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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - One carrot, one onion (Losing It)

Personal note: Our own local - and the home of our weekly quiz night - has been closed since the quake.  This will be the third week we have been unable to do this weekly ritual, and I am missing it terribly.

One carrot, one onion

Last updated 09:08 04/03/2011

Every fortnight the boyfriend and I drop into our favourite quiz night. When I say "drop into", what I really mean is drive for an hour or so south to Kaos, a cafe in Tuakau, south of Pukekohe.

It's not your average quiz night. Sure there are teams, regulars, wines and beers. But the hosts, Elton and Stuart, add a huge amount of vibrancy and humour to the evening. It is a part of our calendar we make time for, no matter how tired we are. I had been longing to go this week, as I knew it would give us both some time out from earthquakes, cries for help, and helping people rebuild.

Elton is incredible. He bends the rules throughout the quiz, checking on people's answers as he wanders around, giving a little nod or shake of the head if he notices your answer. He'll act out clues for teams completely lost - and he'll make it as crude and rude as possible. He's charming, he's kind and he's rapidly become one of my favourite people.

After the quiz this week we stayed behind and got talking about his cafe, and eating places in general. There is no doubt that many businesses are finding it hard out there- and there has been a dropoff in many of the smaller centres. People are still often hanging on by a thread, managing week to week.

My BF and I have been talking about how we and others might be able to help businesses, in Christchurch and in other areas of New Zealand, find ways to rebuild and keep going  after so much has been stripped away.

Elton told us a story last night of a time, not so long ago, when he was down to his last forty dollars, and had a shopping list of food to get for the cafe. He knew he needed to buy the food to make more money.

He looked at the list his staff had provided, then looked in his wallet. He went to each staff member and asked them to give him the exact amounts of each food item. The carrot cake needed one carrot. The frittata needed one onion.

As much as he hated having to juggle and scrimp and fuss, Elton took the shopping list and got the food he needed. He got only what they absolutely had to have.

That one carrot, that one onion took them through to the next day. They created funds to buy a little more food the following day, until Elton was able to shop a little more long term.

Many of us may be in a one carrot, one onion spot right now. We might not have much. Luckily we often don't need everything to be there for us to succeed.

I am a huge believer that if we use fully what we have in our hands right now, we see growth and return. Even when things feel completely stripped away, we often have resources we were not aware we had (or needed) when things were more plentiful.

I'm passionate about seeing people find strength and restart. It's (and I really wanted to add a swear word here) hard and it's exhausting and frustrating. But it is possible.

This is the cake that was made with one carrot:

one carrot cake

And because of that carrot, and the resulting cake, Elton and his cafe Kaos has survived till now so that people like me can go, eat some great food, have some lighthearted times and come away feeling rested and reenergised.

It's amazing what a little of something can do, if you use it wisely.

I'd love it if you guys could go visit Kaos if you're passing that way. And I'd also love to hear your stories of "bouncing back".

We need positive stories around us now. If one of us can do it, then so can another.

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