Frankie the Monkey and Compassion

A couple years ago, Ashley Face started telling Monster stories about Frankie the Monkey.  Frankie the Monkey is a young Capuchin monkey who lives a big tree house in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. Below is a written version of the story I told him last night.

Frankie woke up in his tree house one morning to a big surprise: There was a new family of baboons moving into the tree next store!

Frankie saw that there was a young baboon about his age. He quickly wolfed down his banana and grub breakfast and scampered down the tree trunk for a closer look. He watched the family unpacking all their possessions.

The young baboon was unpacking all his things into his very own tree branch room – it looked just like Frankie’s room! He had cool shiny rocks on display, just like what Frankie had found by the river bank. He put out some cozy matting for his tree branch bed, just like what Frankie built earlier in the year. He put up some mud paintings on his bark wall, just like what Frankie had made at monkey school!

In fact, the only thing that seemed different to Frankie between him and this young baboon is that they looked different. Soon, the young baboon got tired of unpacking and went to explore the forest. Frankie quickly followed him, wanting to say hello and welcome him to the neighborhood.

Frankie jumped up on a tree branch and called down to the little baboon. “Hello! I’m your new neighbor!” he called out excitedly.

The young baboon turned and looked at Frankie. “Oh… hi! I’m Billy. Billy the Baboon. I’m looking for bugs. Want to help?”

“SURE! I know the BEST spots!” exclaimed Frankie. “Look here! The best bugs are under the heaviest rocks!”

Frankie and Billy hopped along the riverbed, looking under old logs and rocks for little bugs to eat. They quickly became fast friends. They hung out the rest of the afternoon, sharing stories and giggling. Finally, it was getting late.

“I have to go home now,” said Billy. “Bye until tomorrow!”

“Goodbye, new friend!” exclaimed Frankie.

Frankie went home and rushed through his dinner. He was so excited about his new friend he could hardly sleep that night! He woke up extra early the next morning. “I should bring my new friends a welcome basket!” he thought. Hee climbed up his tree and picked a whole bunch of the best and ripest bananas from his best banana growing branch. He had been saving them for a special occasion, and this seemed to be just that. He scooped them all up and put them in a banana leaf basket. He made a mud painting on a piece of bark that said ‘Welcome to the neighborhood!’ and had a picture of a banana tree.

“I hope billy likes bananas,” Frankie thought to himself. He brought the basket over to their house and knocked on the door. Billy’s father, Lester answered the door.

“WELCOME TO THE –,” Frankie started to say, but Lester cut him off.

“No monkeys! We don’t like monkeys in this house and I won’t have you hanging around my son! You stay away from us, you hear?”

Lester then reached out and smacked the banana basket right out of poor Frankie’s hand! His prize bananas tumbled out of the basket onto the forest floor. The force of the blow had ruined all of them. Frankie turned around, tears in his eyes, and ran away scared.

Frankie was so angry with Lester. He went home and seethed and seethed about what had happened. Frankie went to bed that night sobbing, and wishing that Lester would just let him and Billy play together.

The next morning, Frankie looked over at the baboons house and heard Billy and Lester arguing.

“But… dad! He’s my FRIEND! He’s really nice and likes all the same stuff I do! Why can’t I hang out with him?” sobbed Billy.

“Because he’s a MONKEY! You’re a BABOON! Our kind doesn’t mix and that’s FINAL!” yelled Lester.

Frankie heard the argument and was sad. “But at least Billy likes me!” thought Frankie. “All I have to do is show Lester how kind monkeys can be. He’ll come around.”


      So, Frankie began to study everything he could find about baboons. He assembled a food basket of the best things that baboons like to eat. He found the best and plumpest grubs under the heaviest rocks.  The shiniest and tastiest bark from the best trees. The juiciest grass from the lushest riverbanks.

Once again, he put all the tasty treats in a basket with a mud painted note, and once again he brought it to the door. And… once again, Lester answered, and once again Lester smacked the basket from Frankie’s hands. Frankie was devastated. He went home and collapsed in his bed, sobbing and sobbing. He stayed there for hours and hours.

But then, suddenly, he smelled something that puts any rain forest animal at full alert – Smoke! He looked out in horror to see a fire that was engulfing the baboons house! Lester and the rest of the family were outside battling the blaze, but poor Billy was stuck up in his room! Frankie sprang into action. He grabbed his trusty bark bucket, lined with moss and banana leaves to hold water, and rushed to the river. He scooped up a full bucket of water and bee lined it for the fire.

Frankie ran right past Lester and the other baboons, and right into the burning front door! He threw his bucket of water right on the fire that was blocking the stairs up to Billy’s room and then dashed up the path he had made! Grabbing Billy by the hand and shouting “Let’s go,” Frankie and Billy ran back down the stairs, through the living room, and out the front door.

The instant they cleared the doorway, the whole tree house collapsed in flames – and so did Frankie. Panting and coughing, but safe, Billy ran over to Lester and gave him a big hug.

Lester slowly walked over to Frankie, who was standing up again. “You… you saved Billy. You saved my boy. Even after I was so mean to you. Why?”

“Because…” Frankie coughed between smoke-filled breathes. “Because that’s what friends do.”

That day, Lester’s heart was changed about monkeys. He welcomed Frankie as part of his own family. Billy and Frankie are fast friends. They play together every day and find only the best bugs under the heaviest rocks.

 

 

 

 

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Wonder Woman. Less Sexist? Yes! Empowering? We’ll see…

As a feminist I tend to watch women in media with cautious optimism because…

Wait. No. That’s not the whole story. I’ll back up.

As a parent I tend to be very critical of movies and media and their impact on my son’s…

Damn. That’s not all of it either.

Okay, take three. Here we go…

As a parent, feminist and comic book nerd who likes movies and fantasy I want to watch something enjoyable that is culturally relevant as well as entertaining. Comic book movies are no exception to what I want to see- especially where cultural relevance is concerned. Comic books are fantasy stories that often reflect current events and culture.

There’s a new Wonder Woman movie that’s set to drop next June. We got a first look at it when Warner Bro’s dropped a shiny trailer at Comic-Con 4 days ago. Check it out:

Hold onto your impressions of the trailer. I’ll revisit it in a bit. I want to talk about the first frame -which is actually a shot of the poster Warner Bro’s released at the same time:

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Okay. Is Wonder Woman too tall to fit on a poster and they had to cut her face off? Or perhaps she sees out of her breasts, so they wanted us to make sure we looked her in the.. um… bustier eyes..? Look, I have nothing against sexy woman in action movies. I really like that, in this case, the sexy woman is more than just eye candy – she’s actually a main character. The thing is – this incarnation of Wonder Woman is being sold as empowering. DC and WB are marketing feminism in a big way with this franchise – but the first poster they release not only doesn’t have Wonder Woman’s face, but it clearly highlights her cleavage.

Let’s break this down and talk costumes and evolution.

Wonder Woman first appeared in DC Comics in December 1941, and made the cover of the January 1942 Sensation Comics Issue #1:

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Wonder Woman on the January 1942 cover of Sensation Comics

I can see her face, which is cool. Her outfit, while not practical for fighting all those guys with guns, doesn’t raise red flags for me.

All superheroes have to have a weakness: Superman has his kryptonite; Batman has his bats and emotional trauma.

It makes sense. You can’t paint a good story with a fully invulnerable superhero. The endings become far to predictable. You have to create uncertainty, and above all, you have show a superhero overcoming adversity and triumphing against all odds.

Superheroes excite us and can teach us incredible lessons. My son pretends to be the Flash when he’s riding his bike. He pretends to be Spiderman when he is in an uncomfortable social situation. These larger than life superheroes help him out – they provide an avatar of strength and general “coolness” that can help him explore and grow. We have Marvel and DC books meant for young kids that teach lessons as well as showcasing superheroes that struggle with very human problems – weakness, judgement, fear, etc.

All the superheroes that my son loves are male.

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Silly Aphrodite. Making a sexist Law that strips women of their power if a man ties them up.

Wonder Woman is being sold as a superhero that young women can relate to. Someone that they can look up to – and call upon when they’re uncomfortable, or need some larger than life fantasy to help explain a complexity in growing up.

So it completely makes sense that her weakness originally was being tied up by a man (see image right).

See, it all stems from Wonder Woman’s Bracelets of Submission. That’s logical for a superheroine to have. ‘Bracelets of Submission’  definitely has an empowering ring to it. (I sure hope you can feel the sarcasm in my writing today)

In fact, these bracers are a double edged sword. Apparently a man – and it must be a man – can strip her of her power by tying her bracers together but she also goes berserk and uncontrollable if her bracers are removed:

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Those Amazon women. Sure glad that she has her bracers of submission so she doesn’t go berserk on me! Glad I can bind them together to force her to submit if she gets out of line, too.

That weakness was retconned (removed from her origin) in the 80’s and now she is simply a superhuman that actually can get hurt by conventional means – hence the armor in the new version.

In the 1940’s version of Wonder Woman, she leaves the remote Amazonian world called “Paradise Island” when – you guessed it – a man, Steve Trevor, crash lands into Paradise Island and Wonder Woman (Then known as Diana) is smitten with him and his ‘handsomeness’. Because of dreamy eyed Steve Trevor’s stories, Diana decides to leave Paradise Island and comes to earth to fight in World War 2.

After she fights in the war, hiding her superpowers by pretending to be a nurse so she can help Steve Trevor recover, she begins to start saving the world as Wonder Woman.

Eventually Wonder Woman ends up getting invited to join the Justice Society of America – that superhero league thing. Of course, though, she is invited to join up as their secretary, despite her superhuman strength and superheroine status.

The weird sexist portrayal of Wonder Woman persisted in the 1970’s when she slammed women’s lib groups that were active at the time:

Wonder Woman No. 203, 1972: Wonder Woman tells the women’s lib movement to go stifle itself. Actual dialogue: “I’m for equal wages, too. But I’m not a joiner. I wouldn’t fit with your group. In most cases I don’t even like women.”

Source: Wonder Woman: 10 super sexist moments from her vintage comics

These stories, like many others, have been retconned to appear a bit less sexist.

So, overall, from 1942 to 2016, Wonder Woman has become less sexist. But I’m not convinced that she falls into the category of an “empowering female superhero” for a couple reasons.

  •  Wonder Woman is still being sold as “Sexy”.

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Spartan Hoplites. Note the Helmets…

Her current incarnation of a costume is still impractical for combat. It resembles a Greek Hoplite’s armor, which makes complete sense as her origin story is Grecian. But given that Wonder Woman can actually be hurt in combat, you would expect her to have, well, more protection. A helmet, for starters.

Also, as stated above, that poster that cuts her face off to accentuate her cleavage is clearly marketing her sex appeal, and not her strength.

This is all just marketing. The actual “sexy vs. realistic” debate about Wonder Woman that I am having will come out once I see the film.

  • Being good at causing violence is equated to being strong and empowered.

I’m glad that my son likes larger than life superheroes, and I’m glad that comics can be a forum to teach life lessons and provide entertainment as well as stimulate imagination. But, ultimately, superheroes beat up bad guys and operate outside the law. Wonder Woman is no exception. The trailer shows her being a bad-ass, dodging bullets and beating up countless men.

Its high time that women and men share equal screen time in action flicks as main characters. Its nice to see a movie like Wonder Woman accomplish that ideal. But lets be honest – this is being sold as an action movie, and while I have nothing against a good action flick, I want to call a spade a spade – This is an action movie with a sexy main character, not a compelling tale of an empowered woman. She’s going to be doing superhuman and extraordinary stuff that No young woman should ever do.  As the title of this block says, in Wonder Woman (and most superhero movies) being good at causing violence is equated to being strong and empowered.

In Conclusion…

Maybe there will be higher morals that can translate past the violence and sexiness – perhaps an action flick like this can supersede traditional film tropes and a greater message can be gleaned from the script.

Maybe we’ll see  a compelling tale of a woman embracing destiny and making morally strong choices based on character and strength of reasoning. Perhaps Warner Bro’s can use a violent action film as a medium to really display an empowering and thoughtful superheroine. Perhaps superhuman strength and larger than life feats of violence can become a bastion of cultural empowerment for young women in a male dominated comic universe.

 

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It’s a good quote – one that superheroes seem to take to heart…

Perhaps, as most comic book stories do, it will paint Woman Woman as being a bastion of

action – making the decision to stand up to evil when no one else will. John Stuart Mill would be proud.

I sincerely hope that Warner Brothers delivers a great movie. I plan on watching the film. I probably will even enjoy it – as aforementioned, I do love a good action film and comics. But I am skeptical that it will be a film that showcases empowerment for women. Wonder Woman has come along way since 1941, but I maintain that Less Sexist does not translate to Empowering unless there is a clear direction to make it such.   

 

 

Does Anyone have a GI Tract for Sale? This Celiac Disease stuff is getting old…

To my esteemed readers: This is a “Gross Post”. Don’t read it if you’re squeamish about bodily functions.

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Celiac is a progressive disease. Over time, the more gluten you eat, the more damage you do to your small intestine.

In grade school, I  had little to no symptoms that I can remember. In high school, my general resilience and lack of self-awareness explained away any bowel problems I had. In college and early adulthood, I always had a “loose gut.” I attributed this to the copious amounts of alcohol and tobacco I used.

And then, two years ago I had a really rare form of eye cancer. And after I lived through that, my gut was utterly destroyed. I attributed it to chemo fallout. But it didn’t get better. So last year I got tested for Celiac Disease (As well as 5,439 other things) and realized that I’d been slowly killing my gut for the last 20 odd years.

So here I am now, a year and change in. And I’m frustrated as all hell with my body.

I am scared because of stomach cramps bowling me over in so much pain I have to just lay on the couch and hope they go away.

I am tired because of the marathon of miles I’ve sprinted to the nearest bathroom, in fear that I won’t be able to hold it, and will have a diarrhea explosion in the middle of <insert nearest store with a bathroom here>.

I am terrified when I have a bowel movement and the toilet bowl is streaked with bright red blood from the sores that develop after constant, toxic, diarrhea.

I am financially stressed because of the numbers of times I’ve had to leave work because my gut and I are in too big of a fight to be appropriate when sitting at a desk – or catering a wedding.

I am hesitant to dine out and do… normal person... things that involve eating food because of the very real possibility that my food could be cross-contaminated.

I am anxious and a nervous wreck whenever I eat food I haven’t prepared myself.

I’m self conscious because I’ve been gaining weight ever since I stopped eating gluten, because my body is getting better at actually digesting food.

I. Am. So. Exhausted.

I fake being calm and confident. I fake wellness and I hide myself behind a veil of happy smiles. I do it because, well, its gross. People don’t want to chat about the fact that I ate three damn potato chips covered in barley malt on accident and I was couch-ridden and plagued with vomit and diarrhea for 3 days; during which time I lost 8 hours of work, had to have my mother watch the Monster, and had to cancel a classical music date with Ashley Face.

Heck. Most days, even I don’t want to talk about it. Or think about it. Its depressing because, well, its chronic and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any sense of reason to it, unlike when I had cancer. There was a very real possibility that I could have died from that. There was a very real chance that my eye would have to be removed. The surgery sucked. The chemo sucked. But I knew my odds – I knew the outcomes – and I knew that I would either recover – or not.

But this Celiac stuff. It’s really got me on a roller coaster. Due to lack of knowledge and symptoms, I spent 27 years destroying my gut with wheat products of all types; not to mention all my bad habits in my youth as well as the aforementioned chemo’s effects. And I can’t just “get better”.  It’s a silent disease and it feels like it is crippling me.

It impacts my work, my marriage, my parenting, my social life, my health, my athletic life, even my sleeping habits. It turns something as fun and exciting as travelling on vacation into a royally worrisome source of anxiety and fear.

And, its only manageable with knowledge. Knowledge of hidden gluten, of food labeling practices. I’m now caught in the grip of analytics – determining the real science from pseudo, figuring out what foods contain hidden gluten, even joining online support groups and seeking community.  I seek community because I want to talk to people that can empathize with me.

But ultimately, I often just crave rest and health. I crave an enriched life where this disease doesn’t control me. A life where my condition is manageable and not so damn scary. So, if I seem distant or grouchy when you see me next, trust me. It’s certainly not you, and it’s not me. Or, well, its not the upper half of me.

Keep Smiling.
Thanks for reading,

-DaddyLevi

 

 

 

Raising Compassion, Not Hate

Trigger Warning / Disclaimer: I’m talking today about the Stanford Sexual Assault case. It’s a heavy subject.

A few weeks ago, mainstream media had it out for Brock Turner, the “Stanford Rapist”, in a big way. Most of the controversy around the case stemmed from the incredibly light sentence Brock received – 6 months in jail after he was found guilty on three counts of felony sexual assault.

The victim was 23. She wants to be anonymous, going by the pseudonym “Emily Doe”. She wrote an incredibly powerful victim’s statement about what happened — but then took it a step further. She read it, in full, to Brock. Face-to-face, in the courtroom. All I can say is Wow. That takes a level of courage I can’t even comprehend. Please follow the link and read her words. Again, trigger warning. This is heavy and graphic.

Public media on this subject was startlingly vocal about the fact that he received a light sentence. Oftentimes in these situations, media tends to side with the rapist, not the victim. I am actually impressed with CNN’s Coverage of the rape. Not too bad for mainstream media, but news outlets sure talked an awful lot about how he was a star swimmer, in line for the Olympics – a fact that made headlines when the Olympics leveled a lifetime ban against Brock.

Now, some people think he should be executed or castrated. I can’t stand this kind of mentality. Brock Turner planned and carried out a horrific crime against this woman, and he deserves to face his consequences under the law accordingly. I can agree that 6 months is a disgrace. It’s ten times shorter than that minimum sentence for the felonies he committed. I think the Judge should lose his job. I think judge’s should not be able to sentence solely at their discretion, and should be forced be accountable to minimum sentences. But let’s not mutilate or kill Brock. It’s real hard to hold the moral high ground on sexual assault and then call for castration.

However, the most disturbing bit, and the bit that is relevant to me and my blog at AtoZFamily, is the part where Brock’s dad defends his son, saying that it was “A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action”, then going on to deliver a sob story about how his son will be a sex offender for the rest of his life. How his son’s life is ruined. How the justice system is heartless.

As a Father, I am revolted by this man. Your son was found guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt on three accounts of assault, and you have the audacity to minimize that into “20 minutes of action” and to complain about how much it impacts your son?

The thing is,  I get wanting to protect your son – believe me. I get loving your child unconditionally , and I get that family in this world can sometimes be the only refuge where you can find safety without judgement. But there comes a time in any parent’s life where you have to admit that your child messed up. For most of us, this hopefully falls into simple things – your child pushed another at the playground or drew on the walls with crayon.

For some, maybe your child caused a minor crime or ran a red light. Most parents would scold their children for doing so. I know my mother accompanied me to the courthouse to pay my speeding ticket when I was 16. We laughed about it, but there was a edge: my parents knew that I had messed up and needed to accept the consequences of that action.

But Brock’s Dad doesn’t see that. He doesn’t see that sexual assault is a heinous crime. He sees it as 20 minutes of action. Read Emily Doe’s letter again. That is not 20 minutes of action. What was done to her was monstrous – a wound that will never fully heal. Now, anyone who can write and speak that eloquently about such a despicable and horrific crime is by very definition strong. She is a genuine bad–ass, and hopefully has all the support she needs to get through. But sexual assault just hurts. Regardless of how strong she is, she has a hard damn road to overcome the wound inflicted upon her.

So how… how… does someone get so messed up that they can rationalize doing something so vile to someone else?

Well, Brock’s dad clearly didn’t instill a value of respect for others in Brock when he was growing up.

And, well, we don’t do a good job in the country of making sure sexual offender actually receive consequences.

And, well, we view rape and Sexual assault as pretty laughable things – in fact, trauma like the one Brock caused is often the butt of horribly insensitive and triggering jokes.

And, well, our culture starts shaping boys and girls from a very young age to be pressed into a gendered box that helps shape and define their roles in society.

And, well, we criticize and blame the victim in case after case after case – for everything from what he or she was wearing, to their level of drunkenness, to where they were walking. This is called victim blaming and it doesn’t hold up the moment you scrutinize it. Think about it… what would you have to do to be “okay” with going through the trauma Emily Doe is going through? Is there any act or series of acts that any one person could do that would make them “deserving'” of such horrendous and devaluing treatment at the hands of a peer? Absolutely not, is my answer.

So what do we do as a society?

Well, parents, a lot of is up to us.

If Brock’s Dad had taught him to respect others – to learn what Consent is and to respect boundaries – that alone could have prevented this tragedy. What about cultural influences? If enough parents teach enough kids how to be decent human beings, then we can change that culture.

I, for one, am raising my Son to understand his body – inside and out. We talk about emotions. We talk about physical attributes of our bodies and others. We talk about space and consent. We remove the shame from body parts so that we can openly talk about them without uncomfortable feelings getting in the way. I establish appropriate boundaries around body parts, specifically in relation to anyone touching him, or him touching anyone else.

He’s 4.

That’s not too young for these conversations. Consent at his age deals with how he treats kids at the playground – and how he treats his own body at home. But these behaviors grow up with him. Consent will never not be a part of our instruction.
In the same vein, acceptance of consequences is a part of our household.

Our kids are the future generation, folks. Lets teach them how to make a society that we can be proud of. Let’s teach them that a moral society, a just society, has no room for Sexual Assault. Let’s teach them to love themselves and others and to respect one another, and to never do anything without mutual, informed Consent.

-Daddy Levi

My Dad’s a Good Worker

Whew, Okay.

When I set up the AtoZFamily, I set it up as a way for me to express and share about the joys, struggles, and hilarity that me and my family experience daily.

I’ve talked about quite a bit of things since founding this blog.

I’ve talked about sicknesses.

I’ve talked about body parts.

I’ve talked about really gross accidents.

And so, when a restaurant that was an integral part of our family went through all the nasty legal troubles detailed in my previous post, I used my family’s blog as the forum to share that story.

I got an incredible response. I was overwhelmed by the reach my post made. Thousands of people have read my words, many have shared or otherwise reacted to them. Many people got angry, as well. Whatever the reaction, though, I was simply blown away by the exposure that my post had in my community.

I wrote the piece to grieve for the loss of an institution that profoundly affected my family. This blog is, after all, for exactly that – expressing what my family is going through.

So, Thank you, Red Lodge. Thank you for reading, and thank you for your words. Thank you for sharing your emotions and reactions with me, both online and in person. While we may not all agree about who was right in the legal battles of the Cafe, I think we can all agree that what happened was a tragedy in how it unfolded.

The Cafe is forever gone from my family’s life, but the community of Red Lodge is still here. And we love you!

Okay, enough heavy stuff. Lets bring back some laughter!

I want to continue my purpose on this blog – that of sharing about my family. So here we go….

My father sent me this hilarious mini-story about an interaction that Monster had with him and Grandma Tammy when he was out at their house last week:

Grandma Tammy:  “Hey Monster, let’s have you try the pedal car while Grandpa is here for lunch so he can adjust the seat if it needs it”

 Monster (Looking doubtfully at Grandpa): “Are you a good worker?”

 Grandma Tammy (answering because Grandpa is laughing too hard): “Yes, Grandpa is a good worker”

 Monster: “My dad’s a good worker.”

So there. I know you were all curious about my work ethic. Just remember, truth from the mouth’s of Monsters is infallible.

-DaddyLevi

Saying Goodbye to Cafe Regis

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Our first dance at our wedding – held at Cafe Regis

Yesterday, one of my closest and dearest friends, Martha Young, stepped down from running her own restaurant, Cafe Regis. She turned the reins of the restaurant over to the other owner of the cafe, Gary Ferguson, who will run it interim until they find a third party buyer to sell to.

In one way or another, I’ve worked under Martha’s careful care and loving direction for the past fourteen years.

We used to joke that I’ve quit the Cafe as many times as I’ve quit college. But I always came back after taking breaks. I’ve come back because the Cafe, and Martha, were formative in my development as an adult as a member of this community. I’ve come back because I truly love Cafe Regis; and because I have the utmost respect for Martha as a staunch friend, brilliant businesswoman, and incredible cook.

The magic of Cafe Regis – which anyone who has gone there has experienced – is entirely due to Martha; although she is too humble to admit it. Her heart and soul resonate in every part of the cafe – the colors of paint on the walls, the pots and pans in the kitchen, the menus, the layout of the tables, the very ambient energy of the cafe, were all handcrafted and maintained by Martha. Martha and Cafe Regis are inseparable.

Martha would tell you that her vision would not be possible without her dedicated employees, such as myself. She forgets, when she says this, that all of us would not have been able to contribute to the dream that is Cafe Regis without her unyielding but loving direction.

She’s been engaged in a legal dispute with the other owner of the Cafe, Gary Ferguson, for the last two years – a dispute that finally came to a head and placed them in front of a judge yesterday.

Ferguson filed for a court ordered dissolution of the Cafe a few years ago. In layman’s terms, this means that if he had prevailed in court, the judge could have ordered the restaurant shut down immediately – putting many employees out of work suddenly as well as shocking the community with the loss of a beloved institution.

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We had to get married inside at the Cafe. It rained/sleeted/snowed on our wedding day.

He filed papers against Martha in part because he was unwilling to live up to a promise he made when they bought the property together. He made a promise to cover the monetary shortfalls of the property from his own personal funds – yet when the time came to do just that, he wanted out of his commitment.  Dispute arose when Martha attempted to hold him to his word. The dispute became muddled and emotional and grew out of control. Martha and Gary had first a friendship, then a relationship, before all of this went down.

She was entirely prepared to go to trial over the dispute and had painfully built a very solid case built against her opponent, her friend of twenty-five years – a man who inherited his share of the cafe when his wife, Martha’s business partner, passed away unexpectedly.
I’ve stood by Martha since the Cafe’s inception. I’ve observed the entirety of this dispute from the inside. If she is guilty of any mistakes,  it’s of assuming her longtime friend and inherited business partner was a person of character.

Yesterday before the trial, in the judge’s chambers, the judge informed both sides that, based on the information he had, he would likely rule that the cafe would be forced to either shut down or sell to a third party.

Taking her lawyers advice, my friend took a settlement that selflessly protected the jobs of

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Every day we visited the Cafe, Monster played with these random figures that customers had left.

her employees for the next 18 months – at the expense of her livelihood and vision.  She resigned, Gary is managing the cafe for the first time, and they have agreed to put the Cafe up for sale.

I worked with Martha for 14 years. In that time the Cafe became a part of my life – a feeling that was cultivated and developed by the incredible community of Red Lodge -a community that was brought together by the Cafe.

I learned how to wash dishes at the Cafe.

I learned how to prep food at the Cafe.

I learned how to cook at the Cafe.

I learned how to bus tables at the Cafe.

I learned how to serve tables at the Cafe.

I learned how to handle money and balance tills at the Cafe.

I learned how to contract with vendors for food orders at the Cafe.

I learned how to cater weddings at the Cafe.

But there’s more than that.

I learned how to problem solve at the Cafe.

I learned how to talk to anyone about anything at the Cafe.

I learned how to manage a business at the Cafe.

I learned how to make things right when we screwed up at the Cafe.

Be there’s more than that.

I met Ashley at the Cafe.

I was supported in my cancer treatment at the Cafe.

I made a community for Monster at the Cafe.

I married Ashley at the Cafe.

I laughed at the Cafe.

I cried at the Cafe.

And in every single case, Martha was there. Just Martha. Now Martha is no longer there. She sacrificed her place in the Cafe so her employees wouldn’t be jobless.

Without Martha, the Cafe is empty. And so, it is with great sorrow and a heavy heart, that I need to say goodbye to Cafe Regis. This restaurant was part of my life – beyond a business, beyond a building. The Cafe shaped me and challenged me to grow.  The Cafe was there for me in so many hard times in my life. The Cafe celebrated with me in my joyful times of life.

And it was all due to Martha.

Goodbye Cafe Regis,

I’ll always love you

Levi Novakovich

wedding
The memory of this cafe will always be a part of our life.

 

 

 

Monsterception

Monsterception (Noun) [mawn-stur-sep-shuh n]:  

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Meet Willump the giant, drawn without aid by Monster. Stick and tape provided by Daddy Levi.

  • The act of a Monster drawing monsters on monstrously large pieces of paper that are hanging on a monster of an art easel.
  • Origin: While the act of Monsterception was known to originate within the minds of small children dating back as early as 120 AD; the phrase itself was only recently coined and adopted as a part of the English language in 2016.
  • Synonyms: None known within this world. Within the worlds that the monsters come from, however, there may be synonyms.
  • Antonyms: Boredom, Dullness, Unimaginative

 

 

There are days when Monster amazes me. I mean, he always amazes me, but sometimes the amazement is associated with negativity (such as my Firefighter post of last week) Today is one of those lucky days where my amazement is focused on the positive spectrum. Zeph learned how to hold a marker today like a proper young boy. Above is his first work, Willump the Giant.

I really like Willump. He is happy as a clam and non-judgmental, with a lazy eye and a comical purple tongue. He talks in a sing song tone and seems to always be up for anything. I took Willump on a parade around the house today, and all he had to say was nice things about the arrangement of furniture and paint choices.He even paid compliment to how exquisite my spice cabinet was. Willump is a stand-up giant monster stick thing who is always welcome in our home.

He’s been teaching Monster some important lessons today. We’re currently up to patience while I work on school and good eating habits during lunch. I almost feel bad using Willump’s gentle and kind teaching abilities without compensation, but when I brought up the matter to Willump he simply smiled, stuck his purple tongue out, and told me that he didn’t mind – after all, teaching is what giant monster stick things do.

Sometimes, I even get jealous of Willump’s ability to somehow explain things to Monster that I cannot. Its times like these that I need to remember that jealousy is not the right answer when your child learns wisdom from a source that isn’t you. I have to remember that wisdom is a learned behavior – and it sticks best when its sources are varied.

So, carry on, WIllump. I am now tasking you with teaching Monster how to handle big emotions when tired. If that’s too much for you (which may be the case, judging from the fact that Monster is having a tantrum on the couch right now about Sassafras having wet paws) then I’ll intervene and whisk him off to nap time. Learning wisdom is tiring work at any age, especially if you are four years old and your teacher is a monster giant stick thing.

-Daddy  Levi