Creep Week

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69359_1561542091561_4648217_nDo you long for the dark haunts of October like I do? Ugh, it’s still ages away, but the Raven is working on it’s “Creep Week” activities to help the lovers of the macabre get their fix. Here’s the line up so far:

Monday, May 14th – Vinyl Mondays (bring your spooky records to spin)
Tuesday, May 15th – Psychic Medium, Laura Moody Tickets $13 in advance or $17 at the door. Limit 40 people. Upstairs balcony seating. SOLD OUT
Wednesday, May 16th – Chris Troy’s “Haunted Blue Water Area” Documentary
Thursday, May 17th – Live Music by “The Picassos”
Friday, May 18th – Live Music by “My Drowning Youth”
Saturday, May 19th – Live Music by award-winning classical guitarist William Henry Russell

Does He Deserve It? Absolutely!

We’d agreed to meet at 9 a.m. He was late.Todd Bailey

Todd Bailey hurt my feelings. I already knew I wasn’t the first.

“You’re too sensitive,” flashed in my head. Perhaps I’d indicated 9ish I thought, so I reluctantly dismissed the tardiness.

He was in charge of the staff in the kitchen. “He’s a grumpy one,” they said.

“I’m here when you’re ready,” I messaged him without injecting shame.

“I’ll be right there,” he responded, but his reputation preceded his arrival and I feared displeasure. “I don’t know what anyone wants to know about me,” he insisted, after already agreeing to meet.

I heard a rapid ascent of heavy footsteps . The two cups of my favorite brew I’d drank earlier to fuel my ambition felt like sudden death, not “Resurrection” as labeled; it slipped down the shoot and created the sudden urge to escape to the bowels of the Raven.

Someone who declares, “I just don’t like you,” isn’t necessarily anyone’s friend, but could it be a cloak, camouflage, a distracting disguise? When it’s only in print, the tone of the words can be very deceiving. I’d already spotted him in the shadows of my previous photos – never with a smile, but he’d already racked up four years with the Raven family.

Game On.

After the dreaded small talk about working at Raven Café, managing the staff, dealing with difficult situations, maintaining inventories, and avoiding lousy food and warm beer, the conversation became only slightly more fluid. Like the silver steel ball being slapped about in a pinball machine, I used my silver tongue to extend our play, and avoid falling into the dark holes.

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He disclosed sailing from Florida to Milwaukee aboard the tall ship, Denis Sullivan, and working on another tall ship, Highlander, in Port Huron.  I sensed there was a lot more to know about this grumpy one than he’s willing to share on the first drink, or libation as he prefers to call it.

“What else do you enjoy?”  I asked.

Awkward silence.

I hid behind my painted smile. Was he a gamer? I had heard he was, but I suddenly felt like Puck-Man (look it up – it’s not a typo).  I tried to manage the tight corners in the uncomfortable silence and avoid my own ghosts, while trying to devour any bits of information I could grab as I shifted about.

“Have you played the new Fortnight Game?” I finally asked. I’m only a limited retro game enthusiast myself, but I’d heard about the newest game on the radio the same morning.

“No, I don’t play it. I like The Witcher 3,” he responded.

Through pursed lips, I reluctantly admitted to my limited Puck-Man parade of old-school games and the antiquated systems I’d played them on, unable to comment on Witchers 3, but it finally broke the plane.

1523467443734“Retro games are cool,” he pleasantly said with a nod. “A lot of people enjoy the old retro games. In fact, I build gaming systems. About $120 each, if anyone’s interested.”FB_IMG_1523149285765

We don’t have video games in the Library, but before we parted, he willingly agreed to play a word game with a culinary theme, while I retreated to the TARDIS in the library to curiously look up “The Witcher 3”.

You can play the word game too, just write down the following:  An adjective, an insect, a number, another number, an adjective, an animal (plural), a verb, a foreign country, a verb ending in “ing”, an adjective, and another adjective. Then substitute each of your answers in the blank for his.

Here are Todd’s results:

EAT WHAT BUGS YOU!

Have you ever eaten a bittercockroach? It’s a delicacy now at Raven Café! Patrons have been known to eat at least  27,0000  in 2 visits. And in this town, worms aren’t only bait for catching fish in the river. Todd has the talented staff use them to capture tangygoats too –  a delicious dish served weekly to guests! They may wiggle and shout, but don’t let that slow you down! If they aren’t your style, please don’t forget to try the beetle juice brew from China –  cooking them releases their delicious flavor. If you miss any of our fluffy cuisine, don’t worry, because we’ll serve another hot course again soon! -Todd Bailey, Manager

If you want to talk nerd and all things gamer-related, grab a seat at Raven Café’s bar on Wednesday evening or Saturday morning. Ask Todd for one of his favorite libations with your meal. He’s the one with the grumpy face that’s grumbles “meh.” If you get him chatting he’s a pretty okay guy for a young curmudgeon.

All in a day’s fun. Game on.

SK Mabry

Media Specialist, Raven Café

Wednesday Night Movies

Every Wednesday you can find a free movie upstairs at the Raven Cafe. The next 3 months have very distinct themes – can you guess them?

APRIL
4/4 Super Troopers
4/11 The Big Lebowski
4/18 Friday
4/25 Dazed & Confused

MAY
5/2 Cabin in the Woods
5/9 Lost Boys
*5/16 Haunted Blue Water Area
5/23 Zombieland
5/30 Tremors

June
6/6 Breakfast Club
6/13 St. Elmo’s Fire
6/20 Goonies
6/25 Hairspray

Printable movie schedule to hang above your bed. 


* Mark your calendar!  Mid May we’ll be hosting a “Creep Week” with the following lineup:

Monday, May 14th – Vinyl Mondays (bring your spooky records to spin)
Tuesday, May 15th – TBD
Wednesday, May 16th – Chris Troy’s “Haunted Blue Water Area” Documentary
Thursday, May 17th – Live Music by “The Picassos”
Friday, May 18th – Live Music by “My Drowning Youth”
Saturday, May 19th – Live Music by award-winning classical guitarist William Henry Russell

Featured image by Deviant artist noro8.

Secrets of a Connoisseur

1522164850752Admirably labeled a “coffee connoisseur” by the owners of Raven Café, Tasha Kramarenko recently took time during her busy day (after walking her dog, Wilfred, named after the FX comedy starring Elijah Wood & Jason Gann) to sit down with Raven’s media specialist for a rapid-fire Q & A.wilfred-and-tasha

Q: “You are stranded with only Buck’s Tim’s, or Old Man McDonald’s coffee on your island. Do you make the best of it, or swim to the next island?”

A:  Her answer may surprise you, so we’ll disclose it at the end!

Q: “Where should first time coffee drinkers begin?”

A:  “At Raven Café, of course, but with a single black cup of coffee, to get the full-flavor of the bean- nothing added to it. Maybe start with a nice cup of Resurrection Brew, my personal favorite. I don’t think they’d be disappointed.”

Q: “Coffee only, or tea too?”

A:  “A nice cup of Earl Grey in the evening is great!”

Q: “Latte, Mocha, or Cappuccino?”

A:  “Cappuccino.” (Pictured above with her personal coffee art in the foam on the top!)

Q: “Light Roast or Dark Roast – which has more caffeine?”

A:  “That depends on the bean and the roast. Often it is the Light Roast, and that surprises people, but the density of the bean changes; beans that are roasted longer are less dense. If you measure your coffee by scoops, light roasted coffee will have more caffeine, since the beans are denser than a darker roast. However, if you weigh out your scoops darker roasts will have more caffeine, because there is less mass.”

Q: “Are coffees rated or graded in any way, similar to wine?”

A:  “Yes, baristas will have what is called a “cupping”, which is a coffee tasting where the aroma, flavors, and aftertaste are evaluated to better inform the coffee drinker what to expect.”

Q: “Caffeine and little flavor? Or flavor, but no caffeine?”

A:  “That’s a hard one… but I’d go for the flavor first, I guess. Neither one is a problem at Raven Café because they have multiple brews for a variety of tastes every day.”

Q: “Espresso or Expresso?”

A:  “Espresso.” She stressed the s, but she’s not a coffee snob, and humbly took interest in my follow-up question next.

Q: I know this may make some coffee snobs seethe, but I have to point  out that the word expresso is the customary wording in France, Portugal, and Spain. Of course, the art of making the drink was created in Italy, but spelling it with an x was also widely used in Great Britain, especially in references to the popular coffee houses frequented by the famous bohemian set in Soho. Did you know the Oxford English Dictionary even includes it as an acceptable variant?

A: Tasha grins and says, “ I learned something new today!” (So, there’s a feasible reason to say and spell it with an x, if you happen to pronounce it that way yourself!)

cupsQ: Considering her humble response, I asked “Do you think anyone should feel intimidated to enter and order in a specialty coffee shop like Raven Cafe?”

A: “Absolutely not! Most baristas are genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge and eager to guide others through making a great coffee drink selection and enjoying their visit to the Raven. Please don’t be afraid to ask,” she insists.  (The Raven Café beverage menu provides a detailed description, including diagrams of the most popular coffee drinks to assist too!)

Q: “Best food to have with coffee?”

A: A wide grin appears on her face (so I sense real love for this answer). “Bacon!” Tasha exclaims.

Q:“Best alcoholic addition to coffee?”

A:  “Whiskey – any brand you’d like. I suppose some have their favorite Irish whiskeys for the “Irish Coffee,” but I can enjoy any one of them.”

Q: “A flavorful cup of delicious coffee to relax and enjoy alone or just a simple no-frill coffee with friends?”

A: “Coffee with friends of course, or people in general. The best way to find your people is a coffee house. It’s the first place I visit when traveling too”

Q: “If you are alonehow do you enjoy your coffee?”

A:  “Relaxing with the music of Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday is nice,  or watching Max Fleischer’s ‘Gabby’ cartoons.” Tasha’s eyes brighten with mention of cartoons.

Q: “Would you drink instant coffee?”

A: “Ahhhh- No.” But then Tasha pondered her response and added, “well, only out of desperation, I guess.”

Q: “Dream job?”

A:  “A mobile coffee truck on the road to wherever I wanted to go.” (Should she go for it? Let her know!)

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Q: “Other interests besides coffee?”

A:  “My degree from Grand Valley State University is in philosophy; I have a real interest in the dynamics of a business, the community, and society in general; I also enjoy anthropology, and I love to read.” Some of the nearly 5000 books in the upstairs library at Raven Cafe reflect in Tasha’s eyes as she answers.

Q:”How did you come from the west side of Michigan to working at Raven Café?

A:  Tasha gives a soft sigh, like one associated with a pleasant memory. “My grandmother lives near, and she hasn’t any other family so I came here to be with her – she told me I had to check out this cool coffee shop called Raven Cafe’ and when we visited, I told her right away, ‘I want to – I really want to work here’.”

And so, it was generations of coffee love that brought Tasha to enjoy making and consuming coffee drinks herself at Raven Café, and sharing time with coworkers she calls “the best”!

We finished up with discussing  tidbits of coffee trivia including a Turkish wedding tradition that includes a vow to provide the bride with coffee or it could result in divorce. Not a bad premarital agreement for any coffee connoisseur, not just Turkish, she agrees but quickly adds, “as long as it’s good coffee that is!”1522174545611

And finally, back to the original question in regards to drinking coffee with Buck, Tim, or Old Man McDonald – Tasha grinned, and said, “honestly McDonald makes a pretty good cup of coffee I have to admit. So I could manage, but of course the coffee isn’t half as much fun as the one you’ll have with friends at a coffee house!”

Tasha, it was my pleasure!

Story by: SK Mabry, Media Specialist, Raven Cafe

Awarded the Silver!

Raven Café is honored to receive a Michigan Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Silver Award.

“We support an employee’s decision to continue breastfeeding when they return to work,” said Jody Parmann (wife of Sadaat Hossain / co-owner of Raven Café).

Breastfeeding award 1Jody Parmann breastfeeds daughter Eloise Hossain with “Madonna & Child” painting in background.Breastfeeding her 22 month old daughter on the second level of the restaurant with breastfeeding “Madonna & Child”, painted by her, in the background, she also wants patrons to know Raven Cafe encourages a breastfeeding friendly community. “The idea of decency, morality or the sexual nature people associate with breasts today did not exist in the same context back then. Breasts were for giving your child nutrition. As the most sacred of all mothers in recorded history, others should feel comforted by the fact that Mary did breastfeed, as it is a natural act shared between a mother and a child.” To find out more about the artist’s inspiration for the painting, visit https://ravencafeph.com/2015/06/11/new-art-nature-by-jody-parmann/

Raven Café, 932 Military Street, Port Huron, Michigan provides a comfortable atmosphere for breastfeeding, along with a section of inspirational and reference books in their large library, dedicated to helping others build the village to raise a happy and healthy child.

logoThe Michigan Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Awards are a component of the MIBFN “MI Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Project,” a work-site lactation support initiative funded by the Cardiovascular Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity Section at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on this program and how to apply to be a Michigan Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace visit: http://mibreastfeeding.org/workplace-awards.

Breastfeeding Coalitions work within the local community to educate, promote, and normalize breastfeeding. The mission of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) is to lead the statewide collaborative actions for advocacy, education, and coalition building in order to create a supportive breastfeeding culture. To learn more about the coalition and the benefits of breastfeeding, visit http://www.mibreastfeeding.org

Cognac & Cooping

Raven Café has a variety of games upstairs in the library for you to enjoy while you drink and dine, but read further and try to solve a real mystery!

At birth, there is only potential; at death, any attempt the last. Mysterious visits, perhaps a tandem succession of a father and son, celebrated a writer’s birth, rather than the anniversary of his death for over 60 years.

Dating back to at least the 1940s, a mysterious man dressed in black with a white scarf and wide-brimmed hat had left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer’s grave, but after the mysterious “Toaster” failed to appear two years in a row, fans planned one last vigil in 2012.

The deceased writer had been abandoned by his birth father, orphaned when his mother died of tuberculosis, separated from his siblings, expelled from West Point, disowned by his foster father, haunted by debt and, after writing timeless pieces of mystery and macabre for years, was found incoherent on the street. He spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death the attending physician reported he repeatedly called out “Reynolds”— a figure who, to this day, also remains a mystery.

Edgar Allan Poe is thought by some to have been a victim of cooping. Cooping was a form of 19th century voter fraud in the United States. Individuals were grabbed off the street by ‘cooping gangs’ working for a particular political candidate, kept in a room called the “coop” and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. When Poe was discovered  incoherent on the street he was not in his own clothes. Sometimes cooping gangs would force them to wear disguises to prevent them from being recognized by election officials, forcing them to vote multiple times. If they refused to cooperate they would be beaten or even killed.

(Alternate theories speculate alcohol, beating, murder, flu, and even rabies.*)

Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist

Inside-Out

1517933251746Like her hat, Carol wears her heart from the inside-out.

An unidentified woman seated herself at a table upstairs at Raven Cafe with a friend, positioning herself to look out through the stained glass art at the harbor. She smiled as Carol approached the table. Carol noticed the woman’s scarf, and the adjustments the woman made to keep it secure; she also noticed the coloring and pattern of the woman’s attire, and that of her coat and handbag.

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Selecting a hat from the shelf, Carol returned up the stairs after serving their meal. “Here, I want you to have this,” she said, handing the hat to the woman. “It matches your outfit.” The woman reached up to receive the hat. “How did you know?” the woman asked, smiling and shaking her head in disbelief. “Today was my last treatment.” Carol knows a “warrior” when she sees one, and “I just know, and I admire your strength,” Carol said.

Carol Mason has shared the comings and goings at Raven Cafe for over 11 years. One of her greatest gifts is noticing a need and responding from the inside-out, sometimes in cahoots with others. Whether taking time to ask about someone’s well-being, finding a home for a kitten, folding and contributing over one thousand pounds of gently worn clothing to a charitable organization, or tying more winter scarves on the cafe’s pole for others in the community, Carol does whatever she can to share her time and talents.

1517933207649From first dates to new families, from beginnings to brave new adventures, she engages in the life journey of others. Her favorite travels, however, are with her husband, Dean – on a “gypsy trip”  – vacationing in an RV with no destination! She enjoys life remaining a bit of a mystery!

The creator of Mason Made Crafts currently features her acrylic loom knit hats (which can be special ordered in wool if desired), earrings and a Chai Tea Latte mix on the shelves and available for purchase at Raven Cafe, but it’s her sincerity (and the humble smirk, which may indicate she’s up to something) that you’ll treasure most at your table.

We love how she wears her hat!

Story submitted by

SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist

 

Uncover the Truth, and Be Wed

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“A Valentine” by Edgar Allan Poe was first presented publicly in 1846 at a literary salon. The name of Poe’s valentine was hidden in the poem. It is believed Poe met her in person while she was separated from her husband and Poe’s wife was becoming increasingly ill. Some described their relationship as a only a friendship, while others surmised more, but the couple never admitted to anything, nor did they ever wed (I’ll share Poe’s secret valentine with you at the end, if you don’t already know).

 

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Eager to wed your Valentine?

Consider making it memorable at Raven Cafe! The Poe-themed venue provides a unique literary salon with all the amenities available for celebrating “I do.”

Pastor Pat of Pastor Pat Ministries is offering a free simple wedding ceremony for up to 25 traditional or same-sex couples from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, at Raven Cafe! Couples must submit a valid Michigan marriage license and provide two adult witnesses for their ceremony. No fee is required or expected, but we’re certain Pastor Pat would appreciate a token honorarium! Visit the pastor’s website at www.pastorpat.net today!

 

Now, try to uncover the truth in the infamous poem, originally titled, “To Her Whose Name Is Written Below.”

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Lœda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!—they hold a treasure
Divine—a talisman—an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—
The words—the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet’s, too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—
Still form a synonym for Truth.—Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

Frances Sargent Osgood

The name of Poe’s valentine is revealed by taking the first letter of the first line, followed by the second letter of the second line, and on and on to the end of the poem. The resulting acrostic spells the name of American female poet, Frances Sargent Osgood.

Please be my literary valentine.

Yours truly,
SK Mabry, Library Media Specialist, Raven Cafe

Bamboozle Unmasked!

Hi there!

“Oh, puppy farts…” I’ve been asked to unmask. Sometimes it stinks, like puppy farts, to have to share your secrets.

I’ve even been known to disguise myself as Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy to avoid unveiling my true identity and remain a bit of a mystery– I AM GROOT in those regards!

Now that I’ve been asked to disclose who the new Raven Café Librarian is hiding behind the blue police phone box door on the 2nd floor, I’ll open the door and let you in on another little secret: like the Dr. Who series, my world inside is much larger than it appears on the outside.

I’m happiest looking at the world through a child’s eyes, and that’s the only way I discovered an orchestra. Did you know that’s what a group of crickets is called, an orchestra? I didn’t until I heard them singing in a willow tree while working in Daytona Beach, Florida for three years and investigating who the voices belonged to. It was no common cricket!

Now take a moment to examine your thumb (someone else’s will work, if you don’t have one) and notice the distance from the top down to the second knuckle; that’s about as tall as they are after their third molting and they dress in clothes, only you can’t spot them unless you can be as a child, like me, and believe they exist. They’ve made life unpredictable for a diverse foster family and, recently, I discovered these mischievous crickets, Bamboozles, can be found almost anywhere, hoodwinking whomever they choose and changing the course of their lives.

In fact, I’m certain Bamboozles brought me to Raven Café last year on my quest for gluten-free menu options and a great cup of coffee, resulting in my recent return to fulfill my vision of becoming a children’s writer in residence. Raven Café feels like the kind of place you can be your quirky self and probably why a Bamboozle guided me here – I actually dreamt of readers one day coming to the café after the Bamboozles’ stories are published, just to see if there’s a Bamboozle hiding behind the door. Oh, how I hope I am!

Formerly I was all business, working in healthcare and legal offices to pay the bills for three decades, but that all gets too serious, ya know? I dabbled in freelance journalism, creative writing, children’s programming and community theater. Since I’ve given my bills away (thanks, honey!), I’ve found my voice to write children’s literature full-time. Bamboozles have given me the courage to take the leap and settled me into a tiny 651 square foot home on the banks of the Belle River in Marine City with my husband, Robert, and an extremely smart poodle named Ilsa.

As your new librarian at Raven Café I look forward to maintaining a comfortable literary environment and keeping you posted on what’s happening. I encourage you stop in and say hello, connect with me through email, or to drop off the last great book you read at my door to share with others- perhaps include a note telling me about your experience at Raven Café and why you think others might enjoy what you’ve read!

Yours truly,
Susan Mabry, Raven Media Specialist

digger

Michael Martin “Digger”

Breakfast, anyone?

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 9:00 am on weekends at the Raven Cafe, and the friendly staff is ready to get your morning started out right. Along with an assortment of breakfast items on the menu, you might want to try a house special called the Grave Digger’s Blanket.

Michael Martin, who’s been with the cafe since 2005, originally developed the combination of seasoned hash browned potatoes, skillfully grilled, smothered with your choice of cheese and topped with an over-easy egg, for his children. After preparing it for a server one morning it became a popular special request among regulars, and eventually a favorite on the Raven Cafe menu.

Who is Michael Martin? Friends know him as “Digger”, and soon enough we’re all friends at the cafe. He smiles when you ask him how he got the name. “It was a stage name,” he explains, “assigned to me when I worked as a lighting specialist for a band called the Salty Dog in Galveston, Texas.” He continued to use it as he traveled north to work on construction sites, because as he said, “when someone yelled ‘Mike’, every Mike turned around, but when they yelled ‘Digger’, there was only one.”

The oldest of four children, all boys, “I was a home cook. I learned many of the household cooking and crafts, including how to crochet and knit. I enjoy listening to people’s comments from the cafe as they enjoy the food I’ve prepared. My proudest moment at the Raven was when a young finicky eater tried a bite of their mother’s Grave Digger’s Blanket and went on to eat the entire thing!”

So dig yourself out from under those warm covers and head to the Raven Cafe for a warm breakfast. Try the Grave Digger’s Blanket, if you dare, and meet Digger if you’d like. He’s a great storyteller, avid collector of artifacts, and one of many friendly faces you’ll find at Raven Cafe! Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. on weekdays and until noon on weekends- come share the morning with friends!

Images & Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist