Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Master Class with Sumit Banerjee. It is not about perfection it is about direction.

I was lucky enough to take a class with Sumit Banerjee, the founder of the Sumit Hot Yoga.  He was on one of his periodic visit to the Columbia Sumit Hot Yoga Studio. Each time he comes into town I try to attend one of his classes.

There is nothing like learning from the Master of the routine, exactly how he wants things done.   Sumits routine follows the same pattern each class with a sequence through warm up, balancing, standing, flow, spine strengthening, stretch, cool down.  Each Yogi puts there own emphasis on positions and tweaks things as they see fit.  So doing the class with Sumit was a window into the intentions and a view into the perfection of the practice.

I had to take it a little easy, due to a skinned knee I acquired hiking this weekend before. OK, so I have to digress for a second here.  So, I was hiking with a friend. It had rained so the leaves down on the path are wet and hid mud and rocks.   We were chatting about how people complain about doing paths with hills and thus didn't like to do the hike we were doing.  I said, all intellectually... "People complain about the up hills, but that is all on your cardio and pulmonary systems.  Going down hill is where you can really hurt yourself....." This is when I fell down hill.  I skinned my knee and bruised lots of things, skinned my hands a bit too.  However I saved the Iphone! Frankly, I was lucky as no major structural damage was sustained.

So, there I was, a few days later, gimping along in yoga class, trying to do the poses as well as I could, while listening to the wisdom Sumit was sharing.  Part way through the class he said something that really resonated with me.  He said that the practice was not about perfection it was about direction.  It was about moving in the right direction vs striving for a state of perfection.

As a yoga person, each practice you are usually looking for some message or intention. When I heard his message, my intention for this practice became clear. You see, I have been trying to start my own business, Buzz Well Media.  I have been running an indiegogo campaign trying to save a tomato, The Ivan Tomato Rescue Project.  I have been considering business ventures, client intentions, viability of options, and risking much each day.  Some days I have come out feeling confident and others I have questioned every move.

I have been reacting to new options with as much flexibility as my 46 year old mind and body would allow. Yet, I know that every decision I have make directly results in my families ability to go out to eat or not, to go to the movies or not, to indulge my children or not...

Each day, I fall short of perfection in many ways.  Now, keep in mind I am a very accomplished individual.  My resume attests that I do a lot of things and know a little bit about a lot of subjects. I am a Gemini, enough said. Yet this lack of reaching goals is hard on my over achiever self.  I have achieving but I have not over achieving, at times I even felt like I underachieved.

So, from this practice I realized that maybe I should not be judging myself based on the perfection, but more on the basis of moving in a direction that is positive.  The goal may be to focus instead in a direction that will bring about good progress allowing for breathing room.  This shift allows me to take three steps forward and then two back and then two forward and still feel like I have made progress.  It allows me to keep my head in the game and my soul too.   It allows me to look and see which direction might be best and point myself in that way without expecting perfection at every turn.

So regardless of if I save the Ivan, or build the biggest buzz for a client, or preserve the most food, or make the best dinner it all points me in a direction build momentum, leading me down the path I need.  One step and one pose at a time.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Waste Not, Want Not - Can it

Over the last couple of years I have worked towards a concept of less waste of food. I made the commitment to use what I have, well.  This sounds easy, however as an avid gardener I have a lot of food that matures in fits and starts.   I also like to make rather complex food that requires many ingredients. I am the kind of shopper that gets a variety of stuff and then figures out how to use it later, this style tends to leave food to waste.

To accomplish my goal there have been three main ways things get processed in my house, in a jar, dehydrated, or frozen.  Now, remember folks I am a city chick from Toronto.  Canning did not come from a youth spent processing foods.   Dehydrated was how you bought raisins.  Frozen food was purchased that way and often warmed up to be consumed.  Yet somehow I've managed this commitment to waste not, want not and have done it with style.

The premise is, don't let stuff go bad because it is not fair to nature to waste it's fantastic bounty. It is not fair to the life energy in the food not to use it.   It is like the Native Indian view that you honor the animal that is giving you it's life force, so you should honor the plant and nature that made that plant grow.  To waste it is to thump your nose at creation's strength and beauty.

Over the years,  I started to get better at this gardening thing and ended up with larger crops of beautiful vegetables. The crops often came in so strong that I just couldn't use it all at once.   I would use as much as I could and give away as much as people needed.  However, when much of the bounty went bad, it was tossed into the compost to break down and go back into the soil.  This left me feeling bad at the waste.    

When I was in high school I dated a guy that was half Italian.  His family would get together to can tomatoes and make wine.  I was not invited to these work days.  At the time, I did not mind as I always felt like an outsider, and I chafed against the inequity of the women's role in the group.  Anyway I digress.  I always wondered about the amazing canning days.  What were they like?  How many jars did they do?  Where did they get the tomatoes?

I started processing food, to make this commitment to sustainability and to use what nature had provided.  I dehydrated first.  It worked well and I made all sorts of cool things like Jerky and dried fruit. I tried dehydrating vegetables, tomatoes and beans but they were just not as good.  They dried up and didn't really ever get their full softness back when you cooked them.  I kept dehydrating in the line up but used it for what it suited best.  I also looked for more options. 


I moved on to canning.  Once I learned to water bath it was all over.  I could make almost anything, can it up, water bath and be reasonably sure I was not going poison anyone.  I researched a lot of stuff on-line and in recipe books.   I kept everything sterilized and either went sweet with jams or savory with pickled.   I made up a canning label and the Mad Pickeler was born. Not only could I make wonderful things but using vinegar made it really easy to make sure it all worked out well. 

Now this enthusiasm required a lot of jars.  It took me a few years to build up a huge supply of jars. A good friend, Tony, gave me a lot of my pint jars.  Probably about 8 dozen actually. Thanks Tony.  I still had to purchased jars and these ranged from the small one oz jars all the way up to the half gallon jars. The jars are constantly in use and are being filled and re-filled as needed.  

At times I would can large batches.  For example last summer, a friend and I did 98 jars of pickles in one day.  Now, this is all well and good when you luck into 100 lbs of cucumbers at the farmers market.   I have done big batches of things when the fruit trees mature, the farmers markers have big bounty or when I find a great deal at a store. However the big batches are not the norm.

What has really made my canning, has been the periodic small batches.  These are often things like 6 pints of eggplant salad, or 3 pints of raspberry sauce, or lots of small batches of tomatoes sauces as the Ivan tomatoes ripened.   These small batches taught me so much.  It just made sense to make these small batch of something really cool to add to recipes later.  This system made my life easier  as I cooked for my ever hungry family, and in the long run also served the goal of using up natures product. 

I made a list of all the different things I canned this year.  Many of them may have happened in multiple batches, and I did not keep a list of quantities.  So here is what I have for this growing season: 

1.     Tomatoes
2.     Mild Salsa
3.     Hot Salsa
4.     Pasta Sauce
5.     Brandied Pears
6.     Apple Sauce
7.     Apple Butter
8.     Plum - Apple Sauce
9.     Plum Sauce
10. Plum BBQ sauce
11. Plum Asian sauce
12. Grape Jam - Purple
13. Grape Jam - Green
14. Strawberry Port Jam
15. Strawberry / Blackberry Jam
16. Lecso Hungarian Pepper Sauce
17. Plum Chutney
18. Raspberry sauce
19. Dill Relish
20. Sweet Relish
21. Pickled Green Beans
22. Fridge Pickles
23. Pickles 
24. Garlic Scapes
25. Eggplant Salad
26. Sauerkraut
27. Potato Soup

All of the items on this list have been made, eaten, gifted and saved.  If I did not garden and did not make these food none of this food would exist.  It would not enhance our meals or fill our stomachs. Guests would not go home with a box of bottled of cool things after each visit.  I would not have great pot luck dish at my finger tips.  

So I would say I have succeeded at my challenge.  The challenge was to not waste food, to grow as much as I could and not waste the food that came from my ground, from my efforts, from nature.  I have created things that we will use and even more importantly I have used the things I have created. So, join me in this challenge. Look at your food in a different light. Waste not and enjoy nature’s bounty.  Happy Canning


Monday, November 9, 2015

Sauerkraut making class with Farmer Dan.

farmer danThis weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of Farmer Dan’s famous sauerkraut classes.    It was held at the newly restored Grand Station in Hartsburg Missouri.

Now as you may know, I am a bit obsessed with canning and preserving food.  I grow many things in my garden, scavenge for some and buy others from farmers markets or stores, yet they all end up in a jar in my kitchen.

My history with sauerkraut goes back to my childhood growing up in Toronto, Canada and shopping at the St. Lawrence Farmers Market each Saturday morning.  http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/ There was a vendor in the old building, down stairs way in the back, that carried meat slices, pickles and sauerkraut.  We used to go visit him each week.  He would light up with pride as we would oohhh and aahhh over his sauerkraut.  We would get a bag of it and take it home to be quickly eaten by the family.

After I moved to Missouri, I tried store bought kraut and it always was way too strong with an obvious vinegar taste.  It was not my style at all, and not the gentle, but yummy blend I grew up with.  I tried Farmer Dan’s kraut last year and immediately was transported back to being that little girl gazing up in awe.  So when I heard about Farmer Dan’s class I jumped at the chance to find out how to add lacto-fermentation to my line up.

IMG_6279So I drove down to Hartsburg, Missouri, on a sunny Sunday afternoon expecting to learn a few tricks.  The drive was beautiful with the colors of fall in full swing.  Once I got to Hartsburg, the first thing I found was the wonderful Hartsburg Hotel, Entertainment Center and Grand Station.  http://www.hartsburggrand.net/ The Grand was built in 1897 and had been painstakingly restored with love over the last few years.  The restaurant opened in 2012 and the special event center opened in 2014.  The Grand Station which was previously known as “The Big Muddy Tavern or Dotty’s CafĂ©” had also been restored to include a full commercial kitchen along with cozy gathering spaces.   The grand even offers ballroom dancing lessons on Tuesday nights.  Can’t think of a more romantic setting.

The thing that struck me about The Grand and Hartsburg in general, was how I felt magically transported into a world of the past; calm, joyful, and relaxation without the trappings for modern America including strip malls, fast food and pawn shops.   Hartsburg, and the atmosphere of the Grand, made me think of a great get away and how I could possibly get a day or two removed from the hustle of my life to sit back and sip mint juleps on a porch.  I digress of course.

IMG_6280
Farmer Dan has been in organic farming for 25 years.  He describes himself as being from the Herman area with German ancestry. He also considers himself a farmer still learning what it is all about. He said that 20 years ago he used to grow many more varieties of vegetables, where now he grows less variety and concentrates on making value added items like sauerkraut and pickles.  He estimates that 30% of his business is focused on the value added items.

Farmer Dan makes his large batches of sauerkraut and pickles in the commercial kitchen at Lincoln University. In their facility he can make up to 800 lbs. in one day.  He does say it is important to use the right type of cabbage, noting Maddox and Early Copenhagen as his spring cabbage and Kaitlin as his fall cabbage.  He says he gets his seeds from www.johnnyseeds.com.

He believes that the body, like soil, need a balance of microorganisms. As in soil, the microorganisms help make nutrients available for the body to absorb.  He described the gut as the second brain, connecting your health and what you intake.  He describes your gut bacterial as a cultivated community of bacteria probiotics needed for the long term health of your digestive system. He suggests combining different probiotic foods, slowly, in small amounts, to improve the culture in your gut.  He cautions not to go too fast as you don’t want to cause a war zone in your intestinal track.

He made it that we were working with live bacteria. This bacteria naturally existed all around us and did not need to be added to the sauerkraut.  In order to keep your bacteria live, you couldn’t heat it over 115’f as that would start killing it off.   He also said that the ideal temperature for fermenting is between 68 and 72’f and the finishing Ph balance of the sauerkraut will be around 3.8.  He said you can freeze your fermenting food but you cannot boil it.  The boiling kills the bacteria where the freezing only suspends it until the food is defrosted.

Once we got the basics behind this theories down, the hands on class began.  He showed us how to cut up the cabbage using a sauerkraut mandolin that he dates back to his grandmother before him. It is a quick, intimidating devise and I would love to have one.  He said that in the past farming families would grow 100 heads of cabbage per family member. They would add spices, apples, beets, turnips etc., and then ferment in 50 gallon crocks. They would ferment all winter, and slowly eat it as time when by. They would root cellars that stayed at 55' slowing the fermentation. They would skim the crocks a couple times a week but continue to eat off it all winter.  This worked to keep people fed, and also provided the much need bacteria to keep them healthy inside and out.

So we cut up the cabbage, were instructed to crush it with our hands helping to break down the cell structure and to sprinkle on 2.5 tbsp. of salt per 5 lbs. of cabbage.  He suggested using sea salt or pickling salt but not to use salt with iodine or any caking agents.  Quickly the cabbage started to give off liquid as osmosis pulls the liquid out and salt in.

We put the cabbage mixture into a jars and packed it in there really tight. We left about ½ inch head way, at the top of the jar, and put the lid on loosely.  As the salt continued to pull water out (over 24 hours) gas was released and started to bubble out brine.  We were advised to leave the lid loose and put a plate under the jar to catch any overflow, but we had to make sure the cabbage was under brine at all times.

IMG_6277Each person in the class made their kraut a little differently. Some added grated apples, fennel, beets and turnips while others added caraway or dill seed.  We were told that you can add up to 15% other vegetables to the mix and maintain the integrity of the sauerkraut.  He did indicate that for some reason when you add dill or caraway seed you get less mold growing on the surface of your kraut.

We were sent home with instructions to let the salt do its thing for a few days as the water expels from the kraut.  Then we are to tighten the jar and every few days quickly let the pressure out and then tighten up the jar once more.  This burping of the jars lets the gasses, built up by the bacterial relation, release from the jar.  If the water goes below the level of the kraut we are to make a solution of 3 tbsp of salt per quart of water and re-fill the Jar.  Usually this dehydration, and loss of water, will not happen in a closed jar but will occur when we move on to crocks.  While most people think of sauerkraut as being made in crocks, Farmer Dan suggests you start with clear jars so you can learn how it works.  Eventually, when you feel like you know what you are doing, you can move on to crocks.

We are to sample each week until we get to our own personal desired level or fermentation.  When we get to the level we like, we are to stick the jar in the fridge and it will stop or greatly slow the bacterial action and keep our sauerkraut how we like it.   Farmer Dan mentioned that the brine will be full of bacteria and will be a great source of great microbes, thus we should feel free to take a shot of brine as we like, but again not to overdo it.

I feel like I learned a lot and am now ready to take on the world of lacto-fermentation.  Sauerkraut is just the tip of the iceberg and has been a great way to start learning about this new way to bring more local food into my family’s diet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Entrepreneur Head - Does it Slow Down?

I have a condition called Entrepreneur Head.  It all started when I decided it was my turn to start my own business and take control of my career life. I started Buzz Well Media and the Victory Gardeners. Entrepreneur Head can get stronger and weaker depending on my sleep and the flow of things. However, it does not go away no matter now you shake it.

What is Entrepreneur Head you may ask?  Well, when one starts their own business there is no five o'clock shut off valve.  There is no line of what is my problem and what is someone else's problem. There is no one else to take up the slack or pick up where I leave off.   This constant processing that must go on, if you are going to go out there and hustle, wears away at our sanity.

It is kind of like the leaves that turn that brilliant color each fall. They standout and remind you constantly how vibrant they are.  They draw you in.  They keep you looking at them. Even when they fall to your feet you are captivated by them.

I wrote a post several years called Steriod Chihuaha Girl.  It talked about how it felt to be on steroids and wanting to literally bite people's heads off.   This is different.  This is a compulsion to do more.  I find myself saying "Excuse me I have to...

  • just one more thing...
  • just run up and do one thing on the computer...
  • just check on one more feed...
  • just write one more blog...
  • just reference one more post....  
  • just check Facebook once more.
So the reality is when you are an entrepreneur you have to do it.  You have to check that post, and make that change, and fix that problem, and fill that gap.  Being an Entrepreneur is about being able to depend on yourself and your skill sets to succeed.  You can't blow it off.  There are no non-working vacations or true times off.  

Yet, there is the flip side of utter freedom.  You can decide to spend your day working in the garden or going with on a kids school field trip.  You can decided to spend the day focused on a community project.  You can decided to use your time picking up and dropping off kids or running from store to store getting the groceries. However, you can't decide to turn off your brain.  You may find yourself at the field trip sending out important emails or taking a minute away from shopping to post a marketing piece.  You are off, but not really off duty.

It does comes with it's own support group, such as the wonderful Entrepreneur groups 1 Million Cups.  Everyone there is experiencing the same thing. We are all running around with Entrepreneur Head.  We are buzzing around like bees trying to make the sweetest, most attractive and yummy honey.   We all know we are working it and that is what it will take to succeed. 

Is there a cure for Entrepreneur Head?  I am not sure we really want one.  I think the success of being an entrepreneur takes that dedication and constant awareness of your business. Maybe it is just something you get used to over time, and build systems to maintain.  We will see...  I will report back as my businesses grow.   Till then the Entrepreneur Head Motto will be "...squirrel...". 



Friday, October 23, 2015

To Russia With Love

My Mothers Side from Russia, Poland, Eastern Europe
I have been writing these blogs for several years now.  I am approaching the magic number of 20,000 views.  My readers come from all over the world, however the three highest countries of origin are the USA, Canada and Russia.

I love the fact that the internet has made our locations irrelevant.  I am an immigrant to the USA and the child to immigrants to Canada. Now, I live in the USA and I am from Toronto Canada so I expect to get some following in each place.  Just my mother alone probably makes up a lot of the numbers coming for Canada.  LOL.  Yet I have readers from all over the world.

I have to thank all those over the seas that seem to really like reading my blogs. I am glad to be making an impression in other parts of the world.  But the numbers from Russia surprised me.  I love the fact that the internet is breaking down the barriers between countries and people.  I love the fact that there is a core group of folks in Russia that enjoy my writing.

So for the Russians out there I wanted to give you a little background info about my Russian Heritage.  My mother was born in Northern Siberia in a small town called Yask.  Not sure on how that is spelled or frankly even pronounced.   Fiddler on the roof is a great example of my family's roots.   My roots go back to Russia, Poland, Israel and Scotland.

I spent some time in Israel in the early 90's.  There was huge immigration coming in from Russia.  I did a kibbutz language program called an Ulpan. http://www.kibbutzulpan.org/  IT is a program where you learn Hebrew and work on the kibbutz.   It was on kibbutz Mizra.  http://www.mizra.org.il/  At least half the participants were from Russia.  They earned my respect rather quickly.  The North Americans and European's were struggling with Hebrew and the Russians learned Hebrew and English quickly and with a hunger to learn more.

I have one story to share about that experience.  At kibbutz everyone ate in a communal dinning hall.  Families lived in their own apartments but took most of their meals communally.   However there was a store of food, vegetables, fruit and dry good that was open to anyone to take.   I remember that the Russian immigrants were so pleased to have access to this unlimited food source.  They would take as much as they could carry back to our small dorm rooms we all shared.

They would stay up late drinking arak, singing, eating crackers, and smoking seriously strong cigarettes.   It was several months before they truly felt confident that the stores would continually be replenished and that they did not need to take more then they needed for immediate use.   Watching this transition in a person was tremendous and a honor to watch.

Here is a rather cheesy video of the kibbutz.  But it is rather true to it's reality.   I don't think they offer Ulpan's anymore.  I think they changed that area into a hotel.



So thanks for taking an interest in my blog.  Keep reading, Keep sharing and enjoy.

Oh, as a note I am now writing a lot of material for the following ventures.  Feel free to check them out if you want to read more of my stuff.

www.victorygardeners.com
www.buzzwellmedia.com
www.Kushh.ca



Friday, October 2, 2015

So do you think that Women's Rights are being Limited? Lets talk

I have been living in the USA for 19  years and I get more and more disturbed by the tendencies to dismiss the horrible. The attach on Women has got to stop . We are so desensitized by it's constancy that people do not even react anymore.  Some folk share a post or two on Facebook, venting some spleen but the march continues.  It makes you wonder if the Matrix is real.  We get pissed off enough to vent a little and then we move on about our struggle.

So, I will give you an examples: The attack on a women's right to control her body.  This goes from access to healthcare all the way to the right to choose.

I live in Missouri where the political powers are frankly nuts.  They are so caught up in their religious convictions that they can't separate the role of government from the role of religion.  Both can often be used to help guide and control the populous.  However, one is supposed to come from the religious guidance, of what ever brand you subscribe to, while the other is supposed to come from the people and the rights prescribed by our national structure and base.

Lets get down to the issue.  Abortion.  In Missouri there are currently 2 places you can go to get an abortion.  We are not talking about if you agree with the right to have one or not.  We are talking about the fact that it is not illegal in this country, and it is the right of every woman to decided the future of her body.  It's access is being restricted and so thus are our rights.

If you happen to be from the the southern part of the State you may find yourself a 5 hour drive away from a clinic.  So lets say you:

  • Don't have a drivers license 
  • Don't have a car
  • Don't have anyone that will go with you
  • Don't have the money for gas
  • Don't have time off work
  • Have family, etc to take care of and can't disappear for 12 hours
  • etc.
Will you have a child because you can't access services?   

Next the laws passed by this States government require you to see a counselor before you can have this done.  You must see someone who will try to convince you not to have an abortion.  This is not a decision someone makes easily. It is one of the hardest things a women will ever do.  

Then you have to wait several days for a "reflection period" before the procedure and go through other appointments. This will require you to do the trip to the clinic around 3 times.  So now you may be taking three days off work, spending 100's in gas, missing family commitments. never mind if it is winter and the roads are bad.

For many people the above run around is just not even an option. So in reality women are having babies because they can't get to a clinic.  I am talking about life long poverty for them and their child, I am talking about not getting to go to college, not getting a chance at a career, staying with abusive partners, taking unnecessary medical risks, having babies that are addicted to drugs and alcohol before they are even born, having children of rape and incest, etc etc.   

Then add in that the Planned Parenthood here in Columbia has been harassed over and over, having it's ability to provide services restricted at every turn.  

  1. There has been a protest outside it's building for years.  Literally years.  It is a religious protest of people that pray holding horrible anti-abortion signs.  They bother people as they come in and out for services.  They hold up a sign for people to honk thus penetrating the building and constantly reminding those inside of their message.  
  2. Columbia's Planned Parenthood was stopped from providing abortions from 2013 until August of 2015 pending an investigation that came out as being completely unnecessary and without any negative findings. 
  3. Now the Political Leaders of this State  used extortion to pressure the leadership of the University of Missouri to pull the admitting rights of the one physician that provides abortions in Columbia.  Without these admitting rights, within a 30 mile radius, a doctor can not provide surgical services.  So as of December, this in turns shuts down one of the two places in the State where women can get services.  Oh did I mention that Senator Schaefer threatened to withhold the University of Missouri's funding if they did not strip the doctor of their admitting rights?  Here is the article if you wish to learn more.  Kansas City Star Article about this issue.  Now Schaefer happens to be the Chair of the State Appropriations Committee, the Chair of the Sanctity of Life Committee and he is running for Attorney General next year.  Check out this article with some of his scarier tactics and points.
This leaves us in a position that our civil liberties are being abused.  This is not OK.   Yet you hear people say "What can we do?" and "I just don't pay attention to the news, it is too terrible..." or the classic "It does not effect us..."  Well it effects everyone and it effects our society, our poverty levels, our levels of struggle and our life as a people.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

High Holidays host or guest: It's all good.

This year the High Holidays have gone, and will be going, a little differently then usual. I usually am the person to put on meal after meal inviting friends, community members and students.

The First Night of Rosh Ha Shana was spent at a wonderful dinner at a friends house.  It was one of the first Rosh Ha Shana's, Jewish New Year, that I did not spent the day cooking and cleaning. Usually I would have been getting ready for friends to come and spend the dinner celebrating the holiday. 

We were glad to be invited to friends this year as, like many American's, our financial condition made making big meals for many people less possible than last year.  Not to say we would not have made it happen if we had not choice.

Realistically ,I usually drop several bills to make each feast happen.  I probably don't need to make as much food as I do, but I can't help myself.  I like to put on a feast when it is time.  I learned this at my mother knee and am glad of it.  Anyway, I digress, as I often do, which you know if you read any of my stuff.

As I was saying, I was reminiscing about what this holiday stuff is all about.  As a kid I remember my folks getting us ready for the high holidays.  I think my mother and father, as immigrants, wanted us to be well turned out for the holidays.  This was their tradition and it symbolized a successful year and a family well managed.  It portrayed a people in progress and a general acceptance of our position as Jews.

No matter how close to the holidays my parents waited, we inevitably grew between when our clothing was purchased and when we needed to fit in it.  We, as a family, did not have the extra funds to buy more than we needed or better than we could.  This was always a challenge to watch how it was to be managed, letting out hems or making a last minute run to the mall.

I remember the joy and the stress my family would take to make a lovely Rosh Ha Shana dinner. My parents would invite friends, and family both Jews and non Jews. My mother loved putting on an organic, locally grown, delicious meal that would make everyone go away feeling loved and well fed.  
My mother was not much of a cook so I took the chef role.  Making food for 40 seemed like just the best way to do it.  There was no point in making small portions.  Once the adrenaline started pumping it just felt right and all worked out...usually. 

This year when paychecks were a little scarce, making these huge meals was not the right call.  But we did decided we would do one lovely meal for Yom Kippor,'s breaking of the fast.   Making this call was hard but it felt right.  All my guests volunteered to bring something to add to the feast letting me know I had made the right call. It also told me that we love our community and our times together, at my place or elsewhere.

Of course there will be too much of everything and it will be great.   Hopefully we will all fit into this small house and enjoy our times together. There are 23 people coming with 10 of them kids.  We are serving smoked salmon, salads, fruit, and other milk related dishes.  I am looking forward to doing this holiday well.

May you and yours be written in the book of life and may you have a sweet year.  




Thursday, September 3, 2015

Toco Family Festival 2015

For the last few years a friend of mine has been encouraging me to go to TOCO Family Festival with my boys.  TOCO, a family focused music festival was held in a Jellystone park near St. Louis Missouri.  The fun started Friday afternoon and went through Saturday night ending quietly Sunday morning. It was held the weekend before labor day. 

TOCO was a fundraiser for Tapestry of Community Offerings.  Check out www.tocofamily.org for more info on this great organization that does good and gives to people in need. They operate a re-sale shop and give funds to help all sorts of people in need through the shop, a food pantry, and other efforts.  This festival was both a big fundraiser and gave back by providing everyone with a great time.

My boys had watched me go off to Wakarusa year after year with an envy in their eyes.  All they really knew was what a great time I said I had, and how relaxed I seemed when I returned.   They saw pictures of crazy 30 foot octopus dancing in the crowds and imagined the rest.  Each year they would ask me if they could come.  Each year, I said it was not an appropriate environment for the kids and that it was my time to relax.  

So this year I decided we were going to do TOCO.  The kids would get to have a festival experience and I would show them a good time.  I managed to encourage a friend of mine to join me with her kids and even got another friend to let me take her kid.  So we were two adults and 6 kids between the ages of 5 and 14.  

I spent all day on Friday running around doing all the things one needs to do before camping or going to a festival.  The running about went from oil change, to groceries, to glow sticks, to camping supplies, etc etc etc... Yet between picking up all the kids and packing up everyone we did not get out of town until 6:15.   

We made a caravan, taking the scenic route on hwy 50 through to the park.  We got there after dark and used our headlights to set up the tents.  The kids were so excited, it was like herding cats to get them to help set up camp before running off to discover and experience their first festival evening.  

The most unique aspect of this festival is it was created by people that really love festivals and kids, and it is attended by that same types of people. Everyone there had kids of their own or were cool with kids.  There was more kids than adults and the kids all ran free and enjoed the festival.

This is not  usually the norm when you have kids. Most often, when you have kids, you must confirm a situation is kid friendly and then spend all your time making sure your kids do not offend the non-kid people.   There is often this energy that you are imposing your wild, loud, messy, crazy, and annoying kids on everyone else.  Usually you are riddled with fear, that these kind, somewhat patient friends, have just decided where the line is are are about to kick you all out and cross you off all future invite lists. 

At TOCO,  the first things we saw was a story time nook, fire dancers, lights installations, and tons and tons of kids running around with costumes and smiles a mile wide. Parents were running after kids, chilling in chairs, dancing in front of the stages and having a great time.  I can't say I had ever been to anything that was as welcoming for the entire family as TOCO.

My kids got a real taste of a festival. They got to camp, plan games, do great activities and see fabulous performers.  Some of the great classes my kids participated in included tie dye bandannas, bird house making, hula hoop classes, stick juggling classes, and lost of other engaging activities. They were never board and came home with lots of great memories and stuff to prove they were there.  
  
The spirit of TOCO was present through the festival in many ways. My husband biked to the festival, doing the 137 miles in two days, joining us by Saturday afternoon. He was recognized with a trophy for his long ride and sustainable method of transportation.  This made his day. The trophy was his for one hour and then he passed it on to someone else making other people's day as the communal trophy modeled TOCO's giving spirit.  There were silent auctions and lots of great opportunities to support TOCO's mission throughout the festival.

I will be taking my family next year and hope that others will join us in this fantastic family focused time.   Well done TOCO and thank you for everything.  Thanks to all those that put in so much work to make this happen.  We really appreciated it.

   






Saturday, August 22, 2015

Diving into change

Sorry I have been gone so long.  I overloaded with work this summer.  I dove into change.

You know the post a while back about who moved my cheese? "  Well this time my cheese dried up and I decided to go after totally different cheese in a totally different way.  My career had taken many twists and turns, however always, I had worked for someone else.  This time I decided to attempt to work for myself. 

I am a hell of a worker.  I am not just saying that.  I should get one of those crazy efficiency awards for people that just do too much.  This is evident in the award I received last year from the Seniors  "Most wanted to have on the deserted Island."  I know just enough about most subjects to figure things out and I never really stop moving. 

In all my positions, I have always over-performed for someone else's benefits.  Like most over-performers, I  often did a lot of work and didn't get rewarded based on that productivity.   This juxtaposition had made for a many thankless situations.  

have spent the last 5 years diving in deep, into the worlds of social media and marketing.   I have discovers some important tenets; 

  1. You have to give before you take.  
  2. If you send good into the world good will come back. 
  3. Goodwill, like matter, can not be destroyed.  
  4. A thought or idea, like an object in motion, will continue in motion unless acted on by an equal and opposite force.  Sound like high school physics?   
  5. Content marketing rules. Give good content and you will build a following that can be monetized.
So I decided to start my own social media marketing firm based on my own moral compass. I put the energy out there and it just started to flow in the direction of change.   Each ventures I came across somehow linked to a passion of mine.  'Trust the Process' became my mantra. 

Many of my clients needed help before they could afford my help.  Yet,  I felt like my clients and I were in this together making our way through the small business labyrinth symbiotically. If they did well, I could do well.  Many times we have helped each other in different ways pushing all of us towards our goals.  

Thus was born:  Buzz Well Media.  While working with a half dozen clients I also worked to build my own brand.  Buzz Well's stuff has been the last priority in many ways as the clients needs do come first.  Yet you can now go and check out my website at www.buzzwellmedia.com and the facebook page in operation.  I still have much to do on the website with posts and SEO etc.  It will continue to build as time goes along.  

Another passion going on has been the Ivan Tomato Rescue Project.  This business is another venture that I am taking on with a few friends.  This is a client for Buzz Well Media in that I am doing all the on line marketing, and all the business aspects7.  The goal is to save a Missouri Heritage Tomato from extinction.  We are doing an indiegogo campaign to come out in the fall. Keep your eyes open folks this tomato is worth saving.  Check out on facebook at.  Ivan Tomato Rescue Project
  
So regardless of if I have been working for my clients, The Ivan or for Buzz Well, I am very glad to have such focus.  Will any of these be my next real pile of cheese?  I am not sure, however I can tell you, I have my running shoes on and I am out there working it.  I am in charge and I am focusing forward.  Won't you come along for the ride.  Like my facebook pages and check out the ventures as they grow.  



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Shout out for the Dads. 1, 2, 3, Yah Dad...

To all the Dad's out there that are doing the job and leaving a legacy they are proud of, well done.

Here is my personal shout out to the Dad's in my life.  Don't forget to send some love to yours in this life or beyond.

To my Father, Cy Flacks and my Husband, Todd Narrol, I wish you relaxation, joy, clear breath, calm minds, love of your family, all your wishes come true and even a nap. Thank you for all you do.  You are appreciated.

To my Father: Firstly, I love you. Secondly, Dad you are such a wonderful father.  No matter what happens in our worlds, you are there in our corners.  You love with an unconditional calm clarity.  You've shown us the world in our vacations, with your stories of travels, and even the beyond in your bed time stories for my boys.

I have many memories of you hanging in the living room, feet up, listening to classical music, reading a book, maybe a cigar in your hand, at best a scotch. I remember how you shared in the victories of our family and picked us up from the challenges.  Contrary to popular belief you even made some funny jokes and sung some songs on key.  My Memories of you and your actions have guided me positively in my life.

That calm and gentle soul, to those that do not know you, may seem like a hard exterior with layers of analytical judgement to get through before entering the layers of emotions driven by the heart.  But anyone who knows you, knows that you are a big mush bear who loves forever and with constancy, generosity, intellect, and joy.

Dad, thank you for all you do, and have done, for me, for my children and for our family.  You are the core, the root of our circle, and boy you have planted good strong root stock to will guide us all our lives.


To My Husband: Firstly, I love you. Secondly, you are such a wonderful Dad.  I am so glad you are the person I am sharing the family journey with.  Our family is built on strength and love and you are our anchor.  You are doing the job and standing strong on this journey; forever pushing forward and cracking us up.  

We love you so much. Through all the kids fights, stomach flues, school concerts, bike rides, family hikes, amazing vacations, days at theme parks, birthday parties, guitar jams, mother's days, etc. the strength of your love powers us through. You push through with music, humor and adventure in your spirit.

Your adventurous spirit and drive takes us amazing places, often driving ridiculous hours on energy drinks to make it happen. Then you dive in, with minimal sleep, showing a love of life and the natural beauty of the world.  Our children learn that spirit from you. 

While you have always been the Alpha to our dogs, most recently you have bonded with Teddy, our dog.  You have committed to walking him and spending time with him.  You have learned the joy of that unconditional love and happiness that is the life blood of the dog in it's family pack.   Thank you for being that dude.  

You are building a world for our two boys that they will take forward pride.  They will remember your drive, devotion, and humor all their days, as will I.  


Todd, thank you for all you do for our family.  You are my love, my soul, my partner and the Dad.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Best Food Moments of Wakarusa 2015: Community in Action

We are all back home after Wakarusa 2015.  It is almost hard to believe it actually happened.   I know I went and have the dirty laundry to prove it, but somehow if flew by.  Some moments stuck out in my minds eye a little more then others.  So here are some highlights of the community food scene at Waka.

At every festival there are those people that love to feed other people.  They can hear a not so distant relative saying "eat, eat, you are too thin."  So when they get to these festivals they make huge communal meals sharing karma and joy.  Some people see a festival as a gourmet experience while people eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and corn dogs at these things.  So, here are some of my favorite meals.  

1) Craw-fish at Camp Danger.  Each year Camp Danger puts on a craw-fish boil.  Last year they were in Unreserved RV.  This year they got a choice spot in Upgraded RV.   They brought in about  200 lbs of Craw-fish from Texas. The feast was open to anyone who was brave enough to dig in to those beautiful mud bugs and suck the heads with the best of them.  Yummy!  Really absolutely lovely.  I frankly ate so many that my mouth was on fire and I had cuts up and down my thumbs from cracking them open.  They added sausage, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, lemons and lots of spice to each batch. They were incredibly welcoming.  Check out the video below at this link.  

2) Chompdown.  This years chompdown was a great success. Friday morning the folks in Upgrade RV, right beside the backwood stage area, put on a huge feast.  People brought food to contribute and also volunteered to cook and prepare food.  I worked the first few hours of it until I had to go on my St. Bernard shift.  We were short some of our normal participants, for various reasons, but somehow it just happened with new people jumping in to help.  Dirtfoot played a set for everyones enjoyment. 

3) Spaghetti and Meatballs. Yet another group in Upgrade RV put on a communal spaghetti and meatball dinner.  This was inspired by a meal the patrons mother used to put on in his youth.  They cooked the meatballs and sauce in a huge wok on the same base that was used for the craw-fish boil. I had never seen such a huge wok before.  It was full of 100's of meatballs and gallons of sauce.  The pot of noodles was also impressive.

All three of these meals were spectacular in favor and most importantly they were made with love and freely shared.  People were called in off the street to have a fresh, free, hot meal.  You could feel the love in every bite.  Other memorable community meals included Gumbo and Walking Tacos.  The moral of the story is to come to upgrade RV if you are hungry.

Waka Waka. 


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shhhhhhh!!!! There is going to be a Farmers Market at Wakarusa. Don't tell anyone.



OK, this is not going to be a run on post about details, but I am so excited.  Part of me wanted to keep this post to myself and never put it out there, never even write it actually.  Then I just could not take it another minute.  I got up at 7:00 am the Sunday before Waka, the house was silent.  Not a kid, dog or adult were about.   I snuck downstairs to the laundry-room.  Yes, that is where I do my best writing.   Anyway, I digress.

I started writing about this amazing thing.  I am a big gardening head.  I love, love, love, love to make things grow and to eat and preserve locally grown food.  I have even started a business to save a strand of tomato called the Ivan, you will certainly hear more about that Tomato in the future.  It is a wonderful river bottom heritage with great yield and strong old fashion taste and genetics.  So I am way into fresh food.

Anyway, one of the hardest things to do, is to keep vegetables decent in a cooler for 5 days.  It is not going to happen.  Coolers don't come in fridge and freezer side by sides.  Everything is on ice.  This keeps vegetables too cold.  The humidity/water also messes with most of them.  So I end up eating all my good vegetables early on in the festival.  I traditionally make a falaphel lunch for the sites around me and it needs that great tomato, cucumber salad with pita. So it is a challenge.   

This year, THANK YOU PIPELINE, we are going to have an in-house farmers market.  Now, I did not want to tell you all because I greedily wanted to keep all that fine food to myself.  I now fear I will get there to a bag of greens and no vegetables left.  Yet, I take this chance for the love of you all, for the love of healthy eaters everywhere, and for the love of Pipeline, giving them some props for this great idea.  

The Arts Society of Ozarks, other non profits and farmers of Franklin County are bringing us a Farmer's Market.  The location has not been disclosed yet but it is on.  According to Wakarusa's blog post it will have "Asian Greens, Lettuces, fresh Berries, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Herbs, Squash, Tomatoes and more.  There will also be fresh local honey, jams, jellies, cheeses, and some of the best free range eggs you’ve ever tasted!"  I am  so excited about not having to bring the tender vegetables and am interested to try out their eggs, preserves and cheeses.   I love the idea of strolling over daily for my salad fixings and knowing not only, I am eating well but I am helping good causes and local footprint eating. 

If you want to know more about this organization check out the Link artssocietyofozark.org

See you at the market.  Shhhhhhhhh.  Don't tell anyone. 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wakarusa 2015, North Gate Closed, tips for getting through the South Gate and the lesson of Carlos

Well folks, Mother Nature has been a little rough on our mountain haven.  A week or so ago Hwy 23 experienced a land side that has closed it down for the unforeseeable future.  It must go through serious construction and shoring up, before cars and trucks can once again be allowed to go on it's windy mountain roads.  

People coming from the south will only feel the increased traffic, however those coming from the north will need to drive an extra hour to get to the festival.  Trust me, look at the maps now and get your self figured out.  You do not want to arrive at those detour signs at 3:00 am and then have to take an extra hour around to get there.  

We come from up in Missouri so we will need to change our route to go through Joplin and then drop down and around through Arkansas.  While this sounds like a pain in the butt, and it is, it is better than falling off a mountain to your demise.  

The NORTH GATE WILL BE CLOSED.  Do not go to the North Gate.  Everyone will have to be processed through the South Gates.  

Now lets add Mother Natures second trick to the bag.  Riverside is somewhat flooded with standing water as the river rises and falls.  This flooding is supposed to recede before the festival, however it will leave conditions less than stellar for the poor schmoes that will be camping at riverside.  If I was camping at riverside I would be bringing a couple of bails of straw or hay to help shore up my campsite before I pitched any tents. 

The end all is that Mud boots are not just a thought. Mud boots are a requirement for this years Wakarusa.  The actual weather reports are actually looking decent.  Hopefully that will pan out and we will not miss a bunch of music like 2013. Yet, remember when you play in the mountains you never know what to expect, so plan for it all. 

People forget that the Ozarks are mountains.  They think of the region as lake of the Ozarks and branson with it's lake front fun and off off Broadway shows.  Yet, these are old mountains that have had their tops weathered off over millions of years of crazy weather.   However, they are still mountains, and with that comes the potential for weather to go a little crazy.

They are thought to have been created when south American collided with North America millions of years ago.  There is records of original inhabitants of the areas going back 7000 years, and the first European explorers are recorded in the area in the 1540's.  The geography shows a period of 1200 year where droughts ravaged the area and then times of deep forestation, as it is now.  The original inhabitants lived in caves and moved on during the drought stage looking for more hospitable territories. 

Wakarusa is on top of a mountain in the Boston Mountain Range, which is the largest of the Ozark mountains.  The mountains can range up to 2000 feet high.  This means that walking down, or up from riverside is no easy walk.  It is 3 miles of windy steep narrow roads that you don't really want to do unless you have no other options.  Think before you scoff at the bus line up and try to do it on foot. Wakarusa provides a bus option that can be found near the road.  Just follow the line of people with pool noodles and towels, they are probably headed down there for a swim.    

The last thing I am going to mention is timing.  While we know all traffic needs to go through the south gate and that the festival folks are working to add more lines to the south entrance, the check in is going to be less than stellar.    The trick is going to be timing it.  Let me tell you, people are going to be coming down early to get in line. They will spend 10 maybe even 15 hours in line waiting for the gates to open.  I don't know that this is such a good idea.  

Maybe coming a little later after the first push of the gates has had a chance to empty out might be a better choice.  I know it is hard to wait.  I know it is all excitement and joy.  Just know yourself and how much patience you really have and then plan your timing. Know that it is going to be a cluster so bring something to amuse yourself and chill out.  

Last year in line there was a guy in an RV in front of us.  His name, we learned, was Carlos.  He came out of his RV dressed as a hippy soul and then disappeared.  Hours went by and he did not return.  The line started to move and we were stuck hostage to Carlos.  Everyone just kept yelling Carlos. You could hear it go up and down the rows of cars.   He eventually showed up and was changing into a nice pair of pants and shirt.  He was obviously less that sober.  He fumbled with his shoes and took his sweet time.  At this point we had little love for Carlos.  He eventually moved towards the check point.  The problem was that by that point Carlos had totally pissed off security and the staff by not being in his RV for hours.  He ended up getting pulled out of line and searched like a pile of kids looking for candy.  

So my word to the wise is hunker down for a good wait but be on it.  Don't just take off to the river and forget that you are actually in a line up.  At some point it will move and the folks behind you will not be amused by your absence.  Carlos!!!!!!  All weekend we would scream Carlos and hear returned screams of the same. 

Wakarusa is going to need every line they have to get people in so lets help it happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How on earth do you survive the Wakarusa check in? Learn the secrets...

Are you starting to stress about the check in process at Wakarusa?  OK. I would lie if I said it is pretty, easy and fast.  Once you drive all the way into the BFE Arkansas, you have to make your way through huge line ups of cars, campers and people all heading to the festival. Keep in mind, you are excited out of your skin and can't wait to unload all your stuff to set up camp. 

There are various entrance times based on your ticket and camping passes. Your ticket will, to some extent, defines how stressful your entrance process will be.  While there are no guarantees, at least knowing what to expect will help.  Don't expect it to go fast. Plan for a few hours and try to get into the spirit of it all. Most important don't forget your ticket.  If you do forget your golden ticket, and you ordered from Wakarusa, you should be able to get a new one by going to the will-call booths and working it out with them.  

Everyone is so excited to be there and the feeling of the party is quite evident, regardless of the lines.  It is like being at a ball game when the wave starts through the stadium and you know everyone there is happy to be part of it.  Often in the lineup if you start cheering a wave will go through the crowd with answering cheers and positive energy proving how kind the festival groove is.




Gate Entry Times Based on Your Ticket Type: 

Full Event Pass with Main Venue - Wed Arrival Camping Pass --- Wednesday June 3rd at 4:00 pm
Full Event Pass with Main Venue Camping Pass --- Thursday June 4th at 12:01 am (Yes that is the middle of the night)
Three Day Event Pass - Friday Entry
Two Day Event Pass - Saturday Entry
Sunday Event Pass - Sunday Only

NOTE the North gate is closed after 8:00 pm on Thursday and all festival goers will have to go to the South Gate after that.

NOTE!!!!! As of 5/21/15, Hwy 23 is closed coming in from the North (big rock slide had blocked all lanes).  THIS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING.  Unless they can get the road fixed things are going to change and get way crazy at the South Entrance.  So Watch for updates on Facebook, Waka's web site, etc.... Stay Calm and know everyone will do all they can to work on this situation. 

Allow me to explain the process of the check in:

There are two gates, the North and the South Gates, each on one side of the festival. The South Gate is down by the riverside campground and stage, where Hwy 23 and 215 meet.   The North one is in a farmer’s field, where Hwy 23 and Hwy 16 meet.  Usually where you come from will define your gate.  However people are always playing the odds, going to which ever gate they think will be less of a pain to get through.  

The South gate has the benefit of the river and the riverside stage, which plays a set starting on Wednesday.  Also if you are staying in the riverside campground you need to check in at the south gate. Each gate has a will-call and information booths if you get confused and need help.

Now, you are saying, ‘why do I care about the stage at Riverside?’  Well you could easily be spending 3 to 6 hours in line. I don't think I have ever gone through in less than three hours. Not only will you inevitably be waiting for 100's of cars to go in but you may be waiting for the gates to even open up. Many people rush to get there only to spend half a day in line waiting for the gates to start letting festival goers in.  

The Festival usually runs a bunch of check in booths at each gate. You will be guided into a lineup when you drive in.  If you need to stop at will-call you will be directed to a separate parking lot for those services.  Next you will get into the big line up and begin your wait.  At the end of your line up they will check your tickets, give you a wrist band, and do a security search on your vehicle.  

Security is looking for particular things.  Do yourself a favor and don't bring any glass containers, pets, gas or electric powered vehicles, fireworks, tanks other than propane, or weapons. I have even seen big cooking knives, like butcher knives, taken by security.  They are pretty strict and will spend a few minutes on each vehicle looking for things that should not be there.  The Police will be on hand if anything is found that warrants such treatment. 

The most common offence is glass.  I know you may wish to bring some alcohol or food that comes in glass, however you will need to transfer it to plastic if you want to get it into the festival.  Each year you see bottle on top of bottle piling up beside the security checks that have been pulled from cars and campers.

When dealing with security and the check in folks, the best thing to do is be polite, follow direction and answer questions directed to you.  The security staff is serious and not there to mess around. They will be curious and they have an important job to do.  The festival staff at the check in and directing folks are often volunteers or paid local folks happy to make a bunch of money over the week.  

One time, I went down with a friend that had stocked up on little chocolate bars and cold beverages before we hit the gate.  He gave them out to staff and spread the festival karma from the start.  That time we got through the gate at 2:30 am and the party at the south gate was raging. Gratitude in the attitude goes a long way.

Once you get through this process you will make your way to the top of the mountain and the festival entrance. No matter which gate you go through, make sure you make the correct turn coming out of the gate area as all those Ozark Mountain roads look the same.  Twice the crew I was with went the wrong way, once at the North Gate and once at the South Gate, each time adding 45 minute additional drives to our journey.  So pay attention, I know you will be excited, but focus for just a little longer. 

At the top of the mountain, you will need to go through another check point where your wrist bands will be checked and you will be issued garbage bags, etc.   You may have a few security questions asked just to make sure all is well.  This is your last check point and from there you will be directed to your assigned camping area -- Main Stage, RV Reserved, VIP etc....  At this point you are in and you can let the good times roll.

Best Practices for getting through without losing your cool: 

1) Don't expect the gates to open up before they are supposed to, in fact expect them to run a little behind time.  This is a huge venture and takes a large concentrated effort.
2) Bring some accessible food and drink so that you can relax and enjoy during your wait.
3) You will not be able to run your AC in your car for the number of hours you will wait so plan some weather appropriate clothing and sun screen.
4) If you like to hoop, make sure you can get to one or a Frisbee or any other activity to amuse yourselves while you wait.
5) Caravan with your friends so that you all get through the gates together.  If you want to camp beside each other and are in general camping this is essential as you will not be able to save spots once you get into the festival.  If you do lose each other in this process you can wait at the top of the mountain just inside the venue before you get to the last checkpoint.  
6) Once you get closer to the festival, especially if it later on Thursday, your cell phone may not be worth more than a paper weight.  You may get through the occasional text but don't use that as your only way to find folks.  If you have to, try text instead of calling.  Expect delays in communication. 
7) Remember all the folks working deserve respect and are doing their best. If you don't give them reason to hassle you they will do their best to do their job and move on.  
8) On your drive to the Wakarusa don't speed, watch for speed limit changes and stop signs going through every little town, dress respectfully and don't give people reason to resent our pilgrimage.  Don't give local law enforcement reason to make your weekend start with a bad experience. 


That is all for now folks.  Have fun.