Friday, April 19, 2013

Between Chaos and Order

After a quick trip to the post office, I returned to Twin Rocks Trading Post and found Earl standing in the shade of the porch. He seemed to be anticipating my return. Earl is a part-time resident of Bluff who spends most of his days crewing big boats on the Great Lakes and coastal waters of these United States. He visits us whenever he is in town, and we consider him a friend. Standing with his hands on his hips and an upset expression spread across his face, Earl looked peeved. I got out of the car and strolled in his direction, wondering just what the heck I might have done to tick him off. I climbed the steps, walked-up to Earl and asked, "What's up?" Earl dropped his hands, clenched his fists, jutted his jaw in my direction and said in a hurt voice, "I could ask the same of you. Just a while ago you walked into the cafe, looked right through me, went into the kitchen, got yourself a drink, walked by me again, spoke to some people across the aisle, took a telephone call and left without saying Boo, Kiss-off or How's your mother?"
Navajo Male & Female Yei Vessel - Nancy Chilly (#33)

I thought about asking, "So, how is your mother?” but decided he might not appreciate the humor. I apologized, and tried to explain that I had not ignored him. Instead, I simply had not seen him. He responded, "Well you saw those other people." "I did", I replied, "but if you recall, to capture my attention those folks reached-out and grabbed my arm." Earl acknowledged that fact and asked how I could move through our cafe and not see people there. "Well," I began, "First off, my baby blues are super sensitive to sunlight, and the cafe, with its huge picture windows, is generally bathed in light. That causes me trouble. Secondly, I am a 55-year-old guy, and like many old codgers I have a tough time separating important sounds from background noise. When it is busy at the cafe, all I hear is a dull roar. Lastly, the cashier was signaling that I had a telephone call which needed to be dealt with ASAP.

Pausing a moment, I continued, "So there you have it. The cafe is a hustling, bustling place and can be chaotic and distracting. If you want my attention while I am tripping through, throw something. I prefer taking a hit from a spoon rather than a knife or fork." Earl pondered my reasoning, relaxed a bit, shook his head in the affirmative and said, "I believe I understand, I am not as sharp as I used to be either." "Hey now," I said, interrupting his misguided thought, "I said I was easily confused by sights, sounds and the need to respond, not that I am no longer sharp!" "Oh", said Earl, "pardon me for not being able to distinguish the difference."

Later that day I was manning the trading post on my own, something Steve and I do rather easily. Compared to Twin Rocks Cafe, Twin Rocks Trading Post has a calm, serene atmosphere. One of the main reasons is that there are far fewer distractions, and, dare I say it, fewer employee personalities to deal with. There is order at the post. Anyhow, a couple of about 70 years of age walked through the Kokopelli doors and began a search for treasure. I discovered they were regular readers of our blog and were familiar with the inventory through our weekly e-mailers. The couple found the Nancy Chilly pot they were looking for and dialed-up their daughter, a pulmonologist in Boise, Idaho.

The pair meandered about the store describing baskets and folk art paintings to their doctor-daughter. Before long we had a three-way conversation going on their cell phone, between me and their daughter on our respective sides of the Internet. I am just old enough that the Internet and cell phones still fascinate me. Before long, because of modern technology, the couple and their daughter found a Peggy Rock-Black, Placing the Stars basket and a Leland Holiday Picasoesque rabbit painting to decorate her western home.

The dynamics of the cafe compared to those of the trading post are quite different. I find them both stimulating and interesting, but have to approach them each on their own terms. The cafe is in a constant state of flux; it is and always will be a crazy place to manage. The trading post is laid back and easy going, it calms my frazzled nerves. The lesson from these two diverse environments is harmony and balance under all circumstances. The pollen path is the ideal, and one day I will find it.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry, Priscilla and Danny; the team.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Wild Turkey

It was a blustery morning, the day was just getting started and I was cold. Cold is one thing I do not get along with any more, so I sought out a sunlit corner and looked out over the Jones farm, inviting the nascent rays to penetrate my hide and warm my bones. Spring was testing the waters, but winter was not yet willing to concede the field. Green buds populated the mulberry and cottonwood trees, but the incoming storm threatened their continued existence.
Navajo Wild Turkey Wood Carving - Marvin Jim (#348)

Vernal winds delivered clouds of red sand to the porch, scattered the tiny grains across the cement and deposited them in corners, crevices and cracks. I told the solitary couple inhabiting the restaurant there was no sense visiting Monument Valley that day. “Just sit tight,” I said, “and it will blow right past, before you finish your eggs and toast.” “Really”, they teased back. “Yes”, I assured them, “Mittens, Merrick Butte, Totem Pole and all. Right here at your doorstep. You don’t even have to move a muscle.”

During my Sunday shifts at Twin Rocks Cafe, I often watch the hayfield to see what beasts or fowl inhabit its confines. Usually it is the Canada Geese, which honk, strut and squawk the entire acreage, but at times there are small, graceful deer herds or lone pheasants rasping out their solitary calls.

On that particular morning, I noticed two oddly shaped forms emerge from the alfalfa stubble, amble onto Highway 191 and parade south along the center stripe. “Turkey?”, I questioned myself. That was something I had never seen in Bluff, but turkey it must be I concluded. A few moments later, a lone car hurtled past, driving the pair off the asphalt and back into the grass.

It took a while, but soon the duo returned, and this time they had friends. Altogether there were four females and one male navigating the road. Watching them in the quiet of the breaking day, I could not help thinking about the traditional Navajo stories Barry tells our Twin Rocks Trading Post customers, “Turkey brought the seeds up from the lower world, so the Navajo could feed themselves. He carries the white corn in his tail feathers and the blue corn about his neck. The yellow corn is hidden in the small feathers above the tail and the mixed corn on his wings. The squash he places under his right wing and the melons under his left. The tobacco is under his tail and the beans are in that little piece of flesh that stands on top of his beak.” This story Barry has taken from Raymond Friday Locke’s Book of the Navajo.

The rafter of turkeys crossed below Melvin and Betty’s house and reemerged on Navajo Twins Drive, just west of the trading post. By this time the male was flaring his feathers and strutting elaborately for the female contingent. They acted disinterested. “The toms get crazy at times like this”, the male diner said, “and you can call them right in.” “Like all males during that process”, I suggested. “Yep”, agreed our female companion.

Taking the opportunity to coop Barry’s program, I mentioned his story of turkey bringing up the crops. “Culture is fine,” said the woman, but if you want real entertainment, just watch men when there is a sexy gal around.” Pointing to the gobbler, she drove the point home, saying, “See what I mean?” “Nuff said”, I responded and retreated to my corner.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry, Priscilla and Danny; the team.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

The Right Direction

Recently I was standing inside the plate glass doors of Twin Rocks Cafe speaking with our good friends Dave and Meeche Bodner. They are co-owners of Miguel's Baja Grill, located on Main Street in Moab, and if you have never eaten there, you should stop by for a MOAB (Mother of all Burritos). Our discussion focused on the consequences of loosing both Craig and Kathy to their new business venture, the Stone Lizard Lodge in Blanding. Dave is the principle manager of Miguel's, so he is sympathetic to our situation. Replacing our brother and sister-in-law will not be an easy task. They are two of the hardest working and diligent individuals I have ever had the opportunity to work with. Their leaving will be a sad farewell, and Steve and I will miss them greatly.
Kathy and Craig

As Dave, Meeche and I talked, I felt a return of the tumultuous emotional state we have experienced since the decision was made. This is not a happy time for me. During our conversation, a French family walked past and exited the building. Dressed for warm weather in short shorts, tank tops, hats, sunglasses and flip flops, they formed a cavalcade of pastel color, fanciful movement and excited vocalization as part of their grand adventure. The group strolled across the porch, down the steps and into the graveled parking lot towards their rented RV as a light breeze tugged at their clothes and hair. Just then, out of the clear blue, a left-handed whirlwind sprang-up and made a run at the unprotected French expedition. The father and son ducked their heads, leaned into the "whirly gig" and pushed through to their vehicle, the woman and her two young daughters decided not to risk it. Turning on their heels, the female contingent squealed in fright, ran back up the steps and waited out the twister on the porch.

It did not take long for the whirlwind to abate; they seldom cause much of a stir. I smiled to myself as the French flock regrouped, groomed each other and spoke animatedly among themselves. This event might just, become a highlight of their trip. The Bodners and I had lunch together and I listened as they gave advice on how and where to look for new managers. Steve and I have also learned that our assistant manager, Melissa, has found a suitor who is sweeping her away to Colorado Springs in May. We were lucky enough to discover a back-of-the-house manager who has extensive experience running restaurants. Our new hire, Aaron, looks to be someone who can help us a great deal. The problem is that unless Steve and I want to take over front-of-the-house duties and become tied to the cafe as well as the trading post we are going to need more help. Steve and I have been scrambling to find someone.

The Bodner's soon left for Moab and I returned to the post. Steve and Priscilla were there, so I struck-up a conversation with them about my talk with our friends and then about the French group being caught-up in the dust devil. Priscilla looked over her reading glasses, clucked like a chicken and cleared her throat to speak. I knew, by her actions that I was in for one of her cultural lessons. "You know", she said, "when we were kids my mother told me that whirlwinds were caused by a commotion of spirits." She continued, "Winds spinning to the right are believed to be made-up of good spirits, while those spinning to the left are caused by chaos." "The one we saw was spinning counter clock wise", I told her. Priscilla bobbed her head in a knowing manner and said, "You probably caused it." I snorted at the thought and replied, "Oh, so now I can control nature?" "Sure, and being sarcastic about such things just might get your tail in a ringer."

Priscilla was right, so I sat back and listened. She explained that through our emotions we not only have an effect on people around us, but if those emotions were strong enough we can affect the natural world in some small way. Priscilla told us that she has seen how sad we have been about Craig and Kathy's departure and how worried we are about finding new managers that she was surprised we had not brought the towering Twin Rocks down upon our furrowed brows. It was no surprise to Priscilla that I was raising dust devils and stirring-up the tourists. "Be happy for Craig and Kathy", said Priscilla, "they are off on a new adventure and everything will work out. Adapt and deal with it in a positive manner and good things will come of it." Priscilla finished-up with; "Look to the future, think good thoughts and you just might get things turning in the right direction."

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; The Team

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