Monday, April 27, 2015

In the Middle of It All

Dancing Above the Garden, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The weather in San Francisco seems to have retreated back to winter. I'm wearing a puffy jacket and sitting in an ugly little cafe with great coffee and a barista with eclectic taste in music. When I sat down it was Redbone's Come and Get Your Love, and now Blondie is purring ooo, whoa, ooo, whoa. His music makes it feel good in here.

I saw a sad mattress leaning against an apartment door on my way down the hill this morning, the same door that had a dirty old television blocking it on Saturday. This is supposed to be a fairly nice neighborhood, but it definitely has its oddities.

On a cold grey day, it feels good to escape into a place without wind, arrange coffee, notebook, and pen on a table, lean back into a chair, listen to some good music, and see where the mind drifts.

There's a pudgy guy in the cafe, sitting in a black leather chair, wearing basketball shorts and reading a tiny paperback with a raised gold title. Science fiction? Mystery? Romance? I don't care. A huge loud truck is idling just outside the door.

Now September by Earth, Wind & Fire, which always reminds me of our wedding. September is the best month in San Francisco, and a wonderful month for honeymooning. September makes it easier to ignore the truck.

I've let my cappuccino sit for too long. It's cold and flabby, but not all bad. I'm still drinking it... Everything seems okay--the grey sky, loud city, intricacies of this wallflower cafe--and I'm feeling such an affection for it all. I have some unexpected free time today and I guess I just started feeling cheesy and happy to be alive. I know, but... No one reads blog posts anymore, right? Might as well say what I please.

Earlier today, about a block before I saw the mattress, I started craving frozen fish sticks. No idea where this originated. I haven't bitten into a fish stick in decades, but I used to love them. I was obsessed with frozen entrees as a child. Our treat for staying with a babysitter was a TV dinner or pot pie. I liked frozen fried chicken too.

The closest I might have come to a fish stick in the recent past would be a Filet-O-Fish in a McDonald's, but sheesh, I don't even know the last time that happened. I did pass a McDonald's in Newport Beach a few months ago and the idea crossed my mind. Memories of childhood... But sadly, I did not follow through. I probably drank a green smoothie or ate a salad instead. What a disgrace.

I need to waltz into the Safeway frozen foods section and find the familiar box with the Gorton's fisherman on it. But does Gorton's still exist? Do they still freeze sticks of fish? I'd also need prepared mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish to make a tartar sauce like my dad used to make.

When I was an undergrad I'd buy hamburger buns and sliced American cheese and knock off the Filet-O-Fish by placing four fish sticks on a bun I'd toast with cheese and then slather with the tartar mentioned above, but it was never the same without the squishy bun McDonald's serves.

Mom loved the Filet-O-Fish too. I wonder if she ever hits the drive-thru for memory's sake.

And when I was a little girl I'd often walk to McDonald's with my grandpa. During our strolls he'd always ask, what do you feel like? I'd say, a fish filet (I never referred to the Filet-O-Fish by its proper name), and he'd say...

Wait! Now Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart. I think I'm in love with this barista and this cold coffee, and the ugly furniture.

So anyway... As I was saying. Grandpa asks, what do you feel like? (As in, what are you going to order at McDonald's today?) I say, a fish filet. He says, you don't look like a fish filet. I laugh hysterically, every time.

It's quieter now. A white van with Del Monte Meat Co. on the side is parked outside the door of the cafe. Probably a delivery for Leopold's. The guy with the tiny paperback is gone. I don't know this song.

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Did you watch the Redbone video? How the heck is the audience just sitting there? I was listening to the song and couldn't help but sit-dance on the sofa while typing. Then I had to stand up and play it again. And maybe a few more times.  

...if you want some
Take some, get it together, baby
Come and get your love

39 comments:

  1. Good Morning! I haven't thought about frozen fish sticks in ages! My boys loved them and I would spell out their names when I put them on the cooking sheet. Each of their names took 11 sticks. :)

    So, the really great thing about this random coffee shop talk is that I feel like I know you a hundred times better now. I guess ordinary conversation does that . . . and I still read blog posts. I sure hope blogging doesn't die out.

    Enjoy your free time today!

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    1. I'll have to see how many fish sticks it takes to spell Denise. ;)

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  2. HI Denise, It seems like it's been a while since you posted one of your coffeeshop missives, which I enjoy--the simple observations of people, sights, music, food, and the thoughts they conjure.
    Yep, the Gordon's fisherman is still freezing those little sticks!
    And like Sarah, (and many others,) I'm still reading. Enjoy your gray day---hope it warms up soon.

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    1. I went out into the cold fog last night and found the Gorton's fisherman. Kind of exciting. : )

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  3. Well, I-in-italics still read your posts.
    I hear such a different voice in this one - lighter, years shaved off, somehow. Like you've gotten rid of a sad mattress and a dirty old television too, and feel better for it :) Loved it.

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    1. When I was single I had two Felix the Cat magnets on my refrigerator, one laughing and one crying. That might explain a few things...

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  4. I loved living in your head for a moment: via your fishing expedition (pun intended)...

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    1. Ah yes, I do enjoy fishing, and puns. ;)

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  5. I still read blog posts and I prefer them big on text and light on images - this was just perfect. My husband and I were just talking yesterday about McDonald's in light of it's 400 million quarterly loss and we were speculating that that is all McDonald's is anymore - a memory...

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    1. Perhaps you are correct about McDonald's. Maybe it's better that way.

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  6. "I was obsessed with frozen entrees as a child. Our treat for staying with a babysitter was a TV dinner or pot pie. I liked frozen fried chicken too."

    Oh my goodness, this is me, right down to the babysitter!! :-) And do you remember the yummy cherry cobbler that came with the Swanson Fried Chicken TV dinner? Oh so yummy.

    Like you, I've not had a fish stick in decades. As a child we were "forced" to have them every Friday for dinner, because the Catholic church said you could not eat meat on Fridays. For us, it was never a bad thing though. We loved them.

    I just added fish sticks to this weeks grocery list. Oh, and LOTS of tartar sauce too.

    Thank you so very much for these wonderful memories.

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    1. So funny you mention the cherry cobbler. A large part of selecting my TV dinner had to do with the tiny square of dessert illustrated on the box.

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  7. Oh the myriad ways the mind wanders .... lovely. Just lovely.

    (And we make fish stick burgers some nights, although not with cheese. Lettuce and homemade tartar sauce and Highliner fish sticks.)

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    1. I looked up High Liner and the bearded gentleman on the box looks remarkably similar to the Gorton's fisherman. I wonder if they are related. ;)

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  8. Well now I feel like I just spent some time hanging out with my friend at a coffee shop listening to come cool music and remembering when...

    I think I love you.

    See what a good blog post can do?

    xo J

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  9. I still read blog posts, and this one of your flowing thoughts is so delightful. Never liked fish sticks but I loved your memory of them.

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  10. My airport café salutes your San Francisco café, but the music is definitely better in yours. I guess no one reads comments any more either.

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    1. Does this mean you like the song Come and Get Your Love? I'm feeling quite wounded here as I read through the comments (yes, I do still actually read them--too much time on my hands...) and see no mention of my link to this fabulous song. Tell me you are listening, and dancing.

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  11. What is it about the Filet-O-Fish? My childhood favorite too, and one I haven't had in YEARS. It's uncanny that just last night we had frozen fish for dinner. I need to bump it up and make those sandwiches you mentioned. If you ever come out to the East Coast, I'm taking you to Gloucester and you can see the statue of the Gorton's Fisherman. And then we'll hit the Mickey D's drive-thru. So did you ever make it to Safeway?

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    1. There's a statue of the Gorton's Fisherman? Fabulous! I'd love to see it with you. Yes, I made it to Safeway last night and served my husband his first fish stick sandwich. Melted cheese, tartar sauce... He was impressed.

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    2. Oh yes, huge yellow statue man standing on the shore. It's great. And I'm totally making those sandwiches now. How could he NOT be impressed!? It's pure wizardry.

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  12. I hate buying fish sticks, don't want anyone to see me with them, so I make my own at home. How sad is that!

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    1. I went to Safeway last night and bought a box of Gorton's fish sticks. We made the little sandwiches on hamburger buns and they were pretty darn good, just as I remembered. I'm fairly sure everyone in Safeway last night at 8pm was hungry for dinner and didn't give a hoot what was in my basket. Maybe 8pm will work for you too. ;)

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  13. I love this post. So wonderful to read your smart meditative writing. Great associations.

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  14. Fortunate enough here to have worked with children for the past umpteen years... Fish sticks, fish sandwiches were still a basic staple on the menu. In addition to stick and fillet, they now come in cute little fish shapes that bake up crispy in the oven. No surprise on the sedate Redbone audience...that staged 70s crowd... Wouldn't be the same now a days. In fact, I am mentally grooving with them now. I went to a concert in the 60s... The Beau Brummels...performed Laugh, Laugh (my personal favorite)... I had the audacity to sway in my seat. Got lots of dirty looks and a comment or two from the more sophisticated college crowd! Enjoyed the coffee shop visit.. Keep writing...we'll keep reading!

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    1. Finally! Someone mentions Redbone. Thank you, Susan.

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  15. I always love to read your observations of people and your surroundings and all your memories the often evoke. Truthfully, I don't read as many blogs as I used to--hell I don't post on my own like I used to--but I always look forward to your posts.

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  16. Your form of writing, so very evident in this post, is why yours will always be a blog that I read as long as you post (granted, it may take weeks to get here but I always will). Everything about this post...the style, the words...transplanting me into that cafe with the songs and the people...making me think of fish sticks and fish filets and my conversations with my grandfather...

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    1. Gosh this makes me feel good. Thank you, Rachel!

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  17. I stuff my fish sticks into a taco and top it with a little pico and cabbage. Cheapest seafood taco in town!

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    1. Excellent! I want about three of those, right now.

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  18. Oh Denise, have I told you enough times how much I love your writing? Well, I do. Nobody reads blog posts any more, right?

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    1. Thank you, Kath! I guess a few people are still reading. ;)

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  19. My mother would always gets the fish filet from McDonalds—probably still does—and proceed to wipe off the sauce with one of the flimsy napkins that comes in the bag.

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