the coffee chronicles

I wrote last April about my ill-fated encounter with coffee. Still, I never totally abandoned the thought that I might in some way want to enjoy a little coffee now and again.

MelittaSome weeks back I bought the smallest jar of instant coffee I could find to see if that were the case. I found I was enjoying my instant coffee, and I knew that I would enjoy drip ground coffee even more. One of my problems last time around was that I had difficulty finding a single-cup cone locally. This time I did the simple thing: I ordered it from Amazon. It showed up right away. I also ordered a reusable filter. At the store I made sure the coffee I bought was ground and not whole beans (another mistake from last time around) along with a supply of filters that held me until the reusable one showed up from an Amazon third-party vendor.

I bought a coffee measure at our local Kitchen Collection store, making sure that I had my blinders on, locating what I needed and getting out of the store as quickly as possible (after paying, of course).

I’ve figured out the right level of coffee to scoop into the measure and am now enjoying a cup or two of coffee each weekday morning.

cathedrals and calendars

We have calendars throughout the house. Typically our bedroom calendar is images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the kitchen calendar is usually nature photography, normally coastal photographs, and specifically the California Coast the past couple of years. Given my being in a state of career transition I was prepared to forego our calendar tradition this year. However, I received an unexpected although small check from my former employer, and decided that I would use the money to continue our calendar tradition.

WondersoftheWorldI was glad that I could do that because I pay special attention to the calendar I put above the desk in my loft office. For a number of years I bought calendars with photographs of cathedrals, but at one point they were no longer available each year. The years in which one was published I made sure to get it. Sadly, there have been plenty of years when none was available. One year I bought a calendar with photos of lighthouses. Very enjoyable, but not the same. In 2013 I bought a Buddhist-themed calendar. It had a lovely, serene photograph each month along with a quote that reflected the Buddhist tradition. But it really didn’t reflect who I am. Certain days had an icon, which the legend told me meant that day was inauspicious for hanging banners. Simply not my tradition. For 2014 ICathedralCities settled for a Wonders of the World calendar. Nice enough, but not what I really wanted.

When I decided that I could spend the money on our 2015 calendars, I already knew which calendar I wanted above my desk. I had seen it online and it was exactly what I had been missing: Cathedral Cities. Marvelous! I am delighted and grateful.

And, of course, I must have my Episcopal liturgical calendar.

Happy New (calendar, spiritual, writing, or whatever you choose) Year! Even if we are already a week into it.

P.S. If you’re wondering, the cover is the cathedral at Durham, and January is Truro cathedral in Cornwall.


tweaking things at home

Most of the radio listening that I do at home is via my Internet radio. It is connected to a wireless 900 MHz transmitter, and we have compatible speakers throughout the house. I take good care of the system because it is antiquated technology and replacement components are not generally available. Even on eBay transmitters and speakers are difficult to find and hence expensive when found.

wirelessspeakerYou know that I am a big NPR listener, and my late afternoon-early evening listening is All Things Considered, or ATC as it is generally abbreviated. I like to listen to the radio when cooking dinner, but the Santa Cruz/Monterey NPR stations that I can pick up on the small clock radio on the kitchen counter end their broadcast of ATC at 5:30, and I’m generally cooking dinner between six and six thirty. I can’t use the wireless speaker on the divider between the front room and the living room because it is right behind Terry’s chair, where she is generally sitting watching television with the headphones on. And that one is hard to hear from the kitchen anyway. So what I GraceiPhoneApphave been doing is listening to The World on the Monterey NPR station. It is a good enough program, but it is not the familiar ATC.

Recently I realized that we had a speaker in the bedroom that was not being used. These speakers come in pairs for purposes of stereo listening, but the stereo capability just doesn’t work. We have long used the speakers in mono mode. So I took the unused speaker from the bedroom and put it on the kitchen counter. Now I can listen to ATC on KQED in San Francisco while fixing dinner. If the news is too depressing or frustrating I can select from the wide variety of music available on my Internet radio. The music selection on the clock radio is highly limited and not to my taste. When we sit down to dinner at 6:30 I can use the app for the Internet radio on my iPhone to switch to jazz on KCSM.

That works.

Tasha still

Tasha2014Today is Halloween, as everyone in the United States knows. I don’t like Halloween, but I put up with it. Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day, as those in the Christian liturgical tradition know. It is also the day on which we brought Tasha home from the shelter in 2005, as long-time readers of this blog know. That means it is time for my annual appreciation of our child.

Tasha continues in her happy, healthy, energetic ways. She insists on her routine and she knows how to play the cute card. She has not slowed down in the least, and for that we are grateful.

Tasha is our girl and she is integral to our lives. We love and appreciate her. We are privileged to have her in our world.

taking out that shrub

In his Sherlock Holmes fiction Sir Arthur Conan Doyle liked to put in Holmes’ mouth talk about observing rather than merely seeing. It is a truism, but it is also true, that we often don’t observe those things we see every day.

When we bought our house in 1997 the builder put in the front yard. We made our own additions, such as putting in pavers by the driveway and adding rose bushes. We had to add rose bushes. My maternal grandfather was in the nursery business. He was a partner in a wholesale nursery company and sales manager at the storied Howard Rose Company for close to half a century.

But back to our yard. The builder put in two large shrubs. In recent years they both stood about four feet high, four feet wide, and four feet deep. The other day I stood out front talking to our neighbor, who had just returned our hedge clippers, about the drought and conserving water. I glanced over at our two shrubs. The one farthest front was dead. Brown. Dry. Brittle. Lifeless. I had no idea how long it had been that way, but it was. Which is strange, because in spite of the cutback in watering the rose bushes were doing fine, as was the shrub further back. If anything the shrub further front should have been getting more, not less, water than the one behind it.

Terry had left for business travel on Saturday morning and it wasn’t too hot, so I decided it was time to tackle the removal of the dead shrub. I headed to front yard carrying both the long and short handled clippers. I set to work. It was a tedious job because the branches and leaves were dry and entangled. In the end I got perhaps two-thirds of the shrub whacked away. By that time the yard waste toter was full so I had to stop. The good thing is that I got rid of enough of it so it’s not nearly as obvious from the street as it had been. I raked up some leaves for good measure. I then took a shower and got changed. I was quite sore but felt a sense of accomplishment when Terry called from New Jersey.

Still, I would like to know what killed the thing in the first place.

cleaning out the second bedroom

I wrote yesterday about the Salvation Army picking up the refrigerator in the garage.

Once that was done I needed to proceed with phase two of our plan. The space freed up needed to be used for all of the file boxes full of financial and other records that had taken over our second bedroom. Terry’s sister Julie is coming up to visit Veteran’s Day weekend. It seemed like it might be a good idea if Julie could get to the bed without having to trip over and work her way around stuff, and if the bed weren’t covered with various and sundry things.

Tuesday afternoon after Salvation Army left I had completed my job search tasks for the day and so I decided to tackle the task. Not only did I schlep a bunch of boxes downstairs and into the garage, I found every tote bag from every conference and trade show I had attended over the past ten years. None of which I had used a second time and none of which I needed. I also found a few travel bags that were duplicates of what was in regular use and which we had no need for. All of which made for a nice contribution to Hope Services whose regularly scheduled pickup in our area was the next day.

Julie will have a comfortable room in which to stay and we got some serious organizing done.

not that difficult

I am not always the most patient of husbands. When Terry is trying to make something more difficult than it needs to be, I have been known to get exasperated and say, “It’s not that difficult!”

The truth is that I do the same thing.

When we got our new refrigerator we decided that the one we had in the garage was not getting that much use and it needed to be retired. The question was how to get rid of it. I tried placing a notice on Freecycle without any success. Our local newspaper’s Web site indicated that online-only ads were free, but that’s not what I found when I went to submit the ad.

Terry said, “Why don’t you call Salvation Army?” Call Salvation Army. What a concept. I called. They showed up on the appointed day two weeks later and hauled the refrigerator away. Done.

Not that difficult.

A week ago Monday I brought in the mail. I saw an envelope from Santa Clara County Superior Court. Jury Duty. For me. Without opening the envelope I knew it was going to be for the same week that I had been scheduled for a medical procedure. I won’t name the procedure, but it’s the one adults of a certain age must undergo every ten years where the preparation is more unpleasant than the actual procedure. I opened the envelope. I was right.

I cursed. I swore. I snarled. Then I went to the Web site to request a postponement. I selected the next week. It took me five minutes. The response came back immediately, “Your request has been approved.” I received an updated notice in the mail on Friday.

Not that difficult.