saying he'll get done, especially by himself. Obama further moved me when he state the realism - we all have to cut back, give up, re-think, change, maybe call it sacrifice; we all have to understand we have to pay a price of some sort in order to better the world.

It's exciting to have strong candidates and I hope their respective "runners up" stay behind them, lifting them up in prayer and deed. I hope we continue to see the real differentiation each needs to put before us and policy meat on the campaign skeletons, rather than mudslinging or whining or negative advertising which is waiting in the wings to bully us.

Let's not disappoint them. We need to be willing to appreciate the right to choose our leader, willing to learn about all the candidates and platforms. VOTE on November 4th.

Jumat, 29 Agustus 2008

Butt Measurement

That got your attention!
Well, if I had taken such a sensitive measurement at the beginning of August and again at the end I suspect there would be a bit of a spread. I am a confessed couch potato.
Olympics - watched 'em
DNC convention - watched it
RNC convention - plan to watch it
Even the dogs are beginning to think the television is another family member. After all, we pay a lot of attention to it!

But (no pun intended), the fact is, for the first time in ages I, like so many seasoned voters who regularly went through the motions of punching holes in IBM cards or pulling levers, sense the country is breathing excitedly about the opportunity we have. This is exhilarating. I look forward to learning who will be the VP nominee for Republicans so I can start to make my Ben Franklin list.

If you don't know what that list is, you may still have used one...it's listing all the pluses/pro's on one side of a paper and the negatives/no's on the other and see how they look side by side.

Bush wasn't ALL bad. Unfortunately we have some BIG issues he faced and/or brought on during his terms. I do like that he has convictions. I also think he's been ready to go back to the ranch for a couple of years.

The two new teams - well, I'm still not sure. It's hard to look at the energy behind one and yet not fully understand how we could do all that is being touted as the plan. Looking across the row I see too much "living in the past" and no sense of what reality is.

Throw 'em in together. Make 'em divvy up the work and budget. Oh, that's what Congress dies. HA! The fact is that the country is more complex and population is so large that one person really has her/his hands full. The president is a figurehead. The candidates need to stop saying "I will..." and start admitting "We will work towards..." "We are putting together a team now to begin working on..." "The long term plan is being implemented by a team...". A leader on either side needs to admit it takes a lot of believers, volunteers, dedicated staffers - all sorts - to get the pendulum swinging, the dinosaur up and moving, the energy flowing.

Anyway I look at it - it's great to see so much involvement, interest, and appreciation of our freedom of choice!

Sabtu, 23 Agustus 2008

No Ordinary Day In Springfield, Illinois

We're close enough we could have gone. But, damn, it's hot. And there were 35,000 people surrounding the Old State Capitol. It didn't take long to decide we'd not be in the front row this time and instead would do what we'd planned.

But we did watch the Obama/Biden visit on television, with my mom. What a country!

All the same, a walk through our day yielded a praying mantis and a yellow spider, as well as a stop at a Fly-In.

It was not an ordinary day, in any way.

No day is.

Kamis, 21 Agustus 2008

Angels Among Us

My mom is in a nursing home.
What a way to reach the end. I have said that.
We visited today. Mornings are best.
We were wheeling her from therapy to her room, for a visit, when we passed a small gathering room with 3 residents and 3 visitors in it. One person had a guitar and was singing. We chose to go there instead.
It was nothing less than a miraculous experience. The guitar player had an easy-listening folksy voice. She knew the 3 residents well. Clearly they were a long and well-established group. One of the other "outsiders" was with her and one with a resident.
We were welcomed without question.
We stayed an hour and hated to leave.
Jan, the musician, showed us not only that she has the makings of an angel in her voice, but also in her life.
One man, whose age is undetermined, had brain damage, probably from birth. He spoke well enough that she understood him. They joked a lot.
Another man, between 35-40, is now paralyzed from the chin down, doing all movements of his chair with his chin. She acknowledged his intellectual level honorably.
The third, Bubba, was also of an unknown age. He's probably younger than we'd think and we'd probably think that is unfortunate. He weighs 50 lbs. perhaps and is curled up - no speech, no communication capability that we observed. That is until we experience the jam session.
Jan told him long stories within a song she knew he'd recall, strumming her guitar all the time. Everyone else learned from her interaction with him as she reminded him of his friends, other song fests, visits in the room that is now for therapy.
We sang, "In The Garden" twice because my mom didn't remember the first time. We heard "Be Still" - I cried. We played kids' instruments to "Old MacDonald Had a Band", and so much more.
We came away realizing that God continues to amaze us. He took us into this room to be with people we pitied previously and He showed us how whole they are in His eyes by letting us see how whole they are in Jan's eyes.
There are angels among us.
Being in this home has been a blessing, whether my mom knows it or not. They are good to her. And, we believe God takes you home when your work is done. Her presence there may be nothing more than to open our eyes and hearts more. This may be her final gift. This may be how she is an angel among the other residents.
She may be leading us to really see all the others.
It was a humbling and memorable day.
Next time we go we an say "Hey Kenny", "Hi Gary" and "Howdy Bubba" with fresh eyes. People we thought were not whole truly are. People we felt sorry for really don't want us to feel that way.
There are angels. They are among us. Look for yourself. See.

Selasa, 19 Agustus 2008

Once a Baby, Now a Boomer

What a sad tale this fellow has but now APL has taken him into the shelter. Nuts as we are, Boomer may come to live his final weeks, months or years out at our house. Hopefully someone who has fewer dogs will benefit from his love but if not, he'll be bunking here with dogs in his own age group - 12-14 years.

Sometimes I question our sanity. But, it is never for long. We have the space. Yes, there is plenty of dust inside and let's not discuss dog hair. Our energy levels are not what we think they are. Dogs bark for attention and we can only hold so many on our laps at one time. I just laugh at the prospects of bringing in #7.

If pets bring laughter into our lives before we even meet them, imagine the joy and love possible when they take ownership of us!

Wherever Boomer takes up residency it is sure to be a better place than where he was. And, he will be loved to the end. For this and for him we are thankful for our choices.

AUGUST 20th update: Boomer has his new home and it is not with us. He and his lady love will spend his remaining years in great comfort together! Celebrate the companionship they are building!

Senator O returns to Springfield

It really seems as if it was yesterday when my husband was in DC having breakfast and doing a photo opp with Obama and shortly after that we were shivering, but front and center, at his presidential announcement at the Old State Capitol downtown-Springfield.
Now he's coming back to the same place and may be bringing his VP. I'm not certain we'll be able to go but it still quickens the pulse. We may choose to NOT deal with the crowd.

But, what does this say about Obama? He is sentimental - coming back to the place where he first served, to where he first launched his campaign. I like that in a leader.

I'm still not sure about policies - his or McCain's. That means I'm firmly rooted in the Independent column and don't do polls. So much is rhetoric these days. Each candidate repeats what he is handed with little time to review materials. Do they each go to sleep at night wondering what they said and if it makes sense?

Maybe there's too much talk, just too much. We're already spinning from the whirlwind travels and he said-he said blah blah blah.

Maybe that's why this action - this coming back to the base - is so vitally essential and key to me.

Since I struggle with both presidential candidates (and would have it were Hillary and anyone) I guess my vote will be for the VP! Anyone with me on this?

Quotes to consider:

Whenever I hear people talking about "liberal ideas," I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions.

Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.
both from J.W. Goethe

Senin, 18 Agustus 2008

I Remember When They Asked "Beach Volleyball is an Olympic Sport?

Yes, it seems there was a day when Beach Volleyball was not considered worthy of Olympic game status but it's not a day in the year 2008! I'm not following the men, although I should. But those women ROCK. It may be I skip my book group tonight to see them play. We're reading JANE EYRE.
She never played volleyball anywhere! No doubt the Bronte sisters led much less public lives than the vast majority of females today.

Anyway, I enjoy the games and the commentary about where our tremendous duo goes, that they each got married, etc. It's nice. And we need nice in our lives.

Flex your muscles, ladies! Guys - what can I say? These are exciting times and we should all be excited for each of the athletes and their accomplishments.

When the Games are done I'll go back to reading the Classics.

Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2008

Rock-a-bye Baby

Last night was going to be a great night for sleeping outside in the hammock. That was my own assessment. I invited Ed to come along. But I ended up with two of the dogs at my side, on their recycled bedding.
It was a great night - lots of nature noises and nothing else.
But it got cold quickly and I learned, once again, I should have listened to Ed and put the sleeping bag inside the hammock.
This morning the hammock, flashlight, and dog beds were right where we left them when we came in and got a good night's sleep.
Ah, camping out in the backyard - Isn't that what all adult women want to do?

Jumat, 15 Agustus 2008

Fun At Night - It's All In The Game

Instead of our small group (faith-based) study, we all agreed to go to the championship game of our local baseball team, The Springfield Sliders. Nomenclature sensitivity is exampled at its finest in that choice and the competition's - The Danville Dans. Yes, there were two Dan's on the team. So be it.
We won, by a landslide - thus justifying the name, even though the mascot is a red slider turtle, not exactly what comes to mind when conjuring up a foreboding competitor. But it is the early stages of league play so let's give it to 'em.
The point is, this was great fun! It was spontaneous, corny, healthy, nostalgic, friendly, safe, reasonably priced - all of what we need to keep life in the proper perspective; I know I haven't listed all the qualities. When we left we felt good about having been there. That's nice. It was restorative.
Sometimes the best we can do for ourselves and others is the simple activity. The team has a tradition of doing really goofy fan competitions. Every kid wanted to participate and every winner (all of them) glowed with the thrill of victory.
It wasn't about WII, GameBoy or any other techno-wizardry. It was about what is REAL.

Kamis, 14 Agustus 2008

Final Fair Views

Lead the way!

Happy is as happy does.

While you guys are chewing the cud, how about getting a little something to snack on?

The sky riders take it all in from high above - the carts can't compete with this!

Did someone steal the sign that said, "Abe Lincoln drove this car"?

Fair Focus

The baby Clydesdale - through the fence, of course!

In Conservation World there are plenty of live critters but this 124 lb. catch of the day was enough to tell a whopper of a story.

Watch dog - she watched everything that went on in her barn.

Big, bold, beautiful, and graceful - wow.

Sure-fired, guaranteed tummy ache stand

Our Lt. Governor had a nice "green" tent. And he had some artsy thing going on - I liked what was out in front of the entrance.

What would any summer fun carnival be without the Ferris Wheel? It was first built in nearby Jacksonville, Illinois. Betcha didn't know that!

Carts are a way of life for the Fair. It's gotten better - there are fewer of them so people can walk around more easily, like we used to do.
Whoever said, "Boys will be boys" were right. They entertain themselves, in the horse barn. Out of camera range are mom and dad - doing the daily chores.

Senin, 11 Agustus 2008

Every young 'un needs a fair break now and then. Check out the after lunch break time. I want my blankie and my spot on the floor in the kindergarten room :-)
The State Fair brings babies of all types and the 4H-ers are happy to let humans go through and see the newborns. The ducklings are only a couple of days old.

What a sweet boy! Right now he is a bull. We learned cows poop 15 times a day. He is a week old today.

These two oinkers are FAIRly new. Like all babies, even these are cute when they sleep. Kevin BACON and Dennis CHOPper. I don't want to think of their futures.

Cattle of another sort - the ever-sought butter cow; this one with a calf who approaches butter skunks! And, I found a metal cow, out of the mainstream and with no long line to see it.

Dog gone!

  It's State Fair time, here in Illinois and we are having record breaking terrific weather. Young and old are turning out, even on the weekdays. There are many traditions but none so fair (ha ha) as the famous corn dog, a hot dog on a stick, dipped into a corn meal batter and deep-fried. Get it now!
 Clearly we have all gone to the dogs but the real question is, "Mustard or ketchup?" Ah, the next couple of days will be more complex - "Obama?" or "McCain?". I'm sticking with the corn dog, a sure winner!
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Kamis, 07 Agustus 2008

Global Warming

Ah, so, the world is round afterall. After failed attempts at getting just the right butterfly shot I chose to take a snap of something that would stand still for me.
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Buddy Can You Spare A Dollar?

Here we are working on behalf of Animal Protective League at the Paws in the Park event. Tripp was so happy to get out to an event and have me to himself. Surprise! There were people and dogs all over the place.
Mind you, he's a wonderful dog but he has become a bit suspicious of the other dogs in the house and their demands for my time. He was not pleased that we were in the midst of a lot of new dogs. He was patient. He did his job and raised money while they trotted around, entered contests, got coo-cooed over, received treats and had doggie massages. He put up with it, once in a while uttering a low moan. He did have the final say though as a gesture he's never offered me before.

He peed on my pant legs.

Big Bird and Breastfeeding!

You don't see a lot of shows depicting breastfeeding as the normal thing that it is. How cool!

Memory Lane

Today was going to be all about the puppies we're babysitting and maybe the lady overseas who had her dog cloned and now has six new puppies that cost upwards of $150k. I'm just not sure about that. It is a great pleasure to get to know each distinct dog - this has been our week to do that!

But, a grade school neighbor and close friend sent me a some memory joggers from our era. What a fun review that was for me! I'd forgotten some things temporarily, if temporary is 50 years, that is. Of course, to her list, which included penny candy, Sky King (and Penny, Lassie and Timmy, Red Skelton, Our Miss Brooks (Eve Ardon and Richard Crenna), roller skate keys (it's here somewhere), 5 cent Mickey D' burgers, and a score of other things, I added Old Maid - not a PC game at this point, jacks, Sputnik bubble gum (still #1 in my book), Tastee Freeze with "chocolate Thursday", pop beads, and a bundle of others.

What it also does remind me about is that underlying concern our parents and grandparents and neighbors all had about how "...these kids are going to turn out..." Well, most of us handled the addition of TV OK and have been able to transition from the transistor radio to MP3, iPod, etc. Did they worry for naught? Probably not. That worry counts for parenting, watchful eyes, guidance, and love.

Today's children get plenty of the gadgets. Let's hope for the majority there is an interested person somewhere, wondering enough about how they will turn out to that they choose to get involved.

Have a great day! Buy some balloons and hand them out!
(But ask the grown up if it is OK first.)

Selasa, 05 Agustus 2008

What's This About?

Sorry, look, I'm not obsessed with food or the kitchen. It just looks that way right now! Photos, lists, blog posts. Oh, my!

Senin, 04 Agustus 2008

Kitchen Which

There was a time when I had a cute little kitchen witch hanging around here but it's long gone. Still the play on words is worth doing.

The true topic is old time kitchen smells vs. kitchen designs. Reflecting upon the flaws I find in my own kitchen I have concluded that none are so great that they cannot be overcome by the familiar smells associated with something cooking or baking.

Who among us doesn't love walking into a place where the aroma is the ambiance, the experience, the memory? [Apologies if you have scent-deficit-disorder.] Not the fancy-schmancy candle scents. I'm talking about the real thing.

Kitchens I remember are mostly those in relatives' homes. Stands to reason, as when we ate away from home it was usually at one of those houses! But there was the pink kitchen at Aunt Margaret's. As I recall it was what she always had wanted. And, we ate at a big long table in the dining room once we were old enough. I remember her checking the turkey and then suddenly ,when it was close to carving time, all the women went into action: whipping potatoes, mixing the gravy, putting out the relishes, those brown and serve rolls...dressing, jello salads - the works! It all mixed in the air and was the call to the wild to come, to come, to come and indulge.

At Aunt Grace's it was grapefruit. I remember visiting there and that is what she was serving for breakfast. I'd never had it, had never even seen it. But it didn't smell sweet. There was no surprise that it didn't taste so sweet. I ate it, using the special edged spoon and still squirting juice on myself and others. Soon I was allowed to go the room I was sleeping in and read LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, a book from the shelves in there. As I recall, the tiger ran around in a circle and melted into something. I think it was butter. Not a PC book for these times.

When I went to the country, nearby where I live now, Aunt Edie always had more overflowing dishes and more people than the table could hold. Chances are some of what we were enjoying came from somewhere in the yard or garden. What I remember most is the smell of freshness, of "just picked". There's the scent of hands being washed, of sunshine on warmed skin - all mixed with the smell of ice cold milk and also great iced tea. And I remember the china cabinet we had to avoid bumping and the party-line wall phone and the steep steps to the upstairs and the cowboy motif in my cousins' bedroom.

So, instead of changing the kitchen I will opt for a ceiling fan and lighting placed more appropriately. The heat seems to be captured and stored in the work area. That has got to cease. And, instead of wanting something that could go in a magazine layout I will opt for what can't be seen. I will keep on cookin' and bakin' to fill the air with great scents. After all, nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven, right?

Now, go to the kitchen. Inhale. Ahhhhhh.

Someone's In The Kitchen With Kate

This has not been the smartest ten day span of my life but it is one of the busiest. Some of our foster dogs have come home to roost while families travel. We had one from Friday a.m. till sometime later today. Up until 8:30 today she was fine. Then she weaseled her way under the back deck, which, BTW, is closed in by lattice. I could not find her secret opening and I could not get her out until I pried off some lattice and dug a ditch for her to get out. She's fine. A little dirtier but fine.

The other two, yes, two, arrived at 6:30 this morning and are staying through Friday afternoon. They're puppies, let's see, 5 months old. One of course is the alpha dog so she will butt heads with our alpha, 14 month old Harmony. God willing, they won't meet. The other has the same shrilling whine as Harmony.

What have I done?

I thought Ed would be doing projects this week so pretty much gone and then tired when at home. But he overdid the work earlier this summer and has been told to take it easy for 10 days, 5 of which remain. He's out riding around looking for errands to run now. I suspect he may go to church and try to do something there, or just pray for my soul!

Actually it is quiet. We have doors and baby gates and a selection of crates. If these critters know what is good for them they will stay quiet and settled down in their respective spaces.

Since I'm home with them all today I decided to bake, early. Have done peach muffins and now I'm finishing the chocolate chip cookies. It may be 90 degrees outside but it's 375 degrees in the kitchen and that's where I am. Guess that tells you something.

Sabtu, 02 Agustus 2008

The Joys of Babywearing

Wow, kids get big so very fast. I look at my five month old little boy and know he wont be a baby much longer. I look at my two year old and wonder where the time went. I want to get as much of the love and snuggles that I can out of them, because frankly, none of us are getting any younger. One of the ways I've maximized our time together is I wear them. Yes, I wear my children. I still have a couple of other gadgets, a swing, a jump up....but they are more of a back up to babywearing for me, rather than my only resource for when I need to do the dishes, or vacuum, or do the laundry. They're also handy for going out and about; I have lost all need for a stroller for my littlest guy (and it's less expensive than one!)

I feel so good holding my sweet little one right up against me and knowing he's safe and happy while I go about my daily life. Babies long to be close to their mommy's and daddy's (and yes, daddy's should wear their babies too!). They enjoy the soothing, rhythmic movements of daily life.

It seems a bit tricky at first, but if you're the proud owner of a new sling and feel a bit confused, stick with it! I promise you'll practically be able to do it one handed in no time!!!

Here's some quick tips on slings:

1. Try to stay away from the "baby bjorn" type slings (this pertains to basically any sling you find at a Baby's R Us, a WalMart, or a Target at this point in time).

2. If you're looking at a sling that requires measurements, make sure you take them. There's nothing worse than a sling that's too big or two small and wrenching on your back. You wont be able to take that for very long. You're trying to make this easy on yourself, remember?

3. My personal rule is to find something with wide straps. The wider the straps, the more you can spread the weight of the baby across your back, therefore making it easier on your shoulders, back muscles, etc.

Here are the types of slings I recommend:

1. Wrap Sling.

Wrap slings seem highly cumbersome upon first glance. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but I assure you that these are among the most comfortable of slings. The weight is distributed appropriately, baby is snug, all are happy. Another plus of the wrap sling is you can wear your baby in many positions; facing inward, facing outward, on your back, on your hip, and across your front. I have successfully breastfed in a wrap sling as well.

2. Ring Sling

I have personally never used a ring sling myself, but I've heard fantastic things. They are attractive, they are easy to adjust, they have a wide strap for distributing weight.

3. Mei Tai

This is my personal favorite of all slings. You can throw it on quickly (the big one for me!), you can carry much heavier children than in the others mentioned so far, you can wear baby (or toddler!) on your front or back. You cannot wear them facing outward which is a deal breaker for some kids. The drawback for me on this one, is they generally have straps that I feel should be wider, and so prolonged use can cause your back to get a bit sore. I feel I can go probably two hours or so before I need a break, where as with a wrap for instance, I could probably go much longer. All in all, still my favorite.

This is a good mei tai with thick, comfortable straps. They unfortunately don't have much on Amazon:


4. Pocket Sling

These are generally easy on, easy off slings. They come in great colors and designs, and they keep baby snug.

5. Ergo

The Ergo is a variation of a mei tai. It has snaps instead of straps, causing it to stay put more easily. You have to fiddle with the straps to get them to the length you want, but once you're set you're good to go. I haven't met a single person unhappy with their Ergo.

Now that you know what to look for, happy baby wearing!

Jumat, 01 Agustus 2008

No Mow, Please

An attempt was made a week ago to mow the back yard. It was 100% successful when we look at the big picture. Part of the yard was mowed and most of it was left in a state of "natural habitat". It seems we have been blessed with an amazing crop of frogs, toads, and probably snakes. No longer practical to dodge them, it made more sense to let them have the back yard as their sanctuary.

There are benefits to doing that. For them, there is the purely basic continuation of life. For us, it is the understanding we aren't using fuel, we save time, we help the environment, and ta-DAH, we get the serenades at night! It's joyous and magical! Rrribittt, click, cluck, rribittt. And, at times the owls give out a hooty-hoot.

Even the dogs are starting to look forward to being lulled to sleep by the rhythm band that sets up back there!

Find something to celebrate!


Back in "the day" it seemed there was a gas station on every corner. They either evolved into all-purpose stores, competing with groceries and fast food standalones or they went out of business. There aren't as many as before and the ones in existence take a quarter of a block of space. Wow.

But, many of the former gas station spaces ended up having the costly process of tank removable being performed by the only type of business which could figure out they had money to burn, albeit yours and mine - banks. So now many of the corners have banks.

Replacing other defunct operations and taking up huge blocks of space, preferring the ever-popular corner location, is the drug store. This is the latest wave of businesses replicating when we're not looking. We see the birth of a Walgreen's and know a CVS will grow across the corner soon.

The squeeze is on again, for corner space. The marketing researchers who track the competition are active. It's not uncommon to see a decent structure be ripped down to make way for a look alike.

Every town used to be different, have its own character, vitality. We lost that when franchises entered our business vocabularies. Then we heard remarks similar to "Every town looks the same..." which couldn't be argued against. Now we live in a country where section A in town looks just like section B or C.

I miss the old way, where a person walked to the corner for bread and milk, or the mechanic on duty checked your oil and wiped your car windows and let you watch while he changed a tire, or you knew you could deposit a few dollars in your "Christmas" account and the bank people knew your name and smiled as you completed your transaction.

Sure, all of them knew that they were aiding you in becoming a better and perhaps lifetime customer. But I also believe before they had those thoughts they were genuinely pleased and personally interested in each person who appeared before them. They dealt one-with-one, not one-to-one. It was different. And, in this case, different was better.

Pay attention to your customers. Smiles are free. Even over the phone your clients will see your smile when you offer it.