Coffee Spills

What I hear and see and think about at the coffee shops I patronize.
Brisk. Fresh. Well-balanced. Occasional nutty and bittersweet overtones.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Not many people at the coffee shop today and I had to hurry home early. I asked one of the regulars if he was making any resolutions for the new year. He said he wanted to take 2 fewer pills a day. He currently takes 18.


Friday, December 26, 2008

I didn't want to tell her

but he'll probably never marry her--not if "we've been together 4 or 5 years." Living together, especially for reasons of money, is never a foundation for a solid marriage. Christmas holidays with his or her families are especially awkward.

Interestingly enough, money is the reason she gave for not having a wedding. Wonder why if 4 years of saving $500/month isn't enough for a nice wedding. As I figure it, that could be a $15,000 wedding with a lot left over for a down payhment on a house. But if that's what she wants to believe. . .

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And then she started to weep

We chat from time to time, she's a smart cookie--high level position with lots of education. I've been hearing about her Christmas plans with "the girls" for several weeks. They are in their 20s. She was quite excited. This was going to be the bonding year. This morning's chat started out with sort of an amusing story, but as it went along I realized how deeply hurt she'd been. She's not the tough bird I'd taken her for, in fact, my heart aches for her. What's that old saying, when they're little they step on your toes and when they're grown they step on your heart. Ah, the holidays. The music. The cards. The gifts. The relationships.

One delightful change today was a mother and her son (perhaps 10?) playing violin duets, Christmas carols, at the coffee shop. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the music. Homeschooled.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Married 48 years

I don't recall how we got started on the topic of how long we'd been married--talking to people in the coffee shop is not unlike talking to people on the bus. Somehow, we discovered we'd both been married 48 years. For me it's the same guy. For her it is 24 and 24. The first husband, the father of her children, she divorced. . . not sure why. . .but that sounds like the mid-life stray--probably his. The second one, she told me, is not worth mentioning, but he's the father of her step-children, and everyone is getting together for Christmas so she had some shopping to do. Her dislike for the man was almost palpable. A real don't tell, don't ask sort of thing, I think. How sad. Sounds like they will go the distance together. Maybe she likes his kids.

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More ways NOT to communicate

This morning at the coffee shop a mother and pre-schooler sat in the cozy chairs by the fireplace. Many schools here were on a two-hour delay because of ice. Even I, the forever early riser, waited until almost 7 a.m. to leave the house. I smiled and they smiled. Nice family scene. Then I heard the unmistakable voice of Bugs Bunny above the classical music and noise from the bakery. I looked up. The little guy is watching a video on a hand held i-pod. He wasn't wearing the ear piece so the sound could be heard 10 ft. away at my table. Mom was staring off in the distance and periodically dozing. He was well behaved with his electronic babysitter, but wouldn't human interaction be important too? A hot chocolate, a roaring fire, things to observe and talk about to expand his horizons? At home he probably watches videos on TV, or plays games on the computer. Mom looked to be about 40-45--old enough to know there is a better life for children if you just turn off a few appliances.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The expensive cat

The woman sitting across from me by the fireplace at the coffee shop was sighing. Then she'd check her cell phone; then she'd sigh. Is there anything wrong I asked. My grandmother's dying she said. I'm sorry, were you close? No, she's 99.9 years old and we don't expect her to live the week; I'm expecting a call any moment.

She was from Cleveland, and in the course of our conversation I learned her cat was "being bad." That means, in case you don't know cat code words, he was peeing all over the place. She listed all the things they'd tried--first a check for kidney or bladder disease; changing the brand of litter; changing the food; isolating him. Finally, they'd hired a . . . pet behavorist (kitty shink). The shrink said the kitty didn't have enough stimulation, so her husband had taken out a second mortgage and bought kitty jungle gyms and stimulating toys. They had spent, over the course of trying to fix this, about $5,000. But they love their kitty. . . still. She's waiting to replace the carpeting until they get this under control. I don't know how big the house is, but I suppose that will be another $10,000.

Do you know the #1 cause of death of pets? Euthanasia. Brought on by inappropriate elimination and desperate pet owners.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tipping at Christmas

This morning I took a Christmas card and a $20 bill into Panera's, addressed to "The morning staff," and included a little note of thanks. It seems like a big chunk when you give it at once, but not amortized. I'm there about 4 days a week, 42 weeks of the year, so that's what, about a 12 cent tip per visit on a $1.69 cup of coffee with several refills, a seat by the fireplace, regulars and friends to chat with and 3 papers to read? Two of the staff members came over to my table later to personally thank me. That was nice--and it gave me a chance to share about "the olden days."

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