Tag Archives: Diners

A Dream – Almost – Realized

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My impetus for creating this blog was to satisfy my passion of owning a coffeehouse or a diner, and to do this in the most affordable fashion: A virtual rendition of my dream.

And it’s been a joy in many ways, however, nothing short of brick and mortar is a dream fully realized in my inner world.

So, to make it a more tactile experience, Hubby and I remodeled the kitchen and created an in-home diner.

Now I can more realistically pretend to be a baker/waitress:

With bistro stools, granite countertops, and pendant lighting, it’s a hybrid of old-school diner and contemporary cafe. The secret, though, being the purplish hue of the classic neon diner sign that glows throughout my baking space. Nothing speaks my language of diner days more than blue and red blending into purple!

Jayni’s Diner is now open for service, and my first customer arrived fully old-school and driving a T-Bucket:

And what did I serve him?

Bourbon Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips. The Father’s Day special.

And he surely did deserve a special treat. After all, he drove a purple Bucket right into the garage. He honored my theme and devoured my brownies.

What could make a baker/waitress smile any more than that?

 

It’s still not the perfect scenario, however, I’m getting closer to having the real thing. I have the signage and the ambience.

But not the jukebox or the shining silver exterior.

Not quite the full dream.

Almost .  .  .  .

The Sounds of Seething

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Retro flower pot shape bike at a coffee shop.

Coffee Shops, Cafes, and Diners have been, and will likely always be, my temples of contemplation and revelation.

Practicing private thoughts within a bustling public setting works as a nice balance for my mind and soul.

Recently, I sat in a nearby, faith-based coffee shop/bookstore. The patrons were primarily college students – early twenties – discussing philosophical concepts while intermittently glancing at their screens.

They appeared to be harmonizing secular with sacred, in soft tones of curiosity and respect. Their vocabularies were as vast as our Western horizons, and they punctuated their speech with a potpourri of world languages.

To me, an eavesdropper, their conversations sounded lyrical. Almost like improvisational poetry. I felt inspired being nested in such artful ambience.

The moment pushed me higher.

Caused me to recall my own college days, where as an English major, I was in love with words. With the raw materials of my art form.

In the arms of such purity, I was nearly 20 years old when, during an all-night dormitory pow wow, I was coaxed relentlessly into uttering aloud the “F” word. It was liberating. I suddenly had a new relationship with the word. I was less fearful of its power.

Over time, I’ve dared myself to speak aloud every forbidden word deemed as vulgar or offensive to someone, somewhere.

Several of these words became familiar friends; others remained forbidden from my speech.

Eventually, I became uncomfortable with my free usage of cheap, easy words instead of giving space to speaking with specificity and grace.

People, both public and private, have stood me still with their eloquence, and kept me at attention until I absorbed some essence of their artistry.

Until I remembered my own love of language and admonished myself for loosening grasp on this romance.

Most recently and most powerfully, Michelle Obama sent me back to my origin: “.  .  . when they go low, we go high.” A phrase I’ve internally chanted like a mantra each time I seethe with enough emotional passion to drop verbal bombs of destruction.

I succeed and I fail at this.
I reinstate the mantra.

And rest in the eternal truth that all beings will be accountable for their own actions and reactions. That there is no need to judge, ridicule, or make demeaning statements about others’ efforts.

Engaging in inward seething judgment – a seething that remains either silent or shouts outwardly – actually retards my advancement as a human.

It does nothing to adorn my own consciousness. So why indulge?

Instead, if I can love myself enough to forgive myself, I can far more easily forgive others and dissolve any seething words brewing in my inner vessel.

And, just in case I’m too puny to silence my ugly words, I can always subdue the tendency with the bite of a sweet confection:

Pumpkin Cake - Minus Bite

In this case, a dense, chewy pumpkin cake .  .  . recipe compliments of THESWEETWORLDSITE.

I embellished my version of the cake, but her elegant simplicity is enough to associate me with the power and the glory of beautifully heart-crafted and purified creative language. And remind me of my ever-present choice:

The Sound of Beauty or the Fury of the Beast

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My choice; my reckoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutlery Love

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A waitress ponders behind a smile:

Standing at the counter, tossing clean cutlery into the grey rubber corrals .  .  . she thinks of how their relationships mirror the stages of humans interacting intimately.

In the first furrow, the spoons merge. Nesting into one another. Curving and fluid.

In the middle corrugation – the middle years – the forks predominate. They grow prongs. They have open spaces. And defensive weapons. And the capacity to weave into and out of each other’s wefts.

In the final trough, lined like slender soldiers, the knives lie in wait. Straightened. Having grown rigid. Having bared serrated edges. Living parallel lives.

All tucked neatly into a gallantly folded napkin.

 

 

 

Tomato Theatre

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Tomatoes - Animated

 

* For anyone unfamiliar with “Jersey Tomatoes,” they are the deepest red, densest, beefiest, most delicious fruits of their kin. Grown only in New Jersey, of course!

 

** For anyone unfamiliar with Hellman’s and Duke’s – Hellman’s is the Blue Ribbon mayonnaise served primarily in the North. Duke’s spread is a cult following in the South. Since I’ve lived on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, I have my opinion. But, I don’t want to split the divide .  .  .  .

 

***A classic Jersey Diner?

A gleaming silver railcar, or a fading glory, in bondage to asphalt. Serving old school Americana food: burgers, fries, hotdogs, homemade pies .  .  .  steaming hot black coffee. Diner - Fading SilverAmerican DinerOne of the definitions of my childhood!

The Gun

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  1. Atlantic City. A misty shroud of a Saturday night. 

 

The Blue Devils are playing in the state finals against whatever color of devil Atlantic City has to offer.

 

I don’t remember who wins, but, after the game my friend and I pour out into the street with the rest of the crowd and make haste for the boardwalk. It is thick with people. So thick the community of body heat unchills the night.

 

The saltwater-gnawed wood of the walkway is dark and heavily knotted, slickened by a thin veneer of rain. The street lamps cast a gruesome yellow light on the arcade scene. The bulbs may aspire to radiate a sunny yellow – warm like buttercup blossoms – but I think they’ve swallowed a spoonful of spooky green, painting their aura nauseous.

 

Swarms of people stroll along the creaky boardwalk. Some pause to toss balls for teddy bears; some slip down dark hallways to play pinball. A few families with children dare to risk the rides out over the ocean, high above that ancient dirty-hazel Atlantic, spuming endlessly at the sand like a cobra hooding before it hisses venom.

 

The farther we walk, the denser the population. Then sluggishness sets in. Carol and I wiggle our way through the sloth of the masses, our skinny nimble bodies sliding through the various dimensions of flesh and bone. I am following in her wake until suddenly I am not.

 

Movement stops. It’s pure pedestrian gridlock. I am trapped in a huddle of strangers. Carol’s long blonde hair no longer visible as my compass.

 

I panic, and then surrender to the stillness. I know where the chartered bus is parked, the vintage school bus earmarked for the basketball fans. I just need to make it to the parking lot before it departs. If I fail, I’ll have to find public transportation. That can be tricky.

 

As I stand sardined in my woolen coat and gloves, I glance to my left. A small man in a black felt fedora and dark trench coat stands silently. His gaze straight ahead.

 

I realize then that everyone is silent. A swift hush wraps us together in a peculiar gift box.

 

I look to my right and another man stands. This one in silver grey. Taller. More portly. Gazing straight ahead also.

 

Time stops. I think I’m standing in a noir film.

 

A tiny amount of pressure on my left side, perfectly situated at my waistline. My eyes glance downward. The man in the trench coat has a pistol pointed at my side. Its pewter barrel reflects the sulfur-yellow of the lamps.

 

I am sixteen years old and about to be shot in a crowd of anonymous people on a random Saturday night, miles from my hometown. Who will ever solve this crime, I wonder.

 

Fear seems futile. Running is impossible. Screaming is dangerously un-ladylike.

 

So I stand inside my skin and wait, calmly. In the sick silence of a city ruled by hustle and flow.

 

Minutes go by and nothing happens. I roll my eyes to the right and see the man in grey perspiring. Beads of sweat on his forehead larger than raindrops. His skin sallows.

 

Then I get it. He is the target. I am simply in the way of his death.

 

While rumbling this thought around in my mind like a gumball machine, the crowd suddenly parts, as though a new Moses were standing on the Ferris wheel commanding the sea of skin.

 

I see a silver diner gleaming in the distance. Without looking back or side-to-side, I bolt toward its railcar comfort. Its red neon sign my new North Star.

 

Up the stairs two at a time and through the hand-smudged glass doors. The aroma of coffee greets me like the warmth of a mother’s hug. Red naugahyde stools are twirling bodies. One spins fully around. It’s Carol.

 

I watch the worry, and then the relief, slouch across the terrain of her face.

 

I don’t explain. We merely link arms and run toward the bus.

 

Settled in my seat, riding home in the tumult of a school bus with lazy shock absorbers, I wonder why I can fully relax in the presence of a gun. Why it feels like something close to erotic surrender?

When does the temptation of assault translate into the taste of Home? What is the allure of Russian roulette . . . the odds that no one is wagering? The odds of being a stranger in a strange, unchosen position?

 

Life and death just danced on the head of a bullet in some ecstatic merger that baffles me even now. Why did I draw the dancer of life?