The Next Warp

Next warp: standing in the sanctuary entry/aisle. I was either second or third in receiving and I have no idea who was first or second or fourth or even how many of us there were. I can’t conjure that tidbit from the obviously buried perhaps happily oblivious depths of my brain.

I tunnel-vision greeted.

: family and friends, and friends of the family and the families of our friends, friends of friends, my current coworkers, Jeff’s ex-workers, store patrons, other mall store owners, BNI networkers, business associates, website builders, marketing coaches, church family, neighbors and I’m sure I’m leaving out some major category.  

I’d requested no flowers, due to allergies. More truthfully, I think I mandated it at the second planning. God, everyone was so accommodating. Maybe everybody else really wanted flowers. I could have taken a Benadryl. I was already fuzzy, fuzzed on caffeine, and sugar-buzzed, because I drank the rest of Jeff’s semi-flat liter of Mt Dew. One more zone wouldn’t have mattered.

One person, an ex-coworker of Jeff’s, didn’t get that restrictive email. That accounted for the wreath, and truly, it would have been horrible without it. He tried to apologize for it. I told him it was beautiful and needed – a lovely medley of warm fall colors.

(I just smiled to myself remembering the end of our 48- hour first date when Jeff asked me what kind of flowers I liked. I explained the situation. The next time he came around, he brought carnations, and a squash in case the carnations were wrong. The time after that, he brought daisies.)

No idea how long we stood there nodding and hugging and shaking. It didn’t feel that long to me. There are only a few crystal-clear encounters in my replay-loop. But, there was still a waiting-line out the front door when Pastor Dave suggested we take our seats so we could get started.

Quote for the Week:

a sleepless smile

(backtracking to This is My Truth)

At 2:00 in the morning, I was annoyed to be so wide awake. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just the long day we’d had Saturday. Maybe it was knowing Sunday would be busy with church and groceries, and maybe meeting that baby. Maybe it was me being selfish after a long week at work. I just wanted to get one good night’s sleep.

Once I’d done what I had to (the mask and the loo thing), I wandered back to the kitchen for a snack. I don’t recall what I was looking for, only that there was a minuscule amount left. My frustrated feelings admittedly moved to more along the lines of exasperation. Directly associated with this continual pet peeve: leaving 2 crackers, 1 cookie, 5 chips – or only the crumbly remnants of what might have been.

Unhappy, I turned about for the other side of the house, again. I figured as long as I was sort-of cognisantly sleepless, I might as well be productive. Jeff and Freddie and Sadie were all slumbering soundly, so I took advantage of the quiet. Parked in front of our home office computer, I tackled month-end book-keeping for September.

I made notes, reviewed cash-register close out receipts. I ticked-off sales, counting the number of salsa, hot sauce, snacks, candy, cookies, gift goods and beverages that had found their way off of our shelves. I ran comp numbers, created projections, brainstormed upcoming holiday and marketing scenarios by myself.

In the early morning hours of October 1st, I’d delightfully determined our September had continued our positive streak for the second month in a row. I, fully alone, full-on grinned at the spreadsheet, looking forward to sharing success and smiles with Jeff in the morning.

That was finished and nicely settled, but I wasn’t. I was on an accomplishment high.

To wind down I relaxed into a Scrabble game, battling it out with the computer-generated Maven. Winning a rare game against the programmed-to-win competitor, lead to another round.

When I was sleepy enough to try sleeping, again, I shut down the computer, packaging up tall of the papers and receipts.

By rote, I turned off the office light and turned the corner, fully self-expecting to return to my side of the bed.

Quote for the Week: 2019 09 17 go ahead smile alone jakorte

 

A Sleepless Smile

(backtracking to This is My Truth)

At 2:00 in the morning, I was annoyed to be so wide awake. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was just the long day we’d had Saturday. Maybe it was knowing Sunday would be busy with church and groceries, and maybe meeting that baby. Maybe it was me being selfish after a long week at work. I just wanted to get one good night’s sleep.

Once I’d done what I had to (the mask and the loo thing), I wandered back to the kitchen for a snack. I don’t recall what I was looking for, only that there was a minuscule amount left. My frustrated feelings admittedly moved to more along the lines of exasperation. Directly associated with this continual pet peeve: leaving 2 crackers, 1 cookie, 5 chips – or only the crumbly remnants of what might have been.

Unhappy, I turned about for the other side of the house, again. I figured as long as I was sort-of cognisantly sleepless, I might as well be productive. Jeff and Freddie and Sadie were all slumbering soundly, so I took advantage of the quiet. Parked in front of our home office computer, I tackled month-end book-keeping for September.

I made notes, reviewed cash-register close out receipts. I ticked-off sales, counting the number of salsa, hot sauce, snacks, candy, cookies, gift goods and beverages that had found their way off of our shelves. I ran comp numbers, created projections, brainstormed upcoming holiday and marketing scenarios by myself.

In the early morning hours of October 1st, I’d delightfully determined our September had continued our positive streak for the second month in a row. I, fully alone, full-on grinned at the spreadsheet, looking forward to sharing success and smiles with Jeff in the morning.

That was finished and nicely settled, but I wasn’t. I was on an accomplishment high.

To wind down I relaxed into a Scrabble game, battling it out with the computer-generated Maven. Winning a rare game against the programmed-to-win competitor, lead to another round.

When I was sleepy enough to try sleeping, again, I shut down the computer, packaging up tall of the papers and receipts.

By rote, I turned off the office light and turned the corner, fully self-expecting to return to my side of the bed.

Quote for the Week: 2019 09 17 go ahead smile alone jakorte

 

Smokin’ Sweet

Jeff would probably be unhappy that I am sharing these photos.

He adamantly wanted to be cremated, no open casket. “So, no one will have to carry my lard-a**,” he insisted. And, because he didn’t want people to remember him that way.

But, for those of us who loved him, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get stuck on that. We’re going to be too enraptured by his normal, larger than life joy.

And for those of you who didn’t know him, I hope you might start to feel like you did. 

There are a couple things worth pointing out.

1. He’s got hot sauce everywhere!

2. Some of those spots left slight burn marks on him.

3. That’s his Dad, Roger, in the background. 

4.  Dale Jr. Budweiser hat, MHSC embroidered logo shirt, half-wrapped legs, socks with sandals, and pukka shell choker which he would argue was definitely not a “necklace.’

5. Bottles of varying Scoville. Only a few I can make out: Michigan Hot Sauce Club, Ass-Kickin’, Bee Sting, El Yucateco, and one hot sauce bottle with an eyedropper – most likely Blair’s Reserve or Dave’s Ultimate Insanity – waivers required.

6. A craft table, a tasting table, and the flatbed, still attached to the truck. I still have an awesome handmade raised-potting bed, which I keep full of artificial plants, including a pretty realistic hot pepper pot.

The hard work Jeff put in was impressive.  Even as far back as my initial hesitation, my heart and gut were already swaying me. Not specifically knowing what lay ahead, I somehow chose the path of no-regret.

Following Jeff, I did my best to run behind him and jump ahead of him; proud of his accomplishment and thrilled that most of my worrying was for naught. 

The end result was a jump-up in community awareness and an amazing increase in sales. The financial risk paid off. By the end of August 2006, in just our third operational year, we had broken even  – for the year. Before the holiday season had begun!

The success was smokin’ sweet. We did it, but couldn’t have without  huge amounts of help from friends and family, Tecumseh and Adrian small business owners, and BNI members. Most importantly, we did it together. 

2018 11 13 salsapalooza event

 

It Happened.

When I finally realized it could happen, within our budget, within our time frame. I got to work.

I created flyers, postcards, judging guidelines, tasting labels and signs, decorated donation jars. I made sure we had my emergency event supply kit, as well as a first aid kit. I organized the program and timing of contests. We made many trips to the local dollar store for supplies and décor.

We recruited family and friends to work. The weather cooperated; the vendors showed up. Two of Jeff’s friends came from Ohio with one of those humungous dancing windsocks, and set that up. (There’s a story about these two, I also have to tell.)

When it was time for our live interview, Jeff came and found me. Carting two folding chairs, he walked me over to the outdoor radio set-up. He looked around, and snapped his fingers. Lifting one in the air, Jeff observed another seat would be needed, but first. he had to go check on something.

He wandered away as quickly as a wanderer can, and never came back. So, that’s how I ended up at the tech board, fielding questions about things I wasn’t 100% sure about and providing information, alone.

I didn’t really mind, and had no trouble doing it by myself, but when I asked Jeff what had kept him away, he sheepishly admitted he just hadn’t liked how he’d sounded when we’d recorded a small pre-spot at the radio station studio.

For as loud and happy as Jeff was, he shied away from spotlights. He loved parties, and loved planning. He just preferred to be one of the crowd; in among the people, where the action was.

The hot sauce eating contest began with only a handful of participants. That number dropped pretty quickly. Three rounds in, there were only two. The guy who became the second-place winner finally quit when his tears started to burn his cheeks. He walked away with $25.00. The first-place winner ridiculously took another spoonful hit as a ‘Victory Lap,” and then announced she was off to spend her $50.00 prize at El Chalupin (aka The Grasshopper) in Adrian for a Mexican dinner.

Jeff and pretty much everyone spectating, were astonished by that. I didn’t think it’d be worth it for anyone to go as far as they did. Chili-heads are a fierce, feisty and fun-loving bunch, devoted to fiery foods. The fiery food vendor and selling community were the most enthusiastic folks I’ve ever done business with. Jeff fit right in.

Many of our vendors were just as dedicated, just as friendly. I have many stories to share about them. That’ll be coming up.

Thought for the Week:

2018 11 20 Share your enthusiasm cultivate and curate jakorte