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Friday, August 29, 2014

Paris Coffee Shop

Fort Worth, Texas - Today I went to visit an old friend for breakfast.  Paris Coffee Shop.  Oh how I’ve missed you.

I met my friend Johnny, who 18 years ago invited me to join him for breakfast at this great place.  Not being from Fort Worth, it was my first visit and I got to meet John’s parents.  It was a weekly stop for his folks and he popped in from time to time to join them.  They each passed away some time ago, but I never drive by the place without thinking of them.

The place smells like a diner.  It looks pretty much like a diner.  The coffee is good.  The food is good.  The pies look fantastic.  My parents would love the place if for no other reason than they put a metal tin of Watkins Ground Pepper on every table.

How’s that for a restaurant review?

Ok, not very good, but it ain’t the food or coffee or pies that I like.  It is the atmosphere of times gone by.  A flash of the past, which in Fort Worth is amazingly spicy.  Searching the Paris you see old timers and young timers swapping stories over black coffee and scrambled eggs.  You are likely to see someone you know or think you know with each visit.

I regret that I hadn’t been back in over 10 years.  I’d give you a reason, but don’t have one.  Maybe I thought my body couldn’t handle running, biking and swimming with a periodic dose of sausage and fried potatoes.

Too bad.  I can’t begin to think of all the meaningful conversations with Johnny and others that I’ve missed in that time.
This is a place of memories.  Memories made and memories found.

I don’t know what it is about food, but I know I’m not alone in my fondness of special restaurants.  In Santa Fe alone, my family has 5 or 6 places we go to on every visit.  Sadly, I don’t have enough locally.  Maybe because home is supposed to be more boring than vacation.  That’s silly.  We all need a Paris Coffee Shop in our own neighborhood.  We need to make frequent visits with family and friends.  Forget all the diet nonsense once in awhile and find a dive where you can be you.  There is a genuineness at a place like that.  No cloth napkins or fancy silverware.  A tin of pepper and an ugly brown mug with piping hot joe brings out the best in people.

Give me call.  I’ll take you to Paris.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Made a Box

I cannot remember the source, but wood shop class was mentioned.  I took that in school.  It must have been 7th grade.  Yes, the memories.  I can smell the wood and hear the saws, lathes and drills vividly.  Of course, it wasn’t called Wood Shop.  Probably Woodworking or Wood Crafts or other fancy name.  Who do they think their fooling?

Wood shop was one of the few electives we had to choose from.  The other was homemaking, which in hindsight would have been a better choice for me for two simple reasons.  First, I like to cook.  Second, it was 99% female.  I clearly hadn’t discovered girls when registering for classes.

The name of the teacher escapes me, but I seem to recall he was missing part of a finger.  No joke.  Ok, I could be making that up…honestly not sure.  In Wood Shop there was an awesome closet full of tools.  Mr. Nubfinger protected that closet like a bank vault.  I guess he thought one of us might swipe a chisel or rubber mallet.  If he caught you playing grab ass in the tool closet, it was an automatic ticket to the principals office.  Safety around tools was rule number one.  Of course, he would know.

As the final class project, you had to choose between making a baseball bat, a toy truck or a box.  The baseball bat looked like a lot of time poking a sharp stick at a rotating piece of wood and really BORING.  I didn’t play baseball and decided if I brought that home my brother would just beat me with it.  The truck looked pretty cool, but in case you hadn’t noticed trucks have wheels and wheels are round.  Not having mastered wood geometry, the toy truck was out.  I was left with the box.  How hard could that be?  Plus, I could put stuff in it.  I had a lot of stuff.

So, I made a box.  This was no ordinary wood box, this was a really bad wood box.  About the size of the shoebox.  I carefully measured the wood.  Made the cuts.  Routed the edges so it would sort of tongue and groove together.  The individual pieces looked perfect once marginally sanded.  Assembly?  Well, that wasn’t so perfect.  I somehow managed to glue the thing together, but needed about 15 of those huge wood clamps you see on Bob Vila.

The next day we unclamped our boxes and Mr. Nubfinger made the rounds critiquing our work.  There were lots of “nice” and “that’ll be something your mom will be glad to get for Christmas” comments to the other kids.  He just passed by me like I was invisible.    Yeah, I knew it looked bad, but he couldn’t even bring himself to lie about it.  

Actually, he did something even better.  He pulled me aside later and said “why don’t we do a little work on that box.”  The nine-fingered man commenced to running my box through the wood planer about 45 times several sides and when he was done it actually looked like a box.  The lid still didn’t fit quite right, but it no longer wobbled like an uneven card table.

In the end, and several more hours using a wood file, belt sander and slapping on some wood stain in the shade of weak coffee, I finished my box.  I’m not sure what grade I received, but it would be unfair to judge a kid based on his ability to work with the remnants of a tree anyway.

So, whatever happened to my box.  There was no way I was giving this beauty to my mom or dad for Christmas.  Part embarrassment and mostly selfish, I kept the thing and still have it today.  You see, I still have a lot of stuff and it is perfect for stuff.

Yes, I Made a Box!

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace