Welcome to where the seeds of dreams are planted--where one can sip from the charmed chalice of life & meet interesting folk through (hopefully) intelligent conversation.

One never knows nor can expect who will sail into the fray--what we do know is that no soul here is perfect no matter how we try. So let us celebrate & raise our mugs to the idiosyncratic nature of life--to the Kramer's & Norm's of the world, the Roseanne's & Allan Poe's. Some old, some lost, some tortured, some blessed, all souls sharing a drink at the same time in the same place. The ensuing tales are authentic with names trending towards monikers. The flag waving on our doorstep means we're open, so come perk your curiosity in Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.

Bonjour! Mesherfin! Hasta la vista! Your barista.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Potentially Reciprocating

Racing along Interstate 70 into the Big Crabcake, our barista returned from a Thanksgiving excursion tardy for his afternoon shift at le Harbor Bungalow Cafe.  Mother-of-barista tightly gripped the handle of the passenger side door.  The barista weaved through traffic behind the steering wheel of father-of-barista's SUV while simultaneously leaving Jennifer a voice mail she will not hear until our barista is next to her behind the coffee bar.  An ordinary day it was not to be.

Our barista certainly enjoys a cup of coffee, but never really has he considered himself much of a coffee binge drinker.  That self-perception may change after he nearly housed an entire 80-ounce carafe of joe during his thirteen-and-a-half hour shift Saturday afternoon, evening, night and early morning. Patrons looking to satisfy their munchies and/or caffiine fix were denied entry into their favorite coffee house as beatmaker, engineer, deejay Luis Guanzon rented le Harbor Bungalow Cafe to film a music video.

"I'm Not Her Type" is the title of the song Luis penned for singer-guitarist Julian Roso.  An acoustic guitar-driven pop song about a barista being jilted by a fellow co-ed barista.  Julian, predictably playing the lead role in the video, sported an apron bearing the coffee house's name--an apron our barista is not required to sport.  An apron designed for this special occasion. Luis and his crew worked from dawn until the early hours of Sunday morning.   Jennifer closed her cafe on the production's behalf at noon.  Immediately, le Harbor Bungalow Cafe was occupied by about a dozen cameras, three awkward, craning spotlights, vats of chili, spaghetti and pasta sauce and enough actors, deejays, extras, and hangers-on to fill every seat in the shop.  Word around the cafe was that Luis had a few video shoots on his resume.  The gang worked professionally, seemingly with a plan, illustrating his experience.

"We began shooting around the harbor at sunrise," Luis explained to the barista part way through the production. "The sky looked great, but man we've been at it all day."  Luis and his crew called upon our barista to give his actors a crash course on the espresso machine, provide realistic props, prepare multiple gingerbread-white chocolate lattes and offer his expertise on how to stay energized through 1 a.m.  The barista enjoyed the change of pace to his work day--however long it may be--and was grateful for the day's job perks.

“Hey man, you wanna beer?” one of the extras asked the barista—who earlier allowed the group to discreetly indulge in the libations, as the H.B.C. was closed for business.

“Thanks, but...not many people know this, I’ve been drinking Irish coffee most of the day.” 

The group giggled in surprise.

The barista was grateful for many things this week of Thanksgiving: turkey, health, family, dreams, popcorn…but this fine day Jennifer topped the list.  As far as bosses go, Jennifer bakes the cake.  Not only did she give him the music video shift, but she took twenty bucks from the morning’s tip jar and sent him out the door to make his coffee Irish that afternoon.   She apologized for the unexpected overtime, but the 2 a.m. punch-out loomed only as a minor inconvenience for our barista, as he can walk to his doorstep in ninety seconds from where le Harbor Bungalow Café’s OPEN flag waves.  (Well, unless its rush hour and metal automobiles clog the street he needs to cross.  That Saturday night/Sunday morning he only had to avoid the police or ambulance sirens along with the drunks micturating in his alley.)

Our barista is also grateful that Jennifer puts up with his penchant for posting stories that happen at her coffee house on his creative nonfiction online blog.  She is used to attention, especially after running the business for over five years and raising two kids, but not attention of this sort.

"If there is something you don't want me to write just tell me it's off the record," the barista assures his boss.

"My whole life is off the record," she replied...in jest, the barista surmised.

But just as Luis' music video production has the potential to increase interest and business at the coffee house, Le Harbor Bungalow Cafe holds the potential to drive red eyes and taste buds into her cozy, quaint coffee and pastry shop.  Now after reading this blog, aren't you craving a slice of pumpkin cheesecake?  Wouldn't a warm, creamy, spiced chai latte stretch your weary eyes about now?  Tell me you're not drooling.  Tell me you wouldn't like to visit--and chat with Squeaky.  Tell me you wouldn't like to feed Fister Mishy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fister Mishy

The costume reindeer antlers resting on the cash register this morning was the first thing to catch the barista’s eye this mild mid-November dawn, though bigger surprises would be in store…or dare I say, in café… in le Harbor Bungalow Café.

Mildly disappointed no paint fumes remained from artistry practiced by Jennifer the night prior, the barista was grinding the first beans of the day when he glanced toward the back of the shop.  The single-floor narrow row home of a café, receives a fresh coat of color somewhere on nearly a monthly basis.  The lemon-bar-yellow walls provide a nice backdrop for local artists' paintings and photographs, the steel tables recently morphed into a glossy, Smurf blue and the sugar and cream station now proudly sports an Oscar-the-Grouch green.  But it was the scuffed up, painted, tile floor in the back room that Jennifer touched up overnight in the same tan beach sand shade used months prior.  The barista didn’t notice the floors until hours later.  His attention was focused on Fister Mishy.

A cichlid is a type of  fish that can exude the color of a goldfish and the body of a sumo wrestler—at least that is the look of the double-fist sized cichlid living in the back of le Harbor Bungalow Café for the past few of years.  The H.B.C. acquired the slippery gill-equipped fellow from a loyal, hefty, bearded patron who at the time could not provide the pet a home.  Jennifer adopted the creature and her young daughter named him Mister Fishy.  (The barista finds this name lame—but who is to rationally expect an elaborate or clever name from a two-year old?  Hence the intentionally dyslectic variation, Fister Mishy.)

 Before this morning Fister Mishy had a problem.  The problem resulted in a red flesh wound between Fister Mishy’s eyes, visible to patrons relaxing on the plush couches as they sipped their cappuccinos or licked the apple cider frosting of Jennifer’s new pumpkin donuts from their upper lips.  The problem resulted in complaints from members of PETA (People for the Ethic Treatment of Animals) who on a random visit from Washington D.C. one day, popped into the cafe.  The group of three, after complementing Jennifer on her wonderfully tasty homemade pastries, retreated to the back room to enjoy their mixed berry scones or pumpkin truffles or whatever they ordered, when their lower jaws nearly hit the coffee table in horror because of the size of this fish relative to its tank.  Now the barista is no expert on fish-to-tank water ratios, but let’s just say when a fish and its tank is relative in size to a gallon of ice cream in your standard refrigerator’s freezer, something’s amiss.  And the freezer in this analogy is not empty.  A cute log and unnecessary fake vegetation also prevented this tortured behemoth from really spreading its fins.  How it grew to be this large in that tank was puzzling.  It didn’t take a member of PETA to draw these conclusions, the scene just rubbed salt in Fister Mishy’s open wound.

Speculation spread amongst patrons that Fister Mishy was attempting suicide, pushing his nose out of the water and knocking the plastic door open, which is how the wound formed.  If the feeding door was not there, Fister Mishy may have got his wish—unless his wish was something else, like sneaking a taste of Jennifer’s spicy chicken soup.  If that were the case—and if he could jump that far—the barista wouldn’t blame him. But as the comments regarding Fister Mishy’s living conditions multiplied, (I feel so bad for him... The tank's so small... The way he bangs his head on the top of the tank it's a miracle he can still see straight.) the barista did not want to bear the blame for the cichlid's physical and mental health, nor did  his boss, Jennifer.  Leon—the Santa Claus-looking patron who generously gifted the creature in the first place--wanted to care for his spiny-rayed buddy himself.  Leon is the one who changes out Fister Mishy’s water along with the required aquarium maintenance.  His heart is bigger than his wallet.  When the small table under the aquarium was buckling earlier this year, Leon helped to build a fifth, brick leg to keep Fister Mishy's habitat from violently shattering on the floor, flooding the back room.  He strategically placed coffee cup sleeves between the table and the bricks to more evenly distribute the heavy weight.  Leon provides the food, but it is mainly Jennifer and her baristas who feed the monster.  Our barista is amused when he gives the eetsy beetsy pieces of TetraCichlid Cichlid Sticks to children of patrons to drop into Fister Mishy's tank.  Why?  Because the kids jump in shock as Fister chomps violently enough to splash water out of the tank when he’s hungry.  The kids generally jump in delight after the fact, knowing they are safe.  (To date, no child has cried from the experience, let alone been injured on our barista’s watch at le Harbor Bungalow Café.  Though Squeaky did get his finger bit once--but he is a 70-year old man who should know better.)

So Leon, after months—if not years—of promises about getting a new tank for his slimy friend, came through yesterday with a tank twice the size of the former.  It was this five-foot long tank raised on a sturdy, wrought iron stand that blew the sleep out of our barista's eyes this morning.  "Fister Mishy must think he has died and gone to the ocean," the barista proudly exclaimed.  Now if the red, open wound on his scaly forehead heals, the barista, his boss and their sympathetic patrons can rest easy believing Fister Mishy is at peace with his new container and his new life.  If the wound does not heal, maybe the barista will lobby for a Fisses Mishy.