Another Cup

I grew up drinking Yerba mate and black tea with milk in the afternoons. I hated the taste of coffee. It tasted bitter, but I trained myself to like it. Maybe because I smoked cigarettes and that lead to coffee drinking. You can’t smoke without a cup of coffee, just like you can’t eat a bagel without lox and cream cheese. Coffee became my smoking companion, and when I quit one day I didn’t know what to do about my coffee habit. It’s partner had died. I left it alone to get cold in the cup.
Then one day I realized tea wasn’t strong enough so I went back to coffee. Solo. Black. That’s when I discovered the depth of flavor. It wasn’t a black drink. It had the complexity of wine. Now I needed to find cigarettes that were worthy of it. Or maybe not. I’d try the single life for a while. I would experiment with different beans and discover their complex personalities.  cropped-photo143.jpg
The light roasts were too bland, unfocused, I lost interest quickly. The medium roasts were intriguing, and they promised an experience, but didn’t deliver. The dark roasts made my head turn and my heart pump. Viennese coffee made me swoon. Chandeliers, ballrooms and waltzes. Rich and dark and elegant. Could I be paired with such an elixir? Would it be possible?
 
the fragrance of stars
after the storm
a sudden longing
Calvin says, “Oh my gosh, you’re turning literary on me. Now I’ll find literature in my bed.”
beagle

Christmas Craziness

FullSizeRender (3)

This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!

The things one sees during the holidays.

I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive.  FullSizeRender (11)Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.

I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.

FullSizeRender (12)

Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.” beagle

The Neighborhood Whizzes By

Dogs are reigning in the neighborhood where I work. The weather has been so lovely this week I decided to take a walk. I met Leo, the magnificent British bulldog, Leslie, a four-month old Sheba Inu born in Japan, and Hildie, the Electus Parrot. She was breathtaking.

“Is she friendly?” I asked.

“Only with men,” her owner said.

So I kept my distance. She posed for me as a consolation prize. She never took her eye off of me. IMG_9842

People were out sunning themselves in the park, walking their dogs, chatting with friends, and of course drinking endless cups of trendy coffee at $3-$5 dollars a cup.

It was even warm enough for a ice cream cone from a pop-up, except they hadn’t opened up yet, but if they had, I would have ordered the brown sugar with cinnamon cookies, or maybe the cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips. Who thinks up these flavors?

I marvel at how quickly a neighborhood is gentrified. Ten years ago it was the homeless, the prostitutes, and the few people that lived here that dotted the landscape.

Today it’s brand new modern condos, trendy restaurants and fashion shops. More and more techies in packs roam the streets looking for food and coffee and are willing to pay top dollar for it. My favorite second-hand bookstore was forced out of business because the owner of the space was demanding double the rent. The Italian restaurant next door, a local hang-out with good food at reasonable prices, was kicked out, too.

The change-over has been at lightning speed. And ruthless.

I miss the old places because I knew the owners. Today I see strange faces behind a counter. And you know they’ll be gone tomorrow.

Calvin says, “Leo, huh? I’d have to weigh in on that one.”beagle

Stop Eating If You Want to Be Healthy

Are you reading about healthy eating lately?

I want to scream.

Corn is out, beef is in.   artichoke

Wheat is a no-no, it gives you a fat belly, but chicken is good.

Dairy is terrible, full of hormones and antibiotics, but tofu is worse, so go for quinoa.

Rice has arsenic in it. Arsenic? Yep, in the water.

Potatoes are suspicious. Why? What have they done to anybody?

Sugar, alcohol, and caffeine are poison. There go the bakeries, the beer and wine makers, and never mind the coffee growers in Central America.

Chocolate gets a bad wrap, too. (Spelling intended)

It’s utter confusion out there.

How do you shop and what do you eat?

Today I just read Valerie Comer’s blog who wrote, “I love eating chemicals and pesticides. After all, if this stuff preserves food, it will preserve me, too. Won’t it?” http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/11392-27-reasons-to-avoid-farmers-markets-satire.html

That’s a funny way to deal with it! She makes a good point.

Calvin says, “Kibble? Where did that come from? Probably some marketer’s brain fart to turn scraps into money.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s With The Coffee Controversy Again

We’ve been told forever that coffee and caffeine were bad for our health.

So we cut back from 12 cups a day to 6.

Still too much, said the doctors, but we ignored them. Caffeine withdrawal headaches were like death. You got all the flu-like symptoms of weakness, tremors, and nausea without the flu. Who wanted that? At least with the flu you got the added benefit of calling in sick from work.

Our bodies clamored for caffeine and we said yes.

Besides, coffee wakes you up in the morning, and keeps you purring during the day. It also gives you energy, a fake energy but who cares, energy is energy.

And it’s always a great finish to a good dinner. A great excuse to have a conversation. And a must-have if you’re a writer in a cafe.

This week we heard another report. It came from The New England Journal of Medicine. It said that frequent coffee drinkers have a chance of living longer than their de-caffeinated brothers and sisters.

People who drink the brew have a lower risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease, infections, and respiratory problems, to name a few.

If that’s true, I say haul in the grinders and let’s have a percolating party.

Of course, the study didn’t say if drinking more coffee would ensure better health. That’s for us to find out.

So crunch those beans and down that espresso.

Whether you drown your cafe in cream or soy, take it with or without foam, make sure it’s fully leaded and strong.

Coffee – it builds better bodies.

Calvin says, “Can’t stand the stuff. Now chocolate. There’s a theme. Send me a pound box. Assorted.” 

There’s Real And Then There’s Real

At a cafe. Lunch break. Two techies drinking coffee and talking.

Techie 1: You have no patience for obvious arguments. You want the different, the new, the next creative idea.

Techie 2: I want the real.

Techie 1: What if it’s not out there?

Techie 2: The real is always out there, even if I have to invent it.

Techie 1: If it’s invented then it’s not real.

Techie 2: People with no imaginations say that. Where did the laptop come from? Fifty years ago it wasn’t real.

Techie 1: I was thinking mountains, storms, earthquakes. That’s real. Could there be categories for real?

Techie 2: I guess. Maybe theory vs absoluteness. The laptop started as a theory but became an absolute.

Techie 1: And an earthquake is an absolute and will never be a theory. We’re talking origins.

Techie 2 – checking his cell phone: That’s way too philosophical for me.

Calvin says, “Good grief. That’s enough to scramble my beagle brains. How about we talk farts and bad doggie breath? Now that’s real.”

Don’t Follow Me

“There’s something intimidating about all this social media stuff,” Mark said over a cup of coffee. “For example, let’s take Twitter. I don’t want to be followed. Who wants to be followed?”

“The younger generation, they love that stuff,” Leslie said as she sipped her double-decaf espresso with a hairline’s worth of foam on top.

“But why?” Mark said.

“It connects them to their friends and family,” she said.

“What’s wrong with the phone or a letter?” Mark said as he sipped his coffee. His coffee was the real kind – strong and black in a cup. No whipped cream. No double shot anything. No flavoring. Just coffee in a real cup.

“Too time consuming. These kids have been raised on instant gratification – from a mother’s breast to tweeting. That’s why these platforms are so popular. There’s no work involved,” Leslie said. She was sporting a miniscule foam mustache on her upper lip. She looked like a milk commercial.

“Too ridiculous for me. I wouldn’t know how to use them anyway,” Mark said.

“Don’t you want to stay connected to me?” Leslie said with a gleam in her eye.

“I thought we were. Twenty years ago when I said, ‘I do.'”

“But you’ve been a bit distant lately,” Leslie said.

“I have?”

“Yes. You’re in your own world. Don’t know what you’re thinking. Makes me nervous.”

“Don’t be. I’m only thinking of you,” Mark said finishing his coffee and putting his cup back on the saucer with a real clink.

They both got up and walked out of the coffee shop.

Suddenly Mark’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out and opened it. “Let’s talk about me then,” the text message said.

Calvin says, “All this fuss about connecting. That’s what hounds have been doing for years. It’s called packs. We run and bay and get all sweaty together.”