Coffee Perk

I ran outside in the drizzle, two damp miles.  I’m going to make this a cutback week.  I reached a mileage goal last week and my legs let me know:  “Enough!”  I plan to spend this week doing a lot of stretching after each run and fine-tuning my diet a bit.  More on that later.

We’re back to steady rain.  Yesterday’s is a good memory, smallish piles of it plowed into corners of parking lots and streets.  Church shrank to one service yesterday due to inclement weather. Several families couldn’t make it out of their driveways.  We have a few micro climates up here.  Our house sits at 23′ above sea level.  We get the least amount of snow, generally.  Hoodsport, Union and out that direction get twice as much, if not more, than we do.  It’s crazy.

I’ve been twitted for not writing about coffee much lately, which is in my blog’s tagline.  Apologies.  Which brings me to today’s topic. Say hello to my favorite kitchen appliance, Mr. Coffee.  Isn’t he a handsome devil?

However.  Despite Mister’s best efforts, I can’t seem to wake up today. I want to curl up with my good book and drink coffee all day.  In fact, I have a partial cup I’m nursing now.  I hope I don’t regret this at 2:00 a.m. when my brain is doing a whirling dervish impression.  My eyes sit at half-mast, my brain on low.  Coffee, why hast thou forsaken me?  Why don’t you rouse my sleeping synapses?  At least I’m not in TMI danger today.  Little to no human contact, thankyouverymuch.

Coffee, mysterious
Import from tropical lands
Banishing brain fog.

Wikipedia says:  Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of many studies; however, results have varied in terms of coffee’s relative benefit.The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, coffee can worsen the symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, largely due to the caffeine and diterpenes it contains.

Well, I have no idea what diterpenes are but they sound like ancient Greeks to me.  Didn’t Diterpenes write The Iliad?

Raise your hand if you’re glad coffee is a legal substance.  Caffeine is a beautiful thing.

Later on, I had a revelation.  The rain ebbed and flowed. As I drove home from shopping, I saw the trees drip.  I passed the towering Douglas firs, standing tall and silent in the misty wet.  I smiled. The weather differs somewhat every day.  Shouldn’t I give myself the same freedom? This is home.  I will survive.  I can put up with a little temporary brain fog.  I will leave the calculus equations to others.  To quote Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Best Laid Plans

For day 9 of Janathon, I ran 4 miles.  I ran on the treadmill because it’s raining cats, dogs, hedgehogs and grebes outside. I would have run 5 but my hip kept locking up.  I ran really slowly, too, because most likely this will be my longest run of the week. I had to stop several times and stretch it out.   Sweaty and disappointed at not meeting my goal, I packed it in.  Lesson learned?  I’ve probably written this before:  I need to spend a good amount of time at least once a week doing deep stretches.  I decided to call this a cut-back week, as last week I clocked 15 miles.  On to the next topic.

Ever felt like this?

Every year, I receive one Christmas present I have no idea what to do with.  I cast no aspersions on the gift-giver.  The thought really does count and I am grateful.  A few times I’ve been able to incorporate said gift with some creative thinking.  Sometimes I can regift things (ssh!)  to a kinder, gentler home.  Other times, Goodwill gets a donation.  What do you do?

I had coffee with my dad this morning. It’s so great we live in the same town and can get together easily.  I like this particular coffee shop.  Yet by the time I leave, I reek of coffee.   Small disclaimer –  I didn’t sniff my socks.  However, my hair, jeans,shirt, hat, even my bra smell like coffee.   Better than a smoky bar, I guess. Maybe there’s a market for coffee-scented bras, especially here in the Northwest.  They could double as sachets. Anyone?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6

I read these verses today as part of one of my devotionals.  I find myself there today.  I am laying my plans out before Him and letting Him guide and direct me.  He is faithful to show me, even if I feel a little scattered.

That’s What It’s All About

Ted

So, I’ve been getting the feeling it’s never been about sugar, or fat, or salt.  Giving those things up can be helpful.  My waistline thanked me for eating less sugar.

But God didn’t care.I know!  Here I am, willing to lay down the beautiful, tantalizing sugar.  It sparkles so beautifully in the bowl!  Makes everything taste just a bit better.

But God didn’t care.

He has always wanted my heart.  Sugar, like other good things, can get in the way.  If I spend more time lusting after the chocolate than desiring to spend time with Jesus and hear his voice, guess what?  I have a new idol.  What is an idol anyway?

An idol, according to the Free Online Dictionary is “an image used as an object of worship; a false god”, or, my personal favorite “one that is adored, often blindly or excessively.”  Yes.  That’s it, in a peanut M&M shell.

I’m willing to extend this a bit further.  The idols offer good things, at first.  They make us feel good.  Running does it for me.  Chocolate numbs the pain.  Coffee can improve my mood. Coffee + chocolate…well, need I say more?

Let me make this clear:  None of these things are bad in and of themselves.  It’s what we do with them that counts.  Like people who say money is the root of all evil, when money is only a tool.  Money can’t be inherently bad or good.  It simply is.  What we use it for matters.  When we choose it above people or conscience and everything else, it becomes elevated to a place of reverence in our lives.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. – 1 Timothy 6:10

When I turn *to* any one of these things – money, chocolate, running – instead of God first, it becomes an idol to me.  In that moment, I am worshiping a different god.  I am committing idolatry.  Money, chocolate and running exist in this world.  They can each be enjoyed, savored even, but they can’t take God’s place in our lives.  Ever.  They will forever play second fiddle to the love of God burning in our hearts.  Take it from someone who has made running and working out, fitness and weight loss very significant idols in her past.

As the rays of the sun fade away, I am reminded anew of how I need to be vigilant with guarding my heart and letting Jesus be first.

I realize this is not a fun-loving post. But hey – I hit Christianity, coffee and chocolate all in one post!  And please know I am telling myself this at the same time. I know some of you may disagree with me and buck at my strong conviction. Where is God’s grace? you may ask.  This may prove controversial to some.  All I ask is that you consider what I’m saying.  His grace remains, as does his His love.  But He is a jealous God.  He wants all of us.

Tripping on Coffee

mr. coffee

Today, we drive down to Portland.  We leave for Las Vegas in the morning.  No, not to gamble.  We’re meeting family there.  My husband grew up there and his brother and family still live there.  It will be fun to all be together again.

I learned something new today.  Don’t do ALL your laundry and pack on the same day.  Nope.  Don’t do it.  Just don’t.  It takes up your entire day.  Yes, you come home to clean clothes and maybe less laundry.  Or maybe you just do all the laundry you accumulated on your trip the day you get back from said trip.  Where is my maid?!

To totally change the subject, our coffeemaker finally has reached the end.  Oh, we can limp along, making nearly-full pots of coffee.  But put the filter in a little cockeyed, not quite fully centered, and coffee oozes out of the bottom of the machine.  We wake up to a teensy bit of coffee in the carafe and a delicious puddle on our sloping counter.  Awesome!  Amazingly, Jonathon rarely notices the coffee lake.  I end up mopping it up, cursing under my breath.

Sometimes it’s a sludgy goodness, black as coal.  It congeals on the hot plate, making a sort of paste.  Yeah.  It’s fabulous.  My chemistry teacher from high school, Mr. Hutchins, would be so proud!

Today, in between packing, paying bills and cajoling Zac through his assignments, I spent some time giving  Mr. Coffee a vinegar rinse. You load 4 cups of white vinegar into the machine and run it through the “clean” cycle.  Somehow, the machine managed to take 5 cycles to get it all brewed.  Even then, there was still some vinegar residue in the bottom.  I couldn’t see trying to get the last bit out, so I did the next step of regular water in the machine, a full 8 cups worth.  Twice.  Both times, true to form, it leached out onto the counter.  I mopped it all up.  The counter to the left of the machine is exceptionally clean now.

This machine has faithfully brewed us coffee nearly every day for the last 3+ years.  Our water here in Shelton is hard, loaded down with minerals.  We’ve cleaned the machine when the light came on.  We’ve babied it, made excuses for it. At one point, Jonathon even took it apart to check for blockages.  No dice. But over time and with repeated use, things just wear out.  It’s okay to replace them.  It’s okay to be done with something, to move on.

I’m sure there’s a spiritual application here, but I’m too tired to figure it out.  I suppose we could simply give up coffee altogether.

Nah.  Not happening.

Mr. Coffee, you have served us well.  Well done, good and faithful servant!  Catch you later.

Coffeemates

It's all of us!

It’s all of us!

On this drizzly, foggy, 100% humidity day, I celebrate coffee.  Join me!
Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! ~”Coffee Cantata”, J.S. Bach

We have a slew of espresso places in town but only a few have places for people to sit and enjoy.  One is a local joint a half mile from my house.  It’s independent.  They have great coffee and you can hang out and use their wi-fi.  Another is a bookstore, with an upscale, brighter vibe.  It’s nice.  It’s more girly and posh.  And then there’s Starbucks inside Safeway.  Meh.  Their coffee is consistent but the ambiance…isn’t.  The restrooms are right there, too.  The stench can be, uh, a deterrent.

Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven. ~Jessi Lane Adams
However, the Northwest is a coffee Mecca.  If you live here, you drink coffee.  In fact, I can only think of one person I know who *doesn’t* drink the stuff at all.  And he’s weird.  Probably due to caffeine deprivation.

Decaffeinated coffee is kind of like kissing your sister. ~Bob Irwin

We have at least a half dozen drive thru places in our  town alone.  It’s the drug of choice up here where it rains 9 months of the year.  I guess meeting someone for coffee would be the equivalent of  going out for drinks at a bar, only this is less hazardous for other drivers. Generally.  Since I’m not a drinker, I do not – would not – hold liquor well.  It wouldn’t be pretty.  I am the poster child for “knows she has a limit of less than one”. However, the same applies for coffee.  No double shots, please!  Nobody needs to see that.

I like my coffee strong, not lethal! ~M*A*S*H
Incidentally, there’s nothing about coffee in the Bible.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if God created it on the first day to help Himself get through the next five. But wait!  I think I found a scripture…
For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors–a land flowing with milk  coffee and honey… – Deut. 31:20<

So, I guess what I want to say is that coffee makes me grateful.  Over the last few years, I’ve made good friends with folks while sipping the joe.  Thanks for meeting with me. Thanks for giving this lonely girl transplant a spot in your life.  Thanks for sharing your heart even as we share hot water poured over ground-up beans.  Thanks for getting hyper with me.  Some of you have drunk tea instead.  Wimps!  No, seriously, I don’t discriminate.  You can drink hot leaf-water if you want.  Whatever.  Makes no never mind to me.  And if I can do something that makes me feel more French  (like hanging in a cafe sipping java and people-watching), bring it!

Here’s to you, coffee!  You make the world seem full of possibilities.  Like waking up.

I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

smiley coffee

All quotes taken from http://www.spillingthebeanschicago.com/quotes.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing

I have never heard the song.  But here.

Okay, not that I listen to it, I recognize the tune.  But that’s it.  I think perhaps I had a windup toy that played it as a child.  Go figure.

True confession:  I had to turn it off, even with Nat King Cole singing it.  Sad.  Perhaps if they did a ska version…

Our all-purpose English word, love, makes many applications of it possible. I love a lot of things.  On this high holy day of all things pink and heart-y, chocolate comes to mind.  Dark chocolate.  With or without mix-ins, I’m in.  I love coffee*.  I’m not sure how I would function without that lovely brew. I love roses and lilies and cats and music.  Sometimes, I love them all at once.

Jonathon and I have discussed the nature of love in friendships many times.  Each of us have friends of the opposite sex.  He works with pretty much all women and they’ve become good friends to him.  Sometimes, he even buys them treats to cheer them up.  Not flowers, people.  Candy, or a soda or something.  He appreciates who they are and how hard they work.  They get discouraged by the bureaucracy and frustrated with process.  He wants them to know their efforts matter.  And also…in some cases, he’s their boss.  No, not directly, but he’s in charge of online learning.  So when it’s his project they’re working on, what they contribute directly impacts his success.  The fact that they’re female does not inhibit his friendship towards them.  He doesn’t want to sleep with them.

Am I jealous of this?  No.  Jonathon brings me flowers.  He comes home to me every night.  I’m blessed enough to be married to him for 20 years now. We started out as friends and now we’re friends with benefits and a covenant.  Woot!

I have male friends, too.  I enjoy them very much.  I hesitate to tell them I love them because of how it would be construed. Love can be a confusing word as well, implying commitment, and all sorts of other attachments. I’ve written a sort of homage to men friends already, anyway.  Besides, talking about feelings is icky!  Jonathon asserts our culture has redefined love as sex.  So, if I show affection, it’s easily misconstrued as “let’s get it on”.  I believe our Christian subculture has done the same.  “Women are fer mating, matey!  Not for friends.” This is not always the case, but enough that it makes me wary.  It makes men wary, too, I reckon.

Today, I’m looking around at the love in my life and I’m grateful. I am glad for family and friends and all their kindness and insight brings to me.  Love does not have to be romantic or flowery.  It just is. I Corinthians 13 sums it up marvelously.  I may not tell you directly how I feel because we simply don’t have a good word for meaningful platonic affection towards someone of the opposite sex, but it’s there all the same.  Alas, I can’t use bromance.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

*Today’s post was fueled by a second cup of coffee.  All hail!

The Joy of Coffee

All hail!

The title for this blog is pretty ambitious.  How can I, a mere transplant from Portland, OR, relate all the glories of that brew?  Wouldn’t someone from South America or even Seattle be a better choice?

A couple of my readers have twitted me about not writing about coffee or chocolate (much), as mentioned in my blog’s (enormous) tagline.  And so, this post.

Alas, dear readers.  You are stuck with me.

This week was a wee bit short on sleep.  Every night, for the last 4 out of 5, Ruby awakened with either a bad dream or the sniffles.  At first it seemed faked.  I got a bit…peeved.  Yes, I realize I was questioning my own daughter’s veracity but hear me out.  Ruby loves taking medicine. I would shuffle downstairs, Ruby in tow, and mete out her allotted amount.  We’d then march back upstairs and I’d tuck her in.

You’re probably thinking, Silly, why didn’t you give her the medicine *before* she went to bed?  Yeah.  I thought about that too.  I did that  a couple of times. But she would be pretty okay when she went to bed.  It’s just that 3:45 a.m. window when things went south and she could no longer breathe through her nose.  I kept thinking we could dodge it.  But it appears to be dust allergies, aggravated from spending 3 days excavating her bedroom.  By Wednesday, my husband even noticed I looked a bit peaked, my eyes ringed with purple circles.

“Do you want to sleep in?” he queried.  “I can get the kids their breakfast and take them to school.”

I diligently went back to my luxurious marshmallow bed and crawled under the covers.  And…nothing. Being an unrepentant morning person, once I’m up, I’m up. The thought was very wonderful and kind.

Now you’re wondering where I’m going with this rambling narrative.  Coffee. I like my dark brown elixir with milk, cream,or  half and half and plenty of sugar. It helped drag my sorry behind out of bed and into the rest of the day. Coffee fueled my activities and got my synapses firing. Am I the only one who appreciates that caffeine is a legal substance?  Probably not, considering the monster success of Starbucks and the 72 coffee shops/stands inside Shelton’s city limits.

Coffee is also a social beverage.  I’ve had countless meetings with family and friends over coffee. It’s an ideal first date, I’ve heard.  A little jolt of java and conversation. We could probably solve all the world’s problems over coffee.

I didn’t even start drinking it until my mid-20s.  I noticed sometimes that I awoke tired.  I was working out hard then and eating very little.  I look back now and wonder what I subsisted on.  Air?  Sunflower seeds?  Anyway, I started mixing coffee with hot cocoa, a “poor man’s mocha”, one of the engineers I worked with called it.  And I felt alive.  I could multitask my way through my nonstop day. Who needs a lunch break?  I had found supersonic fuel! I had performed a movement of Bach’s “Coffee Cantata” with my mom for my senior recital.  I got it now.

I still feel the same, with some reservations.  Coffee in the afternoon, regular or espresso, keeps me up.  I can’t drink more than 2 cups a day or I’m super obnoxious and edgy.  And the next day, I have a sort of caffeine hangover. Yes, I’m a coffee wimp.  But I can appreciate it for its magical properties. I will forever sing its praises.

Hark!  Jonathon just showed up with a mocha for me.  Let’s get it on!