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2/05/2009

a bookish coffee date

We delivered food to some friends yesterday evening and as we walked out the back door I said, "I don't mean to be selfish here, but can we please drop by Kaboom Books to see if they have a Wendell Berry novel? I mean, we'll be in the area and all...." I also offered to request a book from the library, but then again, the Port William series seem to be worth owning and a used bookstore is not usually too harsh on the budget. Are you with me?

After handing over the eats, off we went to my current favorite bookstore less than a minute away from our Church. As we swung around to park, the space at the far end of the little shopping strip caught our eye as it always does. We can never figure out what the heck it is. There's a photography studio, a web design shop, an antique store, the bookstore, and then the mystery space that we've been praying would turn into a coffee shop. We walked down to peek into the large windows and by golly, it looked like a residence! Did someone live there?? Next to our own house and a loft, I thought that was the coolest idea ever.

We opened the heavy glass door to Kaboom and petted a sweet, soft dog named Kaylee. She was super cute. Immediately, I inquired of the bookstore owner, "Does someone live down there?" She confirmed it is indeed a guy's home. Wow-ee. My curiosity assuaged, Johnny and I set to book-browsing. I was reminded how grateful I am that Johnny is bookish, too. I'm not sure I could've married a man who thought books were optional. I'll never forget (nor fail to repeat here, I'm sure) that one of our first dates involved a huge Borders bookstore wherein Johnny purchased a Dorothy Sayers book and a Jesus nightlight for me. How could I not marry him?

Last night was another one of those dates. I really just like hanging out with Johnny, but when we find good book deals, it's like icing on the cupcake. My hubby found another Grendel graphic novel (he also admired many a history tome that I tried to coerce him into buying) and a $9.00 Wendell Berry hardback for me: Watch with Me. I also found a 1958 edition of Origins by Eric Partridge which was a great find. Kathleen Norris referred to this encyclopedia of etymology often enough in Acedia & Me to nudge me further into word-nerdiness - I already receive the word-of-the-day from Wordsmith in my e-mail inbox every morning. The beauty of this older edition is the price - a mere $15.00 as opposed to $60-something on Amazon. Plus, I like the blue-green dust jacket, browning pages, the vintage font, and that old-book smell. And this quote in the beginning:

"Philologists who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's Ark."
-Cowper, Retirement



The night was already amazing with a great man and good books. But as we paid at the counter, we got to talking to the kind woman who owned the place (I stupidly didn't catch her name). It may sound silly, but I don't run into that many friendly, chatty clerks in Houston. This red-headed lady and her husband own both Kaboom locations and are recent Houstonians after escaping Katrina. They ran a three-story book shop in the French Quarter and lived in the building, too. Miraculously, their books survived the storm. It was fascinating to hear her perspective vs. everything I heard in the news. There's no way around the tragedy, but she had such a fair-minded, peaceful view regarding it all. She had that beautiful contentment I strive for. She misses her hometown, but she rather likes Houston and thinks our hurricanes are nothing in comparison (she's right).

Anyway, as we chit-chatted, I noticed a stack of postcards from Antidote Coffee. You should know that basically, I'm always scheming to find a cup of tea or coffee when we're out and about. Sooo, I sweet-talked Johnny into checking out Antidote before we headed home. It helped that the bookstore lady told us the coffee was very good and cheap, next door to the other Kaboom shop, and only five minutes away.

Johnny typed the address into his TomTom (a Christmas gift from his Mom) and off we went again. The parking situation was not great, so my patient husband circled the old neighborhood a few times until we found an acceptable space. My face lit up as we stepped into Antidote's door - I just knew it was a very Jenni-place:

-the perfect eclectic coffee shop atmosphere,
-organic and fair trade brews from Big Bend Coffee Roasters,
-an impressive Art of Tea selection (including Velvet tea),
-organic yogurt and granola,
-beer and wine,
-biscotti and scones (I wondered, is it possible to make biscotti with coconut flour? Better yet, almond flour??),
-happy hour (along with alcohol, they also serve $1.00 double espresso shots),
-free wi-fi,
-local artwork on the walls,
-inspiring postcards near the door such as Hello-Lucky and knitting lessons). We're thinking of dropping off Johnny's business cards, Curator bookmarks, and our Church's postcards.
-Did I mention it's adjacent to a bookstore?

I tried to play it cool, but I really couldn't help myself - I was visibly geeked up. I cannot deny that we love the convenience of Starbucks, but Antidote is more up our alley. The coffee was cheaper after all and tasted much better. This joint is close to our Church, too - Johnny suggested stopping by beforehand on a Sunday morning. I nearly jumped out of the retro chair to hug him.

With a single Americano in my system, Johnny kept smirking at how much I talked on the way home. I actually slept just fine, but I was ├╝ber-inspired. As I heal and wait for yeast to be a positive ingredient in my diet, I tend to go into recluse-mode and hole up in the house. But it blessed my soul to get out of our lovely home for awhile, see friends, book-browse, and sip coffee with my favorite person. I don't think I'll ever tire of dates with Johnny. Nope, never.

From Origins:

inspiration, inspire. See SPIRIT, para 10.
.... 10. L inspirare, to breathe in or into, LL to breathe religious or divine feeling into, becomes OF-F inspirer, whence 'to inspire', whence inspirable. The presp inspirans, o/s inspirant-, yields the rare n inspirant; on the pp inspiratus (whence obs 'to inspirate') are formed LL inspiratio, o/s inspiration-, and LL inspirator, whence, via OF-F inspiration and late MF-F inspirateur, the E inspiration and inspirator.

[these photos were taken in early morning light]

7 comments:

Lindsay said...

Curator bookmarks? How can I get my hands on some of those?

By the way, what a lovely evening you had. Now that Adam's back in school, I miss having him around in the evening and would love to have a bookstore/coffee date with him. I guess I'll have to live vicariously through you and Johnny. Thanks. :)

kate o. said...

i think you should have tried to sneak a picture of the house in the shopping strip. quite cool.

that cowper quote is great.

here is hoping a great coffee shop like the one you've found is within walking distance (or short driving distnce) of our new home...where ever that may be!

alissa wilkinson said...

Lindsay! Send me your address and I'll send you some bookmarks :)

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Kimberly said...

Sounds like a perfect evening!

jenni said...

Lindsay, see Alissa's comment below.... And, you're welcome. :)

Kate, I thought about trying to sneak a photo during the day after Church, but I would SO get caught. They don't have curtains or anything, brave souls. You can see right in to a beautiful seating area and kitchen. ....I can't wait to see where you end up! (think Texas)

Kimberly, I'm gonna give you a Kaboom bookmark today so you can have the address and such. It would be a good date for you and Gregg, too!

jenni said...

Lindsay - or Alissa's comment above; whichever way you look at it. :)