Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dancing with the stars

October 23, 2012
I went outside the other night to watch the Orion meteor shower.  I stood out in the back yard for quite some time until I just got too tired or too bored to watch.  I never saw a single meteor but what did happen was a spark to a memory of years passed.
The time was the early 60's.  I was probably on the shy side of my teen years.  It was a summer night in Gilchrist and a sight was suppose to be seen that night.  The Russian satellite, Sputnik, was reported to be able to be seen from the naked eye.   A few of the neighborhood friends of my older brothers had joined us in a line of boys laying out under the stars.  No one could afford sleeping bags so we stretched out on top of some quilts with loads of blankets over the top of us.
The stars were especially bright that night and if you looked up into them, they seem to draw you into their presence, wrapping you in their sparkling luminance.  We lay there joking and laughing at various stories and thoughts that young boys think of.  I recall a few scary stories were intertwined.  Then, one of us saw it.  "Look!", he shouted and pointed in the Eastern sky.  A small flashing light could barely be seen.  We all went deathly silent as we watched the strobe like light as it slowly crossed the sky.  It seemed to mesmerize us as we lay there looking up.  Slowly, boy by boy, we all fell asleep as we watched the beeping light cross the sky.
What gets me as I recall back at the memory was how taken we were by that small flashing light that even with the incredible consuming vision of the stars did not pale in our eyes to it.  The number of stars were countless as the sands on the sea.  Most of them larger than our own sun and yet, we were so used to seeing them that we just took them for granted.
The beauty of God's creation can be seen, smelled, and touched.  Yet, we take most of it for granted.  I would challenge you to re-experience it's grandeur.  Go out on a clear sky night and lay on the ground, looking up at those stars.  Drink in the vision.  Go outside after a summer rain and breath in deeply taking in the smell of fresh rain on dry parched earth.  Remember that smell.  Draw a glass of clear cold water and drink it's sweetness.
Yesterday, I got to hold a young baby not a day old.  I looked down at his perfect skin...his peaceful sleep.  I think I saw one of his first smiles.  I looked over at my 26 year old daughter and remembered the day that she arrived, the same way.
Take nothing for granted.  Don't forget the simple things.  Live your life, looking for them daily and it will be filled.


October 13, 2012
I recently took a trip with Judy up in Washington.  During the trip, we were able to stop and a variety of restaurants.  I attempted to look for more local so as to gain greater ideas.  What I ended up with was a primer on service...or in most cases bad service.  Now, I know this was not indicative of the area. It was more the luck of the draw.  But I ended up with some pretty teachable moments on what to insure your local restaurant does not do.
We stopped at one small place that was at one time popular enough to be put on the map that I purchased from Barnes and Nobles of the area.  We pulled up to a dingy beaten up building.  They had put far more emphasis on Halloween then they had on up keep for the building.  Decorations were everywhere and a real disgusting creature looked down upon us as we looked through the menu that we had been given.
We ordered up our sandwiches and I exited to the bathroom.  It was filthy...so bad that I cannot even explain.  I chalked it up to the fact that I did not see any males on staff.  Maybe they didn't look here.  When I came out of the room, I looked towards the kitchen.  A paneled wall on my left had holes punched in it like some one had hit it with something.
I returned to my table to find my sandwich and soup waiting.  The bacon had flavor but nothing really else.  I wondered if I really should be eating after seeing the bathroom but I did eat the sandwich and the broth from the soup hoping it was hot enough.
As we ate, the owner took her manager to the side right behind us by the cash register.  She told her manager to continue the salmon special throughout the day and what ever was left over, to place in the freezer for another time.  I looked around and saw no special board.  The waitress had not named any special to us.  So, I wondered to myself how they were going to attempt to sell the salmon.
The owner then sauntered over to the bar where she planted herself where she could see the room.  No smiles, just looks.  She stared at us as we got up, paid, and left.  No one thanked us for eating there.  Her demure seemed to mirror the faded look of the building.  She was tired and worn out too.
Later that same day, we had checked into a small motel and Judy said that she would like to have some roasted chicken.  I had spied a deli in the local market down the street so I drove down to see if they had any. It was about 5 or so in the evening.  The sign said roasted chicken so I inquired.  "We are out", came the reply.  "We have some fried chicken coming out in a minute".  I knew Judy would not want fried so I looked around for alternatives.  I saw a sandwich board and went to order up a Rueben.  "That is the lunch board", came the next reply. "Well, do you have any hot sandwiches at all?", I asked.  She stared at me for a second and said, "Look, I can't keep the grill on all day!".  Ouch.  I smiled and left.   Judy said she would just make herself a sandwich and I drove down to a local burger joint and got my supper.
Two days later, we were in a popular beach location.  I took the time to look up Yelp and Trip Advisor and found a small restaurant that was labeled the best breakfast around by both.  I did see a couple of bad reviews but I chalked that up with the location.  We drove up to the small diner and walked through the door.  Two employees were working behind the counter.  A few diners were eating.  The cashier nor the cook even looked our way.  The cook had heard the door and yelled out,  "Menus are on the table.  Order at the counter when you are ready".  I noticed later that was what she yelled out every time the door opened.  We figured out what we wanted and walked up to the counter.  Air pots of coffee were to the side and I had already read that you had to get your own.  "What do you want?" came the inquiry from the sloppily dressed cashier.  She looked at us once and then down at her ticket that she was writing.  We both ordered and I told her that I was going to have some coffee.  Judy asked, "Do you have decaf?".  Without saying a word, the angry looking cashier just pointed at the orange topped air pot.
We got our coffee and sat down.  Another lady walked through the door and went behind the counter.  She looked to me to maybe be the owner as she was dressed better than the others.  She put on an apron and folded her necklace behind it.  The cashier walked in the back, got her purse, and walked out the door to her car without a word.  I could tell she was angry for having to be there and I could hear a partial conversation saying such between the other two ladies.
The owner looking one asked the cook if she was going to watch the debate on TV. "I don't think I am going to vote...never have..not going to start now.  I don't care." was her reply.
The cook walked over to our table with our dishes.  "Who ordered the burrito?", she said with nary a smile.  "I did", I replied.  Without another word, she plopped the meals in front of us and went back to her kitchen.
Now the food was delicious and I gather that was the reason for the Internet ratings.  A local finished his meal and said goodbye to the cook.  "See ya tomorrow", said the cook.  Since we had already paid, we finished our meals and just got up and left.  No thanks....no asking how our meal was.....no care.  As we opened the door to leave, I noticed the cook look up.  Since we were leaving, she just went back to her duty.
Two days later, we found ourselves at a very nice restaurant in our motel.  The cost of the room included breakfast so we stepped into the restaurant and found ourselves a nice table close to the window overlooking a courtyard.  The waitress was rather loud but dressed well.  She asked us for our order and we ordered off of the complimentary menu.....so....that was the last we saw of her.  Now she came by our table quite a few times but only to take others orders.  The manager delivered our meals.  He also asked us how we liked our food as we prepared to leave.  The waitress was busy taking complimentary meal orders and actually serving the ones who ordered off of the 'real' menu.  We laid a dollar on top of our coupons and left.
Now, I am not saying that we had bad service everywhere we went.  We took out in a couple of places and were quite happy but....of all of the sit down places we went to, there was only one that gave great service.  A place called Kalaloch on the beach close to a reservation.  A young native American girl served us there.   She insured our meals were hot and tasty.   She checked on us many times.  She helped us move out to the deck so we could watch the small otters play in the pond below us that she had pointed out to us when we arrived.  Then, she helped us out by taking a picture of both of us there....the only picture of the two of us during the trip.  She had served us well and we left her with a generous tip.