To Fire or Not to Fire— No Question

I had to do something yesterday that I’ve never done before: fire someone.

It was a simple matter of insubordination that pissed me off.

The first time she did it, I made sure that what I wanted done was clear.

The second time she did it, I reminded her about the first time and gave her a stern lecture about hygiene and public food service.

And yesterday—the third time—late in the day— I said, “I’m sorry, dear, but I can’t have you working here without washing your hands before coming out of the bathroom. And I know you didn’t, because I can hear the water when the taps are used.  And you’ve been told twice before, when you shouldn’t have had to be told at all. Clearly I can’t trust you to do what you say you will when I ask. I have to let you go.”

It may seem to be a harsh or even undeserved consequence for being forgetful— or likely just lazy— but I don’t care. If you can’t remember to wash your hands before coming out of the bathroom, what else are you forgetting? Not to pick your nose before serving food? I can’t have it here, and I can’t be listening all the time to make sure she does it. What about when I’m not here?

But boy, I feel like shit.  All the doubts! Should I have given her yet another chance? Should I have been less intransigent? What else could I have done? Anything?

I suppose all her relatives won’t come here anymore. I don’t care about that. I care about what Dawn’s going to say when she gets here. I can almost hear it already: “Everybody forgets once in a while!” or “Oh oh. Who are we gonna get to take her place?”

We shall see.

coffee cup collection

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Bread Alone

Yesterday’s “Overheard” left me wondering:
How does one partner properly ask the other to do something?
Surely it’s not an offence to make a request for help or for a favour.
Why did this wife feel she was being given an order or that her husband was attempting to organize her day?
I suppose it has to do with their history as a couple, and maybe his tone of voice. Maybe he always tries to boss her around but won’t do anything she asks him to do.  Maybe she figures it’s his job and he wants to unload it on her, or that it’s a job they should share and if she does it, he won’t pitch in, and once she does it, it will be left to her forevermore. I would love to ask! This is the hard part of being a fly on the wall; you can hear but you can’t participate except to buzz around the speakers’ ears.

It gave me food for thought.

Speaking of food, I was recently asked if I ever get tired of baking bread.
You’re damn right I do. I make a batch of six or eight loaves every weekday morning and there are days when the thought of cleaning up sticky dough one more time makes me want to run away screaming.

I make the bread anyway, a different kind each day.
And I remind myself, as I fight to keep the sticky globs from going down the sink drain, that most of the women in the world don’t even have running water or an oven, let alone a sink to make cleaning up convenient. How easily I forget this, in the safety and comfort where I live and make a decent living doing what I choose to do.

daily bread cafe

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A middle-aged couple in for coffee and toast sat alone in one of the three booths.

“When we get home, why don’t you spend the afternoon cleaning up the yard?”

“How about this. When we get home, why don’t I tell you what to do today?”

picking vegetables d carrington

Picking Vegetables, a painting by Dora Carrington

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Virginia Woolf wrote this in her novel The Waves:

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”

I cannot say it better.


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Ever Onward

Why oh why oh why do I keep insisting I’m going to do this blogging thing?
I’m too goddamn tired and busy.
Lord love a duck, it’s all I can do to keep the tables wiped some days.
Nah. I’m exaggerating. There are always lovely lulls when I can find whatever window there is and sit down with a cup of tea, even if only for a few moments.
Still, those moments are not spent blogging, is what I’m saying.

I’m angry today, as I was yesterday, at the incomprehensibility of some things that people choose to do.
Their decisions astound me.
When it comes to violence like that experienced in eastern Canada this week and in the Middle East, I don’t believe in the different-strokes-for-different-folks theme.
I think those who murder others are mentally ill.
Certainly they are spiritually ill.
I’m just surprised at how goddamn many of them there seem to be.

My heart does ache for this world.


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Coffee in 7 Hours

People keep telling us this is what our customers want:

meat and potatoes

I say that’s what they get at home.

But somewhere there is a restaurant called, if I remember correctly, The Meat and Potatoes Café. Jane Fonda posted about it on her blog, and that’s where I found this picture.

I need to get to bed but the constellations keep beckoning. It’s warm enough to stand out on the balcony with a housecoat on. And no mosquitoes! So I do. Even with the streetlights at the corners, it’s no problem to see the stars and planets and galaxies. I might just sleep out there tonight. It’s almost warm enough and with the feather tick it will be and when I get cold I’ll come in. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

When I’m out there, looking up, I think of the times during my life I’ve gazed alone at the night sky. I think of my love interest at the time, and where I was, and how I felt. I love the Big Dipper, and Orion, and the Moon. From the balcony I can see the lake shimmering. It’s so beautiful I don’t want to miss a moment of it. Damn sleep.

But tomorrow is another café day and I will be up with the sun. Already I’m looking forward to that first coffee.

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Believing Eyes

Do I have a drinking problem if I drink a glass of wine four nights a week and it goes down quite fast and I sure do want another one and if I do have two, usually only on Saturday nights or special occasions, that one goes down fast too?

Also, when I’ve had a drink and I see something out of the corner of my eye, I never believe it. I tell myself it was just the drink. But if I’m having a glass four nights a week, that means I can’t believe my own eyes half the time. That’s not good, is it.

I make it sound like there are all manner of strange goings-on here. There aren’t, really. There were spooky things that happened when I first moved into the café, but they were spooky-nice … in other words, just nice, not spooky. My guitar would fall over for no obvious reason but the neck would never break. There would always always always be more money in the cashbox than there should have been, and this when we run on the honour system, to boot. And remember when we used to get those handwritten notes with recipes on them? Those were cool and I never did find out who left them. We get good stuff in the tip jar now too. Here’s what was in it last night:

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I still think it’s Beatrice but she swears not and the handwriting doesn’t really look like hers and anyway surely by now she’d’ve fessed up. It’s not like it wouldn’t come out when she’s here every week if not every day. Remember when she moved here and she wouldn’t leave her place? She still doesn’t, except to come here. But that’s something we can be glad about.

I was happy here then and I’m happy here now. Just getting used to a little less of Beau in my life. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I never did write a proper entry about it, and maybe I never will. Suffice it to say, I’ve spent my weekends alone for some time now and it’s been an adjustment. I miss him. And also: I don’t.

What can I say. That’s life. What a jumble of contradictions, each as true as the next. We are on good terms but not good enough. Whatever. I don’t want to talk about it, I just end up pissed off. I am thankful for the company of my dog in the evenings and for the people who come in and out of here during the day. It’s all good. Life is beautiful.


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