Found By A French Macaron

How the story began a year or so ago.

Found this post I had written when I first started my French macs journey…

•••A Macaron Journey•••

« Why don’t you try baking a loaf of banana bread instead?! » he said at 1:00 in the morning! The noise of banging pots and pans jumbled with cursing words woke him up.

I did not choose the macarons, they chose me! When bakers came to my espresso bar counter this past weekend, expressing their Macaron dismay, and how they believe there’s a reason why they call French Macarons ‘A Baker’s Horror’, I felt proud I stuck with it despite the difficulty! The harder it got when I first started, the more intrigued I became! I lost sleep and became …obsessed.

The truth is, yes it was hard and still is, you have to be COMPLETELY present with every step of the process! You have to become entwined with the movement of your spatula, and just like how I used to tell my baristas when I used to train them at the espresso bar ‘you need to consider the portafilter and milk jug as an extension to your arm and part of your body’ I did the same with the macarons…we had to become one, I had to ‘feel’ the texture during the maçonnage process in order to not over or under mix!

Yes they are incredibly finicky, completely territorial (they hate it if I EVER attempt to place more than just one tray in the oven at a time, and will punish me mercilessly)! But, when they choose to like me and when they trust I was with them every second of the process and they had my full attention…they reward me with incredible beauty and grace!

This doesn’t mean I am The World’s Most Amazing Baker! Nor it means I am something special! I am rather a stubborn and obsessed person by nature, who by luck…answered a French Macaron calling, about a year ago, after becoming infatuated by their beauty, all while completely oblivious to their baking difficulty; then refused to back down and took them on instead! And that’s how this Macaron journey started!

Dirty Paws

I remember what I was thinking when I was sketching that nymphy face!

‘Of Monsters And Men’ was playing

Dirty Paws
Jumping up and down the floor
My head is an animal
And once there was an animal
It had a son that mowed the lawn
The son was an OK guy
They had a pet dragonfly
The dragonfly it ran away
But it came back with a story to say
Her dirty paws and furry coat
She ran down the forest slope
The forest of talking trees
They used to sing about the birds and the bees
The bees had declared a war
The sky wasn’t big enough for them all
The birds, they got help from below
From dirty paws and the creatures of snow
So for a while things were cold
They were scared down in their holes
The forest that once was green
Was colored black by those killing machines
But she and her furry friends
Took down the queen bee and her men
And that’s how the story goes
The story of the beast with those four dirty paws’
I loved that song! And still do!
The imagery always fills my head with forests, trees, creatures of snow and…dirty paws…
This morning, I needed that song! To feel …a little normal again!
Last night, I dreamt of a pet raccoon! Very strange! But the dream was very vivid! The pet raccoon wanted nothing to do with me! I had it on a leash…and I was riding my bike…Yes very strange indeed! The pet raccoon did not trust me. It wanted to escape.
It somehow, didn’t know what I was thinking! I wanted nothing more than to protect it, watch it eat some lettuce and be happy! ‘No kidding’ one would say! ‘It’s a raccoon! It’s not supposed to understand intentions or read thoughts!’!
I read somewhere, that raccoon babies, when in distress, can sound like human babies!! Why do I find that fact fascinating?! I have no idea!
Dirty paws. Raccoons. Horses. Birds. Dense forest. My brain is full of images…
I love them all…It’s going to be an interesting day…I hope.

Decided To Write After All

Yes those are my boots and gloves left at entrance to the little bridge that leads to my front door! After coming back from getting to know the horses earlier today! At a ranch 15 min drive from my house!

Sigh

Why am I sighing?!

I got there! At the ranch. I was on time. The other participant was late. That’s not why I am sighing.

The rancher is a man in his late 50s. His hair is white and resembles a Roman emperor’s! Think Claudius.

The staff member is a young 23 years old from…hear this! California!!! My brain immediately felt this ‘it’s way too early for puzzles! I’m here for the horses!…but WHY is a 23 year old ‘here’ in the rugged cold mountains?! After growing up in sunny desert California weather!’!

Thankfully, it only took a couple of seconds for my brain to get smarter! I immediately felt relieved when it /my brain/ decided ‘irrelevant detail! Focus on subject. Horses. Girl is not the focus’!

I’m one of those people, who usually watch in full astonishment, when others standing beside what seems to be their forever ‘thirsty’ and curious well, smiling, and wanting nothing more, than filling it with unnecessary details about ‘any’ random traveler that happened to cross their path! I will never get it. I’m hardly curious that way! But then my brain isn’t typical. And that is not ‘always’ good, as you are getting to know me in this blogging land 😉 but let’s leave that complicated subject to the side for now, shall we!

To my surprise, the girl, that same 23 year old, from Cali, turned out to be one of those curious forever question askers herself! Way too young. I thought to myself.

She asked at one point: So I heard you’re a coffee roaster! (Her eyes are wide open with excitement) do you roast the coffee at your house?

Me: (do I play nice?!…play nice! For the love of God..play nice! Hide your fangs..oh oh one fang is about to show…hurry!’ So I answer: Yup. In my oven in my kitchen when I am not busy roasting a chicken or something else for dinner! I just basically throw a ‘couple’ green coffee beans on a baking sheet! And voila 🙂

The girl, to my total shock, says this: Oh THAT IS AMAZING!

Me thinking ‘oh no. She actually believes me! My fault. Totally my fault. Why didn’t I play nice!’ And at that moment I decided to casually blurt: um..actually no. I roast my coffee in a proper roasting facility. Separate from my house!

She laughed really loud! And then said ‘OH DO YOU EVER GET SICK OF THE SMELL OF COFFEE?! LOL LOL LOL’ her eyes looking at me like I have THE most exciting answer, which in her mind, will affirm her clever curious question to be…clever…and very…curious!

Sigh..now what do I say to that!

I responded after quietly looking at her studying her…big wide smile ‘no. I don’t.’

I didn’t lol with her.

Yes I’m awful sometimes!

It got better later. She honestly continued being her incredibly happy and overly enthused self! I was glad my quietness and horrible answers did not offend her! And after me and I, did an intervention to straighten out my awful horrible focused only on task and task alone ‘horses in this case’ brain! It began to behave. The girl and I became good friends and we walked hugging each other’s shoulder side by side…all the way around the ranch and back!

No. We didn’t.

A Latte & Horses

Staring at my latte this morning! It’s BEAUTIFUL! I still ‘got it’! That skill! To make a killer latte…The truth about my inner thoughts though, are anything but…

I am full of uncertainties…

Today?! Lots of freshly roasted coffee will get delivered. I roasted it all yesterday evening! I truly hope the coffee beans did not sense my lack of inner peace during the coffee roasting session last night! If they did?! My business may be in jeopardy!

I picture the aromatic coffee beans at a customer’s house! After they just picked up a freshly roasted lb or 2 from the grocery store!

Customers driving home… imagining their black gold! That warm intoxicating smell! It’s already there… dancing in their nostrils! The crema, rewarding them with an indescribable heavenly taste!

They get home! They open the package, the beans rush out! The beans start telling stories…The customer gives them a very little chance to finish their stories, before throwing them in the coffee grinder! The beans suddenly look sad! They wish they had a good story to tell before turning into dust! To have a ‘happy’ legacy before they perish inside the dark ibis amidst the cold sharp blades! But they don’t…their brown tears fall…no one sees them. They hug each other goodbye. Exchange ‘was great hanging out when we were young and green inside that burlap bag!’! One zealous optimistic coffee bean is heard yelling! Although its voice is nearly muffled by the other beans, helplessly laying on top of it…squishing it! ‘our comradery will live forever! I will see you all on the other side when we all turn into liquid gold and when the espresso machine spits us out!’..Some of the beans pretend they didn’t hear it! As they continue their stoic stand still, neither shifting nor moving! Some, on the other hand, attempt a sad smile!

If only, if only the roster was her usual jolly self last night…but alas….she wasn’t!

That’s what I picture them all say…

I used to be confident behind the bar. The espresso bar that is. Now, I’m not too certain…

Events will be taking place soon! Christmas events. Days of 10 hours straight behind the bar. I should be happy. I love doing it! But then, why the fears?! I am still trying to find out…

Staring at my latte, I also think about tomorrow! Tomorrow marks my first day of my ‘Horses Course’! I’ll be going to hang out with 20 horses or something like that! I’ll count them all tomorrow, at a ranch close by! I’m nervous about that too.

The funny part! It was all my idea. I proposed it to the ranch owner a few months ago! He finally responded he’s ready! So, I should be happy, I love horses, I’ll be hanging out with ‘amazing’ horses! Why the apprehension?! It does not make sense…

I think, it’s a temporary phase I’m going through! It will pass very quickly. I hope..

To whoever is reading this: do not let your fears stop you! They are insidious, but you have the power to question them one by one! Dismantle them! Disarm them! And when you feel triumphant and victorious…When you rise and walk towards your window…and you stand there…looking outside…outside of your uncertainties…I will be standing right behind you..I will then, smile and drape my hands gently over your shoulders…and whisper in your ear ‘thank you for finding..you! Again’

I Don’t Want Your Wings

-Taking a break from my cafe story…-

* * *

As usual, my music is taking me places…places that are very very far…and I’m flying.

I can’t help but think of Icarus. His majestic well crafted wings catching fire. He got too close to the sun.

If I was Icarus: I’d refuse the wings! Sounds foolish! Ok ok I know it does! Sit down! 😉

Thank you for sitting down.

Now listen, and don’t get angry at my foolish irresponsible arrogance! Just try to hear me out!

If I was Icarus, I’d refuse the wings. My father Deadalus, would be offering them, he worked hard on crafting them so I could fly, and I don’t want them.

He will lay them carefully right in-front of me. His hands are tired and weathered and full of dark blotches and scrapes. But I still don’t want them! How ungrateful! Go ahead. Say it. But please remain seated.

I want them, only if

I want them, only if I can fly

Here you are jumping in my face again ‘but THAT’S THE POINT! He’s GIVING them to you so you could FLY’

‘Yes I do know that!’ I’ll say quietly. I’m calm. You’re not.

I don’t want the wings. I want them only if, I could fly…wherever I want to! Do not give me wings and say: don’t go up close to the sun! I get the don’t fly too low part! I could do that! I have no interest in low. But HIGH????? Are you kidding me???? Not too close to the sun so my wings won’t burn?! Oh wait…they’re made out of WHAT???? WAX???? Now I really really don’t want them! You’re the most skilled craftsman, and you made them out of…wax…sigh…I think you are trying to teach me something! Let’s see…I’m not supposed to disobey your rules? What? What is it that I am supposed to learn here?! To be wise? I AM NOT! I am not wise and I’ll never be!

So take your wings back!

Your wings will be wasted on me! It’ll probably take me 5 seconds to be right there close to the sun! And your wings will melt and I will fall!

How about, I help you make another set! Out of stuff that don’t melt ;)..just a thought! Then, you let me fly and linger…a bit longer…around..the sun

Stories From My Cafe Days

“She Wanted Me To Help Her Bury Her Heart”- Part II

* * *

She began to describe the cold freezing enclosure, she again found herself suddenly entering, after hearing ‘his’ words the other day! She described how familiar that enclosure had become!

She sat there, talking. I was trying to remain clam, quietly listening, while following her words, the sorrow in her eyes and the slow fainted tapping of her fingers. Her fingers would alternate softly between the edge of the table, and the side of her cup. Like a little scared prayer to The Gods, to have ‘his’ hand, her lover’s hand, there underneath hers! Instead of the edge of the table, or the edge of the coffee cup! But his hand wasn’t there…and her heart continued its rhythmic quiet weeping. All her fingers could cling on to, was a cold edge of an unassuming little square table, and a lukewarm..edge of a cup.

Her grace that I’ve always admired whenever she used to drop by for her coffee and chat! Was getting dragged down by the weights of her words, and chocked up tears…I wanted to pick it up.

Instead, little by little, I watched her beautiful grace weep! Who knew that someone’s grace could actually weep! Hers certainly did. Or was it her heart?! Doing all the weeping?! It started to get confusing…

All I knew was, hearing that thud noise of her heart’s broken pieces meeting the ground as she talked and talked, was getting louder and more frequent…And it didn’t take longer for me, until I could sense my own ‘anger’ rising! Its little bubbles, forming.

I wanted her to stop talking.

I wanted to scream ‘he’s not worth it’…

How could she be this blind?!

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Photo: Marco Bianchetti/Unsplash

Stories From My Cafe Days

“She Wanted Me To Help Her Bury Her Heart” -Part I

She was different from the rest!

She was ‘alive’! You couldn’t miss that if you had met her!

She was beautiful in a very unique way! Big curious and very smart, hazel eyes. Her hair..oh it’s hard to describe her hair! She changed it a lot! Whenever her mood struck or so it seemed! But on that day, it was cut much shorter! It barely reached her shoulders! Yet it really suited her.

She said she took her poultry shears to her long locks a few days earlier! I pictured her snapping away, as if, she was cutting off tentacles to her …pain! She affirmed that image when she said, she watched the snippets of hair fall down…and with them..her pain eased…a little. Then she giggled! Her usual nervous giggle.

It was unusually quiet that afternoon at the shop, when she walked in! As if, some mysterious power, blocked the roads with huge boulders, and kept people from showing up! So ‘she’ could tell her story uninterrupted!

I was busy organizing some lower shelves and doing a quick inventory! But then there she was! Smiling at me as my head raised above the surface of the counter!

Her smile was there, but her eyes had an ominous look! I knew something was up!

I was right!

We sat down! She stirred the spoon nervously inside her cup! Then tossed it on the saucer! I could read her uneasiness.

I remained quiet, waiting for her to begin. All while hoping, my smile was encouraging enough for her first words to emerge! And after a few seconds of silence they did! It was ‘him’! Again.

I sighed….

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Photo: Joel Overbeck/Unsplash

Stories From My Café Days

She said it ‘there’ll be no more!’. She repeated that sentence to herself! ‘There’ll be no…more’. She was tired! Tired of feeling too much!

She went outside her coffee shop to breath some ‘unemotional’ air. To have a little break from it all! But then, she continued walking. She left. She Opened the glass door to the parking lot, looking unsuspiciously ‘normal’! As usual, just out for a little break! …No she wasn’t!

To her own bafflement, that one afternoon, she actually continued walking towards her car, got in and drove away.

She didn’t drive far. In fact, she only drove to ‘another’ empty parking lot not even 5 minutes away! Turned off the ignition! Undid her confining seatbelt and..just…sat there.

Little did she know, ‘there will be many more’! She will be repeating that unexplainable inarticulable act of driving 5 minutes away, in the days, months and even years to come!

It was her escapism from…people’s suddenly emptied suitcases of stories and emotions right in front of her eyes! Right on that counter. And just like a skilled TSA agent, she watched herself getting better and better, at quickly stuffing all those bits and pieces of their stories back in, and quietly pointing to the next table, away from the lineup! Somewhere quieter to sort through all the…stuff!

Some days, there were anguish, heavy old and new disappointments, and even tragedies. All escaping out of their mouths and eyes…derivatives of the stories in their suitcases. All seeping in..into her skin! Leaving unseen, but deeply felt bruises! Felt only by…her.

Middle aged women with sad love lives, or sad family lives! Younger women with sad love lives, and/or sad family lives. Men wanting to describe their latest travel adventures to Paris! Even THOSE, were emotional and tinged with that high that leapt through their widening excited eyes! Reliving the moments! The ‘Paris’ moments! Details upon details are getting piled up in her…now foggy brain!

Everyone had a story to tell! Everyone wanted a piece of her. They could sense her inner Empath! They all seemed to be jousting for her attention! And she knew she was good at willingly giving it!

And there it all used to unfold! People’s stories brought in, stuffed in medium and large suitcases! (Seldom had she spotted smaller ones)! Those suitcases’ guts, were sometimes spilling through! Some people seemed to have packed theirs in a hurry! She guessed!

They would come in, order their pastry and coffee, and ask to talk to her if she had a second! She said yes a lot! It became customary.

The truth is, deeply inside, she felt honoured they all trusted her! It was tiring, but incredibly rewarding at the same time!

-Kat is behind the bar today?! Did you say Kat’s behind the bar! Hey thank you for calling..um gotta go..

That’s how she pictured it happening sometimes! They all knew each other! It’s a conspiracy. They all sat there at the cafe pretending to not know each other! But they did!!! They…DID! How else could she explain spotting them hurrying out of their cars, traversing through the parking lot?! And showing up one after another????! Indeed! Humour was so needed on those days! Accompanied by favourites like “Novo Amor/Anchor” playing in her ears, nursing her soul back into health, and washing away her bruises! And…what else other then… a 5 minute car drive, to the next parking lot!

***********

And I hear your ship is comin’ in
Your tears a sea for me to swim
And I hear a storm is comin’ in
My dear, is it all we’ve ever been”

Novo Amor/Anchor- – -(fictional happening of actually listening to it on those days. But I certainly listened to similar)

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Personal sketch’

My Evening Thoughts

Going through pics from a trip to Toronto not too long ago! I am brought back to those days, when I was nearly skipping while walking the streets sometimes… That’s how happy I was there! Discovering places like, a really really old paper store full of stacks of gorgeous paper from all over the world! My eyes would feast and try hard to keep up with everything in front of them, above them, and to the side of them!

Or, an old untouched by time barbershop, sitting there for over 80 years! On Spadina Rd. When a haircut used to cost $2! And where an old cash register weighing probably more than a car, is still sitting there and still being used!!!!

How many times did I suddenly stop walking! My eyes wide open, wanting nothing more than…just to observe…all the details of everything old and beautiful and nostalgic and with AMAZING retro signage and it’s ALL still there!

What city, town, place made your heart skip with happiness while walking the streets? Please share