a dream of rocks at rest

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There's a curious edge to the aetheric weather that I feel today. I won't give it too many words - they're not coming, and not adequate to the task. Enron's bankruptcy is one of the larger, more visible, gusts we've had, and the NPR broadcasts are beginning to reflect the accumulation of data that corroborates earlier proclamations of "All is not well in happy face land."

It's not a surprise. Well, the specific giant taking the brunt of the First Fall is unexpected, but it's not unusual that, of the Iron Triangle (telecom, transportation, energy), the oil dinosaur of the energy leg (try hard as it did to diversify by eating a broad range of little things different than it) is the latest Big Fall.

I suppose it's "good" that natural selection is happening here, and that it wasn't bailed out for the "good of the nation" because it was "too big to fail." But damn, this is going to be a blow to a lot of key businesses, and the ripple effect is going to hurt. Another bumpy part of the Descent...

So, this sort of stuff affects me. Like you and others, I've been "tolling the bell" for a stupidly long amount of time - you know, the constant litanies around "If this keeps up then [...the food supply will be threatened, soil will be damaged, air and water harmed, people ill, companies bankrupt, liberties compromised....]. Not that anyone pays any mind to the grocer on the corner, but it's my nature, so I do it.

As the unraveling continues apace, and the dominoes fall with an increasing thunder, I invariably wonder if I didn't do enough, or say enough, or say it properly. Of course, I think I'm absolved of responsibility in the larger senses of the word (tho I can't be sure, and don't bank on it), but it is the smallest senses of the word that rigorously count, so I spend some time and energy examining my motives and my work, and my priorities throughout it all.

I also have great compassion for the Sisyphian (sp? that cat that had to roll the rock up the hill) struggle of well-intentioned good-hearted people - the ones who are going to be affected by this particular go round - and look forward to the day when we all walk away from a pile of rocks, motionless, at the bottom of the hill.

My rock seems to be spending a lot more time at rest. That feels like a good thing.


State unemployment tax rate is going up. Electricity just up 38%. Lots of wholesale price increases, carefully calculated to put the retail prices - if we retained our customary margins - just over conventional price points, forcing the retailer to either pop over the price point top or eat the increase in the name of keeping business.

I get the feeling the manufacturers are counting on tight competition in the retail natural foods industry to absorb the majority of the increases and not pass them onto customers for as long as possible.

The percentage of cash business is declining; credit card transactions are up considerably. I think food stamp purchases are up, too. I'm getting ready to look at my year-end data and will know for sure.

I'm doing my best to put lots of things on sale for people. I keep a handful of basics at a very low price and that, coupled with a special order program I have that rewards people for buying cases (saving gas and time, important public assets that I consider it part of a business's good work to conserve) of things with a substantial discount in exchange for their work of pre-planning, does make it possible for even the very poor to eat very nutritionally for minimal money.

One of my oldest rants is the complaint that good food is elitist. I've had people live out of cars, and out of my store at the same time. I watched one family cure their newborn of a horrendous set of health problems through organic and whole foods, in defiance of the State's Child Services Division (who tried to remove the child because he wasn't being given adequate allopathic care).

So, when people tell me they can't afford good food, I don't believe it. And especially not when I see them quaffing a pint of microbrew at the hip pub next door.

Sometimes I'm torn about the fact that I've withdrawn so much of my passion from the store. I know that you - and other projects or people, at various times - are the recipient of that diverted flow. I seem to be a meandered stream that crooked far to one side, flooded one spring when there was too much to be held, and now the store is ox-bowed, off to the edge of me, drifting behind and off out of sight.

The new channel flows swift, toward this deeper story I've alluded to, and I just have to hold the convoluted twists of the old valley of me and hope that not too many seeds I've planted strand out of niches they can continue to emerge in.


But, the other side of this somewhat belabored coin brings me back, always, to one of the reasons I chose this business in the first place.

I chose food because it was basic. It was grounding. I was transacting in something that is necessary, and I've worked hard to make what I offer as good a necessity as I can.

It is still grounding. And the business of it is grounding. The cycles that I've held for this dozen years now, punctuated by fiscal patterns dictated by the IRS, the tax collectors, and the requirements of payroll and general financial equilibrium, hold me to a track that is somewhat regular, and allows only brief and intense flashes of my other sides to appear - a bit like the moon, I suppose.

I can feel some of the time for writing coming to an end unless I re-shape the next few months to accommodate it. I'd promised myself a short break between Thanksgiving and December to recuperate from the effort of moving, and prepare for the effort of continued moving.

The gap was well-filled with a flow out to you. I've loved the writing of it so much, and have - as I said I would be doing - generated a sizable amount of material that relates to my story, as well. If I'm successful at crafting the time, putting that stream into words may be next. It's what I hope.

But darn it all if December isn't here. It's time for year-end books. It's time to get back on the track of closing out store affairs, an even larger task that my house-moving was only the preliminary practice and warm-up for. That means a lot of days like yesterday, with accounting done late into the night, and a blind stumbling from the computer keyboard into bed a short 6 feet away.

It means a renewed entry into the problems of the Barn, since working with the numbers, and the details of maintenance (the wind blew a sign down last week; the hydraulic door closer that I've replaced twice has failed again; the cookery needs to be organized; the book aisle needs attention...the list is, well, a list...) always bring me face to face with the mountain of obligation that doesn't just "go away". There is no "away".

Hopefully, I'll meet it better than I have in the past. The respite has been good. Touching you is rejuvenating. I doubt you can know how much connecting with you has meant to me, and I can only repeat that it means a lot.


So, finally, this morning's writing has to end. As I said in one of my earlier notes, I'm practicing carving out time from my day to spend with Another. I figure that if I can manage to hold space open with activities that are primarily reflective, and solitary, and that don't generate external obligations or momentum, then I'll have that space to share when the time is right.

When I told you about going to the woods to cut swags the other day, I made myself so wistful for your company that I decided I had to go with somebody. It would have been too much of a moan to be out alone. I called Douglas to see if he wanted to go, but he was busy - that was just as well, I suppose. He really doesn't savor experiences outside of a relatively narrow, albeit deep, groove, and he's always insisted on a hands-off mode with respect to my store.

However, imagining who would have fun with me, and who would have enjoyed the cutting and the playing just as much as I fancied you would have, led me to think of Jan, and so we're headed up on Wednesday, when the weather should break for a day or so, and we'll have a grand time of it.

She was delighted to be asked, so here's one more way in which I and my community benefit from the light that I hold you in.

And now, it's 8:30. Time for coffee number 2, and some finishing touches on the accounting I fell asleep in last night, and The Monday begins.

*hug* to you in Florida. If you see the sun, think of me, and send me a beam or two. I could use some streaming beaming right about now.



541-685-2585 anytime

PLUR. Remember PLUR



-- Anonymous, December 03, 2001

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