Tag Archives: adventure

Local Paragons Part II: Camino Bakery

Camino Bakery is located at 310 West Fourth Street in Winston Salem, North Carolina. They are well known for their fresh pastries and coffee drinks made with Krankies Railhead espresso (also local), housemade syrups, and Homeland Creamery (Julien, NC) milk.

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                                 Local color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3


The smell of cinnamon and flour assaulted Lucy first, then the espresso, followed by the cacophony of voices. A veritable gaggle of locals mostly—all trying to escape the harsh winter winds that brought single digit temperatures but no snow.

North Carolina didn’t know what to do with snow anyway—ice, sure, but real snow was as rare as a three legged dog. And it shut everything down.

Lucy didn’t particularly like the cold, but she hated snow. Shivering in her hooded jacket, faux fur lined, she joined the line for a latte. The menu had changed again—winter drinks now. During the autumn she’d had a honey and cinnamon latte that she could still taste, and had dreams about every now and then. Now she would have to try something new.

Studying the menu she tried to ignore the delicacies in the clear case before her. Perfectly crafted soufflés, scones, custom pastries—at lunch she would sometimes duck in for the quiche, which (given the melt in your mouth pastry crust) she would never have guessed was flourless like many of their delectable treats. For this morning though, all she needed was the latte. It was going to be a long day working on the Miller-Jones wedding and she needed a good pick-me-up.

“What can I get you?”

Lucy smiled at the question. “French toast latte, please,” she ordered, pulling out a twenty to pay. Her phone rang as the girl handed back her change and Lucy slid to the side to wait on her order. Looking down at her work phone, Lucy groaned. She would be at the office soon, why couldn’t this wait for fifteen minutes until she got there?

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“What is it, Mark?” she asked a little impatiently—she listened as her assistant started to hyperventilate.  Finally she interrupted. “Mark, you’re going to have to breathe. I can’t really understand you. I’ll be there in like twenty minutes.”

“Lucy, the flowers, they delivered the wrong flowers,” Mark managed to say more coherently this time.

“Then call them and tell them to correct the mistake. Who signed for them?” Lucy shifted the phone to her other ear as she balanced her laptop bag on her shoulder.

“Theresa. The florist says they won’t take them back since someone signed for them,” Mark’s voice raised an octave. Lucy looked up at the ceiling. Working with dramatic people drove her batty sometimes—but she was an event planner at the Marriot. Dramatics came with the territory. Weddings were the worst.

“Get the wedding planner on the phone,” Lucy sighed. And working with a third party never worked out well—Theresa had a good eye, but she was flaky. “Tell her to meet me in the ballroom in thirty minutes. We’ll talk to the florist together. And Mark, you need to calm down. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and I doubt it will be the last.”

Lucy hung up the phone.

“Americano. French toast latte.”

Adjusting her bag, Lucy turned back toward the counter to get her latte, her hand brushing the hand of Americano’s owner as she did so.

“Sorry,” Lucy murmured without looking up from her latte.

“No problem,” his smooth voice floated over her, sparking something in her memory. Lucy’s forehead wrinkled, as her eyes flickered up. Saul’s smile reached all the way to the corners of his mossy green eyes. “So is that why you didn’t call me?”

“I—“ Lucy blinked, her bag dropped from her shoulder to the crook of her elbow, spilling droplet of latte from the top of the lid to her thumb. Saul reached for a napkin and handed it to her while she readjusted the bag on her arm.

“Okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she murmured.

“So, how are the wedding plans?”

Lucy’s head popped up again. “What wedding plans?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear. Mark, wasn’t it?” He pointed to the phone that she still held in her hand. Saul was casually mixing the tiniest bit of cream into his coffee and not even enough sugar to taste. “I assume that’s why you never called.” He flashed her his dimpled grin.

Lucy looked stupidly at her phone. “Mark?”

“Your fiancé?” he asked.

“My what?” Lucy shook her head. “Oh no, Mark is my assistant.” She laughed now, shaking her phone back and forth. “We were talking about work.”

“Oh?” Saul leaned against the counter.

“Yes.”

“Cappuccino.”

“Excuse me,” a little woman with a tight bun leaned in between them and grabbed the cappuccino, but neither Saul nor Lucy moved far—just enough to allow her to get her beverage.

“So, Mark is your assistant. You are a…”

“I’m an event planner,” Lucy supplied. “I work for the Marriot.” She gestured with the latte, then looked down, flustered, and grateful it hadn’t spilled again.

“Ah, that explains the flowers and wedding planner comment then.”

“Yes. We do all kinds of events there, weddings, conferences, fundraisers…” Lucy trailed off, realizing she was rambling.

“So why didn’t you call then?” he asked, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Café latte. Americano. French toast latte.”

“I think we’re in the way,” Lucy said. Looking at the three drinks on the counter in front of them. Saul smiled, a dimple forming on his left cheek. He took a step closer to her so people could get to their drinks at the counter. Lucy could no longer smell the spices of the coffee shop, as her senses filled with cologne—fresh, but masculine. Tommy maybe?

“You’re evading,” he said.

“It’s weird,” she said. Lucy looked at her latte cup.

“Weird?”

“To call a stranger? It felt weird.”

“Well,” he glanced up. “We’re not strangers any more. I’m Saul and I work at Hutch and Harris when I’m not attending classes at Wake for Med School, and you’re Lucy—you work at the Marriot as an event planner. And we’re standing in Camino Bakery under the mistletoe.”

“We’re what,” Lucy followed his gaze. Hanging right above their head was a sprig of mistletoe.

“Must be left over from the holidays,” he shrugged. Lucy’s eyes dropped back down to his. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Call me?”

Lucy was still standing there, mouth open as Saul waved from the other side of the window, hurrying down the sidewalk of Fourth Street.

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Local Paragons Part I: Hutch and Harris

Hutch and Harris is a restaurant located at 424 West Fourth Street in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The menu and restaurant are excellent and the pictures provided were taken from an actual recent dining experience. The story itself is fictional (I like to take some experiences at these local paragons and weave them into this new fabricated story about Lucy).

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3                                                          Local color: <3 <3 <3 <3


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Downtown Winston Salem still slept, recovering from ushering in the New Year. Lucy St. James climbed out of her twelve year old silver Ford Focus, the echo of the door reverberating down Fourth Street. Glancing down at her watch, the daisies ticked toward seven—she was a few minutes early.

“You’re supposed to kiss him!” the photographer’s flash illuminated the night air. She steadied it on her shoulder as she called out to the couple in the middle of the crosswalk. Lucy laughed, and the photographer exchanged glances with her. “I guess they didn’t get the memo.”

“Guess not. Cute shot though,” Lucy said. The couple hurried to the other side of the street as the light turned and traffic started moving again.

“Yes, as long as they don’t get hit,” the photographer laughed and waved as Lucy crossed the street. The couple was coming back to the middle of the other crosswalk when Lucy passed them. The girl’s foot popped up behind her as she kissed her fiancé, diamond ring sparkling in the white twinkle lights still strung over Hutch and Harris’ awning.

The patio, deserted in January, spread open and welcome as Lucy sidestepped the metal anchors and entered the downtown restaurant.

“Welcome to Hutch and Harris.” The host stood behind the podium, showing his straightened teeth.

“Good evening,” Lucy smiled and tossed one of her black braids over her shoulder. “I have a reservation for seven—under St. James.”

“Ah, yes. We have you all set up, Ms. St. James, right this way.”

“Thank you.” Lucy followed the host back to the booth on the left side of the restaurant. Normally Hutch and Harris was a buzz of activity—but it was still early.

“The specials for this evening,” he handed her a printed page. “Your server will be right with you.”

Lucy smiled, glancing down at the dancing daisies again. Katie, Phoebe and Tia would be here soon. Her favorite part of the holidays was getting together with her friends—they didn’t get to see each other often enough now that they lived in different cities and—

“Lucy!” Tia tumbled into the other side of the booth. “I can’t believe how great you look. What a great restaurant, great choice.”

“Hey, Tia,” Lucy barely got the greeting out before Katie’s infectious laugh filled the restaurant. Lucy could feel the smile spreading from one side of her face to the other. “Well, that makes three of four. Where’s Phoebe?”

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She’s not going to make it,” Katie tossed her phone on the table and shrugged out of her coat. “Stephen isn’t feeling well. She said to make sure to order the crabcake sandwich in honor of her.”

“Oh crabcakes,” Tia grabbed the menu and began reading out loud. “That sounds divine. With mac and cheese. Y-to the um.”

“I’ll pass,” Lucy took the menu from Tia and perused it herself. She didn’t particularly care for seafood. “But El Kentucky looks pretty good—fried chicken, pico de gallo—can’t really go wrong with that.”

“And I bet they come with pickles.”

“I love pickles.”

Katie laughed. “I know.”

“Good evening, ladies. My name is Saul and I’ll be your cruise director this evening—to start off our slate of activities can I get you some wine? It’s Thirsty Thursday—1/2 price on our bottles.”

“Oh that sounds great—“ Katie grabbed the wine menu. “What about the Gugenheim?”

“Great choice.” He winked, then said, “Waters all around.”

The girls nodded and he bounded off.

“He’s pretty nice looking,” Katie said. She lifted an aristocratic brow and elbowed Lucy.

“Katie!” Lucy rolled her eyes. Tapping her fingers on the table, she couldn’t help but compare her left hand to that of her friends—a noticeably bare hand. “I’m not looking for a date here.”

“I’m just saying,” she shrugged her shoulders. “How’s work?”

“Nice segue,” Tia laughed, taking the wine now proffered to her.

“Work’s—work,” Lucy shrugged. “And this wine is phenomenal.”

“Has a nice peppery taste,” Katie smacked her lips together before sitting her wine glass back on the table. Tia swirled her wine around in the glass.

“Have we decided what we want ladies?” Saul asked. He came to the table—no pad, but with a professional smile that told the ladies he knew what he was doing.

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Tia ordered the crabcake, mac and cheese combo, Lucy had El Kentucky with sweet potato fries while Katie went with the special—a duck with a spicy glaze and wasabi sauce.

“Your mouth is going to be on fire,” Lucy shook her head as Saul walked away.

“I like it hot, what can I say,” Katie shrugged.

“Oh, what would Jaime say to that?” Tia arched a brow.

“I imagine he knows all about it,” Lucy commented.

“Luce!” Katie looked at her appalled.

“What? My filter starts shutting down after four,” Lucy laughed. “Besides, I’m turning thirty this year. I have some kind of right to unfliter now, right?”

“We’re all turning thirty,” Tia commented. “We should do something.”

“Nothing we can do,” Katie shrugged.

“Katie!”

“What, I’m not interested in a murder murder suicide thing, so we have to kind of accept it.”

“I meant,” Tia threw her napkin across the table at Katie. “That we should celebrate. Take a trip. Be somewhere tropical with little umbrellas in our drinks or something.”

Lucy sat up straighter, her almond eyes widening a little. “I’m down.”

“What do you think, Katie?” Tia asked. “Could you get away from Jaime and—“

“Baby Boo?” Katie’s laugh rang through the restaurant. “Yeah, I can probably swing it. Jamie can watch Billy.”

“Awesome, we should totally start planning this.”

The food arrived, displayed on white ceramic plates and begging in all its beautiful glory to be eaten.

Lucy’s phone rang.

“Ugh!” Katie groaned swatting at Lucy as she reached for the offending object. “Don’t answer it. We’re eating.”

Lucy looked down at the number. “It’s my sister,” her brow wrinkled. “She doesn’t usually call me.”

“I guess we’ll let it slide this time,” Tia waved her fork, laden with mac and cheese at her. Lucy answered the phone.

“Hello?” Lucy moved the fries around with her fork. Suddenly she stopped playing with the fries. “What? Oh my. Yeah. I can be there in like half an hour.”

“What’s going on?” Katie and Tia looked at Lucy, who was already starting to gather her coat.

“My sister’s water just broke,” Lucy laughed.

“How is everything?” Saul returned to the table, a white cloth napkin now over his shoulder. “That bad? You’re running out on it?”

“Oh no,” Lucy laughed as she pulled on her gloves, “But I do need my check—my sister’s on the way to the hospital and I have to get to her house—the neighbors are watching her son until I get there.”

“Ah,” Saul nodded. “I certainly know the joys of nieces and nephews. I’ll be right back.”

“I thought your sister wasn’t due until February.”

“She wasn’t,” Lucy laughed again and tossed her purse strap over her head. “Guess baby girl was ready to meet the world now.”

“And here is your box,” Saul passed the Styrofoam box to her. “With a little added artistic flair, because otherwise, it’s just a to-go box. And congratulations to your sister.”

“Thanks,” Lucy took the box as Saul walked away. “Katie, can you?” she passed the box over to her, while she pulled out her cash.

“Ummm, Luce?”

“What?” Lucy put her cash in with the check and started to scoot out, but Katie wouldn’t move. “Katie, what is up with you?”

“Looks like you got more than a cartoon on your to-go box,” she opened up the inside further for Lucy to see. Inside was Saul’s name, and his digits.

Katie couldn’t smile any wider.

Lucy slammed the lid to the to-go box down, her face flaming.

“What are you going to do?” Tia asked, kicking Lucy under the table.

“Right now? I’m going to my sister’s,” She pushed Katie out of the booth and headed for the front door, “Call me when you figure out where we’re going.” She said over her shoulder, leaving the restaurant with a flourish—to-go box firmly under her arm.

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Do Not Be Afraid: A Resolution

Don’t be afraid.

As one year now closes and another gears up, we all take the time to reflect and reevaluate. People take the time to make resolutions which they will earnestly break within a month, maybe two if they are more committed than most.

I’m not judging…well, I am, but I’m also empathizing. I do the same, and though I could wish for better resolve, if I had it (if any of us did), we really wouldn’t need to make New Year’s resolutions.

So this year, I’m trying something different. Instead of making a resolution that I want to stick to throughout the year. I’m going to reevaluate each month, because I learned something important about myself this past year. I have been breaking the most repeated command in the Bible.

And I break it over, and over, and over again.

Do you know what the most repeated command in the Bible it? I learned this recently. Right off hand, if someone had asked me this before, I probably would have said it is “love one another”. No, that’s not it. The most common command in the Bible is:

Do not be afraid.

I am not a risk taker. I make pro-con lists, I weigh the value of decisions, I look at the consequences of each moment that I live (or don’t live I guess)—and I live in fear that the decisions I make every day are the wrong ones.

And not only are they the wrong ones, but they are going to catastrophically alter the universe (or at least my universe) in some way shape or form.

Talk about some ego.

Which is why sometimes I feel like I’m stuck—frozen in this life I’ve cherry picked and carefully chosen and protecting myself right out of life or maybe even a calling.

Because we can do that—protect ourselves from something that we think will shatter us, but if we allowed it to, would actually help us. And I do that more often than not

Which brings me back to the whole resolution thing. This New Year I’m going to be less afraid, because I have dreams, big dreams and I have to stop protecting myself from them. So each month I’ll make a new resolution, then re-evaluate at the end of the month.

Because this is too important to wait till next January.

At the risk of alienating everyone sick of Frozen, I’m going to quote Elsa here: The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all [in 2015]. Let it go.

Why aren’t you married yet?

If I had a dollar…or a quarter…or a nickel…well, let’s just say I get asked this question a lot by teenagers who have the tact of the Jolly Green Giant in a China shop.

To be fair the conversation usually starts with the pictures of my darling nieces on my walls, who, do in fact look an awful lot like me (genetics are very powerful). It goes something like this:

Me: I know.

Student: Do you have any kids?

Me: No.

Student: Do you want kids?

Me: Maybe someday. Depends on whether all you jokers drive me stark raving mad first or not.

Student: Are you married? [Bingo the million dollar question]

Me: Nope.  [And this is where it goes one of two directions]

Student A: Why aren’t you married yet?              Student B: Don’t you ever want to get married?

Neither of these conversations, of course, have anything to do with English, but you’re kidding yourself if you think my job is just about literature, grammar, and writing. And I’d be bored out of my skull if it was. My job description of course is “English Teacher” but that’s only about a third of what I actually do. My job is really relational, which is exactly why conversations like this will always happen. My students want to know more about me (of course, there is the kid who thinks I live at school…literally…but that’s a story for another day) and why I want to know more about them.

As a result I’m forced to confront my perpetual state of “singledom” (regardless of whether or not I am or am not currently dating someone) or a regular basis. And that is trying.

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The door to nowhere at the Winchester Mystery House (Where I would like to send that question :-))

Because the answer is not simple.


Yes, I want to be married, someday, I think. Most days I want to be, I think. And yet…

No, maybe I don’t want to be married—I like my space—I like my independence—I like my life the way it is and change is…ah….ah…

But I do want to be married. I write Christian romances. Of course I am looking for that for myself so…

Yes, I do.

Of course, it’s not just my students who ask this, but they are the ones who ask most often.

The fact of the matter is, I’ve always pictured myself married by now. I’m not, but I’m not unhappy about it the way my 16 year old self thought I would be, so that is perplexing as well.

What I don’t want is to get married because it is what people expect. If I am simply trying to find a life mate because my society believes that I am somehow incomplete without a partner, then I’m not okay with that. I’m an individual person and I have an identity on my own without a partner.

Of course, the opposite is true too. I hate the idea embodying the extreme opinion where women are all about not getting married because marriage strips them of their independence. With the right person, marriage can add to your identity rather than strip it from you.

So, why am I not married?

I shrug or throw it back at them: Why aren’t you? I ask. Because they answer is all the same no matter what age you are (Maybe I’M still too young to be married…don’t call me old, children ;-)).

Do I want to be married?

Sure, under the right circumstances, I think we all do (even those adamantly against marriage would probably cave…haven’t you seen HIMYM?)

I love NOT Knowing…Do you?

I love not knowing.

Tonight at Bible study we talked about Sarah and Hagar and realized we had way more questions than we did answers and by the end we had come to realize that each statement ended with “but we just don’t know.” We can speculate, we can make educated guesses, we can provide evidence as support, but what we can’t do is know. And I love that. I thrive off it. I use it as an invitation to “suck the marrow out of life” (thanks for that tidbit Thoreau).

Because not knowing is a springboard to discovery and learning.

Nerd alert?

Well, maybe, but “I am what I am and that’s all that I am” (Props to Popeye for that one) and I won’t apologize for it. People are so afraid of not knowing things, but I think it’s beautiful and humbling. So why are people afraid of not knowing?

  • Not Knowing is Scary: when you don’t know the outcome to something, it can be terrifying. How did I do on that test? Will I have enough credits to graduate? Will my boyfriend’s parents like me? All of these unknowns can be terrifying, but there is a certain kind of beauty in them as well. Don’t get me wrong, I want to know the answers, which is exactly why I LIKE not knowing, because then I have a PURPOSE, something for which to search, to KNOW to experience.
  • Not Knowing is Intimidating: “What do you mean you don’t know?” Not knowing connotes stupidity, ignorance…but that’s not what it really means. Not knowing isn’t the same as ignorance; not knowing is in a perpetual state of ‘yet’. It’s an invitation to knowledge, not a label of ignorance that we should embrace.
  • Not Knowing is ineffable: We can’t describe the sensations that not knowing gives us—it’s upsetting, it’s frustrating, it’s freeing, but ultimately it’s what makes us human.

So I like not knowing, because it means I still have something left to know. As the Doctor himself says, “I don’t know…But that’s good, the day I know everything I might as well stop.”

And I’m certainly not ready to stop yet. Because who am I—who are we all? Might as well quote the Doctor here too…”The stuff of legend.”