Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 19

I stood in my closet looking at the metal clothing rods filled with workout clothes, a few dressy things and jeans and t-shirts. What does a writer wear to work? I was pondering this question because this was my first day of work. Now before you get too excited and think I got a new job and you missed the grand announcement, this is a self imposed job.  A writing work day. I am finding that an hour to an hour and a half every morning is not enough to get all the writing done that I need to do. This is especially true since I started journaling. My morning writing is filled with random thoughts, to-do lists, goals, dreams and story ideas. This leaves absolutely no time for writing blog posts or writing and editing The Coffee Shop Chronicles. Hence the creation of a writing work day. One day a week devoted to writing, usually involving a coffee shop. While I am working, no phone calls from the family are allowed until after 3 p.m. Unless they are dying and then they had better text me instead of call, since my phone ringer is turned off.

Back to the closet and my pondering. Writers usually wear black don't they? Perfect. I would wear my black skinny jeans, but what to wear on top? Something fun and colorful to balance out the black. What about that coral colored swing bottom top that I usually pass over, feeling it is never appropriate for a casual trip to the grocery store. Well this was no grocery store day. This was serious business. Me taking myself seriously at long last.

So the coral top was the winner. Everybody looks good in coral anyway. A nice bright pop of color with the black jeans. Then because it was only in the 50's when I was leaving the house I added a little black sweater. After adding the sweater I happened to looked down where the edge of the coral top and the sweater met the jeans and began to have second thoughts about the whole outfit. Either this outfit was going to be very cute or I could add a tall pointy broad rimmed black hat, orange and black striped knee high socks and thick heeled gold buckle black shoes and it would look a lot like a Halloween costume I had as a kid.

My coffee shop destination was in the city. I had scouted out a new place the previous week when I was in the city for a YMCA fundraiser luncheon. I didn't have enough time to write that morning and to be honest I am a little afraid of city coffee shops. They are so hi-tech, so shiny, so modern, filled with either well dressed business men and women, or the fashionably dressed hipster crowd, where guys wear mint green chinos and navy blue, pattern button up shirts and it seems perfectly normal.  A world that I am not all that comfortable in. But being a writer means stepping out of my comfort zone and documenting my thoughts and feelings in these unfamiliar places. True, honest, fresh and yes a little bit scary are all good things for a writer.

I drove into the city in my halloween costume and parked in my favorite parking garage. The reason why it is my favorite parking garage is because I know how to get to it and I can easily find a place to park. A short walk across the Blue Bridge which spans the Grand River and I am in the heart of downtown.

As I walked across the Blue Bridge I remembered why I don't wear this coral swing bottom top very often. A slight breeze drifted up from the river catching and raising the bottom of my swing top. I quickly positioned my cross body purse strap more securely in the front of me to help keep the top in place. The last thing the world needed to catch sight of was my beige undergarment, even if the label did say Victoria's Secret.

Safely across the bridge and the breeze gone, I set off in the direction of the coffee shop.

I arrived at the coffee shop at five minutes to ten. Holy packed with people! When I had been there the previous week, granted it was later in the morning, there was no line of people placing orders and no line at the pick up area. This was not the case this time. Contributing to the large amount of people was also the fact that this was the first day of ArtPrize. ArtPrize is a radically open, independently organized international art competition. For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown, and it's all free and open to the public.  It's unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike. You can read more about ArtPrize here if you are intrigued. It really is an amazing event.

I knew ArtPrize was starting and I knew it would be busy, which I figured would either add a considerable amount of interest to my story or it would drive me crazy. I actually took it in stride pretty well.

I stepped up to the coffee shop counter and ordered my chai latte, which comes in only one size. They feel that some drinks are at their optimum at one particular size, so chai must be optimum at 12 oz. good to remember for the future. Since I knew it would be a while before I would be able to get lunch, I had a noon historic building tour on the agenda for the day as well, I ordered a healthy but yummy granola bar.

I moved down to the pickup area and waited with business people, college students, a trio of older ladies in brand new tennis shoes, and a mom with a jogging stroller. Let me just say that jogging strollers are not meant to be inside packed coffee shops, as I had backed into the front wheel of the stroller when I exited the order counter.

One of the many things that amazed me as I was standing there waiting is that people will order and then sit down and start having an in-depth conversation. They are totally oblivious to the fact that the tall, dark, bearded, twenty something Barista is calling their name. And the fact that he calls it numerous times. It was very noisy in there so it was best to stay close and pay attention.

At last my name was called and my chai delivered with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. There was no way I was staying inside, too noisy, too distracting to write, but thankfully there were numerous sets of little cafe tables just outside the front door.

When I was here the previous week I had sat outside as well. I had watched with interest a woman named Beverly who had a couple of folding card tables set up outside the entrance of the coffee shop. She was selling homemade knitted potholders and handmade beaded bracelets. My initial impression of Beverly is that she is someone on the verge of homelessness, maybe a potholder or two away from sleeping on a park bench.

I was amazed how everybody knew Beverly, many college students coming up and giving her hugs. I watched as she would duck into the coffee shop now and then for a glass of ice water or a quick trip to the rest room. Obviously the coffee shop didn't mind her being there.

I wanted to come back and observe her some more and maybe be brave enough to find out some of her story. But due to ArtPrize the streets have been decluttered a bit, not wanting to cast a bad view of the city. I didn't see Beverly in her spot outside the coffee shop, instead the space had been filled with more of the cute little cafe tables. One of which I was sitting at while I wrote.

I wanted to wander around a little with my camera before my noon tour, so I packed up my journal and pen, discarded my trash and set off. I am not confidently familiar with all the downtown streets, so many one ways, and streets shooting off in various directions. Which is why I love walking as opposed to driving, each time I come downtown I work on expanding my familiarity a little bit more.

I arrived outside the building we were touring with a few minutes to spare, thankfully I spotted a couple I knew from the last tour we had done together. Shortly thereafter Jim, our tour guide arrived and we were off to explore. Gosh what an amazing old building with fabulous ornate details that had been covered up by drop ceilings and bad 1950's paneling. Now being painstakingly uncovered and restored.

After the tour I was needing to find someplace for lunch to quiet the rumbling in my stomach. As I walked back towards the coffee shop who did I see, Beverly. She had moved a few store fronts down from the coffee shop and must have arrived while I was on the tour. She was in a less high foot traffic spot, but the awning she was under was better to shield her from the very warm September sun. People were still calling out her name and saying hello, so maybe all will be well.

The perfect ending to this story would be that I stopped and browsed her handcrafted masterpieces and decided to purchase a few colorful knitted potholders and a beaded bracelet or two. That I chatted with her and learned a little of her story, promising to return again another day. But in reality I walked on by, just like lots of other people were doing that day trying to ignore the less than perfect parts of society.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found a beautiful 21 year old girl. We got to spend the weekend with our beautiful girl for her birthday. Yes, that is a bottle of wine and yes her mother did give it to her, along with an awesome wine glass and an electric wine cork remover :)

Find No. 2

My husband is developing quite a good eye for composition, and he is only too happy to have me look at his photos and load the ones I want on to my phone because he doesn't like to save photos on his phone but it is okay for me to have them on my phone. Please little 4s keep on going!

Find No. 3

I tried every beer in this flight sampler and actually found one that I liked enough to drink all of.

Find No. 4

We found an awesome new "old" chair for Mallory's room at school when we went antiquing on Saturday.

Find No. 5

I found a great old spiral staircase circa 1920's on a historic building tour this week.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found a new salon and a new hair color. The hair cut is a work in process.

Find No. 2

I found a new purse. Just what I was looking for, a cross body style with enough room for my composition notebook. And all my other junk.

Find No. 3

I found new shoes. If I lived someplace warm I would wear my Chaco sandals all year round other than when it was raining when I would wear the Paisley Rain Boots. But I live in Michigan where it gets cold and snows :( So I needed a closed toe shoe.  I have a hard time finding a shoe with a wide enough toe box for my wide feet. These are perfect, arch support, wide toe box and soft as butter leather.

Find No. 4

I found the blue bridge while exploring in Grand Rapids. I love the Blue Bridge!

Find No. 5

I found a sign at the grocery story that now applies to my 21 year old daughter. I see wine tasting together in our future. Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl. So happy to be celebrating the day with you!!!!

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 18

Have you ever thought about Feng Shui in your home or in the places you go? If you are like me, probably not. I found it challenging to find a good definition of Feng Shui. Most of them were quite deep and complex. This was the simplest one I found: Feng Shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for people inhabiting it.

As I said I haven't ever really given Feng Shui much of a thought before, that is until the visit to this past week's coffee shop, which was a good example of bad Feng Shui. I was trying out a new place in the town just north of where I live. I have visited one other coffee shop in this town, you can read that story here.

I arrived at the coffee shop at ten minutes to ten on a sunny, pleasant Tuesday morning. I walked through the front door, located off of the town's main street. I was immediately greeted by the garbage can, the dirty plate and cup receptacle, and the order pick up area. There were a few people standing there waiting for their drinks so I was confused as to where I was supposed to go to place my order.

I had to literally stop and look around the small coffee shop area that was over cluttered with sets of wooden tables and chairs just to figure out where I needed to go to get in line to place my order. Finally I saw the small wooden sign hanging high above the order area and noticed a small group of women standing there. Of course as I wound my way through the maze of tables and chairs, the trio of women I was aiming towards walked away. Now I was really confused, was this the order line or not? It was, I think they just decided not to stay.

There was one woman in line ahead of me so I fell in behind her. Not needing to peruse the drink board because I always get the same thing, I turned my attention to the glass sweets case in front of me. There seemed to be only one of every sweet delight left in the case, since it was ten o'clock that really wasn't a surprise. The muffin offerings all seemed to weigh heavily on the healthy side of life  except for the lone double chocolate, cream cheese filled delicacy. None of the muffins were calling my name, then I noticed the lone chocolate chip scone. I was at first unsure if it was a scone because it was round instead of the traditional wedge shape. I decided to claim the scone.

My pickiness about presentation comes into play here. The order girl reaches into the sweets case pulls out the Saran wrapped scone on it's small, celadon green rimmed dessert plate and places it just like that on the counter in front of me. There was no napkin, no fork, just the scone in plastic wrap. My chai options were either a 16 oz. or a 20 oz. I guess I am back to drinking the Grande size permanently. The order girl was pleasant enough but I was so overwhelmed by everything else around me in the coffee shop that I never got a good handle of her as a character.

At the pick up area I was the only one waiting by this time. My chai was prepared quickly, but presented with no lid. I had to get that myself. Again, it is the little things that make a difference.

Chai and Saran wrapped scone in hand I looked around the mass of tables and chairs and thought to myself, there is no way I can stay in here and write. Even though there was a fairly large gathering of retirees at a grouping of tables in the back corner. I am sure they would have provided some good stories but at this point I was so befuddled that I doubt I could have focused enough to eavesdrop and record those stories.

I knew they had round wrought iron tables and chairs outside in front of the coffee shop, I had passed them on my way inside. When I had passed them they were all empty so that is where I decided to go. Back outside in the sunshine and open space I immediately began to feel more balanced. I became more confident that this writing session could be salvaged.

One outside table was occupied by a couple in their early 70's. I had a choice between three other tables. I chose to put one table between the couple and myself. Close enough to hear, but not crowding them either. I could tell from their conversation, well really her conversation, he might have said five words the whole time they were there, they were traveling, staying at one of the local hotels. She marveled at how yesterday afternoon when they checked into the hotel it had said Vacancy on the sign out front, yet when they came back from dinner last night the sign had said No Vacancy. How could that be on a Monday night a week after Labor Day? I am thinking "well because this town is a tourist haven, hence why you are here. It is still early September with beautiful weather and this tourist haven is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, and retirees like you love to travel in September".

Next she spotted a couple going into the restaurant across the street. She says to her husband "Did you see that couple going into the restaurant across the street? They are from our hotel." The husband says "How do you know that?" She says "because I saw them in the lobby last night". If you have ever seen the BBC television sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, this lady reminded me of Hyacinth the busy body main character.

Shortly there after Hyacinth and her husband left, maybe they went to the restaurant across the street to keep an eye on the couple from their hotel. They did head in that direction when they left.

I wondered what I was going to write about after they left. I was now alone in the cluster of wrought iron and there was very little foot traffic that ventured down to this end of the main street. I was sorely tempted at this point to give up on trying to write a Coffee Shop Chronicle. I was instead ready to get out my journal and work on some homework for the journaling class I am currently enrolled in.

Just as I was reaching for my Raspberry Fizz Vera Bradley Messenger Bag to retrieve my journaling notebook up walked my next story. They were like a pair of mismatched book ends. Both with the same short, spiky haircut, but one blond, tall and bigger boned than her dark-haired, petite counterpart. They were probably close to my age, mid forties. They were dressed in stylish athletic apparel and from their slight windedness I concluded they had just finished their morning walk.

The dark-haired one says to her friend "What time is your mom meeting us?" Just then a dark blue Subaru Outback comes whipping into the angled parking space in front of us. The undercarriage of the Subaru splattered in dried mud. I could tell this story had promise.

Subaru Mom pops out of her car and hugs are exchanged between the three women. Brief hellos are said then they go inside to order. Now the telling moment, would they stay inside after they got their drinks or would they come back out to the wrought iron wonderland.

My prayers were answered, the next thing I know Subaru Mom is walking back out the door with a small to-go cup of coffee. Then it gets even better she choses the table just east of mine. Obviously she had no worries about being too close to others.

Soon Blond Daughter and her dark-haired friend were back as well. They had barely sat down when Blond Daughter had a grand announcement. Although as time went on I gathered that everything Blond Daughter had to say was a grand announcement. Anyway back to the grand proclamation. Apparently Blond Daughter's youngest child, who I concluded was a high school junior, had finally agreed to look at the college that Blond Daughter really wants her to go to. Blond Daughter says "I just want her to have the very best education that money can buy". Can you say hello debt!

Unfortunately Blond Daughter's bubble was quickly burst when Subaru Mom already knew all about it since her granddaughter had texted her on the matter. Apparently the granddaughter had agreed to look at the school to appease her mom. Well, Blond Daughter knows she will just love it when she visits. So she is already plotting where and how to get loans to pay for this best possible education. Subaru Mom says to her daughter "You better watch your pennies". No nonsense advice , which I am certain will not be followed.

On to the next grand announcement since the first one fell a little flat. Blond Daughter wants to get a foreign exchange student for her daughter for her senior year. Kind of like wanting to get her daughter a puppy, which she also talked about. This announcement was again not met with the enthusiasm Blond Daughter was hoping for from Subaru Mom.

Next came the final grand announcement for the morning. Blond Daughter and dark-haired friend had gone to a meditative yoga class the night before. They had to sit in the same pose, without moving or talking for thirty minutes. Blond Daughter was so proud that she made it thirty three minutes. I had a hard time believing this since she had not stopped talking the whole time they had been sitting next to me. Maybe she was just bottled up from the night before.

As part of their meditation they had to visualize hands gently holding and lifting their lungs. Which both of them said they could actually see and feel. For the final part of the meditation they had to imagine pushing breath down into their pelvic bowl. Neither one of them knew where their pelvic bowl was. The dark-haired friend thought it was the female part that starts with a V. As you can see from the above image that I found on the internet that is not quite correct.

Shortly there after the three of them wrapped up their grand announcement laden conversation, ready to go their separate ways. Subaru Mom needed to get gas and the other two were going home.

I am certainly glad that the Feng Shui was bad inside the coffee shop so that I was forced to go outside. I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of those grand announcements.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I thought I had found a new place to write one of my Coffee Shop Chronicles while on a historic building tour Wednesday, until I went home and looked it up on line and found out it is permanently closed. Too bad, it looks like a cute place to write.

Find No. 2

I found some interesting hair when we were on a cemetery walk last weekend.

Find No. 3

I found this original vintage light fixture when we were on that historic building walking tour.

Find No. 4

I found that Scout can pose quite nicely when Glen is taking pictures of him.

Find No. 5

I found this picture of me sitting on the deck journaling taken by Glen while he was practicing his photography in our backyard. I love this picture because it is an everyday moment and captures the essence of the true me.

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 17

Is it wrong for a lone person to sit at a table for five in an outdoor seating area?

There was another table available, a table made for two,  and I felt sort of bad not taking it. It was located in the hot, bright sun and I wasn't interested in getting sweaty before my morning of writing and antique hunting had even begun.

I was made aware that it was wrong when a dark haired lady in her fifties came out the door of the coffee shop and glanced over at the spacious five seat table and saw me seating there. A look of mild disgust came over her face. She had been part of a group of three ladies that were in the order line behind me.  I am sure they had noticed the empty table on their way into the coffee shop and had made plans to enjoy their conversation there. She had to settle for the two seat table that I had rejected, snatching an extra silver metal chair from a nearby five seat table that a young couple was encamped at. She positioned herself at the two seater so that she could still keep an eye on me, hoping that I would get her unspoken message and move along. Thankfully for me, a group of four businessmen vacated the five seater next to me. The Glaring Lady quickly gathered up her beige, faux leather satchel style handbag which she had securely attached to the metal chairs of her chair and pounced on the vacant table before some other lone interloper showed up to claim it.

I arrived at the coffee shop at twenty past nine. I figured it would be packed. Every mother within a fifty mile radius eager to get out of the house and reconnect with all her mom friends. You see this was the first day of a new school year.

I was quite surprised when I walked into the coffee shop and there was no one in line and the front seating area was fairly empty.

I stepped up to the order counter to place my order for a Grande Chai Latte, yes back to the Grande size. I had a full morning of antique hunting ahead of me and I needed the extra hydration and sugar. A new boy was behind the register, must not be Miss Pony Tail's shift this morning. This boy had a skateboarder look about him, right down to the skateboarder hair cut and the red skateboarder shoes. I knew he was new when an "oops" escaped his lips after he entered in my payment for my chai. He did great up until that point. I asked him if he was still in training and he said "Yah". Fortunately he knew how to fix his mistake, except that he had to call up the order on the screen again to figure out my change. The total was $4.65 and I gave him a five dollar bill. I could see the wheels sluggishly turning in his head trying to figure it out. I also noticed his fingers counting on the granite countertop. I wanted to lean over and say "you owe me 35 cents", but I didn't, choosing instead to let him figure it out by himself.

My change safely in hand I walked to the end of the pickup counter. There were two Baristas working  today, I guess they thought they would be busy too. Unfortunately neither one of them was the boy with the Johnny Depp hair. Rather nondescript people not worthy of a story.

I went outside to spread out my writing utensils at my lovely, round five seat table in the shade, and began writing the day's tale.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lessons Learned From Finishing

In January of 2012 I began a blog called Becoming A Finisher. The name was chosen because I had a horrible time completing any personal project that I started. By starting that blog I was declaring publicly that I was going to finish personal projects.

That blog, though now finished, continues to hold a special place in my heart. I did learn to complete projects but I gained so much more in the process. I learned how to improve my writing skills, my photography skills and my post processing skills. I found a writing voice, became authentic in my writing, unafraid to share my joys and my hardships, something not all that comfortable for an introvert.

The point of that story is that I never would have learned those things if I hadn't started and if I hadn't stuck with it, even on the weeks that I didn't have anything to say. I struggled through the creative blocks and came out stronger on the other side.

One thing that remained unfinished during my Becoming A Finisher days was finishing a 365 photography project. What is a 365 project? It is, taking a photograph of something every day for an entire year. You can chose to participate in an organized 365 group or go it alone. The important part is documenting, somewhere, your daily photograph.

I had started 365 projects on two previous occasions, abandoning both of them within the first month. I know that part of the problem was that I tried starting these projects on January 1st, which seems good in theory. The start of a new year, also a good time to start new projects. In reality though, I live in Michigan, starting a photography project in the middle of winter can get boring very quickly. I prefer to be outside shooting if at all possible, and white snow can only be photographed so many ways.

Last August I was contacted via email by my friend Susan who lives in Maine. She was starting her second year of a 365 project beginning on September 1st. She was putting together a small group of friends to join her on this journey, she was wondering if I would be interested in joining the group.

This opportunity had so many advantages: It started on September 1st, just going into Autumn, my favorite time of year. It consisted of a small group of eight ladies, many of whom I knew already from previous on-line classes. It provided accountability. It provided a place to post my photos everyday, our own little group on Flickr.

I told Susan that yes I wanted in, knowing that it was now or never to actually complete this goal that was on my dreams/goals bucket list.

I started out with the intention of shooting mostly with my iPhone, having just finished Susannah Conway's August Break 2013. A month of daily photography prompts shot with your phone and posted on Instagram. I loved that experience. I loved the prompts. I loved shooting with my iPhone. I loved the Instagram community. I could easily keep doing this for a whole year.

Then September 1st came and there were no more daily prompts. I had no idea what I was going to take a photo of. This is what I came up with...

Not a strong way to start a 365 photography project.

The iPhone shooting lasted one day. On September 2nd I switched back to my Canon dSLR. The frustrating thing was that I saw that uninspired first picture every time I added a new photo to my 365 project album on my Flickr stream. There are photos in my 365 album taken with my iPhone, in fact there are quite a few good ones, but at that moment I needed to put the phone away and challenge myself with a different tool.

As I look back at the 365 photographs I took this last year, I see that a lot of them are quite good. Some stink, but that is going to happen. What I see most though, is a tremendous amount of photographic growth. I also see the stories behind the photographs. Observations that I wouldn't have made if I had abandoned this project as I had in the past. A year of my life documented every day, a priceless treasure.

On August 31st I took my 365th photo..

Again not an award winning shot but definitely better than the first one. I had just picked these heirloom tomatoes from our tiny vegetable garden. I had taken an armful of them into the house already and as I was coming back to get these, I noticed how the sunlight was hitting the tops of the tomatoes. I grabbed my Canon, and tried shooting them from a variety of angles. I loaded them onto my computer, processed the one I liked the most, and then I added it to our group on Flickr as my final 365 photograph. Ultimately this is the biggest lesson I learned from this project; seeing, doing and finishing.

On August 31, 2014 I Became a Finisher.

I will not officially be doing another 365, although I have started an album on my Flickr stream called Everyday Moments, where I plan to post a photo of something that inspires me over the course of the day. But if there is a day where I am not inspired, like at the beginning of February, it is okay if I don't take a picture that day.

Our small group has decided to stay together, not in a 365 capacity, but in a continued sharing of our work. We will continue to encourage one another as we travel down the photographic path together.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

5 Random Friday Finds

Find No. 1

I found the perfect end of summer moment, at a cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan on Labor Day weekend sharing a glass of wine with good friends. I actually "saw" this composition before I ever lifted my iPhone to take the picture. It turned out exactly the way I imagined it.

Find No. 2

I found out why I have had a hard time decorating my house over the years. I have been trying to decorate with new store bought items. As soon as I switched to decorating with things I love it came together in a day. This is a display of vintage cameras and my photographs on top of our new library bookcases.

Find No. 3

I found this oil painting for our big wall when I was at the antique store. The original sales receipt is still stapled to the back. Purchased on September 18, 1970 for $53. I was two years old in 1970. 

Find No. 4

I love fading blooms much more than fresh flowers. 

Find No. 5

I found that wet deck boards make a great backdrop for a bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola. I am sure I was quite the sight standing on my deck holding my round light diffuser in one hand and my iPhone in the other, photographing a bowl of fruit at my feet. Thankfully my neighbors weren't home that morning. 

Joining Kim for Friday Finds

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 16

My husband has been pestering me all summer regarding when I was going to start writing the Coffee Shop Chronicles again. Summer has been busy, many days spent outdoors soaking up the warmth and sunshine, things that were absent during the long winter months when I first started writing in coffee shops.

I stopped writing the Chronicles when college daughter finished her school year in May. It seems only fitting that I start writing them again now that she is safely ensconced back at school for her fourth and final year.

To be honest I have been a little afraid to start writing them again, scared that I had lost my "coffee shop voice", but once I sat down and started writing it seemed as natural as if I had just written one last week. I am sure there will be some subtle changes. I have continued to write all summer on a variety of projects. I also took a writing e-course which pushed me, in good ways. Hopefully the things I have gleaned from these experiences will weave themselves into the Coffee Shop Chronicles, enhancing the overall experience for you the reader.

I arrived at the coffee shop at half past nine. I had no intention of coming here, but having a half hour gap between my visit to the Farmer's Market and the opening of the oil and vinegar store, where I needed to purchase some Champagne Vinegar for a salad I was planning to make. I found myself by luck and happenstance second in line at our famous downtown coffee shop ready to order my Chai Tea Latte. Since I have started counting calories again I only ordered a small chai and absolutely no muffin, scone or cinnamon twist.

My order taker, Miss Pony Tail, seemed new to the job. She would state her first question very confidently followed by the next question that had an air hesitancy to it. A couple more days of taking a wide variety of drink orders and that hesitancy will be gone.

I moved to the end of the counter to await the arrival of my chai. Surprisingly there were only two ladies ahead of me waiting to pick up their drinks. Usually there are at least a half dozen people ahead of me. Maybe half past nine on a Wednesday on a beautiful late summer day is a good time to come to the coffee shop. There was even an open booth right across from the pick up counter that sat empty the whole time I waited. Now in the winter it is a dog eat dog world to get one of those booths. I held myself back from taking it just because it was there. I knew I wanted to enjoy my chai outside, either at one of the coffee shop's outside tables or if those were full, on one of the park benches that are scattered about on the busy main street.

After I stopped pondering the empty booth I turned my attention to the Barista preparing my chai. The first thing I noticed was that he had the most spectacular hair. It reminded me of Johnny Depp's from his 21 Jump Street days. Now if that isn't dating myself. Anyway young Johnny prepared a very fine chai for me.

Chai in hand I wove my way out of the coffee shop, the line to order quite a bit longer now. Hopefully Miss Pony Tail's confidence was continuing to grow. 

As I emerged into the bright sunshine I surveyed the outside tables, all occupied, hence the empty booth inside. So I wandered off down the street in search of an empty bench. I didn't have to wander far before I found one. It was situated near one of the main crosswalks, a perfect people watching intersection. 

On the way to my bench I passed a young married, twenty something couple. He was taking photos of her with his phone. She was holding a single long stemmed sunflower from the Farmer's Market, which is located at the other end of our downtown. I knew it was from the Farmer's Market because the little plastic bag of water to keep it fresh was still rubber banded to the bottom of the stem. It was a lovely gesture to have her pose for him, but there was something terribly wrong with his photographic approach. He had her facing into the intensely bright sun, so she had a severe squint going on. He remarked to her after he decided he was done taking photos that she was holding the sunflower all stiff like a sword, that kind of killed the memory making moment.

I was nearly finished with my chai when an older gentleman walked by carrying a slightly oversized, square cardboard box. He said to me "What a nice place to sit in the sun." There was a strong hint of Dutch in his accent. He asked if I was on fercation? I said pardon me. He said "Are you on fercation?" I said no, just enjoying a nice moment in the sun. I am pretty sure he meant vacation. 

Maybe this summer hiatus has been, me enjoying a nice moment in the sun.