Waking Up, Watching Honey Drip

I tried out a different branch of my usual coffee shop this morning, where the barista who served me my extra cup of water asked if my name was Emily. She was inspired to ask because of my large earring, cut out of an old license plate, boasting the letter E. She later remembered my name when I returned to the counter to order my favorite mint tea, where the other barista asked if I wanted honey in my tea. I watched as he squeezed the packets into the cup, thankful for the thoughtfulness, but a little resentful that he took away one of my favorite pre-tea-drinking rituals. Pouring honey into the hot, colored beverage.

I love watching honey drip. Especially into a steaming cup of tea. The thick glazed rope, twisting heavily into a thinner thread, coiling and applying itself in the heated liquid, poured out of a larger glob of sweetness. With the wooden stirrer, I like to harvest all the stubborn honey that won’t freely drip at the end of the open packet.

Today is Friday, and I begin it much like I did my Monday. Sitting at coffee shop by the window, a steeping cup of mint tea before me. I got an early start to my morning, both on Monday and today. I guess you could think of it as an early start to my week. On Monday, my eyes didn’t fully open until the first sip hit my lips. Thanks to the heavy rain, I had missed my usual Sunday morning tea time at the nook I frequent – an important time that I set aside to reset, to journal, to catch up with my self between weeks. There and then I like to read poetry, passages from the Bible, and sit in peace.

 

Monday morning tea and planning.

On Monday morning, I think the universe was trying to console me, in some odd way repay me for rising so early. (Interestingly enough, it set the early tone for the week, since I’ve been awake before six am almost every day this week.) I sat at the corner of the shop, on a high chair looking out onto the street. First the sun woke me up with a brightness that it had failed to share in the previous days. My nose produced its usual beads of sweat in response. But the sun soon cooled off, as if it had just wanted a moment with me, obnoxiously trying to grab my attention. It was the sun’s version of a wave.

Minutes later, I watched a dog cross the street. It was the cutest thing, a caramel brown dog tottering across the city road. You would’ve thought he was just another citizen of the city, on its way to work, walking right on the crosswalk when the pedestrian light flashed green.

Later on, a large vehicle was paused at the curb, waiting for his signal to turn. On the lap of the front seat passenger sat an adorable little girl who waved at me and smiled without stopping. She had the most infectious smile and wouldn’t take her eyes off me or look away. I waved back. She continued to watch me, and I her from the brim of my paper cup, still steaming mint. Before they finally drove off, she gave one last shy wave goodbye. Or hello.

And just those little things, as I sat in a coffeshop, made my morning good. Today feels like another good morning, as I wait for the tea to steep. Dad and I just had breakfast and he’s already left for court. I am left here still giggling every time I look at this shot I stole of him telling stories of workers suing their bosses. Oh lawyerly humor!

 

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Bagel Versus English Muffin

I found English muffins today! I chanced upon them while dragging my feet in obedience to my mom’s craving for more munchies.

We were walking by a little bakery station, after having just just checked out of the grocery with a bag of yummy cookies which I thought would suffice. I was making fun of what I thought was her unnecessary craving for more food. (HA, look who’s talking, Tanya-of-four-stomachs!)  But out of the ever-hungry corner of my eye, I spied a familiar and missed sight, that of a soft, thick disc, pale and edible. They were stacked up in a simple little tower wrapped up in shiny plastic bag. “MOM THEY HAVE ENGLISH MUFFINS!” I exclaimed.

And I was sold. I began to rumble to her about toasted English muffins for breakfast, topped with butter and blueberry jelly…

So I ended up with more food, including a fairly large (pricey but absolutely worth it) chocolate chip cookie, with the edges baked to a crisp but oh so chewy brown. Ah! Beautiful! At first my mom disagreed with its cost, but after a single bite, she was converted. I foresee her buying a fair share of these for her own happy consumption in the months to follow. 

Now there was a time that I was obsessed with bagels for breakfast. Actually, bagels in general. I was just as delighted to find bagels in Manila, as I was to find English muffins today. Then I moved on, and fell in love with English muffins. There must have been a handful of reasons why I gave up on bagels, though I had ridiculously shunned English muffins for the first three years I was in college. (I had little faith in their ability to feed my hungry stomach! They looked so flimsy!) The Downfall of the Bagel in my life, began when I stopped finishing the bagels. I’d leave half of them uneaten – tired of chewing it, and tired of its uncomfortable and annoying chewy-ness. I would lose interest in the bagel, and my appetite, even before I was done eating.

Maybe I just never toasted them long enough? Maybe I just wasn’t getting good quality bagels? Does anyone else think this much about their choice of breakfast bread??

The English muffins, on the other hand, come out of the toaster so crisp and eager to be eaten. They were versatile and easy to devour. Also, because I love to pile the cream cheese or jam or jelly, it was easier to eat the muffins without the concern of the bagel hole. Why do bagels have holes anyway? Everything just sees out! (Willingly going off on a tangent: some of my friends came up with a joke of an idea, to start a new project under my NGO – potentially a venture called Holes for the Homeless. We’d donate all the bagel holes to the needy instead of throwing them out from the bakeries. The bagels probably don’t even have centers to begin with. Or maybe we were going to donate donut holes.. I hadn’t even heard of donut holes till this year!)

As breakfast, or as snack, or as second breakfast, I would often prepare more than one English muffin. Each of a different variety.  Butter and cinnamon sugar. Cream cheese and blueberry jam. Butter and apricot preserve. Peanut butter and cinnamon sugar. Just butter even. Or you could put an egg in it, with cheese melting gently. I’d put it on a take-away paper boat from the dining hall or wrap it in foil to preserve the warmth. Nom nom nom.  I was like a squirrel, my friends would tell me, packing food in my bag all the time. There’d always be something edible and snackable in my bag. Sometimes a couple cookies. Often a stack of cookies or a dessert variety.

Now to counter all my thoughts on food, let’s talk a bit about exercise. I’ve recently been feeling a little sluggish. I blame it on the lack of intense physical activity in my life. Yes, it’s time to move! I complained to my mom the other day saying, I used to run and dance four hours a day. Now here I am, just sitting on my ever expanding bottom. (Please read the word bottom with a British accent.) (Also, I exaggerated a bit about the running, I didn’t run every day. I ran a little. But I did have dance rehearsal at least four hours a day, four days a week. At least.)

That day I told myself, enough is enough! I can’t let another week go by without going out and taking a dance class. That was to be the big item on my checklist for the week.

So I stopped hesitating. I found a random hip hop studio by poking around online and I went to my first dance class in months. My body has been screaming at me for it all day, but who cares, my body is moving again! And not just walking or zumba-ing. Actually moving and creating story. I’ve also started back up with small doses of running– thanks to a recent purchase of much-needed running shoes. I am well prepared to bully out the slug monster in my life!

Now, after a little bit of internet perusing, I’ve found many articles about the bagel versus English muffin fiasco (as well as about pancakes vs french toast vs waffles, sausage vs bacon vs ham, muffins vs scones vs croissants…you get the idea.) Apparently I’m not the only one thinking about this stuff, and even four years ago people were already wondering where the bagel holes were if donut holes were so available. Har har har!

Turns out a lot of the discussion around these things revolves around the health factor, and not so much the scrumdidlydumptious factor, of these breakfasty breads. Yaaaawn!

And if you care to look, the Urban Dicitonary has an unfortunate definition of bagel holes. And bagels holes are not on the market because bagels are made differently from donuts – bagels are made by twisting dough or tearing a hole up before they are boiled. Apparently donuts are cut.

Bagel Hole also happens to be a famous bagel place in Brooklyn. Try it sometime? 

And tomorrow we shall see if the English muffins sitting in our fridge live up to the expectations I have so highly set for them!