Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Other People's Holiday


Holiday weekend. For us, a very different holiday weekend in that we are now a part of other people's holiday weekends.

Prior to this, we'd have planned a picnic. There would have been floods of e-mails circulating among the three households -- Linguiniland, DG's house and John Boy up on his mountain. I would be running about throwing together noodle salads (heh...), DG would be gathering meat and John Boy would be assembling beer in the oldest cooler in the country (it's aqua and you can still barely make out a Ballentine beer logo on the front -- my parents earned it as a premium when we owned a store with a liquor license, though I suspect my father could have earned the points required without the aid of any of our customers. I was five when they got it...DG wasn't even born. I'm not even sure it functions as a cooler anymore; more as a holding container for beer and a lot of ice. I wouldn't put the noodle salad in there, though...)

Things were different this year. This year the Memorial Day weekend was all about the cafe because, for the most part, we are (meaning, the cafe is...) a component of other people's weekend.

I love the idea of people planning to visit us for breakfast as part of their total holiday itinerary; or that the cafe is used as a reward to well-behaved children enduring hours of grocery shopping for Monday's BBQ; or that the cafe is where our local customers take their out-of-town guests for their one night-out dining experience. I mean, isn't that so cool?

It does mean that now we have to grab our piece of the holiday when we can get it. And we do...

John Boy dropped by Saturday to sit in on the guys' preparations for the cafe's first Open Mike Night on Friday.

And, yes...we closed early on Memorial Day so we could relax a bit...

NOT all MY Empties
Ahem...well, so I could relax a bit...

 while DG and Heir 1 took care of the food... 

 ...and Dirtman served (Dirtman served us, which disappointed Hokie no end).

And I was still off my feet by 8:30 p.m. Some of you know the importance I place in being off my feet*.

And here's Zsa Zsa's nose because it's just the cutest ever.

*I know. Enough about my feet, right? just don't know...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Like People Do

So today we were normal

Some of you may remember back when the Linguinis were always normal. But we haven't been normal for a very long time.

The term "normal," of course, if very subjective. Our seat-of-the-pants existence may have be considered normal in some circles; but I confess -- I'm rather pedantic in what I look for in life. I want a distinct lack of drama, pleasant, uneventful conversation and dinner at dinner time sitting at a table with the fork on the left and the knife and spoon on the right.

So that was today.


No baking in a hot kitchen to the point of exhaustion and falling into bed, only to writhe around in pain because I hadn't realized I'd been standing for nine straight hours without a break; no overly-ambitious plans to bake a week's worth of pastries in one Sunday afternoon. I did a modicum of cafe baking, marinated a chicken, threw together a salad and then...



I sat on my front porch and read.

Oh, yes I did. Even though there were clamberings for orange scones at the cafe, I sat on my porch and read a P.D. James novel and waved to people who drove by.

Then I cooked and dinner and me, Dirtman and Heir 1 sat at a table together and, for the first time in several months, ate a meal together.

And now that Dirtman has put fresh sheets on the bed, I'm going to crawl in and read some more!

That's right. I'm not going to bake or even think about making soup or pricing out the breakfast menu. I'm going to read...and I might even doze off.

Yeah, I know. Since I'm making such a big deal about all this, it's obviously not normal. True that.

However, I can't help thinking back fondly of the days when the Heirs got home-cooked meals all the time and they complained about not being able to eat fast food like all their friends; or when baking scones was such an infrequent treat, I needed a recipe and they never hung around long enough to have to be stored in Ziplocs (these days, I can't give away the rejects -- we're all so sick of looking at, taste-tesing and smelling fresh-baked scones; you think this time will never come but, believe me, it does...).

I'm not complaining...I am honestly so grateful the cafe is taking off and I absolutely love this work more than anything I've ever done.

I am also grateful, though, that we're finally settling in and finding our rhythm; so much so that on this one warm Sunday afternoon I can take off my cafe hat for a little while and just be a normal schmo relaxing up for the week ahead. people do.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Minor ranting (no...really...minor)

Me, looking irritated
In the great scheme of things, I have very little to complain about. I have my basic needs met, got my health, a library card and TCM -- can't ask for much more than that.

The thing about having very little to complain about is that -- now this is only a theory -- it is human nature to find something to complain about. In my defense, when I find myself being annoyed by minor things, I mentally scold myself: "This is your problem? This?"

Still, my mind searches desperately for something...anything...that might fall beneath my lofty standard of perfection (I stress the "my" -- "my lofty standard of perfection" is really not difficult to attain and is certainly way, way below the standard of perfection of others I could name.).

Get ON with it, Sisiggy...

Okay, okay, okay...

So the phone rings. I politely answer...always, whether I'm at work or at home, I could be bawling over the death of my cat and I will cheerily and encouragingly answer the phone. Not because I'm a good person, but because I'm an ingratiating people-pleaser and whether you be a relative, friend or telemarketer, you must find no reason to dislike me, even in my phone greeting.

Get ON with it, Sisiggy... 

Okay...cheerily answer the phone. On the other end, hesitation; then a voice: "Who's this?"

You're calling me and I HAVE TO IDENTIFY MYSELF?

I told you, these are not earth-shattering complaints...

Or the assumption that my free time is up for grabs. This happens when someone wants me to accompany them somewhere or do something and instead of coming out and asking me to do it, asks, "What are you doing on Saturday?" As if, unless I come up with a convincingly dire task, I'm doomed to driving whomever to the airport, helping them move heavy furniture or accompanying them to their little Finster's dance recital.

Just for the record, when someone asks in this manner, I always tell them I'm clipping my dogs' toenails that day. I keep all these dogs for the specific purpose of avoiding running registration tables or walking 15 miles instead of just writing out a check.
NOT Loop-holers

One last one (though I could go on...), related to the cafe: The loop-holers.

First off, you need to know that our prices are very, very fair. No one has ever complained about our prices and several good customers, most whom have become friends, have suggested we don't charge enough.

In truth, we have applied the standard formula for coming up with prices. What we don't do is "add on" what the market will bear; mostly because these days you really can't tell what the market will bear and partly because we're more interested in running a cafe that's an integral part of the community than in gambling our credibility on getting rich (I know that sounds sappy and unbelievable, but there it is).

The loopholers, however, love to find ways to work the menu to get things cheap or free. We had one customer order a sandwich that was on special, only he/she wanted extra lettuce, tomato, and onion and to add some ranch dressing, all on the side in a separate container (it was a to-go order). Usually such requests are only made when one of the kids is taking the order because they'll let it go and we end up giving away a side salad on an already cheap order THAT'S GETTING FREE DELIVERY!*

Fortunately, such customers are the exception; but I have to admit that it takes all my resolve not to launch into a lengthy tirade when someone asks if we have free ice tea refills and proceeds to monopolize one of the Twinz' time refilling glasses of tea that they subsequently dump into one of those large, gallon thermoses*.

It occurred to me, as I was writing this, that it has been a long time since I've written a post like this -- universal irritants that can be easily soughed off; almost five years.

I guess I'm grateful that I notice them again.

But I'm still clipping the dogs' nails on Saturday.

*All of this could, of course, be avoided by instituting policies; but that becomes such a slippery slope and your menu ends up reading more like a legal document than a friendly list of good food. It's probably inevitable as we grow, but so far the number of people exploiting our better nature has been miniscule.