Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drowning In Cookies

I've been pretty busy since my last blog entry. I flew back to Oregon over New Years for a few days to visit Ann. It snowed the night I arrived, but otherwise was the typical cold, rainy winter weather we get in the Pacific Northwest. Ann and I went to the coast one day to do some hiking. It was warmer and less cloudy than it was in Corvallis. Ann's been keeping up with her six month exercise challenge (one hour per day). I saw the guys (Chris, Matt, Tim) as well. We went on a couple of bike rides and played some sort of X-box game one night which involved massacring zombies. It was good to see Ann, the boys, and Ann's chubby cat.

I had considered taking a trip to Monterrey to visit relatives and get a copy of a certified birth certificate but decided against it when I learned that my mom had a certified copy. Nina was keeping me busy at the bakery anyway. In late January she got an order from BP, one of the local oil refineries, for 7500 cookies they needed for a town hall meeting. It was the bakery's largest order yet. We only had a week to get it done. A third of the cookies were decorated sugar cookies, which is a rather complex and time consuming type of cookie. There were some late nights, and we had to temporarily more than triple the bakery's workforce, but it all came together very well. The community really helped out. It was the owner of a local restaurant / catering service who helped us land the order in the first place. When the call went out for extra labor some volunteers and several high school girls showed up. We needed to temporarily store dough in a freezer, but had run out of freezer space. A restaurant and local grocery store allowed us to use their freezer space. At one point the entire bakery looked like a sea of green and yellow as every elevated horizontal surface was commandeered for use as drying space for the iced cookies. We baked 5000 cookies in one day. Best of all, BP loved the product, including the "thank you" cake we threw in. The lady who was our contact hugged Nina and seemed to be on the verge of tears. I got the sense that we had bailed her out of a predicament. We already got another quote request for a 1000 serving order from BP due on Valentine's Day. The local newspaper found out what we'd done and decided to do a story on us (see link), in addition to a second story they're going to do for wedding cakes. The only thing that could have made it better is if BP had paid for the order. As with other large corporations I'm familiar with, making payments is a bewildering and time consuming process. Our contact seems to be doing what she can to get the payment made.

Most recently one of a my older sisters (Conchita) flew in from Chicago for a visit. A niece (my oldest sister's daughter) also came down from Austin for a visit. I hadn't seen either of them for years, so it was great to catch up. Nina (my youngest sister) wasted no time in putting them to work at the bakery.

I'm loading up the Buffalo to leave Texas City. I told HP I'd be back to work no later than March 1st. I feel like I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish during my stay here, and if anything it's worked out better than I could have hoped for. Chris and Tim are flying into Denver over the Valentine's Day weekend. I agreed to meet them there. We're going to head into the Rockies to do some climbing. I'll also be visiting friends who live in Denver. Climbing in the cold high mountains will be a welcome change from the coastal flatlands of the gulf coast. The weather here will soon start getting hot and humid. No doubt the mosquitoes will be back out in force too. I miss Ann. The universe seems to be telling me that it's time to leave. Although I feel a bit guilty leaving Nina to fend for herself (managing a high growth business with three children and a husband who works full time isn't easy), I can't completely abandon myself either. Besides, as Nina would readily admit, she asked for it.

The photo at the top is from a hike Ann and I took on the Oregon coast. More photos (including some of the bakery in the midst of fulfilling the 7500 cookie order) are here.

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