Friday, December 28, 2007

A couple snowy pics by me

I received a new digital camera for Christmas (thanks Pa) and took a few pictures with it today during the lovely snowstorm we're in the midst of. Haven't quite figured everything out on it yet and my pictures don't show much contrast, but the snowfall is gorgeous, with huge, fast-falling flakes sticking to everything. I did a milk run for the cafe and made a quick detour through Neshota Park...everything is muffled and quiet and beautiful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter '07 shots by my Pa

Here are a couple of very cool pictures my Dad, Keith Smith, took last week while in Rice Lake. Years ago my Dad was a pretty serious amateur photographer. He was the photographer for the Manitowoc Lincoln wrestling team for many years and even did some photography reproduction work for the big Chicago Bears history book. And while he doesn't do the whole darkroom thing anymore he still takes a lot of pictures, many of which are high quality art works.

I think these two are quite lovely. We'll probably do a photo exhibition of some of his stuff sometime this coming year at Stumpjack Coffee Co..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Traveling Babo Uglydoll Adventures

This Flickr series of "Traveling Babo Uglydoll Adventures" cracked me up...I especially liked the ones with babo at Easter Island and the beach at Cabo San Lucas. Series like this are nothing new, of course, but I really like the Ugly Doll aspect of it...the little guy has character. Click here for the slide show.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Bear and the Berry Picker

The image above is of a woodcut print by artist Carlos Cortez (1923-2005), titled "The Bear and the Berry Picker." It is one of eleven original prints by Cortez that are now on display at Stumpjack Coffee Company in Two Rivers. The prints range, in subject matter, from Mexican Day of the Dead imagery (skeletons), workers rights and unionization, folk music, and history of Mexico. This particular image is the only one that shows any overt nudity (if you don't count the skeleton imagery...think about it) and is also the most overtly sexual in theme. The subject matter of "The Bear and the Berry Picker" relates to, as told to me by Cortez, a Mexican folk tale, the details of which I have forgotten over the years.

As I recall, the story is not too dissimilar from stories coming out of any number of indigenous cultures, as well as early European fables. It goes something like this: A bear (or coyote or wolf or some other wily critter) tricks or seduces one or more female berry pickers, the ruse's outcome of which is procreation and/or transformation by either the animal, the female(s) or the offspring.
There often seems to be some aspect of the myth surrounding feral children to these tales (human children raised in the wild by nonhuman animals). Feral children are often thought to have certain characteristics that are superior in some way to "normal" human children, attributes such as great strength, intelligence or insight. The belief is that they are so gifted because they have been raised in a "purer" environment, unpolluted by civilization and humankind's corrupted state of being. These beings often are at the foundation of a culture's myths of origin (think of Rome's mythical founders, Romulus and Remus, for example).

In any event (I'm getting off track here and am allowing the historian in me to push his way through), the real purpose of this post is to talk about the surface image itself. A lady came into Stumpjack today and by all appearances was having a wonderful time (great lunch, mocha and conversation)...until she wandered into the back and saw the Cortez print, at which point she expressed her offense and scolded me for displaying the image. Yes, to answer your obvious question, she was an older lady, yet well dressed and obviously (to me) not uneducated and socially connected in some way. I addressed her lament with what I think was good humor and politeness, although I did not acquiesce to her mandate that I remove the print altogether.

I confess that I found the exchange both amusingly interesting and yet a little disappointing at the same time. Interesting because I, of course, mentally flashed through any number of Renaissance and Neo-Classical images of entirely nude or semi-nude figures, mythical half human/half animal creatures, and erotic subject matter...that I would bet five pounds of fine Puerto Rican coffee this good lady is well aware of and doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow at.

Of course often much of the issue of whether or not something is deemed offensive has to do with context. Was it the image itself that offended her (would she have found it as distasteful had she viewed it at, for example, the Art Institute of Chicago, in a gilded frame with other objects de arte on either side)? Or did the fact that she discovered it in a small, tastefully appointed coffee shop in Two Rivers create a jarring enough juxtaposition for her to nevertheless be taken aback by the (what I consider) rather innocuous and cartoony nudity of the piece?

This incident was not entirely unexpected, as I did think we might get few comments on that particular piece, although I thought the comments would be of the more humorous and playfully sarcastic sort. I really didn't believe that anyone who came to Stumpjack would actually be offended or upset by it (in my capacity as a small business owner I certainly don't desire to offend or upset). The intent is largely to stimulate conversation, provoke thought, present something hopefully new and interesting, and to possibly educate or create greater awareness (stay tuned for our next scheduled exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe

Thursday, November 8, 2007

October 19th! Holy Crappy Breakfast Batman!

I just realized that my last post on here was on October 19th, almost three weeks ago! Yikes, where does the time go?! I'll need to get something new on here soon (not like anyone actually reads this drivel anyway, but for my own sense of purpose if nothing else). In the meantime, here's a little article I just read that cracked me up...about Starbucks and their efforts to become even more like McDonalds. Love the "frosted toast" line...

Starbucks Tries to Wrap

04:55 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Starbucks has started selling hot food, well, technically.

I visited a Starbucks at Third and Market streets in Riverside and ordered an egg wrap ($3.25) with bacon, avocado and cheddar.

The guy behind the counter reached into a drawer for a prepackaged tortilla, unwrapped the plastic and put it in a convection oven for two minutes.

At that point, I realized I had just spent $3 for a Hot Pocket.

This is either a picture of egg wraps sold at Starbucks or two of the world's ugliest scones.

Starbucks should sell Pop Tarts, change the name to "frosted toast" and call the rainbow sprinkles "flavor seeds."

If you're looking for something fast to fill you up with your daily java fix, an egg wrap will do the trick.

Starbucks also sells an array of breakfast sandwiches that look and taste like Egg McMuffins. None of it seems up to the coffee giant's usually high standards.

The wrap's tortilla was alternately doughy and crispy, and the contents tasted prefabricated and refrigerated.

At the very least, Starbucks should move the oven out of view and pay a guy to make cooking sounds with a spatula.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Grumblers, sourpusses, nay-sayers and other ne'er-do-wells...

In the coffee business you meet a lot of people, the overwhelming majority of which are really wonderful, upbeat and involved individuals. I think good coffee...artisan coffee...attracts those kinds of positive folks. But just like most anything else in life there also inevitably exists that small contingent of people who seem to feed off of negativity, who love to knock others down, and wish failure upon those who venture off the safer, well traveled road...where the grumblers would never dare go themselves. Even worse, in my opinion, are those people who are in business themselves and yet who seem to wish failure upon anyone who is also gutsy enough to lay it on the line by starting a new business.

It's a sad, pathetic way to bolster one's own ego and sense of worth, by knocking others down, and the fact that their success would surely also have a positive impact on everyone else's business, particularly in small towns where economic vitality is so much more precarious than in larger cities (three or four empty storefronts in a small town and suddenly you have what appears to be a ghost town, where nobody wants to shop).

Since opening Stumpjack Coffee I've been privy to a great amount of rumor, gossip, unsolicited opinion, back biting and just plain bitching. Practically none of it is worth the air it consumes in the telling. We've heard negative stories about just about every business person and/or person involved in the community from Two Rivers to Manitowoc, and the longer they've been around or the more prominent their business, the greater the number of critical stories there are. While there may be some element of truth to some rumors it is also apparent that there are also agendas attached to just about all of them, and those agendas are never positive or supportive. The most reliable truth I've found is that until someone does something directly confrontational or negative to you it is wise to simply and completely ignore or discount the negatives you hear about another business person...even if they come from a friend (people who I like and respect have had their own stories about others, which while perhaps true in their own specific individual situation do not necessarily have any impact or bearing on our relationship with those people).

People are people and even Mother Theresa and Ghandi had their critics (how pathetic is that!). This sort of gossip- and rumor-mongering is on my mind lately because we too have had to deal with it since we opened around a year ago...things have gotten back to us that "so-and-so heard this" or "so-and-so said this about you guys." Of the perhaps three instances I seem to recall, in every single case what was said was untrue and a complete fabrication. The most recent story is that I had a business and a lease for a business in Manitowoc that we had run out on, allegedly leaving the landlords holding the bag. Well, I've never had a storefront business of my own in Manitowoc (or Two Rivers before Stumpjack Coffee. Did do the typical home-based business thing for a little while), have never had a lease of any kind anywhere until Stumpjack (other than, of course, apartment leasing when I was in college), and have certainly never run out on any lease anywhere.

One wonders where this garbage comes from, how it originates and what the agenda is behind it. Did I unintentionally (or intentionally) slight or insult someone (that's, did someone get a bad cup of coffee here (definitely not possible), are they peeved because we got more press coverage one week than they did (that has actually come though we control the media), or are they a competitor just spreading lies (that too is a definite possibility), or are they bent because we had the biggest banner at some music fest (no, can't one could be that petty, self-righteous or short sighted...could they?...I know, rhetorical question).

Success, perceived or real, is bound to spark resentment is some people it seems. I believe that with achievement you will also create enemies, for whatever legitimate and illegitimate reasons (and when I say "enemies" I simply mean those who don't like you and talk smack about you, not necessarily someone who is "out to get you," although I suppose that might be the case in some instances). I'm fine with that...if you have an enemy or two it likely indicates that you are having an impact, that you must have some influence or importance in some enemies perhaps means that you haven't yet done anything of significant consequence or value. I would just prefer our enemies to be honorable and at least somewhat factual in their attacks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Damn Flies!

Workin' it!

The houseflies seem especially bad this end-of-summer. They're everywhere...and for every three I kill three more take their place without any break in the action. The swatter has wracked up well over 100 kills in just the last week, sometimes bringing squishy death to two and even three at a crack. The shop vac has sucked up a veritable cornucopia of hornets and flies...enough to feed dozens of frogs. These little barf slurpers are just ticking me off big time. Tried the sticky strips, which are kind of cool because they remind me of the ones my Grandpa used to have in the barn, just covered with hundreds of mummified flies. They definitely work, but seem rather unsanitary (not that squished fly guts on the counter are particularly sanitary either). I always thought what an ingeniously simple device those strips were. I am going to stock up on Venus Flytraps next year...have them spread out around the room...that'll be fun. For now, I'm just waiting for a good first frost.

Invenusable Flytrap, one of the more interestingly goofy villains on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Where's this guy when you really need him?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Royal Order of Hipsters

One of my favorite, funky web sites is Fez-O-Rama (makers of handcrafted fez hats). I've always been intrigued by fez hats, especially the richly embroidered and bejeweled ones, with the little gold tassels. There's something goofy (picture an army of Shriners on scooters in any parade), exotically "Ali Baba and his 40 Thieves-ish" about a's one of those things that is "so unhip it's hip."

I'm thinking of having some made for a Stumpjumpers club at Stumpjack Coffee...a not-so-secret society of creative thinkers, java junkies, doodlers, bad poets, surfers, ne'er-do-wells and street preachers.

Picture an army of fez adorned Stumpjumpers on scooters in any parade...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Lava Lamps & Stumpjack Tiki Lounge

I picked these three little lava lamps at Kohls Department Store in GB a couple weeks ago. They were on sale for five bucks apiece. This really crappy picture doesn't show the bright red colors of the "lava." Also bought a big silver rocket ship lava lamp with lime green lava that I have by my bed at home. Who doesn't love a lava lamp...they are indeed one of the coolest inventions ever (and here's one place where you can learn even more trivial nonsense about this bit of inspired genius:

From the very first genesis of the Stumpjack concept I have wanted to do a Stumpjack Tiki Lounge: coffee & cocktails. I'm still planning on seeing that vision through at some point, so I won't reveal too many details lest some jackanapes steal the concept ahead of us. But the lava lamps and a recent conversation got me thinking about this in earnest once again. The tiki concept is nothing new, it's current revival in popularity notwithstanding, but the idea we have has a few hopefully unique aspects to it to make it even more intriguing.

Some might argue that lava lamps and tiki really define two different styles or aesthetics, one being the retro 1960's/early '70's aesthetic that lava lamps are a part of and the other being the '50's/early 60's Polynesian Tiki aesthetic. I would agree with that wholeheartedly, and yet these days the two seem to have melded together quite comfortably in the consciousness of most people who appreciate the retro aesthetic that both movements celebrate. In any event, I'm just thinking out loud preparation, I suppose, for moving forward at some point with defining and outlining our ideas for the Stumpjack Tiki Lounge.

Anyway, dig these other pics of lamps from the OozingGoo site.

Monday, August 27, 2007

No more shaving with my bowie knife

It's Monday morn here at the Scandinavian Lodge in Sister Bay...nice place, with an outdoor pool, long and roomy 3rd floor balcony, gas fireplace (that we haven't yet used), and a big whirlpool bath to soak away whatever's bugging you. The weather has been fabulous (and the trees are already starting to change color up here! C'mon, it's August, fer cryin' out loud!). It's so nice taking my time getting up and getting ready for the day.

I want to share with you a product experience that I found to be surprisingly good and worthwhile. My normal week finds me getting up early, sometime between 5:00 and 5:30, taking a quick cold shower to wake up, throw something on, brush the teeth and out the door. I generally don't take the time to shave but once a week on a day we're closed and I can take my time in the bathroom in the morning. So, by week's end I'm looking fairly scruffy with a good 1/8"-plus of wiry beard growth.

Last week when Kim went to the store I asked her to pick me up some razor heads for my razor. She came back with a packet of Bic disposables...Bic Comfort 3s to be exact. I griped that they weren't what I asked for, that disposables suck and are only good for ladies shaving their legs in the shower, and that these had 3-blade heads, which I think are nothing more than a stupid marketing ploy aimed at gullible people.
I begrudgingly used it because it's all I had at the moment. That razor gave me the best, closest shave I've ever had. I was duly impressed and made the required apologies to my gal. Well, Saturday when I left to come up here to Door County I just grabbed a few clean clothes and that Bic razor and hit the road. Shaved with that same razor again this morning and it tackled my week's growth every bit as clean and slick as it did the first time...and without any shaving cream or gel, which I forgot to bring. And to further impress and surprise, the little strip that they claim gives your mug a coating of soothing aloe gel actually does...even at the second shave!

I could tell when I finished that that little green baby would still shave clean and cool the next time as well. I am very impressed and will be using those Bic Comfort 3 razors from now on. They're a far cry from those crappy one or two blade white and orange things they used to put out, where you needed to use two or three to shave your face just once before they started tearing you to shreds. And these are cheaper than the replaceable ones I'd been using. Better quality at a lower price...I guess the only thing I might change is the "disposable" aspect.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

yea, that's eactly how I feel right now...

I am shamelessly stealing this image from a post on our pal Don Seiler's blog , Mind of Seiler, because it just so perfectly hit the nail on the head for me right now. I am in a room in Door County right now, that I cannot afford but am able to take advantage of thanks to the thoughtfulness of my brother, Rod, and still cannot seem to relax from the overwhelming feeling of "too much work/too little money/why don't I just quit and move to Canada/some of you people have no damn clue/feeling sorry for myself then feeling guilty because there are many more people who have bigger things to bitch about than me" anxiety.

Friday, August 17, 2007

For the Personal Foolishness files

LRS 2006

We're disabling the current Lakeshore's Rising Stars! site in favor of a more streamlined version that Terry will be updating and keeping tabs on himself (sigh of relief...). The images above and below are my little BS bios from this year and last, on the About Us page, and I wanted to grab them off the site before I disable it and redirect the domain. It's really just for my personal archives but you can click on them if you actually care to read them.

LRS 2007

Monday, August 6, 2007

We've been Simpsonized!

Gotta run, but wanted to throw these images of Kim and myself "Simpsonized." I'll add to this post later but I gotta run right now. Go to this site (, add your picture and Simpsonize

Saturday, August 4, 2007

This week's favorite site

My current favorite web site: I'm not a surfer (yet!), but this site has tons of fun stuff to keep the mind on vacation at the beach. hundreds of great gallery images...locations, rad surf shots, babes on the beach, competitions...and links galore, to other surf sites, gear, live location updates, and and even how-to-surf info. And babes on the beach...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

B.A.B. at AcousticFest

We were one of the sponsors of AcousticFest this year in Manitowoc (Sunday, July 15). It was a great day in every respect: music, weather, friends, beer, wine, work and relaxation. I include work because I began the day at 8:00 helping to set things up, and after the event taking things down, but that was fun so to call it "work" wouldn't be fair. In any event, one of the interesting things about the day and those since then is the response that the Stumpjack banner has been getting. It is a huge banner, and started a little buzz at the park that is still being talked about today (Wednesday, three days after the concert). Here are a few of the comments we've heard thus far:
  • A couple different people at the park referred to it as "that B.A.B. of yours" (Big Ass Banner).
  • "You can see that thing from the space shuttle!"
  • "I stepped out onto my porch and saw your banner, so I thought we'd come see the show," from Mike Zimmer, who lives in Two Rivers.
  • "What the hell are you going to do with that thing after this show?"
  • "Holy cow!"
  • "Holy sh*t!"
  • "Do you see this big banner behind me...for Stumpjack Coffee Company..." from Pat MacDonald.
  • "They look like ants under it!" from a friend in the cafe today, after seeing the blog pics.
  • "What are you compensating for with that?"
  • "Hahahahahaaaa...oh man..."
  • "Now that is a big freakin' banner..."
  • "This is the best ****ing advertising you ever got..." from Pete Honzik, event organizer, midway through the concert.
  • "How are we gonna get that up there?" from all of us setting things up in the morning.
  • "Think ya went big enough!?"
  • "Outstanding!"
  • "What is this, StumpjackFest?"
  • "I'm getting a bigger one next year, 16' x 16'," from Joe Donati of Lakeshore Cigar Company.
  • "That is awesome...totally awesome!"
  • During the roll call of sponsors mentioned between acts: "Hey, they didn't mention Stumpjack Coffee." Next person waves hand at stage and replies, "Do they have to?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Beach Blanket Bingo, Baby!

Pulled these two images from a series that Two Rivers City Manager, Greg Buckley, sent out that showed Neshota Beach here in town just full of people, diggin' the water, weather and cool beach vibe.
Mighty nice to see...

Take that Florida! Take that California! Take that sunny Caribbean!
(Ok, I may be stretching things a bit there...but it's still great to see people having fun and enjoying the great resource that is Lake Michigan.)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Persimmons Gold

Like most creative people I just have too many varied interests to fit thematically into a single blog, and too much of an ego that thinks that whatever I have to say or share will be of eminent interest to the rest of the world. So, where "A Stumpjumper's Meandering" will continue to focus on the things of Stumpjack Coffee Company, the Stumptoons blog will be an amalgam of my own personal interests and stuff I find to be fun.

For this first post I want to show three cool tiki glasses I got from my friend Kim's gallery shop (I'll share my entire tiki mug collection on here at some point because, while there seem to be hundreds of blogs and sites out there that do that very thing, there can still never be too many tiki mug collection sites). These are Siesta Ware frosted glasses, with wood handles and gold colored metal bands, with imagery showing pineapples, dugout canoe, palm trees on an island horizon, drum & spear, tropical fish and flowers. Very cool.

Kim's shop, Persimmons, is a real treasure, as are Kim and her husband, Glen...they are a must-stop if you're traveling through Manitowoc.