Saturday, July 07, 2007

new blog

right now, it's still just copied and pasted posts from this blog but stay tuned for more daily accounts.

living breathing coffee

It blows my mind that I've been so neglecting my sweet, little blog so much but I'm honestly left with no choice in the matter. It's either neglect the blog or ignore some daily essential function... which I'm already having to do. There aren't many left to neglect.

I closed up the shop myself two nights ago and opened today all by my lonesome... which I totally enjoyed. Coming in on a quiet, warm, overcast morning and having the place to myself before the open flag goes out... getting the three brews brewing, putting on some Nina Simone to keep me company, the place has a soft, fresh light to it...

Right now, though, in the bigger scheme of things, this place is a fucking wreck. The owner has totally checked out and I understand where she's coming from. I was the same way at the inn before I left but the yard is overgrown, the stone wall that wraps around the front of the building is thick with weeds, the two plastic tables on the big porch are just permanently filthy from never being wiped down. The other three have been stolen. Inside the shop, there is a thick layer of funk on nearly everything. The toaster oven (which has a bent fork wrapped through where the handle used to be and was purchased at a yard sale for $20) ... it caught on fire this morning and I had to unplug the thing, run it outside and pour water into it. The spray bottles don't spray, the fridge doesn't really close and the faucet is kept from a permanent drip with a Phillips screwdriver.

The landlord (who said, and I quote ~ "that faucet doesn't belong to me") has hired a mowing/landscaping company to come and start taking care of the grounds. Rent has been jacked up $100 a month to cover the cost of that service, as well as her growing property taxes and insurance (and her million dollar divorce). The mowing service came today with chainsaws to cut down some of the leggy trees along the side of the building and I ran out in a panic at one point when he started to buzz through the pretty one right outside my sink window. I insisted he stop till I talk to the landlord (who I still haven't met ~ only talked to on the phone) so he walked next door to one of the other many buildings she owns and brought her back. The tall green tree, which looks so beautiful when it collects rain, is cracking the foundation of the building. I'd have loved to draw up my EarthFirst attitude and insist that the building is just getting in the way of the tree but... I let it go. The tree is gone. And twenty minutes later I was already appreciating just how much light the windows now let in.

I should be sitting down right now and finishing my business plan. I should be plugging in those last numbers, writing up a resume and appendix to attach to the back of it and creating the "executive summary".... a cover letter, of sorts. I should be doing this so I could get the money in my hands to clean this place up, buy some hanging flower pots, new deck furniture, spray bottles.... hire me a plumber.

And I will... but before I go.... wanted to put it out there that soon soon soon I'll be posting an entirely different blog. A coffee blog. I'll keep this one as a journal of sorts and use it for it's own thing but stay tuned. I'll post the link when it's up and running.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on coffee

My last day at the inn was yesterday. I made my rounds saying goodbye and realized, in doing so, that I might actually be genuinely missed by many of them. Not because I've done anything stellar to the department or because I've gone above and beyond in any way... but probably just because I'm a laid back person and like people. I don't shit talk and I have never fed into the beuracratic bullshit. I drove out of Stowe, my car a sauna in the 90 degree weather, listening to Feist and wondering what life will be like without the small but steady salary I've had for almost three years.
Today, I'm at the coffee shop, dying behind the counter in this heat but starting to understand the ropes here. I'm able to look around and see what needs done and the little systems here are starting to sink in.

I leave tomorrow for a week.... down to Pennsylvania to visit family and friends and when I get back it's nose to the grinding stone. Registering a tax ID number, getting payroll information and insurance policies into place, meeting with all the necessary people to make sure I'm all up to code. I'll have to fix up the half finished kitchen through the month of June, along with the sauna box office space on the second floor so that Ella will have someplace other than the coffee counter to amuse herself.

We've cancelled her childcare situation for the summer and have decided to have her here with me.... which I'll probably regret in a few weeks.... but already she's proving to be quite the little helper. I've showed her where to pour the beans, how to retrieve things from the closet fridge, how to wash the dishes, collect dirty plates and clear tables. She loves wrapping an apron around her waist and looking official. Her karate teachers, two brothers, have a web design office upstairs so they're down here all the time hanging out and drinking milkshakes with her.

I think I'm onto something here. I'm a sweaty mess and covered in grease from the focassia rolls and totally jacked on dark roast but it feels damn good.

Monday, June 18, 2007

even stowe has dirty old men

i was sitting at my friend's little cafe in stowe today, working on the coffee shop stuff. i was in the throws of putting together the "capital investment list" for the business plan. basically i was sitting in the midst of three or four commercial kitchen equipment catalogues and newsflyers, pricing out stuff that i'm going to need.... lists being made. pen in hand. brow furrowed.

the place was crowded with the noon lunch rush and one older gentlemen came over to my table after a while and leaned into it, looking over the catalogues.

"i can't help but notice that you're looking at commercial kitchen equipment. i work up at the mount mansfeild resort and have been in the hospitality and tourism industry for seventeen years."

he asks what my project is and then proceeds to tell me about the high-end catering companies he's run and the Atlanta, Georgia coffee shop chain he had, like, twenty years ago... "organic way before organic was hip..." (organic should not be considered hip. it should be considered an absolute fucking necessity, moron)

so, as he's leaning over the table puffing out his ego and his bad breath is wafting into my darling yogurt parfait, i notice that his gaze keeps moving down my face and into my tank top... like, right into my tank top. up and down. down and up.

so when he asks me if there's anything he could do to help with what i'm doing, why - i ask myself - didn't i say that what he could do to help would be to stop leaning over my workspace and checking out my boobs. they aren't even big boobs. they're tiny, little boobs.

i came so close to saying it... actually opened my mouth and then just shut it.

i'm way too polite for my own good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tis the Season

It's officially summer.

I know this not because there are flowers growing up in my flower beds or because we eat most of our meals outside now. Not because the screens are in the windows or Ella's bedtime has been naturally extended an extra hour or two because of the longer days. It has nothing to do with the upcoming Solstice or my suntan. I know this because there are small, dead rodents - or the body parts of small, dead rodents - all around my house.

Yesterday, a sprawled chipmunk was dropped in front of our kitchen door. Today, I found myself bent to ground, squinting, to try to figure out why that raspberry was furry. It wasn't a raspberry. It was the nose end and guts of a small mole. Just the mouth, teeth, whiskers and guts. I can't shake the image.

The barn is full of decomposing critters. The roads are littered with them. It's just a damn good thing they reproduce at the rate they do... otherwise their species would surely be doomed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


seven times over
this unpaved road
waterfights as the sun went down
the beginning of summer nights
and only three more days of school

sky turned red
air gone just a little cold
barn cats gather like a congregation
at our ankles
wrapping around our feet like summer brambles
spiders start to freckle the barn windows
on bradly road
multiplying in fierce numbers
seven times over

the bush elms start to crack and crumble in this yard
bent spine of her favorite story
chapter by chapter
night by night
by bedside
window open to the night choir
the doorway between spring and summer
coming in to sweep her forehead
like my kiss goodnight

sunday shift

spent another afternoon at the coffee shop.... figuring out how filthy dirty the place is, how many new systems need to be put into place, and exactly how i should assault the paperboy who never delivers the paper on time.

i'm wishing i hadn't already committed to the price i did and i'm realizing it's still a pretty good deal.... considering.

driving home today along the hogback, feet tired but window down and clouds moving in and cooling things off, i started to realize just how suffocated i've felt these (almost) three years that i've been at the inn. kind of like i've been underwater the whole time, my only air coming in through a crazy straw. a clogged up crazy straw. like, wet and moldy clogged up.

there's a handful of great people i'm going to miss seeing.... people who make me laugh pretty regularly, people who have genuinly reached out to me in hard times.... okay, maybe like two people. three tops.

but i won't miss the long drives into stowe, i won't miss the weird little economic bubble that stowe is, i won't miss the feeling that stowe is a club and membership is limited.

i will miss the high end library and amy's cafe and my regular trips to the dump from which i've kept myself and my family well dressed for years now.

i won't miss having a passive aggressive bossie (or a bossie at all), or twice monthly manager roundtable meetings that make me want to kick a hole up through the center of the table just for kicks..... i won't miss tourists with diamond studded manicures and white furry boots that match their white furry muffs and coats.

i will miss chocolate martinis after work at pie casso and having daily access to a health club and sauna. i'll miss doing bodywork.

maybe in three years, or five years, when i've put the shop up for sale and have found my new adventure, published that year's bestseller, i'll be listing all the pros and cons of what i will and won't miss in the heart of johnson..... but for now it's just nice to know that i'm soon to be manning the fort, navigating my own waters, making my own playlists, building a mean foam.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One more thing in the pot.....

The land next door to us that just recently came up for sale. We were offered the first right of refusal. We looked at this land back in 1999, when we first started our land hunt. They weren't ready to sell at the time and we just happened to land this farm lease right next door to it about five years ago...been in contact with the owners next door since about building up the pasture and making arrangements for a hay contract.
This hillside is like a holy place. From the top of it is a fine view of Mount Mansfeild and the Green Mountains. The way the wind blows from the top of it, you'd think She was whispering secrets directly to your heart.
I don't know that we can NOT try to buy this land. I just don't know how to survive the juggle it'll entail. This little strip of river valley where I live has become home and I feel like I'm a part of the cycles here already, the hidden waterfalls in the woods, the geese migrations. I've watched Ella grow up under the canopy of it's hillsides. The farm we lease will likely never come up for sale and in order to stay where we are, this land is possibly the only option and definately the preferred option.
Wish us luck. It might mean diving headfirst into another building project, in which case, I'll need all the support we can get. But if it works out and we end up calling this place home, something will have surely clicked in the universe. Something in the cosmos will have aligned for us.

I just copied and pasted this old post here.
We found out last night that the owners of the land
next door are accepting our offer. One hundred and twenty acres.
We meet with a realtor on Saturday about selling
the land we own up the road.
Deep breath.

A Lune

Kids run loose
in the Tilton yard,
dusty kneed
and candy
faced, round belly fed.
I lose count
in trying
to track their ages.
Family van
full of teen
and toddler, Mama waves
like absent
clock-work to
dust raising pick ups
that drive too
fast comes this spring~
no rivers rush, no
mud clogs up
this Lapland
route we know so well.
But sweet winds
start up on
this hill and sure as
each spring comes
red clusters of
trillium up on
Tilton's hill.
(like a haiku ~ except it's 3*5*3)
Spring 2006


A hybrid of Alice and the serpent,
she came slithering from the limbs of the
Oak tree, book in hand, when I first arrived,
shaded by the thick, early autumn leaves.
Old Victorian fireplace mantles
littered with beheaded roses, dried up
and collecting dust. She's been raised up with
the sixties as her soundtrack and tarot
as her catechism.
"Heathen," the old
church ladies would say before they sent her
away from the basement of the North Main
Slovak church.
"Too many questions, that one."

We spent our earliest years driving the
camels from diner to diner. Caffeine-
our water in the desert, fueled our shared
verse. That dirty valley fueled perspective.

Half her face once hid behind that parted
sheet of brown hair. All these years later she
hides behind a more subtle veil. Somewhere,
though, in the years between then and now, that
shy girl came out and danced with an apple
in her hand. Reaching back to hand me the
fruit, her voice rising above the canvas
and drum,
"Bite down real hard and suck all the
juice out," she'd said, her feet pounding the Earth,
dirt in clouds around her ankles, skin brown
and shining. Eyes closed, I smiled, thinking of
those old ladies and that lost First Holy
Communion. She is her own creation
story, this one.

By then we'd outgrown coffee, she and I,
and by that time, the valley too. Though the
verse and the music and the highway lines
provided ample fuel. Then instead of
hair, she'd hide in bathtubs or in bottles
of brandy, her words slow, spilling out in
sticky sweetness from lavender teeth and
blackberry breath. She would smell of sweat and
summer and song. Her penmanship like egg
whites. The milk of her pointed fingernails like
calligraphy, like the folds of her skirts
falling on hips she hardley knew she had.

We found comfort in lovers and laughter
and as always, we'd disect it all by
fireside or waterside. By bridges
we had yet to walk across.
We live on
opposite sides of the highway lines now,
she and I, and occasionally the
geography of our busy lives finds
us, brushes in hand, painting fresh new lines,
feet in step, hips rocking rhythms now to
lull one or the other's daughter to sleep.
And still she smells of sweat, song and mid-day
sun. The rocks move themselves, still, from beneath
her graceful feet.
I draw what I can from
the easiness of Early, disrupted
by the growing up, by the dissection
of mystery and by bones scattered like
fossils from our digging - bleached and brittle
from time and weathering.
I make my own
mantle now from those old bones and song and sun,
from old bottles of brandy and Oak leaves
and coffee beans. I now make my own slow
geography and in that making I
am sure to always draw my highway lines
back to Her.