Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Coffee”

Those Days Are Coming

 

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID ONCE I LANDED IN FLORIDA was to locate the nearest Starbucks. No matter where I am I gotta have my morning coffee. My afternoon and evening coffee too, but that should be obvious. The closest Chapel of St. Arbucks to my lodging is about two miles away. I can live with that. I have to. But all Starbucks are not the same.

While the buildings vary little from state to state, country to country, but the clientele is unique to each store. On a college campus most of the customers will have just finished puberty, while in Midtown Manhattan the majority of the sippers will have high blood pressure and be paying child support. This week I am in sunny South Florida.

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It Warms My Cockles

 

OH, THAT FEELS GOOD!

It may be 33 degrees outside, but I am roasty-toasty warm inside. The furnace is on. I’m wearing three layers (not chickens) and I have my electric throw plugged in and I have a Hunter’s Hand Warmer in my pants. I’m warm and I like it.

I would never have been a great Arctic explorer. Amundsen and Byrd would have pushed me overboard when they caught me trying to convince the crew that Miami was close enough to the Pole.

“Let’s all stop here and have a hot toddy.”

When the thermometer begins its slide into the range that causes talk of things like “Wind Chill” and “Antifreeze,” I break out my Thermal Thongs.

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I Don’t Have Gas

SOMETIMES I JUST DON’T KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE. I hear somebody say something and I automatically take what they say as truthful. It’s not long before “WHAM!” I find out that the Truth is more elusive than a Penguin at the North Pole.

What gets me thinking about this was my recent experience of trying to buy fuel for the Toyota. It made my head spin.

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So It’s Reusable. I Am Too

WHAT IS WITH THESE PEOPLE? It is 5:45 in the morning. It is still dark and there is a line out to the door at St. Arbucks. Is it the End of Times? Has a fleet of UFOs begun to attack Earth? Has Godzilla been spotted coming out of the Wabash River?

Something is afoot at St. Arbucks my coffee and writing refuge.

Oh, I get it now! It is some sort of Holiday Season Promotion and they are giving away decorated reusable plastic cups with the purchase of some overpriced beverage creation.

Whatever.

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It’s All In The Back Story

 

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. No, I’m not imagining that I’m Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or any of the countless other singing cowboys of my youth. I’m strictly feeling the approaching rut of doing the same things every day until I get run over by a train or shot by an unemployed mortician.

Even though I took my computer with me to Ireland and I did keep up with this blog I didn’t get much done as far as writing some new fiction is concerned. I had hoped to get off to a good start on a novel.

I got nothing.

Not one word.

I barely got any thinking about it done. I spent more time eating and shivering. I was really good at those things while there.

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Throwback Thursday – from November 2016

Throwback Thursday 3

Two Lobes, No Waiting

I’M FEELING IN A MAGNANIMOUS MOOD TODAY.

I feel like reaching

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out to my fellow bipeds and seeing if I can be of help. So, I have declared that today is officially:

FREE BAD ADVICE DAY!

For today – and today only – I will be dispensing free bad advice on a wide range of topics.

Let the games begin!

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WELL, AREN’T YOU A SIGHT TO SEE?

 

 

WE ARE NOW IN OUR FOURTH HOUSE AND OUR FOURTH AND FIFTH WEEKS IN IRELAND. After this week we will begin the process of closing the book on Ireland and begin to get our thoughts on heading home.

For the first three weeks we were tourists and tour guides. We were blessed to have our “Alaskan Cousins” with us. They had never been here before and we wanted them to see the parts of this island that has brought us back time and time again. We may have run them a bit ragged, but with us they saw more than those tourists who saw the country from inside a rolling tour bus.

Before we left Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Guinness does go well with chocolate.”) our itinerary would have had us on the go about 36 hours a day. We’ve done it before and we thought we could do it again. Reality threw a pie in our faces on that idea. The first time I came here I was 60 years old and Dawn was…a mere yute. This trip has defied my experiments with time travel and tore too many pages off our Calendar. When we all landed in Dublin the age range of our group went from 73 years down to 62. We were not being mistaken for Hostelling Students on Holiday.

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’ve Decided To Not Think”

think1

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME what I think.

“What do you think about the election?”

“What do you think about the Baseball Playoffs?”

“What do you think of this, that, and the other thing?”

I don’t answer those questions directly. I have become very adept at giving non-answer answers.

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Throwback Thursday From October 2016 – “I’m Glad I’m Not Dave.”

star1THIS MORNING I WENT TO ST. ARBUCKS EARLIER THAN USUAL. I figured I could get some time to write and calmly sneak up on the day.

It didn’t work out that way.

I should have known that things weren’t going to work out for me.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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I’m Packing It In

 

WE ARE GOING TO BE HEADING OFF FOR IRELAND IN A FEW DAYS. I think it is time for me to begin deciding what to take and what to leave behind. My wife, the lovely and highly organized, Dawn, started her side of this process in 1973 give or take a day. We tend to operate at different speeds.

I’m not saying that my way is right or hers wrong. No. No. No. I think it is just a difference in the basic structure of our genders.

I have spoken to a number of men and women about this topic of packing for a trip and the answers have been running consistently along gender lines.

The Question is: How and what do you pack for a week-long trip?

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I Am Not The Pope

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY INTERRUPTIONS!

This morning I slid into my usual writing/coffee slurping position at a little ahead of the Big Hand telling me it was 6 AM and before I could take a sip the parade of characters began.

The usual early morning collection of non-entities was not meeting today. Some were out of town. Some were out of their minds and some were out on a limb somewhere. The leftovers decided to come and visit with me “for just a minute or two.” An hour later I have been made privy to their life story and their plans for the weekend.

I don’t care.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “What Drives A Person To Do That?”

 

What Drives A Person To Do That?

A1I HAVE MADE A NEW FRIEND HERE IN TERRE HAUTE, (That’s French for, “Is he housebroken?”). He comes into St. Arbucks almost every morning on his way to work. He is also there whenever I drive past the place. I think he has a cot in the back room and that he actually lives there.

When he says that he is on his way to work and drives off I wonder… what does he really do? He is wearing a uniform that has, in bold letters across the back, “Animal Control.”

I think he is The Dog Catcher.

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When I go to St. Arbucks and he is there reading I sometimes go over to chat with him. We talk about what he is reading – mostly nonfiction, 20th century history – never anything about dogs.

Lately I started asking him about the bat infestation of a local school and what was being done. To me he pleads complete ignorance about it all.

“Not my area of responsibility,” he says. He must be a Specialist. I didn’t know that one could be a Specialist in the Animal Control field. I guess he knows dogs, but bats? Not so much.

Of course, his claims of non-involvement fall on deaf ears when it comes to me. Every day for the last two weeks I have been asking him for “Bat Bulletins,” and he keeps telling me, “Not my area of responsibility.”

I know that I shouldn’t keep after him like that, but – he’s the Dog Catcher – one of the most hated job titles in Post-Renaissance Earth. The Dog Catcher is reviled only slightly less than A7Human Organ Thieves, Schoolyard Drug Dealers, or Members of Congress. You never hear of a kid aspiring to grow up and become the Dog Catcher. Most parents would rather have little Johnnie or Susie announce that they want to become Cannibals or Circus Geeks.

I would never say anything to him about the stigma that goes with being in “Animal Control.” He seems to be a nice guy and I’m sure he’s had to deal with a hostile society. Plus, I don’t want him to key my car in frustration if he can’t find that missing Rottweiler he’s been chasing.

A year or so ago the two dogs who live next door took off for a little doggy “stay-cation” around town. I asked my friend what he would have done to apprehend them.

“Nothing, unless someone complains.”A3

He has got a sweet deal going.

His shirt says “Animal Control” instead of “Dog Catcher.” A wise choice. “Animal Control” is not so obvious a target. It sounds so benign, so soft and cuddly, like the bartender on Noah’s Ark.

I have no idea what he did before the Animal Control phase of his life. Being the Dog Catcher (by any name) is not a career. One doesn’t go to college to become the Dog Catcher.

“Yes, I went to Indiana State University where I majored in Dog Catching, with a minor in Squirrels.”

 Whatever he did before he must have truly hated it. What job is so bad that you would leave it to become the Dog Catcher? Selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door to the Suicidal? Bulletproof Vest Tester? Blogger?

I’m sure that I’ll see him again tomorrow. I’ll have to ask him how they are doing with the bat problem at the school.

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I’ll Eat It, I Just Don’t Know What It Is.

 

IF YOU’VE DONE ANY TRAVELING IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS I’m sure that you have encountered something redundantly called the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

At more and more hotels the Free Breakfast has become almost unavoidable. The big chains, such as Holiday Inn, Marriott, and a dozen others trot out the hot trays every morning to feed their guests between 6 to 9 AM. During those hours you can see the early risers slumped over their plates of eggs, sausage, and potatoes.

While I admit to being among that crowd on most mornings I am doing so for mainly medicinal purposes. Every morning I have my own buffet of medications that I take to stay alive and I am obligated to have something in my tummy to buffer the explosion when the pills kick in. So, I head down to the hotel lobby and the “Complimentary Free Breakfast.”

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Let’s Take Another Look At That

OH, I GET IT! You’re doing your Stevie Wonder impression. No? What happened? Tell me…if it doesn’t involve the Police.

Thus began my morning last Monday as I walked into the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

“Oh, you broke your glasses? That’s why you are wearing sunglasses at 6 AM.”

At least it wasn’t me who had the broken glasses.

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Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

Throwback Thursday From September 2016 – “I Spy Something”

 

I Spy Something…

watching-bush-babyDESPITE THE UPSETS AND WOES OF EVERYDAY LIFE there is one thing that can still be enjoyed no matter where or when you find yourself: People Watching.

Unless you are in the middle of nowhere or alone on a deserted island it is likely that there are people about – and they are free for the watching. Of course, if you don’t do it properly and be discreet, it can get costly in black eyes and those pesky restraining orders.

watching

People Watching can be done almost anywhere. I say “almost,” because there are those places where folks expect to be, and want to be, unobserved. Violating that expectation is often called “Invasion of Privacy,” or “Stalking.” You don’t want that tag following you around.

The beauty of People Watching is that there is an unlimited variety of subjects walking past. On most days it is like watching the better dressed escapees from some Monkey Island. I say that making no pretense of being the best dressed guy in town – on most days I’m dressed like the insides of a Honolulu Goodwill Box.

Just this morning, sitting in my pew at St. Arbucks, I have seen a bunch of High School students stopping off to get a serious sugar high before heading off to class. The boys all tried to look somewhat tough and mildly rebellious. The girls? Well – I saw 17 versions of Marcia Brady (I guess that ironing one’s long hair is back in fashion.) and a few Joan Jett wannabees. Maybe they’ll be able to draft a few of the boys into being their “Blackhearts.”

Don’cha just love Rock ‘n Roll?

Being the first day of school I can understand all of the extra effort to look their best – or at least their best according to their chosen image and budget. Within a week or so the 1470489173223importance of “The Look” will dissipate and the reality of having to get up early to catch the school bus will set in. After a few days standing on the corner waiting for the bus and they will all start looking like their laundry hamper.

People Watching is a two-way street and I know that. I look at them. They look at me. It’s only fair, I suppose – but I have a “Look” that lasts past Opening Day. In Summer I wear Hawaiian shirts (even to church) and the rest of the year I am in sweatshirts.

Either choice is always accented by a San Francisco Giants baseball cap. On occasion I change hats, just to keep things fresh. My alternate might be a cap from a Minor League team, or from the Trinity College of Dublin – a reminder of our Ireland trips.

stalking

NOT People Watching!

My alternate cap that gets the most commentary is my “Thinking Cap” cap. On days I wear that I can count on having at least 2 or 3 people coming up to me wanting to know where I bought it. Truthfully, I don’t know where it came from. It was a gift from Dawn, so it could be from anywhere this side of Neptune. She has her sources.

So, I heartily recommend People Watching as a pastime. It is fun, inexpensive (barring the need for legal defense), no equipment is needed, and a great way to troll for characters if you are a writer. You don’t thing Stephen King comes up with the people in his novels by sitting alone in a room staring at the wall, do you?

Go out, find a seat somewhere, and park your carcass down. Look around and enjoy what will, inevitably, pass by. There will be a parade of humanity to enjoy as it saunters by.

Refreshments are optional.

watching drinking-starbucks

I Try To Be Fair

NOW…I’M NOT A FUSSY PERSON who lets every little thing get under my skin and bother me… (Pregnant Pause)…OK, that’s not true. I am a fussy person and I do get all worked up by the little things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about. Truthfully, I’m still growling about not getting to see the “Tall Ships” that toured the Great Lakes during the Bicentennial Celebrations. That was in 1976 and I’m still miffed.

I try to keep that under cover and under control because no one wants to see me grumbling and muttering about something the world regards as trivial, but that I hold to be the key to the survival of Western Civilization.

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You Can’t Get There From Here

THIS MORNING I FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED in the middle of a conversation that went from confusing all the way to positively incoherent.

The morning started out quietly which is all I ask for until I have evidence of a stable heartbeat and access to coffee.

I got to my usual spot in the corner at the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) and began my climb to bipedal humanoid status. There was only one lone member of The Usual Suspects present. He was there when I arrived, so I assumed that he had slept there overnight. He was a half step ahead of me toward the ability to speak in a recognizable language.

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Did You Watch The Game Last Night?

 

THERE ARE SOME MORNINGS when I really don’t mind that there is no one around to talk with over coffee. The quiet helps me to sneak up on the day without having to think or be “Sociable.” I don’t know if I would like every day to be like that. I don’t think that I would make a good Hermit.

Most mornings when I go out for coffee there is a constant flow, sometimes a deluge, of people who want to talk to me. Some of them are like me at that time and can do little more than grunt. The two of us grunting back and forth must confuse and disturb those people seated nearby.

Others who try to engage me have long orations of opinion that they feel the need to drop on me. I try to ignore them. They don’t notice my lack of focus. They are busy listening to themselves. When they stop to take a breath is when I leap into the breach. I speak up and change the subject on them. I switch it to something, anything, more benign. If their rant is about politics I will start talking about baseball or the need for remedial driver training classes. That early in my day I really don’t care about either subject. I’m just trying to shut them up.

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It Almost Brings Me To Tears

 

WHO SAID THAT TERRE HAUTE (THAT’S FRENCH FOR, “THERE’S ROOM FOR DANCING!”) is just another small town? Well…actually it was me once or twice. Truthfully, compared to some other places where I have hung my hat, it is rather small – about 60,000 humans and 12 million raccoons and squirrels.

It may be a “small” town, but it is crawling into the higher ranks one stumbling step at a time.

The latest positive move that is elevating this Metropolis on the Wabash (Not counting the resumption of lethal injections at the Federal Prison Death Row) is the grand opening of Starbucks Store #5. Five Chapels of St. Arbucks in a town of 60,000 people ain’t bad. That comes to one store for every twelve thousand bipedal Hautians. That is pretty good…except when all 12 thousand show up at the same time when I’m trying to find a parking space.

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