on the gad

Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

there are no good questions

In coffee on September 6, 2018 at 1:12 pm

it was hot as hades in new york. we ducked into moma. for culture. for air conditioning. and for soy cappuccinos. we stopped by a help desk for directions and advice but the woman was ‘not in’. she had heard it all and no longer cared. having worked in customer service in one form or another my whole life i recognized the look in her eyes: there are no good questions.


i had been summoned across the land because kirya was taking me to court for not having a phone. judge john hodgman presiding. if you know how much i hate talking on phones and how far i will go to avoid it you can imagine how out of my element i was on a freaking podcast. it meant the world to me that the judge was as kind as he is funny. which is very. you can have a listen here: http://maximumfun.org/judge-john-hodgman/judge-john-hodgman-episode-380-dont-call-next-witness.

i am happy to report that working the counter at a bakery for these last two and a half years has not ruined hanging out in coffee shops for me. cherry on top is quality time spent with daughter. my daughter lets me follow her around the city like an imprinting baby duck. i am a little embarrassed that my new old-age dairy intolerance leads me to ask for vegan options. so obnoxious. but maybe we made up for it later when we went out for jamaican curried goat. and cocktails of course.




my brother in law lives less than a dozen blocks from me but the joke is that it is only when i (and my people) am moving about the planet that we bump into each other. so of course we are both boarding the same homeward bound plane in newark. he goes first because he is more fancy (just medium-fancy, he insists). as he rushes off his suitcase slips out of his hand and crashes to the floor. if i had an iphone i could have shared that on instagram. i am planning on going to an art museum downtown today like i am classy or something. if i had an iphone you could be sure my cardamom coffee and goodie would end up on instagram.



photos courtesy of kirya yvonne traber

ugly stepsister

In coffee on March 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm

she didn’t have any use for them herself and generously bequeathed them to me. so then i had a month’s worth of a food stamps equivalent for coffee dates. and i will tell you a secret: starbucks coffee, like peet’s coffee, is good. which isn’t that surprising if you know your coffee history and remember that the two used to be related. and even if you are not in the habit of frequenting starbucks because you are a peetniks they aren’t hard to find. there must be a zoning law here in town that requires a peet’s coffee drinker to be able to spot a starbucks out the window and vice versa.

sampled south berkeley’s shop first since it’s in my neighborhood. ordered a cup of coffee and a petite vanilla bean scone. the goodies selection is not particularly enticing but i wasn’t expecting much in that department. the shop is right next to a new bakery that specializes in retro desserts like twinkies and hostess cupcakes made with wholesome ingredients. partook of that fun with just my eyes since i didn’t have a voucher from my sister.



next time i came in i ordered a cappuccino and they provided a ceramic cup. the very next visit was after a run so i needed some lunch instead. i sat at the bar and chatted with the staff. i know they are instructed to be friendly, as they are at the peet’s these days too, but the smiles were genuine.





downtown starbucks has outdoor seating; especially nice these hot march days. coffee, water when i asked nice, and a free drink when i accumulated three stars. we were kinda parkling, i would say.




there is another starbucks downtown, catty corner to peet’s, with only indoor seating and a community table. a small group wandered in and then she said oh let’s go to peet’s instead they are much better and they giggled all the way out because she couldn’t believe she had made that statement so loudly in starbucks.


i met a friend for coffee up on college avenue. she wasn’t too squeamish to meet up at a starbucks. we could see a nice peet’s across the street. the shop is tucked into the brand new fancy safeway and there is a fresh artsy patio courtyard where you can enjoy your perfectly fine cup of coffee. i only have $1.82 left on my card which means i have just one more starbucks coffee date in my arsenal. looking forward to it.



switzerland for a day

In more coffee on June 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm

an old friend and i discussed my upcoming unemployment. he aggressively flattered me by referring to my frugality. but i am not frugal at all. especially when it comes to food. i am a grownup child of berkeley’s gourmet ghetto and having spent the last three years in a food-politics-correct work realm, no matter how much and often my self-esteem meter dips into the low end, i do feel worthy of good fuel. as my current job comes to an end it occurs to me that Tanja’s Tsk*tsks (job to-do lists) can become Tanja’s Tips (cheap food suggestions). there are still a few pages left in my pink paper notebook.

even though quite a few of us would never say no to slurping raw oysters in the historic caverns of grand central station, some of us can very rarely afford new york travel or naked cowboys (oysters). so then we need to become adept at wistful daydreaming travel in our own town. first, go to top dog on durant and order a bockwurst from the star chef behind the counter. his establishment has been there since 1966. as has peet’s coffee & tea at vine. and in august of that fine year, i got a baby sister. if you still have some traditionally fermented in vintage crocks sauerkraut from work, bring some of that with you. you’ll want mustard of course. then hippity-hop over to the fountain on campus at college & bancroft. you’ll get just a little splishy-splashed as you sit there soaking up sun and all that free european ambiance. if your dad were still here he might wet a napkin in the fountain so you could clean up properly after gobbling up your meal. you might tarry in the sun a bit and make sure you actually look at the homeless people enjoying the fine day too. you never know when you will run into an old friend from back in the day.


to round out your very affordable theme day menu, put aside any stray thoughts & yearnings about your favorite sophisticated bakeries and cafes. stop by the asian faux bakery on durant and purchase a cellophane-wrapped green tea swiss roll from the cheerful youngsters. thankfully, no ingredients are listed so there is no reason not to feel a hundred percent good about your dessert choice. since you stocked up on fresh peet’s italian roast at home, you can stash your cake in your bike basket for later when it is actually the proper time of day for cake & coffee.



top dog bockwurst: $3.25

swiss roll slice: $1.00 (discount for paying with cash)


In more coffee on May 31, 2014 at 5:13 pm

it began in her beautiful garden refuge where we discussed aging and fleeing. we wailed about unfairness and gnashed our terrible teeth. which made my nerves flare up and i cried at my tooth, “can’t you die quietly?!!” and then i was chagrined because wasn’t that what we had just been covering: how people don’t want to pay attention to old ladies who make loud fusses. winds picked up and ominous storm clouds built up in the sky as if to support our fury. magic seeds were pocketed and i hobbled home on my queerly suddenly crippled bike. when bells chimed in the middle of the night, i arose and three sisters flew away to new york city. with my big brother.


our first night had a dramatic soundtrack of thunder with bright flashes of lightning. some of us slept right through the excitement. some of us wanted to scale tall buildings and ford large rivers and visit art-filled museums while we were in town. some of us wanted to loiter on benches, make light smiling acquaintances, indulge in coffee & goodies, and soak up east coast sunshine. we were able to combine our needs and desires for the most part and luckily we had brought our umbrellas. i adjusted to the time change almost immediately because i am a birdbrain. i get up with the sun and at dusk i start looking for my nest. but i am not singing about it like the birds do. we four quiet folk were there to celebrate my outstanding fierce shiny star daughter getting her masters and graduating from the new school of drama. we enjoyed the uplifting ceremonies our first wet evening and then the sun god joined us on the sunday for her picnic in prospect park party. i’ve been lucky enough to know some of her fabulous friends for years and was delighted to meet fine new ones. toasts were made, cockles were warmed, and some of us had a little nap under a tree. like ferdinand.


daughter is caught up in a whirlwind of social and professional offers. she worked, mentored, and taught her whole way through these few grad school years and there is no lull now. she took a few moments to assess my tooth pain and suggested jaw tension could be at the root of my problems. she tried to convince me that i could let go of my lower jaw without being perceived as a slack-jawed idiot. i’m working on it. she says i just need to cultivate attitude. but since i am on my last nerve, we will be having it surgically removed monday morning. because you know what makes it scream the loudest: hot coffee. my trip was funded by loved ones and fueled by peet’s sumatra. lady liberty waved cheerfully at us from a distance as we gathered our belongings and made our long way home as the temperature finally rose to a comfortable eighty degrees. violent winds met us that evening on the west coast. some of us had to rise up and get to work the very next morning. even with our puffy ankles. and now today i have a day off. i am distracted by something calling to me. i am noticing quiet. i am noticing quiet inside of me. maybe when the sun rises tomorrow i will try chirping. just a little bit.



In more coffee on May 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

let’s review. after body-blocking me while chatting up the pretty lady you cannot then turn around and accuse me of being a quiet wall-flower. insisting you don’t eat dinner as an excuse for never taking me out is not okay. heartfelt thanks for the sandwich i made you but not for the lovemaking that preceded it is kinda off-kilter. how can you be my age and not know that being shitty to the waitress is a deal breaker. why share your favorite movie with me if you are just going to jump me ten minutes in. on the one hand, it is rude to not include me by speaking in another language but maybe i don’t really mind because it reminds me of my swiss dad and you were just talking car stuff anyway. and why in the world do you think your girl friend wants to hear about sports, stats, numbers, or anything at all of a competitive nature; don’t you have any boy friends?

as much as i enjoy every aspect of afternoon coffee shops: the beverages, the company, the goodies, the pursuit of perfect uplifting/comforting moments . . . i feel the opposite way about daytime bars. people who search out a dimly lit bar stool in broad daylight are probably not my people. when i tell you i prefer cafes to restaurants i didn’t mean cafeterias. retro is fun when you wear it, not so much when you eat it. do we really want to know where they are sourcing their turkey gravy, potato salad, and sponge cake from. guys, as much as you like being in the drivers’ seat is how much we girlies don’t like being driven around. and just because she is quiet doesn’t mean the lady wants to give you all of her attention. she might be thinking about cake a little bit.







new coffee shop

In more coffee on February 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm

the owl and the pussycat went to see . . . the new coffee shop on dwight near shattuck. and a cute baker-boy with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose (singsong) gave me tips on baking madeleines. so sweet! the owl grumbled that the pussycat could step up her conversational game so that the burden of entertaining each other could be more equally shared but the pussycat was daydreaming about finding a warm patch of sun and couldn’t be bothered. not very wise of the owl to forget that you can’t make cats do anything they don’t want to.


can you believe anthony bourdain got snarly and said there is no such thing as coffee culture? two kinds of people, dude, and you can’t just go around saying the other kind doesn’t exist. lindgren’s coffee and cafe was completely filled on a sunday afternoon with like-minded people interested in setting for awhile in the company of others, sipping a coffee beverage and sampling a baked goodie or two. we were all in the pursuit of light indulgence, light conversation, and lightly committing to sharing some time with friends in the light of day. and sometimes date-lights can lead to something more. the owl and the pussycat went to the hardware store together after coffee.

light touch

In more coffee on June 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm

i hate that ten years ago i had to learn how to spell hemorrhage. in an attempt to explain what happened. a medical tragedy that happened to me of all people. i joked with friends that i had finally met mr. right (dr. wright actually) and he wanted to take my uterus. ironically, the surgeon discovered afterwards that he had cut perfectly healthy tissue and i should never have been tampered with. because i still have all my body parts i don’t have to be bitter but i did swear off doctors. forever. i already know how i’m going to go. i’ll be that crabby old lady trying to finish her tv show and . . . my light will go out. and then someone else will have to look after my really old turtle.

sometimes you learn a lesson or two but then your personal settings revert to their original state. and then you are reminded all over again about something you already knew. every time i think i know exactly what to expect, the whole scene changes and that forlorn dusty road ahead of me disappears. i need to learn how to dream bigger. with color. i wonder if i still know how to skip like a little girl.Image

social work

In coffee on April 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

i’m sure we all have friends like this. you have known them since you both were wee but you kinda have to brace yourself when you get together these days. my friend consistently arrives three hours later than expected and then drives like a bat out of hell when you climb into her car to get to the event she promised to attend with you. meanwhile she has parked her babies (parrot & cockatoo) in your bedroom. do you know what large exotic birds do when they make themselves at home? they scream. sorry, neighbors. i haven’t been this chagrined since caring for my daughter’s extremely loud barking duck for ten years up north. i was always worried a neighbor would finally snap and shoot our duck. so this time, i risked getting in my friend’s car and we drove up to the elmwood where i took her to my favorite eatery: summer kitchen. i usually visit summer kitchen for my coffee/goodie fix but they make gorgeous gourmet food as well and i sometimes have to take their soup home with me. my friend badgered them with is it vegetarian, is it vegan, is it gluten-free questions concluding with . . . is it any good? you can see my face under ‘mortified’ in the dictionary now. and the roasted cauliflower garlic leek soup was, of course, very good.Image

despite threats of rain, headwinds, and a lack of an extroverted desire for social activity, buster and i made it to a small evening party in oakland. the celebratory event marked the splendid continuing health of another childhood friend. there were neighbors, friends, artists, gardening buddies, and old hair clients present. i got to brag that i have known the star of the party for over forty years since we were grade school besties. i enjoyed strawberries, guacamole & chips, and kisses from her very sweet, very old dog. and i was reminded why socializing with a house full of strangers can be so draining . . . the loudest people win, don’t they? just because you are outwardly quiet doesn’t mean you want to give all your attention to others. maybe you are having a thought or two. in your head. all by yourself. i was allowed to pedal away before it got dark. i was really happy to have seen my friend again. maybe she’ll want to go for coffee with me soon. we could go to summer kitchen in the elmwood. i owe them.


In coffee on November 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm

i have to quit my job. i finally acclimated to the physical demands of packing deliveries, have learned how to be fueled by food, and enjoy my fabulous co-workers, but i abhor bringing home all the cooking odors of the day in my hair. seriously, this is a deal-breaker. was anybody watching that first reality show years ago, the osbournes, and do you remember how they lived in a large posh house but mama osbourne wouldn’t allow any meals to  be cooked in it because she couldn’t abide the smells? yes, it’s true; i am sharon osbourne. now, if you want to conjure up some baked goods, that’s altogether different. we like us some cake stink!

i guess i’m not a true gourmet coffee snob because i’m not sold on grinding my own beans. yes, grinding beans every morning ensures the freshest cups possible but . . . grinders are kinda noisy, messy, and a little wasteful. and if you live with a watch duck for ten years, the last thing you want to do is announce to her any sooner than you have to that you are up. extending your me-time first thing in the morning means tiptoeing around the kitchen and stealthily making your pink pot of coffee with already ground peet’s sumatra in the hopes that you will be able to drink it before she summons you outside. so now i live with just the turtle and she doesn’t yell or bark if i bang about the kitchen but i wonder: how fresh is my freshly ground coffee really if there is always the left-over residue from previous grinds mixed in? and oh how we hate to spill even a little of our valuable coffee on the counter or the floor but we always do. so i compromise; peet’s i purchase already ground and the blue bottle coffee beans i have been picking up at the farmers’ market necessitate grinding here at home but on those days i have to get up in the dark i probably have pre-ground the day before. too much noise first thing in the day will ruffle my feathers.

some people might fidget with impatience in the extremely slow moving line at the blue bottle coffee cart. and then there are those of us who just beam with pleasure, soak up the sunshine and the visual pleasures of visiting a farmers’ market. two kinds of people, i always say.