Another Reason I Love Starbucks

StarbucksYou all know I’m a Starbucks fan.

If you don’t, you just haven’t been reading. Which is fine! But, you know, it’s in the standard Facts About Jeffe.

And yeah, yeah, yeah – I’ve heard the whole song and dance about corporate coffee and how, eyew, Starbucks coffee tastes burnt and I should support local coffee shops. The thing is, I go to local coffee shops and 1) chances are it will take forever to get my beverage, 2) it’s a total crapshoot what it will taste like and what kind of caffeine impact it will have. These things are important to me. I like that roasted Starbucks flavor, because it tastes great in my lattes, which I can depend on being just the way I like them, because I order them that way. You might laugh on the caffeine impact, but I’m a sensitive flower – there’s a fine line for me between “rev-me-up” and “omfg-my-heart-is-going-to-burst.”

Beyond that, I can count on Starbucks – really any Starbucks – being fast, efficient and offering a friendly atmosphere. I like their corporate policies and that they treat their employees decently.

So, not long ago, David and I flew into Albuquerque early in the morning and were driving home up to Santa Fe. We wanted coffee! so I used my phone to find the nearest Starbucks, of course. We went to the one at 3400 Central Ave SE, which is in the “Nob Hill” part of town. The building looked kind of funky, but I couldn’t place it. That’s a pic of it above, from Google Street View, so it’s kind of sucky. I should have snapped a pic, but I didn’t think to at the time.

It’s even better inside, with that arched barn roof and a cozy fireplace. And that odd sense of childhood familiarity.

I asked – and the building is a refurbished Arby’s. Yeah – you can see it, right? That old Arby’s architecture.

I love that they did this.

See, for a long time (20+) years, I lived in a town in Wyoming plagued by the Abandoned Building Syndrome. They’re a true blight on any community. Our town had a Walmart – an enormous warehouse that was abandoned when Those Who Did Not Care About Our Community decided to build a SUPER Walmart a quarter-mile away. Because, for them, it was less expensive to purchase new land and construct the even huger warehouse. That parking lot became the brightest point in town, by far – the first light visible flying in at night. Meanwhile, the old building moldered, adding its sorrowful tale to the decrepit former Long John Silvers just up the road, which hosted various Chinese restaurants until it ungracefully fell completely to pieces.

So, this is one more reason for me to love Starbucks – that they repurpose these old buildings. I’m a big fan of reusing what we already have. I even contributed an essay to an anthology once, called “Home Recycling,” about why I like buying older houses.

Thus, if you’re ever in and around Albuquerque, stop by the Starbucks in Nob Hill and take in that rehabbed Arby’s ambience. It’s really quite awesome – both aesthetically and energetically.

~Toasts with Pumpkin Spice Latte~

A Lot of Effort for Some Boxes

So, I’ve never been that much of a recycler.

Or rather, David never has been and so I easily fell out of the habit once we were living together. He became quickly annoyed at the accumulating sacks of newspapers, cans and bottles. Granted, recycling was a pain in Laramie. For a long time you could only take recyclables to a certain place during certain hours of weekday afternoons. Even when they finally set up bins, those were usually full.

David liked to grump that he saw the recycle place hauling truckloads out to the landfill all the time. He particularly liked to tease our more avid recycling friends about it. They would frown, uncertain if he was making it up or not.

At any rate, like many things, it was easier not to and so I stopped.

Now, I work for an environmental consulting firm and the company is big on green policies. Which I suppose is only good and right. We have to purchase 100% recycled paper for our printers, should we be so wasteful as to print something out in the first place. We have to recycle our used paper, etc. And we have to take these pledges.

Well, we don’t have to, but we’re exhorted to. And if you know anything about me at all, I’m just not the kind of gal you force into making pledges.

But every year there’s this big campaign where, in order to support the efforts of a major client, we have to go on the internet and pledge to replace our lightbulbs with the energy-savings ones. My boss, Laurie, who is fortunately also my friend, is probably shaking her head reading this, because she’s heard me go on about the lightbulbs. At length. Maybe with the teensiest bit of ranting.

Suffice to say: I do not like them.

I do not like them in my house. I do not like them with a mouse. I do not like them because they make everything look green: eggs, ham, art and people.

Laurie doesn’t get me on this. The aesthetic doesn’t bother her. But this is also the woman who reuses corners of paper and the back of Post-It notes. She’s literally taken balled-up used sticky notes out of my trash, smoothed them out and used them for notes. Yes, we’ve discussed her issues, too.

So, a few years ago, I caved, I did the pledge, and bought my two ugly-making lightbulbs. Laurie archly asked me if I actually installed them. I replied that I did: in the basement laundry room. (Laundry rooms are supposed to have icky awful lighting – it’s practically a law.) She conceded that was good enough. Then the next year rolls around and we have to pledge again, what with more bulbs. I started to run out of icky places to put the bulbs.

This year’s drive wound up yesterday. Only now they have this whole list of things you can do to be more green. Laurie commented that it’s getting harder to show movement each year. Which is true – I actually already do everything on that list except the freaking lightbulbs. The ones I left behind in the old house when we moved. To help the new people be green, I told Laurie.

She suggested I put their names on the pledge.

I turn off unused lights and appliances. I keep thermostats low and turned down during low-use times. Growing up in the Western drought of the 70s, I’m a habitual water-saver. One friend gets irritated that I turn the water on and off when I do dishes. “Why don’t you just let it keep running?” she asks. Because I can’t.

And now we have curbside recycling, so we do that, too! Amusingly, I even mentioned this once before on the blog. Back in August David and I were going back and forth on recyclables that don’t fit in the bin. Which brings us to yesterday.

Remember how I bought all that nifty new patio furniture? Well, it came in great big boxes. Heavy-duty cardboard ones. Our recycle pick-up comes every two weeks, so two weeks ago, I set two giant boxes filled with smaller scraps of cardboard next to the bin for pick up.

Shockingly the Waste Management guys did not take them.

(If you watch Breaking Bad, you can see our New Mexico Waste Management trucks. Kind of thrilling, no? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But it’s funny to us.)

We had a rainy day last week and David told me I should put those boxes out in the rain so they’d soften up and he could tromp them down and put them in the garbage bin. Our recycle bin gets really full at the end of two weeks. I said, no, I was going to break the boxes down and set them out for recycle again this week. “A lot of effort for some boxes,” he says and I said I didn’t mind.

So I spent a bunch of time cutting up and breaking down the boxes, bundling them into neat stacks, tied up with rope. With carry handles even. And we set them next to the very full recycle bin for pick up yesterday. The Waste Management guy arrives, sits for easily five minutes on his radio (I can spy on this from my office window). He backs the truck up like he’s leaving, then he pulls forward again, gets out, contemptuously kicks aside my careful bundles of cardboard and lets the automatic truck arm empty the bin. And drives away.

David says, “That’s why I wanted you to put that stuff in the rain so I could have tromped it down and put it in the garbage.”

I should insert here that today is David’s second-to-last day of finals and he’s hitting full grumpitude saturation at this point. I’m not calling him on it because, well, I’m understanding and loving like that. So, I don’t say anything to this.

I call Waste Management, very nice girl tells me that, yeah, in Santa Fe they’ll take only what’s in the bin. I ask if I’m supposed to cut these boxes into tiny pieces and dole them into the recycle bin over the course of months and she responds brightly that that’s a great idea.

I tell her not so much.

So she tells me that I can drop the stuff off at the county. Coincidentally, the place is right by where I have a salon appointment that day anyway. I put the top down on the Jag, pull to the end of the driveway and load the cardboard into the back. David helps, grumbling that it’s an awful lot of effort for some boxes at which point I, maybe not quite so lovingly, tell him that I don’t mind, I’ll do it myself and to go back in the house to study. He says, “Okay, I won’t say another word.” And I, very lovingly, do not say “Hallelujah!”

It goes downhill from there. The place the chirpy Waste Management girl sends me too is the lovely county office with no recycling facilities in evidence. I end up talking to the County Manager, who’s a terrific gal and says “I do not know what is wrong with those people at Waste Management!” She draws me a map to the transfer station, by the landfill, by the dog park, all places I haven’t been to yet.

So, yes, I drive out to the landfill in my Jag convertible, packed to the rim with cardboard pieces. The woman at the gate takes one look at me, says “let me guess” and waves me through. I find the big bin o’cardboard, where a very earthy/crunchy young man is emptying his vehicle of rectangles like mine. We stand in the sun and companionably toss cardboard into the bin.

And yes, I felt pleased with myself.

True to his promise, David didn’t say another word about it, so I don’t have to ‘fess up to the further complications, which would have truly driven him over the wall. I’ll have to think up another reason for why I now know where the landfill and the dog park are.

The pledge checklist doesn’t include a category for “went to a lot of effort for some boxes,” but I’m feeling like a good kitty-cat this Earth Day.

The best part? I didn’t have to buy any of those stinking lightbulbs!

Lions and Arbors and Boxes.

Saturday morning, writing under the grape arbor.

David is sitting with me reading Osho. Teddy is laying on the cool flagstone, Zipper beside her. Isabel, the ever independent, is out front hoping the baby quail show up again. They appeared yesterday for the first time, bobbling along behind the older quail, like fluffy bit of popcorn on toothpicks. Isabel was electrified by the sight.

No baby quail snacks in her future, however.

The quail are smart enough to know when she’s out there, and she can only go out in bright light. I keep dreaming at night that she’s caught outside. David, too, has been waking to the coyote howls and getting up to make sure she’s still inside. In the same way the animals have been unsettled, he’s been nervous in this new environment. Uncertain how to best protect us all. Isabel is always sitting in a window, watching the night.

“Would a coyote try to get Isabel through the screen?” I wondered.

“That’s why I have the rifle, two sticks and my pistol under the bed,” David said.

I had previously commented on the unprecedented number of weapons under our bed here.

“To beat the coyotes off Isabel?”

“More if a mountain lion comes through the screen.”

“I think if someone in Eldorado had a mountain lion come through their screen, we would have heard the story,” I told him.

“Fine, make fun,” he answered. “But if a mountain lion DOES come through the screen, I’ll be ready. “

I know he’ll settle down as he gets into the groove. I must constantly remind myself that David has never moved to a totally new place. The biggest move he’s made before this was from Buffalo, Wyoming to Laramie, Wyoming.

We have recycling pick-up here, which we ain’t never done had afore back in ol’ Wyo. We signed up for it, for an additional $4.87/month, which seems like a great deal to me. They gave us a green can for recyclables, that’s slightly smaller than the one for garbage. They pick up on a different day for that one, and only every two weeks. David fretted about remembering the dates until I put them in my Outlook calendar with a day-before reminder.

Last Wednesday was our first pick-up. Since he’s got time until classes start, he spent several hours Tuesday breaking down moving boxes, since they recycle cardboard. But there was too much to fit in the can.

“Just stack up the extra next to the can,” I offered. “Worst they can do is not take it.”

But he didn’t like that idea. He took Zip out and drove around the neighborhood to see how the other neighbors did it.

“I wonder if tomorrow is the right day,” he said when he returned.

“It is,” I answered without looking up from my laptop.

“Only three other neighbors have green cans out.”

“Maybe not everyone has the same pick-up day. Maybe not everyone pays the extra to recycle.”

“Well, none of them had extra stuff next to their cans.”

At least he was satisfied that enough people put theirs out the night before that he was okay there. The next morning when we went running, I pointed out another green can, about three blocks away.

“I counted that one,” he told me.

“Jeez — how far did you go?”

“A ways. I wanted to get a good survey of how everyone was doing it.”

“Why do you even care how the neighbors do it?” I asked.

“I just want to make sure to be doing things the right way.”

“I’m going to have to write about this in my blog, you know,” I told him.

“I know — I don’t care.”

And he doesn’t. One of the things I love best about David is he doesn’t mind me writing about him. This is an incredibly valuable trait in someone who shares their life with a writer, especially an essayist.

That, and that he’ll protect me from the mountain lion coming through the screen.