Valentine’s

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Could someone explain to this woman ‘me’, this contradiction?! Keep reading

In reality, I am not one to celebrate V Day.

Yet, every year, I go nuts baking French macarons, for? …Valentine’s Day.

By going nuts, I mean, something like yesterday: 12 hours baking, printing labels, packaging, designing etc etc.

I seriously love it.

I threw an ad online, among my community where I live. And had to label ‘Sold Out’ in three hours. As the orders poured in. I was beyond excited.

Yes yes yes, I am ‘one of those’ who end up working for less than $20/hr when I do these spontaneous stunts. Please don’t label me as a fool! I recognize the importance of making a living. I fully understand, the angst_most artists I know feel_with regard to how Artisans (that includes you writers as well by the way), do not get paid their worth.

It pains me whenever I have these conversations with my artisan friends:

– THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!!! You need to sell these!

– /A sheepish sad smile emerges/ It took me 8 hours to knit this piece. But I can’t sell it. I’ll be charging a price no one is willing to pay. They can get something from China for a fraction of the price.

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My neighbour across the road, is the epiphany of creativity. Her work, blows me away.

She’s a petite woman, who works a chainsaw for hours. Doing what? Hear this: Slicing a humongous piece of a tree trunk, nearly half her size, after her creative eyes zeroed in on it somewhere.

She finds abandoned fallen trees, hauls them to her studio, picks up her chainsaw, and would spend hours, slicing and then plaining…and then sanding…and then doing all these things that only a true artist could do, to bring it back to its glory, and to breath life into it.

The end result? The most beautiful charcuterie board you have ever seen! Full of the stunning beauty of nature. Full of gorgeous wooden knots that took years to form. Full of what nature’s brilliant hand, created in texture, soothing raw natural hues, twists, curves and just stunning beauty that makes you gasp.

I will leave you with snippets of my last couple of days. Today will be the same. Full of freshly baked swooning French Macs, gorgeous creamy colour boxes (I LOVE good paper anything), delicate romantic vintage ribbons and all the delicate beauty in objects related.

I hope you enjoy as much as I am

Story From My Café Days

The pictures above, show notes people used to leave for random strangers who’d come to purchase a coffee or a latte etc after them! At my little café 6 years ago.

The story started, when one day, a regular customer, arrived without his family! He was wearing a dark suit. No smile.

The whole family, used to greet me every Friday, as they arrived for lunch and lattes! They used to always make me smile, as I’d watch their lit up faces and the joy felt in their chatters.

It was strange enough, that he was there by himself, let alone the serious face.

As he ordered a black coffee to go. I could not help, but notice the change in his ordering pattern, along his grim demeanour! I couldn’t recall him ever ordering a black coffee before! It’s usually two cappuccinos for him and his wife, and two lattes for his late teen daughters.

All those thoughts were running quickly through my head, as I handed him his coffee. No conversation took place.

As he was now handing payment to the employee behind the cash register, I addressed him by declaring it’s on the house, while giving him a little encouraging smile towards whatever he was internally dealing with! He looked surprised, but politely accepted, said thank you and departed.

Right after, we became busy again, and I quickly forgot the incident.

A couple days later, his wife was standing inline! Again, by herself! Now, could someone explain what is going on?! First him, and now her! Is she wearing a dark suit too?! No! No she’s actually wearing a whitish winter sweater over a pair of blue jeans! Ok at least that part is normal! Is she going to order a black coffee too?! No! She is actually ordering her usual cappuccino! Another sign of normalcy!

When it was her turn to pick up her drink, she leaned over and said ‘I’d like to thank you for your kind gesture towards my husband the other day. He was on his way to a friend’s funeral! And your kind gesture struck him as how could you have known?! But at the same time it was what he needed!’

Then she asked to do the same for the person coming after her.

And that’s how it all began.

People started asking to purchase a coffee for someone coming later. And they’d leave a few encouraging words.

That was 6 years ago.

In my next post, I will try to explain the pressure I am feeling, from very close people, to reopen that café again, and recreate that caring culture.

it’s not a bad pressure. It’s a good pressure! But then I’m still terrified to jump into the chaos again.

Do I need to say it’s a ‘good’ chaos?! No. I think you get the idea.

The Dog & The Bird

The phone is ringing!! Oh no! Oh no no no ..NO! It’s my mother! This will be the fifth time screening her calls.

I caved in. I answered.

– You keep saying you are ‘delivering coffee’! what happened to your design career!? (My mom has stubbornly refused to neither understand nor accept the concept of me roasting coffee for a living, for the past 7 years).

– I like it mom! It’s what I do! I have Charlotte and Andrew with me in the car! What could be better? _I’m evil! playing with my mom knowing she will never guess who that was, and it WORKED_

– You take your friends with you to deliver your coffee?

– Nope! Char is my dog! Andrew is Andrew Bird

– You take your dog AND your bird with you in the car?

_trying incredibly hard not burst laughing as she will never forgive me_Yes mom I take The Dog AND The Bird….

The dog rolled her eyes at me! Andrew Bird stopped singing, opened the passenger door and jumped out! The dog followed suit…And I…was left alone in the car, with my mother and 50 lb of coffee to deliver…alone.

It’s All About The Mind

Talking to someone who understands you, actually understands you! Can feel incredibly surreal! At least, it’s how it feels to me!

If you knew me, you’d know, the instant my phone rings, I will do anything and everything in my power, to ignore it! I will glance at my phone in terror! As if some ‘person’ _I intentionally say person versus ghost as humans scare me way more than ghosts_ is going to jump out of the screen, sit me in a chair, tie me up…and start talking, while I can’t escape!

Talking on the phone represents, the dreaded sudden disappearance of my freedom and liberty. And I immediately turn into a hopeless hostage, dreaming of running away and finding my land of freedom one day!

So, with all that being said, why is it, when once in a lifetime or so it seems, we get the chance to talk to a kindred spirit, we suddenly find ourselves, not wanting the conversation(s) to end?!

This has been happening with my estranged sister! Her mind, is sparkling with such deep understanding and awareness, of so many subjects! She also seems to understand things about me that I’m not even aware they exist!

We don’t discuss childhood memories, or spend hours reminiscing about our shared past while growing up! We in fact, discuss social issues, societal change, male versus female subject matters and even global movements that seem to be taking the world by a storm!

And by the end of nearly every conversation, I am left in aw, of her beautiful mind!

Do you have one like that in your life?

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The typographical design piece in the picture, is one of my favourite editorial design pieces that I had the chance to work on years ago.

Scaring Tourists

Victoria. May 2018

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My friend and I met at the airport after synchronizing our flights from different Canadian cities.

On our third day in Victoria, my friend decided she needed to visit a haunted castle known as a historical landmark.

It was her first time in the city, so it was only expected she desired to visit many different spots on her list.

I had made it clear to her_we are best friends_ that ‘sightseeing’ with humans has proven to be hazardous to…my immune system! No. The truth is, It bores me to death. And I went to an extra length explaining in full honesty ‘you are my best friend, and if I cannot be myself with you, then…etc etc’.

She acted fantastically open and accepting towards one of my many silly eccentricities. And declared it was all ‘cool’!

Then, I looked at her….getting into the little red car we rented, all alone. I was watching from our balcony on the second floor, and suddenly…as I see her arm inside the car, stretching out in slow motion…in what looked like, a complete heart wrenching and ever so very very sad slow mechanism…and just as she was about to swing the door closed to what would have been the start of an unbearably lonely drive…all the way, to a ghostly haunted castle in Vic, BC!…I….suddenly whistled!

She stuck her head out of the car and looked up ‘what?!’

‘Wait! I’m coming down’.

And off we went, all the way to the big haunted castle.

As we are exiting the car in the visitors’ parking lot, we couldn’t help but turn our heads to the car that just parked beside us! A woman ‘the driver’, had one foot outside the car, while looking at the castle in front of us, then suddenly yells at her husband still sitting in the passenger seat ‘honey! You like castles right??!’. The car had a New Jersey license plate. My friend and I looked at each other and wanted to laugh sooo badly. It seemed juuuust ‘a little late’ to find out if ‘Honey’ liked castles! Considering the long trip all the way from Jersey. But then that was us imagining the poor husband getting dragged all the way from Jersey to Victoria, BC, Canada to visit… a haunted Castle!!

It was my very first time visiting that castle too. Although I’ve been to Victoria many times before! Like I said, I’m not particularly fond of sightseeing when traveling! And I have long resigned, even the way I travel, is atypical to say the least!

While there now, at the haunted castle, I looked at my watch, and realized an hour had passed and I am already on the last floor! My friend, was still on the second! Reading every note on every wall etc etc…I think. In fact I’m sure!

So what did I do?! How do I fill in the time?!

I decided to play with an excited brand new flock of tourists.

I’d watch where there are heading. Then I’d go into the room they are going to visit right after. Sit still in a chair!!! Not moving. Just looking ahead! Then I’d turn my head sideway slowly, as they enter and watch as they’d just…freeze in terror!

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun.

But, there was one story, which happened later that very same night, that I still think about! I like to believe, a funny ghost there, at that haunted castle, was watching me acting cheeky! Then???!! I’ll tell you what happened when you visit me next time…

BOO

Story From My Café Days

The only reason this story is seeing the light, is due to my friend Bryan from

https://acrackinthepavement.com

His ‘Sushi’ story inspired mine. Although mine needs to be written in a tiny chunk of time, as I have to get to work soon.

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The year was 2012.

As an owner of a little café at the time, one of the things that I used to count my blessings over, was my staff. Even the ones who would eventually go back to school, move on to different career paths and so on, used to keep coming back to say hello every now and then.

Until, I hired him.

He used to visit with his girlfriend, purchase a dry Cappuccino and marvel at how much he enjoyed my coffee! How different it was due to the beans being roasted fresh right there etc etc.

One day, he visited with his girlfriend as usual, stood at the bar, and said ‘I’d honestly love to work here’. My response?! ‘Drop off your resume’. And the rest was history!

I trained him as I usually trained all my staff. No experience required. As long as the applicant had a passion for coffee, a desire to learn, showing up on time etc, I was flexible.

He was a sponge, eager to learn and improve, and soon became the star in that little cafe.

He expressed a desire to learn to roast coffee, and I agreed to coach him until he mastered it.

This had all the signs to go positively well! Until one day, one of my favourite baristas, complained about an inappropriate behaviour he had exhibited that made her feel uncomfortable! It was my job to listen and inquire about any mistreatment etc. I advised I will talk with him and discuss the matter.

When I questioned him, he brushed it off and said ‘I’m European, it’s how we are! I was just being friendly’! I explained North American culture requires of him, to not repeat that behaviour ever again with any other staff member. He, charmingly agreed and as usual, stepped forward to give me a hug, and just as usual, I politely stepped backwards.

Needless to say, the incident was repeated with another staff member, who unfortunately was not as self confident as the first one was. This employee was vulnerable enough, for him to keep getting away with it. Yet no matter how innocent they made it look, I knew it was my job to protect her. Even if she refused to see it.

I decided it was time to face the music once and for all. I remember sitting him down at a table away from the café. I also remember how hard I prepared for that meeting.

In the end, I had to be extremely firm while I explained he can finish his last three weeks working for me until his Visa runs out! But I will not be renewing his contract under the circumstances.

As I expected, he did not take it very well.

Soon, I started hearing staff members asking me ‘why is Shane being let go?! He’s so amazing at the café and I should be happy to have him etc etc’.

The rest of the staff, supported me. Which was what made this not end very badly as my patience with Shane was running thinner and thinner everyday.

One of the bizarre things that I would hear, was ‘how come you’re not throwing a party for Shane’s departure back to Europe?’. Or ‘Shane is feeling really sad no farewell party is thrown for him, considering all he had contributed to the café!’.

In my mind, I wanted him to just leave once and for all. I did not want to embarrass him, but, at the same time, you can imagine my frustration over how he managed to change the wonderful culture we had for years at that café!

I finally decided, a farewell party for Shane is going to take place alright! But it will be just a little, different.

A big huge sushi dish was one of the dishes catered. Shane loved sushi. Except, I had asked for one Uramaki to be loaded with wasabi, and marked with a splash of Shuyo, so I know which one it was!

There was Shane, having a great time, feeling I finally caved in to the party throwing pressure.

In my mind, he did not deserve a farewell party, but I did not want my staff to be further divided than they already were. So I took ‘what may have looked like’, the higher ground route. Except now we know, not without a last attempt at some humour Sushi revenge.

I smiled at him. The big Sushi plate is resting on my forearms. He’s now smiling back looking at me, perhaps thinking he COMPLETELY won the bet. ‘Not so fast dear little man! Not so fast’.

Now how do I get him to pick ‘that’ specific loaded with wasabi piece?! Well…let’s say he just did and leave it at that! No coaxing was needed what-so ever. Of course there was…

Everyone around is busy chattering, laughing and having a good time. Shane?! He took one bite, still smiling, and…his face tuned ….red. I mean, really, red! I smiled and said ‘oh dear! Are you ok!’. Shane nodded sheepishly…yes. His eyes stopped smiling by then….and rather started watering!

I smiled again and said ‘good’. Then left with the big plate full of delicious sushi.

The party continued on and was actually a lot of fun. My staff (who knew of the horrible wasabi plot) laughed hysterically! Those who didn’t…kept wondering ‘why is Shane’s face so red???!’. I responded ‘Shane’s just a little emotional he’s leaving you all!’.

The end