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Tag Archive: coffee

Jan 14

Housebound with bad coffee

“I had some surgery on my feet, which has helped my back some.” –Merle Haggard

Before the end of calendar year 2009, I joined numerous others who met their annual deductibles and hurried into the hospital for long-overdue surgery.

In my case, it was my foot.

And yes, my back quit hurting, too, just like Merle Haggard’s.

The idea was to use the month of January to recuperate. Stay off the foot for at least four weeks with no weight-bearing whatsoever allowed.

Thus, for the first two weeks I am proud to say I became quite self-sufficient flying around the first-floor kitchen and living room in my wheelchair.

I worked on the computer, which we moved to the dining room table because it was the correct height and more accessible. I accomplished simple household chores with relative ease in all manner of creative ways. Life was good.

Until one day, that is, when I discovered some unpleasant revelations from my low vantage point.

For example, you have no idea how many dust balls one can see from the confines of a wheelchair. It sits low to the ground so every bit of dust along the baseboards jumps out at you as though in 3-D.

“I am becoming our Grandson Halen,” I moaned. You see, when the kiddo was two, he crawled around the floor picking up tiny pieces of lint and handing them to us. Now I’m doing that.

And then there are the deceased Chinese beetles and flies one can see “up close and personal” on the floor.

“Todd, where did all these dead flies along the baseboard come from?” I asked my husband.

“I don’t’ know Margo,” he said. “They are probably just living in the attic to stay warm and find their way downstairs,” he answered, completely non-plussed.

“Arghh,” I said, abandoning the Christmas Vacation vernacular and slipping into Charlie Brown lingo.

I am sorry to admit, dear readers, that what you just read is the most interesting part of my first two weeks of recuperation, except for my morning coffee ritual.

Perhaps, I should tell you about that after all since it is too late to put it in a Christmas letter.

Here’s the problem. We live in a two-story house; therefore, I limit my trips up and down to twice a day. This journey requires that I sit on the steps facing down and slide up, one by one, in order to get upstairs at night for bed. In the morning, the method is reversed.

The problem with being stuck on the second floor first thing in the morning is that I am dependent on someone to bring me coffee and fast. I adore my morning coffee, which must be made a certain way and with the particular kind of coffee I like.

OK, so I am a high-maintenance coffee drinker; I admit it.

Still, the hubby cheerfully brings me an early morning breakfast tray with a steaming cup of coffee, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

Unfortunately, I can see the bottom of the cup. Not good for an aficionado of strong coffee like me.

He likes to count the scoops when making coffee so that it’s done exactly according to package directions. I, on the other hand, pour the coffee almost to the top of the filter basket and pronounce that close enough. This is not the same thing.

Dutifully, I drank his mild brew for a few days without making much of a fuss.

That is, until yesterday when he came upstairs with the first cup of the day.

“Yuk, what is this?” I asked after tasting it. “Dead Decaf?”

Turned out it was indeed a package of stale decaf coffee he found in the freezer. “I bought this at Café DuMonde in New Orleans ten years ago,” I complained.

There are two more weeks to go before I can walk downstairs in the morning and make my own coffee.

Other than that, being housebound is going swimmingly. I’m not complaining, you understand. I am just saying.

Mar 26

This year, I am not giving up doughnuts for Lent

I guess you could say I am fascinated with donuts.

Loved to eat them regularly years ago, abstained through one Lenten season and then never indulged in them again. Not once!

That is, until quite recently when I fell off the proverbial doughnut wagon.

The fall was delicious, by the way.

It is possible that I may have overdosed on doughnuts on a recent trip to the Boston Bay area to visit family. Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to return home from the trip dreaming, thinking, drooling, longing for, and absorbed with the thought and consumption of doughnuts.

Here is how this happened.

My son picked me up at the airport in Providence and was driving me back to his home in Boston when he suggested we stop at “The Dunks” for coffee and a snack.

“What is The Dunks and why no Starbucks,” I asked, already beginning to worry about no Espresso in my immediate future.

He answered carefully, knowing he was on slippery footing with me when it comes to coffee, “Mom, out here we go to The Dunks ((Dunkin’ Donuts). Come on and give it a try.”

Bravely, I stepped to the counter and ordered a cup of coffee, not specifying any particular flavor, just black.

“Wait,” my son interjected as though a major emergency was about to occur, “you have to tell them no sugar because here black coffee always comes with sugar unless you tell them differently.”

That would have been a major emergency indeed for this plain, black coffee lover.

“You have to be kidding,” I blurted. “This isn’t the South, and this isn’t sweet tea. It is coffee for Pete’s sake.”

People were staring now.

Surprisingly, I did not care about coffee anymore because I was now fixated on the doughnut counter that offered an array of sweet confections I had not allowed myself for years. I wanted a doughnut, but I did not want sprinkles or cake or jelly or sweet fillings or any kind of icing.

I craved a plain glazed doughnut with my plain, black coffee.

The ensuing fall into doughnut decadence was one of the most pleasurable experiences I can recall; it had been a long time for me. For those of you who enjoy doughnuts often and frequent doughnut shops daily, my tale of abstention and return to sin will sound strange and unbelievable.

Yet, it is true. I had not consumed a doughnut in years.

From the moment the sweet spherical piece of dough hit my palate, doughnuts never left my thoughts for long thereafter.

Honestly though, how could they?

There is a Dunks on every corner in Boston, in every train or bus station and in every market. Sometimes, we stopped at The Dunks under the pretense of buying a bottle of water on our walking tour of historic Boston. Always, we visited The Dunks to smell and savor those sweet, deep-fried circular pieces of heaven.

As we drove to the airport for my departure, a billboard proclaimed “I love donuts.com”.

“Me, too,” I sighed.

I am a fallen woman.

Jun 11

Working hard to stay with it.

I am at the local grocery store when Jason, 17, is called over the loud speaker to sack groceries.

I know they are calling him just for me. Jason is 6’4”, imposing fellow.

I wish they hadn’t called him. Does he ask me “paper or plastic”?

No, he looks over his glasses, which are far too small for his large body, and firmly says, “Paper today!”

No hint of a question.

No room for choice.

Just tells me to choose paper.

In a millisecond, I think I really want plastic because it is easy to carry.

Yet, I reason that I could use the paper because I need some paper sacks to carry newspapers to the recycling center.

Everyone knows plastic doesn’t biodegrade.

Jason stares.

I have not answered.

Intimidated, I reply, “Paper, yes, that would be great.”

I am too afraid or embarrassed to say “Plastic.”

I move on with my stop-and-go errands.

First of all, I hate going from place to place these days, and I must admit the reason used to be boredom; now it is, frankly, aging.

Silent scream!

Start the car, always buckle the seatbelt even though the arthritis in my left hand is killing me, can’t make the left-hand turn into oncoming traffic, decide to back up and go through the shopping center parking lot to find an easier way out.

Ya Da Ya Da Ya Da.

Finally in traffic, I decide I need a break and a coffee.

Ordering used to terrify me at this world-renowned coffee store or any coffee shop for that matter.

Now, I have my own card.

Just one swipe and I can add money; order a lemon bar and a tall, leave-room-for-skim, exotic African coffee.

On a hot day, I will daringly order a grande caramel frappechino with whipped cream and a third shot of Espresso.

On a cold day I can now order a venti caramel macchiato with the best of them.

My friend Beth cannot, but she’s getting the hang of it.

My ordering skills surely impress nearby teenagers who were previously thinking I might be seriously “cool” challenged.

Such a checkout I can handle.

Advice to all novices– you must order extremely fast and speak your menu choice with conviction and rattle on as though you are fluent in the coffee shop language.

Next — tackling the big guy of shopping, “the great who-ha”, the discount store.

Is it just I, or does it bother you, too, to be greeted by these bubbly, cheerful seniors?  What is worse is with each passing day, I am one of them.

They work hard at second careers in retirement years, I understand, but they still send shivers down my spine.

I do not want cheerful right now, and another thing, I do not want to be one of them. Is this my future?

I just got inside the door, and I am already in trouble.

Can’t get the carts apart.

Someone has to help.

A sweet 81-year-old greeter comes over and easily separates them.

I swear I cannot.

It is the arthritis in my wrist, you understand.

Miffed and baffled, I wonder, “How did she do that?” Is it possible she does not have “Arthur” and I do?

Anyway, on with the shopping.

No problem with this.

I can find most everything, but it is time to check out once again.

Now this is tough.

Looming before me are choices…12 items or less, 20 items or less, regular checkout where there are no visible checkers anywhere around, and long lines at checkout 13.

I could try the service counter, but that only works in small discount stores. Counting my items hurriedly, I decide I can make a run at the 12 or less counter.

I hope the checker does not realize I have 15 items.

He doesn’t and I make it fine.

Swipe the debit card and expertly get cash back.

Cool, indeed.

Wish those teenagers could see me now.

Make it to my car and almost into traffic when I realize I left one sack behind. They have that spinning thing with the sacks hanging from a rack. It always hides one on the backside.

Ok, so that checkout wasn’t exactly a success.

With my last sack back in tow, I finally head home, now far too tired to make dinner.

Designed for our convenience, fast food establishments abound. Naturally, it is so easy to detour through the sub shop, and tell myself that has got to be good enough.

One more checkout, pay for the sandwiches and I am “home free.”

“That will be $17.53 please.”


I swipe my Starbucks card; pull out leaving the girl at the sub shop drive-through holding my sack of food, and move carefully into traffic.

Now, I am muttering out loud, sounding frighteningly like George on Seinfeld.  Really, I promise, I could do this once, and I didn’t used to mutter either.

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