Thursday, July 17, 2008

Joy comes unexpectedly

by Stephanie

Whether you're actively looking for them or not, life's little surprises will get you--oh, they will. Some are good and some are wrinkle-your-nose not-so-good, but the joys produced by the first kind tend to override the disappointments of the others. Good thing too--I have wallowed more than my fair share in my various clouds of melancholia. But when joy, wonder, unexpected blessings shine their way into my life, I can do nothing but gaze skyward and whisper, "Thank you thank you thank you thank you" (who says that prayers have to be complicated?)

This past weekend the family took a little trip to the Monterey Bay region. The ocean (and other related scenery) were gorgeous as always, although the food is always the star of the show. A new (to me) spot was La Bicyclette, a place where the salad/soup are family-style but you have your own entree--I had the most luscious carrot soup of my life as well as this fabulous pot of chocolate mousse (they claim it's for 2, but I'll claim that it could be for 8 and I ate at least 6.5 persons' worth...) The interior was so cute and cottage-y, and did I mention the chocolate mousse was unbelievable? Okay. I love Carmel. And I love La Bicyclette so much I didn't mind too much that we didn't go to my favorite restaurant probably in the whole world, Casanova, this time around.

Things I've attempted: choux pastry (it never rises like I want it to! Why?!), these infamous cookies which I saw featured on this blog, quite probably the biggest food blog influence in my life. Lisa's too. (We like to pretend we are on a first name basis with the author and her husband...of course we're weird!) The cookies were amazing. I will now let all my cookie dough rest at least 24 hours before baking. However, that does allow a lot more time for the dough to be eaten and not baked...

Some less-than-great surprises: a little car mishap in Berkeley that is resulting in a very large price tag, Sylvester my cactus dying, but most salient right now is this. (Before you start to narrow your eyes in disgust that I even mention the S-word of coffee on this hallowed ground, please know that not all of us grew up in places with an abundance of cafe culture. Starbucks introduced me to espresso when I was just a silly junior high kid with no concept of coffee. It also enabled me to see that there is much better out there.) But back onto the topic. I did not care a ton about 600 Starbucks stores closing, but then I took a closer look at the list and was promptly saddened. First, there is the Standiford & Tully store closing, which miffed me a little because it is spacious and happy and orange and the closest place to home. But then...the Berkeley Shattuck & Cedar store, nicknamed "the faraway Starbucks" by yours truly, the site of so many memories...I am sad to see it go. It was a place of retreat for me, where lots of hangout with friends and Jesus and even studying happened. It was also the place where Lisa found out she would be a hot 50 year old woman...dearest faraway Starbucks. I suppose this is one of those times when I just need to buck up and realize that Berkeley is not obligated to stay the same, in fact can't stay the same...but I can look back on all the very wonderful times and take joy in all of them.


update: In addition to a dead cactus, my mother and I also managed today to kill our fish. We were cleaning his water and he managed to jump out of the bowl and into the sink. I had to turn the disposal on him. Hoping there is joy somewhere to be found here...

5 comments:

Lisa said...

you posted! yay!

oh, the gross man at starbucks. i can't believe he said that with all of you around, just sitting there. i mean, is that more, or less, creepy? (or is it just more or less creepy?)

nice post, i enjoyed. though i am sad about baby kate and sylvester.

damapie said...

oh no, i like that starbucks :( mostly because it's quieter than other starbucks. probably why it's closing.
confession: i cringed a little at how much butter is used in the recipe. i bet you already knew that haha... but i have decided to be contradictory to my beliefs once again and make some cookies :D

Molly said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I didn't even go there when I was in Berkeley (though if I had, in combination with Strada and Pete's I would have completed something of a trifecta). This is truly sad, but I am grateful for all the memories ("...if you get 2 shots is it a naughty chai?")!

Lisa said...

i just reread this today, and i love love love the writing especially of the first paragraph. i loves you.

Anonymous said...

Sylvester died???? Stephanie, I'm so sorry...

I got a cactus as a gift this summer. He doesn't have eyes, but I have decided to name him...just haven't decided on a name yet. Basically he has a different Hispanic name every week.

Chad