Friday, January 22, 2010

Tee Minus 14 hours

We're getting ready to launch for Challis tomorrow morning.  I'm estimating our ETD @ T-14.  That's NASA talk for roughly 8:30 am tomorrow morning.  Heck, I might even go roaming 'round and find a countdown clock and put it up here for grins.

I made up all the certificates today.  It's dang near half a package of parchment paper.  We triple checked with the management of the Senior Center up there and we're locked and loaded.

Going to Challis is always a sort of pilgrimage for us.  We have so much personal history with that place.  I think it's one reason we love Northern Exposure so much.  Challis could have BEEN Cicely, Alaska.  The two of them are joined at The Hip.  We can substitute exact people in Challis for fictional characters in Cicely.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about Challis is that it has continued to live a genuine Northern Exposure Reality long after the TV series ended.  And none of the Challis residents really know this.  They think their life is normal.  Well, I guess in a lot of ways it is.  How can you argue with survival and success?  Survival IS success sometimes in Challis.

We both truly love Challis.  Heck, we almost bought a house there.  Well, no, it was a $35,000 shack.  But who's counting?  When I go back to Challis, I feel like I am coming home.  I call Idaho Falls home but Challis is really home to me.  It's official population is 909 people.  No one knows if that's a real number or not.  No one cares.  It's a county seat and it does not even yet have a stop light.  Heck, it doesn't even have a single national franchise either in the entire county!  Nobody pays any attention to Custer County and NOBODY pays any attention to Challis, the county seat.

I get to stand up in front of the stalwarts of Challis tomorrow and make a speech.  I get to then hand out over four dozen certificates of appreciation to volunteers who serve at the Challis Senior Center.  It's going to be a poignant scene. Why?  Because I love Challis and I love their Old People.  I love each and every one of them from the frail to the flagrant. They feel like my extended family--my distant cousins and forgotten aunts & uncles.  Heck, maybe they are.  Who knows with inbreds?

I want to tell them tomorrow how much I value them.  I want to tell them how much they matter.  I want to tell them that they make a difference.  I want to tell them that their community simply wouldn't be the same without them.  But most of all, I want to tell them that I love them.

That is a tall order for a speech maker.  You have to be really, really careful with you use the "L" word.  You have to craft your speech in such a way that you have your audience totally involved and hanging on your every word.  You have to have them moving forward in their seats.  I learned a long time ago to watch their heads.  If their heads aren't nodding, you're OK.  If you can see their eyes, they're OK, you're OK.

Well, it's a Big Day tomorrow.  I'm bringing a portable PA system to amp it up.  As I sit here in Idaho Falls at this computer, I can see their eyes, I can see their faces and I know I can Stand and Deliver.

They deserve nothing less than the Best I have to give.

Here is the Nov 13, 2007, rendition of our last Volunteer Recognition Event.

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