HOT COFFEE! (12/30)

April 12, 2018

poetry 12-30 H-hot

steam rises, wafting
breathe deeply, anticipate
imminent delight

draw in magic scent
eyes closed, hands around warm mug
tongue inches forward

gentle contact made
slurpy sip slowly consumed
palate meets pleasure

morning medicine
I am revived and ready
coffee, hot and black



If you already know me, then these things are not so random. They should be fairly well-known facts. But if you have only just come across this blog, to quote NBC’s slogan from many summers ago, it’s new to you.

I love tomatoes. I learned how much during my first trip to Europe in 1989. My parents and I traveled the summer the iron curtain came down. We visited Germany, Austria, and Hungary. It was at our hotel restaurant in Budapest that my life was changed by the sweetest, most flavorful, excellently textured tomatoes I had ever eaten—and I’m quite sure have ever eaten to this day, twenty-three years later. 

It has been a minor quest to find tomatoes in my everyday life that measure up. I know the best way to satisfy this search would be to grow them myself but being an apartment- and now condo-dweller, I don’t have the real estate to make a real stab. Every summer since I’ve moved to my condo which has a bit of yard that I can make use of, I’ve dutifully grown tomato plants in large pots. Every summer, squirrels have predictably decimated my meager crop and I feel fortunate to harvest two or three workable tomatoes. In fact, it’s about time this summer for the squirrels to spring into action because the fruit on this summer’s plant are just beginning to ripen. Any day, I will come home from work to find several quarter-eaten fledgling tomatoes scattered about the yard. The squirrels are not courteous enough to eat all of one tomato. They eat part of many.

My desire for delicious tomatoes was a large part of the reason why I bought into a CSA this summer (Community Supported Agriculture). While I patiently await the appearance in my box of lovingly homegrown, organic heirloom tomatoes, I have tried new edibles such as kale and kohlrabi, and discovered that roasted radishes are a wondrous thing. I sauté weirdo greens, like radish, collard, and kale, in olive oil and garlic. A fabulous supper is topping a premium frozen cheese pizza with sliced radishes, chopped kale, and sliced onions.

I am also embracing the notion of “know your farmer,” which extends beyond the CSA farmers to joining the neighborhood grocery co-op to frequenting farmers markets, where I can learn the names of the goats that made the feta cheese I’m buying or marvel that guerrilla farmers have turned metro parking lots into farms of raised beds that produce produce that’s as delicious as anything grown in a wide-open field.

Food trucks
I love getting lunch at one of the numerous food trucks that populate the streets of downtown Minneapolis (and Saint Paul). They make innovative dishes with fresh ingredients whose names you recognize. Very many of them take pride in sourcing their ingredients from local farmers, the same ones whose CSA I joined or whose goats tweet lame jokes like, ‘Keeping it ALL in perspective: One of the goats just said, “Meh…”’ Sorry, but that cracks me up. Chain/franchise restaurants don’t stand a chance.

Enjoying free time
I don’t make the most productive use of my free time. But these days you will find me experiencing contentment when I am sitting outside, likely with a beer, perhaps with a book or something on the iPad, in the shade, in my eight-inch high lawn chair. It’s low to the ground and the perfect height to stretch out my legs and still have a fairly level lap for supporting my reading material. Or I might draw my legs in to make a reading stand. Either way, it’s a comfortable chair with a back to lean against and it only cost $2.49 plus tax. I have two. One is a bright blue that almost matches the painted wooden stairs of my building. The other is my favorite green color. I seem to love anything in the fluorescent green to lime green range. I didn’t set out to like that color, it just sort of crept up on me. It can be a little self-conscious-inducing when I find myself sitting in the green chair in my lime green sweatpants and a green T-shirt with my green-covered iPad. Oh well.

Usually at some point while sitting outside, I will have enjoyed enough beer that I won’t really care if people are judging me for all my green. And if I’m lucky, passersby won’t even notice me because I just blend into the chair. I probably also have my green Nalgene water bottle out there with me, too, because I am fanatical, religious, dedicated about drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

I should be less dedicated about the amount of coffee I drink. I used to only consume decaf, but in the last couple or three years I’ve embraced regular coffee with gusto. Consequently, most Saturday evenings I begin to go through the caffeine withdrawal headache. If I’m lucky, it’s not too severe and I can time it so that it mostly happens while I’m asleep. I’m weird. I drink coffee during the week at my desk, frequently very enthusiastically, but at home on the weekend it doesn’t occur to me to make any. And that’s okay. I guess I’d rather have a weekly mild headache than get to the point where I have a daily nagging headache and greater dependency.

I have a love-should relationship with both beer and coffee.

– – – – – – – – – – – 

This just scratches the surface. I was challenged on Instagram to share five random things about myself, so I looked backwards in my stream and grabbed the first five photos that caught my eye as revealing something about me personally. There are many other photos that reveal things, too.

Hate the headache

February 20, 2012


When did I become dependent on coffee? For the longest time ever, I’d just have my decaf in the morning. Maybe twice a month, I’d dare to have a cup of regular in the afternoon. I was so staunchly decaf that I bought my own little four-cup coffee maker for the office so that my decaf-making wouldn’t interfere with the regular in the big pot. I used to tell people that it would self-destruct if it came in contact with caffeine.

Now it’s me who sets myself up every week to self-destruct with regular coffee. I have swung completely in the opposite direction.

If I manage to behave myself, I only have half-caf in the morning. But a lot of the time it’s a couple of cups of the full octane joe. And in the afternoons I don’t even try to be reserved. I like the post-lunch pick-me-up of my two, sometimes three, mugs of regular. And then I wonder why I don’t feel like going to bed earlier at night.

By the end of the week, my need for speed rears its ugly head earlier and earlier. By mid-morning on Thursday and Friday I get that caffeine headache that I know I’m easily prone to. And on the weekend I look forward to the major headache because I don’t usually make coffee at home. My routine is just different and doesn’t make me think of sitting and sipping. I suffer through it and resolve that next week I won’t give in.

I have known for ages that I quickly become “addicted” to caffeine and that’s why I was perfectly content with high-quality decaffeinated for years and years; I didn’t want to deal with the headaches. I hypothesize that as I stay at my position longer and longer (seventeen-year anniversary coming up next month) and the types of projects I work on become more and more routine, the little jolt I get from caffeine makes me cheerier on the job.
I guess I have come to accept the weekly withdrawal as a small price to pay for something that gives me enough pleasure during the week. I am weak.


I suppose the time of day would determine what I would say to this. In a shootout at the OK Corral, water would probably win because it’s the most versatile and the best for me. For fun, well, you all know I love beer. But beer isn’t always practical, and I also covered it in a previous post. So for this entry, the winner is coffee.

I do coffee backwards. I drink decaffeinated in the morning and regular in the afternoon. It’s like this. I get addicted to the caffeine very quickly, so I have to be careful. If I have a couple of cups two or three days in a row, I fall victim to that awful caffeine headache if I don’t start getting my fix soon enough on subsequent days. That is why I started drinking decaf years and years ago. So that I wouldn’t get hooked on caffeine.

In the last year or two, however, regular coffee on a regular basis has crept back into my life, after lunch. It’s sort of like when I started smoking again the last time. I thought, oh, I’ll just have this one and it’ll be just fine. Next thing you know, you’re smoking close to a pack a day. Same with coffee. One afternoon when I was bored, a little sleepy, and there was already some made, I drank a cup of regular coffee. And guess what—I perked up. Maybe once a week I’d do that.

Well, now I’m drinking two or two and a half mugs an afternoon. On Saturday at home when I don’t make coffee for myself, I am visited by the splitting headache. I usually just take a few aspirin (not Excedrin, my prefered pain-reliever, because that’s got caffeine in it) and tough it out, only to start over on Monday.

I still drink decaf in the morning. My reasoning these days is that presumably I’ve just been sleeping all night and should be rested and not need artificial stimulants. I also believe that morning caffeine reels me in a day or two faster than afternoon coffee.

My name is Kelly and I am in denial.


Just to recap on my beers of choice, we have (L–R): Summit Extra Pale Ale, Surly Coffee Bender, Bell’s Oberon, Lagunitas India Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.