Monday, February 22, 2010

Me time, week 6

I was pretty tired as I departed for my time at Panera this week.  I spent the bulk of Saturday scrapbooking with friends, and got home some time around midnight.  I knew that this would be one morning when coffee would be a must.

When I got to Panera, the parking lot wasn't any more crowded than I'm used to, but inside was a different story.  Sure, I'd gotten a bit of a late start, about half an hour later than my normal time, but I don't think my timing had anything to do with how crowded it was.  Just a few different groups of people this morning.  The first thing I noticed was that one of the tall tables by the front window was hosting a group of ladies out for morning fare.  I could see them as I walked from my car.  They were having a great time catching up and telling stories, I could tell.  As I entered the restaurant, I tried to judge the best spot to sit, given how crowded it was.  Not an easy choice.  I didn't want to sit in an isolated booth, and the comfy leather chairs in the corner were taken.  I could have gone all the way to the back to one of the little 2-seater tables, but, prefer to be where the action is.  Luckily, the carpeted area near the front wasn't full, and the table where the man in the yellow sweater had been before was empty.  Either I'd missed the man in the yellow sweater, or I got there first.  Either way, it didn't take me long to decide on that small table against the half wall.  Should I sit first, then order?  Nah, I'm not that bold yet.  I ordered first.  Just a coffee for now.  I ordered my standard grande, not choosing, again, to ask about the mug.  Just not important this time.  One thing I did learn is that there is, indeed, a hole in the counter for trash!  I'd been taking my empty sugar packets and stirrers over to the trash bins by the door all this time, and lo and behold, there's a trash bin right there between the sugar holder and the napkin dispenser.  I'm really getting the hang of this, I think!

Aside from the ladies at the tall table, the two gentlemen who'd sat there two weeks ago were on the bench seats against the wall.  I think they recognized me, and we exchanged brief eye contact and a quick nod.  I sat facing the door, so my back was to them.  I hoped they didn't mind. 

I brought Twilight with me this time, hoping for some mindless reading that wouldn't make me feel too frustrated when having to read passages over and over again.  I haven't read any of my Healthy Selfishness in just over a week, but, hope to get back on that wagon soon.  I got my coat off and it hung perfectly on the back of my chair, just barely touching the floor.  One thing I can't stand is getting up and tripping over my coat when it pools on the floor.  I settled in with my coffee and my book, and took a quick look around.

Not long after I seated myself, the ladies at the tall table finished up.  I could tell they didn't just roll out of bed, this was something they'd planned to do and they dressed for the occaision.  Well, most of them.  None were dressed in Old Navy snowman fleece pants (I have the same ones, that's how I know) and flip flops like one gal that I saw stroll in some time later.  Most were in jeans, nice sweaters, that kind of thing.  One lady was wearing yoga pants, they were cute.  Until she turned and faced my direction.  Please explain to me why you would put rhinestones on a pair of yoga pants.  Seriously.  An intricate flowery or paisley pattern in rhinestones rested just below her hip, high on her thigh.  Honestly, she looked casual and comfortable, but, not sloppy, but the rhinestones did nothing for the yoga pants.  If you wanna dress up your yoga pants, I'm thinkin' that's not the way to go.  But what do I know, I showed up my first week there in a an old sweatshirt, hand me down jeans, and 8 year old shoes.

I was too comfy in my chair to try to relocate myself once the ladies vacated the tall table.  Plus, with there being that many people in the restaurant, I did feel like I'd be hogging space without necessity since there's just one of me, and the tall table seats at least six.  So I stayed parked at my table along the half wall. 

Shortly after I was all situated, I noticed a woman, likely in her late 50's, roaming around the carpeted area looking for a spot to park.  I thought, at first, that she would be meeting someone because she rearranged the four chairs around one of the tables where she'd placed a book and her keys.  Then she went over by the counter, then came right back and collected her things from that table.  As she breezed by me, she said, very kindly and with a smile, "You're in my favorite spot".  I must have really thrown her for a loop!  I lightly replied, "I beat you to it, I guess", to which she responded, "Oh, no, that's OK, there's another fine seat right here", and she perched at the table behind me.  I guess the man in the yellow sweater was holding a coveted spot, and now it was I in the coveted spot.  Very nice.

While we were exchanging our quips about my table, the Alaska lady from a couple weeks ago arrived.  She was walking with a pronounced limp, and I don't recall her having that last time I saw her.  You may recall that she is one of the three ladies who know the pulled back guy.  She had a different bag with her today, sporting a blue Le SportSac straight out of the 80's.  Very cute, but, it's been years since I've seen a Le SportSac.  She put her things down, went and ordered, and retured to her table with a friendly nod in my direction before she sat with her back to my table.  As she sat down, she greeted the two gentlemen on the bench seats, addressing them by name.  I hadn't noticed in the past that they'd ever greeted each other. 

The three ladies were only two again this week, but there was no mention of the third lady when number two arrived.  The second lady also mentioned the Le SportSac when she noticed her friend's bag, agreeing that it was a cute little bag.  Before I knew it, the two ladies were flitting from one topic to another in conversation, and suddenly I heard the first lady shuffling a deck of cards.  I turned slightly to see a cribbage board on the table between the two ladies.  As they began to play they also discussed some online game that they both play, and they each shared their strategies for playing the game.  Then the second lady went and ordered her bagel, and upon her return commented on how Wendy, one of the girls behind the counter, toasts the bagels perfectly every time.  Then the two ladies giggled about how wonderful it is to be regulars.  Ah, they're officially regulars.  I wonder when I will qualify as a regular. :)

Well, I didn't really come alone, I did bring Bella and her twisted crew from Forks.  She recently returned from a trip to the beach with some friends, and had a terrible dream about a friend becoming a wolf.  I have to admit that I'm enjoying the book, and I think it's a good thing that it's such an easy read.  Riveting, no, but, easy to read and allows me to escape from time to time.  I am clearly not going to be decorating my home with Twilight garb, but, I can see myself reading the series by the end of 2010.  I wish I could say that I can see myself joining a team as so many other readers of Twilight have, but, that's not really how I roll.  Anyway, I admit to having been a bit envious as Bella was able to lay out and fall asleep on the lawn on one of the few sunny days where she lives.  I wish I could sit still for that long. 

Back at Panera, I filled quite a bit of time getting lost in Twilight, despite having to read and reread passages as I progressed in the story.  I wasn't quite as distracted as I was two weeks ago, but, I did have a low level of difficulty keeping focused on the book.  I guess it didn't help to be hearing the bagel cutter just over the wall from me, or the shuffling of cards at the table next to me.

I wondered about the pulled back guy when I realized it was almost my time to head out, and he still hadn't arrived.  The two ladies had talked about all kinds of things, including the second lady's husband who is apparently nearly blind and seeking treatment for his diminishing eye sight.  Apparently his failing sight is one of many health related dramas in her family along with a chest cold she's been dealing with, among other things.  Not to disappoint, the pulled back guy finally arrived.  I suddenly felt like a part of their small group as he chose a table next to the ladies, nodding in my direction and flashing a friendly smile as he approached the table he chose.  He's fast.  He had his laptop out, coat off, and was all booted up before I could even turn to see where he'd sat down.  He's got a cool little net book, and I was almost going to ask him how he likes it but I'm not ready to directly engage any of the regulars just yet.  He and the second lady quickly discovered that they have this chest cold in common, and pulled back guy tried to garner some credit for spreading it since he's been wrestling with it since the beginning of the year.  Ah, the pleasantries that are exchanged over coffee.

I was soon getting a little bored with Bella and figured that since my neighbors had so much chatting to do, and cribbage to play that it was time for me to exit the building.  Joking that I must have been leaving because of them, the second lady and pulled back guy made a couple funny quips about my departure being due to something they said, to which I smiled and gently commented that it was just my time to head home.  We all greeted each other a good day, and I headed to the table where I would refill my coffee.

At the table, there was a girl in a bright pink jacket.  You know, it's not very often that someone wears a bright color around here, so this was a welcome sight to see.  It's true, the fashions around this area are drab, mostly gray, black, brown, and muted colors when they are worn.  This girl was bold enough to splash the scene with a vibrant, almost neon, pink.  I complimented her and told her what a pretty color her jacket was, even though I really don't like pink.  It was the fact that she wore such a fun, bright color that really made the impression on me.  She thanked me, we refilled our coffees, and I left the building.

On the way home, I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics to pick up some additional prizes for the prize bag that I've compiled for Ethel.  She has done an amazing job with her responsibility chart, and I can't tell you how much better things are since we've had the chart.  We rarely argue about getting things done, and she actually enjoys reaching all the goals we set forth for her each week.  For something so simple, it's made a huge impact in our house.  I can't wait to get one for Fred.

We had a busy rest of the day after I returned home.  Ethel had a birthday party in the afternoon, then we had dinner at a family friend's house in the evening.  All in all it was a great day, despite the lack of sunshine and impending snow storm.  Any day spent with family and good friends is a great day in my book.