Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Freckled Frog

Handcrafted Gifts Made By Arkansans  

    Handcrafted items, made exclusively by Arkansans, are all The Freckled Frog sells.  The downtown shop offers gifts starting at $3 and $5, including a selection of hundreds of rings, earrings, bracelets and soy candles.
    "We have new ornaments and magnets from Annette Costa at Fire Fragments," Erika
Robbins said. Ms. Robbins and Sadie Nuffer own the popular shop at 419 Presidential Clinton Avenue.  
     "Tiffany O'Brien of Electric Dose has buttons and prints, onesies, long-sleeved t-shirts,
short-sleeved t-shirts, hoodies, sweat shirts, tea towels and t-shirts for dogs," Erika said.
      "We do have a big stock of long-sleeved and regular t-shirts by Erin Lang of Arkie Style, all for $25," she said.  "And we have Hillcrest Waterbugs shirts and hoodies."

   "We have Kate Walters' Scribbles by Kate.  She's done stuff for us since she
was 12, and now she is 15.  They are screen-printed t-shirts and tanks that are Little Rock
     The shop carries really cute onesies by Virgeen Healey at Posh Designs.
     "Lauren Hoover just brought in a huge batch of awesome fingerless gloves.  I am just
looking at these, and I picked out one I want.'

    "We are stocked with all the latest Nativ gear.
     "We have more than 100 $5 wire rings, over 100 $5 earrings, $5 hemp bracelets and $3 wish necklaces."
 "Sadie has  been working on crystal bullets.  They are spent rounds with 

crystal points we gathered at Jessieville coming out of the ends. She does wire-wrapped crystal pendents and earrings and leather rings.  And, she just cranked out a big batch of vinyl earrings."
     The Freckled Frog offers free gift wrap.  The shop is adjacent to Cache restaurant and across from Boulevard Bread in the River Market.  Shop hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.  514-2060 or 351-5245. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014


                                                  Matthew, Joyce and Ron Harb 

     The uBreakiFix store in Pleasant Ridge Town Center is going like gangbusters.
     Co-owner Ron Harb opened the repair store July 11, and only three months later, opened his second uBreakiFix in North Little Rock.
     "We fixed a computer and two phones yesterday, people just walking in," Mr. Harb said in an interview the day before his shop at the corner of JFK and McCain boulevards officially opened. 
      Shoppe Talk has had experience with the staff at the Pleasant Ridge location and can attest that they are an industrious, enthusiastic bunch of young folks who do not mind taking time to explain problems with a computer in simple terms.  To a man, they were kind and helpful and obviously at the top of their game.   Sitting in the pleasant waiting area, Shoppe Talk also saw lots of customers streaming in and out.  Happy, satisfied customers, many of whom were pleased to have had their cell phones repaired while they waited.
     "It's been doing awesome.  People are really responding to the customer service we provide," Ron said.  "We fix Macs, PCs, game consoles. I've got TVs on the bench right now.  If it's got a power button, we can
fix it.
      "And if we can't, it's free.  We do free diagnosis, and if we don't fix your device, it's free."
     In addition, if it's not in a customer's best interest to fix a phone or computer, uBreakiFix will relay that information as well. 
    "Many times it's more efficient to fix, especially when you have a place you can go with your beloved device.  We fix our stuff right there.  We don't send it out, unless it's a motherboard issue. Ninety-nine percent of our repairs are done on site with great techs and great parts."
     And the cost?  "We can do it faster and cheaper and better."
     Ron added that uBreakiFix guarantees the lowest price - with a like competitor. (Your cousin Fred doesn't count.) 
    The shop also offers a full line of accessories, such as top quality chargers and headphones. 
    And it has a 90-day warranty on repairs nation-wide, which means any uBreakiFix store in the country will honor the warranty given by the Little Rock store. That's handy, if you have a problem with a phone or computer while working out of state or on vacation. 
   When Shoppe Talk remarked on the genuine friendliness of the staff at Pleasant Ridge, Ron said, "We love what we are doing."  You can tell.  It's sincere, and they have a vision and a passion about uBreakiFix.  
    "A lot of people want to work for us. It's a great place to work, and they get to do what they just really enjoy doing.
     "Some places act like they are doing you a favor, and you have to make an appointment … .  We see ourselves as a customer care service company that does repairs."
      Ron owns the Pleasant Ridge store with his wife, Joyce.  His son, Matthew, also works there.  
    "Joyce is the president.  We call her 'Madam President.' It's a family business, and everybody at uBreakiFix is like family."
     Ron got into the repair franchise after a 40-year career in the bond business. He opted for uBreakiFix after research into the success of the business and after meeting the two young men who started it.
     "Justin Wetherill and his friend David Reiff started it in '09 in a bedroom (at Justin's home).  Then they took over the house."  After about four months they had their first store.  "A little over a year ago, they decided to franchise."
     And now it's a $1 billion business. Ron said uBreakiFix now has 97 stores.
    "We are the undisputed industry leader," Ron said.  "We test our parts. We buy from the highest quality vendors. "It's thrilling to be working with some bright, hardworking young people who have a vision and know where they want to take the company.  We were so impressed with what they developed.  And we are thrilled to be a part of it."
   The Pleasant Ridge shop has performed "above expectations," Ron said.  "The customers feel the same way we do.  They enjoy the service.  They can watch TV and wait on a repair.  It's a good feeling."
   Ron and Mrs. Harb are working on opening a third store.  "That's the model for us.  The more stores we open, the stronger our brand recognition."
    The Pleasant Ridge Town Center store is located at 11525 Cantrell Road, #915, between the Sky Modern Japanese and Little Greek restaurants.  It is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. You may call it at 225-4349. 
    Ron said that he and Joyce wanted the first one to open in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center.  
   "It's delightful.  There's just a lot of traffic out there and great shops.  Lou and his team do a really good job of managing the property," he said of Lou Schickel, developer and owner of Pleasant Ridge.   We really wanted to be there for our first store.  It's a very nice neighborhood."

This story first appeared in the November 2014 issue of Shoppe Talk.  It was written by Bobbi Nesbitt.  The photograph is by Kelley Naylor Wise. 

100th Birthday of Daisy Bates Celebration

     The 100th Birthday of Daisy Bates Celebration will be held noon to 2 p.m. November 11 at the Clinton School of Public Service.  
     Ernie Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, is the speaker for the free event.
     Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was a civil rights activist in Little Rock who played a leading role in the integration of Little Rock Central High School by the Little Rock Nine in 1957.   She died in Little Rock on November 4, 1999. 
     Mrs. Bates and her husband, L.C. Bates, moved to Little Rock in 1941 and published the first issue of the Arkansas State Press that same year.  The eight-page weekly advocated for civil rights and published accounts of black Arkansans' achievements. 

     Daisy Bates and L.C. Bates.  Mr. Bates is wearing a press badge and camera, apparently representing the Arkansas State Press, their newspaper.  (The white man is not named in this undated photo.  Do you know his identity and the occasion?) 

     Mrs. Bates in Little Rock Circuit Court after being fined $25 for refusing to produce the membership rolls and financial records of the Arkansas NAACP, of which she was then president.  Her lawyer, Robert L. Carter, seated with her, said he would appeal the judgement. 

     After nine black students were selected to attend Little Rock Central High School, Daisy guided and advised them on enrollment in the previously all-white school.  At the time, she was head of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People's Arkansas branch.  Her home became the headquarters for the successful integration push.  In 1957, the Associated Press named her Woman of the Year in Education. 
     In later years in Washington, D.C., she worked for the Democratic National Committee and served in the administration of President Lyndon Johnson working on anti-poverty programs. 
     Little Rock named 14th Street, the street that runs to the north of Central High, for her and also named the Daisy Bates Elementary School in her honor.  In 1984, she was given an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Arkansas.      


Thursday, October 2, 2014

An Evening with Nathan Englander 
      An Evening with Nathan Englander will be held 7:30 - 9 p.m. October 29 at Temple B'nai Israel, 3700 North Rodney Parham Road.  Mr. Englander is an award-winning author who published his first short story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, in 1999.  Since its publication, Nathan has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Bard Fiction Prize, and four of his short stories have appeared in editions of
The Best American Short Stories.
      His second collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, won the 2012 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Nathan is also the translator for the New American Haggadah.
    The event is free.  It is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Arkansas in partnership with the Sisterhoods of Temple B'nai Israel and Synagogue Agudath Achim. A reception and book signing will follow.

  For additional information, call Marianne Tettlebaum at 663-3571 or visit federation@jewisharkansas.org. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Artists Scrounging Opens September 20 with Reception at Gallery 360

                       Mother, mixed media, Melissa "Mo" Lashbrook 

              Artists Scrounging             

          Twenty three artists will be participating in "Artists Scrounging," an exhibit of art made from found, recycled and re-purposed materials, which opens with a reception 6:30 p.m. September 20 at Gallery 360.  The event is free and open to the public.

     The exhibit will run until November 1.  Gallery owner Jay King will be accepting art for the show until September 10.

      Artists in the show include Amy Edgington, Laura Fanning, Melissa "Mo" Lashbrook, Kelley Naylor Wise, Michelle Canulla, Nina Sharkey Culpepper, Jessica Crenshaw, Ming Donkey, Jay King, Wade Wise, Gerald Brown, Fabio Adrian Delgado, Mike Church, Lynn Frost, Steph Brouwers, Debra Young, Michael Crenshaw, Everett Gee and others. 

    Gallery 360 is located at 900 S. Rodney Parham.  Mr. King may be reached by calling 993-0012 or emailing audiolingo@gmail.com. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Arkansas Potter Joe Bruhin

  Joe Bruhin 
   creates beauty out of clay and fire and wood.
     If that sounds simple, it is not.  After the initial creation of clay pieces, a firing requires 10 days of continuous stoking of a cord of wood a day - with a mind to temperature, humidity, ash content, salts, placement of pottery in the kiln, the path of the flame and the process of cool down. 
     Only then do his amazing vases, plates, jars, tea bowls and saki cups emerge from the two wood-fired kilns Mr. Bruhin built on his property in Fox, Arkansas. 
     For 28 years, this art inspired by traditional Japanese forms has earned the appreciation and praise of museums and collectors across the nation.
    Joe's pottery may be seen in a number of collections, including the permanent collections of Historic 

Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas Arts Center, where he had a one person museum exhibition in 2007.  Two Little Rock galleries will have some of his pottery on display in June and July: The Edge Gallery, 301-B President Clinton Ave., and Gallery 360, 900 S. Rodney Parham Road.
      Joe's first kiln was built in 1986, and he still uses it.
     "I fired it last year.  I'm going to fire it once a year now."
      He recycled 4,000 bricks from the old Falstaff Brewing Corporation site in St. Louis, which had kilns used to roast barley, and these bricks eventually ended up in this first kiln in Fox.
      "The brick was in really good shape.  I was living in St. Louis then.  I took my Volkswagen van and got 120 bricks at a time.  I stored them in my basement in St. Louis."
     In 1985, Joe and his first wife, Terry, bought 40 undeveloped acres of land in Fox in the heart of the Ozarks and built a cabin with stone and wood from their land.
     The next project was the kiln.  "I rented a big Hertz truck and brought back the bricks in two trips.  After it was made, we called it Falstaff, since the bricks came from the brewery. Back then, there were not many wood-fired kilns in the country."
    The type of kiln he built is called a "noborigama," which is a three-chambered kiln in which he experimented with ash and salt finishes.  
    Joe sent out an invitation in June 2013 to his noborigama kiln opening and studio exhibit that pictured Criselda, whom he married that previous February, crouched in the kiln opening holding 
up an absolutely gorgeous vase from the latest firing.       
     In recent years, Joe has invited the public to be there when the kilns are opened and their contents revealed.  There's something special in seeing the finished vessels for the first time.
     The second kiln Joe built is an anagama-type structure that was first used in China circa 1,000 B.C.E. and then was brought to Japan via Korea about 500 years later.  "Anagama" is a Japanese term meaning "cave kiln."  Joe describes it as a long tube with no dividers and said the most
traditional ones are built partially underground, as is his.  He named this kiln "Cave Light."
      "Somebody called me from Louisiana.  They had an over amount of brick, had ordered too much.  They had 70 pallets of brick with 450 bricks to a pallet.  They said they thought about taking them to the dump, but they asked if I wanted them."
     He did.  And he set about building a 40-foot long anagama kiln with 4,000 new bricks he took from the Louisiana company.  
    "Mine is half under the ground.  Twenty foot of that is the flue, a horizontal flue on a 30 percent slope.  I fire for 10 days.  Basically, it's a cord of wood a day.  The wood is small, about two inches in diameter and 18 inches long.  You're putting in about 20 pieces every two or three minutes.  The
anagama is harder to fire.  It takes a month to load the kiln, fire the kiln and cool the kiln."
     Joe's advice if you want to operate a wood-fired kiln:  "Have lots of children,"  he said with
a chuckle. It's a labor-intensive occupation, and some of them might want to stick around and 

help, he said, adding that that is what some Japanese potters do, operate as a family enterprise.
     "What I am doing is kind of a Japanese thing.  It is not an easy thing to do."
     But Joe gets lots of help from volunteers, whom he hosts at his home for the once- or twice-a-year firings. 
     Jay King, owner of Gallery 360, has been friends with Joe for more than 15 years and has helped with firings twice.  
     "A firing with Joe is an exercise in reading signs. Fire, smoke, wind - all these play a role. Joe has the reading of the signs down, but his helpers have to learn them. It's intense at first, then it becomes a ritual and, for Joe especially, a deeply rewarding spiritual exercise," Mr. King said.
     Joe said a crew of at least four people is needed to fire the anagama.  We usually take an 8-hour shift."
     He said firing the kiln is his favorite part of the pottery process.  "I enjoy loading the kiln.  But, it's all good. It's my devotion.  I certainly don't do it for money."
     In 2003, Joe helped with a firing in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and that is where he met Japanese ceramic master Shiho Kanzaki of Shigaraki, a city heralded as one of the six oldest pottery centers in Japan.  At the time Joe met him, Mr. Kanzaki, a leading figure in the pottery world, was in the States for the 10th anniversary of the firing of an anagama kiln he'd built on the property of Karl Beamer, a ceramics and sculpture instructor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a fine potter in his own right.
      "I just loved Shiho's work.  When I met him, he showed me and gave me 

dimensions for building this kiln," Joe said.
     Shiho is a Buddhist and his pottery, like Joe's, is a spiritual adventure.  
     Joe built and first fired this anagram kiln in 2006. 
     "I built it exactly the way Kanzaki said it was to be built."
      Joe sent the Japanese master photographs of the kiln and the pots that were coming  out of it.  That's when Kanzaki invited Joe to Japan.  "He said I needed no money, just a  plane ticket." 
     Joe's friends helped with the plane ticket, and he was in Little Rock ready for his  trip to Japan.  He was staying at Jay King's home in the Foxcroft subdivision of Little Rock when the tornado sirens began screaming. The lights went out, and Jay's cell phone had no juice.  They debated going directly to the airport, but decided that Joe needed some rest before his trip.  So Jay set a kitchen timer for an hour and woke up.  Set it for another hour and woke up, and so on through the night.  
    Jay drove Joe to the airport in time for his flight and was astonished the next day to see the swath of destruction that they had driven through only the night before.  But Joe  was on his way to Japan and one of the best adventures he'd ever embarked upon. 
    Japan was everything Joe ever wanted to experience and his host, Shiho, was most generous.
     "I lived in his house and he fed me.  He made available to me a tea ceremony.  We traveled.
I was there a month.  It was the second most wonderful experience of my life."
      Shigaraki had three to four hundred pottery galleries, Joe said.  It is a town where literally
millions of pots are on display daily.
    "I had so much fun.  Shiho makes bicycles as a hobby.  And we rode.  I've had some spiritual experiences.  I traveled in India.  But, Japan, there is such a wonderful feeling there.  It's just different.  You might as well be on another planet.  Mostly I was out in the small villages.  There is just something in those mountains there.  It was just a really strong feeling there.  I've seen the Himalayas.  I love India too, but Japan just had a real mystic-type feel to it.  I miss it.  If I were younger … ." 
     "And the food.  I loved all of it.  I was just really happy there.  My body felt good, my mind felt good."
      And he was pleased with the Japanese tradition of hospitality.
     "They take care of you.  Shiho really did take really good care of me."
      Shiho, who had taught himself English, helped Joe through his process of firing 
the kiln.
     "I watched.  I helped him load the kiln.  I fire my kiln exactly as he fires his kiln.  He'd have guests come over.  When the guests would come, I would bow and serve tea.  It was just a really good experience."
     At home in Arkansas, Joe burns yellow pine in his kilns, wood that he has cut from his land.
    "The next firing, I'm going to throw some ash in and try a little hickory and some oak too and see
how I like that."
     When Joe was in Japan, he said it took about $5,000 worth of wood to fire Shito's 
     Having your own source of wood on your own land definitely has its advantages.
     Joe is not always pleased with what comes out of his kiln.  In fact, he's downright picky. 
     "I might put 350 pots in there (the anagama) and get 30 that I like, that make
my standard," Joe said. 
    "The pots I like the best are in the fire box.  It's also the most dangerous place.  They
can fall over, get cracks.  When the wood is thrown in, you can hit a pot.  It's really close. It's a little dangerous.
     "The next pieces I like are on the top on the first step.  There's the firebox, and there
are four steps maybe 20 inches in diameter.  So there are four different levels in the kiln."
     The ancient process of firing an anagama kiln produces stunning surfaces through  natural ash deposits and manipulations of fire rather than the application of glazes.
     In recent years, Joe has been getting into a Buddha place.
     That place is the land and the beauty of nature and the enjoyment of small things that have no monetary value.
      "In the last few years, I've been trying to improve my environment. I've been gardening,
building rock walls.  I remodeled my porch and made a great big arch gate.  It's inspirational
to have your living environment nice as you can make it.  It doesn't matter if I am making 
clay pots, gardening or building a stone wall.  It's all the same.  My goal is for it to all have
the same importance.  I spend maybe less than ten percent of my time on the potter's
wheel.  The living environment is as important as the pottery,  Now, I get more joy
looking at the stone wall, listening to the cardinals chirp outside."
   "My whole reason to work is if I can inspire anyone.  An artist's responsibility is to
manifest inspiration for others."

This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and first appeared in the June/July issue of Shoppe Talk. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chenal Adult Day Center 
     Many folks who have Alzheimer's or other dementias want to be able to live in their own homes, rather than a nursing home.  Many like to socialize, and they benefit from doing so. 
     That's where Chenal Adult Day Center comes in.  
      The caring staff at the Center helps people with thinking, learning, understanding and doing, and does it in a home-like atmosphere with lots of socializing, and with, well, just plain fun thrown in the mix. 
      "We have a really good memory and cognition program," Ellen Lewis, director of the Center, said.
      The not-for-profit Center was established in 2006 and is located at 805 Kirby Road in West Little Rock.  Its non-institutional, cozy atmosphere stems partly from its being a converted home with a spacious back patio area and a large main room where breakfast, lunch and a snack are served daily. 
     When the tables are down, clients can relax in comfy chairs and talk with staff members and their neighbors.  
    "We do therapeutic activities; we assist with ADL (activities of daily living)," Ms. Lewis said. 
    "We promote independence. We want them to be able to do as much for themselves as they can. 
    "Even something as simple as getting toilet paper, they are fighting to keep what (skills) they have.  If you don't use it, you lose it."
     Numerous studies have shown that training and repetition can help elderly people improve cognition and function.  It makes sense that a comfortable atmosphere would be conducive to learning.
    "We are becoming more and more like a Linus blanket.  We provide comfort as we are trying to educate.  We want to provide a safe, happy home-like place," Ellen said.
     The staff relates to people with Alzheimer's or dementia using a different level of understanding.
    "They have a place where they can come and fit in and feel like people understand them," she said.  "We invest ourselves.  You really have to care - you can't fake it."
     The Center accepts people 18 and older.  Its youngest client is 19 and the eldest is 100 years old.
    Some, like Anne Bowman, have been clients since the Center opened in 2006. "I have been propelled into a new level of acceptance," she said in a promotion for the Center last year.
    Family members expressed gratitude too.  "This is the best thing that happened for my family," Kathy Jennings said.  "The staff here is highly skilled to work with people who have memory problems, such as my mother," Gina McCullor said.
     "It's just an honor to be a good part of people's lives," Ellen said.
     If you would like to learn more about the Center, go to its website chenaladultdaycenter.org. Ellen will be happy to mail you information or you can stop by and tour the Center.  It is open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 716-9180. In addition, Ellen said she will also visit your home, if that is more convenient for your family.
    The Center accepts private pay, ElderChoices, long-term-care insurance, and has a financial assistance program for those who qualify.  The Center charges an average of $8 an hour for private pay.  
     Ellen said she believes Chenal Adult Day Center to be unique from other day care centers in that it is located in a home and that it offers financial assistance.  Another great part of the Center is that it has four pets - three cats and a dog - all rescues, who are big favorites with the clients.
     "I think that people who are animal lovers can relate more to a rescue."
     Ellen's last words on the Center:  "We have fun!"
     Check it out.  B.N.  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Shoppe Talk's 20th Anniversary

20 Years in the Neighborhood 

     I have a great job.  It doesn't pay a lot of money, but there are perks. I get to spend time with some fine folks, learning about them and telling their stories.  I'm often told these little stories help their businesses.  This makes me feel good. Every job should have some warm and fuzzies.  I get to type on my computer at home in my PJs.  Get to make my own hours.  Take the day off if I find a new book that I must read RIGHT NOW.
    The little box on every Page 3 of Shoppe Talk states that I am the publisher. I am also the ad salesman, the writer, the lay-out gal, and the delivery person.  Before the days of color, I also printed ST for several years, but thankfully professional printer Gary Ward does that job now for my black and white.  So I was able to rid myself of my old AB Dick 360, a workhorse of a printer that came over on the Mayflower. 
    When I started ST, I bought a $70 waxer and borrowed a word processor from my friend Marvon Browning.  After 20 years, I still wax down the black and white pages, much to the amusement of friends and colleagues.  But, hey, they'll never experience that zen zone this Luddite process affords the waxer-upper.  But I have graduated from word processor to a Mac, so "I've got that going for me," as they say on Reddit
     In my first issue, March 1994, the main story was about Lady I's on Cantrell Road.  Over the years, I would write several stories about Ida Moose's unique little shop where she rented booth space for enterprising sellers of antiques, curios, clothing and junk.  That first issue had 22 ads in six pages - not a bad start, actually.  They were all centered around "the neighborhood," which was within a few blocks of my home in Foxcroft - 17 of the businesses on Cantrell Road.  It was great that my neighbors were so enthusiastic about my little ad rag, because I didn't have a working automobile and had to hoof it to sell my ads.
      Some of my first advertisers are still with me today.  Scallions is a good example:
    "Walking down the steps into Scallions' leafy courtyard in the spring is like visiting a good friend.  It's a warm, welcoming atmosphere.  You know your favorite dishes will always be on the menu. You leave, reluctantly, but with a smile. Scallions is more than just a great spot for lunch.  It is a restaurant where little girls eat chicken salad with the moms, and then order that same chicken salad for their wedding showers, baby showers and wedding anniversaries."  
      The restaurant's delightful owner, Rachael Crosby, is a friend and mah jongg buddy, and when we find time to play, she brings - the chicken salad. 
     From time to time, ST has veered into the area of news or opinion.  The first time was in the first year, fifth issue, when I reported on a meeting where Heights merchants were opposing the proposed closing of R Street so that Calvary Baptist Church could expand. One woman at the meeting, Pearl Bowen Pennington, said the church should "build up" by adding a balcony to its sanctuary.  "You'd be closer to heaven," ST quoted Ms. Pennington as saying.  But the Rev. Walter Draughon III nixed that idea, saying a balcony would create a communication problem and a "lack of warmth."  Dr. Draughon said, "We cannot go up, because there is only one way for us to go."  The wonderfully talented Charles Allbright noted the irony in the quote in a wry column in the Democrat-Gazette.  I was pleased, but a little puzzled, since I was persona non grata at the paper, where I had toiled for 10 years during the great newspaper war, got burned out, tried to start a union, was fired, and the paper fought my unemployment benefits - and it lost.  I shouldn't have been too pleased, because that was the last time ST was mentioned in the D-G to my knowledge. 
      In the area of opinion, I've written pieces against the Patriot Act, for gay rights, against development in the Lake Maumelle area, the inadvisability of Waste Management getting the curbside recycling contract, against poultry farm pollution of streams, and for doing away with the sales tax on food.
      In doing so, I've learned some things.  One thing is that Little Rock is a pretty gay-friendly city.  Feedback on issues such as gay marriage and gay adoption was pleasantly positive.  I only had a few complaints in the early days of running PFLAG endorsements.  I guess those folks stopped reading ST, and that's fine.
    It's very therapeutic to be able to blast off an editorial occasionally.  I wrote of the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II:  "These Machiavellian documents are bold grabs of power that strip away 200 years of rights guaranteed under the Constitution."  This rant was in the November 2003 issue, pre-Edward Snowden revelations.  Thank you, Mr. Snowden; may you get the Nobel Peace Prize. 
      Of course, most of ST's pages have been filled with stories about the keepers of small shops and locally owned restaurants.  Getting to tell their stories is a blessing. Their enthusiasm and innovation are inspiring.  Hard work, admirable.  And so many warm and funny tales of their experiences have shown me that it's true that everyone has a story in them. 
     Not all stories are about businesses.  One of my favorites was headlined "Something's Always Blooming in Mrs. Causey's Garden."  Margaret Causey once kept a beautiful garden at the corner of Cantrell and University.  She had strangers who'd been uplifted by the sight stop by to thank her, and, when they did, Margaret inevitably shared her plants with them. 
        If you're corny and you know it, clap your hands.  One thing that ST has cornered the market on over the years is corn.  My hubby, Jay King, calls this the "tie it up with a big red bow" effect.  It was an unfortunate phrase I used once and was never able to live down.  As a copy editor, when Jay's not pointing to an errant phrase in my copy and sneering "tie it up with a big red bow" to let me know my corn has run amok, he may be pointing  out "at ats." Although Jay has saved my butt, grammatically speaking, on countless occasions, this one got by us both. 
        An "at at" is ST argot for a typo.  An unfortunate typo in a headline on the top of the front page read:
Warren Criswell at
at Cantrell Gallery.
        It may look bad here, but, believe me, it looked worse in 42 point type.
        So we strain to cut down on "at ats."  This is where my friend Karen Proetz comes in. 
        Ms. Proetz is a primo copy editor.  Excellent.  Top drawer.  And, she does this for free, just to make ST a better publication and to save her friend from embarrassment.
        If you ever see an "at at" in ST, it's because I did not have time to run the story by Karen.  With our crazy color deadlines, sometimes I am literally writing stories minutes before they are sent to the color printer.
       That brings me to the lovely Kelley Naylor Wise, whose computer skills have brought me into the wonderful world of color.
      As early as the first year, ST was using color - one color that is.  For $5 for a small ad or $10 for a large one, an advertiser could add one color - typically red.
      Now, the ST front page is a color spectacular, an ocular orgasmic display, thanks to Mrs. Wise. 
      A happy happenstance brought this about.  I was talking with Eric Coleman, owner of Hillcrest Designer Jewelry, telling him how I wanted to get into color, but did not have the computer skills.  A few years before I had tried selling color ads first, and then figured I'd find someone to put them on the page when color advertisers thronged to ST.  Unfortunately no one beat down the ST door or even opened their own a crack to let us get a technicolor toe in.  (Sometimes a "tie it up with a big red bow"  does get by Jay.)
      Kelley, who was working with Mr. Coleman that  day in the shop, said she knew all about using Photoshop, and she'd love to bring ST into the 21st century.
      And Eric, bless his heart, volunteered that he'd be happy to place color ads with me.  
      Voila.  We have six color pages now and hope to grow.
      Another innovation was "This Is Arkansas," a blog I started in 2009 to put ST stories on line. I spend an inordinate amount of time playing with the stats counter, just thrilled silly with the number of folks who read the blog.
      One thing that has changed over the years, and maybe not for the better, is that ST no longer delivers door to door. 
       I really miss the kids who delivered for me.  They ranged from ages 8 to 18 and were a joy to work with. They delivered door to door in the Heights, Hillcrest, Pleasant Valley, Foxcroft and Robinwood. This was before our circulation area expanded to downtown, down Highway 10, Maumelle and other environs.
       Most of the kids lived in the areas they delivered, so their neighbors knew them.  They were dependable and enthusiastically walked the hilly areas where I could not deliver. (I worked level streets in the Heights and Hillcrest - preferably in the spring to satisfy my flower jones.)
      Perhaps my favorite delivery boy was a wee lad who covered Robinwood, his home turf.  Each time he finished, he'd call me and say simply and forcefully, "I want my money." 
      Ah, if we adults could only be so straightforward.  
      Thank you ST readers.
      And thanks to my advertisers, without whom I would not be still enjoying putting out this little pub.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shoppe Talk Profiles

Shoppe Talk Folk 

      So many wonderful people have blessed ST with their presence over the years. Many have allowed me to do profiles, so their neighbors could get to know them better. I'd like to present a sampling of some of their answers.  

What do you like to do in your spare time? 
    I hula hoop.  If I can't sleep, I'll go out at 4 o'clock at night and hula hoop.  I've got my neighbors doing it too."  Erika Robbins, co-owner of The Freckled Frog. 
    Read and spend time with my grandson.  I have every Tuesday with my grandson, "Tuesday with Nonni," we call it.  Mickey Drennan, co-owner of Destin Fun in the Sun.
     I like to go trout fishing.  I love the Little Red River.  My parents have a cabin on the Little Red.  Every chance I have, I escape there.  Debra Henry, owner of Fabrics, Etc. 
     My hobby is cycling, bicycling.  My wife is an artist and likes to garden.  Jim Allen, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. 
     We belong to a ski club, but we don't ski.  We just like their trips and parties.  We went to Austria and France.  Elosie "Weezie" Lukas, wife of Bob Lukas, owner of Buck's Chimney Service. 
     I spend time with friends.  We've all got ailing parents, so we go to different people's houses on the weekend and mow and paint.  It feels good to do things for others.  There's no more gratifying thing than to help somebody who needs help.  And they don't have to ask; we keep an eye out to care for friends and neighbors.  Neysa Lewein, manager of Hillcrest Gallery. 
     I work seven days a week.  I probably need to stop doing that.  And I work at night.  I take leases and multiple other types of documents home, and I read until 10 or 11 at night.  Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 
     I teach fitness classes at the Athletic Club and the Racquet Club and I help out Invisible Fence, training dogs on their system, which I guess is all really work.  Michelle Wilkerson, owner of Wags and Whiskers.
    We like to camp.  We love to go to the lake.  We just bought a house on the top of Petit Jean mountain.  We go to Heber and to Ouachita.  We love the outdoors.  I love to ride my motorcycle.  Murray Haupt, owner of Capitol Automotive.
     I love to cruise,  I have been on seven cruises and a mission trip to Honduras in '97.  Mexican people and Central American people … have more joy.  There is more happiness in people who live simply.  They have less, but they have more. Rachael Crosby, owner of Scallions.  


 Do you have any pets? 
      Ellie, our greeter,  She's an Australian terrier.  She's 31/2 years old.  She goes every day to work and greets everybody.  She's very fond of the mailman.  He brings her a dog bone every day.  She's always here.  I think some people come in just to see her. Renee Ikard, owner of Southern Trading. 
      We are down to three cats, and a dog, and a bird.  I'd have 20 cats if I could, but then I wouldn't have a husband any more.  Janet Jupin, owner of Jazzercise. 
      We have three dogs and a cat, Butterscotch.  He's a real hoot. He thinks he's a dog.  He's not real catty.  We have Bishop, a golden retriever who is eight years old, and an English cocker, Dottie, with black and white spots, who is a year old.  And my mother's dog, Daisy, an American cocker.  We took her in when my mother moved to an apartment a few years ago.  Daisy is 14.  The Rev. Betsy Singleton, who at the time was pastor at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. 
     Miss Moneypenny, who is office greeter and "copy cat."  (She sleeps on the copying machine.)  We have a feral cat named Blondie.  At one time we had 11 cats in our backyard.  He (her husband, Bob) trapped every one of them and took them to the vet and had them neutered. He's a very kind man.  Eloise "Weezie" Lukas, wife of Bob Lukas, owner of Buck's Chimney Service. 
     I have two kitties.  Chiclet, who is the smartest cat I ever met and a fetcher.  She a talker.  She's very opinionated.  She is 10, and my other kitty, JC, is 9.  JC is a big girl …  She is very sweet.  She turned into a lap cat last year, all 16 pounds of her.  When she sits on you, you know you've been sat on.  Both of my kitties are FURR adoptees, rescues.  Ellen Stern, owner of Relocation Resources for Seniors. 
     I have a dog named Mpingo.  How did you come up with that name?  Mpingo is a tree in Africa.  When you cut it open, it's black.  She's all black, an Akita.  She will be two years old in July.  Jonda White, owner of Spaology Nail Spa & More. 

What is your favorite city?
     Tucson on this side of the pond.  And any place in Ireland.  And I like Boston.  Ellen Stern, owner of Relocation Resources for Seniors.  
     I backpacked for a couple of years in Europe.  But Jerusalem is my favorite.  Jerusalem is a fascinating city.  I was there in '76.  And I stayed on a kibbutz for about six months.   Greg Hart, owner of Southern Office Services.  
     Taos, New Mexico, or Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I really love it out west.  If we go out of the country, I like literally 'end-of-the-road' places where no one speaks English.  Dr. Blake Weber , owner of Blake H. Weber, DDS, PA.
     New York - Manhattan.  San Francisco, and I like Chicago.  I love the big cities.  Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 

What's the strangest thing in your refrigerator?
     An insane amount of Haribo gummy bears and blue Gatorade.  I live off those things.  Erika Robbins, co-owner of The Freckled Frog. 
     Quendy Gaither made these cookies, and one was a snowman.  He is about three inches long, and he lives in there. He's like controlling the refrigerator.  He's always there for me when I open the door.  Ella Carol Hunt, owner of Caracalla.
     Homemade experimental facial remedies.  My kids never know what it is.  What is this?  Don't eat it!  Felicia Watkins, owner of My Home Therapy. 
     A tube of Chanel pink lipstick.  I'd hate for it to melt in my purse.  The Rev. Holly Patton, who at the time was pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church.

If you could have a dream dinner party and invite any three people, who would you choose?
     Mother Teresa, Katherine Hepburn, and Eleanor Roosevelt  … I want four at my party - Golda Meir too … I think we (five) could have some incredible conversations.  Naomi Hall, owner of TouchPoint. 
     Einstein.  John Kennedy.  George Washington and Abe Lincoln.  That's four.  (That's okay.)  And John Lennon. Debra Henry, owner of Fabrics, Etc. 
     Tony Hawk.  He's the world's greatest skateboarder, ever.  We'd have to have Jerry Garcia.  And Abe Lincoln.  Brandon McCormack, owner of Hillcrest Jewelers & Trade Shop. 
     I would invite my three tennis buddies, Jerry Saubers, Lee Ronnel, and Marion Burton.  We've been tennis buddies for 30 plus years, playing three times a week.  And John Magee, the young man who was just sitting here.   Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 
     We've been in our house about a year, and while remodeling, we couldn't do much entertaining.  Truthfully, we'd like to see people who are our friends.  We constantly say we need to get together.  Our fantasy is making reality happen, seeing just regular people who are our friends.   The Rev. Betsy Singleton, who at the time was pastor at Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. 
     Bill Gates, Albert Pujols and Warren Buffett.  Craig Reinhardt, owner of CustomNeeds, LLC.
     The Budda, Gandhi, and Elvis.  Kelley Naylor Wise, Little Rock artist.  

What's your favorite movie?
     Fried Green Tomatoes.  Kim Bomar, owner of Salon Bella. 
     Billy Elliot.  It's an English film about a young boy who lost his mother.  His coal miner father sends him to a boxing gym, where he stumbles onto a ballet class.  He wants to learn ballet.  It's 
about loving someone for what is their true nature.  There's this moment at an audition when they ask him what he feels like when he dances.  He says, 'Like a bird, like I'm free, like electricity.' That's what yoga feels like.  Cassandra Smith, owner of The Floating Lotus. 
     Out of Africa.  Sylvia Payne, owner of  Kahler Payne. 
     Dirty Dancing.  This is pretty embarrassing.  Michelle Wilkerson, owner of Wags & Whiskers.
     The Blind SideCraig Reinhardt, owner of CustomNeeds, LLC.
     Pretty Woman.  Murray Haupt, owner of Capitol Automotive.
     The original 1936 version of The Women.  Rachael Crosby, owner of Scallions.
     The Lion King.  Jonda White, owner of Spaology Nail Spa & More. 

Do you like to cook?  No!  My family actually told me not to cook.  "Don't worry about it any more, mom."  And it didn't hurt my feelings at all.  Michelle Wilkerson, owner of Wags and Whiskers.

What's the strangest thing you carry in your car?
     It's not strange to me, but it might be to other people.  I always have swim fins in my car.  Gary Taylor, co-owner of Go! Running.

What is your favorite flower?
     The Gerber daisy.  Peggy McKenzie, co-owner of McKenzie Landscaping.

Is there anything you'd like to learn how to do?  
    I'd like to learn how to skydive.  Or, at best, I'd like to skydive once.  It's a huge metaphor for life.  You see it from a higher perspective - and jump in!  Naomi Hall, owner of TouchPoint. 
     I'd love to learn how to sculpt cement.  Years ago I did cake decorating.  I'd love to do similar things in cement on a big scale.  I could happily play in concrete.  In my next profession, I'll become a concrete sculptor - and garden on the side.  Eloise Leffingwell, co-owner of Pickles & Ice Cream.
     Fly a helicopter and hang glide.  Elisabeth Clark, owner of Sirius Spa. 
     I did that about six to eight years ago.  I took up flying.  I was in my early 40s … had to reset my brain and learn all that material.  Dr. Blake Weber , owner of Blake H. Weber, DDS, PA.

What is your favorite restaurant?
     Brave New Restaurant.   The Rev. Holly Patton, who at the time was pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church. 
     Scallions.  I love that great afternoon lunch in the outdoor area.  Neysa Lewein, manager of Hillcrest Gallery. 
     Whole Foods.  Seriously, I'm there every day.  Michelle Wilkerson, owner of Wags and Whiskers.
     Starving Artist Cafe.  Greg Hart, owner of Southern Office Services.  
     Ciao's downtown on 7th Street. Mike Margolis, owner of Gallery Four. 
     Igibon. Catherine Carraway, owner of Catherine & Co.
     Vesuvio in West Little Rock.  Kim Bomar, owner of Salon Bella.
     Boulevard Bread.  Theo Lever, co-owner of Bugabooo Massage Clinic. 
     Sushi Cafe on Kavanaugh.  Jeff Byers, co-owner of Go Green Box. 

What do you like to read?
     I like to read what I call "cosy mysteries," like Agatha Christie.  I want a body in the pantry and then you solve the crime.  Sylvia Payne, owner of  Kahler Payne. 
     Inspirational.  I love the book, The Power of Now.  Jonda White, owner of Spaology Nail Spa & More. 
     I read a lot of different magazines, and I like spy thrillers.  I like John La Carre and James Lee Burke.  I like the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Robert Ludlum.  Tom Clancy.  Dr. Blake Weber, owner of Blake H. Weber, DDS, PA.
     I read newspapers, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, local papers.  A lot of periodicals related to the development business and the dry cleaning business.  Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 

What would be on your recommended reading list?  Kathryn Stockett's The Help.  South of Broad by Pat Conroy and any book of poetry by Mary Oliver.  The Rev. Holly Patton, who at the time was pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church. 

What would you like to see Little Rock do differently?
     I appreciate the fact they did the bike paths and dog areas, and the Big Dam Bridge is awesome.  I'd like to see those kinds of things in all areas of town.  It gives a comradely safe feeling.  It makes people feel more loved and safe and encourages health.  Ella Carol Hunt, owner of Caracalla.
     No.  I'm so happy to be here.  I think this is the best kept secret in the country.  Nancy Tesmer, co-owner of Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Some. 
    Yes.  I would like them to value their old neighborhoods more - like Hillcrest and Capitol View - and spend money there instead of expansion out west.  Alleys need to be cleaned and used and our sidewalks maintained.  That gets people walking. When people are out walking, it cuts down on crime.  Sylvia Payne, owner of  Kahler Payne.
     Help kids with values and morals and have activities for them.  At the Dunbar school, they have a garden where they teach kids how to plant things.  Go back to hard work and innocent days.  And have more parks.  Jonda White, owner of Spaology Nail Spa & More. 

 What would you like to see our country do differently?
      I would like to see our country remember that it is our children who are going to be fighting the battles and other mothers' children in other countries.  Golda Meir said, "We will not have peace until we love our sons more than we love revenge."  Naomi Hall, owner of TouchPoint. 
     Turn its eye to people taking control of their own health care.  It begins at the table.  Everybody's grandmother was right - you are what you eat.   Nancy Tesmer, co-owner of Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Some. 
     I think we're doing pretty good. … Look at the wealth, and its not just in the big cities.  There is no place in the world like America.  The rest of the world can't even touch us.  It's a different game.  Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 
      I'd like for it to concentrate on America a bit more - providing for the needs of the people.  They say if you can take care of yourself first, you can help others better.  Greg Hart, owner of Southern Office Services.  
     I'd like them to stop the war and take care of our own.  'Love" is a big word, but I think we need more love.  People were reaching out, helping the Katrina victims.  I think that showed a lot of compassion.  I was impressed.  Debra Henry, owner of Fabrics, Etc.
     Not enough attention is being paid to the economy.  We have the worst deficit ever in the history of the U.S. When Bush went into office, it was a plus.  And it hasn't been that long.  It's like he doesn't care.  Elisabeth Clark, owner of Sirius Spa. 
     I think if we could focus on peace more this would be a much better place.  Wesley Crocker, owner of Dancing Like the Stars in the Heights.  

  Tell us about your family. 
      I am the child of a single mother, Loretta Lever, who was a very meaningful influence on my life, even now.  She's the business manager (of Bugabooo), so we work alongside one another.  I think it's great to have someone on your team who wants to see you excel and will push you to your potential.  She's a pretty strong business lady, so I think I am pretty lucky.  Not to say it doesn't come with challenges, but she's a good mom and a good business partner.  I am very blessed to be where I am in my life, and a lot of that comes from having a strong mother.  Theo Lever, co-owner of Bugabooo Massage Clinic. 
     I have a daughter, Shera Henry.  She is the light of my life.  She survived the hurricane (Katrina).  Shera came to work in the store (in Little Rock) for two or three months.  She has a natural talent; she was great at it.  She has an anthropology degree and is looking for work (in New Orleans).  The place where she was working is still closed.  Debra Henry, owner of Fabrics, Etc. 
     I am just really, really blessed.   My mom and my grandfather were very close to me.  If I had a fraction of my grandfather's character, I would be a really good person.  Wesley Crocker, owner of Dancing Like the Stars in the Heights. 
     My wife passed away in '06.  I am raising my grandchildren.  I am surrounded by three beautiful grandchildren:  Gabrielle, 12, Isaiah, 11, and Kalob, 9.  They keep me young.  We do lots of things for the holidays.  We like to get on the internet and find different things to cook.  We all get together and enjoy ourselves.  They are just as happy as I am.  I have always been that way, but it looks like, as I grow older, it just increases.  I laugh a lot and enjoy life.  Steve Ray, owner of Ray's Massage Therapy.  
     I have two teenage boys, both seniors at Central.  Paul is 18, and Hunter is 17.  I have a daughter, Jessica, who is 12 in 7th grade and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her mom.  I am incredibly blessed with all three of my kids.  They are smart and handsome and beautiful, really good kids.  Dr. Blake Weber , owner of Blake H. Weber, DDS, PA.

Is there anything you'd like to change about yourself?
     A lot.  I am too impatient and way too much of a multitasker. The Rev. Holly Patton, who at the time was pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church. 
    No, I love me.  Felicia Watkins, owner of My Home Therapy. 
    As we got into this project, one day I woke up and realized I'd yelled at about six people in the last week.  Then I wrote down who the six people were, and I realized all of them were people who were breaking their backs to help me.  And I vowed to quit yelling at people.  My contractor might not think so.   Lou Schickel, owner of Pleasant Ridge Town Center. 

What would you do if you won a large lottery?
     First of all, I'd pay people to hide me.  Felicia Watkins, owner of My Home Therapy. 
     There's no question, I would buy a school bus.  I'd drive around and pick up stray animals and build a shelter for them and take care of them for the rest of their lives.  My other fantasy would be to build a shelter for homeless women and teach them trades so they would become employable.   Nancy Tesmer, co-owner of Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Some. 
     I would probably build a shelter for the homeless.  I have this great need in my heart to help people.  I would pay off my daughter's student loans and then reach out and spread the wealth among the less fortunate.  Debra Henry, owner of Fabrics, Etc. 
     I would sell my business, buy 200 acres of land somewhere, build a house, start a garden, and start inviting people up.  I'd cook and plant to my heart's content.  Eloise Leffingwell, co-owner of Pickles & Ice Cream. 
     I'd contact my attorney and make sure our finances were set right before I did anything.  Mike Margolis, owner of Gallery Four. 
     I would pay all my bills off, buy a comfortable home to live in, and definitely give back.  I would help the homeless, give to cancer research and try to help the system with foster kids, especially kids who have more than one sibling, so they can stay together.  And I would try to help Haiti.  Jonda White, owner of Spaology Nail Spa & More. 
     The first thing, family things … all my family members and extended family members, pay off their houses.  And give a big chunk to the church and create a charitable organization.  So, I've got a plan - if anybody wins and wants to share the booty.  Dr. Blake Weber , owner of Blake H. Weber, DDS, PA.