Ode to a Utopian Coffee House

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coffee porn
I have been granted a few hours with nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I decided to try a new coffee shop today.  It's one I'd driven past several times and always meant to try, since I am currently without a "regular" place to go.  The problem with living somewhere for a long time is that, eventually, you get to know too much about the local scene, and while you want to support it, you also know all the dirt, so it makes who to patronize (in the good, monetary way, not the condescending, shitty way) a bit tricky.  One coffee shop has a good atmosphere, but it costs too much and the employees are snooty.  Another one has great coffee but a so-so atmosphere, so you can't quite get into the groove of the place.  There's always Starbucks (kind of like McDonald's--no matter where you go, there is always a Starbucks), but they're not local, and so they're the exception, not the standard.  And then there's that place with great coffee (shade grown, locally roasted) and great atmosphere, but who had (at least at one point; not sure about now, I haven't been back) shady employment practices... which I would only know because I knew one of their employees.  It was the little devil on my shoulder, one of my September girls (professional barista-waitress-bar-tender-Jackie-of-all-trades).  Sigh... she ruins everything.  (and I do hope she knows I'm kidding ;)

So now we're here, at this place... and I think I might have found a new home.  The coffee is good, the atmosphere is comfortable, the music is mellow--ambient and coffee-shopish without sounding like every song was written by Jack Johnson or the Indigo Girls (absolutely no offense to either artist or duo), which means it doesn't invade my thoughts if I don't want it to.  And, the best thing, I don't know any of this business's politics.  I can only hope they're good,  honest employers to those who brew my beverage.  

Being a responsible consumer is difficult in this day and age.  Very little is cut and dried.  I want, in my Utopian daydreams, to go to a locally-owned place that has music like that which I am experiencing right now (the current song sounds a hell of a lot like Sigur Ros--they're Icelandic and if you haven't heard them before, do check them out, they're amazing--music to drown in); lots of nooks and crannies in which to sit and be alone, if that's what you want; good, comfy furniture; shade grown, organic, fair trade coffees and teas; a good behind-the-scenes business ethic (man, I don't want to hear that you stiffed your employees their fairly earned wages or that you fired someone for some reason that should get you sued, except that you know the coffee-slinging employee in question isn't gutsy enough and/or flush enough to hire an attorney to do the deed... especially not on the wages you've been paying them); and staff that doesn't treat the customers like they're not coffee-shop geek enough to be cool.  Oh, and which doesn't charge exorbitantly more than the rest of the coffee shops in town.  Is that really too much to ask?   I suppose it must be because it seems so hard to come by.  But this place will do for now.  Not enough nooks and crannies, but the rest of the atmosphere compensates for that.  And I haven't quite sussed out whether the coffee and tea are fair trade...  

Who knows?  In a few more visits, this little place might earn my absolute loyalty.  That would be nice.  I need a place to feel at home, and it's good to know where your loyalties lie.

Sharing Something Sacred

Friday, February 18, 2011

Please go to this link and read what's written there.  If you have time, listen to the interview.  This is beautiful and important.  I don't have time to say more.  But this I had to share.


A Report from the Midwestern Tundra

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Nice Little Home by the Creek
How many of my dear readers got snowed in this past week?  (Raise your hands.)  Yup.  Me, too.  We got record levels of snowfall in my town, record cold temperatures, and I think we're now going for a record number of days in a row that public schools will close for weather conditions.  I've got money on school reopening on Friday (since we have yet another storm hurtling toward us, due to hit tomorrow evening), though some are speculating it won't be until Monday... if we're really lucky.

So, here I sit, after my first full day of being back at work, munching on black pepper popcorn and drinking cinnamon coffee (somehow this is working), wondering if this is the start of a trend of Winters Future.  Because I fear the Snow Queen has finally won, friends. It is Winter here in Oklahoma, always Winter and never Christmas.

What have I been doing with all this extra time, you ask?  Forced slack days, how I love them so.  I did some writing, though not near enough to quite justify my existence (says my irritated muse, who wasn't near inspiring enough, I'll have her know, if she's gonna' bitch about it.  But I digress...); obviously I didn't blog, though I had several false starts (say sorry).  We watched a little TV, as was inevitable.  There's nothing like old reruns of Northern Exposure to help you feel like you're not alone.  If we're snowed in again (as it looks like we may be if we get the extra 10" they keep threatening), I fully plan on rewatching Fargo and probably Escanaba in Da Moonlight, too.  Try and stop me.

I did a lot of domesticky stuff, like cleaning bits here and there, baking cookies, cooking comfort foods, and reminding my two resident felines how lucky they are to have a warm home to live in and people to feed them (as appreciation isn't one of their default perspectives, it's good to remind them how good the little beasts have it from time to time, primarily when temperatures drop into the negative digits).  I had a nearly spiritual experience with some rainbow trout I pulled out of the freezer and fried up.  Seriously, friends, it was amazing.  This is only the 2nd time I can remember having this particular iridescent fish (second time out of the same batch I bought as a substitute for Tilapia when Whole Foods ran out--best substitution ever made, just sayin'), and all I did was fry it in some light olive oil with salt and cracked pepper, skin on (as the internet advised).  Scrumptious, buttery heaven.  (Note that I did not add butter!)  If you like fish at all, you must try this--US farm raised, of course, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. (And how many of you didn't see that reference coming? Tree Hugger! you may scream.  Guilty.  And trying to be tree-huggery more and more every day.)

I also noticed, in my putterings, how important it is to keep from falling into a bored mental stupor.  It's all too easy when you can't get out, especially if you aren't a natural home-body.  To keep from going completely non-drug-induced-stoned, I did a lot of reading, of course, and the aforementioned activities, but I also did a bit if skipping around on the internet.  And I am here to report that there were, in fact, a few things of interest.

If you are still snowbound, or, like me,  are at risk of being re-snowbound within a day or two, here are some things I found to keep your wandering, cabin-feverish mind from wandering right off the deep end.

This one is a recent addition to my "followed" blogs.
Lisa Snelling at http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/ is a girl whose words and artwork are, simply put, devastating.  I'm in love.  I can't help it.  Look at those poppets!  And the blog entries are lovely, haunting, and honest.

I've been following Lady Lavona for awhile now.  Her posts are sometimes disturbing, sometimes enlightening, but always interesting.  In one of her recent entries, she posted the Youtube for Amanda Palmer's Map of Tasmania.  Occult, art, and rock n' roll.  What's not to like?  (WARNING:  Some very weird content.  I love it, but it's not for the faint of heart or the strictly unadventurous.)

If poetry is your cup of tea, I've been greatly enjoying the Jenkins Street Poetry Project.  I was particularly fond of Of Winter and Ordinary Time.  Tragically gorgeous.

Then, of course, there's the ever-present and ever-entertaining Words from a Nobody, who really does inspire me to get my crap together on a regular basis.  She was my first person-who-doesn't-know-me-from-Eve follower (and I still have no idea how she found me) and she remains, to this day, one of my hands down favorite blogs (I do not get why she doesn't have more followers, so I will continue to plug, plug, plug until I feel she has amassed the entourage she deserves).  I've decided I want to be her when I grow up, even if that means I'd have to turn back a few years (ahem).  Some call it backward, I call it progress.  She's raw, punchy, and prolific.  She puts me to shame every day.

And lookit what I found here.  This is a fellow blogger who has somehow managed (by connection or sheer magic) to have Neil Gaiman write a myth for his blog.  Neil then tweeted that he'd written said myth, posted the link, and there I was... staring at the marvelous, glittering train wreck that is Myths RETOLD.  I'll list the link that takes you directly to Mr. Gaiman's story, too (see down there--so you don't have to hunt too hard for it).  But, please, DO take a minute or ten to look around the rest of the blog.  If Aesop was reborn today with the personality of Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob as portrayed in nearly any Kevin Smith movie), it would be this dude.  I am enthralled.  Again, quite happily NOT for the sweet and demure.

I have now suggested movies, hinted that you (like me) really should get back to writing, and pointed you to a handful of blogs to keep your mind from flat-lining during your winter's house-arrest.  If you have any better ideas, I'd surely love to hear them.  Got a favorite snowed-in movie or book?  Lay it on me.  'Cause I've already done all this... and there's a storm a-comin'.