Tag Archives: coffee

Well, How Do You Like Them Apples?

11 Nov
Too cool not to immortalize.

Too cool not to immortalize.

I headed out the door at about 6:00 on Sunday evening to bring a cup of hot coffee to my husband who was burning brush in the back yard. He’d been out for hours, and, despite the heat from the fire, I knew that he’d welcome the hot, thick, coal-black brew that I personally wouldn’t drink unless I was forced to by a fire-breathing dragon.

And even then I’d choke and gag.

I wasn’t wearing gloves – a foolish decision in the 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures with wind gusts up to 40mph – so I held the covered coffee mug tightly and cherished the leaking warmth. Then I felt my pocket vibrate and, being the normal American cellphone addict, I had to check to see who was getting in touch with me on my lemon-yellow phone.

I reached one hand into my pocket, pulled out my phone, and saw though a haze of wind, cold, and tingling fingers, that someone from Freshly Pressed had tweeted about me on Twitter.

“What that heck?” I wondered, turning on the phone’s flashlight but not typing in my code to see the entire message. I got distracted right about then by the pitch black back yard and by my phone-holding hand which was quite cold especially when compared to my coffee-holding hand which was relatively toasty.

We have a big backyard. About 8 acres, with a meandering stream and lots of trees and grass that takes my husband 4 hours to mow, so as I traipsed back, following the glow of the fire, I forgot about the tweet I had received in my eagerness to get through all that blackness.

I reached my husband’s side. Handed over his coffee, gave him a kiss (while breathing in his smoky scent), and then said, “Oh! I think I might have been Freshly Pressed!”

“Really?” he asked in surprise. Not “I can’t believe that to be true” surprise but pleasant, “Are you sure you’re not imagining things?” surprise.

He knows me quite well.

I pressed the button on my phone, reread the partial message (“I think so, yes!” I said in a very happy tone.), coded in my ultra secret number, pressed the Twitter app, pressed “messages” and there, to my delight (and proving that I was a conclusion-jumper) it was proven to be true.

“I’ve been Freshly Pressed!”

The cows in the neighboring field were not impressed.

But I was.

Thank you so much to all of you new followers! I shall strive to not disappoint.

And to all of the rest of you who have suffered from a lack of Epiphany posts of late, I promise to do better.

I’m back!

Horray!
freshly pressed

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Coffee. It’s What’s for Breakfast.

25 Oct

My functional work space at home. Luckily a cup of coffee tastes just as good here as in a lavish study.

I am sitting at my favorite coffee shop, at my favorite table, drinking my favorite beverage: Orange Juice. Ha ha! Just kidding. That struck me as funny. (Maybe if they added caffeine to orange juice…who knows? The direction of the entire world could turn on such a thing!) Coffee, actually, is what I’m drinking. With lots of cream. Even better if it’s in a cute mug.

I began to drink coffee in 8th grade at my neighbor Tish’s house. Tish is from Mississippi – which, on Orcas Island, WA, automatically makes a person unique. She is one of those people who loves everybody as if they deserved it, and makes you feel special simply for being you. She drank her coffee with brown sugar and served it in heavy pottery mugs. Whenever I see mugs like that I immediately “see” her tall kitchen stools at her heavy butcher-block table and smell sea-scented air, log cabin and lolloping Black Lab. I felt infinitely grown-up sitting there, chatting away with Tish, holding that huge mug of cozy goodness – which, inexplicably, I drank black.

When I left the island I left coffee behind for a few years and when I picked the habit up again in college my tastes had changed. No longer could I take it straight and bitter, now I wanted it mixed with hot chocolate or cream. LOTS of cream. (But never hazelnut creamer anymore, thank you very much, because somewhere in there I OD’d on it and I haven’t touched the stuff since. I am a fan of Nutella, though – who isn’t?)

So many cute mugs! (These are all my favorites) How does a girl choose?! Each one has a story. The Peter Rabbit I bought for myself because I needed it. (Ha!) And the bird one I bought as a gift but couldn't bear to part with it. The handle-less one is from Berlin - The KaDeWe. The black polka-dot I got at a antique/junk store for one dollar. The Norse one Colin bought for me for Christmas a few months early, then forgot where he hid it for two years. The last bird one I bought on our honeymoon.

I actually did have one coffee moment in high school, from whence cometh my need for so much cream. I was with my mom in Paris, on a Spring Break trip from Berlin, and we ordered espresso and it came in those adorable little demitasse cups that no girl who ever played house as a child could resist. I took one sip from that tiny cup – feeling sophisticated in my pink Nikes and green Benetton sweatshirt – and I think I refrained from spitting it all over my mother, but I’m not entirely certain.

It was vile. I was scarred for life by that tiny cup of French coffee.

But my favorite coffee moment came after college. I met my husband at Covenant Park Bible Camp, in northern(ish) Minnesota. I was the Program Director and he was the Maintenance Director. (That pretty much sums up our marriage duties today as well.) One morning at breakfast in the Dining Hall, my mother (who was the speaker that week) saw Colin drinking coffee. Mom knew – though I think she was still in denial as to the real reason – that I talked about Colin inordinately more than the other staff members I worked with. She had never met this young man, however, so when we found ourselves right beside him (“How did that happen? Huh.”) I casually said, “Mom, this is Colin.” And my mother – bless her heart – said to Colin, “Oh, I see you drink coffee, too.” And she held up her mug, indicating that they were in the same coffee-drinking club together. “Joe-drinkers Anonymous” perhaps, as if this was an exclusive club, a rare and wonderful thing to find a fellow coffee drinker.

I don’t mean to poke fun. I’m sure she was feeling nervous about meeting this, her last daughter’s first real beau, but it just was so funny. So Mom.

My dear college roommate, Rose, gave me this mug when I complained once that I didn't have any cute mugs. Obviously, this need for cute drinking vessels has been an on-going concern of mine. Though the mug is 20ish years old, the chocolate-covered coffee beans are far less elderly. The spoon is from Berlin...and I could not resist it. The coaster is made by our daughter Katie.


“I see you drink coffee, too,” Colin and I will say to each other from time to time over our steaming mugs and we smile and I get goose bumps, because that memory is part of what makes us a family. Coffee – black, sweet, or cream-colored – is intricately connected with the things that bring me joy.

Including writing, here in this coffee shop.

What’s your favorite coffee memory?

Finicky? Me?

12 Jul

This has nothing to do with anything...other than I love it! This was taken in my parent's garden a year or so ago...I don't even know what flowers they are. Any ideas?

I am like a cat who fusses to be let out…then, after five seconds, fusses to be let back in. I am not proud of this fact about myself, but I’m afraid it’s true. At least where writing is concerned. I like the idea of writing at home as opposed to spending coffee money at a cafe…but when given the opportunity, I fuss to be let back in.

Right now I am alone at home. The house is quiet. I can actually hear the fan, the birds out the window, the wind in the trees. I am breathing air untainted by shrieks or arguments or Super Mario Brothers.

I am alone. And I am a little bit lonely.

I wrote last week about the writing process being a solo, and it definitely is. But this quiet-at-home weirdness is why I don’t like to write at home. Home isn’t SUPPOSED to be quiet. I have grown used, over almost 12 years of kids in the house, to tuning out noise. Home is supposed to have laughter, radios and sibling rivalry (well, I could do with a little less of that, thank you very much). It’s freakish when it’s so silent. Not even the washing machine is running. I feel like I’m in a time-out.

When I write at the café in town, I am alone…in the middle of a crowd. I am never lonely. It is never too quiet. I need background noise. I need something to tune out. And, living in a small town, I always see people I know, which I love. I enjoy saying “hi”, exchanging a few pleasantries, then going back to my work. I’m an introverted extrovert. Cafés work for me.

The trouble with tuning out noise at home is that the noise asks questions. (That sounds philosophical…but it wasn’t really meant to be…just representative!) The noise fights with its siblings and has to be reprimanded. The noise interrupts constantly and telling the noise to watch TV isn’t really a valid response.

Yes, at home, even when alone, I am distracted. The laundry. The dishes. A shower. The mail. Facebook. The mess. The couch. The book I’m reading. At a café I don’t need to worry about a thing except what words to type next. I smile occasionally. I pour myself coffee (that I didn’t have to be distracted in order to make). I sit in my corner and spread out my notes and I immerse myself in this alternate reality that I am creating. Occasionally, I question their choice of music.

But right now I’m at home, where the coffee is cheaper, albeit worse; my hair is messy, and nobody cares; and my computer battery won’t die on me because I forgot to bring my chord. (Yes, I speak from experience.) I guess, after all, there really is no place like home.

“Ok,” I tell myself. “Just enjoy. Use your time wisely. Be thankful for this moment with which Colin has gifted you. Keep your mind off the couch and the cozy, inviting thing that is naptime. FOCUS!”

“Ooooo…,” say the voices in my head. “Just look at those crazy birds, fighting over the grape jelly. Remember the time a pig wandered across the front lawn – right there – and into the corn field? And the time a pheasant flew into the living room window, breaking the double-paned glass the week before Thanksgiving and how you threw couch pillows at him to get him out of the house…and he survived? Ha ha! That was funny. You were alone then, too. Well, Lucy was here, but she was napping…” (Oh, a nap sounds good!) No! Focus! Lucy napping = writing time. Quiet time. More precious than gold. An empty house also = writing time…

WRITE, YOU FOOL!

Well, what do you know? I guess I have been writing…albeit in a stream-of-consciousness manner. I like to write like that…the way I talk. Yes, conversations with me tend to wander. Wander…wonder…I wonder what’s for dinner? Shoot. I’m the one who has to decide these things. (That still sometimes takes me by surprise, even after 15 years of marriage.) I wonder when they’ll be home? Oh. There’s the garage door opening.

Shoot. Sure is loud in here. How can a girl write?

PS – This may be a star magnolia! That’s our best guess so far!

Writing is Not a Group Effort

5 Jul

I spy...5 Baltimore Orioles! This is my view from my computer. Makes for some inspired writing!

I got a book in the mail today. The Forest for the Trees, by Betsy Lerner. Its subtitle is “an editor’s advice to writers” (Riverhead books, New York, revised 2010). I’ve been waiting with slightly worried breath for the mail-lady (the best and nicest mail person I’ve ever met) to drive dustily down our dirt road and deliver this nugget of wisdom to me. Today she came through…even sooner than Amazon.com said she would.

 
I opened the box. I took out the book, feeling slightly nauseous. I sat down with the book on the couch, legs curled up, coffee at hand. Now allow me to explain something here. I don’t enjoy reading non-fiction books. I don’t curl up and devour them the way I do fiction. Typically, I avoid non-fiction like the plague…which happens to be a huge topic of the most recent non-fiction tome I checked out of the library (677 pages, including index). I’ve skimmed 37 pages…not sure I can take any more. (Yes, I was trying to broaden my horizons. Trouble is, my horizons have a way of tunneling my vision until all I can see is the new Alexander McCall Smith novel on the end-table, tantalizing me with its Scottish dry wit.) I find the middle ages – and its plagues, excesses, and sins – to be a fascinating topic. I often do enjoy history…but I just can’t sit down and read it. It’s not cozy reading. And, to me, that’s what reading is all about.

 
Reading non-fiction makes me feel like I’m back in school. Yes, I liked school. I even voluntarily went back for more of it after the mandatory 12 years. 4 years of college PLUS 3 years of grad school. I’VE HAD ENOUGH TEXT BOOKS TO LAST ME THE REST OF MY LIFE, and that’s what non-fiction feels like to me: an assigned book which I have to write a report on, and nothing else is as good at stealing your book-reading joy than having to write a report on it. Yes, I enjoyed the topics of my degrees. No, I’ll never get my PhD. Enough already.

 
SO…imagine my amazement at finding that this book I bought as a type of research towards selling my book (hence my nausea at opening the box) is actually proving to be FUN to read! I’ve been researching how to write a query letter/book proposal, should I get an agent or not, which publisher should I begin with, etc….this is not exactly titillating reading. Not for me, anyway. Colin, my husband – he’s a researcher. He enjoys this stuff. I ask him, “What’s the population of such and such?” and, rather than giving me an off-hand guess, he finds out…right then. (Ah, the power of the internet.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy research from time to time. HOWEVER…the definition of hell in my book (figuratively speaking!!! Ha!)…or, at least one of the definitions in the book of Gretchen, would be to be stuck in front of a pile of dry research material at 3:00 in the afternoon with no coffee.

 
So, anyway, this new book…I’m only on page 37 and I have already had all sorts of, well, epiphanies! Here’s one of the most profound, to date (I may write on more in the future!): writing is lonely work…but it is done with the ultimate intent of sharing. (Note, I am not quoting her directly as I’m not entirely clear on the legality of doing so. I hope my summary is clear!) My first thought upon reading this concept: YES! I write in isolation, things that I hope to share with the masses. Writing is NOT a group effort (I HATED group projects in college!) – I mean, people can collaborate…but the actual writing of a thing comes from ONE head at a time. It’s a lonely event. It’s a solo.

 
AND YET…the whole point of writing anything down is for it to then be read by someone else…for it to COMMUNICATE ideas with people other than the writer. For it to be read and enjoyed/debated/appreciated. I do concede that there are types of writing that are private. These are written to clarify something to yourself/to exorcise ideas/to journal one’s private thoughts – though doesn’t any journal-keeper find themselves wondering at some point, “What will someone think if they ever read this?” But, these private diaries aside, we write for others. At least, people in my “profession” do. (I’m trying to think of myself as a professional…it’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but it all begins with attitude, yes?!)
We sit and write in secret…but with the purpose of later sharing those ideas together. In other words, leave me alone while I’m writing!!!! BUT PLEASE, pay a lot of attention to me once my book comes out.

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