Kaffeebohnen’s Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Riders on the Storm January 30, 2012

Filed under: family — kaffeebohnen @ 9:25 pm

Last week, I was out mith my housemate N, celebrating Thirsty Thursday. This is a tradition we do, and it’s meant to get us at least once into every pub in Oxford. N’s got a bigger ‘to visit’ list than I’ve got, so it’s a bigger job with him than without him. At the same time, this is not the kind of project you do alone. We were at the Old Tom, which is the first pub I ever went to in England. Back in 2007, I was visiting friends, and I was terrifically jet lagged, so they fed me booze and took me to a BBQ. All I remember is that there was a big dog, an American bartender, and the most delicious pint I’d ever tasted. I think it was the hand-pulling that made it taste so good. It’s got new owners, and doubles as a Thai restaurant now, so it’s like a pub I’ve never been to.

Anyway, so N and I were enjoying our pints and chatting happily away, commenting every so often on the musice that was playing. Neither one of us is particularly into our music, so we didn’t have much to say, other than, “this is a good song.” Then, the first soft notes of Riders on the Storm tumbled out of the speakers.

I closed my eyes for a second, and I was 8-year-old me, leaning against the window in the back seat of my parents old car. It’s dark out, and I’m drifting off to sleep. Mom and Dad are conversing quietly in the front, and we’re on our way home from visiting Grandma. It was such a pleasant moment, and this song takes me back there every time I hear it.

The Doors made such mellow, relaxing music, but they were always on Dad’s stay-awake-and-drive soundtrack. They’ll forever be on a sit-back-and-think-of-childhood playlist for me. Even if I’m sitting in the pub, drinking the most grown up of ales with a friend.

 

Am I back? January 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — kaffeebohnen @ 3:39 pm

I might be back…

I haven’t really thought about this space in forever, but now I’m thinking about it again.  I might not be back.  But I’ve been thinking what a shame it is that holding onto the memories of the last… well, while… it’s up to my memory alone.  I had a little read through my archives the other day and couldn’t help but smile. I can remember reading through old hand written journals from high school and feeling mortified at the angst and all the feelings I was feeling.  I threw those out long ago; who wants a record of all the times they felt sad or left out or angry? 

This journal isn’t like that.  There’s value in this space and there’s value in writing for an audience (no matter how small) because it keeps me writing about the good times, instead of writing about things that have upset me.  It preserves the memories I want to hold on to.

I’m probably coming back here.

 

An Update April 25, 2010

Filed under: Before I am old,Uncategorized — kaffeebohnen @ 11:25 am

So basically, I’ve gotten bored of this space. Every once in a while, something pops into my head as being something that would be good to post here, but then I never do because basically, I’m bored of this space. But I have some unfinished business to take care of:

So here’s the list of things I want to do before I turn 30:

fly to at least two new places: BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) FEBRUARY 2010. SOFIA (BULGARIA) APRIL 2010

find a ‘grown-up’ job: DOES [redacted] COUNT? IT’S NOT TEMPING, AT LEAST. 30 IS STILL SIX MONTHS AWAY, SO I’D SAY I’M STILL ON TARGET FOR THIS ONE.

learn to play field hockey: NOT SURE I COULD SAY I REALLY LEARNED THE GAME, BUT I SCORED A GOAL IN ONE OF OUR COMPETITIVE GAMES, WHICH WE WON 4-3.

volunteer for an important cause: SPORT RELIEF MILE, MARCH 2010. (A ONE-TIME THING, SO QUESTIONABLE, IN THE SPIRIT OF WHAT I WAS THINKING WHEN I WROTE THAT, BUT GOOD ENOUGH FOR NOW. SPORT RELIEF RAISES A SHED LOAD OF MONEY TO SUPPORT POOR AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE)

take in more live music (YEP. OXFORD FRINGE FESTIVAL, ACOUSTIC NIGHT AT THE JERICHO TAVERN, ETC., ETC.)

cycle more, outside of Oxford (YEP. VARIOUS TRIPS WITH VARIOUS PEOPLE ON SUNNY DAYS, BUT THAT WAS BEFORE I REALIZED JUST EXACTLY HOW ON ITS LAST LEGS MY BIKE REALLY IS… PUTTING THIS ON HOLD TIL I FIND A REPLACEMENT)

learn about bike repair (YEP. THAT’S HOW I KNOW JUST HOW ON ITS LAST LEGS MY BIKE REALLY IS. TOOK A BIKE MAINTENANCE COURSE, FIDDLE WITH MY BIKE ALL THE TIME. BEARINGS ARE STILL MY FAVOURITE!)

continue trying new things (THAT’S A PRETTY VAGUE THING… BUT I’M DOIN’ IT… ON A WHIM I ATE “LAMB SPECIALTY” (DROB SYRMA) IN BULGARIA, WHICH CONSISTED OF RICE AND CHOPPED UP BITS OF LAMB: LIVER, KIDNEY, TONGUE, STOMACH, VEINS… AND I ATE IT TIL I CRUNCHED DOWN ON A KIDNEY STONE. THAT WAS NEW.)

learn to cook British (SEE MY NEW PROJECT FOR PROGRESS… AS OF 25/04/2010, THERE’S NOT MUCH THERE, BUT THERE WILL BE SOON)

Posting will probably continue to be light-to-nonexistant in this space because, as I may have already mentioned, I’m not that interested in this space anymore… Feel free to send me emails!

 

away for a few days February 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kaffeebohnen @ 12:06 am

back in March.

 

Folks are in town February 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kaffeebohnen @ 12:18 pm

So my folks arrived here safe and sound on Friday afternoon. We spent much of Friday in my cousin T’s pub and woke up late on Saturday. In the end, they arrived at the pub before I did, and had worked their way through all of the ales and were starting to tackle the lagers. Which, obviously, is the only valid approach to your first time in an English pub. (although it’s not likely their first time… and it definitely won’t be their last)

Saturday, we did a bunch of walking. If you can look past the crowds, this is an incredibly pretty place.

Oh, geez, just noticed the clock. Need to be back at T’s pub in about a half hour… I’ll finish this post later!

So yeah, Saturday, we wandered around the city for some time. I mean, actually not the city. We went into the city centre, and then left it almost immediately. There are a lot of people around on a Saturday. Anyway, so it was a walk around the Christ Church Meadow, where we skipped going into the college. The college dining hall, one of the best reasons to go into the college, was closed. It’s something special – the stained glass windows and the fireplaces inspired Alice in Wonderland, so all the characters are up there. There are a bunch of creepy portraits where the eyes follow you around. And it’s where the dining hall scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. So yeah, we skipped the college, and walked the meadow, and then down the river to my place. From there, we walked back into town (I think this only takes about an hour for the round trip) and hit up The Whisky Shop. Pa was really excited about the Whisky Shop.

Then: pub, pub, pub! We spent about an hour in The Mitre on the High Street. The idea had been to have a cream tea (with scones and jam and clotted cream) but they were out of something, so we had ale and potato skins instead. From there, we went right back up to T’s pub, to meet Auntie J and listen to the band. A few pints in, I abandoned them all to meet some friends in yet another pub. I don’t actually recall when it was that my life started to revolve solely around booze… shrug.

 

Comedy night at Covent Garden February 7, 2010

Filed under: Before I am old,stuff I never did before — kaffeebohnen @ 5:28 pm

So I went to London to meet L and Am yesterday for dinner and a comedy show. I was over at their place earlier this week, and they asked if I wanted to go, so I threw my credit card at Am and didn’t ask any questions.

Before dinner, we stopped in at the Canadian/Australian/New Zealand/South African store to pick up some Reese’s Pieces, but I opted for something called Pineapple Lumps. It was a sort of marshmallowy thing covered in chocolate and tasted like Bailey’s, but not as good. Verdict: no need to do that again. Dinner at the pizza place was better. We sat next to this couple who complained the whole time about the terrible service (which was actually fine service, if a bit slow), were rude to the staff, and then ran out on their bill. It seemed to take a quite a lot of effort for them to be that big of douches.

The comedy was pretty funny. It was definitely funny nose night on that stage, but I think there’s something about having a funny nose that probably helps with a person’s comedic development. L disappeared for a long time in the toilets, so Am and I entertained each other by coming up with a thousand and one reasons for this delay – several references to Trainspotting and the worst toilet in Edinburgh later, L returned, dripping wet and glassy-eyed. No, actually she was dry as a bone, but she did look like she’d been through an ordeal (involving no running water and a urinal trough in the ladies’ room). When I went into the other ladies’ room later on, there was a bathroom attendant to turn on the water and hand you a towel. I thought it was really posh, until I realized none of the toilets flushed, and the whole reason this attendant was there is because the faucets and the towel dispensers were all broken. Tada!

At least the drinks were plentiful.

 

My Auntie Karen February 3, 2010

Filed under: family — kaffeebohnen @ 6:51 am

Tomorrow, friends and family of my Auntie Karen are going to be together, sharing stories and happy memories of her. I can’t be there, because I’m an ocean away, but I still want to be a part of it. So here goes.

I met my Auntie Karen when I was about 10 or 11, and Uncle John (my Dad’s baby brother) brought her home to meet us all. I thought she was pretty cool, and I wanted to show her that. So, in a little kid kind of way, I made her a name plate out of these melty beads I was really into at the time. The last time I was at her house, she showed me that name plate, from nearly 20 years ago, which she kept in one of those drawers where you just kind of collect things. She kept it through three international moves, which is silly for a little hunk of plastic, but it meant a lot to me to know it was still there.

When Uncle John and Aunt Karen got married and I was about 12, I was reluctant to have a new person in the family. My closest cousin, Kate, and I whispered to each other that we couldn’t imagine calling her Auntie, since Auntie is something you call someone you grew up with. It didn’t take long to change our minds, though, and she soon had us welcoming all sorts of other strange things into the family. My mom and I were helping her throw a wedding or baby shower for one of her friends, and during a quiet moment in the kitchen, she told my mom all excitedly, “you’re going to be an Auntie!” Which was her way of saying that she and my Uncle John were getting a dog. She let that joke go after it stopped being funny – unless she was talking to my Uncle Rodger. He referred to Belle, a white bichon frise, as a rat with a hippie wig, and my Aunt Karen always called him Belle’s Uncle Rodger. Actually, that one never stopped being funny.

Auntie Karen was so welcoming and so hospitable. She freely took me and all of my vagrant cousins into her house whenever we wanted to be there, and I believe she was never happier than when she had guests. One summer, when I was about 16, I was over there with a few other cousins around the time of Karen’s son’s first birthday party. She had a paddling pool on the deck for Mitchie to splash in, and set us all up in deck chairs around it to cool our feet and watch over Mitch in his swim diaper. She may or may not have handed us a round of illicit beers, but she definitely laughed the loudest at the suggestion that Mitchie was peeing all over the inside of the pool, including on our feet.

Karen always stayed in touch with everyone. After high school, I took off for a year in Europe, and she made a point of calling fairly regularly, despite the astronomical phone bills. I used to write a lot of letters in those days, and years later, she told me she practically danced around the kitchen every time she got a letter from me. When she found out she was pregnant with a second child, she called me with Uncle John on the extension, and asked me to be their daughter’s fairy godmother. Of course, I was ecstatic about it. At only 18, I was nervous about taking on the responsibility, but it turned out to be pretty easy, and I’m so proud to have a goddaughter like Emily.

At Uni, I lived in the same city as my Auntie Karen, and spent an enormous amount of time at her place. She had me and my cousin Kate over for dinner all the time, and we were regularly on the babysitting roster. She was sort of a surrogate mom for a while, since mine lived so far away. Karen was amazing with the relationship advice over those years. Her dating philosophy was wasy to adopt: “Dating is like a smorgasbord, you should try a little of everything!” she would say and laugh. She’s always one of the first people I would call during a breakup, and she would always say, “I spit in his shoes!” to make me laugh. Then she’d listen patiently while I told her everything. Over the years, I developed a habit of letting my own Mom know about my love-life through the filter of my Auntie Karen. She was a real bridge builder, because for a time, my Mom and I didn’t talk much – in a regular mother-daughter conflict kind of way, I think. Through my Auntie Karen, though, my Mom always knew what was going on with me.

My Auntie Karen is the originator of our family rule never to put a cork back in a bottle of wine. (I suspect she came up with this to make fun of my Mom) When I was about 21, I was staying with her and my Uncle John for the summer and learned this lesson well. This was, I think, the first summer after they’d moved to Iowa from Saskatchewan for Uncle John’s work. He was working about 30 hours a day, Aunt Karen was working on a Master’s degree, and their kids were about 3 and 5. I didn’t have any plans for the summer, so I went to look after Mitch and Em. One night, Aunt Karen happened to be home for dinner, and we opened up a bottle of white. We laughed so hard, and I don’t even remember about what. I tried to know my limit, and moved to put the bottle back in the fridge, and she scolded me and refilled my glass. By the end of the evening, we were drunkenly chasing the kids around the house, getting them all riled up just in time for pyjamas.

She was really worried that I would get lonely for the couple months I was there, without anyone to really hang around with. She trolled her classes for young men I could hang out with, and got the across-the-street neighbour to help out. This neighbour described her nephew as “hot” so I was looking forward to meeting him. However, when he showed up at the door, he was decidedly not hot… She waited a few hours for my hangover to subside the next day, and then laughed her face off at my graceful reaction to his appearance at the door, at my inability to fit my key in the door when I got home, and at the kids for being so sympathetic about my headache. She brought this up all the time, even years later.

We took a bunch of weekend trips that summer – there was the weekend in Chicago, where we had to keep Emily on a leash and harness as we toured through museums and restaurants, because she’s prone to running off. There was also the day trip to the Caves… it was fun to be climbing around in the cold, dark, damp caves in the middle of summer. Hilariously, all of us had gotten dressed independently that morning, and all of us had shown up in the kitchen for breakfast wearing jeans-shorts, and grey tshirts, like a family of enormous goofballs. In the spirit of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” we toured around all day in our matchy-matchy outfits, stopping to pose for group photos at every opportunity.

Today, I really wish I was there for a hug with my Uncle John, my goddaughter Emily, and my cousin Mitchell. This isn’t easy for me, but I know for them, it’s harder.

I love you guys.