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Posts tagged ‘Coffee’

Invitation

The boys hopped off their bicycles at the corner. Propped on kickstands, the bikes stood like trusty steeds by the watering trough awaiting their riders. One boy fastened his helmet to the handlebars while the other wore his. They strode to the door and entered the Starbucks store. I squinted at the activity from a nearby table on the patio.

Despite it being December, I sat outside the café in shirtsleeves, enjoying the sun shining into my eyes. I tried to write but pages of my notebook flapped like crows in the escalating wind.  I watched the bicycles and traffic and passersby with an increasing sense of urgency: Where are the boys? When are they coming out? The bicycle rims glowed and taunted me.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free.

Bicycle friends, unchained and free. © JustHavingFun

I grew up in cities—not particularly dangerous ones—places where you had to be on the lookout because bad things could happen. Even from an early age I knew if I left my bicycle unattended it might not be there later. I had a chain. I had a lock. I had a quick-release hub for the front wheel. One simply did not leave the bike unattended. To do that would be an invitation for a thief to steal my most prized possession! Why didn’t the boys chain their bikes?

The wind whipped my pages faster and blew over one of the bicycles. Another patio-sitter jumped up and righted it. I cranked my head toward the store. Where were the boys? A nod to the rescuer and I returned to my pages.

I’m a mother. My mothering powers expand and include all within my gaze… and beyond. My mom-sense hackles were bristling. Another gust toppled the same bicycle. The rescuer rose again, righted it, and I gave her a wan smile. Since I couldn’t write, I capped my pen and went inside.

“The wind knocked over your bicycle,” I informed two boys about 13-years old. One wore a helmet and the other was finishing a latte. The boys thanked me, and one went to peek outside. When he returned I turned my mom-powers on him. “Let me ask you a question. I write a blog and I’m curious: how come you didn’t padlock your bikes?”

Their innocence made me smile. “This place is so safe,” the blond one said. “You don’t have to worry about theft.” True, we were in a modern shopping village development, but I wouldn’t believe it. “I live down there,” the helmeted one nodded toward the gated community a quarter mile down the road. “Nobody ever bothers our stuff.” I nodded and listened without judgment. They felt unassailable. They excitedly told me about a Ravens football player they saw while biking to the coffee shop. All was normal in their world.

So precious. So fresh.

We were not so far from the dangerous, crime-ravaged city but we could have been in a different country. Less than 5 miles away houses sit abandoned and the poor abound. Storefronts hide behind barred windows and people meander on mean streets.  Here however, a boy drank coffee in the afternoon with his friend while their bicycles waited on the sidewalk. This verdant, safe suburb we sat in nestles behind an invisible, invincible curtain. These youths were wrapped in a butterscotch coating of safety and security.

You never know who you’ll encounter in a coffee shop. We chatted a bit, the mom-powered lady and the youths too candid to catch the irony of the situation. I bade them goodbye and pondered upon an upbringing so charming and charmed near Charm City. Though I ventured into the suburbs I couldn’t leave the city in me behind.

Happiness Is My Choice, 11

Windowsill

Looking up and outside all I see is possibilities.

Sitting on the sofa, glancing outside: the window blinds are open, sunlight illuminates the plants on the windowsill, the sky is blue, and  a mug of coffee steaming on a coaster — life is good.

I woke up. Yikes, those birds are loud!  Look! It’s a whole hour earlier than I’d planned to wake up. Better turn off the alarm clock so it doesn’t startle me later. Don’t want the toes to be cold; slide feet into the fuzzy slippers. My knees creak as I walk across the room. The mirror catches my eye. My hair looks like the rooster’s pride!

I woke up.

I woke up.

The furnace clicks on and the blower purrs warm air. An unseasonable freeze grabbed the region last night. I’m warm and decently clad. Heat some water for the coffee. Breakfast choices? I’ll settle for oatmeal, my old favorite.

Thank you G-d for starting my day with comfort and optimism. Did I ever thank you for the color green? Thanks. And thank you for hair I can simply tame with the pass of a hairbrush.

Starbucks Sentiments

Starbucks for Sale

Post-holiday sale items at Starbucks.

Today at Starbucks the featured Dark Roast was French Roast. Oooh la la! I wish I could bathe in it, breathe it in. Unfortunately, one grande-sized cup has about all the caffeine I can tolerate lest it keep me up all night.

On a frugal (and kosher) budget, a trip to Starbucks entertains me for less than three dollars. I generally order a plain, black coffee and eschew the frillier selections. If I’m feeling adventurous I’ll ask for whipped cream on top, but it dilutes the stark, intense flavor I adore.

One Starbucks is like another, yet different.  The combination of layout, clientele, music, lighting and noise level distinguish one from another. The one I’m sitting in tonight sports few electric plugs. I’ve taken to bringing an extension cord with me, fitted with a three-prong adapter, so I can sit at a table in the middle instead of hunching over a short table near the armchairs and plugs. The employee sweeping up said I’m the first person he’s seen do this. It’s subtle, and I hope nobody complains, or worse yet, trips over the cord.

Tonight, the atmosphere thickens with fog, and water droplets cling like jewels to the tree which is backlit by the parking lot’s spotlights. Feeling sentimental. It’s nearly the end of 2015. I’m reluctant to leave the coffee-infused atmosphere. I drained my second cup (decaf, naturally) an hour ago, but I keep thinking of more tasks to do while I have access to WiFi. Just one more word, just one more check-in. Just one more…

The rain began without my noticing it. I’m in coffee-land, computer-land, blog-land. The customers come and go. I suck the last drops out of my cup and prepare to go home, out of one cocoon into another.

Fall Back

Daylight Savings Time is over for the year. Did the change to Standard Time come easily for you?

In the USA, we turned our clocks back (“fall back” is the mnemonic) last Sunday morning at 2 a.m. Many of us are still suffering from the disruption. Sure, we got an “extra” hour of sleep on Sunday morning, but it is nearly dark at 5 p.m. here in New York City, and my head can’t wrap around the change. Disorientation confuses me. Aren’t I supposed to be asleep about now?

My friend’s baby awoke at 4:53 a.m. today. My friend was not ready to awaken at that hour and was not pleased. She would like the baby to sleep until 6 a.m. The baby cannot tell time, however, and wakes up whenever his body says to do so.  He’s probably thinking, “Hey! Where is everybody? I’m up. Why aren’t they up? Party time!”

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “It’s only 10 p.m. Why am I getting sleepy?” Although I’m a night person, this change disrupts my system. I awaken in full sun again, having just gotten used to the darker mornings. I watch the sky darken from my office window before I’ve left work. I don’t know whether to nap, eat, or crawl under the covers for the night when I get home.

Why has the length of daylight savings time creeped to become longer and longer? It used to be six months. “Check your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks.” That made sense when we changed the clocks every six months. Now it is eight months of savings and four months of standard. How many battery checks are ignored in April because it’s too soon since the last one in November?

I’m going to sleep now. Set the alarm, go to sleep, wake up, have coffee, go to work, have more coffee, leave work, eat dinner, go to bed. I’ll get used to it eventually… about the time we need to “spring forward” and change the clocks again.

Changing Signs

Changing of the times at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Changing of the times at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, © JustHavingFun

“Late Night with David Letterman” departs from Broadway’s Ed Sullivan Theater with the installation of the new sign: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” I’m sitting at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store across from the theater enjoying a bran muffin and rich, dark iced (decaf) coffee on a Monday afternoon. Something over there requires the assistance of several men, and involves a man-lift, dangling wires, and a cherry-picker. The work area appears dark though my side of the street is bathed with sunlight. The wires dangle from the underside of the marquis. What my eye detects readily, the camera fails to discern.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert Sign

Efforts taken to change the sign at the Ed Sullivan Theater

Life often has layers we see easily and those that are mired in the shadows. We train ourselves to avoid appearing to avidly eavesdrop, but by the same token, we fail to notice someone’s pain when it is socially uncomfortable. For instance, do you look a grieving person straight in the face? It’s hard.  I carefully watch people in public in hope of obtaining great photos, but I can’t be too overt lest it be construed as prying. I’ve seen great emotion but haven’t always been able to record it–it’s been too personal, even for me. A recent change is that sometimes I’ve asked if the person is OK or posed a question about what’s going on around my subjects. I’ve found that it’s all right to stretch past my comfort level. Most people respond positively. Some engage me further. So much for the stereotype of New Yorkers being tough. Another change?

Different cultures enforce different areas of personal space. It changes depending where you’re at. I’m very American so my space expands to fit me and my group. But what is my group? I often find myself on the subway wanting to join in on conversations I overhear. Sometimes I feel it’s OK to chime in, especially when I have knitting in my hands and sense people have questions. Sometimes an eye-roll and smile completes my silent conversation, like when we hear, “OK folks; it’s showtime,” and the performers start swinging from the poles. Sometimes I do comment. Other times I just carry on a conversation in my head. Is this a sign of something different?

So here I sit, sipping coffee and observing, wondering if the changing sign portends any changes … other than a new show and a new host.

Where Are My Glasses?

Where are my glasses?

These aren’t the ones I was looking for.

Where did I put my glasses? No, not that pair. My reading glasses. Nope, not them, those tortoise-shell looking ones. They’re progressives and I can’t read the greatest with them.

How about those ones there? Nope. That’s my last prescription that I just keep around in case I can’t find my glasses. I’m looking for the oval reading glasses I always wear on the tip of my nose ’cause I have to look over them to see anything. They’re a little twisted, sat upon, stepped on. Check between the sofa sections.

Hey! Where did these fake-o sunglasses come from? For that matter, where are my prescription sunglasses? Although… aviators haven’t been in style since…. They were in a big, hard, red case that snaps shut really, really hard.

Pink. Metal. Oval. Smallish. Bent. Mine. Where?

I wish I could find my glasses. Kitchen? Not on top of my head or tucked into my shirt’s neckline. Where did I use them last? Hmmm. They could be on the shelf with the extra glasses case. Couldn’t they? One can hope.

Coffee. Need caw—aw—aw—feeeeee. Need it now.

Oh, here’s an old pair hubby wore when we were dating. Wow, these are heavy. How did he stand it? Odd: why are they on the top of the desk? He’s had two new pairs since then.

Perhaps my glasses are by the computer. Or on the floor. Did I fall asleep with them on? Better check the bed. Under the bed. In the wastebasket. By the computer. Oh–I already checked there.

Wait, I have another idea. There’s a pair on the bathroom window sill, Michele’s old ones I keep there in case I need to stop in and read. Her prescription was similar to mine. Hmmm, didn’t remember how similar her frames are similar to my old ones before I got the progressives.

I remember I had them this weekend. Where could my glasses be? Didn’t put them in my purse, did I? Hey, here’s a £10 note! Wonder what that’s worth.

Concentrate. Glasses, glasses, reading glasses………..

Ramadan Hours

image

Ramadan commenced on Thursday, June 18, and will end on Friday, July 17. No grand commercial barrage accompanies Ramadan in the USA quite unlike the December holidays. The only evidence I’ve seen of it was this modest sign posted inside the fabric shop’s window:

Due to Ramadan
Store Hour
Mon – Fri
9.30 AM to 6.30 PM
Sat 10 AM to 6 PM
Sun 11 AM to 5 PM

I was hot. The turbaned shopkeepers greeted me with smiles and went on conversing in an Asian language I didn’t recognize (why I think I’ve an ear for languages is another story). The store was not icily air conditioned, unfortunately for me, but the men didn’t seem bothered. Although it was one of the hottest days we’ve had, they showed no discomfort. I, on the other hand, patted my face with a drooping tissue. When Ramadan occurs in the hottest months of the year, the fast must be a sure sign of devotion!

As a sewist (the latest term for someone who sews), I let my fingers do the looking. Every bolt of fabric, every roll of upholstery begs to be smoothed, pinched, and petted. Some fabrics, sirens like velvet, call out louder. “Hello fingers,” velvet croons. Others desire to be admired under different light conditions. Brocades, silks from China, and dichroic fabrics that appear to change color depending upon the incident light beg to be wiggled. I like to hold my hand under sheer materials, observing  its outline.

The Garment Worker.jpg

The Garment Worker” by Beyond My Ken – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikipedia.

I thought the Garment District would have Jewish shopkeepers, reminiscent of the famous statue of a tailor, “The Garment Worker” by Judith Weller at 555 Seventh Avenue. Not so. The majority of stores I entered on 39th Street were populated by Asian men, many wearing turbans. When did this happen?

I picked up a bolt of 45-inch wide stretch fabric with rainbow metallic threads. Yum. They hovered while I scanned my smartphone, trying to mentally calculate the yardage I’d need for an outfit while trying to Google a half-remembered pattern I sewed 22 years ago. I switched to a 60-inch wide roll of Indian embroidered cotton eyelet.  “Three-and-a-half yards,” I confidently said while not feeling so confident. At least the wider yardage will give me some leeway.

The shopkeeper calmly measured out the fabric while I dreamt of the creations I could make. I haggled for “$5 worth” of a coordinating rayon. I haven’t measured what he assured me was a greater length than I would have gotten for the quoted price per yard.

My purchases in hand, I headed to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for an icy coffee confection. Decaf, but with whipped cream. I followed no Ramadan restrictions and golly, I was hot.

Sitting in Starbucks

Knitting in Public - aqua afghan

Knitting in Public – aqua afghan at Starbucks, March 20, 2015

At a Starbucks in New Jersey this time, taking refuge from traffic as we travel to our Shabbos destination. An impossibly heavy snow started falling shortly before our departure. Snow obscures my vision on the road. We left early and I drive slowly. We’re early and stop to savor time and a cup of warmth. We’ll leave in an hour, closer to the time we’re expected at our hosts. My nostrils twitch in anticipatory pleasure, a nice cappuccino to soon pass my lips. We settle on the leather armchairs near the front window and wait for our order to be called. I wait; he goes and fetches the cups.

The lady in the corner knits. I see her following the instructions with her finger. Bright orange highlighter marks the lines. I ask what it is, outing myself as knitter. It’s an afghan, she says. A most captivating color of aqua green spills over her lap.

I guess her age to be in the 70s. Seeing I am wearing a headscarf and long skirt, she tells me that her mother was from Poland, the youngest of 8 children. This is a form of Jewish geography, the unconscious attaching we do to connect ourselves in time and space. Her grandmother was very religious, she continued, praying copiously. The grandfather died at 39 leaving a widow to cope with all those children. How they made it to the USA was not disclosed. Despite the religious grandmother, l can tell that she is not, but she’s Jewish, too. She wears youthful blue jeans and a trendy hairstyle. She peers over her bifocals at me, one finger on the page, the other hand gripping the knitting needles. 

When I came in she had been talking with the man with a very strong New York accent. They compare their respective histories in the vast country of Brooklyn, discovering they had walked the same streets. Although he traveled all over the world, he never shed his Brooklyn voice. In New Jersey, however, it doesn’t hinder him. He tried to learn Spanish to no avail although his wife is Colombian and the children are bilingual. She lived in Vermont, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, California, and five other states, and lost most of her Brooklyn voice. She can camouflage herself almost anywhere while his New Yorkese blared as loudly as a foghorn. Together they walked through their remembered neighborhood. How they came together on this snowy afternoon is happenstance, coincidence, fate.

A second man joins Mr. Brooklyn. He speaks with a strong Spanish accent but he looks foreign to me, not like local Spanish. Maybe it’s his clothing or sibilant S’s that strike me as different. They launch into a discussion of pipes and fittings, fire sprinklers and city codes. Soon-to-be business partners I surmise. I don’t pay attention to their conversation. I let the business details patter around my hearing, so many wet snowflakes melting as they touch down.

They smile, plan, gesticulate. Ms. Aqua knits. I sip. Hubby reads. Snow falls. The hour inches closer to Shabbos and the time we will continue our trip.

The Best Part of Wakin’ Up™

©/TM/® The Folger Coffee Company

©/TM/® The Folger Coffee Company

Did you know the Folgers Coffee jingle is 35 years old?

As one of the most memorable and recognizable pieces of advertising, “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up is Folgers in Your Cup®” Jingle has helped millions of Americans start their day with the sounds, sights, and smells of fresh-brewed Folgers® Coffee. Composed by Leslie Pearl, the original Jingle debuted in 1984 and has since been transformed into country, gospel, jazz, R & B, folk, Celtic, and a cappella versions. 1

I love a dark, deep and hot cup of coffee, the scent rising aggressively from the cup, the turbulent steam assailing my nasal passages. Exquisite espresso, captivating cappuccino, luscious latte, basic black. The aroma wraps around my neurons, sheathing the axons and coating them with a scarf of enlightenment. “Aaaahhh!” the brain cells sigh, “coffee,” and the sun shines brighter, the birds sing in glee, and there is world peace.

Sadly for Folgers (somewhere along the line they lost the apostrophe), I’m not really a fan of their coffee, preferring Nescafé Tasters Choice Dark Roast when I need a cup of instant. I’ll allow, however, that the best part of waking up just may be coffee. You are thinking, “it’s the caffeine. She’s fueled by caffeine.” No, I protest, it’s not the caffeine; too much gives me the shakes. The smell, the odor, the fragrance opens my mind to new horizons… or at least, it opens my eyelids to the new day.

Every day I wake up
Pour myself a cup
Of that rich Folgers aroma
The best part of waking up.
It's the doo-wop doo-wop in all I do
The mountain grown aroma always comin' through.
Oh the best part of wakin' up
Is Folgers in your cup.
[Now, I'm right in harmony
When I doo-wop doo-wop di-dee
One more cup and it's a nu-wop she-bop for me
Oh the best part of wakin' up
Is Folgers in your cup.]
The best part of wakin' up
Is Folgers in your cup.2
The glass top fairly jumped with boiling coffee on that cold morning.

The glass top fairly jumped with boiling coffee on that cold morning.

I learned to love the aroma of while living with my grandparents. It’s the mid-60’s. Imagine the bright yellow kitchen in the morning sun. A January day with single-digit temperatures, the windows sparkle with frost inside and glisten with some condensation. The glass percolator lid seems to jump with the fresh-brewed coffee clamoring for attention.  Zayda3 is seated at the table already with a cup of coffee, and the radio atop the radiator is likely tuned to WCAU, 1210 AM.  Bubba4 hurried me to eat breakfast before school—Mom must have been busy with my younger sisters elsewhere. A bowl of my favorite, oatmeal, awaits me.  But wait, there’s more: Coffee Milk! That elixir, that concoction of greatness: Coffee (pronounced kaw-fee5). My glass receives an inch of coffee from the busy aluminum pot and the rest is milk… because I’m old enough to drink coffee! Motes of dust sparkle in the air. I scratch my name onto the frosty window. I spoon sugary oatmeal puddled with butter and dreamily drink coffee milk never knowing that some 50 years later, this will be one of my cherished memories.

-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1. – See more at: http://folgers2.votigo.com/folgers-jingle-history#sthash.47iUrQxb.dpuf
2. Rockin’ Morning – Folgers Coffee sung by Rockapella
3. Yiddish for grandfather.
4. Yiddish for grandmother.
5. The Overlooked Philadephia Accent, accessed February 2, 2015.

Recycling Flummoxed Me

Coffee Container

This Nescafé Taster’s Choice coffee container couldn’t be reused or repurposed, much to my dismay. Recycled it.

First Earth Day posterI am big on recycling. My grandparents saved string and told me stories about what it was like during the War.  People saved aluminum foil then, also cooking grease, and fat, the Boy Scouts held paper and rubber drives; all these materials were reused for the war effort. Or maybe it’s a result of the environmental movement, where green was groovy, Earth Day was born in 1970, and recycling centers started to appear. Or perhaps I love recycling because I am frugal at heart and can’t stand to see good stuff wasted.

I dutifully separate my trash and take the recyclables to the basement with pleasure.

green-recycling-icon PSDGraphics

© psdgraphics.com

New York City apartment buildings recycle with assistance from the NYCRecycles program. Blue bags  accumulate recyclable plastic, glass, and metal. Clear bags gather paper. Rigid cardboard boxes get bundled for curbside pickup. The ubiquitous regular black trash bags containing icky stuff also go to the curb. As an experienced trash picker, I walk the city streets with an eye on the “curbside boutique.” Last month I picked up a folding laundry drying rack that only needed a small twist of duct tape to hold a loose rod. This model retails for $30!!!

The other day I was flummoxed by my trash. I put a perfectly good, presumably reusable or repurposeable container from Nescafé Taster’s Choice French Roast coffee into my recycling bag… and hated doing it! I felt quite puzzled because there was nothing I could do to repurpose this container.

blue-recycling-bin-icon PSDGraphics

© psdgraphics.com

  • I don’t need a translucent container for cotton balls (besides, it would smell faintly of coffee even with rinsing).
  • I can’t use it in a centerpiece for the bar mitzvah.
  • It can’t hold loose tea or bagged tea since it’s not completely airtight (though it’s fine for instant coffee since we go through it quickly).
  • My paintbrushes have a home elsewhere. Other skinny items don’t need jar storage.
  • I don’t have space enough to save 12 to use for Purim shalach manos containers.1
  • Although my friend’s mother saved glass jars to store soup and all sorts of food, this container would not fare well in the refrigerator.

Ecology FlagIn fact, at that moment, all I could do was put it in the recycling bag. It seemed like there should have been something else I could have done, but there wasn’t.  So now it is off to the recycling facility, to be melted and used for park benches, carpet, or something else. I still believe in recycling, but it pains me that the jar can’t be reused or repurposed. I photographed the offending object and resolved to contact the company, maybe creating the subject of a future blog post.

—————

1. Gifts of food distributed on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Also called m’shloach manot. Friends did this one year, filling the empty coffee containers with things related to coffee and it was so clever!

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