danniewriter

Adventures of Chip de ‘Ville (Lydia House)

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Hi all. Chip here.

Louisville is a dog-loving city. Now that it’s getting warmer (then colder, then warmer again), the bipeds are enjoying dining al fresco, and dozens of wise restauranteurs around the city invite customers to bring their canine companions to the patios. Even some stores with boring and/or breakable stuff where dogs (inexplicably) aren’t allowed inside are owned by really cool humans who put water dishes outside on the stoop. Well done.

Prue* and I found a rare gem recently, though, an amazing restaurant that welcomes dogs (and I assume felines, should they deign to emerge from their castles) inside.

Lydia House is located in the Schnitzelburg neighborhood of Louisville’s Germantown area at 1101 Lydia St.

We went for lunch. Tuesdays are Cuban Sandwich Day, and it just so happened we were there when President Obama was on his historic trip to the island, so Prue felt obliged to order one. Never a fan of pickles, she nevertheless embraced the experience and said it was one of the best things between two slices of bread she’s ever tasted.

As for me, I got a few bites of pork (where have pigs been all my life?) and some brought-along treats from our recent trip to Three Dogs Bakery.

The bar is vintage and above it is a sign bearing the name of the original business: Flabby’s. Certainly there are items on the menu that could maintain or produce another Flabby (gouda mac and cheese, grilled bread pudding!), but make no mistake, one look at the menu with my Magic Eye of Discernment & Sensitivity (below), and I knew that this is real, good-for-you-as-well-as-good-tasting food. More on that in a sec.

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I was welcomed warmly and appropriately fawned over by owner/chef Emily (above) and two members of her staff, one of them server dude, Nathan. With only one small tattoo, Prue commented later that she likely was the most un-cool person to show up there recently, but was made to feel right at home. (I would say this is chiefly because of me, but that would be ungracious and arrogant; I don’t want to detract from my cuteness.) We also briefly met Emily’s own canine companion, Biggie Smalls. I’m glad it was after the photo was taken. As you can see in the top photo, I instantly fell a little in love with Emily. (She’s cute and smelled wonderful!) It would have been so awkward had Biggie shown up earlier.

Now, back to that amazing menu. There are vegan and vegetarian offerings, and many in-house creations such as kimchi, ginger-pickled carrots, dressings, and even beverages, but that’s just the tip of the culinary iceberg. Upon reviewing the menu and following their Facebook page, it’s obvious that this is a very creative kitchen that is mixing it up all the time. It would be a huge mistake just to go by the online menu and risk missing the specials.

“Noodles at Night” (vegetarian or meat broth with soft egg, scallions, the aforementioned ginger-pickled carrots with your choice of yummy add-ins) have become such a hit they’re being added to the lunch menu. In fact, the entire menu is expanding next week and there’s no way to list all the goodies.

But here are three: cherry habanero dressing, herbed goat cheese, and chia seed coconut milk iced mocha!

There’s a patio, original art for sale, frequent live music at night, and a bustling brunch trade on Saturday and Sunday.

And, best of all, your canine can come with you all the way into the restaurant.

You bet I’m in love.

Later, Chip

*Person Responsible for Ultimately Everything

 

Adventures of Chip de ‘Ville (Three Dog Bakery)

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Hi all. Chip here.

On a recent chilly day, Prue* and I went in search of a new destination for our routine, and as far as I’m concerned, we hit the Mother Lode.

Three Dog Bakery opened its doors about 17 years ago, and Pastry Chef Brenda (above) has been baking each of those years. The recipes are very pet-friendly, no sugar or salt, and there are also wheat- and grain-free offerings.

Brenda says she has the perfect job. She gets to bake but is never tempted to eat the treats herself, although I have no idea why; they are so yummy!

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Prue says the treats are as pretty as any she’s seen in a bipedal bakery. Some are refrigerated and need to be eaten in a few days (no problem!) and others are good for weeks. (Why would you wait?)

As you can see in the top photo, Brenda also bakes specialty cakes and other treats on request. (I’m hoping for a bone-shaped cake for my birthday this year, even though we don’t know the exact date.)

They even have a party room! (Hint, hint)

The store is well stocked with all sorts of neat-looking merchandise, and Prue says I have to mention that they have stuff for cats, too. (Whatever.)

Three Dogs is a franchise, but with nearly 20 years of doggy-treat history in the ‘Ville, this shop is as local as Churchill Downs. They host adoption events, obedience classes (I must enroll Prue soon!) and pet first aid workshops. How neat is that?

Three Dog Bakery is on Chenoweth Square in St. Matthews. They have their own Facebook page, so check it out.

 

*Person Responsible for Ultimately Everything

What to do when your message falls short

Dartboards with three darts missed off

Johnny Carson, longtime host of The Tonight Show, was the master of self deprecation. When a joke bombed, he didn’t steamroll on to another, he’d linger in the awkward silence, as if paying penance. (See 3:17-4:00 in this Christmas monologue.)

Audiences enjoyed his discomfort and loved him all the more for being humble and human.

No one enjoys feeling foolish, but acknowledging that a message has missed its mark is preferable to simply repeating it over and over with no changes.

Consider the case of presidential candidate Marco Rubio in this montage posted by Time following one of the debates last month. It’s possible Rubio’s initial message landed for some people, but I think the constant and unchanging repetition short circuited any benefit it may have had given the senator in his bid for the White House.

For those of us outside the national spotlight, it’s still possible to feel the heat:

  • Maybe that holiday tie-in wasn’t such a great idea for a newspaper ad or social media promotion. (Check out this great article from Sarah Burke on Spokal about newsjacking.)
  • Although accurate, the news story mentioning your business or non-profit fell short in some way.
  • The speech you gave to the civic organization yielded yawns instead of support. (It happens.)

How should you respond?

Own up to your errors. If you’ve lost your temper or simply said or published something thoughtless, own up to it. Although context is important, try to apologize without re-stating the offensive or erroneous information. Consider asking a professional for assistance. Don’t compound the error or controversy with a sloppy response.

Hold others accountable for their mistakes. If the news story contained errors, contact the reporter and ask for a retraction/clarification. Keep in mind that it will be more difficult to convince them that they have left out important information, but depending on the circumstances, it could be worth your time to meet with the editor. Letters to the Editor and polite, concise posts on the newspaper/station social media accounts can be effective to tell the rest of the story. If the issue is too complex to be brief, write a blog post and link to it from a comment on the media outlet’s social networks. A scripted and well delivered video on YouTube could be very effective, too. Again, get professional assistance if this is a controversial issue. Don’t play the victim or get defensive, just share the facts you know are needed to give the public a clear picture of the situation in question.

And the yawns? Invest time in practice and research. Speeches, purpose/position statements, interviews and Q&A sessions will go much more smoothly with preparation. Despite what we have seen on the campaign trail recently, this isn’t about stocking up on quips and insults to try to make your competition look bad, or to get payback for a wrong. Get facts from respected sources, including your own people, on why your business, non-profit or position on an issue is best.

For speeches, nail down a length from the venue organizer. In general, for Q&A sessions, set a goal for 15-second responses for most questions. Even shorter is better but avoid one-word answers by anticipating the follow-up question, “why.” Keep in mind that after a minute, eyes will begin to glaze over and ears will begin to tune out. Use a stopwatch as you practice. You’ll be surprised how much info you can share in just a few seconds.

Humor often works but avoid sarcasm, which can be misunderstood, and negativity. Often it is best to let your supporters come to your defense rather than attempt a biting comeback on the fly. Remember your goals for delivering the speech, granting the interview, publishing the post, running the ad. Here are some good, common sense tips from Mind Tools on “thinking on your feet,” that can help when you are feeling the pressure.

The Greek proverb, “know thyself,” is profound beyond an individual’s confidence in his or her identity. It is a great reminder in marketing and communications to stay focused on your stated mission. This goes beyond a slogan or even a mission statement. It requires as much thought, research and preparation as refining your product or service or expanding the reach of your non-profit’s good work.

Remember this exercise from Small Business Promotion, I posted a while back? If your message is missing its mark this is a great way to go back to the drawing board.

Praying for the rise of the Common Sense Party

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Like religion, education, and vocation, my political views were shaped, markedly, by the influence of my parents and grandparents. My parents weren’t showy about their politics, but they were never shy about their respect for our country and its system of government.

Growing up, I queried them repeatedly about their voting choices and party affiliations. On one occasion, one of them had to stop and think about party affiliation, and if I recall correctly, the other parent was not only amused, but surprised by the eventual answer.

They died relatively young, so it’s up to my flawed memory and a fairly creative mind to recreate this scene. I imagine the slightly embarrassed smile from the one who had to think which party to name. I see a raised eyebrow of surprise and a teasing smile from the other that communicated: “Yes, we’ll be chatting about this later.”

Now, there was no more simpatico couple than my folks. Sure, they had differing opinions from time to time, but there was an overriding theme to their views: that of common sense. So profoundly were they attached to this principle, the question of political party was secondary.

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I wish I lived in a country where the lines between political parties continued to be so innocuous. Were that the case, I’m convinced we would return, or possibly arrive, to the primacy of common sense.

Common sense means I can be concerned with national security, debt and deficit without being labeled a soulless, capitalistic pig.

Common sense means I can maintain that it is reasonable and necessary for the most wealthy nation on the planet to provide a short-term safety net for citizens in crisis without being shouted down as a bleeding heart socialist who only wants to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.”

Common sense knows that “immigration reform” doesn’t automatically mean “amnesty” any more than objecting to an amendment outlawing abortion means that partial-birth abortion is moral.

Common sense tells me that it is confounding to a spiritually searching world for a church to defy one rule of manmade law while simultaneously demanding protection under another. (A blog post for another day: Does a firm stand of commitment mean anything if it comes without consequences or even objection?)

Common sense today will fight, even unto death, for the equality of opportunity for every American while refusing to be held captive, ashamed and forever apologetic for the sins of long-dead ancestors that can never be undone.

Instead of destroying statues to deeply flawed–sometimes to the point of atrocity–individuals of the past, common sense can relocate them to museums and private venues while raising monuments on public grounds to people who exemplify more closely “the better angels of our nature”* and our country. Common sense says a people who subtract history rather than expand it and give it context are human ostriches–heads in the sand with exposed backsides ready for the kicking, or worse.

Yep, I could go on.

But in our 140-character, bumper sticker, manifesto-on-a-business card, QR-coded society, there’s no room to maneuver. There’s no thoughtful, nuanced position.

That’s why, in this writer’s opinion, there never seems to be enough outrage when politicians, pundits and so-called celebrities say persons of a certain color, religion, tax bracket or sexual identification must affiliate with a certain party.

To that I concur with several of these sentiments from MASH’s Col. Sherman Potter.

It’s “us” against “them,” and “they” have the deck stacked–even though the definition of those pronouns might change hourly.

What once was praised as prudence, caution, and intelligence is now tossed aside as spinelessness and ambivalence. Make no mistake, there are times when lines must be drawn, and my folks knew and practiced this, but are we now a nation so eager to polarize we will be unable to unite when the time comes?

What then?

Will there ever be a Party of Common Sense?

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I miss my parents.

daddynmama

*President Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address March 4, 1861

Adventures of Chip de ‘Ville (This dog’s life)

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Hi all. Chip here.

My day-to-day life is mostly uncomplicated but having lived with Prue* since last September, I am beginning to see some complexities in my role as companion.

She has few expectations from me, except my presence, which is reassuring. Certainly I have much to offer, but I also require a great deal of sleep, so I prefer to reveal my many skills and talents gradually, lest I get too much on my plate–or supper dish as it were.

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For some bipeds, the greatest gift a pet provides is a measure of helplessness. I depend on Prue for, well, ultimately everything, thus I give her a reason to get out of bed each day, get dressed and go outside. When I hear noises in the hall or see strangers in the parking lot, I manufacture the most pathetic sounds of distress I can manage so Prue finds it necessary to comfort and reassure me of her presence and protection.

She eats it up like ice cream.

When she gets down, it’s my job to make her laugh. When she comes home I skitter across the slick kitchen floor and immediately attack her feet, clawing at her shoes and rendering her immobile lest she step on me. She especially enjoys this production when she’s been gone only long enough to pick up the mail from the lobby.

“Yes, it’s always good to see you, too,” she comments sweetly, if somewhat condescendingly.

She finds it hysterically funny that my preferred chew toy is her hand. What can I say, it’s convenient and malleable, and I am an expert at apply non-painful pressure. (Note: I never try this on other humans. I’m selective with my chew toys.)

She often requires extra cuddling. Rather than being satisfied with having my toasty self pressed against her leg, she gathers me up in her arms and we stare at each other while she strokes my head. For some reason, I cannot sleep resting on her arm, so I just stare at her until she dozes off. She opens her eyes and there I am, looking right back at her.

She says this is comforting and creepy at the same time, which I find delightful!

Even in our short time together, I’ve come to realize she needs me and depends on me, possibly only slightly more than I need her.

She assures me it isn’t a competition but if it were, I’d be winning.

Later, Chip

*Person Responsible for Ultimately Everything

To the lost GOP: Dump Trump

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I really do not like politics, and the politics of the past 10-12 years have left me especially disheartened. It seems everyone is yelling bumper stickers at one another, and politicians, career and would-be, will say just about anything to get elected. Campaigns never end; they remain “suspended” in the political ether ready to be resurrected at the next infusion of cash and outrage.

But, today is different.

Because today, in 2016, the leading Republican candidate for president doesn’t know enough about white supremacy or the Ku Klux Klan to denounce such movements as inconsistent with the foundational principles of our country.

Yep, that’s the world I find myself in today, and it creates a dilemma.

I’m what some people with various letters after their last names describe as an “extroverted introvert.” I’m the person who usually comes up with a question or comment in Sunday school when no one else will because I feel bad for the teacher enveloped by the crushing silence around him/her.

If I’m in a group of strangers, in lieu of standing around like a tree, I’ll usually pick someone out and start asking questions. I’m a trained journalist; I interview.

Additionally, I’m fairly private about my political beliefs. A former boss once asked me on election day how I voted. I smiled and reminded him, politely, of the purpose of the curtain around the voting machine. When pressed, I’ll tell people that I listen to Rush Limbaugh and NPR and have amazingly informed and passionate arguments with myself.

But, today’s a different day, so it’s time to put my cards, such as they are, on the table.

I’m a Republican with asterisks. I’m no party cheerleader, and I make up my own mind about individual issues. I’ve never voted a straight ticket in my life. Within the party, I’d be considered a social moderate and a fiscal conservative. As far as the role of government, I’m downright libertarian. I have very little confidence that government on any level can accomplish much of anything with efficiency and efficacy.

(Feel free to add “cynic” to “extroverted introvert.”)

That being said, for the first time in my life, I am concerned about the future of my country. Consequently, I am doing what I can to encourage fellow Republicans and conservatives to denounce, immediately, loudly and repeatedly, the candidacy of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.

It is my sincere belief that Mr. Trump’s feigned ignorance of the white supremacist movement/KKK must disqualify him, morally if not technically, as a candidate representing the party of Abraham Lincoln. We cannot tolerate equivocation on such a foundational issue; this must be a deal breaker.

To be fair, Mr. Trump said his misstep was caused by an earpiece problem during the crucial CNN interview that dealt with an alleged (I’ll get to that in a second) endorsement from former Klan member David Duke. Trump explained this in a subsequent interview on NBC’s Today show that began with questions about a childish feud with fellow Republican hopeful Marco Rubio.

For further clarification/damage control on the question of support from fringe groups, Mr. Trump issued this comment with recent endorser and former rival Chris Christie by his side. (I find him brimming with sincerity in this clip, but I have to give him props for staring down a guy at one of his rallies who was wearing a shirt announcing “KKK Endorses Trump.”)

Now, back to Duke. This was pointed out to me by commenters on my Facebook page: Duke says he never even endorsed Trump. A U.S. News & World Report story that followed Duke’s radio broadcast on the day in question seems to shed light on the confusion, but I have to admit, the distinction between supporting someone’s candidacy “as a strategic action” (I assume to defeat Democrats) seems pretty close to an endorsement to me.

At any rate, I have yet to see coverage in the mainstream media attempting to clarify this point, hairsplitting though it may be, for Mr. Duke or Mr. Trump.

So back to my dilemma. Whether technology failed Mr. Trump, or he soft-pedaled the initial response for political expediency, I find enough evidence of his volatility, mean-spiritedness, lack of substance and insufferable pandering, to make me downright worried about the further progression of his campaign. That the other remaining nominees have failed to resonate is no reason to condone, and thus tacitly endorse, someone who has seen success only by appealing to the worst fears amongst us.

I encourage fellow Republicans, with and without asterisks, to go beyond supporting an alternate candidate, instead, please campaign, vocally and tirelessly, against Mr. Trump.

In Kentucky, a good place to start is at Saturday’s Republican caucus.

Time is running out. If you share my concerns, contact Republican leaders and demand they go public and condemn Trump’s atrocious rhetoric and a platform so lacking in substance that the laws of physics are defied each day it manages to remain upright under the weight of such ego and mean spiritedness.

I wondered if a time would ever come in my life when I would feel compelled to tilt at windmills. In Don Quixote, Cervantes wrote: “The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else.”

And as for the Democratic nominee and the general election, that’s a different windmill for another day.

En garde, Mr. Trump.