Tag: coffee

“Beam Me Up, Scotty …..”

            Two days off work: school cancelled because of severely cold weather. I can’t help but think, “Make up time….. tomorrow will be hell.” A friend said he was coming to dinner tonight, cancelled at the last minute. Too cold to go for a walk: hyper dogs all day. House is destroyed.

            Am I feeling out of sorts? Just a bit. Cleaning up the mess. I opened a kitchen cupboard door to put some dishes away, and there on the shelf sat the AeroPress.  It was like a living, glowing thing, in its shiny, plastic glory. Then came the flood of memories; those kinds of memories that are transporting, and for a moment, I am neither here nor there, and I think, “Beam me up, Scotty.” He doesn’t, and I am swiftly settled back in my kitchen, but that rush of fond memories is still at the forefront, awakened.

            I bought the AeroPress to take with me on my travels. Coffee can be a very iffy thing in a new locale, particularly when one is addicted to drinking good coffee twice or thrice daily.  Depending on where I go, there may be a thoroughly delightful coffee shop or cafe, and then again there may not be. Plus, that first dram in the morning: sitting quietly in a new and different abode, looking out over red tile rooftops, or into a wild garden bordered by jungle – in other words, not at home – is a beautiful thing.

DSC_2972AeroPress, “for the world’s smoothest, richest brew”

            The ritual of this hand activated press is lovely in itself (in addition to the fact that I am big on ritual, so…..). You have to put a little effort into that first, grand cup of the day. Electricity may or may not be available: a hand turned bean grinder, along with the requisite beans, travel with me. Once the fresh beans are ground to a fine powder, the AeroPress is prepared. A dainty, rice paper thin, round paper filter is placed in the bottom holder, which is then screwed to the larger cylinder. This is balanced on a clean coffee cup, and four scoops of the coffee powder are spooned into the cylinder. This will make two shots of espresso. Once the water comes to a boil, six ounces are poured over the grounds, stirred for ten seconds, and then the smaller, plunger cylinder is placed inside the larger cylinder. Very, very slowly press, and, TA DAH! Espresso. Froth the heated milk with a hand pumped frother, also in the travel kit, and a double cappuccino is ready.

DSC_2047Balila B&B, Ubud, Bali Indonesia

            The ritual of making the coffee is fun, but the best is yet to come. Where will I be drinking that coffee? Last summer in Bali, I stepped out onto a porch surrounded by a garden with a pond, gorgeous birds of paradise, and a lovely, stone Ganesh at the top of the garden path. Chumpa, the Bali dog who adopted me while I was there, lay at my feet when I settled on the bench at the sturdy, wooden table. Sipping my elixir, I listened to unfamiliar birds chirping, motorbikes winding their way on the distant road, and bees buzzing about their daily work.

            Eventually, Made would thread her way down the path bearing the breakfast she had prepared once she espied me out of the kitchen window of my host’s home. Fresh papaya juice, home made bread with butter, softly scrambled eggs.

Balila B&B, Ubud, Bali Indonesia

            The last time I used the press, just a few weeks ago, was in the Republica Dominicana. After making my coffee there, I sat in front of an open window on a plastic chair, my elbows resting on a plastic table. On the table I had spread a map of the island as a tablecloth. Listening to the myriad of cocks crowing as the sun rose over the neighboring rooftops, I looked at all the intriguing, “must-visit” destinations on the map that I wouldn’t be able to make it to during this particular visit. Another time.

            With a sigh, I turn back to the sink of dishes, thinking I just might survive that dreaded day of work tomorrow, knowing the paycheck from it will be financing my next travel, Aeropress tucked in my suitcase.

DSC_2857DSC_2845

Breathe, Smile, Go Slowly

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The alarm jangles. I stretch, roll out, and peek through the curtains.  I’ll have to wear snow pants and full gear.  The dogs will need their jackets, too.

Although we live in the middle of the city, the park is only two blocks away. This isn’t hard to imagine since there are 136 parks in Milwaukee. The largest one is over a thousand acres, but my park is a petite thirteen. We have time to make one round. The snow crunches under my boots and the dogs leap and yip, catching the chunky snowflakes swirling furiously around us.  The moon sets to the west just before the sun begins to wash a sliver of light blue across the horizon.

First trip of the day over.

Art Lives Here – Another Venue

A new day, a new venue, same old weather. A repeat of cloud and misty rain; spring in the Midwest. But in the writing place I was headed for…. the weather wouldn’t matter.

One enters the Milwaukee Art Museum into the magnificent cathedral-like space of Windover Hall, with its exquisite white marble floor, a vaulted a 90-foot-high glass ceiling, and above it the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily. I flashed my membership card and walked directly to the magnificent windows to gaze out over Lake Michigan.

Shhhhhhhhhhh…. writing venue

It was quiet.  A sacred quiet. Tranquil. The spaces were large, with gentle air flow from muffled fans running somewhere behind the marble columns and arched ceilings.  I climbed the carpeted steps to the second floor of this sanctorium and made my way to a large open area designated for microfiche, business, and periodicals.

The huge windows on the north wall over-looked MacArthur Square, which is surrounded by the Milwaukee Police Department’s downtown station, and the imposing, Neo-Classic Revival County Court house (which architect Frank Lloyd Wright called “a million dollar rock pile.”  Red brick walks surrounded the plots of bright green grass in the square, though it was sleeting/snowing out.  Inside it was toasty, however, and I found an empty table with a chair facing the window.

A Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Write There

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately.  Notice, thinking, not writing.  One can think anywhere at any time: driving the car, tossing and turning in the dark at night, walking the dogs, or jogging on the treadmill.  One does not have the same freedom in writing.  I could list a million excuses, which only a few are really valid, for not spending enough time writing.

But quite simply, I have not been spending enough time with pen in hand.  I do sit in front of the computer often, but that usually spirals out of control and I get lost in the vortex of the worldwide web universe, and lose two hours of my life in the blink of an eye.