Friday, June 19, 2015

He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother

If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

"He Aint Heavy, He's My Brother" --The Hollies

Charleston, SC.....you're our brother.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Please Mind the Gap

I think the best way to view a city is from the top. And I mean, the very top. In September of 2009, I saw Paris from the highest point I was able to visit, the Eiffel Tower. It was breathtaking. Completely ignoring my slight fear of heights, I forgave and forgot, and instead, looked around at the city, and the people milling about below me.

My travel wish list is very long. Back then, I didn't realize that almost six years later, I would be in England.

And what better way to view the Tower of Big Ben, The Thames, Buckingham Palace, and the people......than the London Eye.



Walking towards my next adventure, I thought to myself. "That thing is HUGE!". I live in Dallas, the home of one of the largest Ferris Wheels in North America. But thinking about Fair Park, where that Ferris Wheel is, I felt it didn't come close to the London Eye. This is more than likely a trick of the mind, you know, when you're about to conquer a mountain, it looms in front of you, seemingly bigger than the planet earth. When built in 1999, The London Eye was the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world, standing at 443 feet. Since then, a few have surpassed it, one being in Las Vegas, "The High Roller".
The London Eye adjoins the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth. What a view it provides, I could barely take it all in, although there is plenty of time to do so. Once you are locked in, up it goes but at a very slow gate, allowing everyone to look around at the many sides of what I call, the egg.




Although London was the second half of my trip, it still became so clear to me while riding in the egg, that I was actually there. When Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben came into view, I thought, "I'm really here" and I'm not sure that I want to leave.

What I really felt grateful about was that the first half of the trip was spent in a little hamlet in the English countryside, Hemington, Derby. There is no better way to experience an international vacation than to live amongst the locals, sharing stories and getting to know them while drinking pints of ale and grilling food near a tent in the backyard of our gracious hosts. I found them to be extremely friendly, outgoing, and having  unparalled senses of humor that had me laughing so hard I thought I would stop breathing. You hear me Brits? I LOVE YOU. When my best friend Brian and I saw the itinerary label for the first Saturday, "BBQ and meet the Americans!" we both had the same thought without sharing with the other one until after the fact. 'Oh dear God, this is to meet US? I hope these people don't get bored.' HA! There was no boredom or awkwardness, no silence to speak of, no feeling strange, whatsoever. It was as if we had known these friends for years, and it was probably the best day we had while in Hemington. A note to Mark (and I don't know if you spell it this way) when you took my hand and sang a song from Frozen to me, that sealed our friendship for life. I will never forget the friends we made and will cherish the memories for a lifetime. Until we meet again.

Out of so many, another favorite moment was meeting "Lottie" the lamb. This little thing was named after the Royal Baby, Charlotte, recently born to William and Katherine. She wears a pink jeweled collar and bleats loudly to let you know she hears you and she is pleased with your offerings.




Every morning that I stayed in Hemington, I woke up to Lottie letting the world know that she was awake, birds chirping, fresh air wafting in through the open window (that stayed open the entire time I was there) and this beautifully green view of the English countryside. Notice the bench. Obviously strategically placed so that I may do my best thinking, in the fields, with the cows and natures vibrant colors. Right?


 
My first pub  experience was in Hemington, appropriately named The Jolly Sailor. Come on, it's England. And when people go here, they are definitely Jolly, whether they've sailed the ocean or not.
We immediately made friends with everyone we talked to, including Shannan who waited on us from behind the bar, (Hi Shannan!)  then ended up joining us at the table as other friends of our hosts arrived and joined us as well. This is the greatest thing about facebook if it must be mentioned. We can now keep in touch even though we all live on different continents.




I must also mention that one of our gracious hosts is missing from this photo, she had to take the picture. We did our best taking turns so that we could get a few photos of all of us, even if not all in one.

Shannan, Roger, and Pam, we so enjoyed spending time with you that day. Each one of you hilarious in your own right, and very entertaining. Thank you for everything, and sharing a slice of your lives with us.

The first excursion out of Hemington lead us to Nottingham. Now let's say it like we were taught, "Nottingum". There is no HAM in this recipe. I don't know if I had any sort of accent or lack thereof, but I think our new friends got a kick out of teaching me the proper pronunciation of Nottingham, as the requests for me to continue saying it, loud and proud, kept coming, and there was cheering after. So obviously I kept saying it. I don't mind cheering. 




While known to be the home of Robin Hood. it's definitely not just about Sherwood Forest. Englands oldest pub is found here, along with a castle, quaint streets and alleyways, and multicolored doors leaving you to wonder whether you should enter, or keep going. I knew I had to get fish 'n chips at least once while in England, so that became the first meal I had outside of Hemington, and my friends that urged me to try this were right. The British have cornered the market here. It was absolutely delicious, and unexplainable as to why. It just was.




With the thoughts of London in our minds, we headed back to the patio at Hemington, as we did each night, to discuss the days events and what was to come. I've mentioned before, that all one really needs is the right people in our lives, and a patio. Some of the best stories are shared there.

If I had to summarize London in key words and phrases, much like I did with Paris, France, it would go like this:

City noises, crowds of people but often vacant sidewalks, takeaway, (we call this takeout in America), walking, walking, and yet more walking, Oyster Cards (you can't ride the underground without it), the Monarchy, The Queen and everything she entails, history, thousand(s) year old architecture, train tracks and the click-clack, jeweled crowns and scepters, Towers that must be climbed, hidden passageways and body armor worn so long ago, Cadbury Chocolate and uncountable kinds of ale, Pubs and Pints, pounds instead of dollars and scurrying to destinations unknown, Palaces and Royal Residents, Castles, balconies and British flags flapping in the breeze, tall clock towers that chime on the hour so that everyone can hear for miles, Scotland Yard and "Bobbies" keeping the public safe, theatres named after a Prince, politeness, and the most proper and eloquent use of the English language that I have ever heard. Even phrases like "bloody hell!" and "bollox!" sound proper, don't they?
And let me not forget to mention, tea. England is a tea drinking nation, let me tell you and it is absolutely the best. I came home with a huge box of PG Tips, the infamous pyramid tea bags. I don't think I will run out until 2017, but when I do, I'll just have to skip back over the pond and get some more. Yes, I know, I can order it online, but that's silliness and must not be thought of.

"Please mind the gap, between the train, and the platform"

We heard this over and over again, as we sailed through the underbelly of London on the underground transportation, to the point of each one of us saying it randomly even if we weren't on the train.



At the time of the end of this post, I've been writing for hours and know for certain that I have not captured even half of my thoughts or shared my best memories of my time in England. Please forgive its faults. And even in life, not on a train heading east or west, or north or south, or to Westminster or wherever you may go, "please mind the gap". Make good use of the downtime of regular life, but for goodness sake, get around when you can, out of that town you live in that you see every day, out of the working world, and the day-to-day 'ness of the regularly scheduled program. Go on holiday as they say, even if you just get in the car and drive somewhere.

See you soon, friend
Tiffany

PS the area we stayed in London was called Stepney Green. This became my new name. Call me Stepney. "Hi I'm Stepney Green, lady of leisure". Breakfast At Stepney's. It's not Tiffany, but it works. =)


This post is dedicated to the Hemington crew. Brian, Terry, Ruth and Rosanna, thank you for one of the most memorable weeks of my life. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Change doesn't have to be our enemy......



"People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened." --Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail


Image result for change is good






In  a way I wish my life was such that I could say the next line, and it would be true.




"My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that?"




Wouldn't it be fantastic to own a bookstore in the Upper West Side? Of course,  I say this without knowing what it would take to own and run a bookstore. I do know that I can spend hours, I can spend HOURS......in a bookstore. I feel like it's a place full of old friends and new friends, and comfort,  and knowledge just waiting to be obtained.


Image result for bookstore on upper west side




I've never really enjoyed change, even with the idea that it will most likely be for the better. It's the process really.  The first feeling, including the question: Wait, I like it this way, why do I have to change this?




The resolve: Oh, well, I guess I have no choice.


The implementation: I used to do it this way, but now I do it this way. I don't drive here, I go there.




The embracing: This isn't so bad. I can do this.




Not too long ago, I, along with thousands of other employees, learned that the company that I work for, Verizon, sold three large states, to another telcom. One of these states happens to be the one that I currently live in. Was this sale a huge surprise? Not really, there have been various rumors for quite some time that this might happen. Given that, along with previous similar sales, I think we all knew that sooner or later, it would happen. Because this sale has been announced publicly, I know that I am within legal limits to write my thoughts in the interwebs, should I so choose.




The world looks different when news of this magnitude is delivered swiftly, ending with, "now back to work for now, let's continue to do our best in support of our customers".




While I wholeheartedly agree that supporting our customers is absolute top priority above all else, I think I can speak for my team, who are also my friends and some of the greatest people on this planet, when I say, "Well can I (we) have just a moment to let this sink in?"




The dust hasn't settled and won't for quite a while, but in the very least, we've had a little time to get used to the idea. Asking ourselves the obvious questions, "what does this mean for us?", "will we be able to continue with Verizon, or will we have to go with the new telcom?", "will our team be split up?!"....oh just that idea alone, is a very sad thing.




So, given the fact that Dallas has been reminded that Winter is not over, (hello cold, snowy, icy days) I have had some time to reflect, in the quiet of my home, and what I propose to myself, and my friends, is this:




Change doesn't have to be our enemy. Shifting roles, and responsibilities, and leaders, may not be a piece of cake. Be confident in our ability to adapt to the evergreen ways of large companies that often go through things like this.. Stand firm in knowing that we are most capable in dealing with whatever hand we are dealt. Talk to a financial advisor. Revisit your 401K and save, save and save some more. Brush up your resume, in the very least this should be done once in a while anyway, regardless of any changes to your career. And finally,don't let resentment or bitterness set in. This last task is easier said than done, I know. We've given our lives. Very long days, after hours during the week, weekend work hours, sometimes forgetting what an eight hour workday is like, cancelled vacations, all for the demands of the business.




I'm going to carry on with the determination that however this may shake out, I will still give it my all. I am not going to fold. I don't know how to play poker, but I've always wanted to say that.




So, for now, I'm a Verizon employee, who works on a management team, that has been my favorite for a long time, during the course of my career. Whatever change may come, I will remain hopeful that we will survive together.


And that is what is going on with me.


What's new with you?


See you soon friend,
Tiffany


PS Recently my sister introduced the Goji berry to me, I'm not sure why I didn't know about this healthy item before now. I've been adding them in each day, even if it's just to eat a handful right out of the bag I bought them in. They are a fabulous addition to a protein shake if you are inclined to do that sort of thing. Give them a try! They are now a part of Breakfast at Tiffanys.


Navitas Naturals Himalayan Superfruit, Goji Berries, 227 g


**disclaimer: I don't work in billing, or directly with the customer. I don't work on the wireless side. While I may not be able to help you with your bill, wireless, wireline, or FiOS, I am however, a proud Verizon employee who will always listen to what you have to say, and provide solution ideas to any issue you may encounter with your service.







Friday, January 30, 2015

Maybe this round-about way isn't so bad after all......








I like to call the way I get things done around my house, the "round-about" way of doing things. Tiffany's way. MY way.


But I've come to realize that really, it's just all over the place. Lacking proper planning and sequential movement, it appears that I've been kidding myself.


If the kitchen floor needs to be mopped, it would make sense to get everything I need to use while working on the other rooms, out of the kitchen, before the floor is wet. But, no. Instead, I remove the rugs, shake them outside, come back inside, broom-sweep the floor, and then begin mopping.


THEN I decide I need to vacuum and dust. The necessary items are , where, you ask? In the laundry room, off of the kitchen. With the wet floor. Sigh.


So, using my ballerina tip-toeing skills, I glide gracefully to the laundry to retrieve what I need.


Okay, I lied. I try really hard not to fall, and not to put my whole foot down and to hurry. HURRY.


Back in action, and feeling triumphant, I plug the vacuum in. But then I notice how dusty the bookshelves are. Oh I have to do this first, I can't stand it.


I grab the Pledge (it's not Pledge, I just call anything I use to dust furniture, Pledge. I don't know why I do this), and realize I don't have the paper towels within reach. And where are the paper towels, you ask? In the laundry room, off of the kitchen. With the wet floor.


After completing my second Olympic-style ninja move to the laundry room, I return with the paper towels and begin dusting. Stepping over the vacuum cord that's plugged in. See the talent?


As I begin dusting the shelf with movies I realize that some are out of order alphabetically. No I am not OCD, it just makes it easier to find the one I want in mere seconds instead of searching for days. I stop dusting.


Twenty minutes later, I'm sitting on the floor in front of the shelf, removing DVD's and dusting the shelf. So in essence, I'm just combining the two objectives. Again, talent I tell you.


Since dusting is the theme for these moments, I decide to dust everything requiring 'dusting' in the house. Then I can move on to the next thing, see! I'm getting the stuff(s) done. While doing so, I notice the mirror in my bedroom has curious paw prints at the bottom of it, and realize I need the glass cleaner. I'm certain that I don't need to tell you where the glass cleaner is.


Making the trek back to the kitchen with the now semi-wet floor, I remember that this weekend is bed-clothes washing. Dang it! Back to the bedroom to gather the sheets and pillow cases, I begin wondering what Penny was doing to the mirror at the bottom. Rubbing her little paws against it? Talking to herself? Admiring her own reflection? We may never know.


Stepping only on the parts of the kitchen floor that are dry, I make it to the laundry room to get the first load of laundry going. I grabbed the glass cleaner, proud that I remembered I needed it, and go back to the bedroom to clean the mirror.  Then I clean the bathroom mirrors. And the pictures. I have pictures everywhere so this takes time. Dramatically putting the lid back on the glass cleaner, I feel sort of triumphant that I complete one task. Now where was I?


Oh, the dusting. Listen, I love the sleigh bed, really, it's lovely, but dusting this thing is like taking a yoga class. At least I'm active.
I dust the furniture in my bedroom. I dust the furniture in my living room. AHA! Task number two, completed with flourish.


Well, no flourish really, it's just done and I can move along. I hear the washing machine turn to the rinse cycle, so off I go to add fabric softener. PS I love the way fabric softener smells.


FINALLY the vacuum is utilized and my second stint of yoga-ing commences. I consider leaning down and vacuuming underneath things, almost a downward dog. Moving large furniture back and forth is considered strength training which is essential to your core. Using the attachments and vacuuming anything above my head is clearly a warrior pose. Well, sort of.


When I finally vacuum  my way back to the bedroom, I opened the closet door. Listen, I'm positive that you can reach Narnia through here I just haven't found the passageway yet. Turning the vacuum off, I begin arranging anything on the closet floor in a more orderly fashion.


Twenty minutes later......I'm looking through a photo album, remembering the good times.


Therein lies the dilemna. The vacuuming should already be done! Don't deviate!


Forcing myself to put the photo album away, I turn the closet light off, the vacuum back on, and off I go. One of the dresser drawers isn't shut all of the way, so I have to fix that as I go by, but notice that it won't shut because something is in the way. I pull the drawer open and see the disaster that is known as haphazardly folded shirts. WHO did this? Turned the vacuum off. Removed said items from drawer. Refolded them. Placed them back in the drawer that now shuts beautifully.


I turn the vacuum on again and make my way down the hall, into the living room. Glancing at the fireplace I make a mental note that it needs to be cleaned so that I can light a fire tonight. I mean, it's supposed to get down to forty three degrees, lighting a fire is imperative for my survival.


Task number three, complete. I unplug the vacuum, and begin wrapping the cord around the grooves meant for this, and realize that it really needs to be cleaned. It's a shark.


Not this kind:





This kind:



Obviously clean vacuum equals clean carpet. After I take the vacuum apart, partially, and rinse the parts with hot water, I set them on towels to dry.


I notice the absence of the sound the washing machine makes, so I transfer the load to the dryer and start the second load of laundry.


So really, am I kidding myself? The tasks were completed, were they not? And I even exercised while doing them.


Maybe this round-about way isn't so bad after all.


Now, I must go. I have to clean the fireplace.


Please note that I stopped to write this before I cleaned the fireplace.


Wishing you a fabulous weekend friend. If you make any stops during your quest of cleaning-all-the-things, whatever you do, don't deviate!


See you soon,
Tiffany


PS Breakfast at Tiffany's on Saturday morning will be crepes. I just decided.





Photo courtesy of Taste of Home









Wednesday, December 31, 2014

With love from the shore.......

As they say in Paris, Bonne Année. Image result for A paris happy new year

My family has been beachside in Florida since December 20th. During my just-as-I'm-waking thoughts this morning, I remembered that it has been a while since I've written you, my reader friend, and that I must catch up with you and see how you are. I hope you are doing well and preparing to celebrate the conclusion of 2014.

As far as how I am:

I can tell you about the breathtaking sunrises over the ocean.......


Or about the sunsets on the Banana River.....



 
 
I just have a feeling that you already know that being near the ocean, close enough to walk in the sand, looking for the perfect shell or just breathing in the salty air, is nothing short of a perfect paradise.

But mostly, this message I am writing is my Happy New Year wish for you. Whether 2014 brought many changes, or everything remained the same, I hope it was a year to reflect on, on this last day and to celebrate all of the things that came along as each month rolled into the next one, seemingly quicker this year than the year before.

It's always fun to think of the New Year as a fresh, clean slate, isn't it? Off with the old, and on with the new. I don't ever feel like discarding the year, and I've had a few tough ones, rather, I feel like tucking it away in the memory box, saying thank you for letting me have it, and moving along to what's around the corner.

My wish for you in the coming year:

May you have sunshine within when it's cloudy outside, money in your pocket when you feel like you're poor, a good friend that listens when you need someone to hear you, family that loves you unconditionally, new books to read that you can't put down because they're that good, and a refreshed feeling of hope for the future, when you wake up each morning.

So much to celebrate. Wherever you may be tonight, please stay safe and,  I wish you a very Happy New Year!

With love from the shore,
Tiffany

PS Breakfast at Tiffany's has been seafood galore, it's a must when I'm this close to the ocean!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Part II: Christmas Magic


"Bells will be ringing......the sad, sad news....come home for Christmas....."





Penny loved Bon Jovi but for some reason this year, she was just not ready to listen to Christmas music. She had always loved the holiday so it was puzzling to her that all she wanted to do was change the radio station when a Christmas song came on. Reaching over to turn the dial, she heard Nick at the door of the office.

"Oh,  let's let the customers enjoy the holiday music, it's not too bad is it?" he said to Penny as she slowly pulled her hand away from the radio. "What is your aversion to Christmas music this year?"

Penny sighed. "I don't know, I guess I'm just not ready. It's not that I don't like the music, it's just....I don't know. Do you think I've somehow lost the magical feeling of Christmas?"

Before Nick could reply, the jingle-jangle of the front door bell at Java Bean interrupted their conversation. As Penny followed Nick to the front bar, she called to one of her most favorite patrons as they came through the door.

"Good morning Cecelia, how are you doing today?"

"I'm right as rain dear, I wanted to stop in a little early this morning because my grand niece is taking me Christmas shopping!" Cecelia exclaimed excitedly, her blue eyes sparkling. "I have my list made out, and am looking forward to the adventure. What is that wonderful aroma that is brewing this morning, you two?"

Cecelia was the epitome of what people see when they think of everyones Grandma. Barely grazing five feet, two inches, she was a petite bundle of all of the goodness this world has to offer. Always excited to see someone, her joie de vivre was contagious. Every Friday morning she had her hair done at the same salon she had been going to for over thirty years. Much like Nick, she never met a stranger, and when you began talking to her and felt her warmth, you soon realize that you could probably talk to her all day long if you had the time.
Penny watched Nick out of the corner of her eye as she led Cecelia to the front to show her the latest concoction, A Penny for Your Thoughts. It was just recently that she noticed Nick becoming a little tongue-tied around Cecelia, and Penny wasn't sure which one of them was more adorable. She was sure that they were around the same age and always thought that it was charming to see them speaking to each other as if they were still in high school and had a crush.

"You know, Nick came up with the name for my latest idea, isn't he creative?"

Nick smiled sheepishly as Cecelia told him that she thought it was truly clever.

"Well I must have a cup of this at once!" Cecelia said as she made her way to the usual table, dead center of the Bean where she could see everything.

Penny asked Nick if he could serve Cecelia while she pulled some extra coffee filters to add to the bar area.

"It would be my pleasure" Nick replied softly as he glanced at Cecelia settling in at her table. Making his way to the large urns to prepare a steaming mug for her, he hadn't noticed that she turned his way to watch him.

"I have Josh scheduled to come in at eight, why don't you go have a cup with Cecelia and keep her company until her niece arrives?" Penny suggested.

Looking over at Cecelia, Nick said, "I don't mind if I do" as he removed his apron and poured a cup to take with him.

Penny smiled as she watched Nick sit down with his friend, and wondered if they might ever see each other socially, outside of Java Bean. She thought they should, but knew that it was really none of her business so she didn't ever say anything to Nick, other than to mention that she really loved Cecelia and was glad that they got to see her most mornings.

Just as she was putting  the finishing touches on the bar , Josh arrived in usual fashion, bursting through the front door as if being chased by ghosts unseen. Tall and lanky, he resembled the college version of  Harry Potter as the glasses he wore were similar. He stopped to say good morning to Nick and Cecelia, who grabbed his hand and asked him how his classes were going, and was he an engineer YET?

"Oh Cecelia, I think you may be my biggest fan. I'm on my way, just have to get that degree first" he replied as he smiled and patted her shoulder.

"Josh is going places!" she said to Nick, as Josh continued to the back to put his coat and backpack in the office and get his apron.

As patrons started pouring in, the shop came alive and Penny and Josh moved about quickly to see that everyone had what they needed as they enjoyed their morning coffee.

Cecelia's niece had arrived and joined her at the table as Nick finished his cup and told them he better earn his keep. Knowing that Josh seemed rather fond of Annabelle, as he greeted a few friends and worked his way to the bar, he told him that she was there and asked if he wouldn't mind to see if she would like a cup of coffee.

"Oh, sure, no problem" Nick said as he moved from around the bar. Cecelia and Annabelle were talking animatedly about their morning plans as Josh approached them and said hello.

"Annabella, good morning!" he smiled, using the nickname he began using almost the first day he met her. "What would you like to have this morning, I hear Penny has a new brew?"

"It's delicious dear, you should try it" Cecelia told Annabelle as she sipped from her mug.

"I'll have that please" Annabelle told Josh as she tried not to stare at him for too long. "What is it about this guy" she thought to herself. It was nothing short of a fluttery feeling that came over her when she talked to him. She wondered if he had a girlfriend as he turned to get her a cup. One thing was certain, she knew Cecelia loved him which made him even more endearing.

"I feel Christmas in the air" Cecelia's eyes twinkled as she watched Annabelle's expression.

Being nearby, Nick couldn't help but hear Cecelia. He smiled, and whispered, "indeed".

to be continued.......





Monday, November 3, 2014

"You're like a gift. Either that, or you're St.Nick himself!"

Come.......they told me.....pa rum pum pum pum.....

"I really don't want to think about Christmas right now, grrrrr" Penny thought as she reached over to flip the radio to another station, hoping to hear something, anything, other than a Christmas carol.

FIIIIIIIVE, GOLDENNNNN RINGSSSSSSS! four calling birds, three french hens.....

"Forget it!" She turned the radio off and continued getting ready to go to Java Bean, staring intently in the mirror as she examined her hair, while brushing her teeth.

Several years ago. Penny dared to dream that she would own and manage her own coffee shop.

That dream came true last September, on a quiet little corner in East Manhattan. She would call it small, her loyal patrons frequent the word quaint, and count on it during their morning routines much like hers. Rush to get ready, rush to get out of their homes, rush to get coffee, rush to work. Rush, rush and more rushing, because, everything in New York is done at breakneck speed.

When the holiday season arrives, which is usually before Halloween these days, the already busy streets and outlets for public transit double in attendance, leaving little room for a relaxed atmosphere of meandering to the intended destination.

Glancing at the clock on her bathroom wall, Penny realized that if she wanted to be in the shop by five-thirty am, she better get a move on. Thinking of the latest brew she concocted by mixing two very distinct beans, she knew she would call it something that spoke of Thanksgiving. After all, there were only two weeks left until the holiday.

As she wound the winter scarf around her neck and pulled her gloves on, she smiled, remembering the night Henry gave them to her for a surprise "no reason, just because" gift during dinner last week. It was just like him to do that, always thinking of her, and usually surprising her with thoughtful gestures like hidden notes at the shop, or stopping by during the lunch hour to see how things were going. "Oh Henry" she sighed, then started chuckling, thinking of his usual response. "I'm not a candy bar!" he would yell, and they laughed every single time. Thank GOD there was someone out there that had a similar sense of humor. When she met Henry, she instinctively knew that somehow, she had managed to find someone, by pure accident mind you, that "got" her.

Grabbing her keys and purse, Penny locked the front door and felt the brisk November breeze against her face as she hurried down the steps of the brownstone.

"Brrrrr" she thought to herself, wrapping her coat tightly around her as she stepped along the same path she took every morning, to "the bean" as it was often referred to.

Her mom worried about her walking the streets of Manhattan so early in the morning by herself. Penny assured her that she was always alert and never took shortcuts through alleys or unlit pathways that she wasn't accustomed to. Plus, her friend Bert worked the wee morning hour shift at the Police Department and usually was nearby as he knew her routine and wanted to look out for her safety.

Arriving at "the bean" fifteen minutes later, she felt ready to take on the day. Seeing Nick coming from the other direction, she smiled, and stopped to wait for him.

"Good GOD it's cold out here! It's definitely Winter in New York, yes?" Nick stepped quickly when he saw Penny waiting.

"I believe it's Winter, yes. Good morning Nick!" she said, laughing as she unlocked the chain link gate so Nick could pull it up for her. Unlocking the front door, they went inside and headed towards the back to start their morning routine.

Nick flipped the light switch on behind the coffee bar, and began pulling out the beans and what they would need for the morning rush. Penny decided when she opened the shop that she would have small lamps on each table that produced a soft gleam of light, she thought it was a nice touch, bringing a home-like quality. On overcast days like today, it was especially charming to see the dimly lit lamps glowing, as passersby would look into the windows from the street.

As she turned each lamp on, she could already smell the beans that were being ground to perfection. She called to Nick, asking if he was using the mixture they discussed the previous evening.

"I am and I think this was a fabulous idea. It will do well, I can feel it!" Nick said, always supportive of her ideas.

Nick had been with Penny since the shop opened, and she trusted him like a friend one has their entire life. He was sixty years old and had lost his wife several years ago, being in the shop and speaking with the regulars every morning was what he lived for. The new customers were just as exciting for him because he loved to have interesting conversation. He told Penny once that it was like making new friends every day, all the while being with friends you had known for years. The best of both worlds.

"I need to find a name for that concoction" Penny said pensively, as she paused to think about what could sound like Thanksgiving in a coffee cup. Thanksgiving blend was too derivative of what Starbucks brewed during this time of year.

"How about A Penny For Your Thoughts?" Nick yelled as he walked towards the back to retrieve the newspapers that were left each morning in the bin that was made for such a delivery.

Penny said, "I'm just trying to think of a good name!"

"I know, that's my idea. You can call it, A Penny For Your Thoughts. I mean, when friends get together for a cup of joe, isn't that what they are doing, sharing their thoughts?" Nick said as he lugged the newspaper bundle to the front of the store to place just inside the door. Flipping the front lights on and preparing the welcome mat, he turned to her and said, "good idea, or no?"

As usual, Penny just stood there, then slowly smiled at him and said, "you know Nick, I really don't know what I would do without you. I love that idea! You're like a gift. Either that, or you're St.Nick himself!"

His eyes twinkling, he muttered under his breath, "Wouldn't you like to know".......

to be continued.......