Tag Archives: Coffee

Things Have Changed, and I’m Glad

I finally stopped refusing senior discounts. (Who was I kidding?)

Now, I find it tempting to diss the present and reverence the “good old days.” One morning, a Grouchy Old Gal stared at me from the mirror. Did I really want her to stay?

Instead, I booted her out and listed things I like about 2021. Plus a few I do not miss from the past.

  • First, permanent press is a gift from God. My mother spent hours starching and ironing my puff-sleeved dresses, dresses I wore while emptying mud puddles. I iron now only when I can find mine. The best thing about a no-iron worldview? Though manufacturers lie that their clothes don’t require ironing, everyone pretends it’s true.
  • In this millennium, we enjoy a whole new excuse for playing hooky: the computers are down.
  • Email is cheaper, simpler and faster than snail mail. Unless the computers are down.
  • Microwaves, once a figment of sci-fi imaginations, have forever banished the sinking realization: “Ack! I forgot to defrost the meat!” Okay, so they sometimes produce meals the consistency of cement, with comparable nourishment. Still, speedy microwaves helped feed my skinny physician husband at all hours. They removed gunky warm-up pans from my kitchen’s décor. Nowadays, a microwave suits our lifestyle — that of college students without food service.
  • Few potlucks still feature 15 kinds of marshmallow-Jell-O salad.
  • I’ll take Susan Boyle’s singing, as opposed to Carol Channing’s, anytime. (See YouTube — another current convenience that can take us down Memory Lane, as well as make us glad we don’t live there anymore!)
  • Thanks to technology, we no longer miss favorite programs or movies. We need not suffer withdrawal symptoms when leaving before finding out whodunit.
  • Being a grandma is way more fun than being a mom.
  • In a related thought, little boys’ clothes today are much cuter than those in 1970. This grandma lauds that aspect of gender equality, as I have six grandsons.
  • In a somewhat related thought, I appreciate bicycle helmets. Seat belts. Even kids’ car seats that demand an engineering degree and an acrobat’s body to buckle.
  • Few people drive Pintos anymore.
  • Blow-dryers and curling irons have replaced the overnight torture of brush rollers and orange juice cans. Guys, if you don’t “get” the orange juice cans, ask your wives how they prettied up for Saturday night during the 1960s. Check online photos — if you dare.
  • Men rarely get permanents today. During the ’70s, much of the male population appeared to have been replaced by alien poodles. Wearing leisure suits. And platform shoes.
  • Cigarette commercials now feature cancer victims rather than cool cowboys. In restaurants, puffing and blowing occur only when your food’s too hot.
  • I applaud painless antiseptics that soothe cuts, as opposed to this-is-gonna-make-you-scream Mercurochrome.
  • Experts now assert that chocolate and coffee are good for us.
  • I hate to admit it, but cell phones do keep us safe on the road. Also, if not for cell phones, thousands of husbands might still be wandering Meijer’s aisles, seeking the correct brand of pickles.
  • No more waiting for photos to develop. No more paying for them, either.
  • We now realize God can say both “you” and “thee.”
  • Homemade, homegrown and handcrafted items — food, clothing, even coffins — have become special again.
  • Using an effortless stain stick beats scrubbing grass stains with an old toothbrush. Just ask my kids.
  • Finally, no one sings about yummy love in their tummies anymore.

That last extinction alone brightens the 2021 landscape.

My late father, who loved classical music, would have agreed.

Perhaps I inherited my outlook from Dad. He disliked many modern trends, but he also declared the “good old days” a myth. Dad plowed too many fields behind a mean mule to romanticize the past. Riding a John Deere mower was way better.

Recalling Jim Crow laws in the South — written and unwritten — he celebrated dining with both white and African-American friends without fear.

Occasionally, Dad allowed Grouchy Old Guy to stick around.

I sometimes hang out with Grouchy Old Gal.

But mostly, I celebrate life here and now.

And welcome all the senior discounts.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What don’t you miss from the “good old days,” and what are you thankful for now?

Breakfast with My Brother

Me at 16 with my brothers, circa 1969.

I measure the distance between extended family in states rather than miles. The lone exception, my brother Ned, lives in another part of Indiana.

A year apart, we played together like twins until I started school, where he acknowledged my existence only by a raised eyebrow.

Fortunately, he no longer regards sisters as threats to his manhood. We phone occasionally, but not often enough. I recall several years ago when we met halfway between our homes for breakfast.

We chose a mom-and-pop establishment, where we could indulge in illegal eggs over easy, crispy bacon and infinite cups of curl-your-hair coffee. Or the mortal sin of biscuits with gravy.

Entering, I saw no sign of Ned. As I walked toward a vinyl booth, I expected — and received — the who-are-you-stranger? once-over.

Homeland Security should catch onto this resource, one that could revolutionize national safety procedures. We don’t need metal detectors or X-rays. If the government would pay a tableful of these locals to drink coffee at security points, no terrorist in his right mind would try to get past their scrutiny.

Born and raised in rural Indiana, I knew I’d broken the rules. No woman eats breakfast alone in a strange town. As a sweet-faced waitress brought me blessed coffee, I pulled out my Bible and read while I waited. Eye-lasers clicked off one by one. Their owners swiveled back to their breakfasts. They gave Congress and the weather their morning cussing and analyzed high school basketball with an expertise that would put ESPN out of business.

Until my brother walked in. Immediately, the force field returned. As Ned headed toward my booth, question marks formed in the air, visible as if smokers had blown them.

“Good to see ya, Sis!” Ned trumpeted. He knew the rules, too.

The diners returned to their vivisection of basketball referees, as the waitress took our order. She brought us waffles, eggs and ham. Biscuits and gravy.

With bowed heads, we asked God to bless the cholesterol. Our words filled and warmed us as much as the steaming, delicious food. We solved our kids’ problems (if they would just listen!). We cheered the utter perfection of our grandchildren.

All too soon, our separate worlds called to us. We promised to connect sooner next time.

Before we separated, I demanded a hug, just to give the town conversation material for the next few weeks.

Ned’s eyebrow went up. But the hug happened.

It can’t happen today, in 2020.

But after this blasted COVID crisis ends, I’ll collect every one of those hugs that have piled up in the meantime.

Even if he raises the other eyebrow.

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Whom do you want to hug post-COVID?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Changed My Mind

O Lord, You know that as a tall middle-schooler, I sneaked Mom’s coffee, trying to stunt my growth. Gag! It tasted awful! Yet decades later, a steaming mug of coffee blesses my day. OMG, maybe Your gifts to us are often an acquired taste? 

   

     

Drinking It All In

We Americans treasure our beverages. We are born yelling for something to drink, and we spend our lives attached to Mommy, baby bottle, sippy cup, glass, coffee mug, teacup, wine goblet, and milk carton. During toddler years, we dump beverages rather than drink them. Still, we establish lifelong consumption patterns.

Case in point: upon marriage, I, whose family considered orange juice a semi-luxury, discovered my husband considered it nonnegotiable. This, despite a weekly grocery budget of $15. No apple, cranberry, grape, or — God forbid — grapefruit juice. No insidious combinations like orange-papaya. Hubby preferred freshly squeezed orange juice, but graciously agreed to drink bottled until conditions permitted the proper beverage. (He’s still waiting.)

I, on the other hand, absorbed Mom and Dad’s edict that chili demanded Pepsi. Sadly, I have strayed. I now drink diet Pepsi, or even diet Coke. But never, with chili, pizza or Mexican food, will I ascribe to my spouse’s unswerving devotion to milk.

Not that I dislike milk. During family visits, I purchase five kinds (whole milk, 2%, 1%, skim, and rice milk, depending on who’s allergic, growing, dieting, or protesting). Milk is a basic value Hubby and I share.

However, despite noble coffee-consuming roots, he drinks only tea. I, though a coffee aficionado since serving at a Denny’s overnight during college, occasionally drink tea to preserve our marriage.

That Denny’s experience at age 18 in Oregon, impacted my beverage history in other ways. Having smelled the aggregate breath of cowboys who donned menus and made marriage (and other) proposals, I nixed beer as an option. Ditto, when working as a janitor. I sniffed open whiskey bottles in a law firm’s board room. Whew — smelled like turpentine!

Later, when legal, Hubby and I surmised that wine recommended by a cork-sniffing steward really should taste better than that. And cost a lot less.

So, we’ve mostly stuck to orange juice-Pepsi-milk-coffee-tea dependence.

And water. However, I note the wordy truth observed by the late journalist Ambrose Bierce: “Upon nothing has so great and diligent an ingenuity been brought to bear in all ages, except for the most uncivilized, as upon the invention of substitutes for water.”

Many would rather die of thirst than drink H2O — unless poured from a plastic bottle. Recently, the FDA stated each American averaged 26 gallons of bottled water per year. We hadn’t sucked so many plastic bottles since infancy.

Not my thing, nor Hubby’s. But he remains hopelessly devoted to morning orange juice and tea. I don’t object because I want my coffee.

And because his ancestors came from Boston. In 1773, when England messed with their favorite beverage, those people got a little testy. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite beverage? Your least favorite?

Confessions of a Mug-aholic

My name is Rachael, and I’m a mug-aholic.

I wouldn’t admit that, except last Thanksgiving, my family engineered an anti-mug intervention group.

“You promised to quit this.” My husband stared me down. “Instead, you’ve been smuggling mugs from the flea market. Sneaking off to Cracker Barrel when allegedly picking up milk. The cabinets are so stuffed, we’re afraid to open them.”

“Why are you uptight?” I countered. “It’s not like I stole any from the church.”

Had he found my blueprints for a new wing — a Mug Museum — hidden in my office?

I knew my grown kids weren’t backing off when they made the grandkids wear helmets in my kitchen.

Unreasonable. Mugs save lives. Would civilization survive chilly mornings without steaming drinks that keep workers functioning and murderless?

Perhaps I should consider tossing my snowman mug which, despite its exorbitant price, chipped the first time I microwaved coffee. A few heated sessions later, Frosty lost his nose. Made in China, the mug probably was coated with mercury. Still, I sneak occasional coffee with Frosty. How will I make it through the approaching winter without his cheerful grin?

Hubby catches me. “I’m surprised you haven’t grown an extra eyeball, drinking out of that thing. Throw it out.”

So far, I’ve ignored him. But given Frosty’s uncertain future, I’ll have to buy a clearance snowman mug after Christmas.

Please don’t tell my little coffee buddy. Such disloyalty might make him fall to pieces, and if I tried to fix him … the only thing superglued together would be my thumbs.

I rarely use my smaller mugs except to torture unpopular relatives with a stingy supply of caffeine. But I can’t bring myself to give them away. (The mugs, not the relatives.) They might feel rejected. What if someone wrapped you in newspaper, tossed you into a box and dropped you off at Goodwill?

A new epiphany strikes me.

My shelves teem with flowery mugs. Mugs with hearts. Mugs with angels. Soon, I’ll bring out a hundred girly, Christmas mugs.

My husband’s collection: a sacred Indiana University mug; one boasting New Testament books of the Bible, including “He Brews” (guess who gave the tea lover that one); and a 1983 Doctor’s Day mug.

No wonder he borrows my Oreo mug.

Such inequity is downright unjust.

Fair play will result in even more crowded conditions. And an absolute mandate to construct the Mug Museum.

My name is Rachael, and I’m a mug-aholic.

You, too? Let’s fill a couple with favorite brews and drink to that!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you regard your mugs as family members? If not, what collection do you treasure? (Does your spouse?)

Coffee Confessions

CoffeeI love coffee.

So do one hundred million other Americans. On winter mornings, spouses attempt to drag us out of bed, but only coffee’s rich aroma can coax us from warm covers.

However, we demand — er, appreciate — our beverage of choice in diverse ways.

Take, for example, the Coffee Connoisseurs. Even if shivering on an Arctic island, alone with a can of cheap coffee (and opener), they would suffer until a Starbucks floated their way. Connoisseurs own roasters and gravitate toward flavors like jalapeño coconut. They may not remember their kids’ birth dates, but they know their coffee’s pedigree.

At the spectrum’s other end: the Coffee Classicists. Most purchase their parents’ brand, though some have been seduced by bags of beans given by pitying offspring. A large gimme-it-black contingent rules within this group. Those who take cream and sugar want exactly that. No organic sassafras sweetener. No fat-free peppercorn creamer. And they want coffee served in favorite mugs or china cups and saucers.

Both groups reject decaffeinated coffee as counterfeit. Decaf advocates, however, cite better sleep cycles. Plus, their work rage manifests itself only in yelling at computers, rather than throwing them.

However, caffeine addicts — er, devotees — insist that coffee without the main ingredient is not real, though it is the stuff of which 6 a.m. nightmares are made: “Out of coffee!?” Gasp! Gag. Body systems shut down. “Must crawl to Quickie Mart … must …”

Consumers often claim they can distinguish between decaf and high-octane by mere taste. My former boss spotted the difference before he tasted it (his wife had replaced half his favorite brand with decaf).

My Louisiana grandfather also rose up in righteous wrath if my grandmother dared brew anything other than his usual high-voltage sludge: “Elvira, is this decaf? Stump water!”

Aware of my decaf consumption, my 88-year-old dad, during my last visit, sniffed his favorite mug as if I’d slipped in anthrax. Eyes twinkling, he said, “Tell me which kind you put into the pot so I can decide whether I like it or not.”

Me? I just love coffee. With or without caffeine, plain or flavored (though I draw the line at jalapeño coconut), black or sugared and cream-ated, in mugs, china cups and saucers. I usually brew my own, but occasionally buy it at Quickie Mart, Mickey D’s, or Starbucks, if I have a gift card.

You’ll find me at any friendly coffee corner where a fellow drinker and I can shoot the breeze, sip and savor.

Are you a Coffee Connoisseur or Classicist? Or perhaps you take coffee with your cream and sugar?