After a productive trip down into the foothills of North and South Carolina and Georgia, on the drive back north, we stopped for fuel at a nationally known convenience store location. After plopping down some cash to pre-pay the fill up, wandering back to the car, one of their signs came rolling past in the wind.
As I was gassing up the buggy I noticed the sign had landed at the foot of a STOP sign. Figured I'd go get the sign while the pump was metering out the fuel. As I approached I saw a retail building which had the sign "CAFE" on the right. Moving closer I saw the name "Cool Spring Market", a natural food store in Lexington, VA.
Ah! Here again, my chance to get a nice cup of coffee and introduce the staff to my all natural insect repellent - 'Skeeter Skidaddler. They received my free samples with interest and brought them back to the owner, along with the presentation folder.
I believe 'Skeeter Skidaddler speaks well for itself when people have a chance to try it. I provided free samples and folders to over 85 retailers on our barn storming tour in the southeast. So far 6 retailers have signed up. From my past experience I will get orders from 30-40 more on this trip, once the owners and managers have a chance to test the samples and review the wholesale information.
'Skeeter Skidaddler really is a ground breaking product. Other herbal formulas work to a lesser extent, have to be reapplied often and have varying fragrances which many times are not terribly pleasant.
'Skeeter Skidaddler repeals all flying biting insects, whether in northern or southern climates. It lasts 4-6 hours per application. Two fragrance ways are available and loved by over ten thousand of our fans: warm and spicy & light and lemony.
Harold, our good buddy in Maine, has signed up another 7 retailers this year, even with snow still on the ground. We have another 18 new retailers from the New England Made trade show. This year our retailers will number more than 300 and our presence in the southeastern US will be growing by 200%.
2013 has been a very challenging year for most people that I know, or have had a chance to talk with. We have lost family and friends. There has been ongoing duress due to the continued problems in the economy. Pick any one month of 'news' in 2013 and it would have made for a full year of happenings in any prior year. It seems like we've all been drenched by a fire hose at least once, if not many times!
For me 2013 had been a year where I made the choice to not stress out over things I could not change; things I could not do; circumstances which where too much for me to handle. I let go of the reins more than a few times when the horses started to make a run for it. Figured, "it will be what it will be" and just tried to not get tossed out of the wagon until things settled down.
By and large I didn't get tossed and things did settle down. Some times the ride was fun, sometimes it was more like "crap on a crap cracker" as I've heard one call it. As Solomon wrote millenia ago, "There is a time and a season for everything under the sun...a time to be born, and a time to die". There are things that are not elective courses.
My Niece asked me, "What has been good?". She said she's been asking herself that question and it has helped her to broaden her focus from just seeing the tough stuff to also balance that with the sweet stuff. She's learned to open herself to the moments of goodness which fill each day: a moment of warm sun on her face, petting a nice dog, enjoying the company of a true friend.
In Maine, there is a large population of French-Canadians (mainly from Quebec) who migrated south during the industrial revolution in America. Plenty of Cyr's and Ladeau's and LaFlamme's in these parts. One thing about the French, they know how to confront the difficulties and joys of life: everything becomes a party! Lot's of dancing, singing, eating, socializing. Is there a birth, death, accident, victory? There is a party to go along with that.
I once asked a local band leader here, who did community gigs, what were his most challenging gigs. Tony's quick response: Those old french folks down in Biddeford. They will not quit. The french social club parties, down there, are all-nighters. We play till 1 AM and are exhausted ... but they force us to play on till 3 or 4 in the morning ... And those are the 80 and 90 year olds!!
Somehow I think they know what they are doing, those old folks. They know life is a dance. They know how to be passionate about living, now. They are not waiting for an invitation. They are making it happen, now. That must be why I like that Cajun music, and the Podorythmie of Quebec. My toes are tapping right now.
Anyway, what I mean to say is this, about 2014 ... let's not be shy. Whatever comes is only part of the equation. The larger factor and effect is what we do with it, how we approach what is in front of us. Frankly, I'm inclined to put on some dance music. There's no time like NOW, to live and to love. Care to join me?
There is an entire Univers(ity) right at out elbows, and always has been if our eyes are open to seeing. My brother Rob taught me a few things about being an Entrepreneur which I'd like to share:
1) There are always opportunities, always.
2) Filter for those opportunities that are suited to you. You are the most important part; Keep developing you.
3) Do a lot of thinking first, even though it doesn't look like you are doing anything.
4) Have big dreams, and accept what comes of reaching for them.
5) When you have thought about everything, and rethought it through from many different angles, if it makes sense, then do it.
6) People throw away stuff that others want, but call it a different name. (variation of "One man's trash is another man's treasure" and "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.")
7) Bring your goods or services to the right people, in the right way.
8) Give your customers more than they expected, and charge them less than what they thought it would cost.
9) Make friends. Share what you know. Help others to succeed.
10) Most things don't last forever. Know "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em". If you can't change it up to refresh it, then bring along what you learned from reaching for your last dream, in your pursuit of your next dream.
A bonus lesson from our mom, Mineola:
12) A lot more people will give you a dollar for things that are smaller and interesting than will give you ten dollars for something larger, that you think is worth ten dollars.
We stand on the platform of that well worn train station, watching, as our loved one takes time to embrace us, kiss us and then turn to go on a journey we can not at this time make with them. They pick up their one small bag, the one that has their life inside of it, and pause. They turn to us, sometimes with a smile, with tears or both. They try to be brave for us, as we try to be brave for them ... but inside our hearts are breaking just as theirs are, too. They turn again and step on board. We strain to catch a glimpse of them as they move along into the coach. There! we see them seated, waving and smiling. Our faces are paralyzed. We can't seem to make them do anything. We wave franticly, too. There is a sudden whistle, a lurch forward, a pause, another longer whistle. Our hearts get stretched and torn like taffy being pulled out of us as we watch part of our lives moving, rolling away.
Good bye! We'll see you soon! Take care! I love you! Be good! Let us know how you are! We love you! God, I am so sad! I will miss you so much! Peace be with you! Thank you! I love you!
No one was there as we let you go that day. How I hate that you are gone. I know the last part was so hard, but we didn't want to loose you. We did the best we could. We got to love you. We still love you.
The train station was packed that day with people we never saw. The train was full when it left at midnight. We never saw anyone else, because our sadness overwhelmed us. It's hard to see through so many tears.
Today, the sky is getting that achingly blue color, again. The wind is bringing a foretaste of cold that will touch us, again. I am thinking of you. I am missing you. I feel warm with tears which the cold wind can not cool, and never will.
I love you! I am glad you were with me as my brother. I am glad we had time together and could help each other. I know you loved me more. I am thankful for your love, loyalty and friendship. It was far too short. We will, in time, see you again when we make our passage. Until then, know that you are loved and missed completely so.
My brother, Rob, called me at the end of August from an ER in Oregon. He told me he had gone in because of pain and exhaustion. The ER doc and Radiologist told him he had advanced metastatic cancer...and arrangements where being made to place him in Hospice. I booked a flight as soon as I could.
We had a few weeks with him as he traversed the last of his days on this earth. Rob passed in peace on September 7th at 3PM.
There is nothing I can write here which can adequately convey our sense of loss at his departure: beautiful man, loyal brother, loving father.
In a more lucid moment he said, "This is all about loving each other and working together, isn't it?" It was more of universal statement about life and not a question.
How entirely true ...
I'm a sucker for a good yard sale. The possibilities of finding a sweet deal draws me in like a magnet; and the risk associated with buying something that may or may not work adds a bit of excitement to the whole affair. This past weekend I was drawn off down a side road where an extended family was trying to liquidate a huge amount of stuff from the garage and basement in an effort to raise some money for school expenses for their two boys. It may have been an pre-estate or estate sale of some kind, though I'm not sure.
In the mix was a plastic storage bin with some computer accessories; next to it was a fairly newer looking computer. Price? $50. After chatting with the folks and looking over the labelling I traded some paper with pictures of dead presidents for the lot. Had the two boys help me haul the stuff to my car.
Back home cleaned the PC (5 years old), screen, keyboard, mouse. Plugged in all the plugs, flipped the switch...and it worked (smile, relax). Next, I set about doing some research and then installed Linux Mint Olivia xfce (Ubuntu 15) and a few applications to include Oracle VM VirtualBox, FreePlane, Groovy and assorted other stuff.
The box will make a fine VM Server for my little corner of geek-dom. Because it has a AMD Quad Core 2.2 GHz CPU and 5 GB of RAM I will use it to host between 12 and 16 Virtual Machines, each running TinyCore Linux as web, database and application servers. If you are not familiar with TinyCore, and you are Geek-ish, I would suggest checking it out: small, tight and fast!
Final touch was to locate and apply a suitable Penguin sticker...and to just take a few moments feeling quite pleased with myself!
It's encouraging to me to see "all the places we will go" as 'Skeeter Skidaddler is recommended from person to person across the country, and now even into Canada. Here are a few of the most recent places where 'Skeeter Skidaddler has crossed time and space to help those in need of nature's very best bug repellent!
Sharon Hill, PA
Central Square, NY
West Hempstead, NY
... Welcome on board the 'Skeeter Skidaddler Special: "we're going to places that we've never been!"
As summer floats along there is always a change in the air when we roll into August. The light is not as intense, even if the temperature gets hot. The days begin to shrink and the nights slowly expand. Subtle feelings begin to insinuate themselves under my awareness.
Being in the country, and working the land, sharpens the senses to things which do not announce themselves. The smell of a cool morning changes. The birds begin to form flocks, and later begin to practice group flight. The color of leaves becomes a more dark, dull green. There is a quickening of pace amoungst the critters.
I notice the first goose honk, far to the horizon. Just one honk, and then nothing for days afterward. Plant growth slowly stalls as the cool nights force them further into quietness until the later sun warms them to the day. The colors of twilight begin to change toward the cool hues of Maxfield Parrish.
The stream of time is floating me down its river. There is never an abrupt change in its turns. The view keeps changing, and sometimes it seems as if I am going in circles. We are immersed in its fabric and flow. And I know what comes after this turn, at least a sense of the patterns, if not in the particulars of their outworkings.
Once in a while I get perplexed about making a decision. I'm unconvinced of which thing I'd like, given a few things to choose from. I recognize that deep down I probably have a preference, but its just not bubbling to the surface at that moment.
A number of years ago I invented a little exercise to help me figure out what I really want. I do a coin toss.
I say to myself, "OK, if it's heads, then you get A; and if it's tails, then you get B." But since I'm the game maker as well as the game player, I also get to add a rule of my own...
My new rule is that if I get heads and I regret what that chooses for me, then I get to pick the other thing. The regret tells me that I really wanted B all along.
If I get tails and I have no regrets about that, then I get to keep B, because that is what I really wanted all along.
So, I'm fooling myself a little bit, and forcing my feelings to expose themselves. That can be a handy scheme at times. Possibly you have a secret means by which you tease out your own shy wants. If so, I'd love to have you reply and tell us the secret. Its always interesting to hear what you have to share!
One day you get a call. You realize that you will never see the person again. They may have been close to you, or maybe not so close. In the pit of your stomach you feel the inwardness of grief. The everyday things that were just in your field of vision go gray.
These are precious days. Every person in your life, and you (as a person) in their lives, is here but for a time. We each are precious gems. Our relationships can be treasures beyond any material substances.
What we do with our hearts and the hearts of others is what makes this life. Its not about stuff. Its about the living, breathing family that we all are together, regardless of the labels.
In ancient times the Neanderthals carefully buried their dead with tools, provisions and flowers. We bury our dead with the same. I'm sure that they grieved, just as we do today.
The nearness of death has invited me to adjust my priorities regarding my relationships with those around me. These are precious days. Our treasure is with those with whom we walk in this place, not in the stuff of the place where we walk.
Goodbye to you Ray, Leslie, George Sr, Neal. We will miss you. You are still with us. We treasure you and will not forget you. You made us rich by your presence in our lives. Thank you for what you shared with us. We are inspired to share ourselves with others, too.
Please take care, dear ones. These are precious days.
Allen Pollock, ( Owner of Gentle Breeze Farm, LLC located in Windham, Maine )
Gentle ponderings & ruminations on life and living