Saturday, August 4, 2007

Midwest Hospitality

When we moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago, I was surprised to find that people just weren't as friendly. Laid back, yes... friendly, ehh... friendly as people from the Midwest (Iowa, particularly), there was no comparison. Before moving, I remember my husband stopping to help pull a car from a ditch in the middle of the winter. In L.A., people only helped if you were holding up traffic.

I was still the same person, so I did all the things I was used to. I would talk to strangers in the grocery store but they would usually avoid making conversation. Maybe they thought I was talking to myself. My favorite thing to do was make cookies or a pie when a new neighbor moved in, but they literally looked at me like I was crazy. I was always curious if they actually ATE what I delivered.

We're back in Iowa now and I'm happy to be feeling the Midwest Hospitality in full force. I knew I was "home" when, over the course of several days, many neighbors stopped by to drop off cookies and introduce themselves. I'm quite delighted to be able to return the favor to new neighbors that really appreciate it. I'm also glad to see that my husband still has that Midwest charm too. The other night around 10 pm, a truck blew a tire in front of our house. My husband went outside to help them change the tire...I giggle because I know in the back of my mind he was trying to get it done before the AAA guy showed up. Not that he was in a hurry, he's just competitive like that. He could have finished the job faster, but the three men in the truck had never changed a tire before so he was spending some time showing them how to do it in case there was ever a next time. That was cute though because it was one guy doing the work and three guys standing around watching. I couldn't help but ask the Police volunteer who was on-scene "How many guys DOES it take to change a tire?"

But today it all really hit me hard. Early this morning, I stopped by a neighbor's house who was having a yard sale. I selected some books for the kids, but the items actually belonged to a friend of hers who had not shown up yet... and they weren't priced so she couldn't sell them to me. She set them aside and asked if I could stop by later. I told her the most I wanted to pay and said "Just put them back in the stack if it will be more than that." When I showed up a few hours later, I had the girls with me. Knowing there wasn't anything else I needed, I only brought as much money as I told her I would spend. My 4½ year old had a few Chuck E Cheese tokens, some pennies and a quarter that she brought with in case she found something she wanted. Well, she did... a stuffed beanie-type duck that cost 50¢. I told her she needed to find two quarters and she promptly handed the woman a quarter and a token. The neighbor smiled and said "Thank you". Unfortunately, my almost 3 year old had continued to shop and found herself a doll for $1. I tried to talk her out of it to avoid having to run home for more money. In the midst of all of this, another customer at the yard sale walked up to my little one and handed her a dollar. She said "This is so you can buy your doll." I thanked the young woman and said "That's not necessary." She smiled and said "It's okay." I'm still smiling hours later just thinking about the whole event. Los Angeles was a great place to live with lots to do and beautiful places to go... but you can't put a value on a gesture like this. You just don't realize how important such hospitality is until you lose it... and gain it back again.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Grey Poupon BzzCampaign

I was excited this afternoon to log onto BzzAgent and find the new Grey Poupon BzzCampaign invitation. Although I'm not a big fan of yellow mustards, I can't live without brown or spicy mustards. With bratwurst season in full swing, this was a welcome invitation!

One of the suggested BzzActivities is to ask people how many kinds of mustards they have in their fridge. For me, it's usually two or three. I'm still learning how to set up all the cool stuff on a blog, so I figured this is a good opportunity for me to try out the 'poll' option. I posted it on the right margin so let's see how it goes.

If you're a fan of mustards, be sure to check out the three new varieties (Harvest Coarse Ground, Hearty Spicy Brown and Savory Honey) at the store. For some great recipe ideas, go to the Grey Poupon website.

Would love to hear any comments about the products. My BzzKit won't arrive for a little while and I'm chomping at the bit waiting to try them out!