Friday, August 8, 2008

Brett Favre...Not So Fast.

There’s only one downside to employing someone who is with you for so long, does their job so well, is liked and admired by so many and becomes the iconic face of your company…letting them go. Imagine the public relations nightmare that would create. Yet star employees eventually reach their golden years and wise companies anticipate this eventual void, all the while preparing and grooming a younger successor, as they should. And so, as the new protégé is trotted out to meet the paying customers, management usually begins to assuage the disharmony by sly, although not so subtle references to the retirement party. Your retirement party! There’s talk of parades, fireworks and A list guests coming in on private jets; even a golden bust molded in your honor. You want the keys to the city; you’ve got ‘em.

And so it went for a man for whom I have the ultimate respect and admiration. A gunslinger from Mississippi who dazzled us not only with his extraordinary athletic feats and his aw shucks personality, but with his unwavering determination to give his employer and his customers every ounce he had. Keep in mind this is a man who hasn’t missed a day of work in 17 years; and he hasn’t been sitting behind a desk. Through personal matters of death and cancer and rehab, he did what for so many of us is an all consuming chore; to get up, go to work and do your best; all day, every day. To say it was easy because he was paid handsomely and he was doing something he loved may be accurate but misses the point. He’s an ethical man, win or lose, rich or broke.

After all of the backslapping, praise singing and well wishing, it took Brett Favre about three weeks of sitting around Kiln last Spring to realize that come August he was going to miss going to work, seeing his colleagues and enjoying his customers, the fans. However, I believe this to be the time when it began to sink in that this party being planned up North in Green Bay, this was a funeral and ‘ol number 4 had helped pick out the clothes he’d be wearing. I can hear Ted Thompson now, “What do you think of this tie with that shirt?”

I’m glad to see that Brett Favre has rejected the plea bargain he once reluctantly took from Packer management and is again playing in the NFL. Every Sunday this season my grandchildren will see a man go to work and behave like a champion, win or lose. They’ll see a guy who doesn’t need the money work like he has no idea where his next meal is coming from. And they’ll see a guy who was being ushered out because of a “change in direction” and amidst a barrage of distorted public perception and sentiment, turn around and say “That’s fine. I’ll take my talents elsewhere.”! Good for you Mr. Favre! Way to stay in the pocket!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bismarcks and Jelly Rolls

A light 30 minute rain with an occasional "boomer" tiptoed across our lake this morning, momentarily replacing a postcard perfect sunrise on this first day of August as our precious summer begins its gentle descent. And my what a summer it has been. Early morning swims, late evening card games, homemade popcorn, ice cream, flea markets, parades, go carts (yes, even at our age), friends, family, Bismarck's and Jelly Rolls! Hey wait. What about those long hikes into the woods? Or those early morning bicycle rides on the Boulder Junction trail? Nary a mention of a long paddle with Bruno and Gladys? Sorry Gladys, I'll change that...Nary a mention of a long paddle with Gladys and Bruno?

It's in this last third of summer, the same time every year when I wonder if my swimming trunks have really shrunk that much in just two months. I wonder when I get out of the shower and wrap myself in my towel, "what happened to the extra fabric that is surely not here today"? And when I'm driving the Subaru and gaze down at my midsection, I wonder if my shirt is that far away from my body or heaven forbid, yes, it's tight to my abdomen. But it is summer in the Northwoods and that of course means eating!

Some people say "Gosh, all we do is eat anymore". Or you may have heard, "Every time we're invited somewhere, there's enough food to feed an army". And I know what they mean, these people, these words. I do feel the same. I may be a bit heavy right now and should (tomorrow) start taking care of myself, but I feel blessed. Blessed that I participated in so much celebrating this summer; and that's what all this eating is for, right? Sure we enjoy the magnificence of a wonderful coconut cream pie, but we celebrate the people we're eating it with. Sure we all love a hot brat right off the grill, but we're in awe of the 100 year old white pines that we're standing under and the pristine lake that we're gazing at. What's important is that we so enjoy the people that are in this moment with us...right here and now. And I think that's the celebration. To enjoy our food, to share some laughs and to hear great stories reminds us all that we are still alive. We're vital. We are healthy and fit and participating in life. We are blessed! So here's what I plan on doing the rest of the summer. I'm going to show up at every barbecue we're invited to. I'm going to take everything that's passed my way. I'm going to save room for pie. And I'm going to give our hosts a big hug, smile and thanks when I leave. And when the January sun is just over the horizon and my 'ol wooden snowshoes are marching through the gloriously white fluff, I'm gonna think, "Holy Toledo, that was a great summer. Gladys and I are really blessed. And this...this isn't too bad either. C'mon Bruno".

I gotta run. Thanks for stopping by today and bringing the pie. All my love to you and yours, Elmer