Club?

(First, an embarrassing tidbit. So, I’ve mistakenly miss-remembered a crucial detail about our store. It was not 10 x 10. All of the newspaper article clippings I’ve saved clearly say that the space was even ridiculously smaller at only 8 x 8.  This makes me laugh. As do the many news articles, which I’ll share coming up.)

Jeff got to thinking… maybe having ‘Tecumseh’ in our name was too specific, too limiting. “Maybe we’ll want to open another store, someday, in another town.” he adorably, optimistically supposed.

I told him I liked the way he was thinking, and got to thinking, myself, too. I threw out, “Michigan Hot Sauce Company,” but that still seemed plain. And, then, from nowhere, I surprised myself and Jeff, too, by stating, “Michigan. Hot Sauce. Club.”

“Club?” Jeff wondered aloud in my direction, “but, we can’t call it a club if we’re not a club…”

“Well,” I started, “technically… we could be.” Looking at our dream blueprint, I pointed out that we were halfway there. We were already planning a monthly newsletter mailing; we already were planning on a ‘club’ type frequent buyer card.

All that was missing was meetings.

“We’re gonna having meetings? About what?” Jeff wanted to know.

“Well, maybe not ‘meetings’ exactly.” I explained. “I’m thinking special club member invitation only taste tests. Cooking demos. You love hot sauce and know so much about it. Do you think we could ask our members share recipes and make a cookbook out of that?”

Jeff’s big grin split and lit up his face. “You’re a genius,” he said. “I love the way you think!”

With a wonderful name on our lips, a license number to provide, we went into fast action. By this time, we only had two and a half weeks left in our promise to be open in three weeks. Timing was important because we wanted to be ready by the big ‘Grand Opening’ announcing the newest stores in the mall on September 23rd, 2004, and to be sure we still enough time to get our name out there before the Christmas and gift giving season.

We split up to divide and conquer and briefed each other throughout the day and every evening on our progress.

I had: décor, licensing, marketing, banking, budgeting.

Jeff had: fixtures, locating a manufacturer for our salsa (because we didn’t have and couldn’t afford a commercial kitchen), and the important cornerstone of hot sauce.

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 17 its embarrassing to have to fact check your own life jakorte 10 17 2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

About That: Memory

Fact Checking: Memories

Broadway Cat and: Memories

 

Dream-Talk

In the few days before lease signing, we checked to see if there was another hot sauce store anywhere in our vicinity. There wasn’t. That was good.

We needed a license, but first we needed a name. I thought there was an advantage to having a Tecumseh store address and that Tecumseh should part of the name.

Tecumseh Hot Sauce Company and Tecumseh Hot House were contenders, but boring. We tried to find something that rhymed with our last name and made sense with what we would be trying to sell. That didn’t go well. It was impossible.

Jeff suggested Jeff & Jodi’s Joint. I debated whether or not that could be misconstrued for a bar or a head-shop. It also didn’t say anything about what we were trying to sell. For example, The Chocolate Vault in Tecumseh obviously sold chocolate. They sold other stuff too, of course, but at least it was specific enough.

We decided to keep working on the name game, after dinner. Over Jeff’s homemade tomato sauce and pasta, we dream-talked about what would make our store wonderful. A frequent buyer card, taste testing, grand opening mailing list, a good variety of product.

It was also important to get a solid idea of what kind of up-front cash we would need.

In retrospect, I don’t suppose it matters what type of retail space you have, if it’s only 10 x 10.

There are many advantages to limited size: cheap rent, not a lot of room for fixtures, limited stock space, and one person can cover the whole store by themselves. I know some of these don’t seem like good things, but when you have small, your expenses are small.

Sure, only 2-3 other people could fit in there at a time, but that was good for conversation, which Jeff was very good at. Because I’d worked in retail in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York City, I happily declared that this would prevent shop-lifting stock loss.

“But,” Jeff tsk-ed.,“…this… is… Tecumseh…” he finished with obvious hometown pride.

Clearing the table, I pitched another possible store name. “Hey, how about Jeff & Jodi’s Hot Spot?” I proposed. “Boy,” he exclaimed on a burst of laughter, “I don’t think of hot sauce when I hear that …. sounds like you’re talkin’ ’bout your lady parts!”

“Eek!” I giggled. “Fine,” I volleyed back. “How about just Jeff’s Hot Spot, then?”

“Nah,” Jeff said. “I don’t like that. We’re doing this together.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 10 where you come from effects how you feel about where you are

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Choosing a Business Name: Don’t

Choosing a Business Name: Do

Choosing a Business Name: Licensing

 

 

 

In Decision

The medications weren’t really helping, so his doctors decided to try alternative measures. TENS units, TED hose and PT were added to Jeff’s mix. None were working as well as hoped. When a sleep study proved he had alarming apnea, an oxygen concentrator and a PAP machine arrived in our home.

After our dog excursion, Jeff mentioned the puppies a few times. I shook my head each time. I thought we had enough troubles.

More than two weeks had passed and I couldn’t get the pups off my mind. Jeff was bored and lonely and, according to his doctors, beginning to show signs of depression.

As far as I could tell, Jeff was still Jeff. Still, I began thinking maybe a dog wasn’t such a bad idea. It’d keep him busy, provide companionship.  I was a little worried about what a puppy would put Miss Fred through, but then again, it was a big house. Freddie wasn’t fazed by much. She wasn’t a constant attention grabber or a snuggler. With the exception of drive-by leg-bumping, she wouldn’t get that close. She’d sit near you – maybe close enough for a pet, maybe not, and definitely not often. 

On my way out the door to work each morning, I left Jeff his daily list of to-do tasks jointly devised as a way to keep him occupied and helpful. We’d talk about it the night before and hand note what was needed on a pre-printed form I created. On Thursday night we wrote: make a grocery list, make dinner, wash bedding. Friday morning, finally in decision mode, I added an extra line item: call to see if any puppies are left. 

Within hours, he found out there were only two puppies left. On our weekend way back to the farm, Jeff of the Big Heart said, “You know… I’ve been thinking… maybe we should take them both, because they’re the last ones, and then one wouldn’t have to be lonely.”

I said, “I’m not even sure about one. I don’t think two is a good idea.”

“Well, how will I decide?” he asked. “You’ll just have to,” was my answer.

There was no commotion in the kennel, this time. Inside the barn, two babies slept peacefully in a hay-lined, low-sided wooden crib. Jeff lifted one in each hand, and set them both down both in the morning sun. While their tiny eyes adjusted into squints, I decided I’d try the ‘Kelsey’ test and plopped myself down on the ground to see what would happen. The next thing I know, I was playfully attacked by a little black and white streak. He ran around me in circles, jumping in and out of my lap and zealously yapping. Continually, and quite normal for a Jack.

The other simply one laid down near Jeff’s feet. The yapper bumped into her a few times, so Jeff picked her up to get her out of the way.

“Is she sick? Could she be contagious?” I asked, comparing her docile demeanor to her energetic brother. “I don’t think so,” Jeff answered. Because I was me, I adamantly encouraged him to ask. Because he was Jeff, he handed her off to me and set out for the house.

Quote for the Week:

2017 08 01 Comparing apples to apples isn_t always fair judgement jakorte 07 31 2017

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Apple: Facts

Apples: Applause

Puppy Diseases: To Watch For

 

 

 

Laugh Draft

Years ago, I chose to laugh.

I  have forgotten to for a while, now, over run with stressors and tragedies. Every coping muscle needs exercise, especially if neglected too long.

So, I’ve re-decided.

I choose to laugh. I laugh because I understand some things I could not comprehend, before. It’s the only way to keep sanity among the long shadows the change has forced upon on our lives, pulled along  into the wake of it’s draft.

There are things I was able to immediately laugh about, that others stll may not be able to. I’ve laughed at inappropriate times in my own life and it’s taken years to gather up the courage to explain. I laugh at the bizarre situations that occured, that we endured, that we created. I laugh about serious occassions, because I am remembering how we got there. I laugh at he who had the last laugh, because, boy did he ever!

I laugh to best demonstrate a sadly acquired knowledge: Humor is a great teacher and a better companion than melancholy. I should know. I learned from the best.

Quote for the Week:2017 06 20 humor is a great teacher jakorte 06 19 2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Humor is Tragedy Plus Time: But, How much time?

You’re A Genius If: You Enjoy Black Humor

What’s Your Humor Type: Test It Here

The Shift

Humor is a veil and sometimes it gets a little hard to breathe under mine.

It’s also a protective shield that deflects from the intent of going deeper.

I’ve been thinking I’ve given myself a little more leeway than I probably should have with the sarcasm defence.

Having to dig for the spin from tragic to trippy is tiring. There are so many more funny stories waiting in the wings. Excerpts fly at me daily sparked by a song or a smell or a taste or a breeze that ruffles my hair.

I exercise my mind a lot trying to see around my metaphoric road block. I’ve heard enough that it doesn’t go away; as you move along, it dimishes. Every time you turn back to the way from which you came, it’ll be there – just as big and ugly as when it landed in your path.

Of course, you’ll go around it. It might not seem like that now, but you will. You might not notice the shift right away. You’ll spend a lot of time maneuvering in its shadow. Then one day, it will be beside you instead of in front of you.

That’s when the decision has to be made. Stand in the at-best momentary warmth of the sun knowing that it won’t always be that way; clouds will come and go. Retreat to the at-worst constant shadow of coldness where life doesn’t change much, but your back is always reliably covered by what it’s flattened up against.

Eventually, movement: until then timing rules the court. It holds us back or propels us forward. Timing is what drives us from soulless to soulful. For some, passing time is counted by continuing little claw scrapes, love bites.

For others it’s the proverbial bandage ripped from the anchoring erroneously unstable flesh surrounding our shredded hearts.

You can cry, but you  can still laugh, too.

Quote for the Week:

2017 06 20 Humor is a veil jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

The healing power of:  laughter

Mark Knopfler:  The Last Laugh

Might as well: Laughter Yoga

Broth – no ‘el’

Nannee went back and forth a few times, but eventually settled into an extended stay with us.

That was precipitated by a very bad flu. She had terrible coughing fits, trouble keeping anything down, and was reluctant to eat. Through badgering, I finally got Nannee to agree to try some beef broth and crackers.

When I brought them to her, she looked up at me tiredly and apologized ‘for being such a burden.’ “You shouldn’t be taking care of me,” she said. “You should be doing what young people do…”

“What do young people do?” I laughed, as I set down the tray. “Nannee,” I told her. “We want you here with us. The only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here.”

What I meant was if she was with us, we weren’t worrying about her at home alone. It didn’t come out that way, of course. She distastefully screwed up her face, looked at me sidewise, and said she was going to rest.

“Ok,” I replied, backing out, well aware I’d managed to insult her again. This time by inferring she was incompetent and couldn’t take care of herself.

I didn’t get a chance to explain it all to Jeff when he came home because he stopped in Nannee’s room first.

After a while, he came into the kitchen and gave me a look of complete unfathomableness.

“Why,” he asked, extending his arm and thrusting out his pointer finger, “did you tell Nannee the only time we have sex is when she’s here?”

“That’s not what I said!” I protested.  “What I said was – the only time we feel you’re safe is when you’re here!”

Jeff let out an uproarious laugh. Then, the doorbell rang. Pastor David had come to give Nannee communion at her request. Jeff ushered him into the guest room and within 30 seconds, I heard more uproarious laughter coming from that end of the house.

Of course, I was mortified. First, because I would have never said what she thought I said. Second, because now the pastor was in on this situation. Third, because Jeff’s brother Eric was also in on it, as well.

After communion, and after Pastor and Eric left, I slid by Jeff. “Nannee,” I sat on the edge of the bed, “I didn’t say that!” “Jeff told me,” she smiled widely, patting my hand with hers.  Jeff started laughing, again, which made me laugh. That set Nannee off into a combo laughing/coughing fit.

When we all calmed down a bit, I noticed she hadn’t eaten anything. I took the tray off the nightstand and told her I was going to warm up the broth, again.

On my way to the kitchen, I heard Jeff laughing again. Although I saw the amusement in the situation, it just wasn’t funny enough to keep carrying on like that. It didn’t last long, so I guessed it was finally over.

I came back in with the reheated cup. Jeff took one look at me and doubled over. He was laughing and sweating and slapping his knee and trying to breathe. “Nannee thought,” he wheezed out.

“Oh, Jeff – don’t… ’” Nannee interrupted him.

“Nannee thought,” he continued after a deep breath.

“Jeeehhhff!” Nannee squawked.

Jeff was determined. “Nannee said…” He straightened up a bit and another deep breath.

“She said,” he hiccupped like a broken record. “She said – ‘Did she say something about a brothel?!’”

Quote for the week:

 

2017 05 30 Speak softly jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

For: softly

Against:  softly

Musically:  killing me softly

Mugged and Gone

Still thinking about how I want to go.

Honeymoon? Snippets? Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.

In the meantime: Cake

I don’t make cake.

I don’t make cake, because I’ll eat cake. Whole cakes. I don’t usually frost them, but a eating a whole unfrosted cake is still not a good idea. Even if it takes me 3 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with not much else.

Don’t start with the cupcake theory. Cupcakes only make it seem like you’re eating less. Mostly because I sit down and eat one, decide I need another, and count off 25 steps to and from the couch. 50 steps round trip on my Fitbit. At least that burns a calorie or two, right?

Don’t even mention freezing suggestions. I’ve packaged cake slices to be frozen. It turns out I’m not averse to eating a slice of frozen cake. Directly from the freezer. No frosting, no defrosting, at all.

I’ve frozen unsliced cake remnants, since the slice thing was still too accessible. Guess what? Frozen cake isn’t that hard to slice. Just takes some heavy leaning on the knife. Tests my balance, too, so I must be strengthening my core.

A recent thunderous Saturday evening, I craved… cake.

I had almost everything I needed to bake a cake. Except butter. Or rather, I didn’t have enough butter: none in the freezer and half a stick in the fridge.

I googled cake or cookies without butter. The most popular substitution offered was vegetable oil. I don’t stock vegetable oil in my cupboard. I do stock olive oil and I’ve even heard of Olive Oil Cake. I’ve heard they taste of olive oil.

I also have a jug of sometime solidified / sometimes liquefied coconut oil. I just didn’t like the idea of a cake tasting  too faintly like coconut.

A cake should either be totally coconut or not. I did have ½ a bag of unsweetened flaked coconut. In the freezer. Which would require defrosting and then toasting. Last time I toasted coconut was a disaster.

I let it go a little too long and ended up having to take my fairly new, now black smoke spewing toaster oven outside. I left it on a garden table long enough to let it cool down enough to open the door and remove the charcoal contents. I wasn’t quite in the mood for that much work.

This got me thinking about single serve cake. Mug cakes. Cake in a cup. Cake for one. Whatever it’s called, most required only one tablespoon of butter.

Chocolate mug cake calls for cocoa. Of course. Without any, I was momentarily thwarted, until I saw the sidebar listing variations.

Banana cake! I could do that! Even better, the recipe seemed reasonably healthy… for cake.

I altered the ingredients slightly. Not just for the sake of tweaking, but because 3 tablespoons of brown sugar seemed like a lot for one serving of cake. I only used one tablespoon.  Maybe next time, I’ll cut that down to ½.

I used water instead of milk. I had milk. Just call me a calorie cutting aficionado.

I didn’t mix it or make it in a mug. I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I wasn’t sure about the microwavibility of my rag-tag promotional mugs. As it turns out, I think a 12 ounce cup would have overflowed and make a monstrous mess of my microwave.

Since I was still thinking about chocolate, I threw on 8 semi-sweet chips. Yes, I counted them. Why, I don’t know.

Cooking time was listed as 1 minute, adding 10 seconds until it seemed done. One minute went by: nope. Add 10 seconds. Nope, not even close. Add 1 minute. Yep!

It was good, and so super hot that it needed more than a minute and some major fork hole poking, to convince me I could try again.

The beautiful thing was, when it was gone, it was gone.

I’d have to go through the whole process again to make another one. My counter was filled with just as many containers as it would have been if I had baked a true cake. I was just using minuscule amount of each. I really didn’t need another one, anyway.

I’ll unhumbly admit I had another brilliant thought. Why not pre-measure and create little packets of the dry ingredients to make it easier? So next time I craved cake, I’d already be halfway there.

I thought better of that. A little reaching and grabbing and transporting ingredients meant I’d be moving, And I’d be making it way too easy. Cake shouldn’t be a daily affair.

PS. I truly believe it could serve 2 easily. It’s dense and moist and yummy and just a few bites can satisfy the craving. And then, it’s gone!

Knabbled Cake in a Cup:

1 mashed banana

1 egg

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

8 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, of course.)

Original Recipe: Banana Bread Mug Cake

2016-10-11-banana-mug-cake-jakorte-with-hyperlink