Sunday Coffee

An afternoon at the coffee shop while procrastinating on my future is helping me….procrastinate.

There is a couple on a first date. They sound as though they are both on interviews. Each taking their turn talking about the “year’s” they’ve spent honing their professional crafts. They are maybe 30 so I wonder how they’d describe these same stories in 10, 20 years from now. These young adults are our future.

What does life do to us? Experience shapes how we tell a same story from one decade to the next.

What was funny, or smart, or classy or important in our 20’s, isn’t so funny, smart or classy and important in our 30’s and as I imagine our 40’s, 50’s or 60’s – I have yet to arrive!

We mimic. We observe. We try on other people’s stories. We jump into life and we learn. Our beliefs sometimes shift or become more entrenched.

We learn to take ourselves a little less seriously.

Life is good.

Coffee is great 🙂

The Cannonball

I’ve been in my job a year, it feels like it’s been 5. Work is good and I’ve managed to avoid the 15% per month work travel that was part of my contract. I didn’t think I’d get so excited about not traveling, but I managed to find things to do, like see my family more often, join a dojang and a running group and become addicted to all three.

I built a routine. Something I hadn’t done ever and you know what, those feel-good books are right. Routine is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and oddly grounding :-P. It’s a breakthrough perhaps only for me and +30 years late but there is no time like today.

So I escaped work travel and I was sad about that, but now that 15% travel in my contract is coming at me full force, “You missed a whole year of work travel so we are bumping your travel up to 90% for this year. How d’ya like us now!”

Ok so they didn’t really say that to me and it’s not 90% but for now there is a “plan” where I’ll have to be packed for 5 weeks straight.

That concerns me slightly – WHAT DO I PACK!

A uniform, I’ve decided. Black dress pants and fitted dress shirts. Boring and functional.

And that is how I ended up on Queen Street East.

After a futile shopping experience where the kids in the Retail shops ignored me and what I did try on just didn’t fit, I resorted to the Internet.

Tailored clothes!

Ok so it feels a little like I am back in the 30’s but I’ve also done my research and the price difference that I am paying between something off the rack that sags in the wrong spots, that will to rub to shiny within months and something that is fitted to me and will last year’s, is minimal.

What has The Cannonball Coffee and Bar have to do with Tailored pants?

Nothing really except it is a Toronto GEM and happens to be just down the street from the Tailor. It has great music, the yummiest breakfast bagels (served after 5pm even!!) I have ever tried, plus their coffee is pretty good.

And the only reason I am here is because work asked me to travel, I need pants, I found a tailor and am enjoying an impromptu evening at one of my favourite coffee house’s in the city.

A Famished Runner

Besides motivating me to get out and run, one thing I like about my running group is they are committed to their coffee.

Who wouldn’t want to join a group of solid runners committed to their coffee and on some runs, brunch.

Today’s run started and ended at the coffee shop.

It is a coffee shop.

It has the basics of a coffee shop. Coffee, a small selection of muffins, sandwiches and cookies. However, it is also an eco-friendly coffee shop and they sell local organic diary products like milk and eggs.

One of the runners arrived back from the run famished.

He waited in line at the cash for his turn, twisting and turning. When it was his turn he leaned in and asked the barista, “Do you have any eggs?”

The barista innocently replied, “I can sell you a dozen eggs if you’d like.”

I almost died laughing, imagining this famished runner, sipping his coffee with a bucket of a dozen raw eggs sitting in front of him.

His hunger neglected.

He passed on the dozen raw eggs.

Valentines Weekend Coffee

A real weekend isn’t complete without at least one trip to the coffee shop.

What could be better than sitting in the bay window of the shop, enjoying a quiet moment, sipping my coffee?

Well of course the only obvious answer: having a random conversation with another patron.

Trust me, I mind my own business while in the coffee shop and this particular day I was busy writing a personal note to myself.  Something along the lines of: “while coaching my students on being faced with possible failure, what is worse, the fear of failure or the failure itself – and here I am sitting sipping coffee more concerned of failure itself.” I don’t know where that thought was going because I was interrupted by an older gentleman.

“May I sit in this chair?”

“Why of course,” and I turned back to my tablet in an attempt to finish my grand thought when I was interrupted a second time.

He wasn’t about to sit there across from me and let me “play around” on my tablet while I could have a real conversation with a real human being and not my conscious mind.

And so there I sat conversing with a man, a recent retiree who has figured out how to have the best of both worlds.  He told me stories of his adventures and at some point I believe it turned into a game of how much he could make me laugh, my sides hurting, me twisting in my chair to alleviate the discomfort of sore abdominal muscles.

In any event he told me of sweet Maria, the Brazilian, so classy, to be clear – not sluty.

“You know, similar to SĂ´nia Braga,” he paused “who was linked to Robert Redford, Maria has that same…” he twisted his lips into a pout as he thought of an appropriate descriptive word.  I wanted to blurt out “sensual” but I was intrigued by how he made his lips form a perfect rectangle.

‘How does he do it?’ I thought distractedly, ‘Does he practise this in the mirror? Is it genetic?’

He found his word and proclaimed “Sensual!”

He paused a moment looking up to the ceiling.  He nodded yes, agreeing with himself, then re-formed his lips into a perfect rectangle and said once again with confidence and all the passion he could muster, “Sensual, she is s-e-n-s-u-a-l.” he dragged it out.

And there you have it, sweet Maria, the Brazilian who would remind you of SĂ´nia Braga, is classy AND unbelievably s-e-n-s-u-a-l.

A Saturday Morning

A Saturday Morning

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I have come to the coffee shop to concentrate on some work that needs doing.

There is a man with his two children, a girl around 9 and a boy about 7, sitting in the back section with me.

The girl chose to sit by herself at one of the bar tables. She is entertaining herself by blowing up a paper bag and repeatedly hitting her fist against the air bulge at the bottom of the bag.

Surprisingly the bag is still intact.

Dad is sitting with his boy on the old church pews. They are having a spirited discussion in a language I do not recognize or understand.

l love this coffee shop even if I am distracted.

Errands with my niece, “The Best Day of My Life!”

Today was an errand running kind of day and my nine year-old niece was along for the ride.

Our first stop was Claire’s, a fashion and jewelry accessories store for girls, where my niece picked out a princess tiara, promptly placing it on her head as we left the store.

Our second stop was Starbucks.

My niece chose a kids sized hot chocolate paired with a pumpkin shaped sugar cookie.

We waited at the bar for our drinks. When the drinks were called out and pushed across the counter my niece noticed the top of her drink, “This is the best day of my life!! Nobody has ever put chocolate sauce on the top of my drink before!”

We stayed in the coffee shop to enjoy our beverages, that’s what grownups do.

She chose the bar seats and clambered up on her stool so she could watch the barista’s preparing drinks, “It’s hard to keep up with what they are doing, there are so many of them and so many coffees to make!”

Also published at Medium.com

Little Big Guy Coffee

Little Big Guy Coffee

wpid-20140310_121341.jpgThis weekend I visited a new coffee shop on Lakeshore West, New Toronto to be specific. It was suggested to me a month or so ago by a local business owner who was adamant the coffee shop was a “super friendly”, “really nice” and “the best on Lakeshore West”. I didn’t want to argue, I have my bias, and instead made a mental note to check it out…one day.

I’ve driven by it a few times on my way to work. I’d slow down and peer towards the store in an effort to distinguish from my driver’s seat whether it was worthy of a “stop-and-see”. To be honest, it never looked open.

I decided this weekend was as good as any time to try it out and instead of turning right onto Lakeshore, I turned left.

As I walk towards the store it continued to look closed with the exception of the two jolly ladies sitting on chairs on the sidewalk directly in front of the shop. There are two doors to this coffee shop, one is for decoration, and the other is the actual door. Unlike regular doors of stores, this one had a door knob at the same level as my ears (or so it seemed) with a little sign above that says “pull”.

I pulled, the door opened and there I was standing inside the coffee shop. The room isn’t very big. There are 2 or 3 mismatched tables with mismatched chairs. Halfway along the left wall is a doorway that leads to the second side of the shop, the side that belongs to the door that isn’t meant to be opened.

Along the back of the first side of the shop is the coffee bar. Not one that you might expect, a low counter that crosses the width of the shop with nothing to distinguish it from a regular counter in a kitchen. It reminds me of a table at a fair where people showcase their goods.

Behind the bar is a large man. He is friendly just like the lady said he’d be. I ordered a “mostly-dark-roast” coffee and crossed to the second room to the left. There are more tables and chairs in this room.

An old drafting table with an array of counter and bar height chairs, a long interesting wooden table from an 18th century pub house (not really), including a bench that ran the length of the table, some leather chairs and regular height tables and more mismatched chairs.

The small metal encased radio sits on a corner shelf that is filled with books, pens, pencils and paper. Some of the pencils are loose, rolling around the floor. I’ve arrived in someone’s kitchen in an old farm house where I can put my feet up, fart and just be. The atmosphere is welcoming for sure with the 1980’s radio was blaring out 1980’s tunes, it’s antenna reaching for the ceiling.

The shop has a musty smell, a mix of old deodorant, unwashed hair and dirt stuck to the base boards. It may be the two older gentle men sitting at the front who are busy banging on the window, making faces and hand gestures to the women sitting outside, I can’t be sure.

Friendly, cosy, smelly, delicious coffee.

With a some cleaning TLC, a fresh coat of paint, an update to the entrance, a coffee bar that isn’t so confusing, I could then call it a hidden intimate gem, good for farting around 🙂