i want some…

Since I haven’t had the time for any photography expeditions, recently, I have taken to experimenting with some of my older photos. So, if you see the random black-and-white shots showing up on here, please forgive me. Now and then, I do have the urge to write, but I don’t always have the time. Or my brain is too involved with what I’m reading for school (and studying), that I can’t relax enough to write non-school stuff. I’ll figure out how to fit it in, eventually.DSC_0573-001

what else could possibly go wrong?

Don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.

It began with the coffee. The toggle (nozzle?) on the coffee canister was sticking, and I intended to do a fancy cleaning job, which would include pouring boiling water over it, into another cup. I was sure it would take the sticky gunk off. Or, at least, that was my unresolved theory. Then, someone came over to tell me that the coffee container wouldn’t turn OFF. I arrived to find a small steady stream of coffee coming out on the counter, so something seemed to be broken.

As I write this, we have not experimented to see if it will work, now that all the parts have been clean. Instead, I grabbed a spare, and used that. I was quite frustrated, however, because I had just brewed a new pot, and found that the coffee was full of grounds, from earlier that morning. But things were put back in apple pie order, and would go smoothly after that… right?

Not so much. My boss came to tell me something was wrong with the water line, so we had to dump ALL the coffee (I had just brewed a new pot!), all the tea, and we had to turn the fountain drink machines off. In addition, we couldn’t wash dishes, if the water wasn’t clean. Trying to make the best of things, we dumped the offending liquids, and hoped the fix-it guys would solve the problem before too long. What were the regular coffee drinkers going to do, when they arrived? Well, since the problem was local to us, I sent one pair off to the library to get coffee from Java City, and recommended Starbucks to someone who didn’t mind the walk to the Union.

Also, while on my break, I sent messages to a few friends that I had e-mail addresses for, so that they wouldn’t walk all the way up, in order to be disappointed.

By the time I returned from my break, they had the water line problem fixed, and my supervisor was brewing more coffee and tea. And then something went wrong with the coffee brewers (after the house blend and French Vanilla were made, though). So, no more coffee was brewed that day, though all the water was working again. And because the guys were working on the machines, not very many people venture close to the coffee, anyway.

Today was going to be better. And actually, it was, but it started off a bit rocky. I drove in by way of Perimeter Rd, made my first right turn… and found that the road up the hill was blocked. As far as I could see, and from what I was told later, a tree had fallen and hit some power lines. It looked like one large tree (right next to Earl Hall) had snapped in half (imagine a broken matchstick, on a large scale), and hit another large tree AND the power lines.

I turned around, to find a cement truck just randomly idling in my way, and had to wait for him to get going again. But since it’s summer, Clemson is working on quite a few roads, so I knew that Cherry Rd was closed, which was the shortcut to Bowman Field. That would bring me in on the other side of my workplace. Nope, couldn’t go that way. And the road in front of the stadium was blocked. Any way I viewed it, I had to go the LONG way around to Hwy 93, and only one piece of road would get me in.

That explains why after a longer walk than usual, I arrived at work to find the parking places empty, in front of the building. Most people had chosen other parking, rather than go the long route back, for closer parking. And did I mention that it’s in the high 90’s out, today, with a real feel of over 100 degrees, because of the humidity? Such a pleasant walk.  : )

Partway into the morning, I had a momentary scare when I saw more maintenance guys looking at the soda machine, and I prayed that the water line wasn’t messed up. Whatever was wrong, it wasn’t affecting the water quality, and they eventually solved it. I was so grateful. You see, when the regular coffee drinkers don’t come by, the day gets long and boring. No one interesting to talk to.

On the up side of things, though, we got to chat about the road blocks and the power outages, instead of the weather. I assume that tree was damaged by a recent storm, because we didn’t even have any rain yesterday. But at least half of the incoming customers had an adventure in finding parking to tell about… or their building was running on generator power, because of the power lines being down.

It had never occurred to me, until someone told me that, what would happen if there was a major power outage in a building that had all sorts of projects happening. Sure, we’ve had them during ice storms, but the last major one was during Christmas break. No one would have been at school.

Of course, the buildings would have generators, in order that all the graduate students and research assistants can keep up their work, especially at this time of year, when they have time, and no labs to teach. And, to keep the air conditioning running, thank heaven. It was so hot out today that the people who had PLANNED to sit out and enjoy the sun (we’ve seen so little of it!) because their buildings are freezing, gave up and came inside, because it was too hot.

And after everything that could go wrong seeming to hit almost at once, yesterday and this morning, my day got much brighter while I was on my lunch break. There’s nothing as fun as having friends stop in to see you, and several of my grad student friends sat down to chat with me, while I was on my lunch break. My day was on the upswing, after that, and I’m pretty sure that nothing broke, for the rest of the day.

Here’s praying for no more falling trees or power lines, and no more water line or coffee issues!

a day for klutzes…

I take it back. Every complaint I’ve ever made against any college student and their clumsiness, I take it back. It’s been a while since I’ve had such a day for “if it rains, it pours”, but today was one of those. I am not a klutz, generally, but we’ve all had those days where all the little things seem to go wrong, so you keep expecting that big something to happen, too.

And for anyone who wants to argue about whether I’m a klutz, after reading this post, let me remind you that I have excellent hand-to-eye coordination, which is why I can probably kick your butt at Ultimate Frisbee. I can send a Frisbee wherever I want it, and catch almost any disc you throw at me, with either hand. So there. But my eye-to-foot coordination isn’t so great, so I’m no good at soccer.

It was actually a good day at work. It being Friday, we were all in good moods, and though I’m not as keen on Friday as some people, I was still in a great mood. Probably because I got my Spring Jubilee bracelet in the mail (and was wearing it) and we were still getting a kick out of the story of a certain professor getting his car towed. And to make it even better, every grad student in his department seemed to think it hilarious, as well.

Not long after I arrived, my supervisor was trying to call in an order, while squatting by the phone, behind the register. I came to stand by her, and managed to bump her enough that she almost fell over. Amidst my apologies, she joked that I was trying to get her sent home early, presumably from injuries. A few minutes later, my neighboring cashier reached under the register for something, and I almost elbowed her in the face.

Something must’ve been in the air. Whenever the other cashier reached under the register for anything, I tried to hit her with my register drawer or bump her. Or maybe we were just joking about it more than usual, because we’re always accidentally elbowing each other. Then, I knocked my coffee cup off my register, when I shouldn’t have left it there in the first place. Thankfully, it was almost empty and had a lid on, so very little spilled. The joke was off and running that I was trying to see how many people or items I could drop or damage. Oops.

My luck was not in, today. Though I went and hid after a certain teacher showed up, causing hilarity amongst my co-workers, he came in more than once, and I had to give in to the inevitable. Which made everyone want to laugh. You know how when someone is talking and talking, and you can’t get them to stop, you do a lot of nodding and agreeing with them? The other cashiers almost cracked their faces, trying not to laugh, when I was doing that to the prof, the other day. Maybe you had to be there.

I continued to drop things, though nothing breakable or spillable (is that a word?), so when I was left as the only cashier, for the rest of the day, who knew that it was about to get worse?

My supervisor wanted to know how long the chocolate almond coffee had been in the pot, and once I added it up, I decided I needed to brew some fresh coffee. Usually, we have so many coffee customers, we fill it up regularly. Because it was warm outside, I decided to make iced coffee, because unlike my co-workers, I’m always warm, even when they’re freezing.

We don’t need any special ingredients for iced coffee. I just mix up sweetener and creamer in the bottom of a cup, add lots of ice, and then pour in the flavored coffee. Stir it up until it’s cold, and then fill the cup up the rest of the way with coffee. Usually, I have the sugar and creamer measures just right, but this time, the coffee tasted strong, so I went back for more sweetener. Then, I picked up the half-and-half container… and knocked my coffee cup over.

You should have seen this. I may not have covered the entire counter with coffee, but I hit everything else. The floor, the front of the cupboard, the cups, even the rolled up floor mat that was right beside the coffee area. It was even the side of the roll of carpet that sent coffee INSIDE the carpet roll. All I could do was gape at the mess I’d made… and then two grad students walked around the corner.

My facial expression must’ve been ludicrous. To their credit, they didn’t laugh, but maybe they still had chemistry on the brain. I know that I would’ve laughed at my expression, if I could have seen it. So, while they made their own iced coffee, at my recommendation, I mopped up the floor and counter, and then discovered the coffee had gone INSIDE the cupboard. Great. I cleaned that out, too, and told my supervisor to go away when she came over to comment (really, she just wanted to rub it in).  : )

Since I couldn’t just melt into a puddle of embarrassment, or sit down on the ground and laugh like crazy, I kept cleaning up the mess. I promise you, I really saw the funny side of this, I was just embarrassed at being caught in the middle of it. Wished a few of my friends could’ve been there, because they would’ve laughed, too.

At this point, I wanted the day to be over, because everything seemed to be escalating. Then, after we locked the front doors, and I went into the pot sink area to wash up some more items, I set another coffee canister by the sink to drain, and then walked away. CRASH!! I cringed, and turned to see what had happened. And then hollered down the way that this one wasn’t my fault, this time. Really, it wasn’t! Our borrowed pot sink guy had put one empty canister on top of a dish rack, which caused it to topple off and hit the full coffee canister. Fortunately, they both ended up in the sink, instead of on the floor.

When my manager came in, a few minutes, I apologized in advance, in case anything else went wrong. His expression was pretty funny, wondering what else had happened before that. Thankfully, aside from dropping a few unbreakable items, nothing else went wrong. I hurried from the building and to my car, praying I’d get home in one piece. Why did everything seem to go wrong? No idea. It wasn’t even a bad day, as I said, but the escalation of events was bothering me, by the end of it.

But don’t worry, it’ll make a great story, next week, in person. I even left a note for Anita, reminding her to ask me about my Friday afternoon without her. If you come by the cafe, I’ll probably have her laughing so hard she cries. I’m good at keeping my co-workers in stitches. Some of them think that I’m just “acting crazy today”. What would they think if they knew that this was my normal behavior? Not the klutz stuff, my enjoyment of keeping everyone laughing because of my strange sense of the ridiculous. If they only knew.

Oh well, here comes Finals week!

the moon over starbucks…

Nine o’clock at night, and I wanted coffee. And not just a homemade cuppa, I needed to go get some Starbucks coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cup of flavored coffee, brewed at home, but sometimes you just need to visit a coffee shop. But don’t worry, caffeine doesn’t affect me, so I don’t have any trouble sleeping, no matter what time I drink it.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I was surprised to find a full moon in the sky, with a smattering of clouds around it, lit up in an amazingly beautiful way. It looked like an even larger moon than usual, too, so I wished my camera could have captured it. But I know how something about the moon plays tricks on our eyes, and it will look much smaller on camera.

But without being superstitious about full moons, I should’ve known something could go wrong. I walked in the front door, went to look at the desserts, even though I didn’t plan to get any… and I heard a familiar accented voice, ordering coffee. I’ll admit it, I cringed. And then held very still, figuring that if I didn’t make any sudden moves, he wouldn’t see me.

Maybe you’ve heard me mention a certain teacher that we refer to as our “favorite”, with heavy emphasis on the sarcasm. He’s a strange bird, to say the least. Unfortunately, I seem to be his favorite, so I get to hear all the strangely flirtatious comments made in my direction.

That day had been particularly awkward, though it was slightly alleviated when my co-worker came and told me our visitor had run into the door, when he left. He forgot his glasses, I guess. It made me feel better, laughing over that. No matter… I didn’t want to see him again, and ruin my evening.

So, I froze, pretending I was invisible. It always worked when we were kids, or at least, we thought it did. My brothers still practice it, occasionally, too. If you make no sudden moves, you’ll go unnoticed. But while I was doing this, I suddenly had the urge to laugh hysterically, just because of what I was doing. Very silly and childish, but boy, was it funny. It even got worse, when I thought of how my friends would laugh, if they saw me, and knew what I was up to. It’s my normal reaction, when in an uncomfortable social situation.  : )

Thankfully, while wearing my hoodie, track pants, and sneakers, I must look very different than when I’m at work, so I went unnoticed. After making my order, I knew I was deliberately hiding (like I sometimes do, at work), by going over to the shelves of coffee and mugs, pretending to peruse the merchandise. They called my name, I hurried down to get my order, not looking at anyone, and scrambled out of the building.

I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere… but I know it’s not about avoiding coffee. Maybe crazy professors only surface when there’s a full moon? I’ll figure it out, eventually. But I got my coffee, and survived. That’s all that matters.

a charleston reconnaissance… king street

When we left the City market, we crossed Meeting Street, and then entered the Shops at Charleston Place. This is a long hall of indoor shops, with the Charleston Place Hotel at the center of it. From Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Godiva Chocolates, Brighton, and Brookstone, these shops are fun to look at, but mostly, we stayed out of them. We were just using this for a shortcut to King Street.DSC_0570

DSC_0571Reaching the main atrium of the hotel, with the double staircases flanking the large chandelier (I thought I took a picture, but the lighting was dreadful, so I must have deleted it), couldn’t immediately tell how to get through to King Street. The other hallway of shops was almost hidden, in the corner. So, we exited by the main hotel entrance, and enjoyed looking at the fountain in the Charleston Place Hotel’s courtyard.DSC_0575

DSC_0576The lighting was fantastic and the flowers were beautiful, with the rippling water behind them. I haven’t seen foxglove in quite some time, so I really thought these were lovely. The poppies, now, I was shocked at how fake they look. The breeze was blowing, so I had trouble getting a clear shot of them, but every poppy I saw in Charleston looked like it was made out of plastic. Is it always like that? If someone told me that the children of Charleston had planted plastic poppies everywhere, I would believe it, because they do not look real.DSC_0578

DSC_0579At this point, the road was clear, so I stepped back to take a picture of the Market Hall, in the distance, and the courtyard of the hotel. Now, I wish I’d taken a picture of the roof, because I got a look at it from King Street, later, and it looked like some fascinating architecture. I stepped off the road and into a parking lot driveway, trying to get more of the courtyard in the shot, and then almost got hit by a car that was turning into the lot. So much for paying attention to my surroundings.DSC_0580

King Street is known for its many shops, but I’ve only been down there a time or two. So, I hadn’t recalled how old some of the buildings look. It’s a striking contrast, when they also contain normal stores that you would see in any mall (like Rack Room Shoes). We turned left, when leaving the Charleston Place Shops, and found ourselves passing lots of antique shops, art stores, the Charleston Library, and a smattering of other more artsy places.DSC_0582

DSC_0584One of these was the Savannah Bee Company, a honey shop that sold everything imaginable, made from honey or beeswax. We didn’t actually sample any of the edible honey, but there were numerous flavors to try. There were lotions, candles, chapstick, shampoos, and even cleaning products for everything in your home. I tried on some of the hand lotion, and then had to work it in really well, so I didn’t get it on my camera.DSC_0585

DSC_0586As we walked down the other side of the street, I occasionally stopped to look at the flowers that were planted in large pots, outside of the stores. I especially liked these purple and white daisies (?). Right behind them, was a men’s clothing store with an arrangement of ties that made me think of a certain cousin of mine who collects vintage ties. I was thinking that she could sew some of them together like this, and wear them as a crazy looking scarf.  : )DSC_0587

DSC_0588When we reached Charleston Place again, and then walked past, we found ourselves among the more “mall-like” stores, though they were housed in buildings that were never intended for them. Some of these buildings are in a state of disrepair, needing their outer facade to be repainted and have appropriate trim attached to the windows.DSC_0591

DSC_0598And then, some of them had these awesome looking wrought iron rails around the windows, which I found particularly eye-catching, above the pineapple designed door lintel. There is beauty in the little details, for certain.DSC_0593

DSC_0594We hadn’t gone very far up this street before I spotted a Starbucks, and since we were on vacation, I’m sorry to say that I made quite a few more coffee stops than usual. But this was also in one of the King Street buildings, so I was curious to see inside.DSC_0592

It must have been the home to a bank for many years, judging by that metal door in the back. I was very patient, and then finally asked some customers if they’ve step back so I could get a picture. Then I made a quick run upstairs, where they had a whole second level of seating, to see how it was all designed. I thought it was a very interesting blend of the new and the old, with the moldings at the top of the high ceiling giving it an old-world feel, and the new black railings making it seem more like a Starbucks.DSC_0604

DSC_0606As we walked back to Charleston Place, I got a better look at the top of the hotel and the clock tower over the neighboring shops. There are definitely some lovely buildings, both new and old, in this area of Charleston.DSC_0607

DSC_0608Lastly, we passed the old Riviera Theater, which is no longer in use, but half of it is used for a shoe store. Or, half of the theater sign is used to advertise it. At first glance, I was shocked that someone could put such a blatant misspelling on that sign. And then I realized that the shoe store was named Harleston. Interesting.DSC_0610

We headed back into Charleston Place, in order to get back to the Market, follow one of the Market Streets back to East Bay, and then eventually reach the waterfront. When we had almost reached the doors to Meeting Street, a lady flagged us down (it took her a little while to get my attention). She immediately told me she didn’t mean to act like a stalker, but they had come inside looking for a Starbucks. And then I walked by with a Starbucks cup in my hand, so they were determined to figure out where it was. I directed them to the location on King Street, and then had a good laugh with my mom, as we exited the building.DSC_0612


I have a hypothesis that there are some kind of fumes floating around the chemistry lab, over in Hunter Hall, that causes the chemistry grad students (and professors) to crave coffee more than any other department. Or maybe they’re more tired than the rest, but shhhh… you’ll spoil my dissertation on the subject, if you bring that idea up.

More specifically, some of them can’t survive without flavored coffee. And when I say flavored, I’m talking about actual flavors, like Chocolate Almond or French Vanilla, not Guatemalan Oriflama. I don’t care what that descriptive label says, you can’t taste anything “citrus-y” about it, any more than you can taste the “oak tones” in a glass of wine. And by the way, no one has ever been able to tell me what oak tastes like.DSC_0047

French Vanilla seems to be the most popular “FLAVOR flavor” (I had to differentiate between those and the Guatemalan to my co-worker), with some people actually avoiding the coffee altogether, if there isn’t any of their fave. Because I’m the cashier that generally knows exactly who drinks what, I get ragged unmercifully if their favorite isn’t there, with “threats” of never coming over to the cafe again. Hmmm… then they’d have to walk all the way to the library. Yeah, sure.

Of course, I know they aren’t being too serious about it. They like to throw me off my game, by coming in at unusual times and demanding their favorite coffee. I’ve resisted the urge to tell them to be careful, or they’ll turn into their least favorite professor, who has serious issues if there isn’t either chocolate or vanilla. To the point where we go running to check the coffee, if we see him coming. Of course, if he can’t grump about the coffee, he’ll grump about the soup, his classes, or just about anything that occurs to him. So, keeping him from grumping is pretty much a lost cause.

But you know what? I’m a nice cashier. You can startle me by arriving too early and your favorite coffee not being there. But I’ll go all out to make sure it’s there for you next time. Sounds like a good deal, right?DSC_0048

Who knew that your day could start off by almost getting into an argument over coffee? And I don’t mean about what coffee is better or the best way to brew it. I mean, which flavor to brew? You see, there are these things called expiration dates on the boxes of coffee, and some of them are coming up soon. We also have a week of Spring Break approaching. So, we’re trying to use up the rest of the Guatemalan Oriflama, the Holiday Blend (which isn’t a FLAVOR flavor, even though it sounds like it should be), and the rest of a box of Chocolate Almond.

I arrived at work, expecting French Vanilla to be in the pot, because I knew it was going to be wanted. By professors and grad students. Right? Instead, there wasn’t even a FLAVOR flavor in the pot. Which means I didn’t even want any coffee for myself, because I don’t like our plain coffee blends. My co-workers insisted we needed to use both pots to use up the nearly-expired coffees. Me? Well, suddenly, I started picturing the hissy fit a certain chemistry professor would have, when he arrived. And other sundry images of the upcoming day.

After memorizing the expiration dates, I knew we had plenty of time to use them all up, even with a week of Spring Break. You just need to brew them in the right order, and you can always keep Chocolate or Vanilla in the other pot. The almost-argument petered out, and I was left in control of what coffees to brew. We cashiers get along so well, generally, who really wants to argue about something so silly? Trying to make the customers AND each other happy can be a bit tricky, though.

So, anyway, I brewed French Vanilla. Because I’m a nice cashier, remember? Looking after those annoying professors (ok, there’s only ONE annoying professor, the rest of them are awesome) and the friendly, tease-me-right-and-left grad students. Right?DSC_0049

You already know where this is going, right? Those Vanilla-drinkers didn’t drink any coffee today. I almost got annoyed over it. Almost. I’m easygoing, though. After all the trouble I went to, to get that coffee brewed, I told them I’d never brew them any French Vanilla again. So there. That’ll also save me from any more almost-arguments with my co-workers, too.

However, if the students can’t get my patience to run out (though they sure can frazzle me, sometimes), a certain co-worker can. After a soda spill and the accompanying complaints about how overworked he was, he proceeded to pick up the rag that had soaked up some of the soda… and carry it OVER the stools to the trash can. You know, dripping all the soda over the seats. Where is common sense, these days? I think the next student in line thought it was pretty funny, watching me squawk at the aforementioned co-worker. And I do mean SQUAWK.

At least I got to go to Fike and work off some steam, afterwards. I’m getting some of my energy back after my long weekend, but maybe my lack of patience at work was the tail end of still being slightly tired. But I’m still not brewing any French Vanilla, tomorrow. Nope, not even if it means that I don’t get any coffee for myself. So there.DSC_0054

time to go downtown…

A co-worker of mine finds it funny that we have a part of town that is actually labeled “Downtown”. Well, we may not be Cincinnati, with actual uptown and downtown, and all the towns in-between, but how do you get around your city without having labels for certain areas of it? Of course, most of our directions are related to locations on campus. “Near Bowman”, “near Tillman”, “just off Perimeter”, “by the Stadium”, and “on Tiger Boulevard” just about covers it. DSC_0632

Yes, for all my Aussie friends that asked me repeatedly, Clemson is a city. But since it’s always referred to as a college town, how could I be sure, when I was asked? It’s not something I’d ever thought about. And just a as a reminder, in the U.S., a college is not a high school or junior high. The name college and university (“uni”, if you’re an Aussie) are mostly interchangeable.

People would ask me if my hometown was bigger or smaller than Emerald, which as a hub for several highways (not interstates) in the Central Highlands of Queensland, was a fairly “large” town. Or was it? In Emerald, the population quadruples during the week, when all the miners fly in to work, and then most of them fly back to Rockhampton or Brisbane on the weekend. Well, in Clemson, the population quadruples (or something close to it) during the college semesters, but empties out again during the summer. And during football season, the quadrupled population gets doubled again, for all the incoming football fans. You do the math. I certainly didn’t.DSC_0629

But we’re a city. Wikipedia and Clemson’s website say so (that means it’s true, right?). The students may outnumber us, but we’re still big enough to be a city. So there. And we have a downtown, but not an uptown. How does that work? Downtown is where the Clemson clothing is sold (in way too many shops), the “new” parking garage is located, and the edge of the downtown is where the Astro III is. For those new to the area, the ‘Stro was our dollar theater, which is closed now, but there are people who hope that it will reopen again, someday.DSC_0627

Sorry, I’m rambling about this because I took a trip downtown, during Christmas vacation. I hadn’t been in a while, and it felt like about time for a trip there. Now that I know of its existence, I have to visit All In Coffee, I love wandering through McClure’s bookstore, and of course, the Hallmark has been there since I was a child. When I’m paying attention, I still find the large buildings (pictured by the Moe’s Southwest Grill) odd, as I remember when the skyline wasn’t allowed to be more than two stories. I think they had to pass a city ordinance to allow those buildings to go up. And there used to be a hovel, otherwise known as a travel agency, where the building on the right is. That agency held out for a LONG time against the downtown buildup, so maybe they sold their property for a fortune.DSC_0625

I still need to venture up the hill, towards Bowman Field, to see if any new stores have gone in, since I was there last. Since I don’t own any Clemson clothing (I kid you not) aside from my work clothes, I rarely go anywhere that sells Clemson gear. But some of the buildings are pretty old, and a few bars and stores have been there forever. I really need to go look.DSC_0624

I’ve talked about All In Coffee on this blog, before. After my usual wander through Hallmark, I walked up the hill to get a Panda Bear (white chocolate AND dark chocolate) latte, to go. They were so empty, with the students out of town, it was weird. They gave me permission to take a few photos of the cheerful place, with the bright sunshine streaming in through the windows. I haven’t been in there since then, because I’ve been trying to stay out of coffee shops and give my wallet a break, but we’ll see how long that lasts.DSC_0626

For years, I’ve been a fan of Starbucks, but if you really want to go spend time with a friend or just go somewhere to read a book, while nursing a delicious coffee, All In Coffee is the place to go. They told me how they rotate several coffees from different countries, every week, so that many of the foreign students can have something that reminds them of home. I really liked the table that was decorated with foreign bills, too. If I’d thought of it, I’d have looked to see if any Aussie money is in it.

DSC_0623The desserts looked scrumptious, but I abstained. I can attest to how delicious their ham and cheese sandwiches are, though. I had no idea a sandwich could taste that good.DSC_0622

McClure’s Bookshop is a used bookstore that has been in Clemson for… goodness, it might be ten years now. I especially enjoy wandering through their kids’ section, because it has many books that you don’t find in a Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million. I’m sure you can order most of them online, but the main fun of a book store is being able to handle the book and look through it, rather than click through the “Look Inside” option on Amazon.DSC_0621

One of these days, I shall venture further uptown in the downtown. That means towards the Subway, on the corner, across from Bowman Field. I shall also venture further down the hill, to see what they’ve done with the park that used to be by the Astro, and what shops are located by the Papa John’s. I have a feeling The White Rabbit isn’t there anymore.DSC_0620

But for now, I’m out of pictures, and my next round of photos were taken at the Military Heritage Plaza (which was quite an eye-opener to me). So, maybe you’ll drop by when I write about that, in the next few days. There’s still plenty of time to explore the rest of Clemson and discover the little things that I’ve never noticed before.DSC_0631

rambling through the day…

My requirements for a blog theme are relatively simple. No sidebars. Or rather, I want as much of the screen to be covered with writing and/or pictures as possible. So, every once in a while, when I go review my theme options, I fall back on my old favorites. But when I found the Book Lite theme, it allowed me to highlight some of my photographs, as well as my writing. Also, for the newbies that find their way to this blog, there are now footers that will help them navigate the morass. Or am I supposed to say that the widgets in the footers will help them? I’m not even sure how to put that in a sentence.

As much as I liked the new theme, something still wasn’t quite right, until I changed the side panels of the page to black, then things looked and felt more contained. And changing the pictures for every single page was quite fun, even though look through my Australia pictures can be heart-wrenching. I miss those girls something terrible.

My workday was a little busier than usual, though I haven’t figured out why. It’s not like we have bread and milk for the students to make a run on, with the prediction of snow or ice tonight. If it actually happens, I don’t expect it to last, as it’s supposed to be in the 50’s tomorrow. But while at work, I managed to smash my finger in the cash register drawer, forget to bring my paycheck home (after my boss made a special trip for it), and have the coffee run out during an unexpected 3pm rush. How did that happen?

You would think that letting the coffee run out wouldn’t be that big of a deal, since I wasn’t being lazy, just busy at the register. But when I was growing up, my dad and my grandpa couldn’t live without their coffee, and I still tend to think that those who are working or studying very hard shouldn’t be deprived of their caffeine. Watching any of the regulars (grad students and professors) leave the building without their coffee (time constraints, you know) did not leave me very happy, even if it wasn’t my fault. Silly of me, I know.

Hmmm…. what else? If you have a Kindle, I was just checking out the free e-books available on Amazon, and I discovered that Brian Jacques’ Redwall is available! Did I mention it’s free? Check it out now, the price may go up tomorrow, for all I know. Of course, I’ve read it a hundred times (or something like that), but I’m sure there are others out there that still need to read it. Enjoyable for both children and grownups, this is Jacques’ starting book to the entire wonderful series. And I still can’t get over the fact that there will never be another new Redwall book, since Brian Jacques’ died.

Meanwhile, on my lovely friend Jaci’s blog, Me and My SoldierMan, she’s having a giveaway for the New Year, involving a Starbucks gift card and OPI nail polish. I will admit to knowing next to nothing about nail polish (it doesn’t last long when I play my guitar), they sound like lovely prizes to me. I’m always up for free coffee, especially! Also, f you’ve never read her blog, you should stop by! Not only are the book/movie reviews and puppy stories great, but her discussions of current events are fascinating (and spot on).

We’re almost to February… how did that happen? Nothing much happening in that month, unless curiosity about how college students behave around Valentine’s Day counts. We don’t sell flowers, so maybe we won’t get to see anything interesting happen… or maybe we’ll have some teary students. You wouldn’t believe how having a credit card declined and not being able to pay for lunch brings all the stresses of the day/week/month to the surface.

But in MARCH, I am hope-hope-hoping that I will be able to attend a conference in PA, but I’m not certain I can afford it, at present. I’m ready for a road trip, not having been anywhere out of state since… November. That’s forever! Ok, I exaggerate, but I love a good road trip, especially if it takes me 10 hours from here. That puts me within short driving distance (3 hours or less) of most of my friends and one of my best friend-cousins. So, if you think of it, pray I’ll be able to go.

Oh, and I almost forgot. A lady came in to work with her 1 year old toddler, and of course, the poor darling was ready for her nap. But I didn’t mind the initial howling. Every time a child walks into our location (admittedly, not very often), I enjoy talking to them, and wish more came through. I’m sorry, college students are just NOT as interesting, though some are great fun to talk to. I’m longing to be a nanny again, if possible, or maybe I just miss my Aussie darlings. The sweet toddler made me miss my Bub, who is no longer a baby, as she approaches the age of three. How did THAT happen, again? I can’t quite realize it, because she always remains an almost 2 year old, in my mind.

So, that’s a bit of everything happening right now. I have such an exciting life, right?  ; )  More photos taken around Clemson, soon, I promise!

don’t drink the water…

Until yesterday, I had never heard of a “boil water advisory”. It sounds like a weather report that got confused with a cooking show. But after a water main broke in our area which affected several towns, I’ve become quite familiar with the term. For some reason, my house wasn’t affected, so we didn’t have to avoid the tap water, though we did stop showering. : ) Oh, don’t panic, we only heard the news AFTER the morning shower round. : )  But when I got to work, I found a different situation.


No, this isn’t from our cafe. This coffee pic was taken in AUS.

Coffee had been made before the water main broke, but after that ran out, we wouldn’t be making any more. And no more fountain drinks could be gotten from the soda machines. Every student that came in and scored some caffeine went out, looking like they’d won the lottery. And then they canceled classes, because the bathrooms, campus-wide, had been closed. Talk about a way to make some of us panic (whatdaya mean I have to go in the woods?).

Thankfully, our restrooms were kept up and running, though we did eventually close early. Not so, Cooper Library. It’s the week before finals, and they closed the library. Wonder how many students panicked over that? Or maybe they just rejoiced over putting the studying off some more.

Today, I expected things to be back to normal, as the break had been fixed. But I wasn’t counting on a 24 hr delay, in order to make sure the town water was safe to drink. I arrived at work to find that there was NO coffee at all, and we still couldn’t use the soda machines. But it’s the coffee that was the kicker, because bottled soda and bottled water could still be bought. Our regular coffee customers, many of them graduate students and professors, came in with their special Clemson mugs… and left uncaffeinated. Or should that be decaffeinated?

In our modern age, the word traveled fast and I saw students standing outside, texting their friends to go elsewhere for their cup of joe. And because of this, life got pretty boring. Fridays are normally slow, but this didn’t help at all. No sticky or sugar-coated counters to clean, no coffee pots to fill up, keeping up with the constant demand for French Vanilla, DoubleBlack, and Hazelnut, and no cups to stock, because they couldn’t drink anything from them.

I’m afraid my sympathies were for the local grad students, as they come across the street several times a day, not just to escape their bubbling experiments (no, I don’t actually know what they do in the chemistry lab) but to see other people, expose themselves to daylight AND get coffee. So, they avoided our coffee-less location, and I felt guilty. Yes, I know it wasn’t my fault, but I know how much some people love their coffee, and if you’re working on getting a DEGREE, especially a Masters or PhD, it can be important! Yep, you guessed it, there are several of those degrees in my family. I know of what I speak.

Instead, my fellow cashier and I discussed how rich I would have become if I had somehow managed to get coffee from my house to the campus, and started a coffee stand (instead of a lemonade stand) outside of Hunter and Sirrine. When we weren’t doing that (don’t worry, we did work, we weren’t lazy!), we teased our co-worker about the Christmas card a student brought him. He thinks we’re all jealous about it, but since it was from a girl, I’m afraid there’s no jealousy coming from me. Besides, he said that card “reflects well on all of us”, which is a wonderful thought to take home with me, but I had to ask him (in a totally innocent voice) how his flirting with all the girls “reflects well on all of us”? I haven’t laughed so hard in quite a while.

Despite the word getting out, for the most part, some of the students still hadn’t heard. They trooped in, two by two, in the mid-afternoon, taking the last turn to reach the coffee area, hope in their eyes. Like Oliver Twist, asking for more, they were ever hopeful that we had finally gotten our coffee brewing. One after the other, they left the cafe, drooping with disappointment. I felt like I’d kicked a puppy, after telling some of them that we wouldn’t be up and running until next week (we’re closed on weekends).

Even though some people were nearly brought to tears, no one actually got upset with us, and there were no altercations, though I heard there were a few at the dining halls. So, I’m grateful for the kindness of our customers, not blaming us for what we can’t help.

And since I’m already speaking of coffee and grad students, I recently had to tell some of them that our location closes on Dec. 14. Talk about feeling like you’ve kicked someone. The look of horror I was greeted with… I can still picture it. And being a professor’s daughter, familiar with the habits of graduate students, I know that some of them will probably work on their theses and projects all through the holidays, if they even go home for Christmas. Working their tails off, with no coffee next door. Makes me feel mean, going home to my coffee maker, when they can’t have one in their labs. And they work a heck of a lot harder than I do on those crazy engineering/chemistry projects.

I’m still considering my coffee stand. Or maybe a coffee delivery service.  : )

going all in…

I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic for Australia, these last few days. I’m not sure exactly why. Even to the point of rediscovering some songs on my YouTube playlist, and crying over them. If you’ve never heard The Dubliners sing “The Fields of Athenry”, then you don’t know what you’re missing. My Aussie family used to crank that one up on the TV, and everybody would sing along. IMG_8780

And then I heard about a “new” coffee shop in town. Well, I know they opened in April, but I wasn’t in the U.S. at the time! I came to visit All In Coffee, and had a hard time decided between The Panda Bear (white chocolate and milk chocolate latte) and The White Tiger (white chocolate with chai?). Then, I went to a table to sit… and found a map of the world right next to my head. Guess which country was closest?IMG_8782

Unfortunately, I can’t put a pin on Emerald (on the map), because technically I’m not from there, but at least I’m an honorary Aussie, according to some of my friends there. So, I took a picture instead. But you know, next time I visit Australia, I won’t just be visiting Emerald. Now that my friends are starting to scatter far and wide, I’ll have to visit Tasmania, too. And if I’m going to visit there, why not go to New Zealand, while I’m at it? My list of places to see Down Under is growing.

So, while I can’t curl up in a booth at Bogey’s, with an order of potato wedges, sweet chilli sauce, and sour cream, I think going “all in” will be the next best thing. Don’t you?IMG_8784