Back on the Job

There’s been a run on toast, and Blondi’s freezer is empty. There’s no wangling out of baking bread, even on this crisp bright day when ovens are wisely left cool. 

The scent of it has already warmed the café and Blondi is reminded of some of her favourite things about summer: she gets to wear skimpy clothes comfortably, to sleep naked, to sit on the balcony in the evening and watch the moon appear and the stars peek.

This stretch of weather takes her back to the bike-riding days of childhood, when every street and alley in the village was a thoroughfare for her and her buddy, all day, every day when there was no rain or school.

Her biking buddy has long grown and gone, married with grandchildren and living in the city. But in Blondi’s mind, he is just out building a tree fort while she shapes dough into loaves in the kitchen they revolved around as children.


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Stubblejumpers Gets a Patio

It’s another hot, sunny, humid day here at the café, and as Blondi has all kinds of help, she’s absconded to the back yard to build a patio.

This is no small job, and she is daunted by it, but what the hell, how wrong can it go, she figured, and Marta brought in books, and she read up about making patios, and bydammit, Blondi Blathers is going to have a patio for once in her life.

Only it’s hot out there, and she’s laid down her shovel and sat down in the shade, and in a few moments she will think a beverage to be just the thing, and will come through the back door and make herself something to drink.

She will see that there’s a boothful of pre-teens drinking lemonade and telling each other their funny secrets.

She will see the two ladies in the book room, having tea. It’s the smallest contingent ever of the Kuroki Book Club, whose members don’t usually meet over the summer. She’ll go in to find out what’s next on the reading list; maybe she’ll ask Marta to get it in.

And then she’ll say, mm, this is not the time of day to be working in this heat. Maybe I’ll take a break and get back at it a little later. And she will, too. Wearing a mosquito net on her head, long pants, and wondering who ordered this weather that doesn’t even cool down in the evenings.

cyclists top five

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Dream Come True

The beauty of running a small café in a semi-sleepy village is that everyone eats, and everyone wants a job that is local, which means that Blondi can always find help to hire, and that she can afford to hire help because there are always hungry people.

It’s a win-win, she figures, while pulling weeds from the backyard garden on a weekday afternoon.

bongo bay

Bongo Bay

When she gets hot and sweaty and sick and tired of squatting on her heels, she gets up with a contented sigh and makes her way to the cool indoors for a glass of ice water and a peaceful little sit-down. Out front she can hear customers talking between themselves. Ginny comes through to the back and sits down with her for a few moments, chatty, then jumps up to finish something she had on the go.

The sound of the screen door softly slamming is the next thing Blondi notices; apparently little naps on the backroom couch are another perk of being the proprietor.

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Slow food. . .

is good food.  Blondi knows you can go to the supermarket and find a wide array of food ingredients imported from around the world.  Some of these imported ingredients taste like a reasonable facsimile of what they are called.  But some don’t.

Case in point:  Blondi doesn’t buy those rockhard nectarines anymore.  They haven’t been given time to ripen, and if they do soften up, there’s no flavour to speak of.  Her decision followed a recent trip to Seattle, USA.  The Pike Street market was a flurry of sights and sounds.  Her friend was late getting out of her pedicure appointment and Blondi kept circling back around the block while she was waiting.  A boy passing out samples of nectarines kept on giving her another slice, until that paved the way to delicious peaches as big as a bowling ball, and one slice with enough flavour for a meal.

Why wasn’t Blondi having a pedicure with her friend?  Being from Saskatchewan, being raised on the land, still a girl of her upbringing and roots, her feet were permanently dirty in the summertime from walking everywhere barefoot.  Darned if she didn’t usually have a few of those sticky poplar tree sheddings stuck between her toes, along with burrs and squashed spiders.  Not a farmer though, Blondi prefers growing flowers to working with more edible crops.

Trip to Seattle 059She salivated when she saw the flowers for sale at Pike Street Market.  $5 for a bunch of sweet peas with their heavenly fragrance, six inches wide of stems.  Every other kind of flower you can imagine.  Can’t choose?  Buy an armful, with enough money left for a pedicure–if she wanted one!  If only she could take these back to the cafe so the regulars could enjoy them too.

(an entry by Julie)


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Bone Cracker

✿⊱╮ Blondi thanks her lucky stars the café has no basement. Everyone around her is bailing theirs out. She’s had no extra mop time, herself.

Even so, she visits the old chiropractor who lives down by the lake. Her back has been giving her grief, and she knows the “bone cracker” can help.

He sends her out his door with, if not a skip in her step, a sense of relief. She is back on the path to physical comfort.


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Sparkle and Shine

It’s a cleaning day.

Rainy weekends often are, anyway, but Blondi has hired a new girl, a high school girl, who wants to work Saturdays. And so this morning, instead of doing headstands in her second-floor suite or reading novels voraciously, Blondi is showing Beckster the ropes.

Beckster is 14 and wants to earn money over the summer so that she has something to spend besides time with her friends. It costs money to hang around town!

“Junk food?” Blondi asked her.
“Yep,” was the reply, with a grin.

So, although the café is usually closed on weekends, she’s there. Why not turn the “Open” sign out and put on a pot of coffee?

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Wind Harps of War

✿⊱╮ They are having a wake across the street this afternoon. With a live band. They are there setting up some equipment and have been in and out of the café a couple times this morning. The village caterers (all women) are delivering plates of squares and sandwiches, and readying the steel coffee pots to be plugged in. So, lots of activity in Sandy Lake today. And no dust. It rained yesterday and the air is still cool and moist.

Blondi sits at her window table and watches the comings and goings. Occasionally she can hear a flash of the band tuning up. They seem to be having some trouble, but it’s only the distance and walls between the café and the stage at the hall. Still the flashes of sound bring to mind the wind harps of war once used by coastal countries to strike the fear of hell’s demons into the hearts of marauders approaching by sea. The people constructed huge harps and set them up along the land’s edge so that the strings would be “played” by the wind and heard from aboard the ships. The unnerving sounds were otherworldly and ghastly growls and howls loud enough to come from a giant dragon … or frighten one off.

How terrible, she thinks, it must have been—to live in constant fear of attackers who would likely butcher you and your children and all your family.

Then she thinks, that’s not just ancient history. It’s happening now and has been happening all along. Why is it happening to them and not her? It can only be luck, she thinks, and can go no deeper.

She would like to fix it. No one should live in fear; no one should be hurt. Everyone should have a cosy café to sit and sip coffee in and look out the window.


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