Eagle Harbor Customer Thank You – And That is How I Feel About our Inklings Customers, Too

This appeared in a publication called Shelf Awareness this morning. It is so sincere and well-said that I wanted to share it with my readers, too.

Our Customers: An Appreciation

This lovely tribute to bookstore customers appeared recently in the e-newsletter of Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, Wash., and was written by Eagle Harbor senior bookseller Ann Combs, the author of Helter Shelter and Smith College Never Taught Me to Salute, among others, and “a pillar” of the store’s used book department.

As we continue to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Eagle Harbor Books, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that one of the best things about working here is our customers: the small children who march into the store and know exactly where they are going even when a visiting grandparent doesn’t, the people who patiently follow us around the store as we search for a book the computer assures us is available.

We delight in customers who come to us for recommendations when they are about to go on a trip, or need a birthday present for a son-in-law and are particularly pleased when they come back later to report that our suggestion was a big success.

We appreciate the customers who understand when a book takes longer to order and bring into the store than expected.

We’re grateful to those of you who tell us that you may check on the availability of a book on Amazon but “I come here to buy it.”

We listen when you describe your own favorite books, and we often find ourselves adding them to our own bedside stack.

You customers amaze and intrigue us with your varied interests and opinions.

We enjoy the conversations, the banter, the laughter. And we’re thrilled that you customers come in to browse, to meet friends, to get a treat for your dog and simply to say hello.

No wonder the 40 years seem to have sped by in a minute.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Yes, I have the flu. I haven’t been sick with a cold or flu in years. I never get a flu shot, but maybe I should have this time. It all started with losing my voice, an experience I find exhausting. Jim couldn’t hear me and I certainly could not make myself understood over the phone. I left work on Thursday night to head for a Love, INC comedy night fundraiser and just felt myself getting increasingly sicker by the moment, so I drove right past the venue and came home. Yesterday, I went to work for about an hour, just to order the books, then drove home and home never looked so good.

It is so frustrating to be sick. I always think I’ll read, but my eyes are aching and watering making reading very difficult. I lay on the couch watching a hawk soaring in the blue sky above the greening trees across the pond. I listen to the ducks quacking their undying devotion to one another during this nesting season. I drink more water, eat another orange and sleep a little.

Oh, and the cuckoo part. I feel very disoriented and out-of-my-routine. I’m a bit dizzy. I do have some extra time to pray for some friends who are dealing with far more serious issues than being sidelined for a few days. I do have some extra time to think. But, most of all, I do have some extra time to be loved. When I’m sick, I miss the cool, soft hand of my mother on my forehead. I miss her. But, I have a dear husband who made me some comfort food last night – tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. He loves me even though I’m kind of mess. He reminds me of Someone who loves me like that all of the time. The truth is I’m always kind of a mess.

Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm  Comments (1)  

The Slowing of the Fast


It is Monday. I’m gathering up the pieces of paper from my purse and around the house. To keep a record of my Media Fast this weekend, from 5 pm Friday night to 5pm Sunday night. I had to write, as with a pen, down my thoughts. Huh.

I realized, somewhere along the line, that because daylight savings time was beginning, I’d need to extend to 6pm to honor my original commitment. So, for 48 hours, I stayed away from all social media, the newspaper, radio and tv. I decided not to listen to music either to just give my brain and soul some quiet. I did not start out with the phone included, but ended up staying away from it as well. Because Carrie’s baby shower was yesterday and I was involved in some logistics, I did use the phone for a total of 3 short conversations with my daughters. I’ve given you a kind of timeline below and some of what I felt in the process.

Friday afternoon – 4:54pm A last check of email and facebook. There doesn’t appear to be anything here that can’t wait until Sunday evening. Heading home, planning to Google some medical information, but I stop myself and realize, as I’m idling in the bank drive up, that I’ll need to use the old print medical dictionary. I’m looking forward to this evening and we have yummy leftover stew and rolls to make an easy dinner.

5:32pm – Just pulled into the garage after realizing at 5:27 that the radio in the car was on! and I was half listening to NPR news. Came to my senses when I realized that I had just heard and was worrying about the prevelence and incurable status of herpes in the US. Didn’t need to know that. What a habit I have developed of flipping on the radio as soon as I get in the car. Feeling sorry, I have “failed” less than 1/2 hour into my fast! Ok, I’m going to shake it off and continue.

Home earlier than usual, I read until 6:45pm and even dozed for a few moments. My reading, first of the medical dictionary and then The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, was disturbed by occasional glances at my iphone, face-down bedise me. I was thinking of all the forbidden emails and facebook frivolity hidden inside. I had a mental image of breaking it open and peeling it back to get at the meat of data concealed from my sight.

Jim is home now. Time to put together our simple meal and Trader Joe’s Three Buck Chuck Shiraz. Now on to an equally delicious evening of reading.

7:25pm Nice dinner is over and Jim is reading the Yakima Herald. Oh man! I love the Friday edition with the ON magazine section! Rats. Oh well, back to my book.

7:45pm Thinking about tomorrow and hoping to work on my memory journal in the morning, cup of coffee by my side and have a sweet, slow Saturday. Right now, I’m going to play the piano for a bit. Playing through the kid’s old piano lesson books with songs like Calypso Rhumba and the lumbering Western Skies. It hurts my back to sit here on this bench, though. I’m out of shape for this!

8:40pm – reading again, sitting by the fire, sipping my water.

8:51pm – Jim brought me this piece of banana cream pie. Hmmm. This kind of “fasting” might be fattening!

10:45pm – finished the book. It was very good. I hope I can remember the details by the time our book club discusses it in July. Usually, I trudge up the stairs at 11 so I can watch the local news on the little bedroom tv. But, alas, no news may be good news.

Saturday 7:20am – Coffee is already made and my granola and yogurt has been delivered by the terry-robed king of the household. My iphone is still face-down on the coffee table and my computer is still in it’s case. I pick up my new book, Not Buying It, about a Brooklyn couple and their year-long project of only buying necessities. I’ll read for awhile while Jim goes to the Co-op for finch thistle, cat food and a burn permit.

8:25am – Jim is back and farm cat food has been snubbed by our spoiled cat. I’m now feeling guilty about not being dressed and hardly queen-like as I loll around in my ancient plaid robe, even though I am royally ensconced upon my recliner throne. So, I’m off to don work clothes suitable for a cool, springy day. I’ve chosen a red bandana and hoop earring and feel like a pirate! Aaarrgh!

12:37 pm – I’ve cut back some perenniels, swept the porches. My observations in the silence? I’m feeling a “need” for music, but that caused me to play the piano last night and I’m going to play some more later! I hardly ever do that. I’m also realizing that when I’m not listening to radio shows with their half-hour time markers, I don’t even realize it is lunchtime or feel compelled to start and stop projects at half-hour time intervals.

4pm – The laundry is finished and I spent a couple of delightful hours cutting, pasting and “remembering” highlights of February and March as I put ephemera in my journal. I washed winter grime off the patio furniture and barbecue, too.

7:00pm – We had a simple salad supper.

10:15pm – spent the evening going through book catalogs that I’m been putting aside for 2 months. We lose an hour tonight. Spring forward. I’m feeling self-controlled and good about a restful, yet still productive day. I’m wondering if tomorrow will be harder.

Sunday, 7:30am – Up to enjoy coffee with Jim. Reading the book of Hebrews and feeling a bit irritated that Jim’s computer is nattering as he researches van conversions for the project he is working on. Where is my quiet? Am I more distracted by the noise than usual because I’ve had some hours of quiet or am I just more aware of how distracting extra noise is all the time, but I have gotten used to expending valuable mental energy to keep pushing it back? Must think about this more.

10:10am – Realize suddenly that church starts in 45 minutes, so I jump up and dash to the shower. I dried my hair, slapped on some makeup and dressed mindlessly and we dashed off in separate cars to church because I’ll want to help with shower preparations later and Jim has plans to put a turkey on the rotisserie and do some burning around the pond.

11:15am – realize that I’m really enjoying the worship music today, but in a way that isn’t dependent upon the style of the leader or quality of the musicians arrangements. Music again. Interesting.

12:30pm – Meeting Patrik and Carrie for a quick taco at Anojitos, one of our favorite places. I’m feeling a bit liberated from checking my email and voicemail. It is good. I’m feeling “present” to those I’m with.

1:30pm – back to help set up for the shower. The room is beautiful, with fresh pansies in pots placed on bright tablecloths. Jenn and Anita have worked so hard to make this shower special for Carrie.

2:20pm – giving full attention to Carrie and all those who have gathered here to bless her with baby things. Wow. She has received a truckload of beautiful things. It is an afternoon of laughter and friendship that Carrie will never forget. Patrik and Jim are arriving to load the gifts in the car.

4:30pm or so – home with hungry family. Jim’s turkey is, let’s just say, well-done. He is salvaging it while I find some sidedishes to go with it. Quick meal together before Libby heads to Ellensburg and Patrik and Carrie back to Vancouver.

6pm – Jim is helping me clean up the kitchen so we can go for a ride in the extra daylight! I am very suprised that I’m not feeling like grabbing my iphone and checking my mail even though I MADE IT! I DID IT! Paying extra attention to the gathering green that signals the approach of spring – it happens so fast!

6:30pm – I look to see how many new emails I have – over 80 – but nothing apparantly urgent, so I’m turning it off again until later, when I have time to deal with it. I’m working on some financial information that Jim needs for tomorrow, paying bills and puttering around.

9:30pm – I’m answering a few emails, I scrolled through Facebook and I’m surprised at how little I really missed, but how much I really gained by not checking it constantly. I would call it a very relaxed, yet productive weekend. I may do this again sometime soon.

11:04pm – off to bed, feeling thankful for the experience and more aware of what drives me.


I’d love to hear from some of you who have tried something similar. What did you learn about yourself? Would you do it again?

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fasting: Is there an app for that?


My 48-hour media fast begins at 5pm today. I’m a bit nervous and wondering if there is a fast way to do this fast. I spend hours per week communicating by way of my iphone and computer, on facebook, Twitter, email, and blog. I suck in information like a thirsty sponge in any form I can get it – radio, newspaper, magazines, internet and TV news. But, I was challenged this week, by an author, to just lay it all down for a few hours. I’m involved in a study with some women called The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. This weeks assignment in soul training is to lay aside some things in order to kind of reboot our lives and attempt to “free your mind from the junk; give some space to the Holy Spirit to renew your thinking”.

Now, I’m certainly not implying that all the above mentioned things are junk, but certainly some of them parade junk past our eyes as we seek out the gems of social networking and information gathering. The junk for me may be that insatiable craving for more; more information, more connection, more stuff. Often in the gathering of those valuable things, I also scoop up worry, despair, greed and discontent.

So, I’ll be taking HAND-WRITTEN notes of how it goes and report back to you next week. I’m starting to think about what I’ll do with my extra time. Yes, read. I’d like to finish the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. I’m going to sweep and free the outside sidewalks of their grimy winter coats. I’m going to survey my perenniels, take a walk and let the birds be my ipod. I’m going to go to church and see folks face to face and then play the doting grandma role at Carrie’s baby shower.

Hopefully, when I come back online, I’ll be a little more aware, a lot more grateful and little more selective about what takes up a lot of my energy. Things I will miss the most? Knowing what my friends are up to on facebook, listening to Prairie Home Companion on NPR, reading the newspaper and a favorite little iphone game, Doodlejump (warning: highly addictive), but I’ll give those up for a few hours to gain some rest and perspective.

I’ve spent a good part of the week promoting a new program at the store that is pretty dependent upon internet, email and social media, so I’m feeling a bit schizophrenic about all this and the irony of writing a BLOG about, it for Pete’s sake, but it is a personal issue for me, really about balance – the kind I want for all of us. I’d be interested in hearing if any one else out there has done a non-traditional fast like this and for what reason?

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

We are active people

We went for a hike today in Cowiche Canyon. It was early in the season, but an article in the Yakima Herald yesterday promised a few little early wildflowers. Well, they were right. There were very few, but there was still some great color from last fall. Fluffy red dried weedtops, some neon green moss, a bit of leftover lichen and a roaring creek full of winter water. I didn’t want to turn around until I saw some NEW wildflowers and we were finally rewarded with some tiny yellow and even tinier white flowers and a fleeting glimpse of one purple gem high on the hillside.

It is the season when my appreciation for nature bursts forth. I saw my first forsythia today, a sure sign that winter is over. As I drive the back way to work this week, a windey, hilly two-lane, the grass will get greener like a dimmer switch being turned on while more forsythia burst out on both sides of the road. I prefer the wild an free graceful stems of forsythia to the trimmed and bobbed variety, but after a very overcast winter, I’ll take color in any form.

As we walked along today with no coats, the sun warm on our heads, I could feel the Vitamin D soaking into my pallid skin. How I’ve needed this dose of the outdoors! I read this week, that it helps your motivation to get outside and move if you tell yourself you are an active person. That would be instead of just telling yourself you must exercise and then feeling badly when you don’t. You are telling yourself that you are an Active Person. Try it with me: Altogether now. “I am an Active Person”. “I am an Active Person”! Active persons put on their sneakers more often, they keep a hat, a water bottle and binoculars at the ready. They walk awhile during their lunch break and they don’t curse the cars that have filled the parking places closest to the stores. Active people put a bit of sunscreen on each day so they can go outside without excuse. Active people climb stairs, play catch, throw a frisbee and feel better, weigh less and live longer. Active persons get OUT THERE where they see the wee yellow flowers strewn among the stones. I am an active person.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment