Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A little baking humor...very little

If I'm given a drug test within the next 48 hours, I would test positive for heroin.

I'm streamlining a recipe for lemon poppy seed scones and have been taste-testing all day.

So I suppose I would not get whatever job I'd be drug-tested for because I was.....

...wait for it...



(I'm very tired.)

Sunday, January 08, 2012

It ain't all dreamin' the dream...

Cash registers, bookkeeping, cleaning fluids, purchase orders -- this weekend we dealt with some of the less glamorous aspects of opening a cafe; only because there is nothing else we can do.

We are in limbo while we wait for counters to be built and equipment to arrive. So while we wait, we perform the tasks that are the least amount of fun -- made obvious by the fact that there was very little lighthearted banter going on; just a roomful of bad-tempered people hunched over their own little projects suddenly emitting exclamatory profanity, like there was a sudden Tourette's epidemic.

My biggest accomplishment this weekend was teaching myself the ins and outs of our computerized cash register and obsessing over whether we should at any point offer biscuits and sausage gravy in the morning breakfast service. You'd be surprised how easily your mind can get stuck on biscuits and sausage gravy at 3 a.m. It made me realize how much of a problem I'm going to have putting items on the menu that I don't personally like myself. I guarantee, kale will never cross the threshold of the Courthouse Corner Cafe.

Dirtman tore down, cleaned and put back together the expresso machine and two coffee grinders. After several phone calls and flooding the front service area, he wrangled our first cup of expresso out of the machine. It*.

DG was online ordering the last few big ticket items and watching the cafe's bank balance dwindle. He could be heard whimpering as he shook his head nervously. In the afternoon, we left him waving distractedly and muttering. By the time we got back home he'd turned a very strange corner and was sending me bizarre e-mails with bad puns on "barristers" and "baristas."

The Twin Prodigy (DG's sons) got the most visible work done -- they cleaned and fixed all the ceiling fans and lights both inside and out of the building.

And they tried to drink the expresso.

Now, if we could only settle on a font for our logo...**

*In all fairness, Dirtman didn't have real expresso beans to work with, nor could he find the tamper for the grounds. He just wanted to get the machine clean and working.
**We're all waiting on DG, for whom this seems to be a matter requiring a significant amount of meditation and consideration.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Crazy Scary

I was ready for them this time: The naysayers, the predictors of doom and those who "just want to let you know we care" by listing every calamity that can possibly befall people who have the audacity to test Frost's road less traveled.

The Cafe
I wasn't quite as prepared for the level of terror I experienced when for the first time I decided not to listen.

I'm writing about this very personal feeling because I know I'm not alone in this. These dreams, these crazy, seemingly-unattainable dreams we have when we complete the sentence, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if..."; these dreams we can imagine so vividly, they make our pulse speed and keep us up at night...until that conservative voice of reason kicks in.

I think this is where most dreams die; before they're even uttered out loud or see the light of day.

Some, though, survive...weakened but still viable. And that's when the naysayers and predictors of doom deliver that final coup de grace.

As a people pleaser and dysfunctionally obsessive Good Girl, I've always done what I was told. There is safety in listening to what other claim to know more about (everything) than you, because you never have to hear, "I told you so." That way, though I've never gotten anywhere, I could stay the Good Girl everyone  liked (predictability is always like, isn't it?).

And, let's face it, the naysayers have history and tradition going for them -- there is a reason everybody takes the path of safety -- most of the time it doesn't lead to calamity. (Though, I gotta say..."the path of safety" has been, for us, a minefield. So there is not much to recommend "doing what everyone does" to us.)

Which brings us to that weed-riddled, rocky path upon which we decided to embark -- opening a cafe during a recession. Or, insert your own seemingly wacky endeavor that seems to annoy everyone around you singing the praises of the status quo. For us it's a cafe.

This is another reason why, in the past, I've always done whatever is safest.


There is no other way to put it.

Terror is very different from intuition. Intuition goes much deeper. Terror reacts to the cues in front of it. Terror drowns out intuition.

This is terrifying. It's terrifying to not do as expected. It's terrifying to do something that lacks the safety net of working for someone else in a field that is a sure thing. It's terrifying to be placing something that is so personally produced by me up for sale; up for others' judgement.

I think both Dark Garden and I counted on the fact that we were doing this together to waylay some of that fear. We appeared to each other so confident. I figured he was sure of himself, we must be okay. I seemed just as sure to him, so he figured the same.

... and then we had to commit. And we looked at each other and realized no matter what, we were going to have to muster a type of courage we had never tapped into before. Oh sure, it took courage to go through some of the challenges my family has over come in the past few years. And God knows, as a cop, courage is DG's stock-in-trade.

This is different, though. It's a different kind of fear and requires a different kind of courage. And I don't think there is any getting around it. You either let it stop you or you just let it flow while you do what you have to do.

And so yesterday we closed on the cafe. For myself, once it was a done deal, the terror subsided to a dull twinge and I was offered another option: Excitement. Oh, there is still that scared part of me that nudges every now and then, but I let the excitement drown it out.

I feel like the elderly Isak Dinesen reminiscing at the beginning of Out of Africa*: "I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills."

I have a cafe in Romney at the foot of the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains.

*Perhaps, more appropriately is this: "...the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road."

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Dear 2012...

Dear 2012,

Happy Birthday.

That's right. No exclamation point. I will acknowledge the day, but I haven't been able to muster the enthusiasm of an exclamation point for you or you siblings for a few years. I think my disenchantment with your family began back when your brother 2008 arrived, all cuddly and cute and pretending to be just another year until May*, when it suddenly turned into a psychopathic monster threatening to destroy our lives.

Ironically, when your sibling 2009 was born  Dirtman and I still celebrated by clinking glasses, shrugging our shoulders and saying, "Well, at least it can't get any worse!"

What the hell were we thinking? Was there ever a phrase more guaranteed to bring down the wrath of God, the gods and any minor imps within hearing range?

Whatever the reason, I don't remember ever experiencing a year so defiant and stubborn, so unwilling to work well with its predecessors, so unwilling to work for the greater good. By the time December rolled around we were more than ready to kick 2009's annuated arse out the door.

Little did we know that we'd miss 2009's up front, in-your-face hijinks. We'd learned our lesson about trying to approach the new arrival of 2010 with unfettered optimism; but, secretly we hoped that 2010 would be more like her older siblings -- cooperative, understanding, sensitive to our weaknesses. In the beginning she was there everyday, pressed and dressed and ready to take on the world. But she really didn't do much for anybody, certainly not for us. In the end, she'd turned pretty nasty in a scary, stalker sort of way.

We were afraid to forcibly do anything about 2010, but were relieved when she up and left of her own accord to make way for her brother, 2011 -- the demon spawn. More wily and cunning than any of its siblings, 2011 baited us with a false sense of security. It pretended to be our friend. It showed us a glimpse of rosy future and assured us it's what fate had in store for us. We believed in 2011 and enthusiastically hopped aboard his optimism train.

You know those Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote is speeding along and Road Runner paints a tunnel on a rock dead end? That's where 2011 led us.

So here you are, 2012, expecting a big party and happy revelers. Well, I don't think so. We're a little tired of you and your tyrannical siblings showing up here every January 1 to knock us around like you're the boss of us. You can just let yourself in this year, park your butt in the corner and keep your mouth shut.

This time I'm in charge.


P.S. Since when do you show up at someone's home without a hostess gift?

*The incident of 2008 has been linked ad nauseum and I'm reluctant to make it my first link of the New Year. Besides, just about everyone knows the story, but for those who don't I will insert a very tiny one here. I hope it won't stir up any bad karma...