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Posts tagged ‘coffeehouse’

Changes in regard to coffee

Yes it’s true, we Portlanders love our coffee, and there are a plethora of coffeehouses all around town to drive home that truth. I myself have a list of favorites in my neighborhood, but what a joy it is to discover a new treasure outside of the Alphabet District, the quaint and quirky name of the area in which I live.

And yes it’s true, shortly after moving here I dared to get rid of my coffeepot and the monkey on my back habit of half a pot of coffee in the morning. I had started to feel like a coffee junkie, so I quit cold turkey, suffered the pangs of caffeine withdrawal and stayed away for a time. Well, a short time that is, until I found myself tiptoeing back to instant coffee, only one cup a day. And hey, that’s not really an addiction, only one cup of instant coffee in the morning, is it? And I can quit anytime! But today was different, I just needed more – and here is my story…

Two Cup Day

I had relegated myself

To a self-imposed limit

Only one cup of coffee

To start my day

But today felt different

A cool breeze

Gray clouds in the skylight

The flickering candle I had lit

To stave off the dim daylight

One last swallow of the first cup

And off to the kitchen

Marching triumphantly

To celebrate my new holiday

Behold the inauguration of

Two Cup Day

tiny coffee

Home and community – It’s all a matter of perspective

Home is where the heart is -Yes, it is a common, kitschy phrase often seen on pieces of arts and crafts that we display in our homes, where our hearts are. But moving past the overused phrase that it is, and really thinking about it, the place we call “home” and the place that brings a sense of community are just that – places on this earth that we resonate with and come to see with the eyes of our heart and soul.

I have often heard the lament of those who live in a small town that city dwellers live in a cold atmosphere of indifference; we pass each other on the street, strangers with our heads down,  lacking acknowledgment of one another. But I beg to differ. This morning I bypassed my usual routine of tea at home in my pajamas, and headed out in the cool morning air to one of my favorite coffeehouse haunts, the Fehrenbacher Hof, located in a delightful neighborhood of Portland called Goose Hollow. Just the fact that Portland is comprised of delightful neighborhoods like Goose Hollow within the confines of a big city tells me that a sense of community can be established anywhere, not just in a small town or less populated city.

As I sat on the porch outside “The Hof”, as it is affectionately called, I felt such a sense of belonging, even with the cacophony of the city sounds; cars, trains and a helicopter flying incredibly low overhead. And that small event, the helicopter buzzing the treetops, spurred on a conversation with a stranger and others around us, as we wondered what that was all about. Sitting there as I sipped my coffee, I began to feel like a greeter at Wal-Mart, saying “good morning” to just about every person who came in and out. We do make friendly connections in this urban setting!

Even my apartment building fosters a sense of community; a lovely circle of interactions and connections with the other tenants, pride taken in our building and even the apartment management. One of the tenants took it upon herself to thoroughly clean up the laundry room one day, lending a helping hand to our overworked manager/building maintenance man, taking pride in this place we call home. Another tenant has been so kind as to leave a bucket full of cut flowers in the foyer; leftovers from her job at a flower shop, as she shares with her fellow neighbors. And one morning we were treated to boxes of doughnuts in the foyer; a gift from the management company, to show appreciation for having such lovely tenants.

For many years the place I called home was a place I found myself in because of family ties, friends and familiarity. But life can be changeable and malleable, and we may find that home is a place that has been buried but now is ready to be uncovered. For me I unearthed my love of the city, and that city for me is Portland. Now I fully understand what the word home means, and it is here that I truly feel as if I am part of a community.

Home sweet home

The coffee monkey

Portland is known for many things, and drinking coffee is one of them. There is not only a Starbucks on what seems like every single corner, but there is also the plethora of independent coffee houses that offer up local brews of all kinds. So what an odd thing for me to do, to throw out my coffeepot after moving here to the land of coffee and hipster coffee houses and quit my morning coffee habit, cold turkey. Oh, it was three days of caffeine withdrawal hell, complete with a headache and fatigue that had me back in bed by noon. But hey, I made it through! On the fourth day, my body said, “What coffee? We are doing just fine without that nasty habit and added expense.” But slowly, ever so slowly, I found myself wondering, can’t I just have a little cup of the lovely nectar called coffee that smells so damn good every time I walk past a coffee house? So one day, I walked to my favorite local haunt and ordered up a cup, just a small cup of their house blend with a shot of yummy caramel for good measure. Oh my! I had forgotten how rich and satisfying and downright fun the coffee buzz is! And how interesting that my now caffeine-free body was a bit shaky, trying to take in this drug that I had quit. But hey, it was worth it, even if I couldn’t hold the pen still as I tried to do some writing in the coffee house. No matter, that will wear off – the sweet taste of caramel coffee on my tongue was worth it. But, not enough for me to go back to my routine of brewing coffee in my home. But the other day, as I was doing some grocery shopping, I found myself drawn to the coffee aisle – and there I saw the answer to my dilemma – instant coffee! And look at all the great flavors they have! Vanilla and hazelnut and mocha and the one I finally caved in to with the fancy name, Cafe Francais. And as the coffee monkey on my back and I took home my treasure I heard myself saying, “I can quit anytime – it’s not like I’m going to drink it every morning again.” But just to be sure of my undisputed resolve in this, I hid the pretty coffee tin in my cupboard – right behind the packages of gourmet cookies I bought, during yet another weak moment when the other monkey was on my back – the one that just has to have that sugar fix every now and then.

A Hallmark moment in the coffeehouse

There are certain places that inspire me more than others; the local coffeehouse around the corner, the park so close to my home with the massive trees dotted throughout, and a teahouse that is like hanging out in a friend’s house, sitting on well worn sofas and chairs. My muse loves these places and pops in for a visit as I visit these favorite places in my lovely Portland. It happened again as I stared across busy Burnside Street from the coffeehouse window, spying greeting cards in the window of the dollar store. This is how it happens at times, so simple, a gentle nudge – and the words build around one small thought.

Greeting Card to a Writer

          (on the cover)

Don’t despair…

Hang in there!

(inside)

Even though the well is dry

The rain shower of words will fall

Soaking the parched paper

Ink flowing once more

The desert of writer’s block

Transformed into literary lushness


Change of scenery

Usually when I read or write I prefer the quiet confines of my home. But there are those times when I just want to, need to get out of the house and immerse myself in the cacophony of people and places. And one of my favorite places is only a block away, a small local coffeehouse, with a vibe that calls to me at times. I can find myself becoming lost in a good book while the conversation and music swirls all around me, and sometimes I have to reach for pen and paper to write down thoughts that filter through it all. I never want to define myself as having to do this or that as a writer; sometimes I find I need a change of scenery in order to find my muse.

Running Away from Home

 

I slipped out

Through the open door

Down the hallway

Down the stairs

Down the street

 

I slipped through

The unlocked door

Of the coffeehouse

 

The place where some come

To meet and mingle

Others sit solitary

At a table

Under a canopy of hipster music

We are draped in coffee smells

Balancing bodies on tiny wooden chairs

 

I read pages out of a book

Then I glance at the street scene

People walking

People walking dogs

The espresso machine sounds angry

Clanging and hissing as it labors away

I scribble random words on the paper

A swirl of the coffee cup

A last swallow of the caramel coffee

 

Then I decide

I don’t want to run away from home

And I retrace my steps

 

 

Gifts on a rainy day

Today was going to be an “inside day”, as I watched the rain pouring down on my skylight, and heard the wind whipping all around. But then my soul had other plans, bringing to me the delicious thought of walking in the rain with my charming red umbrella, my sights focused on having a nice cup of coffee somewhere. And I found a delightful coffeehouse I had not been to before, where I became inspired to write a new poem. I had failed to bring any paper or pen with me, but the nice young man at the counter found me a pen as well as some paper, so I didn’t have to use a napkin as I had originally planned. After I left the coffeehouse, I was led to a bookstore nearby, where I was led to a wonderful book about angels that just happened to be on sale. And as I walked home, the bottoms of my jeans soaked and dragging on the sidewalk, I was given a final gift. I spied the row of bright red tulips, shyly poking their heads out in the cold rain, as if to tell me, “Don’t worry, spring will be here soon!”

Joy’s Disguises

 

I found joy

In the gray blanket of sky

In the cold, wet raindrops that tickled me

In the wind that blew my umbrella inside out

 

I found joy

At the little round table of wood

That held my plain white coffee cup

That contained the warm, brown elixir

That chased away the chill in my bones

As I gazed out the rain splattered window

 

I found joy

As I listened to Patsy Cline singing “I Fall to Pieces”

As we all sat at our separate tables, sipping our coffee

As I watched the rain walkers strolling outside

 

I found joy

In the disguises

Of blindly perceived separation from one another

Of the dreary delusions of a cold, rainy day

Of all I had previously thought of

As joyless

 

 

 

 

 

The definition of home

I lived over half a century in the same state, and then felt the overwhelming urge to move halfway across the country and replant myself in a state I had visited only once. This has caused me to redefine what home really is. Is it a place where we grow up and more times than not settle our adult lives in? Or is it a place that calls to our very soul and says, “come”? I have come to believe in the latter, as I find I am in love with my “new” home of Portland, Oregon. Oh, I enjoyed Minnesota all those years; I wasn’t miserable. But something in me felt a pull, a resonating as I traveled to Oregon in 2010 for a retreat, in a place that was actually outside of Portland. But I remember as I sat in the airport, waiting to board the plane to Portland, I heard a voice in my head saying, “I’m going home!” And as soon as I set foot in Oregon, I knew that one day, this place would be my home. It is a love affair here that I have with my pretty city. Every day I wake and say to myself, “another beautiful day in Portland!”, not mattering one bit if it is a grey day or a bright sun filled day. And I find other “homes” within my home. There are the two coffeehouses that I love more than all the others; one that plays the music I love and has the best caramel to add luscious flavor to my coffee, and the other one that makes the best marionberry bars and has the quaint outdoor patio that is almost meditative on a lovely Portland morning. I have also found the teashop that is akin to being in my home, with comfy over-sized chairs to sit in and the most delicious teas, both hot and cold. And then there are my two favorite parks; one that is close to my home and has gently sloping hills covered with massive, older trees that provide welcome shade on a summer day, and the other park which has an area of native grasses and plants, along with a pond full of playful fish and lovely lily pads. As I get ready to board the train in a few hours that will take me to family and friends I haven’t seen for six months, I say to myself that I am going back to Minnesota, but I will be coming home to Portland.

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