Monthly Archives: December 2015


Well, just a bit earlier in the year, I experienced a gift of red sneakers. That story is told inside of Red Sneakers.

That tale I think of as yin. It’s soft, sweet, sassy, feminine in a quasi-original way. Plus it’s rebellious because it’s red rather than traditional white.

But it’s one half of the circle. The other swirl is classically black.

Its formation began on the day I received the red Chucks. My husband surprised me by taking me to California Pastrami – a tiny strip-mall restaurant that promised to satisfy my nostalgic hunger for a pastrami sandwich, just like the ones that I had in New Jersey as a kid.

So, you get the idea: the theme of the celebratory weekend was one of wistfulness and a yearning to look backward.

And it grandly succeeded. I don’t eat red meat, but, a secret craving had emerged and I sated it. All gooey and dripping with fats was the sandwich, and, I delighted in the entire mess.

After leaving the cafe, we walked a mere fifteen feet to our car and as I stood next to the passenger door, I turned to look back – to drink in one last vision-sip of the cafe that had time-traveled me back five decades.

That’s when I caught a glance of a blonde-haired, slender, little gazelle of a tween stotting across the sidewalk .  .  . heading into the pizza shop at the mall’s end.

Her movement was eye catching, however, it was her feet that stood me still.

She was wearing a pair of black canvas, knee-high Chucks. Something I’d never seen before, but, immediately fell in love with!

I shamelessly stared as she glided through the doorway with her family. Even more shamelessly, I told Hubby that I’d wait for her to leave, (just takeout after all), and get a better look at the prancing paws.

We waited. She was quick to leave. I took a mental photo and rhapsodized about them on our ride back to the hotel.

But I left it there. I searched for high-tops and nothing that tall appeared, so, I released the fantasy.

And then.

What should appear beneath the Christmas tree?


Sneakers -Black Knee-high Chucks

Yep. You guessed it: A pair of Knee-high black Chucks!!

Now I feel even more like a kid playing in a body that’s trapped in the role of an adult.

I just need to wait a few months for the snow to melt so I can go pronging outside and truly play in my new feet .  .  . truly complete the yin/yang experience of coveted sneakers.




Christmas Yin/Yang

Red Sneakers


Many years before Prince coveted his little red Corvette, I invested hours of begging my mother for a pair of little red sneakers. I was in love.



Red Sneakers


In those years of the late 1950s to the early 1960s, canvas-coated feet were emboldened in a battle between Keds and PF Flyers. My mother favored Keds.


I accepted the poverty of options. Secretly I preferred Keds also, because on close scrutiny of my friends with PF feet, I could see a deficiency in quality. The fabric was skinnier; the rubber was wobblier. From a distance, the colors and styling were eye-catching. Up close, the optical illusion gave way.

Keds had solidity. Longevity. Ankle support.

But they were poor in color palette. White, navy, and black predominated, which was a bit boring to a small girl with a big dream of being a fashionista.

Today I describe my go-to wardrobe as: black, white, and indigo. Once again demonstrating the power of the circle. The ceaseless circle of life.

I’m voluntarily back where I began.


Against that background color trinity, though, I love accents of surprise from every pie slice of the spectrum.

But, in the post-WW II days, life was spectrally dim. Women wore quiet dresses. Men sore Obama suits. Children wore practical clothes, that is, clothes of colors that did not readily reveal dirt. Clothes that could be worn a few times without washing and still pass for respectfully clean.

Looking back, I appreciate that practicality. Fewer loads of laundry made ecological and economical sense.

But, still. I wanted a pair of red canvas sneakers. Just so my feet could shout a little. Be happy and dance a little.

And not just plain red low-riders. No, I wanted red high-tops. And that’s where the real battle began.

Not only did Mom see red canvas as a grass-stain magnet. She judged high-tops as completely inappropriate for girls.

What the heck? I never could figure it out, but, suddenly practicality became too masculine.

I was a tall, gangly kid in need of strong ankle support. So, why not high-tops?

My arguments were in vain. For six years of childhood, she denied me.

And that denial rode along with me into adulthood.

Decades later, I found myself periodically craving a pair of red high-top sneakers. This time, though: Converse. Yes. A pair of tall, red Chucks.

Somehow, every moment of zealous pursuit was foiled. My size was not available or red was not in favor with the fashion police or long shoelaces were not being manufactured. Some quirk of commerce always roadblocked.


This year.

In the midst of 2015’s final three months of holiday blitzing.

My husband surprised me with a wedding-anniversary gift:





Yes, it truly is never too late to have a happy childhood.

And today, on this Winter Solstice, may all of your sorrows be lifted. May all of your dreams come true. May a new season of happiness fill your soul.









The Grind


Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, leather sofa in Home Interiorsnuggle into the sofa, unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the twenty-fifth issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!




The Grind - (12-15-2015) Crocheted Memories


My grandmother chose deep, aged-wine colors and crocheted her “squares” as diamonds .  .  . yes, she diagonally parked her stitchery, which inspires me to love her nonconformist aesthetics all the more .  .  !



My Childhood Theory of Relativity



The time is the 1950s. I am a young child. Not yet in school. My mother is driving me in a powder blue 1948 Desoto. We are traveling north on Route 206 from Lawrenceville, New Jersey to Princeton.

It’s a two-lane road. By today’s standards, it would qualify as a rural back road – winding through wooded fields and aristocratic country estates. Some Tutor houses slowly tattering in refined poverty; others quietly lush with noble wealth tucked inside ivy-splattered windows.

The narrow macadam road passes by Rider College, Lawrenceville Preparatory School and the Ice Cream Shoppe. Promenades right into downtown Princeton and Palmer Square where the wealthy intelligentsia shop for plaid skirts and wool cardigans; tweed hacking jackets and mahogany-colored penny loafers; polo shirts and professorial khaki trousers.

In the center of the square is my favorite lunchtime treat: a Rexall drugstore with a soda fountain, where I can sit and spin on the red Naugahyde stools while the malt machines whirl.

At a ninety-degree angle is the elegant continental French restaurant. A two-story restaurant with many petite rooms and small tables snuggled together. The coziest tables for two border the walls.

Deep window sills lined with potted geraniums remind me of magazine photographs of European villages. Tiny crunched towns with cobblestones.

Where life is dusky and gnarled old women create sunshine with colored flowers in terracotta pots. These women seem like conjure priestesses to me. I love their power of white magic.

And I love the white crocheted lace curtains that coquettishly cover half of the windows, so delicately divided into small panes by many narrow brown muttons. The windows look like tic-tac-toe games waiting to be played by strolling passersby.

Antique stores with dark, ornately carved furniture and large gold leaf framed mirrors in the windows dot the perimeter of the square. A grassy square of land sits in the center, interrupted by an X that offers shoppers a shortcut between right angles.

The buildings are brick and stone. Tasteful, quiet structures. The people are dressed in neutral colors. Statements of some older, wiser truth than the fickle fashion-minded New Yorkers, just 45 miles northeast.

Traveling a little farther north on Route 206 – or Main Street – is the cluster of castle-like buildings known as Princeton University.

The buildings are pieced together with stones that glisten like the twinkling in the eye of a secret prankster when a certain slant of sunlight peeks through.

Heavy vines of dark green ivy embroider their way up the sides of the buildings and drape like pearl necklaces above the tall windows. The greenery places a hush over the campus. It looks like a land from a fairy tale or the palace of a Celtic princess.

In-between Palmer Square and the University are rows of shops and houses. Thin domino houses, snuggling, sharing plots of grass. Somber buildings with the smile of flowers in window boxes. Skinny streets connecting to Main Street like diagonal arrows.

Somewhere in this section of town is where Albert Einstein lives and walks and thinks.

My mother sees a memory of his profile moving against the rows of dark brick domino-houses. She describes him to me: an elderly man, not very tall, slightly hunched. He is wearing baggy khaki pants, a dark woolen jacket over a brown sweater. The sky is silver grey and the air is cool. Mr. Einstein’s hair is platinum and fuzzy and is tousled by the gentle autumn breeze.

His face wears a bemused expression as he walks along pondering the motion of his sensibly clad feet.

My mother says that Mr. Einstein is a gentle man. He is kind to children. And he smiles as he watches their faces digest images and ideas.

He is a friend of my grandmother, Toot.

Toot teaches science in the nearby Valley Road Junior High School. And a few times a year she invites Mr. Einstein to visit her eighth grade class. He is the guest lecturer, but, my mother says he is more like an uncle coming to visit.

He laughs and plays with the kids. He tells them stories about the constructions of atoms and molecules. Stories about light particles and waves and the speed of traveling across invisible distances.

I am told that he has the students sit in circles on the floor. He is not like a regular teacher with attendance rosters. Not one who lines up students in grid formation for the pledge of allegiance.

He is relaxed. Rather sloppy, with messy hair and bright, sparkling eyes.

When I am old enough to go to school, I recall my mother’s stories of Mr. Einstein. And I wish that he could have visited my school and taught science with stories instead of leaving me incarcerated in textbooks.

I suspect that avuncular tales of physics in circles of children might have sent me into a different orbit of life. Might have carbonated my mind with fizzier ideas.

I smile as I gaze back, imagining the infinitude of possibilities that I could have called my future; my present.


Gypsy Man


Imagine an exotic, Turkish-inspired coffee shop on the second floor of a cluster of Santa Fe art galleries. Run by sheikhs, all porcelain-white people wearing white turbans and sculpted sour expressions.

The decor is lush. Lots of hand-tufted rugs and handwoven textiles stuffed into pillows. Lavishly tassled and tossed into raised-bed booths and corner hammocks.

Deep red is predominant. The tones of aged wines from quixotic and ancient cultures create a space of timeless welcome. A safety net to sink into and forget the worries of twenty-first century America.

This space is everything I want a coffee shop to be: an afternoon ride on a magic carpet.

And as I nest into a corn crib of pillows, a genie appears.

Squatting across the private table from me – uninvited – unsummoned – a man sits pretzled in a perfect lotus flower. Dressed in handwoven/hand-dyed clothing, he is nearly camouflaged by the cafe itself.

His hair is dark as espresso. Crinkly and curly.

He has chin stubble that wants to give birth to a beard.

His dark eyes sear through the dusky light into my consciousness.

He wears amulets.


He carries a deck of tarot cards that he ceremoniously places on the table.

He is silent, and, keen upon appearing more enigmatic and mysterious than his birthright.

He is .  .  . a self-created apparition.

And as he pokes a hole in my solitude, I’m offended.

I wind my legs in a knot and tuck them under my turquoise-tiered, gossamer skirt. This posture grounds me as I choose to lift my eyes and meet his in a direct standoff: a soundless dartboard of eyeballs bouncing. A game only strangers can play with the logic of graceful hatred.

As my green eyes bite his chocolate malt-ball eyes, it is war.

The rare ecstasy of invisible sparring begins.

Before I can thunder kick him with words, he turns over a handful of intricately beautiful images. All glossy patterns on sturdy card stock.

Tarot Cards

My anger diffuses.

“What’s your number?” he asks with soft determination.

“I don’t know. I’ve never understood numerology, but, my favorite number has always been eight.”

“What’s your birth date?”

I give the date. He converts it into numbers. Adds them up. They total “8.”

“You are right to trust your instincts. Eight has been, and always will be, the guide of your life.”

He shuffles several cards and lays them out on the table in a pretty little pint-sized argyle acre of tidy tilling.

I’m fascinated. His nimble fingers work so quickly. His voice speaks through the wine colors of the room. He is a weaver of words and prophecy, and, I am soon nearly tipsy with the trickery of old.

In a trance, I hear mention of money. Is he asking me to pay for oracles I haven’t ordered?

My anger reawakens. I sit stone cold like a clay-slab plate perched at chest height.


He evaporates like the fog he’d ridden in on.

Magic carpet: exit stage left.

I sip my tea. But I’m not able to relax again. My peace has been robbed by a thief with stolen eyes.

Untangling my legs, I slide from the booth, reluctantly leaving its pillow-safety behind.

On cat feet, I creep down the back stair exit. I glance left before entering the sidewalk. In my periphery, I see Gypsy Man in all his robed glory, seducing the soul of another solitary woman who sits silently at a white wrought-iron table on the street level patio. Trying to smile without entangling her dignity in his Turkish taffy eyes.

I cross the street, wondering about the safety of playing with numbers. I think: Roulette wheels. Poker. Stock Market portfolios.

But I still love the number 8 with all its loops of infinity and lazy filigree meandering into the future.

It’s crazy.

It all started with an 8-Ball sitting in the lap of my childhood. The friend of a lonely little girl.

It answered my dreams and talked with my fears. Over the decades, its status was raised. It earned its place as the lone star flag of my heart.

And neither the Silk Road scammers nor the market analysts can steal – or – correct the investment it holds in my destiny.

For what it’s worth, I’ll continue to toss my own dice. To count my own numbers. Dance with them. Love them. Follow their wisdom of happiness and contentment whenever I can solve their intricate equation of existence.

No interlopers invited.

I’m a solitary integer in this cold, dark universe of arithmetic.


Welcome to Mocha Muse Coffee Shop!


jayni in FedoraI hate coffee, but . . . I love coffee shops!

This creates a dilemma, because I find all of the sounds and smells of cafes and coffeehouses very inspirational for writing.

I would love to carve out a couple of hours each day in which to sit in a funky little coffee shop and write my heart out.

But, since I don’t drink coffee and I don’t like tea and my gluten-free, sugar-free, flour-free, corn-free diet prevents me from indulging in confections . . . well, you get the point no doubt: I can’t pay my way for java house writing.

So to preserve the atmosphere of conversation and creativity; to capture the wild musings of our minds; to provide a free space for sensory experience, I’ve created a virtual coffee shop.

Now, if we imagine the sounds in the background, perhaps the Mocha Muse can be used as a place to break routine, loosen up some latent stories, roust memories, stir emotions, animate dreams . . . and give birth to whatever is percolating within the soul.

  • Enjoy my personal reflections on muse-inspired, random days.
  • Browse through the artwork hanging on the walls (click on Beadery and Cartoonery tabs).
  • Curl up on the sofa and read Mocha Muse’s own newspaper, The Grind, on aimless, arbitrary, and accidentally-whimsical Monday mornings. (Which means we go to press when the waitress is in the mood!)

Grounds up!

P.S. If you’re having trouble summoning up background sounds, try this ambient enhancer. Let the noise machine transport and deposit you into the heart of coffee shop culture. Maybe to your favorite seat next to the window – or –  to that special booth that curls like a comma in the corner .  .  .  !