Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Panacea

This morning I am enjoying my time at Panacea, a coffee shop here in Waynesville that has turned into, well, my panacea. I've done some traveling, drank coffee in much bigger, fancier places, but I'm here to tell you - this place tops them all. It's got an old warehouse feel, with brick walls, concrete floor, bright artwork, and best of all, delicious coffee. They roast all their beans in house, and they've also got a great lunch menu that is unlike most in this small town - translation, I don't think anything there's anything deep-fried on the whole menu!

I'm finishing up a big editing project due on Friday, so I've been dropping Stella off at her little preschool and coming here to work for the few hours that she's there. It's been such a great release. Yes, I've been working, but it feels good. Accompanied by two cups of delicious coffee (yes, one was decaf - I am trying to be a somewhat responsible pregnant woman), surrounded by the buzz of friends chatting, professionals meeting, and coffee beans grinding. And the most peaceful part of all - I'm not chasing a two year old around the place.

Though it's time to go get her now, and my heart is aching to see her. It's ridiculous how excited I am to have some space, yet how desperately I miss her after only a few short hours. Here I come, my Stella Bell!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Coffee, My Brother, I Salute Thee."

When I started not to like sweets such as Now-and-Laters and Nerds (okay, every now and then I still do) I knew that my taste buds must be undergoing some kind of metamorphosis. Were my taste buds, like my hair, turning gray? Suddenly I could no longer drink orange juice without cutting it with water first. And drinking the juice from a can of peaches, while it used to be so grand, was almost torture by sugar shock. Even as I pause in the writing of this, I'm taking the frosting off a brownie Marian served me (heated up, with ice cream, ain't I a king?).

I like to think that my sense of taste has matured. One other sign is that I now drink coffee after 34 years of NEVER drinking it. I mean, I always thought that coffee tasted like a mud puddle. In Kiribati, I could never drink the stuff because they always mixed into their coffee pot about a gallon of condensed milk. I always teased Marian's principal, a Kiribati woman of about 50, "Would you like a bit more coffee with your sugar?" Even if they had not sugared it up so, I still wouldn't have liked the instant Pablo, an Australian staple that tasted like a pinch of outback mixed with kangaroo pee.

See, I've become a coffee snob. Perhaps it was parenthood (read: not near enough sleep) that got me wanting a lift in the morning, some kind of ritual that my daughter could not co-opt. I mean, she steals my silverware, my napkin, and even my food, often placing one or more of these items in my water glass when I'm not looking. But my coffee is DANGEROUS, so she can't get near it. "Daddy's hot-cuppa-KO-fee," she dutifully recites, giving appropriate ground to my grounds.

My grandfather used to drink a pot of coffee every morning from a cup that looked like it been hewn from marble by Michelangelo and had been damaged by a multitude of European and American tourists over the course of four centuries. It had a tremendous number of long cracks but somehow did not leak. It appeared, when empty, to weigh a little over four pounds, and was bigger than a small child's head.

Now I know why Roy liked that cup. It had a thickness that kept the heat in and a smoothness that helped the coffee to enter his mouth at just the right velocity. Drinking a pot of coffee is, after all, a race between you and the morning, because you wouldn't want to be drinking it past noon. Someone might think you had a coffee drinking problem.

That was my mom's dad. My dad's family put honey in their coffee. Not my favorite way of sweetening coffee, to be honest with you. But they came from a long line of farmers and I wouldn't be surprised if honey was the main sweetener they used back in the 19th century.

I used to work for a guy whose alarm in the morning was me grinding the coffee beans at five minutes past seven. These days, I grind coffee for me and Marian. It is a terrible noise that Stella and I used to dance to because she thought that was pretty funny. Eventually she could no longer be fooled into thinking it is music so now she screams, "Very very LOUD!" when I grind the beans in front of her.

This morning we didn't have any beans left so I had to buy my coffee at the only "to go" coffee place on Highway 19 - the Sunoco next to Ferguson's. They actually have quite a bit to choose from, but I'm not going to say what I chose is anything to write home about. Certainly better than nothing, and enough to get me past my coffee jonesing moment today.

What bums me out is that Breuggher's, which has such great bagels, has pretty terrible coffee, if you ask me.

Some of the best coffee I've had I brought back from Jamaica, where Marian's brother married. My sister (who had honeymooned there) gave me $40 to buy a lot of Blue Mountain coffee and bring it home. It was about $17 per pound at the resort but maybe $5 a pound one of the little souvenir shops run by locals. I think half the weight I brought home consisted of these little burlap bags of coffee. It was good stuff.

I don't have much else to say about coffee, or to coffee, except maybe to walk up to it and say, "Thanks, Bro'. You've helped me get by."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not sure what this photo means

This photo cracks me up - because I can't tell what Stella's expression means. I've decided that it's either her sexy pose in 15 years, or her bully, don't mess with me on the streets face. Either way, it's cute to me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Work, work, work

January 2007 was our best business month ever - we more than doubled our revenue from last January! We've already got 25 weddings on the books for this year, with more coming in every week. We're getting busier with our home and property videos too, and with the addition of our first full-time employee, we think more customized video projects are soon to follow.

Highs like this remind me why we started our own businesses in the first place. It's so satisfying to succeed when you've worked so hard. Don't get me wrong - it's still a struggle every day. But when our numbers consistently grow, and our employees seem happy, and our clients love their videos - it feels good to know that we're delivering quality products AND somehow paying the bills each month (though it's been VERY dicey more than once!). And best of all - no bosses!

I'm trying to really put in some time before this baby arrives, because I'm sure I will be little to no help for a few months until we get our rhythm down as a family of four. I'm working on my second newspaper insert for KARE, a local child abuse prevention non-profit. It's basically the organization's annual report, filled with photos, stories, blurbs, etc. that I'm supplying. I love working with the staff there, and I believe in what they're trying to do, so it doesn't even feel too much like work.

I'm also busy with editing work from the Center for Creative Leadership out of Greensboro, NC. Mainly taking articles and re-writing them for podcasting. They've also given me several pieces to edit down for publications all across Asia.

With our new hire, Eric has been able to be out selling and marketing, which is both what he's good at and what he enjoys. I swear that man could walk into a tee pee in Tibet and make friends with everyone there in minutes. OK, I don't know if there are tee pees in Tibet, but you know what I mean.

Stella is still keeping us on our toes. That kid doesn't miss a beat. We'll be having breakfast together, and she will commentate the entire meal. "Daddy drinking water." "Mommy's toast." "Tella's eatin toast too." I'm serious, it doesn't stop. It's cute, really it is, but there are very few quiet moments in our house these days. I guess that's how it's supposed to be, right? Today I said, "I love you, Stella." And she said, "Tella wuves much."

For all her preciousness, she can certainly be a pistol sometimes. Today she slapped our dog in the face with an empty ziploc bag. Moments before, it was full of Goldfish, but she decided to dump them all out in the middle of our family room before hitting Kope upside the head with it. I don't know why I'm laughing as I type this, probably because I can't believe the ridiculousness of my life sometimes, but I promise, it was not funny.

That's it from Maggie Valley tonight - our dear friend Kristen is coming tomorrow and there's still cleaning to do.

Good night! And leave comments!