Jan 6, 2012:
It’s Friday…the end of the first week after the holidays. Everyone looks pasty and exhausted. I think the stress of the season takes it’s toll. The radio advertises bankruptcy options…there are reminders how we all spent a little too much on our credit cards and a crazy notice about the banks DOUBLING your monthly cc payments? REALLY??
Can they DO that? With so many of us living paycheck to paycheck and not having any reserve to fall back on, you can see how the downturn in the economy has caused so much foreclosure.
I met a woman last week who makes the most incredible dog harnesses. She has a little toy poodle named Coco who she sews for and she made a few extras to have on consignment at a local health food store along with some of her home sewn aprons. GORGEOUS~
I took one of her cards, called her and asked if she’d make me something special for EdGrrr my little 7 lb Pomeranian. We met, had tea, hit it off and she agreed to make him a biker jacket to go with his Harley Davidson Hat and his “Doggles” and she delivered it today.
Here’s a woman who’s just short-saled her house, is going to be homeless in another month who refused to allow me to pay for this dog coat. We had become friend over the week. I had taken some photographs of Coco and sent them to her, given her a cool car magnet with a “My Poodle Loves San Francisco” picture that she loved and managed to share some of the doggie dental hygiene powder I have so she didn’t have to go purchase it on her own. It was nice to feel I could help in some little way, but I NEVER dreamed she’d make Grrr’s jacket for free. I fully planned and looked forward to supporting her in this little business and she’s VERY good and worth every penny she was asking. I had to back off. Here was someone who had nothing. No heat in her home because she couldn’t afford to fix the furnace and now that she’s moving, what was the point? She sleeps in 3 sweat shirts but wouldn’t take my $30. I tried to offer a free massage (I bought a book of gift certificates when I came down here…$20 for an hour…can’t beat it!)...or a movie, but she didn’t want me to infringe on her gift by giving back.
I was touched. It was really neat actually, to be on the receiving end of a gift so incredibly personal and so beautifully hand tailored. Especially to know the story and how this could literally have put bread on her table and that she wouldn’t hear of it.
Now…HAD she simply accepted the $30 we probably would simply have had a business exchange. This was different. We were friends now. I wanted to help now. And I knew I could. I asked if she could/would be interested in actually making up some of these gorgeous dog harnesses/jackets for display. IF she wanted to actually make and sell these, I could help with the marketing. I’d be THRILLED to help with the marketing AND I have an “IN” in the fact that my brother owns 25 Animal Clinics in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. That’s 2.5 million people or 60% of the entire provinces population. Think maybe we can sell a few doggie coats there? If the answer is “YES”...raise your paw! 23 months ago
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Jan 6, 2012:
Jan 5, 2012:
Considering I didn’t leave the house today, I had a hard time giving myself to anyone other than someone on the phone…but MORE IMPORTANTLY today I chose to be kind to “ME” and to be aware of the mean girl who lives inside of me. The critical one who can’t walk past a mirror without saying something derogatory, the one who is annoyed at the “too dark” toast at breakfast (like that’s MY fault?) and the one who always sees the flaws rather than the fabs!
You know…the niggler, the carper, the nit picker, the JUDGE? We all have one. My mean girl can be awful. I say things to myself that I would NEVER DREAM of even considering thinking about, let alone actually saying to someone else. Today, I was nice to her. Yup…when she started in, instead of either allowing her to berate me or holding up the “talk to the hand” signal, I embraced her. I told her it was OK that breakfast wasn’t perfect and that “every step forward is a step CLOSER to a goal” rather than the usual nag of “one step forward and two back and I might as well quit!” defeatist attitude. I actually mentally HUGGED her. And she melted. Away…gone…like a puddle of ice cream on a hot summer sidewalk. I won’t say completely vanished, because I got to look down at her in this “pool” of blackness…and I think there was a tip of a witches hat still disintegrating amongst the sizzle. But she was powerless. Goo.
All this time…all these years, I’ve gone to battle with or been beaten by Ms. Nasty and a little love is all she needed.
Huh…(amusement and subtle surprise) 23 months ago
I am in San Francisco house/dog sitting for a friend who’s gone to Poland for the month. It’s been wonderful, quiet and introspective. AND LONELY! I am a people person and a talker, but having committed to this year of blogging “Random Acts of Kindness” I find my awareness of others has shifted. Previously, I would have tried to stay out of people’s way and let them do their jobs…ie: Maria.
Maria is Danusia’s housekeeper. She and her sister Lupe showed up here today. Usually, I would have left and allowed them to get on with their business. Today, I had to wait for a repairman. Today, I asked if they’d like to join me and if they had time for tea. Quite surprised by my invitation, these two Latino women sat at my friends lovely dining room table and we shared a half hour together. I LISTENED, rather than talked. I asked questions about THEM. I learned how they were illegal immigrants to the USA when mere teenagers as they snuck across the border, hiding in the bushes and avoiding the lights of the border patrol helicopters overhead. HOW terrifying that must have been! I learned they later became US citizens thanks to Regan’s Reform of immigration in 1986 where over 3 million illegals received amnesty. I listened as Maria shared the story of her stage 4 cancer scare, (she’s now cancer free) and the surgical removal of 28 cancerous lymph nodes. She now visits and encourages other cancer patients who are struggling with depression (some of them the women she cleans for) and is a voice for Latino women on television as this is a particular topic of conversation that they culturally choose to avoid. Maria believes that they think if they talk about it, it will happen to them. She has been interviewed numerous times to try to bring public awareness to her community. I learned that her sister, Lupe who speaks more Spanish than English is an animal lover and a fighter for the underdog, just like me. That she has a cat name Mitzy that she rescued when one of the elderly women she cleans for became ill and she took on Mitzy for her. When this woman died, her family asked Lupe if she would keep Mitzy. They are the best of friends. Mitzy protects her fiercely and if anyone tries to come into her home, she attacks them. Not her strongest point, but hey…I think she’s trying to say she’s grateful. While they were here, Lupe fell in love with my Pomeranian , EdGrrr. She carried him with her in her arms while she wore a back pack vacuum and cleaned the house. She held him as we sat at the table. I took some photos of the two of them together and even though she coo-ed at him in Spanish, it was obvious that the love was reciprocal.
We talked cooking and Mexican recipes and the girls agreed to make some Tamale’s for me to try and take home to Canada for my husband. They are supposed to come back to visit on Saturday, food in hand, so I’m excited to see if that will actually transpire. I tried to let them off the hook by saying it was ok if they couldn’t come, for as hard working as they were, part of me felt guilty to think they might spend their day off creating an incredible Mexican treat for me rather than spending it with their own family. Again…had I chosen my old ways, I would know nothing about either of these girls. We would have remained strangers, and probably never seen each other again. Now, the door is open, and who knows in the year of this blog who might become a permanent fixture in my life, or where those encounters may lead? I’m looking forward to finding out.
We exchanged email info and I made sure they knew they were ALWAYS welcome to come to our home in Canada. Hmmmm…maybe I’ll make some Irish Stew! 23 months ago
Bob Welsh (See Jan 3rd)
Today is January 4th…
I’m LOVING this!
Went to “We Bought A Zoo” movie. Noticed a little old lady coming in late just before the show started very slowly pushing a walker. I saw her outside in the foyer (waiting for her ride?) after the show and Grrr and I walked up to her and asked her how she enjoyed the movie. We shared a lovely 5 minute conversation. I think she was thrilled someone took the time to notice and acknowledge her and ASK her her opinion. It felt really good.
Today I spoke with Lila (my Bestie) and reminisced about a past New Year… 1999. I told her how I remembered her so fondly EVERY new year for being so incredibly supportive to Greg and me on that particular one. It was the DAY we opened “Creature Comforts” on Crowe Road in Roberts Creek. We’d worked really hard to create a state of the art dog grooming facility on our rural 5 acre farm trying desperately to create more income. Lila INSISTED that she be our first client and brought her golden retriever “Lady” for a bath (even though she NEVER EVER took her to a salon in 10+ years.) I of course didn’t want to charge her, and she wouldn’t hear of it.
It still gives me warm fuzzies, but that’s Li…you certainly want HER on YOUR side, if you’re goin’ to war. She’s a keeper!
So, when we spoke of our New Year’s Day activities, today, I reminded her of how I savor that feeling on this anniversary of that date, even now that the salon and our home on the Sunshine Coast have been distant memories of almost 10 years now. I still smile. Thank you Lila. The funny thing? SHE didn’t even remember…
Makes me realize how being the recipient of that generous “Random Act” on her part can affect and remain with the recipient of the gift. (AHA MOMENT!)
January 3/2012: (I just like writing 2012! hee hee)
Today I received an email from my dear friend Kim who is currently wintering in Yuma, Arizona. It was just another typical “forward” and the title caught my curiosity as it was new to me and I get a LOT of these little jokes and video clips.
“Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper’s Christmas”
I opened the email, clicked on the video link and was pleasantly surprised to be entertained by an elderly man reciting a poem while standing in front of a Christmas Tree at what looked like a church or hall with benches lining the rustic wooden interior of the room.
You didn’t see anyone else. The camera was focused on him and he was the most animated and talented story teller I have had the pleasure to see in a very long time. As a poet myself, I had great respect for his craft, the flow of the story and his ability to bring it alive. It was a reminiscence of sorts…a telling of an old man now alone on Christmas Eve, a widower with grown children living their own lives elsewhere and his mind drifts back to all the Christmas Eve’s he spent on the road helping others while his own family was alone at home. It talked of the dedication, the danger, the opportunities to help others stranded or homeless and gave an overall picture of the fact that these troopers don’t just write tickets and shoot bad guys. There was a huge “humanity” component to it. He shared of a fatal car wreck where he had to go to a run down trailer to tell the family that their mother had been killed. The door was opened by a young 4 year old who thought HE must be Santa, because her Momma promised if she stayed in bed and was good, that he would be bringing her the dolly she’d asked for. Trooper Welsh then tells about taking this little girl home with him, his wife feeding her and tucking her into bed and then wrapping up a doll for her for Christmas morning. She was adopted and moved away and he went on to share other events of other distant Christmas Eve’s gone by. Then, his thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. Could it be a neighbor? Santa himself? Who would be calling at this late hour? As he rose, he saw the silhouette of a trooper on his porch and fear struck his belly. WHO HAS DIED? Was his first thought as he remembered the many times it was he who stood in that spot having to inform another of the bad news. As he opened the door, he met a woman officer who stood for a moment, a single tear sliding down her cheek, who then with outstretched hand introduced herself as Trooper Sue MaKay…the young 4 year old girl he had rescued all those years ago.
I bawled. The video ended with a web address:
Still snuffling, I typed the words in thru my tears and read about the man who so deftly delivered this recital and was again touched by the warmth in his eyes of the photo of him next to his contact info.
Without thinking, I dialed his number in Ohio and within moments heard that full rich voice answer “Hello.” I knew it was him…but I queried, “Bob?”
“Yes, this is he” came his reply.
“You don’t know me, but…” I stammered wiping my eyes…
I told him who I was, WHERE I was (in San Francisco at the time) and I’m not sure if being alone myself for this Christmas/New Year’s holiday season had made me a tad more melancholy than usual, but for the next half hour I visited with a man I didn’t know. I complimented him on his writing style, his delivery, his obvious “God given gift” and he shared part of his story. He thanked me for my kind words telling me he had received calls, letters and emails from all over the world since the group who had asked him to speak that night asked permission to put their little video on YouTube. He was very humble. Now remarried and happy, he takes his story telling to others and speaks at various churches and business groups. The Christmas Eve poem was all true, with a little poetic license. The child was a boy, not a girl, the other people he’d helped were many and he’d certainly bought more than a breakfast or two for a wayward soul. His wife had indeed died and his children were gone…it was a wonderful visit. I asked him if he had anything professionally available and he said he’d written a book and done a cd with his various pieces of work published to share.
I bought his double CD album (are they still called ALBUMS?) and asked if he would open it and autograph it for me before shipping it on to my home address in Canada. It was certainly the highlight of my year so far. Just me and Bob Welsh…stranger turned friend. 23 months ago