As a child I thought there was no such thing as a blue flower. Now my garden is full of spring blues in purple hues. Sometimes vivid childhood longings are triggered by a smell, a sound or a taste. Like peppermint tea reminding me of a burst blow-up toy in the children’s hospital ward. Or my apple blossom “perfume” factory which was perhaps my first entrepreneurial stint. Today, as I inspected the state of this year’s herbal endeavours, I caught a memory of the first time I harvested curly parsley with my Mum. She  never dissuaded me when I planted coffee grounds to grow her a coffee tree. Who cares whether she believed my curiosity would find a way, or whether she didn’t know better herself, I have that collection of scrapbook moments to harvest when the light is right.

Today I received a day-changing message, an email from Laurel, with a link to my favourite colour. Which reminded me of something I’d been neglecting…. here’s a picture of what it was and what it prompted me to do:

The To Do list grew…

– Use my yellow fountain pen more.
– Take more photos.
– Open the garden door. Venture outside. Daily.
– Breathe in deeply, the sweet thrills of spring. The sounds and sights sensations. Taste the trilling thrown tree to tree by fresh-feathered frolickers.
– Pleasure-seeking: take more photos.
– Yellow, why not?
– What other colour says smile at the candid camera quite so cheerily?
– Maybe chocolate? Like these chocolate-coloured hellebores? Or chomping on chocolate chicklets?
– Done. Full-stop. 

Ugh, the suction of an unwanted element on the bottom of my shoe with rapidly-reviving viscosity: previously-owned, recently discarded gum. And then I saw them: circles of gobbed out, pre-chewed, black-as-tar aliens, pock-marking the pavement all around, like sleeper agents waiting for the right temperature to reactivate their sticky anti-gravity pull.

I had stepped out of my car and was additionally accosted by a sharp tarmac surge on my tender adenoids. I returned to my vehicle, careful not to float off on a tangent as the heat-induced gremlins in the system strangled first the air-conditioning, then the All’s-Well purr of the engine.

A screech of rubber tyres, in league with blood-boiling temperatures, pounded to soften and turn into sludge the roadways ahead of me, like some plot to keep me from my destination.

Somehow I crawled home, bewitched by the images, the witness of a hot afternoon in July. Perhaps my previous focus on the Witches of Wooky Hole had provoked a recollection of

Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. [ Shakespeare, Macbeth ]

which was to become the premise of my summary for the sweltering jaunt. If only it were that simple; but my mind works on different levels and has been known to take a dyslexic delight in rearranging superficial words with triple-level meanings. On top of which, I’d been handed “bump” as the poetic challenge of the day. And so ensued an encryption conversation perhaps better taken at face value…

[ coffee_offline ] Cauldron bubble weather: broiling(1) tar(2) bumps against nosebuds, tribbles(3) pop up unexpectedly to sluggishly toil the motor engine. Witchery?

[ NewsyGal ] What is a tribble?

[ coffee_offline ] The Trouble with Tribbles (I see we have to work on the “science”-fiction thaing)

[ NewsyGal ] And what are nosebuds?

[ coffee_offline ] Nosebuds (like taste buds) are sense(less) plays on words with Macbeth’ized requotes to illustrate unexpectedly hot temperatures

[ coffee_offline ] Oh, and then there’s tar which has a whole load of connotations incl… – but I meant tarmac as in road

[ NewsyGal ] You’re an odd duck no question about it.

[ coffee_offline ] Actually, I should write an instruction manual or academic paper to go with my tweets – maybe I’ll get an honourable something or other 😉

[ NewsyGal ] Maybe if your tweets require encyclopedias to decipher, it’s time to simplify. Charles & I rarely know what you’re saying.

[ bryanbellars ] Only understanding about 50%, I’ve always assumed your tweets travel at a much deeper level.More like twoots 🙂

[ BruceStewart ] An analysis of your tweets & interactions should be worth a Ph.D. dissertation in sociology at least!

Additional dissection for my non-US readers:

(1) “broil” is the North American term for what in the UK might be known as “grill in the oven”. Broil as used here relates to the witches’ “toil”.

(2) “tar” – remember the stories of Br’er Rabbit? This one was a particularly sticky situation.

(3) Tribbles [ Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles & Deep Space Nine: Trials and Tribble-ations] are seemingly cute relaxants, depending on your ear sensitivity, but they multiply and eat you out of house and home (much like my car’s problems). Spock quotes of them: “They toil not, neither do they spin”. Tribble, which sounds like “trouble”, here links to the magnified trouble as portrayed by Macbeth’s witches.

I have found it easier to tweet than to write an entire blog entry when doing a sponti roadtrip; one which precludes the laptop and wifi access, but panders to the way my mind now interprets big sights into small sentences. Here now for those who followed the Twitter words: the pictures. And for those who couldn’t make “heads nor tails” of it all, I flip the coin for you…

We pick up a pebble, study it, launch it into a nearby pool of water, watch for a splash, and smile. We pick up a larger stone, weigh it up in the palm of our hand, fling it as far as an outstretched arm can reach, grin as the splash startles a nearby bird. We pick up a weightier rock, legs set firm, no let’s talk a run, launch that demonstrator of our cunning and strength and see if we can hit a target, yesss!  We look around for a boulder, heavier than us, roll it, roll it, to the cliff’s edge, and see it take on a spin of its own… It does, and what it takes in its path is a whole consequence of destruction as it tears down the hillside, bouncing off the rock face, loosening ground and wild tufts of growth, bringing it all tumbling down with a resounding crack, as it stamps itself upon the destination … we curiously wondered about.

It’s in the nature of human curiosity to explore, push out and back, and with much bravado sail into the unknown. And so Twitter was created and the surface gently skimmed by tweet pebbles, curiously looking for smiles.  Early adopters saw the opportunity to create ripples and came laden with strategies to create ways to build, delight and startle their audience. The media, by gush and by lash, called for attention, and sure enough the backlash of rock throwers and pebble skimmers created a wave-pool phenomenon, pulling the waters every which way, with new puddles appearing all over and increasingly straining the resources, like the holes in Swiss cheese.

What happened next was only a matter of time. A malicious boulder was bound to bowl in on the act and tear down those diligently created, lovingly narcissistic silky webs of the spinners and the spun. The question today is whether curiosity will unravel or consume what is left after the havoc.

It may be an attention span thing, but give me 140 characters over 3 solid paragraphs any day. At least that’s my excuse for the dusty, non-entries at my Clog versus my rapidly growing library of Sweet Nothings in the Twitterers’ ears. Until today, I hadn’t even linked one to the other, but needs must.


Today I introduce my Clog to my Followers and vice-versa…if they be so inclined. Welcome, welcome. One way or the other, it’s all virtual coffee to me.

Premium shopping experience may be on the slow with cutbacks at Starbucks, but there is no sign of slowing in the high-end bakery business. Whether this is because bread is truly a staple good in economic reasoning, always in high demand regardless the price, or whether loyal consumers have come to rely on the same flavoursome, high quality wares at every outlet, premium service at the respectively rounded-up prices, sampling galore and generally happy smiles from the Barista-equivalent Cobbers, remains to be seen.

So far 50 franchises have risen across 3 provinces (most notably in BC where the erstwhile Australian brand was launched in 2003) with a vision to add another 35 baker’s dozens to the map. In the US, where there is currently a single store in WA, the goal is to launch 5000 bakeries – which is an average of 100 per state, or roughly one Cobs to two Starbucks.

That’s a big vision, especially considering that the coffee giant is closing ten times the number of stores that currently even carry the Cobs logo in North America. Now that could be a deal in the making: Starbucks premises sold to Cobs, along with comfy seating and an onsite espresso machine. They clearly already share a target group, why not a common cause? 

So this is how advertising works:

  1. Half listen to ads on commute radio, trying to dodge early morning traffic jams.
  2. Go about your business, feel like you’ve done a good day’s work, think about taking a break, see a familiar sign and pull over.
  3. Walk towards door, notice new posters in yellows and browns, think “Nice”.
  4. Inside see friendly, calming green being sported by the employees, think “That’s new”.
  5. Scan the blackboard for what’s on offer and see new beverage, think “Hhhm, might try that”.
  6. New beverage arrives in very own branded cup (“made with 45% fewer carbon emissions”).
  7. Put two and two together and realise I’ve been Starbucked.

I don’t really mind, because I believe good marketing deserves its rewards. Rolling out a new product and not supporting it with all you’ve got would be wasting the only opportunity to make a good first impression. Whether the new Vivanno smoothie will fill the gap of hot sandwiches over the lunch hour remains to be seen. Touted as healthy, we all know it contains ingredients far too addictive for that, especially if you add a shot of espresso as I did. On top of which, I’d like to see how they get “one whole banana” in each of these little sample cups grass-skirted baristas were handing out yesterday!

Whoops, there goes another American brand… as the Belgian owners of Stella Artois snatch up Budweiser. Perhaps it’s not such a bad match, as beer critics suggest one brand is pretty much as bland as the other, which would explain why each relies so heavily on big advertising spend to differentiate and create an image of ‘cool’ or ‘premium’ or ‘traditional’ horse-heritage or whatever the current strategy calls for.


Joining those other non-US brands like IBM’s PCs (China) and 7-Eleven (Japan), the latest brand to change hands will have to focus on local market share erosion as national pride is likely to dig in its heels. The point is to reassure and sustain mass interest, as there is nothing more powerful than the backlash from alienated loyal consumers.


With Starbucks’ marketers coming out in force with traditional media campaigns (radio and press ice-cube ads), online loyalty programs (sign-up and get free stuff) and more sampling than ever, plus a PR campaign that boosted the share price upon the announcement that 600 stores were closing (weird that), you might wonder who is stalking the Mermaid’s lair.


One thing is clear, any company tightening its marketing purse-strings in an economic downturn needs to fire its accountancy department. Now, more than ever, is the time to use horse sense with your marketing budget and consistently remind your target audience that you are still out there.

than making cold calls. Yet I know people who get a real kick out of picking up the phone and dialling a fresh new number to enrapture the unknown voice on the other end of the line. Hello, did you know that I could make a big difference to your life… 

So it is time to hone in on those skills as practice makes, you know. And being a woman who can multi-task, I might just wash those windows at the same time: 

Hello, isn’t it a gorgeous day? The sun is desperate to pour through those grand windows of yours, but is struggling to find a way in through the grime. Imagine a clear, sparkling view of the first crocuses pushing up the slumbering soil of your garden. See that purply-white splodge turn into a crisp and beautiful flower!  

Ahm, you have a window cleaner?  

Well, consider the secondary benefit of saving money on the window cleaner AND on fitness classes while reaching, stretching, swiping and gliding over those windows yourself. It’s more than a money-saver; it’s a way of life! 

You live on the 35th floor? 

Well, yes, and what a glorious view of the mountains you are missing out on because your view is obstructed by the dirty little particles on the inside of your window. 

It’s pouring with rain? 

Well, yes, it is Vancouver, after all. Have a nice day.