Friday, November 6, 2009

Ella and The Great Unwashed

Not long ago Ella Toney dropped by with some of her signature stamped jewelry. Ella said she needed a little money to buy hay for her son’s livestock; he had done her a good turn and she needed to return the favor. Although we did not really need the jewelry, Barry and I agreed to buy it anyway. We are fond of Ella and realized she needed a individual economic stimulus package. After all, what’s a few hundred bucks when the federal government is spending trillions?

Navajo Jewelry Artist Ella Toney

Over the years, I have developed a theory that there is a universal energy that notices and rewards good deeds. Some call it God, Barry refers to it in terms of string theory, but I think it is less complex. I believe the good energy radiates out and touches others who correspondingly respond to the positive stimulation. In any case, before we had finalized the transaction with Ella, a customer telephoned to buy a Ray Lovato turquoise necklace, validating my hypothesis.

Borrowing a page from Barry’s philosophy text, mixing in a little of my own testament and making a large round shape in the air with my index finger, I said to Ella, “You see, there is this great cosmic circle. Here’s how it works, your son does something nice for you, and you return the kindness. We buy your jewelry and somebody calls in to purchase something from us. It’s all part of the cycle. It’s . . . magic!” Looking over her shoulder and winking as she exited into the bright October sunshine, Ella said, “Steve, that’s called a blessing!” As I stood pondering Ella’s comment, a customer who reminded me of playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “The Great Unwashed” came walking in.

At Twin Rocks we often see those who have spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Some are beautifully tanned and others, having forgotten their sunscreen are red as lobsters. Most are freshly scrubbed, but a few arrive before experiencing the sublime and reinvigorating pleasure of a shower or bath. This customer fell into the latter category. He had spent so much time hiking and camping in our red rock sanctuary that his fingernails were black and his formerly straight blond hair had evolved into dreadlocks. He smelled of smoke and sage, and there was a crust of red dust on him that, despite his fair skin, made him look almost Native.

Having walked through the small museum we maintain in the back room of the trading post, he expressed interest in the Twin Rocks Modern weavings by Eleanor Yazzie and watercolor paintings by Serena Supplee we currently have on display. These are some of our favorite Navajo rugs and Serena is a perennial favorite at the trading post, so it did not take much to engage me in a spirited conversation. After only a few moments of discussion, however, the visitor quickly changed the topic. In the every day odyssey that is Twin Rocks Trading Post, that in not an unusual occurrence. Our dialogues with customers frequently take unpredictable turns, and we often wind up discussing the most unexpected and enlightening topics. In this particular instance, however, the abrupt switch took me by surprise.

As I explained how Serena had been “directed by the Great Spirit” to paint rug patterns and how Eleanor had quickly adopted these as her own, the man said, “Oh, that’s a blessing!” In short order he launched into a lecture on respecting the needs of others and how his life had been changed by learning that fundamental principle.

An hour and a half later, as my eyes were becoming droopy and I was seriously concerned I might fall over from fatigue before his discourse ended, he said, “My girlfriend recently told me I am too impulsive and insensitive. She’s right, it was a blessing; she blessed me with that information.” With that, he said goodbye and left me standing there once again.

Since our visits from Ella and the Great Unwashed, Barry, Tina and Priscilla have blessed me many times with valuable information about my personality and daily habits. After an initial bout of sensitivity, I began to consider what the Great Unwashed had said and realized he was right; blessings often come in strange and unusual ways, and there is nothing more strange and unusual than the trading post staff. As Ella would say, “Steve, that too is a blessing.”

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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