I spent the night wrapping packages. I used local paper, recycled, it came from old dishcloths. There wasn’t much of it. It was hard to cut. I imagined wet hands. I liked that – having a history, something human, a bit of color. It made the gifts seem well taken care of in their tight-packed wrapping.
That’s really it for me today – thinking about giving, and what I’ve been given to get here. It all ends up in beautiful pink paper, even if it wasn’t so beautiful all the way down the line.
Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee; This blend was sent to me generously by a friend in Asheville. Because of that, I’m going to spend this post talking about it. A coffee log that’s actually about coffee. I know – I’m just as surprised as you are.
The last time I was in Asheville, I was at an Escape Room that A runs. It was my first time doing anything like that and it was a fun experience. Collectively getting lost in a daytime fantasy by locking yourself up. There’s maybe some deeper metaphors about human nature in that.
So anyway, I’m not that up on Asheville – this was a couple years ago – and PennyCup is new to me. Boy, was it a pleasant surprise.
I’m used to drinking mass-packaged store roasts. I spend a little more for fair trade, and a tiny bit on quality, and I’m mostly satisfied with that, but drinking the Locomotive was like having a homemade meal after a year at sea. It had a couple decks to it’s flavor. The first thing you get is this strong tang – something of a lighter roast quality – but after that all the flavors are pulling out stops to richly seduce you, which totally caught me off guard. Lighter roasts don’t usually have that depth.
Halfway through the first cup I was tasting chocolate. Then it was something closer to barley. I was reading Murakami. Then I was working on my novel. The coffee kept up with my changing moods.
I remember this time A and I walked to an old, abandoned house in the woods. There were beer cans in overturned tires and ravens making nests in the rafters. Someone had been living there – you could see matches and bedstuffs – and I was terrified. I kept up with her as best I could, but we turned around before exploring too far inside. I was embarrassed. A could have kept going, I felt like a coward. When I told her all that she said it was okay, made me feel fine for having that limit.
The Locomotive blend was much like that: taking you by the hand to unexpected places, dropping you off somewhere comfortable along the way.
Novel Count: 15,954
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
When I think about Christmas, I think of a thrift store off Main. I’m pretty sure it isn’t there anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure the store only lasted a few years, and I only went to it once or twice.
Anyway, it was on this side road in East Burlington that if you took long enough would either get you to the middle school or to Graham. It was in an old, hollowed out brick building that had fallen on hard times, it was lit like an ER, there were old black particle-board tables set in rows and cardboard boxes full of stuff obliterating the even lines. The owners were old ladies. So what I’m saying is, the thrift store was nothing unusual.
I went there with my Mom. I think it might have been after school, or maybe it was a weekend. Either way it was dark outside. We were Christmas shopping. Not for the family, rather the ancillary gifts you put a few dollars and two cents into in hopes of warming up the people you sort of know and would like to know better. We walked around for an hour and I got bored. There were tinsel wreaths. There were craft ceramics. I bought a tiny straw angel for a family I knew took angels seriously. Then we left.
But that whole store was Christmas to me: a dim, uncomplicated lull of gift-giving; the cheap earnest dressings; the streetlight evening through the windows; I think they were playing Christmas songs on a scratchy record player.
Anyway, that thrift store has been on my mind lately. I’m glad it was there. I wonder if anyone else remembers it?
Novel Count: 15,069 words
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker
Why they were loaded with bags of beans and peas and anything else they happened to pick up when they were still some distance away from the street where the first blind man and his wife lived, for that is where they are going, is a question that could only occur to someone who has never in his life suffered shortages.
Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought); I’ve been boycotting Starbucks since their bad showing discriminating against black businessmen earlier this year, but one of the bank managers gave me a bag of Starbucks ground coffee as an employee appreciation gift. No use fighting fights to the point of fanaticism, I appreciated the gesture and brewed a pot. It stank like sweat; tasted like dry leaves; I’ll drink it all.
I talked to a guy who’s had two divorces. He just moved. He had a home with his second wife in Fuquay. It was a big house, a ‘waste of money’ (his words). Every week, his ex would have a project. She’d build additions, fix the floors. He was fed up but also heartbroken.
He said he was dating. He said most of the women were dating at least five other guys at the same time. “I’m just sitting there, checking the watch, then she’s an hour late and says ‘Oh, well Fred needed me a bit longer.'” He’d been in the rain, the hurricane. His face was red. He wore work clothes. He lives in an apartment now.
I read something later that said the only certain thing about love was that it predicted a loss. I couldn’t help but wonder what the losses looked like from his ex-wife’s side.
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker
Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand; it hits strong like a good handshake, then lingers, lingers…just let go of me, man! My stomach’s burned all day.
I ran out of coffee a couple days ago and I was at a Harris Teeter on the way to work and the only fair-trade they sold was pre-ground. I bought it. Typically, I buy whole bean but it’s worth it for the label – some peace of mind, and hopefully those words mean something.
I switched to grinding coffee two years ago after a dear friend gave me a coffee grinder. It started as a few-times-a-week thing, then a morning ritual, and as my life’s changed it’s changed with it (I grind before bed and set the percolator for the morning). It’s a good ritual. Physical. I’ve learned the feel of different roasts: light’s hard to grind, like you’re chewing acorns; dark slips oily, lubricates the gears. I love the smell that starts small then fills the room, the metal stink on my fingers rubbed off from the crank. I’m attached to the memories of every morning that my hard, circular work pays off.
I remember the afternoon you gave it to me, a new box, the white-gold December sunlight, Ryan’s plant in the picture window drooping. I ground the first pot too weak and you were worried the gift was bust.
Well, I figured out the proportions; it’s still going strong.