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 tag “St. Arbucks”

Do Raccoons Wear Diapers?

ONE OF MY FAVORITE, AND I ADMIT DANGEROUS, HABITS IS EAVESDROPPING. I prefer to call it “Active Listening.” A number of other people call it “Snooping.” I think that sounds a mite nefarious and it makes me appear like an auditory Peeping Tom.

When I say that I eavesdrop I must assure you that 99% of it is passive. I sit there and the words come to me. I don’t have microphones and I don’t lean over or move close to others to pick up what is being said. My ears work – what can I say?

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Do Not Do “The Freddie”

 

IS IT ME OR…IS IT THEM???

I admit that either possibility is, at minimum, plausible.

They (The ubiquitous “They”) say that Time is a fluid thing and that the very concept of Time Travel is no longer the property of Science Fiction writers. OK, I can accept that, but I just don’t expect it to happen while I’m quietly trying to have a cup of coffee.

Twice in the last month while I was concentrating on getting my plastic straw through the lid on my iced coffee my world was intruded upon by the 1950s and then the 1960s. I’ve been through those decades before so I recognized them immediately.

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I Don’t Claim To Be An Expert

 

YOU SEE SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY. AT LEAST I DO. It may be something that millions of other people see each and every day, but it’s new to me. It is kind of like the first person who was hungry enough to eat a clam. They looked at that clam, heard their stomach growl, and decided that for the first time in human history that a clam could be food. OK, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but it is close enough for my purposes.

Last week I was, where else, slurping up my morning coffee at St. Arbucks when I saw something I had never seen before. I found it appropriate that it took place in the religious environment of St. Arbucks.

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Is It Him? No.

TALK ABOUT PAINTING YOURSELF INTO A CORNER…Whew!

This morning (a few days before Valentine’s Day) I was stumbling into St. Arbucks for a transfusion with a little Half-n-Half when I saw a poster advertising a weekend concert. Whoever put it up was careless and posted it sideways on the bulletin board. The concert featured a singer doing a Frank Sinatra Tribute Show.

That singer is a performer whose Show Business career is firmly rooted in “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”

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Eat Quickly, We’re Closing.

 

THEY COME, THEY GO…THEY COME AGAIN. Restaurants that is. I can’t think of any venture tougher than the restaurant business. I read somewhere that 50% of all restaurants go belly up within their first year.

I’m not surprised.

What brings this whole thing to mind is that about six months ago a new eatery opened up near us and, based on good reports from some friends, we were planning to drop by this weekend for lunch. I found out this morning that it had been sold and that there was a “Coming Soon!” sign in the window. Dang! We are just going to have to eat quicker.

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The Captain

 

IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE I HAVE GONE TO MY OFFICE (St. Arbucks) in mid-afternoon. I’m usually there before sunrise and back home a little after 8 AM. The other day was a little different.

Despite the cold weather some grocery shopping had to be done. I volunteered and after picking up the basic building blocks of modern life (Dr. Pepper and bagels) I dropped into the Chapel of St. Arbucks – the Patron Saint of Jittery People, to say a little prayer and have a cuppa.

In the afternoon it is an entirely different population slumped over the tables. There are a number of students from Indiana State University and a few stragglers from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The kids from Rose-Hulman will end up ruling the world. The ISU kids will be asking them if they want cheese on their burgers.

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Toe The Line

I AM SO GLAD THAT I AM MARRIED. I don’t think I would fare well in the Dating Game today. I find it a bit scary. No…I find it a lot scary.

This morning I was in line trying to get my opening blast of coffee at the Chapel of St. Arbucks. If I had been a little quicker I would have been at the head of the line but my old and out of warranty legs didn’t carry me fast enough and I was stuck behind a young woman who was ordering something for everyone in the Western Hemisphere. I wish I’d brought a snack. Because the young lady was ordering everything on the menu I had a lot of time to coyly observe.

The woman in front of me was about an inch or two taller than me. She had long blonde hair that framed a very nice friendly face. She was dressed casually, but neat. She had her look together.

That was about it – until she dropped her credit card. When she stooped over to pick it up off the floor a whole new world opened up in front of me.

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I Was Getting Desperate

A FEW DAYS AGO I BECAME CONVINCED THAT THE WORLD WAS OUT TO DRIVE ME INSANE. To start off with I am not yet in the groove with the time change thing that drove my internal alarm clock into therapy.

It was a little after 6 AM (Or was it 7AM?). I was crawling through the door at the Chapel of St. Arbucks (Patron Saint of Jittery People) in search of coffee when I heard an approaching siren that quickly turned into a full blown hook and ladder fire truck. It careened around the corner and came to a halt in front of a Pancake House across the street. At least it wasn’t the Chapel; I would have been forced to wait among the flames for my coffee.

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Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”

What Am I Looking At?

eyechartSOME DAYS YOU HAVE TO GO OUT HUNTING for something to write about. Some other days it walks up and sits down in front of you. Today was one of the latter.

Let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for and hold in high esteem the members of our Armed Forces, both present and past.

But this morning I witnessed something that just flat out bothered me.

I was finishing up my coffee down at St. Arbucks, chatting with a couple of the Usual Suspects when I noticed a tall fellow in Army garb crossing the parking lot. Trailing him by a few steps was a rather scruffy looking young man, arms dangling by his sides and his eyes cast downward.

I said out loud, “Here comes the Sergeant with a new recruit in tow.” I was joking, I didn’t even know if they were together, but – they were.

When they came through the door the Army guy led the younger man to a table near us, sat him down, and handed him a small bundle of papers and a pen.

“Here, fill these out. What are you drinking?”

I watched the young man look over the papers then take out a pair of glasses. When he put them on I could see that they were what we used to call, “Coke Bottle Glasses,” thick, heavy lenses in black frames.

Even with the glasses on he still had to bend over the papers until his nose almost brushed on the table. This did not bode well for his time on the firing range.

The kid (Anybody under forty is a kid to me) worked diligently filling in the blanks. His tongue stuck out periodically to help with the tough parts.

After a couple of very long minutes The Recruiter came back to the table carrying one short cup of hot coffee and one huge Frappuccino topped with whipped cream. As he passed by our corner he glanced at us and smiled. His smile spoke volumes. It said –

“Yes, this just what you think it is and I know that you know.”

He set the whipped cream drink in front of the young man, still busy with the paperwork. Then The Recruiter sat back and began to text away on his phone, smiling all the while.

I turned to my Partner Suspect and said, “This sucks. Would you want to be in a foxhole with that kid? He can’t see worth a darn.”

“Nope. Yup.”

When the new and unshaven Guardian of Freedom reached page three he paused. He lifted his head from the table and located the man sitting across the table from him.

“What does this mean?”

Not to let anything foul up his “Catch of the Day,” The Recruiter got up and, looking over the kid’s shoulder, took the pen and said, “Here, let me help you with that.”

Not surprisingly, the rest of the paperwork went quite quickly.

It took no more than two minutes for every blank to be filled in and every dotted line signed and dated before the two of them were heading out the door. The kid clutched his Frappuccino, but the small hot coffee sat where it was from the start. He had never touched it. It was strictly a prop.

I can’t see how this kid could ever pass the Army induction physical with eyesight like his. I doubt that he could read the big E on the top line of the eye chart.

I understand that the recruiters have quotas to fill, but really now – taking this kid into the Army isn’t doing anybody a favor – except Starbucks, if he keeps bringing his enlistees in to fill out the papers and slurp up the whipped cream.

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “One Man’s Trash”

Throwback Thursday from October 2015 –

One Man’s Trash…

THE SUN IS SHINING, BUT THINGS HAVE CHANGED. There is a chill in the air that is here to stay until springtime. This seems to happen every year about this time. Where do I go to lodge a formal complaint?

I know that complaining doesn’t do any good. It is what it is. There is also that AA prayer about changing things you can and not changing the things you can’t ending with, “…and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That is the tricky part.

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Run That Past Me Again

I DON’T MIND IT WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME QUESTIONS. I don’t even mind tough questions – not at all. But what constitutes a tough question often depends on the time of day.

You can ask me for the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything after lunch and I can give you the answer (42). However, if you ask me that before my first coffee of the day and I’d be stumped. Actually, almost any question before coffee is likely to be answered with nothing more than a grunt.

This morning that is what happened to me.

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Another Cup? Don’t Mind If I Do.

 

SADDLE UP! GET READY TO RIDE! They are opening up another St. Arbucks here in our little town!

I’ve been hearing the scuttlebutt for some time now, but this morning I got confirmation straight from the horse’s mouth. My pony was the Manager of my usual St. Arbucks Chapel/Roastery.

This new Chapel of the Roasted Bean will be Number 4.5 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Pass the Half ‘n Half.”). The “.5” is a coffee counter in the Student Union building on the campus of the Indiana State University. That doesn’t really warrant a full status in my view.

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She Hates Bats

 

IT’S STILL DARK. IT’S RAINING CALICOS AND SCHNAUZERS. When I walked through the door at St. Arbucks I am greeted by the Barista with, “I hate bats.”

There was not much I could say to that except, “And I hate Komodo Dragons. Now, can I get some coffee?”

As I stood there politely paying for my coffee I was presented with a non-stop confession of everything that was making the Barista unhappy. I was waiting to see if I had made her list. I didn’t.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “Our Lady Of The Crosswalk”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Our Lady Of The Crosswalk

I THINK I SAW EVIDENCE OF A MIRACLE THIS MORNING.

I was driving down Wabash Avenue, heading toward home after morning services/brewing at St. Arbucks, when I stopped at the red light. It was then that I saw it.

Across the intersection at the crosswalk, leaning up against the light pole, I saw a single aluminum crutch. “Shades of Fatima,” I said to myself. “Right here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What the heck is that?”).

Nobody would absentmindedly forget that they were using a crutch and just walk away and leave it there. Nobody would think that they didn’t need the crutch and just abandon it at the corner. It has to be a relic of a recent miraculous event.

Picture if you will – an injured, ill, or otherwise disabled soul galumphing down Wabash Avenue using their new aluminum crutch for support. What was it that happened at the corner of Wabash and Brown? There were no reports of miraculous visions, cosmic phenomena or angelic choruses in the area. Whatever happened must have been extremely private.

Our Hobbler got to the corner and had to wait for the green light when something happened that caused him/her to become restored to full bipedal status. Was it a vision, an apparition that delivered a cure or merely a warming glow that entered and told him/her that it was time to ditch the crutch? 

How in the heck would I know?

I saw the crutch leaning up against that pole and I knew that it couldn’t be accidental – no matter how much you’ve been drinking. In fact, the more you would drink the more you would rely upon the crutch to get you home. And besides – I didn’t see any drunken bodies lying there on the sidewalk.

Ergo: It has to be a miracle.

OK – I admit that another possible explanation or two exist but, really… does anyone think that the crutch may have been placed there as a gag? Or was the crutch thrown there from a passing car? If that had happened, the fact that it landed upright, neatly leaning on the pole, would be yet another miracle.

No – the only logical answer is that Divine Intervention took place at the corner of Wabash and Brown today – and the beneficiary of that intervention is toddling around town and doing just fine, thank you.

Miracles like this don’t happen every day, especially at the corner of Wabash and Brown.  If such miracles did happen every day more people would notice and there would be crutches leaning up at almost every intersection.

Of course, what the future holds for that intersection remains to be seen. Who knows if there will be more miraculous events there and that a devout following will turn it into a place of pilgrimages? If that happens the Mobil station at the opposite corner will see their mini-mart business really take off – Soft drinks, snacks and little plastic crutches made in Korea. It could turn into another Fatima or even a Super Target.

This isn’t like those people that see the face of Jesus on their taco or grilled cheese sandwich. This is a real, tangible aluminum crutch standing up at the corner. Those things don’t just walk there all by themselves. Somebody in need had to have gotten that far and then said, “Oh, I suddenly feel better. Aw, screw it. I don’t need no stinking crutch. I’m outta here.” Not poetic or very liturgical, but what do you expect at a busy intersection?

Today – one person leaving a single aluminum crutch.

Tomorrow – a shrine to Our Lady of the Crosswalk.

It could happen.

 

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do”

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 

A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

Saint ArbucksTHIS MORNING WAS DIFFICULT.

I got up at my usual time – 7 AM-ish and got my act together so I could leave the house without either scaring the neighbors or getting my butt arrested. Up to that point the morning was going along uneventfully.

My wife, the lovely and early rising today, Dawn, was already up and more or less “at ‘em.” She had an 8:30 appointment and set the alarm for some ungodly hour to ensure that she would not be late. I applaud her for that.

It was at this point that things began to go downhill like a Chevy with a faulty parking brake in San Francisco. I had my own appointment to see my Doctor at 11:20 AM.

11:20? 11:bleeping 20? What moron scheduled an appointment for that late in the day? Oh. Never mind. My bad.

The main reason I see this Doctor at all is because I have “Blood Pressure Issues.” That means that, untreated, my blood pressure tends to creep up to rival that of a charging Cape Buffalo. After that my head would explode, I would spontaneously combust and I would hit the ground like an overcooked baked potato.

By scheduling an appointment for that late in the morning it meant one very significant and overriding thing: I wouldn’t be able to have my morning coffee until after the appointment.

Dear God! Whatever will I do? Wherever will I go?

If I go ahead and drop by St. Arbucks for my morning coffee my blood pressure will spike like Vlad The Impaler on a bad day. I had doomed myself to a morning without my coffee. Sheesh!

My solution to this self-inflicted wound was to nurse along a cup of Decaf and hope that it wouldn’t rat on me when they wrapped that cuff on my arm.

I know what you are thinking –“Decaf?” That is just like kissing your sister. It is technically a kiss, but it’s not the same. It’s not like the Real Thing.

So, bowing my head in shame, I ordered the coffee that isn’t coffee and I skulked to my chair in the corner. The barista got a bit teary, The Usual Suspects – The Brotherhood of the Cup, stared and whispered to each other. Even the flies moved to the far side of the store, ashamed to be seen near me.

I sat there waiting for it to be time to leave. I sipped at the dark liquid, wondering what do they do to make it taste like that – and why, for Heaven’s sake. Why?

Deep in my heart I knew that I had a good reason for doing what I was doing. It was my health, my very life, which was in the balance. With my meds I had the blood pressure of an adult human male of my age. Without my meds no one within splatter range was safe. I was like a human paint ball. I didn’t want to mislead the Doctor with a BP reading that would be artificially goosed up by my cup of real coffee.

Some days you just have to take one for the team. Some days you have to lean in to the fastball.  If I had to pretend that the stuff in my cup was really coffee I would do it. I would hope that the stress of making this sacrifice would not, in itself, raise my blood pressure, but I would do it.

I had to think of my family, man!

I want them to be proud of me. I want them to see me happy. I want them to see me above ground.

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 – “If You Don’t Hear From Me – It’s The Moles”

 

Throwback Thursday from August 2015 

If You Don’t Hear From Me – It’s The Moles

20150729_114750IT HAS BEEN A QUIET MORNING.

After stumbling through the process of making tea and doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper I felt that I was sufficiently conscious to drive to St. Arbucks.

“Oh, great nectar from the mountains of Abyssinia, you awaken my mind and soul to all the wonders and possibilities of God’s creation.” 

— From the Gospel of St. Arbucks, Patron Saint of Jittery people.

This afternoon, however, is a different story.

As I stepped out of the back door I was made immediately aware that things were happening – big time.

First of all my ears were assaulted by the cacophony of a million Cicadas nestled high in the treetops. There is no other sound quite like the half buzz, half whine of the ugliest insect around. I don’t know if these are the 5-year, 7-year or the 17-year Cicadas that seem to like this part of the country, but they are noisy. When they are going full blast it can make earplugs a nice accessory.

After regaining my equilibrium from the aural assault I headed to the car, but I stopped when I saw what is in the picture displayed above.

We had a bit of rain overnight and I think it inflated the mushroom that has been growing by the tree near the car. I have put a book into the picture to give you some idea of the size. It first popped up about three years ago and has somehow survived some truly bitter winters. Now it looks poised to take over the whole yard.

I’ve seen squirrels nibble at it and birds too, but I’d be afraid to sample it for fear that it might bite back. I have no idea what kind of mushroom it is other than Honking Big.

After snapping the picture of the Mega-Shroom I walked around to the driver’s side of the car and noticed yet another sign of activity.

We have either a collection of moles living in/under the backyard or the city is putting in a new subway tunnel, which would surprise the heck out of me because Terre Haute (That’s French for “Mama don’t ‘low no subways around here.”) doesn’t have a subway system. It barely has bus lines. I don’t think they’d want to dig too deep around here anyway – you never know who you might bring up.

It must be moles – lots of them. It looks like they’ve all been drinking too. None of the little raised piles of dirt go in a straight line for more than six inches.

Then again, maybe the moles haven’t been drinking. They might be disoriented from sampling that giant Magic Mushroom over by the tree.

Or maybe it’s those darn Cicadas. They make enough noise to drive me crazy – just imagine what they could do to the nervous system of a mole.

Wait a minute…

Did I just compare myself to a mole?

If someone else said that to me I would ask them to step outside, but under the circumstances I would find myself out there alone. Then what?

Besides, it’s too hot and muggy today, so I’ll just stay inside and give myself a stern talking to.

I will continue to monitor the activity in the backyard and report on any significant changes.

If you don’t hear from me – it’s the moles.

A “Green” Solution

 

THE SOUND OF CRASHING AND YELLING has taken over at the neighborhood Chapel of St. Arbucks. It must be Summer and the Annual Sport of Fly Swatting while having coffee.

The way the Chapel is constructed with doors on opposite sides of the store there is a constant flow of air and flies passing through. With a setup like that and an endless supply of retired geezers hanging out with nothing productive to do you have the perfect ambiance for “The Killing Machine.”

Give those geezers a copy of the local newspaper and the flies don’t have a chance. Just the other day our resident Pickle Ball Champion bagged 14 flies in less than fifteen minutes.  It was like watching the legendary 300 Greek Spartan Warriors slicing up those pesky Persians – without all the leather skirts, and in English.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

 

 

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

Cut to 2015 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Change the battery in your smoke alarm.”) and a conversation with one of the “Usual Suspects” during services at the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

The “Suspect” – a former resident of New York City and the son of an NYPD Detective and I were discussing the recent fire at a café across the street from St. Arbucks that destroyed the place within 24 hours of their “Grand Opening.” He hinted that it looked a little suspicious and that maybe “Randall the Candle” was in town.

Egads!

Further interrogation uncovered one of those “Art imitating Life” things. According to the Usual Suspect seated in the chair across from me – Randall the Candle was a real person, and an arsonist, and an off-the-books consultant for the NYPD about fires of a “suspicious nature.”

I do not find this to be at all beyond belief because every writer I know borrows from real life in every paragraph and a character called “Randall the Candle” is too good to pass up. If he didn’t exist you would have to create him.

Given the timeline of the TV show and the youthful remembrances of my cohort in coffee, I would guess that “Randall” is long gone to that Great Tinder Box in the Sky.” He isn’t still alive to file any lawsuits over using his colorful nickname. Even if he was around to make a play for some cash – any court action would almost certainly result in him admitting to a long career in crime and that would then open up a whole new set of fertilizer hitting the fan issues.

It seems that in real life, rather than “reel life,” Randall the Candle was a man who worked on both sides of the Law. For the right price he would light up your life and/or your warehouse in such a manner that your insurance company would have to pay off. He was a Capital P Professional.

But as active as he was, Randall wasn’t the only game in town and he did not like competition – especially “small p” professional arsonists who did sloppy work. It was sort of like a dishonest politician smearing the reputation of an honest —  wait, bad analogy there. There are no honest politicians. But you get my drift.

Randall the Candle would work with the police on cases of arson – helping them to identify how the job was done and often by whom. Arsonists, like most people, are creatures of habit and tend to repeat themselves – left sock, right sock, left shoe, right shoe, left incendiary device, right incendiary device.

In my own perverted literary way I am glad to learn that Randall the Candle actually existed. His whole story has a Damon Runyon-esque flavor to it. With a name like his, and a decent voice and sense of rhythm, he could easily have been a character in “Guys and Dolls.”

I can’t say that “they don’t make ‘em like Randall the Candle anymore.” I don’t know.   But I’ll bet you’d be hard pressed to find some jamoke with the moxie to play with the bacon and still run with his torch like Randall the Candle.

Last One In Is A Samsung

“THANK YOU FOR NOT MAKING ME FEEL LIKE A DUMMY.”

Those were the words that greeted me this morning when I went for my usual coffee transfusion.

One of the Usual Suspects spent ten minutes bemoaning the fact that the day before he had jumped into a swimming pool with his cellphone on his hip. Goodbye cellphone.

It is a sure thing that ten minutes in the pool will kill your cellphone. Putting it in a bag of rice won’t do anything except suggest what to have for lunch.

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Sailing On Lake Starbucks

 

WELL, I STARTED OFF TODAY IN FINE FORM. No sooner did I set my coffee down on my sacred corner table than I hit the straw and flipped the whole thing into the air and created Lake Starbucks on the floor.

What a dump.

I guess I’m off the Bomb Squad.

The Barista who had handled my transaction was quite pleasant, jovial even – not an easy trick at 6:30 AM. Her twinkling eyes and lilting voice disappeared when she was pushing that mop around trying to clean up my mess. So much for good customer relations. The look she shot in my direction when she finished mopping up my coffee could have melted plastic. I have a feeling that I am now on her “Spit in his coffee” list.

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