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 – 2020

Archive for the tag “Coffee”

Circling The Wagons

One of the things that I used to write about rather frequently in this blog (Pre-Virus) was my early morning Playgroup at St. Arbucks, AKA – “The Usual Suspects.” It was my wife, the lovely and always welcome, Dawn, who named this gathering of Geezers as my Playgroup. I came up with “the “Usual Suspects.” I think her choice is more accurate.

We are a bunch of mainly retired gentlemen who get together to get out of the house and give our wives some peace. Our ages range from early 60s up to the mid 80s. Some of us were teachers while others were Chiropractors, Store Owners, and Whatever I was. We have one fellow who is still working. The rest of us look down on him. We had one female member of our group, but she wised up and moved out of state.

Almost everyday of the week we meet over coffee to discuss just about any topic except politics. We have that restriction as a health measure to avoid heart attacks and assault and battery issues. If one of the crew does start to bring up something political I will loudly interrupt with, “How about them Cubbies?” just to change the subject.

During this time of restricted social gatherings and face masks our normal meetings inside the nearby Starbucks were seriously disrupted. An alternate solution was called for.

Fortunately our Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) is located adjacent to the parking lot of a Strip Mall that can accommodate several hundred parked cars. Each morning we would get our coffee via the Drive-Thru Lane and then move over to the larger parking lot.  We circled our wagons (SUVs and Sedans), pulled some lawn chairs from the trunk, and carried on without missing a beat. On most mornings we had a circle of 5 to 7 vehicles. The only problems that ever arose with this arrangement were the occasional rain and swarms of gnats that found us much too attractive. 

Actually there was one other problem that plagued our Parking Lot Playgroup. One of our noble Geezers had a real hearing problem and maintaining a good Social Distance caused a lot of shouting of “WHAT?” It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had remembered to put in his hearing aids. His hearing was bad, but so was his memory. Too many mornings he would leave his hearing aids at home on the kitchen table so everyone ended up shouting at him over their coffee. 

A couple of weeks ago our prayers to Juan Valdez were answered and we were blessed when the Starbucks reopened the doors to their cafe. So far the weather has been pleasant and we have been meeting on their outdoor seating area. The lawn chairs are back in the trunk and the gnats haven’t found us. As far as I’m concerned this arrangement has an even better positive aspect: By ditching the Drive-Thru lane and ordering inside I am getting my iced coffee free refill once again. That’s all that is really important.

Life as we know it on this planet will continue.

Something Is Brewing

 

Oh, Man! Am I getting tired of this – or what? It’s not the omnipresent virus and all of the foofuraw surrounding it that I’m talking about here. I’ve already done too much of that. There is nothing new for me to say about it or for you to read about.

No.

What I’m talking about is COFFEE.

You know- that golden nectar that every day brings millions of people back to life? That liquid DNA that transforms us from mere meat with shoes on into a planet filled with creative men and women – some of whom know the difference between coffee and …anything else you might pour down your throat in the morning.

I started drinking coffee when I was in high school. I wanted to look “grown up” and coffee seemed to be my best way to look older and more worldly. Of course I put enough sugar in my grownup looking coffee cup to trigger a Diabetic Episode and three cavities, but I looked “Mature.”

All through college, a long and tortuous journey, I stayed with coffee. By that time I was hooked on the need for the caffeine but the mass amount of sugar faded until it was gone the way of bicycle training wheels and that ridiculously futile crush on Jayne Mansfield.

The sugar was gone which left me with a cup filled with black coffee. I didn’t like black coffee and I still don’t. I don’t hate it. I’ll drink it in a pinch or an emergency. For instance, if some alien species from another world landed here on earth and fell in love with our bovines and cownapped them all back to their home galaxy there would be a crisis in a cup. If that happens I will be forced to drink my coffee black. And don’t even talk to me about “Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers.” Paint belongs on the walls not in my mug.

As time passed my coffee needs did not really change, except perhaps in the quantity consumed, but Coffee Technology was in the fast lane. I went from a metal percolator to the first generation of Mr. Coffee drip brewers, Italian espresso in those tiny cups that were never enough. There was a brief romance with a French Press (It never would have lasted there was just too much pressure.). Then came the explosion known as Starbucks. They were everywhere. Where I lived in the city of San Francisco there were five Starbucks within walking distance for me…and if you know me at all you know that “walking distance” for me is “Drunken stupor crawling on all fours” for most other people.

I liked Starbucks coffee from the beginning. They brew it strong and I like my coffee to be able to fight back if it ever finds itself being poured in a dark alley. I have been a loyal slurper in Starbucks all over the country and even overseas. I have no complaints. But now a pretender to the Throne of the Golden Bean is in my kitchen.

Keurig!

I was first introduced to these devilish little machines a couple of years ago. It was Love at First Sip. Here was something that would let me brew myself a cup of coffee – toss it down my pie hole – and then, almost immediately make another, but a totally different flavor. I could do that all afternoon. And Morning. And Evening.

In deciding to write about this I knew that some people might disagree with me and my thoughts. Well, frankly, I’m not bothered by that. I might offer to share a cup with them and if they don’t see the error of their ways, may they spend the rest of their life drinking Airline coffee. I’m an easy going guy…at least until my tenth cup of the day kicks in.

 

 

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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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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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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I’m Putting My Foot Down!

 

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE! This is just getting out of hand! I’m putting my foot down! Both of them even…otherwise I might fall over and doing that in public makes it hard for me to be taken seriously.

Grrrrr.

What has me worked up into such a lather? It is The Usual Suspects.

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Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking”

Throwback Thursday 3

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

200…Maybe More

 

I HAVE REALIZED, FINALLY, AT MY ADVANCED AGE that the basis for all life on this planet is not carbon or water or even chocolate. It is coffee. Everything else is window dressing.

I’m sure that the entire universe is put together that way. Not necessarily with coffee as the base, but with the structure of everything resting precariously on a base made of something simple and barely noticeable – until it disappears.

When the Scientists on this planet began to figure out the basic structure of everything they came up with a short list of Electrons, Protons, and Neutrons. As time moved on they started adding things to that short stack of atomic particles. Neutrinos, Quarks, Photons, Bosons, Mesons and Masons…OK that last one isn’t true. I just stuck it in there to see who was paying attention.

So far they have identified over 200 subatomic particles. I think that means that everything – you, me, that raccoon living under your porch – everything is composed of more than 200 different tiny bits stacked up. We are all pieces in a giant game of Jenga. Pull out just one piece and it can all collapse into a pile of junk mail.

The two hundred itty-bitty particles making up your milkshake are the same bits making up that boy or girl you were making time with in high school. Your first car and McDonald’s Special Sauce are the same stuff…except for maybe that secret dye that Mickey D’s uses to make those green milkshakes on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t know what that stuff is. No one does. Even Albert Einstein would have shaken his head and muttered “Verdammt, wenn ich es verstehe.”

Well, there you are. That’s pretty much the extent of my take on the composition of the universe. I’m not comparing myself to Albert Einstein, but even he knew when it was time to just shrug his shoulders and toss in the 200 plus particles that made up his towel.

As far as earth is concerned I am sticking with my Coffee Theory. I will not delve further into it because I don’t have the Education, Time, or even the Interest to go looking for the Cosmic Glue Stick that holds everything together.

I’m going to go get a refill on my coffee and maybe pick up a bagel – 2 major particles…3 if I get cream cheese.

The Last Straw

A BROKEN STRAW –A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE.

Even though I am more or less retired I still find Monday to be a toxic spot on my calendar. This past Monday morning was no exception.

For some unknown reason I woke up at about 4:30 AM and could not get back to sleep. So I grabbed a pair of sox and started from there to get dressed and go get some coffee. All I can figure is that I must have either nodded off or I was kidnapped by Space Aliens and returned to my bed 90 minutes later. I felt no evidence of “probing.”All of the proverbial sudden it was 6 AM and I had one sock dangling from my right foot.

I finished dressing and completed my morning obligations (Making a pot of tea and gathering my morning meds) and steering the Toyota down the street to St. Arbucks. I was on the verge of Psychic Collapse.

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The Latest Joy Killers

 

THE LATEST ATTACK UPON HAPPINESS AND JOY IS UPON US. Two “Food Scientists” as they call themselves, (Actually two Dweebs from Seattle) have announced to the world that they have created a “Beanless Coffee” that tastes, they say, “…the way coffee should taste.” In other words these two morons have reinvented “Postum.” (Look it up)

          An article from NPR comes close to orgasm lauding this bit of nonsense.

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Searching For The Saint

ON THE MORNING OF THE THIRD DAY – in Adrian, Michigan a small open window of opportunity presented itself. From about 9:30 until Noon I was free to pursue my main personal goal for this trip. I was determined to get myself a decent cup of coffee…and maybe do a little writing on a story I’ve been wrestling with for a month. From 9:30 until Noon, two and a half hours, 150 minutes. Not much time, but better than a kick in the chronograph.

How was I going to achieve this lofty goal?

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Frankly, My Dear…

THAT SOUND YOU HEAR ECHOING ACROSS THE MAP IS MY BRAIN EXPLODING. It takes a lot to detonate my brain. The last time it happened was when someone told me that Pauley Shore was still making movies…or was it Ben Stiller… or was it Adam Sandler? I get them all mixed up. They are all…Oh, I don’t want to think about it.

What caused my brain to go Karakatoa on me this morning was the continued renovation of the center of my world aka St. Arbucks. The midnight raiders from the Seattle headquarters were in again last night and I consider their activity as Vandalism.

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Who Is That I See?

OH, MY GOD! WILL THIS NEVER END?

Every night they sneak in after closing and put new…new…new stuff in place. The Elves from the Great Northwest tippy-toe in and while we are sleeping in our Snuggies they install a collection of items like this large picture of a jungle scene. It is reminiscent of an apartment I had once which also had a variety of wildlife. Personally, it’s not my taste in artwork. I’ve never been a fan of Finger Painting.

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There May Be More To This

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…

The rumor is that tomorrow the nabobs in Seattle will be shipping in a truckload of individual trampolines to help people get out of the congestion during busy times at St. Arbucks.

Either that or they might install those little metal spikes that you see on buildings to keep pigeons from roosting.

Coo…Coo.

I trundled into the Chapel of St. Arbucks this morning and I could tell that the little elves from Washington State had been in overnight and they were busy. Gone was the row of chairs along the front of the store and in their place was a long bench unit. The seat was technically padded, but the padding was more “suggested” than real. Just think of your favorite Hollywood Starlet – looking soft and comfortable, but you know that it’s not real but “enhanced.”

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Change Things To Be The Same

OH, NO! IT HAS STARTED!

The prophesied remodeling of the St. Arbucks Chapel has begun. I pulled the Toyota into my favorite gimp spot and through the window I could see…nothing. Something was drastically wrong. All of the Art was gone from the walls. The furniture I had come to know and tolerate was gone – replaced with what looked like leftovers from a combination nursery school/maximum security prison. The comfortable easy chairs that nurtured the butts of the early morning geezers are gone! In their place are two low slung chairs that look like they came from the waiting room of a Psychiatrist who only treated midgets.

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I’d Like Another Cup

HOLY COFFEE GROUNDS, BATMAN! Krafty has leapt willy-nilly into the 21st century. He has moved out of the cave and into the castle. No more plastic cup and a five year old jar of Sanka!

This past weekend we purchased one of those Keurig coffee makers. We now have a Mr. Coffee that makes nothing but tea for Dawn and the new Keurig Mini-whatever gizmo to make coffee for me. (We have a mixed marriage). My wife, the lovely and moderately caffeinated, Dawn, does not drink coffee (And yet she lives and thrives). I will drink tea, but I prefer coffee as my drug of choice. So…the only viable solution (other than getting me my very own Starbucks franchise) was to buy me the Keurig Gizmo.

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Mangia, Y’all

 

IT WAS A FESTIVE OCCASION LAST NIGHT. We all decided to venture out and try the “new restaurant in town, that Italian place.” In this small town in South Texas a new restaurant opening up is a major event. Make that new restaurant something other than BBQ or Mexican cuisine and it is time to stop the presses!

This town where we are visiting family has a population of about five thousand souls, seven bail bond storefronts, and three donut shops. And now it has an Italian restaurant.

When we arrived the Greeter/Headwaitress asked if we had reservations. The answer was “Yes,” but under my breath I mumbled, “Yes, but we came anyway.” Sometimes I can’t help myself.

The place was crowded. Something new draws attention.

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