Tag Archives: coffee

Thrifty Granny Spirit Possession: Project #1

23 Aug

Da’ Bike Bag

Oh believe me, it’s not like I am the first one to make a bike seat bag.  There’s nothing new under the da’ sun and I’ve seen this project lately on a couple of my favorite bike blogs.  On the heels of many people’s concern about my riding at night (oh my!), I make this bag to soothe their little souls with safety by ensuring my own with tools and supplies to fix flats plus much whatnot: in addition to wallet, teeny moleskine & pen, bike lights, and cell phone there is also room enough for my fave-o-rite coffee cup.  If I’m gonna spare the air by biking I might as well save a tree and bring my own cup too, right?

So how about da’ bike seat bag?  Hate the idea of going to buy one that looks like all the others.  So, in the spirit of my fave-o-rite bike blogs, my being possessed by thrifty grannies, and all do-it-yourselfers worldwide, I went to the thrift store and finally found the proper purse to outfit the Nishiki.  (I will have to catch you all up on the drama timeline of the roadbikes…but not now.  Now, we honor Nishiki who is not only a solid dependable renegade but also unbelievable fun.)

And finally, yes it really is as simple as it seems.  I found the purse at the thrift store, cut off the straps, clipped two “S” carabiners (or “S”-biners) on the metal loops where the straps formerly hooked, decorated the already gaudy black and dayglo pink purse with dayglo yellow reflective tape, filled it with goodies/necessities and clipped it to Nishiki’s seat. Done. Done. Done.

Total project cost?

purse: $2.99

S-biners: 2 @ $2.25 each

reflective tape: $5.00 (used half. so technically, $2.50)

About ten bucks.

Plus a short latte at the Flying Goat where they kindly deduct .25 cents if you bring your own cup: $2.25.

So, purse + caffeine = $12.25. Sweet.



The Kayaking Microexample

6 Jul

it’s morning. misty. i forgot to put the trash out. i think last night when i was dragging myself to bed i somehow rationalized that trash would not be going out this morning because of the holiday. but now, as i look out the many windows of my new kitchen…i see other people’s cans askew, jostled by the garbage truck.

i dig deep into a box to find coffee. i’m boiling water. kitty is giving me the stinkeye from her perch on the table, peeking just above the computer. wes is snoozing sweetly on the couch after rejecting my attempt at feeding him breakfast of wet cat food mixed with his dog food while we’re between paychecks. he sniffed, snorted, and stalked away as if to say, i’m. no. cat. morning dove is quiet but other birds are picking up the slack. i’m relentlessly questioning myself about what i seem to be writing about this morning…which is making me erase a lot. entire lines, banished. mostly because today, this seems like a journal entry. in my paper journal that no one reads there is a freedom. i don’t have to care what i say in there. here, it’s different. i tend to edit (translate: control) my thoughts. do you care that i am groggy this morning? that i am resorting to coffee instead of tea (even though it cracks me out) because i don’t get paid until friday and will  not have cash to go to the coffee shop to get my new drink of choice, yerba maté? i find myself searching for something substantial to say instead of….saaayyyy, recounting the small satisfaction of using a single chopstick to stir the coffee in the french press so all the grounds have equal opportunity to brew.

speaking of coffee brewing…the coolest thing happened on the 4th. okay, and for the record i hate blogs that start out like this: “my boyfriend and i…”

so i won’t.

“we” woke up on the 4th without a plan. i left him snoozing and tiptoed to the kitchen to make some breakfast. banana pancakes invaded all of my thoughts since i noticed the night before the two nearly black ones lying helplessly on the counter underneath other cooking paraphernalia and detritus that i hadn’t gotten to washing yet. it’s an old house i moved into. no dishwasher. i’m the dishwasher and i’m not reliable like maytag or whoever makes dishwashwers. so these bananas…

i looked up a recipe and realized i didn’t have some of the ingredients. like milk. or butter. ugh! i have to go to the store! i don’t want to goooooo. but wait! recipes are guidelines not commandments. and i switch brain gears from control to experiment. ahhh, that’s better. one of my most satisfying challenges is tweaking recipes with alternate ingredients that play the same part. so, i had a can of coconut milk to replace the milk. and i know that bananas can substitute for eggs or butter because of their moisture. i used extra banana for the butter i didn’t have. mixed all the dry stuff added the wet and let me just saaayyyy…the pancakes were delish. so i made a kind of comfort food, 4th of july extravaganza. banana coconut pancakes with fresh peaches from the yard, scrambled eggs, cold fried chicken from the night before, and reheated fried taters and yams also from the night before. it’s what i imagine real patriots eating for breakfast. personally, i’m a freakin’ die hard fan of gallo pinto in nicaragua and will eat it every day indefinitely…nostalgically in love with the simplicity of beans, corn tortillas, rice, possibly an egg, hot sauce and coffee. holy crap, making myself hungry. okay, but now back to:

over brunch we discussed possibilities for the day: hike? beach? then he suggested kayaking. i’d never been. yes, he said. we’ll both drive, park one car at jenner, rent some kayaks, drive up the river, launch and paddle to the river mouth. my first internal reaction to new things is feeling hesitant. and if i go with it, i’d never try anything. so i talk myself down: this is uncertainty because you’ve never done it and you don’t know what to expect and you think you’ll suck. but that’s old thinking that doesn’t work for you anymore.

there is a ruckus of clearing plates, a little brushing of teeth, swimsuits, hats, sunglasses, water and we are out the door. you follow me, he says. on adventures like these, he’s the man. playing it by ear is his specialty and like crazy magic, all works seamlessly. with eight years of top notch military training…if the world ended we’d be cush and cozy with snacks in a foxhole somewhere in the woods.

we stop to get iced matés, fruit, and a couple michoacana popsicles (the best! he gets strawberry?, i get pepino y chile…cucumber and chiles…intense, delish: salty, spicy, sweet, and refreshing) and drive out to the coast. somewhere along the way i get ahead of him, drive too far, we stop and he repeats himself: you follow me. we backtrack to the coffee shop, cafe aquatica, in jenner (check it out when you get there! fabulous coffee, awesome people…you can’t go wrong). you wanna share a coffee?, he asks. although we’ve given up coffee because we’re high strung and it cracks us out, i still say, yes. turns out, we get inside and the guy i’m with and the guy who owns the coffee shop know each other. they talk plans for the day. and here’s where the really cool thing happens: the owner says, if you guys ever need kayaks i keep two out back for friends to borrow. next thing i know we’re loading up the kayaks and chit chatting about how cool it is that this adventure is unfolding in unexpected and lovely ways.

i know. the cool thing seems small. but i’m getting at a more cumulative cool. about recognizing small coolness over an extended period of time…it restores the potential enjoyment of being alive. i’m getting at a common social (american?) tendency to try and control life and all that happens and the people around you to keep your own comfort level…comfortable. consider this? the control thing is overrated. the kayak microexample is a tidbit of the possibility of  just. letting. go. okay, and let me toss in the disclaimer: of course, some things require measures of control. weeds in the garden bed, insect infestations eating everything you planted, fleas in the carpet or on the dog/cat/you, bills. i’m suggesting letting go. yeah, just a little bit. let the reigns go slightly slack. then a little more. wouldn’t it be cool? if your shoulders would relax enough to come down from around your ears? if your jaw wasn’t clenched without your knowing it? if you were aware of breathing or not breathing? if you could recall the last time you took a deep breath? if your buttcheeks weren’t clenched so tight that each and every dimple is deeply accentuated and not even a sharpened pencil could part them? what if, for a day, you didn’t care what other people were doing? how other people are driving? that someone passes you because, to them, you are going too slow? what if for a day, you tended to yourself and your own behavior and reactions? what if you let life happen, pruning it only when needed, allowing it to grow the rest of the time?

could be the coffee…but no harm done for trying, right?

oh, and kayaking? it didn’t go according to plan. and it was freakin awesome. we started too late and the wind was blowing upstream. so we paddled around in one little section of the river, eating fruit, parking next to each other, floating and using our oars to hold the kayaks side by side, and talking deep intricacies of life and opening to possibility and outcomes.

It’s not for lack of material

5 May

So I’m sitting here at my fave coffee place.  It’s this quaint old converted veggie stand gone coffee shop and well, let’s just say it’s outdoors.  The “indoor” area is basically outdoor only there are bathtubs with bamboo growing out of them that stand in for “walls” and the roof is a tarp.  Cool, right?

I had delusions about sitting in the sun and writing industriously. Instead, I’m all hopped on the  Americano I’ve managed to milk for several hours while writing…nothing, and talking with almost every person that even enters my peripheral vision, aaannnnnd reading other people’s blogs.  And, believe me, it’s not for lack of material that I haven’t written.  Nor for lack of time because, other than some residual stickiness from my morning grapefruit, time is all I’ve got on my hands.  Until, of course, this godforsaken cast comes off and I return to work and then I’ll regret not using this time wisely…but I think I’m off track, if I actually had one to begin with.

This caffeinated rambling reminds me of two things:  One of my least favorite instructors in grad school told me–not so gently (after a traumatizing class critique of not my greatest work in the world)–that the reason I don’t write isn’t because I have no material it’s my  focus that’s lacking.  And my most favorite teacher stressed the importance of remembering I am writing for an audience now.  Aw, christ.  So here I am attempting to weave something out of nothing, you know, really max out on meaty content. But, I’m now two hundred and sixty something words in and…

Still.  No.  Focus.  Or meat.  And my poor audience…hang in there.  Being mid-afternoon now, the coffee shop crowd has thinned.  I’d say if I had to pick a topic of the day it would be the importance of listening, not only as a writer but also as a human being in relationship with other human beings.  Tell the truth, don’t you feel all special and warm and fuzzy when you feel listened to and heard?

But listening takes skill and practice.  It is so much more than words flying out of someone’s mouth into your ears.  It’s more than preparing your reply or phasing out into the backdrop of your mind so you can remember the details of the story you are going to tell as soon as this person in front of you stops talking.  It’s not like jump rope, when you stand gauging revolutions for just the right time to jump in with whatever you’re scheming up instead of listening.  I’ve never done these things, because I’m lying an expert listener.  I imagine this is how it goes though.  Anyhow,  where was I?

In preschool, listening is basically part of the curriculum.  Because it’s important!  Just like using tissues to extract things from your nose.  And focusing on your current task.  In writing, listening is not only important but it’s also a tool for information gathering, a way to pick up new ideas for new pieces, and a connection to other human beings.  And what’s cool, if you’re having an antisocial day as I sometimes do, you can listen without engaging just by being out in public.  It’s kind of like parallel play, only for adults.  Imagine just listening for one whole day(that means no talking).  With a notepad.  And pen.

There is psychology and science behind more than just the physical act of listening.  And there’s how you process information.  And of course the fact that we’re all our own individuals with unique life experiences that create our own personal filter and influence the way we hear what is being said and how it affects us versus how it might affect someone else.  Google perception and top-down/bottom-up processing if you feel like it.  It’s dense and fascinating if you like the hard stuff.  In the meantime, here’s my favorite story of the day (and I have aliens, human anatomy, dating woes, and many others to choose from!):

So, I was getting stoned one night.  And I only had like…two hits.  But I swear, I was looking at the plants in my house and I started staring at this fern and all the sudden it totally had a face! And it looked like an old man.  Then it looked like my grandpa.  Swear!  And so I just started talking to him and telling him what’s been happening in my life. It was cool.

Okay, so this folks, is part of the reason we writers have a duty to listen.  Not only because there is Pulitzer Prize winning material out there (like you read above) but also because there are perfectly sane grown men out there talking to ferns and god only knows what else…

See you tomorrow.