Mother's Day is Coming

Slowly, life at home and at the bakery is getting back to normal- the new normal. Between settling my mom's affairs and re-organizing my kitchen staff after the departure of my three-year veteran Josh Estep, I just haven't had the time or desire to post. That will change as Spring advances and we look forward to some cheery and sweet holidays, like Mother's Day (bittersweet, this year) and the Commencement Season at the local colleges. The weather has turned cooler, as it should be in Spring, so working in the kitchen has become more pleasant again, a lot less hot and humid. We can save those conditions for the Summer, thank you very much.

We were voted third place in the Valley Advocate Readers' Poll. After being in first place for so many years in the '90's and early 2000's I suppose it should be something of a let-down. But, quite frankly, the Poll is just a gimmick for the weekly paper to sell advertising space, and even when we polled number one it never much mattered to me. My focus has always been about making an authentic product and selling it with dignity. I was never such for the seduction of advertising. There is no doubt that our business has entered it's 'mature' phase, which it to say we're not cute and cuddly like a newborn, nor brimming with the vitality and sass of youth. Old age is certainly less appealing to folks and we may just be out-of-sync with what the market wants. America is obsessed with all things new and young; and since we refuse to re-invent ourselves by slapping on a label that says "New and Improved-Now With 50% More Raisins in Every Box," I guess we'll just keep doing what we do and hope that enough people like it to make it worth getting up at 4:00AM every morning. To those of you who still support us, I would like to vote you "Best Customers In the Valley."

In the meantime, stay tuned for a summary of our specials for Mother's Day in the coming weeks.

In memoriam

While this is a business blog,  it is a blog about a family business, with all the joys and sorrows that come with living and working in the real world. And so I do not hesitate to use this forum to share the joys, like the birth of our grandson Sam, and the sorrows, which in this case is the death yesterday of the matriarch of my family Helen M. Normand, my mom, and the great grandmother of Sam. While she came from a large family, the eleventh child of twelve children, and was referred to as the 'sickly one,' she was actually a strong and stoic woman. She married her childhood sweetheart, Roger, when she was 18, and loved him until his death 62 years later. At eighty year of age she started a new life at the Loomis Retirement Community and was able, for the first time in her life really, to become her own person. She became active in the Knitting Club, was on the Food Committee of the community dining room, and was just beginning her involvement on the Scholarship Committee, which raised funds for the college kids who worked part-time in various capacities at Loomis. But beyond these activities, she was best known at Loomis as a person who cared about people, without pretense and without compulsion. She made a point of knowing everyone by name, whether that was an administrator, a housekeeper, a repairman, a waiter or waitress in the dining room, the cooks, the nurses, and especially the residents. That didn't mean she liked everybody; she was very certain in her assessments of people. But she was always respectful.

After her release from Hartford Hospital she returned to the Loomis Nursing Center, which is one wing in the Loomis Commuity Campus where she had had an apartment in the Independent Living wing. As far as we were concerned, she was returning 'home' and that, with rehabilitation from her stroke, she might eventually return to her apartment, or, worst case, to the Assisted Living wing. But it wasn't in the cards, as she, a gambler at heart, would have said. As word got out on campus that she was on her death bed, wave upon wave of Loomis residents, staff and administrators came to say their goodbyes. It chokes me up just writing this because we as a family were unprepared for the depth of care, love and sadness that her passing had evoked. Even Nick, a college-age waiter in the dining room, one of her favorites and a fellow, we learned that night, she had often conned into going out to buy lottery tickets for her, even Nick came and stood speechless by her bedside to pay respects. I know that if I were in Nick's shoes, I probably couldn't have done it.

The triumph was that she really had created a new life for herself, at 82 years old. There is a lesson for us all here. The tragedy is that she was denied it further in mid-stride. There is no telling what the years ahead would have brought her; it's a shame that she couldn't have had a few more. But I think she would have been rather pleased that she at least went out at the top of her game.

With Sam's birth and Mom's death we have experienced within a short seven days the most exhilarating high and the saddest low of the human emotional scale We are reminded that we all ride the great wheel of life, but that in the end ,the greatest truths lie only in this exact moment, in the simple, precious space between breathing in and breathing out. Make the most of your moment. Peace.

Samuel Baker Normand

Here he is folks: our first grandson, Samuel Baker Normand. Look at the hands on that kid!

And here he is with his Uncle Ben, who came in last weekend from Nantucket to meet his new nephew.

We can already imagine Sam asking his parents, a few years from now, if he can spend the whole summer with Uncle Ben and Aunt Jackie on the island. What a lucky fellow.

Our New Sprout

The center panel of Grandma Patty's quilt for Sam
This will be a short post that is personal rather than directly Bakery Normand related.

On Thursday, March 29, 2012, our oldest son, Pete, and his wife Polly gave birth to their first son- Samuel Baker Normand. He is Patty and my first grandson. I only post this today because Sam's name was made official today, and for that all of the grandparents are extremely grateful. Mother and baby are doing fine, and dad is doing his bit providing support and love. Pete read Sam his first 'out of the womb' book, Dr. Seuss' OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!, and it moved him very much-Pete, that is, not so much Sam.

On their drive home from the hospital on Saturday, mom and dad took a little detour to drive down Main Street in Northampton in order to take the little sprout past grandma and grandpa's bakery. "That's where grandma and grandpa make all kinds of great breads and pastries, Sam, and it is oh, one of the very special places you'll go!" said Pete.

We're so happy for Pete and Polly, and we know for certain that little Sam will be grow up with love, laughter, and if his dad has his way, with a lot of skiing, biking, skateboarding and other assorted riskier sports activity.

Congrats Pete and Polly!

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Bakery Normand
192 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060

Tuesday to Saturday, 7:30am-5:30pm

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