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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD


The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

http://tedsword.
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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Citrus & Sage: Requiem for a funky coffee shop

By Kelly Greenwood

Amidst the depths of winter, the buttercream house at 100 East and 130 North in Logan stands vacant, covered in a shroud of snow. A Coldwell Banker sign hangs out front, announcing the house is for sale. A taller sign colored with goldenrod, lime, rust, brown and shades of blue hangs nearby with the words “Citrus & Sage,” and “Gift Gallery and Espresso Bar” in simple, elegant letters. A large wooden patio nestles against the house, while a moss-dotted tree grows up through the patio’s planks. The short wrought-iron fence, on which people used to chain their bikes, lines the property and marks a ramp leading to the front door. Signs, once emblazoned with neon light, hang unplugged in the front windows, and a peek inside the windows reveals the benches, tables, and cushy chairs that populate the otherwise empty insides. A hand-written note taped on the inside of the front door window reads, “Thank you all so much for your patronage.”

Nancy Weimer, owner of Citrus & Sage, wrote that note when she closed the shop in August 2008. She and her family moved to California, where her husband was offered a job, and where they could raise their family in a more diverse setting, she says. They tried to figure out a way to keep the business going, but decided it made more sense for them to sell it.

Weimer and her husband purchased the house and opened Citrus & Sage in 2005 with the goal to bring members of the community together to a place where they could feel welcome and where they wouldn’t feel judged because of their background or lifestyle. From high school students to senior citizens, “everyone was welcome,” she says. “It gave people of all different walks of life a place to go.” This was the main reason she opened it, she says, and instead of being a “big, high-end coffee shop,” the shop was a community store. She mentions that she didn’t open her coffee shop to compete with nearby coffee shop Caffe Ibis, which lies practically around the corner from the house on Federal Avenue. Since Caffe Ibis closed in the early evening, it made sense to have a place where people could gather and have a cup of coffee at night, she explains. Often, she and her husband would end up at Village Inn because there was nowhere else to go in Logan to sit down and relax at night, she says. This, she says, gave her the idea for the shop in the first place.

Citrus & Sage didn’t just serve a cup of coffee, however. It offered a smorgasbord of beverages, from green, herbal and black teas to creamy chai lattes, Italian and French sodas with a gamut of flavors from coconut to lavender, smoothies, hot chocolate, Raven’s Brew coffee drinks, and Caffe Ibis espresso. It also offered a sundry assortment of snacks, including bagels, cakes, cookies, pastries, and huge cinnamon rolls with gobs of cream-cheese icing. The shop also carried jewelry, whimsical greeting cards, candles, and other gifts and acted as a gallery for local artists to showcase their work. The shop featured a different artist every month, Weimer says, and it also participated in the Logan downtown gallery walk.

The “gift gallery and espresso bar” was also host to many musical performances, Weimer says, including Jazz Night on Thursday and Saturday nights, which included musicians from the Utah State University Chapter of International Association of Jazz Educators. Citrus & Sage was also the locale of Helicon West, an open-mic reading series for local writers and poets that usually convened once every two weeks. Customers could plop down in cushy fabric or black leather chairs with a newspaper, or perch on stools at tall tables, drinking sodas with a loved one. People often sat in a mix of whimsical, beautiful chairs and tables and simple fold-out chairs, which were often set up in rows while the area around the bay window acted as a stage for performers and poetry-readers.

In the warmer months, the patio served as an outdoor stage for musicians- some local, some just passing through Logan. From jazz numbers to folk tunes, music would often waft down the street, while listeners would linger on the patio’s wooden benches amongst planter boxes dripping with flowers.

If the customer wandered up the steep stairs inside the house, they would have found a bookstore with a random assortment of used books lining several shelves. The bookstore opened in 2007, when Weimer decided to have a woman run the store for her. Once in April, 2007, the woman set up an incubator in the bookstore and hatched baby chicks, Weimer says, which brought in a lot of parents and young children to the shop. Before the upper level was a bookstore, Weimer and her employees hosted a wedding there.

The home also has a bit of interesting history, Weimer says. The woodframe house was built in 1897 and was once the home of one of three polygamist family wives. The two buildings just north of it, now home to Sunrise Cyclery and Global Village Gifts, respectively, were built for the other two wives and essentially have the same floorplan, she adds.

Weimer says she’s seen community interest to get the business running again. Some people are pushing to raise money in the community to run the business as a co-op, she says. But if anyone purchases the business, Weimer says she hopes they would run it as it originally was-- as a place that would bring the people of the Cache Valley community together with its welcoming atmosphere. A place where folks can “come in and stay a while.”

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