a fire, a chair, a meal and Jesus

In his introduction to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes his book as a “hall” that readers enter and then begin to open doors–it’s all a metaphor for finding the true church–an actual place of worship. But I love the picture this sentence creates: “But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.” I love the idea of a room with a fire and chairs and a meal and Jesus. Of course, being an Anglophile, I picture the front room of a cottage with diamond-paned windows and worn, pale floral-covered arm chairs and a faded Aubusson rug (I didn’t ever know what an “Aubusson rug” was when I was devouring Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher’s warm and fuzzy novels. Oh, looked it up—it’s French).

In that warm, friendly room where the fire is real so it crackles and spits, I would serve fragrant coffee and just made scones. My friend, Isabel—I don’t have a friend named Isabel, but I’ve always wanted one—serves her famous pumpkin dip with pretzels and cinnamon-sugar pita squares. My hubby, Steve, sits on his manly worn, leather chair while the two other men sit—with a pillow between them—on the squashy leather sofa. My lovely friends (one of them is Isabel) sit in the faded arm chairs, while I sit by Steve’s feet on a giant floor pillow. My black cock-a-poo, Moby, snuggles with me (I don’t have a cock-a-poo named Moby, either). We sip and munch and talk about our grown kids and our grandkids, while the men talk about college football and the trouble with leaves.

Someone leads in prayer and out come the Bibles. It’s Isabel’s husband’s turn to take us through a chapter of 2nd Corinthians. It’s so still and quiet. Our voices speak God-words and we laugh together softly. After almost three hours, we pray and Steve and I walk everyone to the door. The porch light reflects off gold and red leaves lining the stone path to the driveway or still clinging to their parent trees. We all wave goodbye and plan to meet at Isabel’s house next week. Inside my cottage, Steve is cleaning things up while a finish another cup of coffee by the fire, Moby firmly on my lap. God’s presence still lingers.

. . . Back to reality. Right now I can linger over coffee. I can spend hours on the Bible and other books (currently I’m reading some short stories by Alice Munro. I figure I should keep up with Nobel Prize winners even though I don’t teach literature any more). I can make great spaghetti and file my fingernails. And I can work on my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Adolescent Literacy. I have the time. I have a wonderful husband named Steve who takes care of me because now I can’t walk very well.

I’m having surgery on my neck due to ruptured disks (due to arthritis and other stuff floating around my body thanks to DNA). It’s scheduled for the 25th of this month. My lower back has been deteriorating for over a year, and now it’s in full rebellion. Making great spaghetti last night had me in tears while I was draining the pasta. The pain is really, really bad.

And then my feet swelled up and my toes feel broken so I cry a bit if I step on them the wrong way. I had to quit teaching this year, and I had to quit tutoring last week. It’s been a Job (as in Job of the Bible) kind of year.

That’s why I like my dream. The cottage and fire. The friends who also have grown children. The kind of friends who make pumpkin dip and pray for me and I pray for them because I’m tired of thinking about me. The squashy arm chairs and a cuddly dog sounds wonderful, too.

Then it hit me this morning: why don’t I ask Jesus for them? (The friends, not the cottage, etc.—but I do want Moby!) So I did ask Jesus.

And while I’m waiting for Isabel and Moby,  I found a great recipe for pumpkin dip. I think I’ll try it; I know Steve will like it!

Here’s the link to the pumpkin dip! http://www.shugarysweets.com/2013/09/pumpkin-pie-dip


first be thankful…then drink great coffee

After last month’s whiney tone, I figure I should redeem myself by concentrating on things that bring me joy and comfort. Here are a few:

  • my husband, Steve. He is my other half. I’m the kooky, air-headed, high-strung, flake and he’s the even-keeled, pragmatic, never-flustered-by-endless-governmental forms, dry humored, FOX news lovin’, Colorado mountain man.
  • my parents. Always loving. Always praying. Always supporting. Examples of Jesus. Plus funny
    Breakfast of champions: yogurt and Orencia
    Breakfast of champions: yogurt and Orencia

    and my mom is endlessly stylish!

  • my adult kids and their spouses: 
    • David and Renee (Oregon): non-judgmental, brilliant, determined, politically and environmentally active. Can make their own bread, cheese, and yogurt. Taught me all about GOOD coffee.
    • Eric and Lindsey (Kansas City area): loving, playful, best parent award for my wonderful grandson, Sawyer Leo. Blessings to me and bring me joy.
    • Katie and Joshua (Claremore, OK): brilliant and gifted, hard-working, dog-loving, lake swimmers–boaters–fishers, outdoor lovers (clarify: they love the outdoors); Katie is my dear girlfriend. Stylish and gorgeous–even in a hard-hat.
  • my stepdaughter, Laura whose brilliance (not hyperbole) at knitting inspires me to pursue my knitted rectangles with a passion.
  • my stepdaughter, Jenny whose organizational skills and passion for her own kids and for all kids amazes me and I’m sure amazes Jesus sometimes!
  • the folks at Tulsa Oxford Learning Center: they know I’m going to have to have a difficult surgery and they still hired me.
  • my former students for reminding me that I once played a role in their lives
  • the library: free books to take home and read. You can even reserve everything on your Goodreads
    My bike. I miss it. Wonder if I can ride with a neck brace.
    My bike. I miss it. Wonder if I can ride with a neck brace.

    recommendation page!!

  • dark chocolate: only chocolate allowed on my diet (I’m on an eternal diet because I’m a naturally fluffy person. Now I’m steroid bloated, pretzel-eating, can’t-bike fluffy!)
  • bike: even though I can’t ride you much right now, you sit there in the garage with your basket and bell just waiting. I’ll be back soon–I hope.
  • spray paint and HGTV–enough said.
  • MacBook Air. I can write anywhere.
  • www.poppin.com my favorite pens and notebooks.
  • Etsy: for making all around cool stuff.
  • stores on-line that have nice, classy clothes for fluffy women who don’t want to wear large
    My morning cup of joe–the mug is by a potter in Taos. I collect them–mugs, not potters..


  • COFFEE. Great coffee in the morning makes things look better and promises to be there when you are feeling a bit low. Iced coffee (homemade only) can make those hot Oklahoma afternoons durable.

Now for a few words about COFFEE!!

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”  Dave Berry

I blame my son, David, and his beautiful-barista-soon-to-be-nurse missus. They introduced me to the french press and the power of freshly roasted and ground beans. They had a favorite place when they lived in Tulsa–well, two because Renee was a barista at one of them. Both roasted their own beans. But NOW Tulsa has a company that actually owns its own coffee bean farms (I’m sure they import the Ethiopian blends…) and they roast their beans and they package their coffee and they have a coffee shop! They also distribute to a couple of local coffee shops (I wish I owned one of them…) so I can indulge periodically.

David and Renee now live in Oregon. DUH! Home of all great coffee places (except for Seattle). When I visit, they take me to their favorites and I sample the Americano. I judge all coffee shops by their Americanos. It’s an art form to maintain the richness of the espresso while adding just enough hot water to make the espresso more palatable to American coffee buds (located on the tongue–some on sides and most on mid-front). Thus the name, “americano.” Apparently we are espresso wimps. I take offense at that–I just want more than a couple of sips. I want four shots or five shots or maybe six shots of high quality espresso in my Americano.

Back to french presses (this is my flaky, non-sequitor side coming out). I broke mine this summer. I haven’t bought another one because, well, since I’m not teaching anymore french presses are not high on the priority list. But I have a Mason jar I’m going to paint and use to store the occasional dollar bill in order to eventually get to 17 buckaroos for the small one at Starbucks.

Yes, I am that crazy about coffee…

I’ve even looked at having my own coffee roaster… in my house. I searched the internet (on which virtually every purchasable item can be found) and located a coffee bean distributor. (Step 1)

(Step 2) I can get 50 pounds of green beans (not the vegetable) from El Salvador’s San Emilio Estate for $225. Then a small roaster for $1000.  I need a Mason jar for this one, too. Maybe two Mason jars…Maybe I need a shop with books and knitting…(flakey non-sequitor side again).

The thing about coffee–it’s soothing. There is a rhythm to making it in the morning and waiting for it to brew. The aroma releases endorphins runners never knew existed. And then there is the slow, deliberate enjoyment of a cup of rich, dark, strong coffee with a touch of fat-free half and half.

I can’t drink it fast. I have to drink it slow. It’s a ritual. This morning it was in the 60s (finally) and I sat on the deck and just sipped and let the morning move over me slowly.

Confession: I have a coffee journal…

The journal. Note rubber band. A stylish way to keep it closed.
The journal. Note rubber band. A stylish way to keep it closed
Kansas City. Ok americano. The Roasterie is the bomb.
Kansas City. Ok americano. The Roasterie is the bomb.

Yep. I thought I’d lost it, but when I was cleaning out a closet, I found all of my old journals including my coffee journal. It has coffee sleeves and notes about the best coffee Steve (my hubster) and I have discovered on our travels. I’ve included some pictures just to prove how much of a coffee geek I truly am. A few photos. (I haven’t figure out how to line these up yet. Not as easy as inDesign and Photoshop.) All ratings are based on Americanos. We both get one and then rate it. Then the sleeve or card goes into the journal. YOU TOO can have a coffee journal. It’s a fun hobby.

Best in St. Charles, MO. Uses cone slow drip method. Lush.
Best in St. Charles, MO. Uses cone slow drip method. Lush.
Seattle. Of course.
Seattle. Of course.
Tulsa's best. I wish it was closer to my house.
Tulsa’s best. I wish it was closer to my house.

I have many many more pages of coffee sleeves and business cards. One from Friday Harbor, Washington and one from Anacortes (where you get the ferry to go to the San Juan Islands).

your turn pretty please…

I’ve been reading about “blogging” and how to get readership. I don’t have many readers and rarely do I get a comment so obviously, I’m not “in the know.” Part of it involves my inability to sit down at the computer regularly and give some serious time to writing. The nerve pain in my left arm (see earlier blog for completely depressing discussion) develops fatigue when I type for a long period of time (namely, 20 minutes) and then it starts burning. So I can’t put a check mark in the box that asks: Do you publish weekly or biweekly? No box for haphazardly.

.The other thing the expert-blogger-advice-giver-people give is to ask questions so folks have something to respond to. I can do that…seriously…I need some responses!
  1. When did you lose your coffee virginity?
  2. Do you admit to going to Starbucks? Why are coffeeologists so snooty about Starbucks? Their bags are so pretty!
  3. Best coffee shop in the US? Show your loyalty!! (and give me someplace to visit on vacation–yes–I travel for coffee)
  4. Dark roast–medium roast–light roast? AND what does each say about your personality? Hmmm?

Ok, that’s enough. Let’s get some answers here! Might be interesting.