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Of Mice and (Wo)Men

It all started with a mouse.

While sweeping out the hearth room of the CocoaJava, I couldn’t help noticing… how do I put this delicately… mouse droppings amongst the everyday dust and debris.  My first reaction was annoyance – a cafe’s reputation as a nice place to enjoy food and drink is NOT enhanced by the presence of vermin!  I finished sweeping the floor as clean as a whistle and hoped no patrons had noticed the droppings.  Or even worse, had noticed the dropper.

I took the trolley into town and bought a dozen strong mousetraps.  Not wanting to startle the patrons, I baited them with strong cheese and set them out of sight behind bags of coffee and storage boxes.  

I checked those traps every night for a week.  Nothing caught. Though, coincidentally enough, the cheese vanished each night, and I swear the local urchins have been smelling of gouda.

But the droppings continued to appear, so I knew the critter(s), were still enjoying the warmth of the cafe.  I needed to find their headquarters.   Late last night, I lit a candle and picked up my broom to begin an inspection of the baseboards.

An hour later, I collapsed on a sofa – hair disheveled, candle waning, broomstick scratched from being poked into the dozens of holes I had found.  No wonder mice were attracted to the cafe!  My walls had become a luxury hotel.  Much of the mortar holding the stonework together had been clawed aside to create little nooks, niches, and pockets for small animals to nest in. 

My sweet little coffee house has become the nesting ground of goodness knows how many little creatures.   But that realization was just the tip of the iceberg.

Why was it that small claws could so easily tear through the mortar holding my building together?  I thought about it, and the only answer that made sense was that the mortar, after all these years, was decaying.   It was, after all, hundreds of years old.  The stonework itself looked perfect – but stone lasts the ages.  And so I hadn’t noticed this underlying problem.

I really could have used that long overdue insurance policy, but then again, it would probably have come with clever exclusions to get around the issue.

And so, I am brought to a point of making a serious decision.  I cannot even comprehend what a massive undertaking it would be to re-mortar the entire building. Labor costs alone could outweigh the cafe’s worth.

And winter is coming.  Babbage is known for heavy snowfall…. the additional weight of snow on the roof just might be the last straw.   I cannot risk having tons of stone suddenly collapse and crush friends and neighbors!  

I believe I will need a few bottles of absinthe to help me think about what I have to do.

((OOC clarification of what’s going on:  Various factors are converging in a way that tells me it is time for the cafe to become part of Babbage history.  My RL has become very challenging both in my day job and tending to family concerns – I am unable to spend much time at the cafe or reading the BAR (durnit I cannot call it a not-ning!).  I stop in long enough to return stray objects, hang new posters, and that’s about all.  The final Clue From The Universe came last week when Ceejay suffered a large inventory loss (her own fault, don’t blame LL) that included the folder containing everything needed to snow up the Cafe and all her Christmas decorations.  When the tier runs out in a few weeks, I’d like to assume the cafe mortar finally gave way and crumbled in a heap.  No one will be injured, and all the stones can be hauled away by anyone wishing to use them for rebuilding (conceptual stones, that is).  I’d like to think that bits of the CocoaJava will live on, repurposed for other future buildings.   I have lived in New Babbage for almost 3 years, and please know that for the most part it has been an absolute delight.  I have so many memories.  I am very proud of New Babbage, and will continue to be a part of it whenever I am able.))




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  1. Serafina Puchkina Serafina Puchkina November 19, 2010

    ((I hope that mythical entity called Real Life settles down for you soon and you have more time to play — in that world and this. This must have been a hard, but necessary decision to make. *big hug*))

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      ((Thank you Sera.  It was a very hard decision to make, and I have delayed it for many months, not wanting to really take the big step.  With Babbage winter coming, and being unprepared to frost up the cafe… it seemed time. *hugs back*))

  2. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs November 19, 2010

    *sigh* And the last non-tavern hang-out spot falls by the wayside. *sniff*

    ((I do understand, of course, but dang it, I’m gonna miss that place.))

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      This is a city of builders and engineers.  Perhaps someone will be inspired to build the next non-tavern hangout! 

      And while I am not religious, I do find this passage in Ecclesiastes to be very pertinent:

      To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox November 19, 2010

      *whispers* There’s a soda fountain in Babbage Square right next to Church of De Holy Innocents.

    • Rowan Xenga Rowan Xenga November 23, 2010

      Hey! Across from the Bucket is a very nice non-taverny teahouse!

      But I too will miss the cafe. I have several fond memories of it already in the short time I’ve been here.

      • Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs November 23, 2010

        Erm…not exactly the best of neighborhoods…

        Then again, since I seem to be heading to that general area, I may have to check it out…

  3. Jedburgh30 Dagger Jedburgh30 Dagger November 19, 2010

    ((You know how I feel about it, that there are many, many fond memories tied up in that build.  I also know that somethimes we have to do things in our best interests that are painful and difficult. *hugs, always*))

    Gazes out the window, and makes a note to send for a supply of beans for the winter.

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      My memories in the cafe are endless – I do understand!  From the day the building landed (given to me by Bob Streeter, in horrific shape – missing walls, primmed to the max), this place has been one heck of a learning and bonding experience.  Storytelling gatherings, tarot card readings, just slouching with friends, work parties, watching the Clockwinder sleep peacefully at the hearth, and even my alone-times fussing with that damn moroccan tile texture that STILL is stuck in many cracks) – I will never forget all the friendship and fun that happened under this roof!  

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      If it’s any consolation, no one is minding the blue candy jar in Truffles and Tribulations these days… an urchin with a sweet tooth would be able to stuff themselves stupid very easily!  (Try the Breezy truffle, it’s fun.)

  4. Stargirl Macbain Stargirl Macbain November 19, 2010

    oh NO! There must be someone willing to buy that lot and save the build! I have so many memories of the Cocojava…..*gets all nostalgic*

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      I can’t think who would be insane enough to want to buy a crumbling building! ;)  

      It makes me very happy to hear people saying they have good memories from the CocoaJava.  To me, this means it was a success!   Thank you.

  5. Sheryl Skytower Sheryl Skytower November 19, 2010

    *begins to weep*

    I iz no happy…


    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      Psst. Dear little dragon friend.  We do need to get our picture taken together in the cafe very soon!  RL needs to give me a moment’s peace to do that. 

      Also, I don’t think you have yet realized it, but those cabinets in the sweet shop are absolutely STUFFED with cookies. I keep meaning to find time to set them out… but I am sure the rather weak lock system on the doors will keep them very safe.  No reason for me to worry that a small scritch of a metal fingernail might just snap the lock.  *eyes you meaningfully*  


      • Sheryl Skytower Sheryl Skytower November 19, 2010

        *stops sniffling*

        *digs out HUGE sack from cupboard*

        *begins casually running towards the Cafe*

        ((email incoming this weekend – RL indeed!))

  6. Breezy Carver Breezy Carver November 19, 2010

    Dear Ceejay ,

    Your choice of passage is just right ..
    (( we too have chatted about this as  you are a dear friend and a good Allie to many )) 
    here is a  special poem to you  from me ..  *smiles*
    as you know, I adore  Robert Frost
    Fair winds and gentle journeys :)
    I wish you many a bright Stars to guide you !!
    always breezy
    by Robert Frost
    How countlessly they congregate
        O’er our tumultuous snow,
    Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
        When wintry winds do blow!–

    As if with keeness for our fate,
        Our faltering few steps on
    To white rest, and a place of rest
        Invisible at dawn,–

    And yet with neither love nor hate,
        Those stars like some snow-white
    Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes
        Without the gift of sight.

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      What a beautiful, peaceful poem. Thank you, Breezy.  I will watch the stars!  

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      Oh, clockwinder!  I think the question is more ‘where can’t you sleep?’ *laughs*  You are welcome at many hearths in New Babbage – and I hear you have a cozy hammock, too.  When the tumble comes, you are of course welcome to gather up the hearthstone and keep it for yourself, if that’s of any help! 

    • Zaida Gearbox Zaida Gearbox November 19, 2010

      Don’t you haff a house, Mr. Tenk?

  7. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin November 19, 2010

    mice? you should have called… not as tasty as voles, but…..

    I came across the Cafe when i first started spending more time in New Babbage, always found a welcome and often people to play to – the open aspect is so inclusive.  I will miss wandering past it as i amble around New Babbage looking for people to peste…. errr…. chat to, it is a familiar landmark, always bringing a smile to my eyes :-)

    Maybe it is time to take a small camp, for a lady in reduced circumstances?

  8. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

    Oh, but I didn’t want anyone to KNOW I had mice!  Fine dining establishment and all, you know. Reputation to uphold.

    One reason I left the front of the cafe open was so the patio area would be a magnet to passers-by.  I’m glad that worked for you!  I think people are more apt to wander into a place if they don’t have to eye a door and wonder what’s inside or if they are welcome to tromp in.    

    Heh. A small camp is one idea… though considering Ceejay’s vices, I have a feeling she might start hiding out at a certain hidden place over by the Absinthe house.  Oh dear…..

  9. Jimmy Branagh Jimmy Branagh November 19, 2010

    ((Jimmy, having heard the news, hiked slowly over to Clockhaven.  To the CocoaJava.  He sits on the wall for a bit letting his eyes wander and playing memories against his skull, then hunkers down behind the wall to sleep.

    Perchance to dream …))

    Thenks faw th’ memories Miss Ceejay! Ifn ya foind ya need a plyce ta sleep just ask.  Oy know where awl th’ good spots are!


    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 19, 2010

      Hoy, Jimmy!  Ya know, the silver lining here might be that Ceejay gets to re-live her own urchin days.  Maybe she can run with the short crowd now and again. 

  10. Blackberry Harvey Blackberry Harvey November 20, 2010

    Miss Writer, if someone wanted to take over the space and the building intact, would that be something you might want to arrange?


    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 20, 2010 – lets talk in email, Blackberry!  I had another inquiry, and I’d like to talk more out of the public eye… for now!  Scheming n’stuff. And thank you.



  11. Livius Alectoris Livius Alectoris November 20, 2010

    A long time ago, a writer named Karl Kraus described the life of a family that he had never met, watching the ruins of its house. The Cities are built by layering of memories too.
    I’m an artist with no money, but I hope that someone or a group can take over your Cafe and  rebuilt it, maintaining its (and your) memory inside New Babbage.

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 20, 2010

      Such a beautiful reply – thank you.  I understand this, too. When I walk into an old building, I can literally feel it’s history wrapping around me, teasing me to understand it.  It’s partly why I love working on an old university campus, with buildings going back to 1855.  

      I intended the CocoaJava to be a very old building, holding many memories and secrets of New Babbage, even more than Ceejay could ever know.  Some of it’s history is in the notecard you can grab from the sign on the easel near the sidewalk.  Some of the history was never recorded – some of it might have been awaiting discovery somewhere in the building.  Maybe other Babbage families recall stories told by their grandparents of the place.  It’s always been there (or so I say) and I am sure others know things, too.

      The cafe may be saved – I have been in email with some trusted friends since last night.  Will see!  And you, being an artist with no money – get over there and ply your trade on the patio floor!  Street performers are welcome, as are any sort of artist who can show their stuff.



  12. Victor1st Mornington Victor1st Mornington November 20, 2010

    Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeejay :(



    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 20, 2010

      Arrrrrghhhhhh, Viiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiictor, stoppit!  You’ll make me cry, dammit! 

      As it turns out… there may be hope for the old place yet.  Stay tuned.  I still need to step aside, but maybe we can still make you smile! 

      And hey – if circumstance changes and I have a bit more Babbage time, I can always rent a room in the hotel. Win/win?


  13. Wiggy Undertone Wiggy Undertone November 20, 2010

    Awww!  I am sorry to hear this CeeJay.  You are one of the first people I met in New Babbage, and I count you among my closest friends.

    Fair winds!  I do hope we will run into each other from time to time!

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 22, 2010

      I’ll still be around for various events and occasional wanderings!  Just as point of clarity (some folk have asked), I’m not leaving SL.  I still have the Java Jive in Seraph City and Ceejay’s ‘little sister’ is a budding seamstress and clockmaker in New Toulouse Bayou.  I still love New Babbage and will be around.   

      I’m streamlining many facets of my life now in order to accommodate family needs and some big changes in my day job.  But I’m not walking away from my friends or this wonderful city – I just need to drastically scale back. 

      And He-Whom-Fish-Art-Named-For, you are one of my good friends and favorite people, you know that!  *hugs*


  14. Glaubrius Valeska Glaubrius Valeska November 21, 2010

    I’m something of a loner, but you have been a reliable presence since I took up in New Babbage a year ago; an integral part of the personality of the City.  And now here I am, kinda misty….

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 22, 2010

      Mister Valeska, you honor me with your kind words.  I have a tendency towards being a loner too – I understand.  *offers a hanky, slighty absinthe scented*

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 22, 2010

      /me waves over to my first Babbage landlady – the woman who gave me my first warm welcome to Babbage, and is one of the finest builders I have ever known, plus is a true friend and fun personality! Oh and has great taste in music (I blame my addiction to The Divine Comedy on YOUR music stream back at Her Dark Materials)

      For you, Bela.  Cause you got me hooked on this.

  15. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse November 22, 2010

    Far too many people leaving. Just stop it, all of you!

    • Osric Worbridge Osric Worbridge November 23, 2010

      I agree your Grace. I am finally doing well enough I bought land, and everyone keeps on leaving. Stop it people! I blame this Exodus on Gus.

      • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk November 23, 2010

        Blame Gus! Brilliant!

        Now stop it. You are making me one very nervous estate manager.

  16. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 22, 2010

    Ahem, Edward!  I’m not leaving! 

    • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse November 22, 2010

      Leaving/closing up your shop


  17. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 22, 2010

    Always a Babbager and will be in town and at events anytime my RL allows.  

    My heart is coated with soot.  It won’t wash off.


    • Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs November 23, 2010

      *wonders who’s going to say “er-ster”*

      • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 23, 2010

        Stayer/Un-landholdster, Book?

        It is impossible for me to not be a New Babbager, that’s simply a fact.  I’ve held land for three years, and it’s time I didn’t, is all. 

        *sings badly* Let’s call the whole thing oooooooffffffff*


  18. Ashiko Kuroe Ashiko Kuroe November 23, 2010

    ((Best of luck Ceejay, hope it all works out for ya.))

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 23, 2010

      thank you Kuroe… as it turns out, it has all worked out brilliantly. Stay tuned! 

      • Sheryl Skytower Sheryl Skytower November 23, 2010

        *begins holding breath*

        *realizes that clockwork dragons don’t breathe*

        *reaches for cookie from VERY full sack “liberated” from the Cafe*



  19. Mr Salazar Jack Mr Salazar Jack November 29, 2010

    Dear Miss Writer:

    There is indeed a season for all things and we are all just stewards for a time in all of the places we occupy. I am glad that you took the helm at the CocoaJava Cafe for a spell and applied your particular charms to its renovation. It has been in New Babbage for as long as I can remember and I cannot think of anyone who put more love into the place than you.

    I see that Mr Harvey has taken over the proprietorship for that lovely old building and has shown the same sort of attachment to it that you did. That bodes well for both New Babbage and her citizenry. For just as the Clockwinder stepped forward and took the helm of this city-state, thereby continuing it’s march into the future, so shall Mr Harvey be known as the one who took the cafe into his paws to allow it to remain a part of our lovely sooty city-state by the sea.

    I have a feeling that our Mr. Harvey is as fond of outcasts as another rabbit by that name. How fitting that he would feel the call to maintain this wonderful neighborhood gathering place as a haven for all who seek such a refuge. I look forward to seeing you about town, Miss Writer, and to meeting Mr Harvey during the course of activities about town.

    Be well!


    p.s. I note with nostalgic good feelings that the old entrance to the Community Stockyard still stands guard just across the street at its more recent location along the south border of the Academy of Industry property. Industry marches on!

    • Blackberry Harvey Blackberry Harvey November 29, 2010

      Thank you for your support, Mr. Jack.  

      Being an outcast myself, and named after two rabbits on the outskirts of their communities in different ways, I felt in my heart that it was the necessary thing to do.  The CocoaJava Cafe itself is a bit of an outcast, having been supplanted from its original spot to the new one, and having gone through several renovations.  I’ve always felt at home sitting in the cafe.  New Babbage would not be the same without the old grey lady.

      Ceejay went out of her way to make the cafe inviting in spirit as well as in design, and I can only hope to do the same as I put my own spin on it.

      It was a delight to finally meet you this evening.  Do pop by any time!


      • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 29, 2010

        I stopped by the Cafe this weekend, Blackberry!  I like the new look. It’s still cozy and encourages people to relax and converse, and WOW it’s going to be nice and warm there with that new contraption you installed!  Very well done.   Thank you for giving the ‘grey lady’ a helping hand! 

    • Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer November 29, 2010

      Sure, Jack… make me sniffle! *blows nose*  

      Mister Harvey’s offer to caretake the cafe was a blessing.  He’s a trusted friend, and he *gets* what I had created. I know the cafe is in good hands and will continue to be enjoyed!  

      I love that your stockyard entrance was preserved.  It reminds me of the Seattle Federal Building, and how it retained the entrance to the Burke Building, which formerly occupied that land.

      There is great meaning in preserving our past and our memories. 

  20. Sheryl Skytower Sheryl Skytower November 29, 2010

    I am happy to report that the pastries at the Cafe are just as good as before – I made a speshul trip to do a taste-testing!

    *pats bulging pockets*

    Although I thinkz I need to do another visit to Brunel Hall to compare them again. Last time I went there Victor pointed me to the Cafe and I had a duty to perform…

    *munches on cookie*

    Iz good!


    • Blackberry Harvey Blackberry Harvey November 29, 2010

      They’re sweetened with the Tears of Children!

      Seriously, I use Tears of Children brand baking sugar. It’s horribly delicious!

  21. Gabriell Anatra Gabriell Anatra November 29, 2010

    I love a good firepit.It’s just so home-y.

    * curls up and sleeps, smiling in front of the fire *

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