Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Wall of Fame

Years ago, when I worked at The Greenbrier, there were photographs of the politicians, dignitaries, and celebrities who visited the hotel throughout the years. I wish that I had started my own wall of fame back in 2009. We may not have sitting presidents here at the Inn, but we've had some excitement of our own. Bill Fichtner is the first one who comes to mind, mostly because I can now call him a friend. Madeleine Albright is a hero of mine, and it was an honor to meet her. Adam Driver set some hearts aflutter around Brunswick when he was here a couple of years ago, and for me it was a bit of a miss--I didn't know at the time what a rising star he was. Mira Nair has graced our steps a few times, as has Richard TuttleLiang Wang, Dana Cowin and Bela Fleck.

This past Sunday, however, was really special for me personally. Sam Hayward was here at the Inn cooking for a small group, and I got to hang around the kitchen while he worked. I admit to being a little starstruck, but I was immediately put at ease. What a lovely guy. Humble, easy to talk to, low-key. Sam has done wonders for the food scene in Maine over the course of the last 40 years, working to support Maine farmers and producers as exclusively as he can. Winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast in 2004, Sam may not be a household word in too many circles outside Maine, but to me, he's wall-of-fame worthy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Winter of our Discontent

I know there are reasons to be cranky about all this snow. It's heavy and expensive and dangerous to drive in and it's dangerous to be up on your roof trying to shovel it off and it's bone-cracking cold and the furnace is cranking and the kids are home from school which means they'll be in school during vacation(s) and it just keeps coming and coming and coming.

And I say I love it. I am lucky because I have a warm home and a cozy place that is safe from the elements. For these things I am humbly grateful. When I get in a hot shower each morning, I think of what a luxury it is. I do not take my warmth for granted.

But I have always loved snow, and I love it this winter, too. There is a feeling during a tough New England winter that is paradoxical, and it is appealing to me on both sides of the paradox. On the one hand, there is a fight for survival, warmth, and safety that brings people together and creates a wonderful feeling of communal energy and purpose. On the other hand, there is a wonderfully quiet "coming inside-ness" that I love even more. I sometimes get tired of always having to be on the go, and a blizzard is about the only thing that provides a reason to just do nothing. Nobody I know does nothing without feeling guilty. We should be checking our email and finishing that project and cleaning up and working out and running errands and organizing our lives and balancing our books and walking our dog. I even feel guilty if I don't keep going while I'm sick. "I should just take some medicine and get on with it."

But I don't feel guilty if I do pretty much nothing during a blizzard. I feel completely justified reading, napping, doing crosswords or playing backgammon with my son. I paint my daughter's nails. I snuggle with Augie the doggie. I stoke the fire, then I take another nap. I feel like I'm insulated from the world, and sometimes that's just a good way to feel.

So I know I'm in the minority, but I say "bring it on, Mother Nature."  Most days I work really hard, and I could use at least one more snow day and another cup of tea.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What's In a Name?

It is with a heavy heart that I send Plain Jane to her trademark grave. Nuts About Granola, a company in Pennsylvania, has a Plain Jane variety, and I for one have had enough trademark issues to last ten lifetimes. Can anyone say "Inn at Brunswick Station"?

And so, I have become a crazy woman. I think of nothing else but potential new names. I mutter and talk to myself. I am distracted. I am preoccupied. I asked everyone I talked to until my cousin suggested Bearded Dragon Granola. Now I don't ask anymore. I simply lie awake at night, playing with rhymes and alliteration and have even started in on foreign languages. Petite Helene Granola?  And speaking of Helen, I didn't spend this much time choosing names for my children.

I am an inch away from being licensed to wholesale. My nutritional label is done. And, most importantly, more and more people want more and more Plain Jane every day. They need it to go, they need 10 bags, they need it wrapped and they need it shipped. My movie star friend Bill Fichtner is eating his in Prague. We are growing and yet we are having a major identity crisis. How do you settle on a name when the importance of it can't be overstated? How can we find a name that's catchy and memorable, that taps into the idea that this granola is The Way Granola Should Be, kind of like Maine is "The Way Life Should Be"?  Anyone who answers satisfactorily wins a lifetime supply of this delicious stuff. Until then, I will pace and mutter and lie awake, and then, if this works like so much of the other stuff in my life, it will hit me like a ton of bricks when I least expect it, and I will wonder why I didn't see it sooner. What a relief it will be.