Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blueprint Of A Great Newsletter...

I talked the other day about the art of story telling. I take a newsletter called the "Ozarkland Newsletter" and the gentleman that does the writing is named Neil Shelton and he is a storyteller of the first order! I'm including the latest copy of the newsletter so that you can see how a true storyteller can make even a sales pitch into a fun experience , and you can see how a great storyteller spins a yarn.

Dear Reader: Please accept my apology. I am really, really, really sorry.

It isn't as if I don't understand your situation. There you are, a sensitive, feeling, deserving person, and yet, because of circumstances largely beyond your control, you are forced to live in the stench and squalor of urbanity.

It's tough, I know, pouring $4 gas into your car every week just so you can spend thirty minutes to an hour every morning stalled in traffic on your 10-mile commute to work.

Certainly, no-one understands better than I how frustrating it must be to work hard all week to support a family and put hyper-priced food on the table, only to learn that you can't even trust the freaking tomatoes!

Look, I'm on your side, honest. It's just that... well, I'm only human.

That's why, last week, even though I put up this beautiful 2.5 acres of seductively rural Americana on our website, a place where, among many other things, you could grow your own edible tomatoes, I never actually managed to get around to sending out this newsletter to let you know about it.

Meanwhile, you're stuck where you're stuck, breathing in sulfur dioxide as if Lucifer were living in the next apartment, and when I have the opportunity to reach out my hand and give you a way to escape - right at the time when you need me most - I've failed you.

And why? Was I abducted by shotgun-wielding banditos? Stricken by beri-beri? Tied to a railroad track or giant sawmill?


I'm ashamed to tell you that the answer is - this is so humiliating - the answer is that I've been having a wonderful time.

While there have been a couple of pretty severe storms somewhere in the Ozarks this spring, none of them were anywhere close to me, so the only result I can see is that we've had lots and lots of cool, invigorating rain. This year, I have the best garden I've enjoyed in ages, and I've been having fun with that, but then there's this other aspect of my life that I wanted to tell someone about.

It started when I was born. (Don't worry, this isn't going to be as long as you think.)

Anyway, when I was born, I had what's known as a deviated septum. That means that the thingie that separates my nostrils was misshapen in such a fashion as to close one nostril almost completely, and incidentally, the other one wasn't much better, plus I have seasonal allergies, so I've spent all but the last few weeks of my life not even knowing what it was like to breathe through my nose, and what sense of smell I had wasn't very, well, sensible. Also, my whiney, irritating speaking voice was not only whiney and irritating, but nasally to the extent that strangers on the other end of the phone were always ending the conversation with comments like, "I hope you're feeling better".

Uh... thanks.

Still, after a brush or two with death at the hands of surgeons concerning other irregularities in my physical plant, I wasn't too keen on giving them another shot at me.

Then about a year ago, it developed that I had an advanced case of nasal polyps. I thought I knew what polyps were, because I recall President Reagan having one removed. I don't know if that was accurate, or if he had lots of them, but it turned out that I had, literally, a whole snoot full of them. More than that, actually. They were crammed into all my sinuses as if someone had turned me upside down and poured candle-wax in my nose. I imagined them as looking like little sausages with teeny little strings tied at the ends, but my doctor told me they were more like little clusters of grapes.

Needless to say, this was not a pleasant experience, and since the polyps were secreting this yellow stuff, a more specific description of which I will spare you, this stuff was leaking down my throat and into my lungs causing asthma symptoms, which are probably funnier to observe than to experience. Clearly I was going to die.

Anyhow, since I now had no choice, I was headed for surgery.

The surgery wasn't so bad, as things that involve someone cutting up the inside of your head go, except for costing my insurance company approximately two and a half times more than the doctors estimated. (Why would they concern themselves with such trivia?)

I hadn't been able to smell anything for about three years at that point, and no-one could tell me for certain that I'd ever be able to smell again. Very depressing.

Smell, if you have it, is something you take for granted. I don't think I even noticed until I'd lost it completely for five or six months. Once I realized it was gone, I tried to shrug my shoulders over the whole thing, but I eventually became obsessed with getting it back.

Finally, a few weeks after the surgery, at a time when I would test almost everything I came across to see if I could smell it, I picked up a piece of soap, sniffed it and... I couldn't smell it, but I got this... memory of soap. I thought of my grandmother's house, and of feeling fresh out of the bath-tub, and things like that.

Tears welled in my eyes. I can't remember being so happy.

Over the next few days, I started having more of these memories, and pretty soon I became aware that I could smell again.

It was August, and we had a little free time, so Olia and I flew out to San Francisco where I smelled wine and food and carbon monoxide, but mostly coffee, because we had a room at the edge of Chinatown just across the street from a Starbucks. I probably spent more on coffee that week than in the previous ten years. We went to Yosemite where I smelled fresh grass, and to the ocean, where I smelled dead fish and I enjoyed both equally.

Not only that, but I could breathe through my nose. Just like a real boy. What a kick that was. I remember walking down into the Grand Canyon once years ago, and walking back out in the same day, which the signs suggested either wasn't possible or at least not very smart. I thought I was doing pretty well, and in pretty good shape, but as I got back near the top I passed a couple of guys going down and I overheard one of them say over my shoulder, "We'll probably be like that when we get back up", so I got the idea that I must have looked or sounded exhausted, huffing along with my mouth wide open.

Now I found that I could walk up a long hill or flight of stairs with my mouth completely closed. Wierd. And I wasn't snoring anymore.

Do you know what a '70 Mustang looks like? It has this enormous gaping grille in front, ready to suck in cubic yards of air, birds and insects for every foot it moves down the highway. That's how I felt with my brand-new nose. Previously, I'd been a Volkswagen Beetle, but now I was a nasal Mustang.

For a while.

A couple of weeks after we got back from San Francisco my smelling ability started to fade, disappearing completely in a few days.

My surgeon informed me that I represented his world record for someone re-growing polyps. I was miserable.

So I had the second operation about four months ago, and now in the past three weeks, even though I'd been having myself checked every couple of weeks with no new polyps, I hadn't smelled anything yet. Then I went in for my last checkup and... whoopee, more polyps.

Well, this was pretty discouraging, but my doctor told me that since we'd caught them early this time, we could shrink them with steroid tablets and a nose spray of steroids. Not the kind of steroids that you read about in the news, some other kind. They're probably not good for me either, but I couldn't care less.

That's because about a week after I started using these neat-o drugs, I got my smell back.

In spades.

Yeah, and I think got a couple of other people's smell too, because I'm like a human blood-hound on these cool steroids. All the fragrant flowers around here were just starting to fade as I was getting this new super-powered smell, so I haven't actually smelled a flower in over four years, but every day brings me something new to smell. Like the smell of the earth right after a rain, or like the heady aroma of Olia's perfume. Or like the food. Oh wow!, the food: onions, and garlic, and fresh bread, and pizza, and coffee, and wine and... I'm beside myself. (That's me on the left.)

All my life I've wondered why people would pay the extra price for gourmet coffee. What I've learned now is that, if you can't smell coffee, the cheapest swill you can buy is about the same as the finest fresh-ground beans. Now I'm happy to pay for the best I can get.

So that's what I've been doing, working in the garden, eating everything that strays close enough, and looking for new things to smell.

And that's why I didn't get last week's Newsletter out to you.

This week, because nobody knew about it, we've still got that same bucolic 2.5-acres, plus one of the very nicest almost-five-acre tracts you're going to find. Not only does it have level land for growing food you can actually eat, but it's only four miles from a quaint little Ozark town (How Ozark? It's the county seat of Ozark County.) Four miles and NO traffic means you can get to town, do your business and get back without using a whole gallon of gas.

It's also close to two major lakes, has an excellent view from a dandy building site, and it smells just great.

You owe it to yourself to click your way over to our website where you'll find driving directions, photos,maps and virtually every fact we could think of to include, all just by following this link:

copyright © 2008 Neil Shelton

Now THAT'S what good writing should look like! That, my friends, is the work of a Master Storyteller! Now...let's have some fresh coffee!


Noki said...

You know, I think I signed up for that newsletter, but never got it. I need to sign up again.

HermitJim said...

Hey Ashley...I signed up at 3 different mailboxes and 2 of them never got the newletter, except in the junk folder.

I get it in g-mail with no problems at all.