Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 11

So much of what I do these days is based on what the weather will be for that day. This week's schedule, that started out so open, filled quickly with sunny day activities; lunch with a friend on Monday and driving to Grand Rapids for some furniture and ahem…clothes shopping on Wednesday. The rest of the week was filled with rainy/snowy day activities; working out at the gym on Tuesday and the coffee shop on Thursday.

Thursday was a chunky rain day, solid drops of rain that made a chunk noise when they hit the roof of my car. On my drive to the coffee shop I noticed this car parked on the side of the road alongside a corn field.

Unusual to say the least, as I did a double take I noticed a guy in full winter gear, cross country skiing across the narrow edge of snow on the perimeter of the corn field.

Let me just say that it was 32 degrees outside and not much wind. I have a feeling he got hot quickly. Either this guy was desperate to get one last ski adventure in for the year or he didn't pay attention to the weather forecast and had planned his day off hoping for a sunny day.

I arrived at the coffee shop at quarter past eight.

The Order Taker/Brenda was behind the register. I know it has been a few weeks since I have been to the coffee shop. She recognized me but couldn't quite come up with my name. After she took my name for the order, she repeated it in conversation a few times, committing it to memory. When she brought my Chai out, she again used my name. I better go back next week to make it a little easier for her to remember.

I tried a new muffin this week. The Mounds muffin, coconut cake inside, surrounded by chocolate cake on the outside. Quite yummy. While I was on the cruise, I tried to be as gluten-free as possible. Since home I find myself wanting to continue that lifestyle choice, so my morning at the coffee shop is my one treat for the week.

I chose my table this week based specifically on who was at the next table. At the table to my right sat a group of five ladies in their 70's and 80's. I find listening to the conversations of ladies of this age group the most enjoyable of all the conversations I eavesdrop on. One lady had a Dutch lilt to her voice. I love listening to that.

One thing these ladies always spot right away is when one of them has a new article of clothing. "Is that a new jacket?" Which leads to a conversation on what everybody has gotten new since they last met. One lady says "I got new Khaki…" then she makes a horizontal sawing motion about mid calf on her leg, where the hem of the pants would end. One of the other ladies says "oh Capri's". The first lady "Yes that's it, capri's". Then they were talking about the Olympics, but the storyteller couldn't remember the word Olympics, so she says, "you know those games that were just in Russia". Their conversations would turn on a dime, one minute one of them is talking about her grandkids, and the next minute one of them is talking about a friend of hers who needs to get both her feet amputated. Yikes!

I would say the coffee shop is busier on Thursday mornings than on Tuesday mornings when I usually come. Most of the tables were full on this morning. A couple of bigger groups, my table of five ladies and then another group of six. Who were an odd mix of people, but if I had to guess I would say they all ride motorcycles and are in a group that rides together.

The rest of the tables were filled with groups of two. Some friends having coffee together, and some making a business connection.

A lady probably close to my age stopped by the table of the older ladies. I gathered from the conversation that they use to all go to church together. The debate began a short time into the conversation, Traditional vs. Contemporary Worship service. The age old debate and one that will never be won by either side. In my mind people should attend which ever worship service makes them the most happy. The older folks quite often don't want to hear drums and electric guitars, I get that, some times I don't either. The younger folks no longer want to hear the booming pipe organ. I get that too. Although sometimes I miss hearing the organ. An organ sound played on a keyboard is just not the same.

Times will change naturally without forcing change on those who don't want it. The debate continued as I packed up to leave. I doubt either side left the coffee shop with a burning desire to try a different style service this coming Sunday. Be happy where you are and let others be happy where they are. This can be said about many things in life.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

My new vanity plate came at the end of last week. I always wanted one but never knew what to put on it. Now I know :) And AnnMary that stands for Rain Boots not Rain Bits.

Find No. 2

On the subject of Rain Boots, I am trying out a new pair. Pretty eye catching don't you think. These will not be replacing the Paisleys just in addition too. Although the left Paisley does make a water squishing noise when I walk, so they may get relegated to Winter and field work only from now on.

Find No. 3

While driving to church by myself on Sunday I noticed this box car just screaming to be photographed. So I got out with my iPhone and took some photos for some processing fun. I am sure all the other people driving by on their way to church had a good chuckle at this girl in her good Sunday clothes standing in a muddy field taking pictures of a train car with her iPhone.

Find No. 4

One of my goals for the second quarter of 2014 is to try more new recipes. I know it is still the first quarter but I am getting a head start. This week I made Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa, yum! You can find the recipe here if you are interested.

Find No. 5

After a couple of months of searching I may have finally found a new desk for the iMac. Finally we will be able to get rid of the gigantic computer armoire and get new book shelves instead. 

Joining Kim for Friday Finds 
Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday

2014 Goals - April thru June

This year I broke my goals down into quarters, because trying to set goals for a whole year is impossible for me. Even now, things that I thought were important on January 1st when I made my first  list aren't as important anymore.

Here is a recap of the January thru March goals and their results:

  • Print some of my own photography to hang on my large empty walls

I have made a good start on this, with more to come in April.

  • Take Kim Manley Ort's 50mm Photography class in January. Start and Finish it on time
I did great through Week 3, then things kind of fell apart. But I did discover a new interest in Photography in Week 2. Street Photography…or in this case cruise ship photography.

  • Get an on-line Portfolio of my work put together
This did not happen and is not a high priority at the moment.

  • Schedule specific time into my morning/day to write three times a week
This did not happen either, I will keep working on it.

  • Work through some of my on-line classes
I am making good progress on this, many times watching class videos while I eat lunch.

  • Continue my Back Roads Adventures
Who knew in January that this Winter would be so long. The snow is finally starting to melt. The adventures will be back soon.

  • Blog on a more regular basis
I am doing really well on this, 34 posts to date for the year.

  • Focus on Observation
That has payed off in a big way. A simple observation exercise led to the start of The Coffee Shop Chronicles which has been going very well.

April Through June Goals

  • Continue printing my photographs for the walls
  • Make writing an even bigger part of my life
  • Keep working on my photo processing skills
  • Back Roads Adventures - getting out and exploring
  • Continue Observation exercises, finding a variety of places to sit, observe and write
  • Work on some collaborative projects
  • Read more
  • Get out hiking
  • Delve into Susan Tuttle's The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture Class 
  • I have cute clothes, wear them other than just the weekends
  • Try some new recipes

One big lesson that I have learned is to be open to new things, to change and trust my instincts.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jamaican Adventure - The Churches

Glen and I did two Shore Excursions while we were on our cruise. This one was my favorite, and that is not because I thought it was better run than the first. They both were filled with tourist trinkets being pushed upon us, and that is one of the reasons why I dislike shore excursions, but I am realistic and sometimes they are the best way to see a certain area.

This excursion was called - A Heartbeat of Jamaica - Discover Falmouth
Tour duration: 3-1/2 hours
Tour historic Falmouth, including St. Peter's Anglican Church and William Knibb Baptist Church. Visit a rural school, interact with the children and proceed to an 18th century estate by the Martha Brea River. You have the opportunity to taste fruit juice, jerk chicken, fresh fruits, sweet bread with cheese, sugar cane and Jamaica's famous rum.

After being loaded unto a bus and then waiting while one lost party for the tour was found, we set off for our adventure.

Let me say the shops by the port for the ship are all bright and shiny, but you drive two blocks away from that port and the world changes. Things are not bright and shiny anymore, unless you count the corrugated tin that is used for roofs.

First stop William Knibb Baptist Church, herded off the bus with three other bus loads of tourists, my patience was starting to wear a little thin. I was beginning to have a bad attitude about this whole trip, and then I stepped into the church…

William Knibb Baptist Church

The first chapel built in 1831 and was destroyed in 1832. The church replaced the chapel in 1836 was demolished by a hurricane in August 1944, after which the present structure was built, incorporating material from the 19th century church.

The English Baptist minister William Knibb (1803-1845) arrived as a missionary in Jamaica on November 5, 1824 with his new wife, Mary Watkins. Originally sailing to replace his brother as a missionary and schoolmaster, Knibb worked at the Baptist mission school in Kingston before moving to Falmouth. In March of 1830, Knibb arrived in Falmouth with his wife and two children to assume the responsibilities of minister at the Baptist church.

There was a talk being presented while we were sitting in the pews.

Photo credit: Glen Huizenga
Photo Credit: Glen Huizenga
Glen was much better at paying attention to that than I was, I was too busy trying to quietly shoot the glorious windows.

Best known as an advocate for abolition, Knibb often defended black slaves' rights. In January of 1832, Knibb used the Falmouth Baptist chapel as a barracks for the St. Ann's regiment during the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt. The Revolt, led by a slave named Samuel Sharpe, encouraged as many as 60,000 of Jamaica's 300,000 enslaved people to rebel. Magistrates and officers of the militia suppressed the events. As the militia prepared to leave Falmouth on February 7, Mr. John W. Gaynor, a magistrate and ensign, Adjutant Samuel Tucker and the Colonial Church Union encourage their men to demolish the chapel, making it one among many across the island destroyed after aiding the insurrection of the  slaves.

I knew we had one more church to visit so my attitude had improved greatly after being at this first one. I prayed the second one would be just as good.

St. Peter's Anglican Church

The original church was completed in 1796. The contract to build an Anglican church was awarded to William Danny in 1791 for of 9,000 pounds. Danny's requirements in the contract were to build a church with wall three feet thick and twenty feet high, with accommodations for 300 people, and using the best white limestone available. Danny was to complete the church in 18 months. 

As all construction projects go, this one didn't quite stick to that timeline, but once you see all the glorious detail inside you can see why it took longer than 18 months.

In 1845 the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and Decalogue were added to the walls on imported wooden panels above the alter.

I couldn't find any information on the stained glass windows.

The pews are original from 1796.

Stairs to the balcony, where my darling husband was shooting.

Work is being done on the Clock Tower.

The original contract and church specifications did not include plans for a clock tower and on June 29, 1796, the church wardens were charged with seeking someone to "erect a sufficient Belfry for suspending the Town Bell and Clock and pay the expenses thereof." Within the year, a sixty-foot tower was constructed and three bells along with an eight-day, three-dialed clock were installed. Two years later, in 1798, Messrs. Burmingham and Robertson were paid 750 pounds to build a dome or cupola atop the belfry to protect the clock tower and clock devices from the rain.

That's a wrap for the churches. I could have easily stayed all morning at either one of them, so many beautiful details.

I will do the school and the 18th Century Estate in a separate post.

Joining Helen for Weekend Walks

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Enjoy some fun finds from our cruise last week…

Find No. 1

My friend Jill happened to point out these photos of flip flops to me last week. They were on the walls by the elevator on the floor below ours. They got under my skin. I was taking these photos of the pictures on the last day. An older than me couple happened to see me taking them. They got on the elevator and I walked past them. Before the doors shut I heard her say to her husband "Did you see her, she was taking pictures of pictures". Yep. I needed to bring the inspiration home with me.

Find No. 2

This is Jill and my collaboration on the beach at Grand Cayman. Those are not our beer bottles, they were already there, but those are Jill's hat and flip flops. Jill and I will be working on this project this summer, getting ready for our gallery show this fall. LOL! Start gathering your flip flops Jill!

Find No. 3

The Martini Bar was a fabulous place, and where we spent more than one cocktail hour. Best to stop after one Martini though, otherwise I sit through dinner with a somewhat glazed look on my face.

Find No. 4

This was the frenzy before the watch sale began on the last day at sea. The crowd tripled in size by the time it actually started.

Find No. 5

The library on the ship. A cozy, elegant place to enjoy a book.

We had a great time on the trip and could have easily cruised for one more week.

Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 10 - The Cruise Ship Edition

The last day. A day at sea. A day filled with the endless blue-gray Caribbean Sea, the ship cruising along on gently rolling swells. The sky a washed out blue with white cotton candy clouds.

I waited until the last day to visit the coffee shop because I wanted to see, after a week of cruising, who had become regulars and who, like me, was visiting for the first time.

I arrived at the coffee shop at five minutes to ten.

I stepped up to the counter to place my order for a Chai Latte. No muffin or scone for me today, too much eating had already taken place this week. Also, I had made a commitment to eat as gluten-free as possible on this trip. I tend to do that on vacation, it really helps me to feel so much better and generally not gain weight because of the conscious decisions I make.

After I placed my order, the lovely Serbian Barista said she would bring it to my table, just the same as my usual coffee shop. Only here instead of sliding a ten dollar bill across the counter, I passed my Sea Pass/Room Key over the granite counter and signed my name once the receipt was printed.

I looked for a table with a good vantage point to see the other tables, as well as, the customers who went through the line to place their "to go" orders. I found one in the front right hand corner, my chair facing out towards the seating area and the line of customers.

These tables and chairs were a bit of a challenge to write at. The surface of the marble top table was chest high on me as I sat in the low, taupe colored, leather curved back chairs, making my writing hand much higher than normal. So eventually I wound up putting my notebook on my lap and writing that way. A much more natural position.

The Barista brought out my Chai in this lovely tea pot with an adorable cup and saucer and a little piece of chocolate biscotti tucked on the side. I considered not eating the biscotti, but I thought that might be kind of wasteful, and I did say mostly gluten-free. It was delicious. The Chai on the other hand, although the presentation was superb, the Chai itself was not the best I have had, it seemed to lack a sweetness that is usually present in my Chai. I just added a little touch of sugar and continued on.

I turned my attention to the customers seated at the other tables. Two tables in front of me were two retirement age European couples. They were looking at photos from the trip on one of the couples' iPad, having a hearty chuckle here and there as they scrolled through the photos. As they got up to leave one of the couples decided to have a mini make-out session, which I found fascinating. Part of me thought "Really, you are going to do that right here" and the other part of me thought "Good for them, to still be in love enough to do that".

A newly arrived couple sat down to my left. When the Barista brought their coffees and delicious treats she greeted them by name and presented them with their usuals. They chatted for a brief minute with her about their week and about another cruise they had coming up in June.

Another new arrival, a couple, sat down diagonally across the room from me. The Barista stopped at their table to take their order. I noticed after she left, that even though they sat across from each other, they rarely spoke. After the Barista brought their iced coffees they would occasionally exchange a quiet  word, but for the most part they sat there silently, finished their drinks and then left.

By 10:30 the morning rush seemed to be over. The cafe returning to a quiet place once again. About 15 minutes later there was a brief burst of coffee drinkers ordering whatever they got "to go".

As I glanced up from my notebook on my lap at this new group, I noticed a handsome guy that was in line and as I glanced at him, he winked at me. Well now, this might get interesting...

He placed his order and went to sit down at a table diagonally across the room from me, at the same table that the silent couple had been sitting at. He carried with him a book and his reading glasses. He sat where I had a good view of him.  I watched him open his book, don his distinguished reading glasses, and settle in. I caught him still occasionally glancing in my direction and a small smile would lift the corners of his mouth. As his coffee and muffin arrived I continued to watch him under the guise of writing. I was intrigued and attracted to this handsome guy. I wondered if I would have the courage to cross the room and strike up a conversation with him.

I approached him as he was finishing his coffee. I sat down in the chair next to him said "hello". We engaged in casual conversation for a short time, then I asked him if he wanted to go back to my room... Fortunately, he already had a key.

As you may have guessed, it was my adorable husband who was flirting with me. He had been reading up in the ship's library and decided to come down to the coffee shop and insert himself into this week's story.

Unfortunately, when we got back to the room, the room steward was in there cleaning. Quite the mood breaker. So we went back to the library and read while the room was cleaned. Comfortably sitting side by side, reading in silence, just like the long married couple we are.

Until next week...

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 9 - A Special Marquette Edition

Dear readers, as many of you know, Paisley Rain Boots is soaking up the sunshine of the tropical south this week. My hope is that she will bottle up a bit of that warmth and sunshine and send it up to me in the great white north. I, her daughter, am writing in her place this week; filling in for The Coffee Shop Chronicles. Marquette has few coffee shops to pick from; over the past year I have fallen for Babycakes, going there once a week to do a bit of writing. My observations are less in depth, and probably less humorous from those of Paisley Rain Boots, but all the same, I hope you enjoy. 

A hum of chatter fills the room. Every open space is filled with the voice of one or another. 
There are the three in the corner, opposite the one in which I have taken up residency. College students tucked into the l-shaped booth: one boy, two girls. They are done with the day's demands of class. They are out, making their rounds on this blustery day where the temperature reads in the single digits. I overhear their next stop, the local brewery, less than a block from the coffee shop. Only college students would move from coffee shop to brewery.
Then there are the pairs. 
The two girls, in their early twenties, deep in conversation. Their large ceramic mugs out in front of them: emptied. They never intended to stay this long. They have spent the last hour telling one story after the other, playing catch up after last weeks mid-semester break. They have taken this hour to pull away from the textbooks full of terms, the research papers waiting to be typed, and the exam that needs prepping for to connect and reconnect with one another. 
The second pair. Two men. Their lives are an open avenue. College degrees under their belt, but unsure of which path to take. Scared and not ready to leave the comforts of this college town. Not ready to say farewell to the great lake, ski hills, nights out on the town, and even the ten a.m classes. For now they sit, coffee in front of them, and push away the unknown of reality. 
Only three voices remain silent. 
One. He has been there for hours, bent over his laptop and on his fourth cup of coffee. He is writing, or rather typing, with a few select books open on the table before him. A graduate student nearing the end, working to perfect his thesis. He, too, like the pair of men is feeling the pressures of the open avenue of life that lies ahead of him. But, for now, the thesis paper is his focus. 
Two. Another man. A cup of soup in a to-go cup in front of him, though he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. His cup of water still full rests beside him. He seems to be breathing in the moment; taking a moment to sit, eat, and think about this game of life we are all players in.
And last, me. I'm tucked in the corner table, alongside the big front window. I find myself surrounded by papers filled with scrawled handwriting: words of story and thought. Wondering which words to use and which ones to save for another time. Boots off, chai latte long gone, and The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis open to his piece on "Learning in War-Time". I'm caught in the moment.

The coffee shop: a place for conversation and growth, learning and discovering. A place to think, to write, and simply, a place to sit. A place to delight in and rejoice in. A place to be in the moment. As C.S. Lewis once said, "Never . . . commit your virtue or your happiness to the future"; rather, rejoice in the happiness of the moment you are in.

Readers, you can read more by me here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

Call me crazy but I kind of miss the days of waiting to pick up Mallory from school and waiting for her at appointments. I use to get so much reading done that way.

Find No. 2

Did you know that McDonald's small chocolate shakes have 550-600 calories in them? That ALMOST made me not get one :)

Find No. 3

Mallory was using this napkin to dull down one of my pencils, which got us into a debate over do people prefer a sharp pointy pencil (like me) or a nice rounded dull pencil (like Mallory). Which do you prefer sharp and pointy or dull and rounded?

Find No. 4

When we were in our local indie book store later that afternoon I found this book.

Find No. 5

Playing with my favorite new iPhone app. Waterlogue earlier this week, I took this shot of some soda in a small cooler at a restaurant and turned it into this...

I leave for vacation on Saturday afternoon and won't be back until the following Sunday, so I will miss everybody next week, but I should have some great random finds from vacation to share the next week.

Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday
Joining Kim for Friday Finds