Cyber candles and love

I should have gotten up around 3 this morning. I had trouble sleeping and while I was laying there, I mentally wrote the perfect post. I tell you, it was great, it was hanky worthy and shmalzy, it would have brought you all to your knees and you would have praised me. Instead, I got up at 4, stumbled out of our room, stepped in to the dogs bowl, bumped into the door, and finally found the bathroom. As I was standing there taking care of this most urgent of needs, I sensed motion behind me, actually behind and above me. Laying in the clean towels on top of the rack was “Sherman” one of my wife’s cats. He watched me for a moment, yawned and went back to sleep, at least he didn’t laugh.

But that moment of greatness was gone, I headed back to our room, kicked the dog’s bowl and got back in to bed. Well getting back into bed was problematic. I moved the little rat dog out of my way so I could get my legs in, and then, I had to move “Webster” off of my pillow. I did go back to sleep for a little bit but there was no recovery of that great post. I finally got back up, had some coffee, figured out which shoe went on which foot and prepared myself for the day. I’m not sure that I managed to even complete that task, but I had to go with what I had.

My usual morning routine is to answer all of the messenger requests for information, then I go to LinkedIn and wish all of the ones on the list a Happy Birthday, then on to Facebook where I do the same, then I wander around, loose unchaperoned and look for something that I have that is in bloom that I can use as a picture to wish all of my friends a “Good Morning”. These are habits, almost tradition or at least tradition in the making.

Tonight, for the first time in months I actually had to fix dinner. I was abandoned by my kitchen staff. I sliced and I diced, I sprinkled and tasted and added some more. For a brief period, because I was alone and didn’t have LilyAnn in the kitchen, I actually had to argue with myself. No big deal there, I do it all the time anyway. But they were all gone. They went over to their cousins house. To deliver custom made, cupcakes. As they have done every year. Every year with a different theme and all handmade and decorated with love. All a part of a birthday celebration, a custom, a tradition that will be repeated several times, as the other cousins have their birthdays.

It’s a little thing, a brief moment, a simple gesture. For me, every morning, I touch a screen and wake up a few electrons and ask them to send some zeros and ones to someone, who I may or may not actually know. A few seconds of effort, not even worthy of registering as spent energy on my smartphone. But for those people, it’s a brief moment of happiness, a smile, an effort at inclusion in to a broad family of friends, the family of man. And I do this not for anything more than that, but when the note comes back and says “you and two others outside of my immediate family sent me birthday wishes, you’re a true friend”, it does make you choke up a little.

Traditions and habits, caring, sharing, taking a moment, spreading some cheer, sharing in a celebration, taking a moment to remind someone that they aren’t alone, taking that moment to remind someone that we celebrate them and their presence in our lives. Those are the easy ways to reach out, to matter and tell someone that they matter and that they are loved.

Listening to the sounds of different drums

Listening to the sounds of different drums

Somewhat scientifically speaking, we’re animals, we’re mammals,we’re humans, we’re alive, all of this is based on the various definitions that science has given us. We’re alive according to the commonly accepted tests for living beings.

We are capable of movement (which we do often and at times at great cost), we utilize energy for growth (we suck up all of the energy around us and all of the available energy on our planet), we can reproduce (although in some cases this shouldn’t happen), we grow (physically), we can change (which we do when forced to), we can pass our traits on to our offspring (which is really overrated as far as a positive trait), we are made of cells (which none of us are happy with and constantly buy in to ways to change that), we respond to our environment (we usurp and manipulate our environment, and care not if we destroy it), and we are capable of homeostasis (and conceptually, we will fight this because we believe we know better).

All of that defines life, but none of it defines living. None of it defines how you should be living or enjoying your life, in fact it doesn’t even say that you should enjoy your life. It doesn’t define quality of life or even who should be entitled to it. These concepts are all constructs of man, and in particular the men in power. And all of it is based on their opinions which are only regulated by their might or the might of those who agree or disagree. That might being frequently used to force others into enjoying their lives based on a recipe provided by the oppressor, forcing their definitions on to them. A peculiar concept where we take people who are perfectly happy in their ignorance of our concepts, and make them happy by exerting a destructive pressure on them to subdue them and make them face the happiness that we have defined for them.

Over the years, centuries, millennia, we as humans have worked extremely hard to destroy any culture that is happy within their own understanding of life and happiness that does not conform to or benefit the conquerors. We have imposed our culture,our religions, our beliefs without every asking the recipient of our misguided efforts, what they thought. In fact, if they did indicate that they had a differing opinion, that was likely to lead to their denigration as sub-human and where necessary, their obliteration.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what we advertise. But the fine print says, “as long as you’re like us”. In the history of mankind, it has never been the compliant and complacent, the followers and the obedient that made history, that created the path forward for all of humanity. It has been those who chose to live and love the way they believed, not the way they were told they must believe. Stifling the creators, the free thinkers, the independents, those that are different, those who listen to the beat of a different drum whose sounds can not be silenced. This, stifling and smothering has been the goal of those who are in fear of what they can’t control or those that can’t see a way to profit from the non-compliant. It has been their goal to control anything and everything, to inure to their benefit, and solely to their own personal benefit,regardless of the cost to others.

If truly, we were enlightened, sentient, caring, compassionate, loving human beings. We would look at all of our brothers and sisters and their individual beliefs, their concepts of enjoying life, glorifying their individual gifts from the creator. We would stand with them all and help them enjoy their lives, the way they believe is appropriate for them. We would stand and support, we would be open to hearing them, listening to their drums, and dancing to the beat of their music.

Embrace those that are different, learn from them, expand your own horizons, learn how to live from those who choose to live outside of a societal box, a society that they don’t belong in, a box that they don’t know about. Just simply live and love, without question, without an inherent need to change the tune.

Honoring mine on Daughter’s day

Honoring mine on Daughters day

There’s a romantic notion associated with the concept of being a Father, but really dude’s don’t do romance. For us, it’s all about ego and machismo and pride, about the idea of carrying the family name and manly things and stuff. I know that for me, I fantasized and dreamt of the possibility of offspring, it was indeed something I wanted. Unfortunately, my first almost wife was absolutely scared of that concept to the point where it became a deal breaker. And along came the next one, who did become my wife and did produce offspring. And when that actually happened, I was cool with it for the nine months that it took, and when it happened I sat there like a stone and thought to myself “What have you done?”. And it was a girl. A girl, what am I going to do with a girl? That particular woman gave me one more child and it was a boy. But unfortunately, merely breeding and delivering children does not a good mother make, in fact what I learned, was that she was barely a good human. I dealt with it and I moved on.

Finally, fate intervened and put in front of me, the love of my life, put her back in within reach and indeed I did reach out. She became my wife and graced me with two more children, girls. Over the years, it became necessary to assist or aid other children, add them to our collective umbrella and help them along the way, and of course two of them, were girls. Please understand, I’m not the kind of guy that has to have boys cast in my image in order to satisfy my own need for immortality by vicarious actions of my offspring. But let me tell you, I barely understand women and now I’m raising girls, strange creatures that I know very little about. The only thing that I do know is that they are mine and that they are now my responsibility. To put that in other words, “oh crap, I’m in deep now”. How do you handle a woman, or a girl? Simply love them.

So all of these girls, gave me more granddaughters and grand nieces. All of them strong willed, hard headed, strong and beautiful. Everyone of them capable, concerned, able to deliver, and ready to cut your heart out if you get in their way. These are my girls. These, these girls, these women, they are my pride and joy. They will indeed carry my legacy, not by birthright or bloodlines, or Surnames, they will do it because it is what is necessary and right. These are my daughters. And today, I celebrate them, as I do every day. And every day, I’m a proud Poppa.

I have earned my merit badge

I have earned my merit badge

Some of you may have noticed that on occasion, I can be a bit difficult, opinionated, harsh, critical, even vicious. These are attributes associated with me being an asshole. When I see something that isn’t quite what it should be, I comment on it. Depending on the severity of what I saw, I may do more than a simple comment, I may choose to display all of my claws, get my feathers standing up, and make a lot of noise. Some of those noises may be unpleasant, they weren’t intended to soothe you, they were intended to get your attention.

I constantly rail against the various issues with MCPS, most of them are minor. But you have to ask, if they’re minor why is it so hard to get them fixed? Yesterday, I was beating on them over transportation issues. When the kid comes home from school more than an hour late, it disrupts his afternoon routine, a routine that as parents in partnership with the schools we are asked to participate in. A routine that we as parents find necessary to establish for the well being of the child and our own mental soundness. And yes, I was pissed off, and likely will be that way again. But at the same time, I’m having a discussion with one of my favorite principals about the homework issue. And that was a good discussion.

I have had a considerable amount of irritation with the whole Covid thing in the schools and the administrations handling of it, but that noise caught attention, the media gave me some air time along with others and the protocols changed. Not a personal victory, but certainly a joint victory.

I’ve been dealing with that whole ParentVue/synergy/canvas routine. I sent a service request over to IT at MCPS because in order for me to sign in, I have to clear messages from last year, all of which I have already downloaded. But I can’t by pass them, so when I log in, I have to look at each message and hit the skip button. The easiest thing for me is to just stay signed in. IT has it, I check on the ticket, it says they have it, that’s it. In the meantime, I got two more of these must read messages, which I downloaded, which I have already seen anyway. Now when I go to log in, I have to clear 25 messages in order to sign in. There’s nothing I can do to fix it, except to continuously bitch to people who won’t listen, don’t care, or who like me don’t know what to do.

While we’re on the subject of IT, why is it that I have a kid with a defective chromebook who isn’t able to get a replacement, because apparently the school has put Deputy Dawg in charge of issuing them. Today, my granddaughters teacher gave her a loaner laptop to get her through the year, because her Chromebook is a brick. My grandsons in the same school today, both got issued new Chromebooks with no problems. Make a list and check it twice, get the devices out where they are needed seems to be the right answer, but not with MCPS. In class with the teacher within a few feet and they insist on Chromebooks over pencils and paper, they all insist on using canvas and the rest of that pathetic software for all of their work. And it doesn’t work. I’ve got notifications that show the student didn’t turn in the work but got a score of 9/13, but it’s not graded, it wasn’t submitted.

I’ve got one kid in a class that keeps getting 50% scores for work he hasn’t submitted, hasn’t been able to submit, because the substitute teacher hasn’t gotten all of the necessary information from the regular teacher. While they wait on this, the kids are watching videos and may or may not be learning, but the grading protocols haven’t changed. Whether or not they can submit the work doesn’t matter. All that matters is the system, obeyance to the process.

I have one kid who scored 9 out of 13 while at the same time the work was not turned in and not graded. How does that happen? Who is getting the kickback for this totally screwed up system? How am I supposed to keep an eye on my kids progress when the system I’m supposed to use, doesn’t work, and when it does, lies to me?

And then, we have the coach, the jockstrap that believes that nothing matters more than winning. A JV coach that insists that any time there’s a game, the JV team has to stay and watch the V team, without ever notifying the parents, a coach who periodically finds it necessary to hold the team for extra time, without notifying the parent, who’s sitting in the parking lot waiting. We have a coach that says any socks are ok, unless he’s ragging, then, the socks you have won’t work, and your parents have to buy some more in white and in blue, and you have to pray that those all meet his whims. I have now bought 3 different sets of socks in various colors, to satisfy this quixotic fool. I’m about one request short of me taking that single shot and putting his ass across the goal.

I’m a kind, loving and caring individual, but I’m not a fool and I failed to pass the test for the Village Idiot. In fact, I probably have failed many tests of who we would like to tolerate. Generally because the first question deals with blind obedience, something I can’t seem to do. In fact, I seem to have a hard time accepting anything that is being fed out to the flock, because I care about the flock and I fear that they are being poisoned by the bureaucratic bullshit that continues to flow from every communique from Rockville.

Remember when?

Remember when?

I’ve had the outline of this post hanging in my draft folder for over a week. I was actually going to delete it. Today, on my weekly trip to Gettysburg I had a chat with my daughter. It was her comments that made me want to re-visit this draft.

Do you remember when we would all wait for the teacher to leave the classroom for a cigarette break? As soon as she was gone we would open up her desk drawer and find the magical grade book. We didn’t do anything, just looked at the grades that we wanted to know about. Now all the kids have access to the electronic grade book, but there’s no information there.

Remember when you would go home from school and your parents already knew you blew a test or failed to turn in an assignment? I remember having to face my dad as the steam was coming out of his ears, and his belt in his hand. In fairness, he gave me a 5 minute opportunity to explain my side of the issue. Now, as a parent I get constant notifications of assignments being graded. Which is kind of cool, but the assignments have comments like not submitted, grade is 5/10. The one I really loved was assignment not submitted, score 10 out of 20, or 50% or fail. That 50% routine is now standard, as opposed to simply getting a zero and an ass chewing. But in this case, the kid had a failing grade a week before the assignment was due. The really sad part is that if there’s no submission you get 50%, if you submit and have made an effort, but you blew it, you could end up with less than 50%.

Remember when, if there was a problem in school our dads were at the school with steam coming out of their ears? That was a time when our parents believed that if we were being held to standards, to being accountable and assesable via a set of standards then those who taught us, who were responsible for our well being were also accountable and were also held to a set of standards.

Remember when right was right, wrong was wrong and there was no gray area? Remember when people answered questions with the truth instead of a referral or an excuse? Remember when people did the job they were expected to do, the one they agreed to do, without finding it necessary to hide behind a curtain of policies and procedures?

Remember when people would tell you that they were followers of Christ and act according to the teachings he laid out. And now we have followers of Christ who gladly take the lord’s name in vain, by perverting those teachings to meet their own personal desires and sanctify their prejudices and hatred.

Remember when using terms like please and thank you, or excuse me or pardon me, or may I help you, were common. Along with phrases like How are you?, or in the South, “you doin alright?” and the requisite “how’s your mamma and ’em?”. So good to see you again, Can I help you with that?, How’s your day going?, it’s a great day to be alive and I’m glad that you’re here with me. All of these phrases were common once, but now we hide behind a mask, not the mask required because of Covid, but the mask of callous indifference, that also being the other mask used for Covid.

Do you remember when we were responsible for our own decisions? There was such a time, but we had to surrender that because we were bad at making good choices. We surrendered to our Government and then elected people who could make bad choices on our behalf.

Do you remember when all men were created equal? Of course you don’t, because it still hasn’t happened. And if you’re a woman, or a person of color, or somewhat different than the Patriarchy’s concept of norm, you still have to wait on that.

Do you remember when we looked at the concept of a village or a community and believed that it was important and that all were members and that all mattered? A village where all helped each other and took care of each other. And now, we’re asked to spy on our neighbors and report when they don’t act in a manner consistent with the wants and needs of the cabal.

Do you remember when loving your neighbor was a command? When caring about your fellow man was important? When being of good cheer and charity was our way of life?

Do you remember when we used social media to share pictures of cats, our dinner and our family members? And now, it’s overrun with wannabe medical experts, attempting experts in politics, trolls, foreign agents with their own agenda, covert operatives pushing false messages to support their masters, liars, cheats and thieves, and even whores, manipulators of messages to pervert the truth. All trying to suck out our humanity and even attach themselves to our souls.

Do you remember when the welfare of our brothers and sisters mattered to us, do you remember when the condition of our planet was important, do you remember when the well being of our children was sacrosanct, do you remember when we fought a war on poverty, when we marched against racism, do you remember when we protested injustice, do you remember the push for women’s rights, do you remember when we revolted against a war, do you remember when we spoke out against cruelty and abuse?

Do you remember what you did and what what you should have done, do you remember what you need to do?

Teaching how to cook the manna

Teaching how to cook the manna

I’m hanging out in the kitchen with LilyAnn, my granddaughter. We’re making latkes for dinner, potato pancakes for the rest of you. And indeed, I’m just hanging out, it’s really not a we, she’s making them. We went through and did all of the grating using a food processor not the knuckle buster. Everything went in to the big bowl and I told her what else goes in including the seasonings. As is her want, she asked about various other seasonings. One of her favorites is Mrs. Dash original. She wanted to put that in. I told her that we were following her great grandmother’s recipe, the way I learned it as a little boy. She asked “didn’t your mother use Dash?” No, it didn’t exist back then. And I thought about it, knowing that my mother never followed a recipe and was a rebel. So I gave in and said yes to adding some Dash’s to the mix. What’s the harm? The only ones that will judge this production are the ones here at our dinner table, what do they know?

Understand that teaching her how to cook has been a challenge. She’s hard headed and argumentative, sort of like her Grandmother, not at all like me. I certainly know how to cook, and am qualified to teach her the basics, just can’t teach her French. While she is a novice, she’s doing alright. When it comes to seasoning food, she has her way of doing it. My way is of course different, it comes from trial and error and following recipes and lots of experience. Seasoning food is a tricky thing, you have to know what all of the herbs and spices in your cupboard will do and how they interact, you have to make sure that you have a full cupboard of all of the potential candidates. I will say, I have the full cupboard, and I know how most of them work, but I rarely experiment in that arena. Seasonings are an area where you can quickly overdue it, make it inedible, so I tend to stick to my safe zone. She doesn’t, she relies on her sense of smell, smelling each herb or spice, and contemplating the mix, like a parfumeur. And she will stand on the ability of her nose and argue with me.

After doing this for a few months, and letting her have her way, I have to admit that she has been on point every time. Doing things and using things in a manner that I would not have. She has proven her ability in that arena. Her mechanical skills like using the knife or other tools need work, and they will improve with practice, her timing is still slow, but the part that matters, a tasty dish, that she can do.

But here’s the thing about teaching, it’s teaching not testing. It’s showing them and listening, it’s answering the questions, setting aside your knee jerk reaction, giving up the notion of how things have always been done. It’s a matter of feeding the beast in search of knowledge. It’s a matter of taking a blank page and scribbling all over it, coloring outside the lines, finding out where the gap in knowledge is and offering the fulfillment up like manna. Understanding that the pupil came to learn, to glean that manna is a key, testing to determine the hunger is useless. Testing repeatedly to see what they know is not productive, it’s asking them to describe the blank page, while craving access to the crayons. Testing to see what they learned is different and will help determine what other doors need to be opened, how many more crayons are needed.

The most effective way to teach is through guided discovery, giving the student the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they are seeking, putting in front of them the opportunity to access the knowledge, on their own terms and filling their own needs. Imposing our standards and our demands as far as the curricula in order to meet mandates and quotas is not teaching, it’s nothing more than forced rote and brainwashing, none of which stimulates a desire to learn, but simply a desire to end the nightmare and move on. A desire to meet the minimums and get out of the system. It is akin to eating the manna after it has spoiled, it does nothing for you and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

The view from the dumpster–Knowing when to hold and when to fold

The view from the dumpster– Knowing when to hold and when to fold

I woke up this morning, which I always find to be a good sign and stumbled out of our room. Found my glasses and my tooth. Once I had my glasses on I noticed that the bathroom door was open, the light was off, which to me meant that I had a good shot at it. I took full advantage of that opportunity. I looked in the mirror and scared the hell out of myself, hairbrush fixed that problem. Stepped on the scale and it blinked and blinked and it blinked and I thought I was going to fall asleep, damn digital scale takes forever or maybe it was just hesitant, afraid that I would accuse it of lying and throw it out the window. Finally it proffered a number and I smiled, down 10 pounds, the scale will survive for another day. I’ll even think about giving it some new batteries for its gracious support.

I loaded all of those things that go into my pockets, and strapped on my brain which was already pinging me with messages. They can wait. I couldn’t find my lighter, so I lifted up a cat’s ass and there it was, nice and warm. On I go to get my coffee. Coffee that Oliver made. I went outside for my morning commune with nature and sipped my coffee. All of the hairs on my chest stood at attention, this staff was more potent than a defibrillator. After that, I posted my “good morning” picture, which today was a picture of a weed in its final moments, because everything has a season. The weed was particularly spectacular, as have been all of the weeds that we’ve grown this year as have been the mushrooms. After I took the picture, I determined that the season was indeed over for this weed.

On to morning chores, and dog walking. In the morning I walk Loki, I’m her seeing eye person. She sniffs everything, knows the path we’re taking, says good morning to the cats that she can smell, and then steps on them. From there, we start the day officially. I was working on the deck pulling plants and getting out for sale, Deb was working on a new garden bed that we’ve been working on for 4 months, attacking all of the weeds that thought they had the upper hand but are now residing in the compost bin. Customers came and went. The day went along smoothly and felt like things were being accomplished, which is a good feeling, accomplishment leads to ’em dolphins being released which really makes you feel good.

As we got to the afternoon, it was time for me to make my appointed rounds, stores to check for bargains, dumpsters that needed to be assessed for potential mining and of course, I was low on beer. I got in to the car, and somebody had changed the station. No Willie’s Roadhouse, they replaced it with an all vinyl station. The first song that came up was “house in New Orleans”, well, all right then, I can listen to that and apologize to Willie later. Then the next song came on and I was enjoying it, I was smiling and I never changed it. If you know me, you know that I truly don’t smile, too bad you weren’t in the car with me. And of course, if you know me, you know that if I find it on the ground, in the dumpster or in a parking lot, it’s fair game. But today was different. Today, what I found, made my smile fade away, not even my mask could hide the sadness on my face.

As I cruised one parking lot, I spotted the bin in the picture. Ordinarily, that bin would have been gone in less than 60 seconds. But I checked out the contents and decided to leave it behind. The best description that I could give was that this was someone’s closet or dresser, it contained articles of clothing, personal items and hygiene items. On the other side of where I was parked, there’s a walled in area that contains the store’s dumpsters, set back against a tree covered hill, leaving an area behind it for temporary residence and even an occasional quickie. I checked behind there and found no one, but it was obvious that someone had been there. How their closet got out into the parking lot, I don’t know. All I know is that this pitiful bin was of value to someone who had little else. It was not for me to deprive them of their belongings, especially after they had already been deprived of their dignity.

I got my beer, went home, met with a customer. But I had a hard time getting back that smile, that moment of happiness while thinking of someone else who couldn’t listen to those tunes coming from a radio, someone who had to rely on the soundtrack of their minds because all they had left was memories.

Whose cup is it?

Whose cup is it?

If your cup runneth over, there are options to handle that and keep you from making too much of a mess. Probably the first thing is using a bigger cup or a bucket if appropriate, if the situation is seriously fortuitous a barrel. Years ago, bladder tanks hit the market and they can hold a lot. Or you could use the same size cup and just use lots of cups, preferably reusable ones. You could even be bold and re-purpose jugs and bottles out of your recycling bin. This idiom from the Psalms as a part of the Bible, is still being debated with over a dozen variants in translation. The basic premise being consistent, as the progenitor of the trickle down theory, they all only address the mere fact that your cup being full and running over means that you have been blessed and you have received so much more than your needs. Beyond that, the good book doesn’t go in to any great details, and the devil is in those details.

You have a cup, did you make the cup or did someone else make the cup for you? How did you come by that cup, was it fair trade or indentured servitude? You have a flow that is filling your cups, is that because of your efforts or the efforts of others? How did you get so much of the flow? Did you divert a flow from your neighbors and call it your own? Did a variety of people under your care and employment manage to assist you in garnering that flow? Of all that you have or are receiving, how much did you share with those that made your bounty possible? Did it truly trickle down to them or was it more like a weak stream of cast offs you didn’t want, or a token amount that you were forced to give but will write off as a cost of doing business? Where you in your heart as generous as those who made sure that you achieved your goal?

In contemporary Christianity, those who are truly the followers of Christ and believers in his teachings, there would be many cups being filled to prevent the mess of an overflow, and those cups would go out to all that could benefit, all those that didn’t have more than an empty cup, but worked to ensure your bounty. In Evangelical circles as distorted by those of the golden rule, being defined as those who have the gold make the rules. Those of the golden rule who arranged the translations, who worked those translations to control the populations, the ones that continuously re-interpret the scriptures to meet their needs and do so with the help of a misguided clergy and a following of minions that will agree to whatever as long as they get an occasional taste from the cup. A following that endorses private interpretations that will bolsters their own positions and prejudices. Certainly they want to drink from the chalice as long as none other than those they resemble have put their lips on it.

Starving those who you need to work towards your benefit is a foolish plan. You need the makers of the cups, you need the diverters of the flow, you need those who carry the excess, the ones that count the volume and score your bounty. Share that bounty and let it grow, provide the cups and containers and help those that are in your employ, become the part of your community that we all need, one that believes that the true bounty is not measured in cups, or in shekels, or dollars. One that believes that the true bounty lies in the minds and the hearts of those who truly benefit from the sharing of what was given, sharing the excess and allowing that to be the seed-stock to create an ever growing and continuous benefit for all, the privileged and the not privileged, simply all.

Aligning the Chakras and the familial love

Aligning the Chakras and the familial love

There was no post last night not because I was trying to be kind to all of you who endure my constant expressions of my search for sanity. I didn’t post because I was caught up in something far more exciting. My wife got a call from my sister in law who stated that she was really tired of having to look at her husband. So she decided to change the scenery by inviting my wife and I over for a moment of quality time. Time with adults, time without zoom or text or messenger, just four adults getting together and catching up. I haven’t seen much of my in laws in the last 18 months, and they only live a few miles from us. For my wife and I to be away together is an absolute rarity. Adult conversation, uninterrupted. Adult beverages, and a great meal.

When my beloved sister in law retired from the Federal Government, she became a Reiki practitioner. So last night, as a very special bonus, I had my Chakra checked. I didn’t know I had more than one. Apparently some of mine were not functioning appropriately, which I was not fully aware of. But my sister took care of that. This process involved me actually laying prone on the deck, a concrete deck in the garden, a lovely garden. So I went over and proceeded to lay down, but somehow I miscalculated in this simple process, most likely because old fools really can’t do all those things they used to do. One slight mental calculation error and I slammed down on the concrete. No big deal, I’m down here now, and my Chakras are being adjusted and fine tuned, and in fact all of them were tended to. I did see the lights, I saw the colors, but I saw them before I was asked to see them and focus on them. It did take me a minute to get back up.

This morning, when I woke up, I agreed with my bladder that it was time to get up. Sadly, my body said “Oh hell not”. It took me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and another 5 minutes to actually get my pants on. My Chakras were all good, my back, not so much. Well I have to say that good food, good company, good Chakras meant a delightful evening. The back pain was another day, today.

I took two aspirins and proceeded to walk it off, and walk and walk. Now, the really good part is that I didn’t have to fix dinner, in fact, my associate usually throws me out of the kitchen, tells me things like “I know” while she’s rolling her eyes at me. OK, fine, I’ll go over and sit down, because all of this walking has really just put a few cramps in my style. I’ll just sit down and write. But my choices for tonight’s dinner necessitated additional help, so Liam was allowed to sacrifice himself as the assistant kitchen bitch. His job was to slice up the apples and make a baked/fried apple side dish. This also involved the master of disaster to zest a lemon, a lemon that jumped out of his hand and ran across the floor. It involved a discussion about “watch your knuckles when you’re using the grater”, which turned in to “how did I cut myself”. It involved him having to ask his sister for a paring knife, for the various appropriate seasonings, for a utensil to stir the mixture and pour it in to the appropriate pan, which we explained several times was not the bread pan that he was holding. Eventually the finished product did hit the oven. Luckily, somebody did remember to turn the oven on.

But the commonality here is family, family effort, family sharing and teaching and family doing. Chakras adjusted are really cool, but family running in alignment on a course of love and caring and collaborative effort makes all of the colors light up.

How do you appreciate a customer?

How do you appreciate a customer?

There’s a song in “Camelot”, “How to handle a woman” which forms its own question, the answer being “simply love her”. Now understand that I’m not going all mushy and romantic here, and I’m certainly not going to exclude the men, or the others. In fact I would really appreciate it if we simply looked at it and thought “simply love them”, for the duration of my dialog this evening. You can continue it further on your own, I’m ok with that. I’m not going to vague you or keep you in suspense, I’ll go directly to the heart of it.

In the last year, we built a business, or at least the first phase of it, and I have to tell you, that it is successful. This business was built on offering a quality product at a reasonable price, and offering the products the way the customers want them, not how we felt they should have them. Our business requires passion both on our part and on the part of the customer. And it demands customer service, as should all businesses. We became successful by dealing with each of our customers, one at a time. We became successful by listening to our customers and delivering on their needs. But mostly, we became successful because we had customers, many of which have come back repeatedly. As cliché as it is, we enjoy our customers, we view them as friends, and indeed several have become friends. Now the question comes up, how to handle a customer? How do we love them? How do we show them the love?

It has always been my belief that any business in any community should be an active part of their host community, beyond simply providing jobs or collecting sales tax which they are paid to collect. It becomes particularly important when we have businesses in our communities that destroyed the local business (think big box stores) to gain their foothold. Businesses who extract all of the money from a community, sending it to their corporate headquarters and then to add insult, avoid paying taxes.

As I have discussed before, many stores have some form of customer loyalty cards or membership cards that are scanned to get some discounts on various products. In the case of grocery stores, these discounts are paid for by the manufacturers, not the store. The store benefits by having access to valuable demographic data which helps them in their planning process, and gives them a target audience to advertise to. The customer, instead of receiving reduced prices across the board is actually paying for the store’s advertising budget.

There are a lot of devices that have been used over the years. Punch cards, by 10 coffees or donuts and get one free. Radio Shack used to have a battery club card, where once a month you got a free battery. Some on line retailers allow customers to designate a non-profit to be a beneficiary. All of those had their place. But I want to reward loyal customers for their support. I want to share with them, the success that they helped create. I want a way to reward them and to return to the community a part of the blessings we have received. How do I do that in a manner that works for us and our customers?

Be a part of our community of friends and customers and give us your thoughts.