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.......

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A happy ending for an otherwise nightmarish two days

Cats can run like the wind, you know?

In the very early morning hours of Monday, September 29th, I opened my patio door to see if it was going to be one of those days. If you live in North TX, and crave Fall weather like I do, you know those days that I yearn for. The very little humidity, (or let's shoot for the moon and say NO humidity), and say, oh around 75 degrees or so. I can open the door and know right away, two things. One, will I need to take Zyrtec that day? And two, will it be a much too warm, and humid day, with October lying just around the corner?
I didn't realize that Penny, my cat, was in the living room, and let me tell you, she runs like greased-lightning. Out the door she bolted. I left the patio door open because I knew she would bolt right back in, I wasn't too concerned. Oh, she'll be back, I thought.
Well.
By late afternoon flyers are posted around the mailbox areas where I live, and the friends at Starbucks let me post one there as well. I think when someone is in crisis mode with a missing pet, people band together and form a support team like none other. I notified the management office, Animal Services in my town as well as a neighboring town. The local animal hospital. The neighbors. And friends and family. Walking the complex calling for her, with day turning into night, there was still no Penny.


Sick with worry, and leaving the back door ajar, I try to sleep (and barely do)  knowing that she is out there somewhere.
Tuesday morning, September 29th arrives with a feeling of dread. I begin to work, from home mind you, wondering what else I can do to find her. Forming a plan, I try to concentrate on work, and watch the clock. Still calling for her every hour, with no results. I turn to Facebook, this is one positive use for this social media avenue. (Thank you Melanie, for urging me forward)

As I began my next walkabout, searching for her, I was armed with bottled water, sunglasses, and determination. Carrying a flyer, I talked to everyone I met outside. I found people to be truly gracious and concerned which fueled me to keep going. A neighbor saw her this morning, a child riding by on his bicycle stopped and said he thought he saw her today, encouraging me to continue. Kids gathered together and said, "we will find her!" and off they went, a coalition.
As I started toward the pond, a really beautiful place in the middle of suburbia, I kept walking and calling for her.





I stopped near a playground and spoke with a Dad playing with his little boy. He hadn't seen Penny, but said he would help. I thanked him, and as I stepped out of the play area, I began calling for her yet again.
"Meow".
I stopped dead in my tracks. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me. I called for her again. She answered. I couldn't tell from which direction the meow was coming from. I looked up, thinking maybe someone on the second floor of this building had taken her in. I saw no movement in the windows. After calling for her again, I realized that the insistent meow was definitely coming from below. I looked down and saw a storm drain cover, and openings with grates along the side of the curb. I yelled, "PenPen!" (one of her nicknames) She let me know right away that she was not amused, and that yes, she was down there and I better do something about it.

I cried.

 As I was trying to think clearly on what to do next, the Dad walked over and said, "did you find her?"
I explained that she was down in the storm drain. He immediately went to his car, got a crowbar, and had that storm drain cover off before I could blink. His older son, and some friends came over, along with a few neighbors. My heart was pounding and I felt a small relief knowing that she was at least alive. Friends and family were checking in, I could hear the texts coming in but I could barely concentrate on anything but what was unfolding. I texted a best friend quickly who had just called but I didn't get to answer in time. Working close by, he showed up in less than a few minutes, and was on the ground talking to Penny in no time.




By this time, maintenance had arrived and began doing what they could to determine how to get to her.

They asked me to call the Fire Department.

Now look, they asked me to call. I mean, I know I have a reputation of being best friends with these fine gentlemen. (I'm laughing as I type this)
On the scene, we now have Coppell's finest.










We tossed treats down, Penny let us know she was still there but she wasn't budging an inch. There was just too much commotion going on for her taste.

After many calculations, measuring, and researching both ends of the drain, it was determined that they could not "flush" her out with water,  the way they've had success with in the past on other rescues, due to the drain being sealed on one end, minus a few tiny holes to allow water to go through. The fear was that she would go the wrong direction, with no way out on the other end.

A call was made to animal control to inquire about the availability of small cages that could be placed near the opening of the drain, with food in them, to lure Penny out. I knew as this was being explained to me, that this might be an arduous evening at best. I was not going to leave her down there and go back inside and go to sleep. Are you kidding? Fully preparing to camp out all night, I listened intently as the available options were given.

The second option, one that does not require a trap, was to let the noise go away, and the kind people that were attempting to help, to go home. Then quietly call for her, to see if she would come out on her own.

As my fire department friends said their goodbyes, swiftly shaking hands and offering to help in the morning if needed, I was mentally preparing for a camp out. The truck pulled away, and the crowd began to disperse, leaving me and my friend Terry mostly alone with one little friend still trying to help. Now that I can think more clearly, I'm pretty sure this was the same little guy who I helped by getting his basketball out of a tree.

As the calm and quiet set in, we suddenly see Penny leaping out of the drain. Just like that, she was out. And she was covered with soot and I don't even know what else. I called her gently, as we soon realize that she has a mind of her own and she is not going to make this an easy rescue. From underneath one vehicle to the next, she darts, back and forth.
Terry says, "we need wet cat food. Something to entice her".  I race home to get blankets, bottled water, wet cat food, and a hershey bar for my helpers. I have to treat them somehow!

It is now dusk and Penny is reminding us that she's still in charge, shaken, unsure of her surroundings.
An hour later......

I'm finally able  reach her to gently pull her towards me and wrap her in a blanket, and carry her home.

Swaddled in a blanket, with my hands around her, and Terrys hand on her as well so she couldnt get away, Penny made it back home safe and sound.

There are several morals to this story, but the few that come to mind are: check your surroundings before you open the door that leads outside. And never, under any circumstances, enter a storm drain because you think you can fit. Looks are deceiving, and you could end up being the one needing a rescue. (I did not do this, I'm just sharing what I was told)

A happy ending for an otherwise nightmarish two days.

See you soon friends,
Tiffany

PS For tomorrows Breakfast at Tiffanys, Penny can have whatever she wants.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

You see, when you forgive someone, you are not granting them a wish.....



A few synonyms of forgiveness are; pardon, absolution, exoneration, remission, dispensation, indulgence, clemency, and mercy.

On the Berkeley website, forgiveness is discussed as the following;

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

That statement brings up a point of contention regarding forgiving those that have wronged us.

"regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness"

Once, my sister went through something really difficult. I remember talking to her on the phone one day. She said, you know that song, "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley? I replied that I did know the song, and loved it. She said, "although a hard one to listen to right now, that's the summarization of how I feel, regarding this unfortunate situation".

"I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about......forgiveness
Forgiveness"

I'm writing this now, friend, to help you win.

I often jokingly use the hashtag #winning (thank you Charlie Sheen). But today I'm serious about winning. When you are wronged by a person, or people, it can often be excruciatingly difficult to decide to .....forgive them, for what they've done to you. What you see, while in the midst of the pain someone has caused you, is nothing but the act of what they've done. The hurt they've caused. The pain you endure. The seemingly endless agony of how you may suffer at their hand. And how you do not deserve it.And how you feel they should suffer.

But during that process, what may go unnoticed, is the heavy, cumbersome weight that is developing on your shoulders. It begins with a few pounds. With each passing day, it can grow into some serious baggage that is unfathomable to carry. Not to be outdone, the weight develops other things that have a bite. Anger. Bitterness. Betrayal. Each of these items having their own weight, adding to the overall total that you will carry, until you decide to unload all of it, and walk free, carrying only yourself, your heart, your head and your life.

To win, you have to do this unloading. If you don't, they win. You do not.

"But they did this and it was so wrong, and I did nothing to deserve this".

I know.

"You want me to forGIVE them for THIS? Are you kidding me?"

Yes, I do, and no, I'm not kidding you.

"There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin' that anger, it'll eat you inside"

And it will. Eat you inside.

You see, when you forgive someone, you are not granting them a wish. Or giving them a gift.

What you are doing, is releasing yourself from all of that dead weight you are carrying around. You are not pardoning what they've done and releasing them from the ramifications of their actions. Instead, you are allowing yourself to walk away,  free. Nothing extra to carry. No additional, unnecessary burdens.

When you do this, you will feel as though you are walking on air.

And life will feel brand new to you.

So, to get the big win. Forgive them. And then take a deep, cleansing breath, open the door, and walk outside into that fresh air.

You will have perspective you didn't know existed.

Talk to you soon friend,
Tiffany

PS Fall has almost arrived and I'm so excited about this I can taste it. If you live in what I call North Southtown, you already know that you may not feel Fall temperatures until late October, and that's if you're lucky. But Breakfast at Tiffany's can do Fall regardless of what's going on outside. Pumpkin Bran Muffins it is!



 






Thursday, August 7, 2014

Don't forget to look ahead.......







When I get older I want to be the type of friend who has people over for drinks and excellent food.


We'll spend the evening talking about the wondrous things we've seen, the places.... the people... the food....the shows....the geographical places that make our eyes search every detail with wonder, never knowing if we will be able to make it back to that place again.

Of course I want to be this type of friend now, too.

When I get older, my house will be so organized that nothing will be hard to find and everything will be in order. Can you imagine?

I want it to be this way now, too.

When I get older and things slow down, I want to travel to far off places and explore hidden alleyways in cities, and book stores nestled in corners on streets that I have never been before.

I want to see my family more.

 
 


 


I want to do volunteer work where it really makes a difference.
                                                                       

I want to do all of this now, too.

I think the cool thing is, we always have something to look forward to. I may find time to fit some of these things into my life right now. But if I can't fit it all in, at the same time, I'll always have something just around the corner, waiting for me to enjoy.

In these days of seemingly mundane things, like work and work and more work and a little play here and there, and Mondays turning into Thursdays before we can blink, don't forget to look ahead. It's all out there, waiting.....

See you soon friend!
Tiffany

PS I wasn't kidding about wanting my house to be more organized. Such a daunting task! But one I can master, I'm sure of it. Maybe some rainy Saturday morning will begin with Breakfast at Tiffany's, and then....organization at it's finest. I'll keep you posted.

 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let's keep in touch more often, okay?

 



Getting back to the basics, is what I've been thinking about today.

When I was growing up, I remember being so busy. I was all over the place, especially during the summertime. Man were those the days. My sisters and I would be up and out of bed in the mornings, with the intent of squeezing every last drop of summery goodness out of the day. Freedom and youth are an extremely tantalizing combination, the possibilities are endless. School is out, so the schedule is completely up to you.

We had great ideas back then, like putting a rubber band around the garden hose nozzle so it would continue spraying when we let go of the handle, and then throwing the hose over a tree limb in the backyard. Voila! Instant fun with a way to stay cool. I'm sure my parents loved our water bill during these times. They didn't complain though. Dad would BBQ and mow the yard, and we would all play on the swingset or at the picnic table on our patio.

Did you ever take a playing card and attach it to the spokes on your bicycle with a clothespin so it would make a sound when you rode your bike? It's inventive!

Of course time doesn't stand still, so as Summer winds down to a close, and Fall is showing signs of life, I never felt sad to see the seasons change. I love Fall as you know, so the crisp air and swirly fall leaves, and the promise of Halloween made me just as excited as the last day of school did.

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"--a favorite quote from the movie "Stand By Me"

Isn't it the truth?

Time marches on and we all grow up and become the best version of ourselves if we're putting forth the effort. And hopefully we still keep in touch with some of those childhood friends.

The busy schedules don't necessarily dissipate, more like, change form I think. My "busy" stems mostly from work, so when it's time to sign off and go live life, I have no problem doing so. I'm finding as I get older, that the simplest things are my happy place. The basic things.

With adulthood comes the knowledge that if your family is spread out over several states, it is much more difficult to recapture those long summer days, where we were all together under one roof, playing hard and seizing the day. But we do try to get all of us together as much as possible, so there's always a future get-together in the making that we can look forward to.

So, Friday night, it's very, very good to see you. I purposely left the slate clean so that I could just sit still, in quiet mode, and not think about numbers or spreadsheets or system errors, and the like.

And, dear reader, who is my friend. It's very good to see you too. It has been too long!

Let's keep in touch more often, okay?

I hope your Summer is filled with all of the important things. You know, family. Baseball. Books to read and walks if you're lucky enough to live in the proper climate for them. BBQ and swimming, and evenings on the patio. And....Breakfast at Tiffanys.

See you soon!
Tiffany

PS I've developed an addiction for Nova Lox bagels for breakfast. Good grief are they good. If you love smoked salmon, give them a try!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"....the caged bird sings.....of freedom"

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.