Sunday, February 28


My work family got together last night to say farewell to Alec, who you see above posing with the owner, Jason. We had appetizers and drinks at a pub, and had a great time with employees past and present sharing stories of how intimidated/scared/worried/etc. they were when Alec first started as manager.

Alec is moving to the D.C. area with her husband, Eric. Eric just got a job with the secret service, and have been waiting for months to get the word of when to be at training. They leave IL on Wednesday and will be in Maryland for who knows how long.
Here is Alec with the apron I made her, to remind her of Common Grounds (there have been lots of compliments on the aprons I've brought in to wear), and to help her on her domestic adventure. Alec is excited to have "lots and lots of babies" and be a stay at home mom. I told her to let me know when she gets pregnant so I can come see her in her mama glory, and get to sewing on a baby sling for her.

Here are some of the troops. Above is Nikki and her boyfriend Roger. Below is Alanna, the former manager before Alec, and her husband Jeremy. She and I got along swimmingly. She moved to IL in 2005 also, and she was teasing Dan and I that even though our plans are to move out of this area when he is done with school, you never know how you will be sucked into a place - she and Jeremy swore they would leave too, but they just bought an old house and are fixing it up. I'm hoping to see more of her and share more stories. She seems wonderful.

Alec is amazing. In the quick six weeks since I started, she and I have become quite close. She really is my only friend down here, and having her move is both exciting and lonesome. She is herself at all times, and I've never seen her be ungenuine. She is funny and big hearted, but has a tendency to rub people the wrong way because she doesn't tolerate rudeness or being taken advantage of, which reminds me of Ciara, which is comforting.

This is Jordan with Alec. Jordan is just a sweet girl. She helped organized all of the the evening's events. She came in to work on Alec's last day so Alec was free to talk to regulars and hug and cry. All of which happened.

Below is Jason with managers, past, recent past, and future. I'm glad there is a history of having people who stay in touch, as I can already tell my next year here will make a lot of these people dear to me.

Alec with MJ (above) and below are Maria, Alec and MJ. The only person that couldn't make it was Izabel, as she was working the shop. All girls! I told Jason that I wasn't used to working with so many girls - he just shurgged and said I'd get used to it.

So now I'm no longer the Manager-in-waiting. Starting Monday I've got to keep all the balls in the air. Yay!

Wednesday, February 24

Workin' shoes!

I'm not really into shoes. I can count all the shoes I own on my two hands (that includes the rain galoshes). When I started working at the Hound (in 2006) I found a pair of shoes that worked perfectly for me. Made by Privo, red, and after a full day of work and play, my delicate tootsies wouldn't be screaming at me. Now that I'm back in a cafe, standing for 8hrs+, it was time to retire the old Privos for a newer version. Ta da! Orange Privos!

The old ones held up well, but as you can see from the pic below, they are gross. Coffee, milk, syrup splatter and all sorts of cleaning products have found their way on to my shoes, and after wearing my new pair for the first time last night, I couldn't be happier to give respect to Reds and bury them.

This little shopping spree was also the first time I had used I found the orange ones around the beginning of January, but couldn't justify getting them until now. Free shipping is wonderful. I came home on my lunch break yesterday to check on the cat situation, and just as I was leaving to go back to work, the friendly UPS man came to the door and dropped off the goods. I was tired and sore and not wanting to finish my shift after the crazy cat business that happened yesterday, but after putting these little refreshing, comfy goodies on my feet I was fine for the last three hours.

Tuesday, February 23

I wish I spoke felinese better

Something went wrong in the relationship between my cats. They are brothers. They have always been together (except that whole Baxter living in the Alaskan wilderness thing). After going to bed at 10:30, the shit hit the fan. I don't know what happened between 10:30 and 2am, but they are angry. Chasing, growling, clawing, biting. I came out of the room and couldn't get them apart for a bit. I have cat blood on my robe. Baxter lost (another) toe nail. Kodak won't let me look at him close enough to see if he has any serious wounds.

I separated them. I went back to bed.

At 4:45 I give in to the cat scratching at the door and m-rowling. They've been at it now on and off for the past hour. I figure this is just something they'll have to work out. I'm guessing it's some sort of dominance shift or lovers' quarrel. I have many hours before work starts, but for 4 hours from12:30 until 4:30, when Dan comes home, they will be left to their own devices.

Kodak is posturing under the side table in the living room and Baxter is making his rounds, every few minutes to try a new approach, or seek negotiations, or gloat.

Monday, February 22

Monday happy things

Here are some things I found in the blog world that make me happy. Hope it helps get Monday's bad taste out of your mouth.

Dinosaur wallpaper?! Yes please!

This weekend it was super warm outside - like lets-only-wear-one-layer-of-sleevage warm. Made me want to play in the flower beds outside.

Of course the coffee theme is wonderful in these posters, but I love the print!
Color wheels anyone?
I know there are good things in my brain just waiting to come out! I need to find a bucket big enough to catch all of those great ideas.

Mustaches aren't just for creepy people anymore.

I realize this is the antithesis of the Bee N-ice shirt, but I chuckled when I saw it. You know I love a good flow chart!

Happy day!

Sunday, February 21


Man, this picture looks like crap, but here it is mom. The tree I was telling you about. I can share it, now that I gave it to my dear friend, Danny. I'm really bummed I didn't take a better picture. Oh well. I guess this is even more motivation to save my pennies for this. Recently, there have been many opportunities to use a camera, and I'm feeling sad that I haven't made it a priority to replace the camera that was taken in Juneau.

Other picture news, here is a recent one of Miah, me, and Ciara, while C was flying through on her whirlwind job finding adventure! We probably won't all be together again until Josh's wedding, and then all 4 will be together! (Miah and I used to be thought of as twins growing up. I think you can really see it in this pic.)

And I don't know why the font and size is all over the place. I promise, I'm not trying to shout at you.

Wednesday, February 17

Visit pics

Turns out I have less pictures than I imagined. Here are two great ones of Cecilia, Ben and Ciara. Isn't my family beautiful?

Ben is quite taken by flight. RC planes, helicopters, blimps, jets, you name it, he wants to talk about it and see pictures of them. You tube has been great. His reaction above is to an awesome video he and Ciara were watching - he just couldn't contain his joy! And Cecilia is getting big and strong. She is six months now, and loves her mom and dad. She is all smiles when they are around.

Home safe

I am home. Ciara is on a plane to Portland, and Violet is safe in the drive way. All is well.

The last 24 hours have been so busy! Driving, cleaning, and driving. The condo was left in wonderful shape, so instead of going over everything, Ciara and I went to work on details that I never seem to get around to like cleaning behind the refrigerator, replacing the furnace filter, deep scrubbing. Ciara tackled a project I've been avoiding since October of '07, when at my house warming party a candle dripped a huge puddle of wax on the carpet. Now it's gone! Ciara is amazing!

But now, I will rest. Getting up this morning and leaving the house at 1:30am to get her to St. Louis for her flight has taken it's toll. I'll post pictures of the kiddos and sister after a nap.

Tuesday, February 16

Violet Lives!

She just keeps going!

I got the very excellent news that the problems with Violet stopped once the radiator was replaced. That means no extra diagnostics, no transmission tuning, and the big one - no new transmission!

Ciara and I left Champaign yesterday about 1:30 headed back to C-dale, but unfortunately Ciara forgot some very important teaching things with Miah and Jessie, so this morning we are driving back up. We decided to take the extended trip over to Bloomington so I could get my keys back from the renters and clean the place. We'll take off from there tonight, headed for St. Louis, and Ciara will make her flight home tomorrow - unless some other mishaps presents it self.

My poor sister is traveling more than expected on this trip, but she continues to be in good spirits. Have I shared her newest adventure?

The original reason for her coming East was a International job expo in Boston. She had interviews with administrators from schools around the globe, and after the first day, she was hired to teach in Turkey! In August she'll be moving with husband to Tarsus for two years! Whoa!

More on that later when we have some idea of what it means.

Saturday, February 13

Violet is ill.

My car is broken.

Dan and I drove to St. Louis yesterday to pick up my sister from the airport. There and back, there was no trouble. The day before I had taken it to get the oil changed and my guys looked it over for me. "Seems good!"

Ciara and I left C-dale this morning, headed to see more family up in Champaign. 15 miles before we reach our brother's house, I lose the ability to accelerate, and I see some smoke coming from the car. After stopping and popping the hood, I see there is some major fluid splatter in the right front, lower quadrant of the engine compartment and both green and red fluid, (coolant and radiator fluid) are dripping madly from the undercarriage. Awesome.

A tow from a dude named Justin and a ride from the bro later, I'm now waiting for 7am on Monday morning for the shop to open and diagnose the problem. I hope something is disconnected and they can put it all together with out much problem. What will probably happen is they discover the head gasket needs to be replaced, the water pump blew, and I have a cracked radiator.

All this means I cancelled the other events that were supposed to take place this weekend in BloNo, mainly collecting the keys from my renters and cleaning my condo. Now I'm piecing together the logistics of getting my sister back to St. Louis for her return flight.

I'm trying to stay positive and remember that this could be epically worse; I could have been in the middle of nowhere; I could have not had family that I can stay with for free while I wait for the shop to open; I could be required to be at work on Monday instead of having time off until Thursday; I could be dirt broke. When I see how bad it could be, I'm pretty happy about the situation.

And then I realize how much I rely on having mobility, and the idea of my car being broke beyond repair makes me want to cry. And so, I put out a call to the Universe:

Dear Universe,

I need my car to work. Please let the mechanic have time to diagnose the problem quickly and let that problem be small and inexpensive.

Super thanks for my awesome family.

Ariel, Road Warrior

P.S. If you sent me renters soon, that would also be a gigantic relief.

Really, if the worst stuff ends up happening, I have wonderful people that will help make it right. But as Ciara and I were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, I realized (again) how much I hate needing help. I hate being an inconvenience. I, somehow, should have seen this coming and took steps to prevent it. All those times I said I was going to learn more about engines I should have actually done it instead of saying it, and maybe then I would understand what I could do to prevent things like this.

And then I think that I can't do everything by myself. That this is a perfect reminder that even with the many precautions I take to be independent and self sufficient, the world has a way of making people need other people.

Tuesday, February 9


Have I told you I'm going to Guatemala? I'm going to Guatemala!

Dan got back from his weekend in Chicago with an early V-day gift from his parents for us - the Fodors travel guide. I am so excited, super excited, holy cow excited! July can't get here fast enough.

Saturday, February 6

TED can't help but inspire you

I first heard about the TED conference two years ago when my friend's parents were watching a video of the 2007 presenters. It popped back in my life today when, on facebook, my friend Jacob DeGeal posted a link to this video about the potential of taking time off. I went to the site before typing this and found this piece by Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues. It's about embracing your inner girl (for boys and girls both). And now here I am, 12:30 on Saturday night, and I can't help but get excited about what happens next.

What does happen next?

I have a couple years before my coffee shop is a reality, but I know that those years will help shape what that shop will be. How it will be a part of a community I have yet to meet. How it will serve and meet the needs of people living there, and hopefully make an impact on people around the globe. A safe house. A meeting place. A gallery. A call to serve.

The people I'll be working with will grow there. The people I'll be serving will grow there. I will grow there.

Challenges will be over come and lofty goals will be reached. People will be free To Be there.

I watch videos like the two posted above and I see how everything is connected. How passion is undervalued. How courage has been caged in with sales goals, buildings, and demeaning words.

I don't know who said it first, but Sarah Rupke twittered this today, "Hope dies last." It is such a powerful thing, to hope for something better. To think of what one wants and envision that change. I have been thinking about my coffee shop for years now, years! I know when it opens there will be kinks, but I also know that it will succeed. It will be better than I imaged it. It will give more than I anticipate. I know that I am selfish in wanting this so much, but I believe that if we all acted towards what would really make us feel fulfilled instead of what we're taught to become, our world would not be such a mess. I have no proof. I have zero statistics. I only have a feeling about it.

But as Eve says, "I am an emotional creature."

Wednesday, February 3

Baby thoughts

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh

When she lived with me two summers ago, Audrey and I used to have a fairly regular conversation about babies. Babies are great. Babies are expensive. Babies need stability. A lot of the time I was trying to make Audrey realize that having a baby, just to have a baby, would be an incredibly difficult thing for a girl in her position to do. But, we still had fun talking about what it would be like when we finally did have children.

Don't worry Mom(s), this isn't a blog post about me being pregnant.

I have, however, for sometime now, been very aware of my want for a child. Growing up in a small town, it seems like life's next step out of high school is to have kids. Facebook has shown me how true that is for so many of the girls I graduated with. Multiple times. My own plan, back when I made it at 12 years-old, had me being a mom "no later than 23, cause, c'mon, I want to be able to do stuff with them." Back then, being 27 without kids was like being an old maid.

But here I am, 27, without kid(s), and I am happy. It is refreshing to hear of so many couples that waited until a bit later to start having children. Jeremiah and Jessie have shared stories about their professors, Steve and April didn't start until April was 36, and Dan's parents were not in their 20's. It's an odd feeling to recognize my mind reshaping my view on motherhood. To outfit my mental image of my coffeeshop with a napping corner and small table. Taking orders and chatting up the regulars with my baby wrapped on my body.

I don't usually read baby blogs, but sometimes stories are linked to on some of the craft sites I visit. I read a story today about a baby being born, and my heart strings got yanked. If you dare, you can read it here. I never knew what people meant when they said your body will tell you when it's ready. Well, my body is ready but I am not. I'm not ready to have a baby (I still feel like I can't take care of myself), but I will be. Whenever it happens. And when it happens, it will be worth the wait.
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