#28daysoftshirts – Day 28 Sigh No More

I’m sad to see this challenge come to an end – not least because I have 4 more tshirts I was planning on wearing, and probably another 10 that I wasn’t. So last night, when I went to a Mumford and Son’s concert, it was clear that I definitely did NOT need to get a Mumford and Son’s tshirt, no matter how much I like their music.

Mumford and Sons

Whoops.

Color: Gray
Fabric: Soft
Text: Mumford & Sons
Attributes: Throwback sleeve design and wings on the back

It was a fantastic concert

I needed to make today a two-fer to get in my favorite hoodie design. The hoodie itself has alas been washed too much to be that super soft I so prize in my hoodies (like stuffed animals). I also disagree slightly with the attributes. I’m not +9 speed. I think it should be +9 alertness, which is a more useful attribute anyway.

Backstory: In roleplaying/video games, you sometimes get magical potions that temporarily increase your capabilities. This hoodie is making the point that coffee is totally a magical potion that temporarily increases your capabilities. The font and pixelation make this seem more like an old school video game stat.

Color: Black
Fabric: Not as soft as it used to be
Text: (Picture of coffee)
+5 Wisdom
+9 Speed
+8 Energy

My favorite potion

Day 21 – My cup runneth over

Coooooofffffeeeeee

I’m feeling rather tired and drained today. There’s one sovereign remedy for weariness in my world: massive amounts of coffee. Mmmmmm coffee. I love this slightly blasphemous scene. I definitely feel kinship with the woman standing under the spout rapturously wearing a suit and holding coffee cups in either hand. I do prefer regular old American brewed coffee 99% of the time, although I like a thermal carafe better than one of the old heated ones.

Three people have already told me they need my shirt today.

Color: Brown
Fabric: Medium
Design: Huge coffee pot surrounded by adulating coffee worshippers

#28daysoftshirts – Day 8 Back home

Moar coffee pls

I finally made it home at about 2:30 am last night, and really needed to be into work and capable of thinking for meetings today. There’s only one possible solution to that problem. It starts with “c” and it ends with “e” and it is approx. 80% of my blood stream.

This is one of my all time favorite shirts. I love everything about it. I love the colors. I love the theme. I love the fuzzy slippers the zombie-dude is wearing. This one will definitely get worn to death, not discarded.

Color: Gray
Fabric: Soft
Front Text: “The Waking Dead”

Cup of Joe

In lieu of real or meaningful content, I thought I’d take a moment this morning to discuss coffee cups. Those of you who know me in the real world are aware of the fact that I had a coffee cup surgically implanted in my hand at the age of seventeen. (OK – I only WISH I did. I spend half my life wandering around wondering where I left my coffee cup on weekends.)

On your average morning – like this morning – I make myself a pot of coffee. The pot is thermal. The coffee is Starbucks Sumatra, but at about half the recommended potency. I will drink between one and three of these pots a day. On a work morning, I make my pot, give my husband a teeny cup, then fill a 16 oz mug and a 16 oz thermos. During one summer job during college, my commute was so long I made a 16 oz mug, a 16 oz thermal mug and a 16 oz thermos and would have all of it consumed by the time I got to work. During college – at which time you could tell my relative poverty by the fact I was drinking Maxwell House (although I would cut it with Starbucks if I could get any) – I used to store my coffee cup in my coat pocket. For one class, I’d have my 16 oz mug, my 16 oz thermos and a 16 oz mug for a friend in my pocket. I was a good friend.

Let us speak for a moment of the platonic ideal of the travel coffee mug. I give you this one:

Starbucks Coffee mug c1997

This might be my very favorite coffee mug (although the one with the dancing skeletons I use during Halloween is a close second).

Prime attributes:
– Perfect size
– Perfect shape
– Plastic thermal mug is ideal temperature wise (more on that in a bit)
– Lightweight
– Relatively durable (this mug is – cough – 18 years old)
– Beautiful design

Starbucks used to make these mugs all the time. They were all the same basic design, but with different pictures. I have an impressionist one, a red hispanic themed one, the aforementioned dancing skeletons… I had an extensive collection. They cost five or six dollars and came with a free drink. (For reference, my current drink costs $4.44 so that would be an excellent deal for me. Plus it’s $.10 off every drink you get in your own mug!) It’s a good thing I did since five or six years ago (more?), they stopped making them. They branched out to different designs – every mug having a different profile. They’ve innovated themselves out of something I loved!

The back of the mug, with the Space Needle in the background. 1997 represents the period where Starbucks was just beginning to explode as a global company, but was still strongly rooted in Seattle.

Right now Starbucks is basically only offering stainless steel travel mugs, to my sorrow. My problem with that is that I drink my coffee black. I pour it the second it comes out of my Mr. Coffee (not because I’m a purist – because I’m late for work). So it’s near boiling when I put it in my stainless steel mug. It stays near boiling for a looooooong time. I’m guessing the people who love these mugs add milk or creamer so they don’t burn their tongues off.

Which brings me to my last idiosyncrasy (I swear, half of my externally visible oddness has to do with my coffee habits…) I drink my coffee from these travel mugs with a straw. Always have. I learned to drink coffee and to drive at literally the same time. (Coincidence? I think not.) When I fell in love with java was when I was putting nearly a thousand miles EVERY WEEK on my parents car. (Loving parents!) I was in the car 2 to 3 hours a day, every day. Maybe more. Often first thing in the morning. If you drink out of a mug regularly in the car, you have to tilt your head back to finish it (briefly taking your eyes off the road). You also have to be more coordinated than I am, or you spill coffee on yourself. (Personally, I consider au de caffeine my personal perfume.) I neatly solved both of these problems by grabbing a straw from Starbucks and using it in mug until it breaks. In a positive innovation, Starbucks has recently started selling durable straws (for use in their cold beverages, they claim) which do not break. This is a bonus.

Thus, the on-the-go coffee.

When I’m home, as I am today, I prefer my coffee in a non travel mug. (At which time I do not use a straw, if you’re curious.) I’d never had quite a favorite, until about a year ago. I inherited a few small things from my paternal grandparents. Some pieces of jewelry. The melamine plates and bowls my grandma served me cookies on. A handthrown clay coffee mug with birds.

My grandmother’s cup
I particularly like how the birds are actually etched into the pottery. You can feel the design with your fingers. I bet this mug would be lovely to a blind person too.

I don’t know why I like it so much. I’m not even – on calm reflection – sure how I know it came from my grandma. (Relatives, can anyone confirm, or remember it?) But it’s perfect. It’s warm to the hands, but doesn’t lose heat too quickly, or scald. It conforms perfectly to the proportions of my hand. It holds just the right amount of coffee for consuming at my pace without getting cold. And the three birds on it look cheerful. There’s a name of the artist neatly signed on the bottom in bell hook-esque cursive: “betty belle”. It’s as though the fifties blew me a kiss in the shape of a coffee cup. I love it.

One of the great curses of using beautiful objects is that they are exposed to risk in the use. That platonic ideal Starbucks mug hasn’t held coffee in over 10 years because it has a crack. If I put coffee in it, that design will be gone forever. I suppose I should just throw it away, but I don’t want to. Wandering around the house doing chores in my slippers – one day I’ll move wrong and drop my grandmother’s mug and it will shatter. It is pottery, thrown and designed by hand. It is breakable. I will mourn, but I’ll have the memory of a hundred hot cups to console me. I’ll take the great memories of a mug loved and lost over an intact cup in the back of my cupboard any day of the week.

I’ve Googled betty belle and come up with nothing. I like to imagine she was a Boeing housewife who did pottery in her spare time to supplement her income. She was almost certainly a Seattle area artist.

What’s your favorite coffee cup? What’s that object you touch every day that brings you pleasure every time you use it?

Grande, two-pump, non-fat, extra-hot, no-whip mocha

I even managed to find good coffee in my journeys through Africa
I even managed to find good coffee in my journeys through Africa

When I was seventeen, my dad and I packed a few of my most important belongings into our minivan and left my home in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, heading to an elite college in Connecticut (called, innovatively, Connecticut College). Mt. Rainier, my abiding love, disappeared over my left shoulder as I took Hwy 7 over the Cascades, to connect with I90. I left behind my family, my home and my access to good coffee.

The year was 1996, and Starbucks was in the first few years of its astonishing ascendancy. It was a matter of identity for a northwest kid to proudly announce their drink order. Were you a mocha girl? A latte guy? Or did you fancy a cappuccino? I remember horrifying my fellow youth symphonians by telling them just how unbelievably far away the nearest Starbucks was from my home (almost an hour). I had a set of four “favorite” Starbucks for the routes I took most. I bought in, hook line and sinker.

I used to bring three cups of coffee to school – one to drink in the car, one to drink in my first class and the third in a thermal tumbler I left in my locker for my second class. I was all in on coffee. That April, I’d been completely taken in by an NPR prank about Starbucks building East/West coffee pipeline. I was a little preoccupied about the coffee question on that long drive across Montana and North Dakota.

My four years at college were spent in a veritable caffeine desert. The closest Starbucks was in Cranston, Rhode Island, but I didn’t have a car. Eventually my long-suffering boyfriend got a car, but lacked a sense of direction which added a good 20 minutes to the Starbucks run. It happened only a handful of times a year. I accepted my caffeine-isolation as the price of education (although there are a few stories about what my friends were forced to do in order to get me to a Starbucks).

But when my now-husband brought me to our first shared home in Roslindale, I had high hopes that I might – for the first time in my life – live within easy access of a Starbucks. That hope was dashed – the nearest one was quite a way away. There was one near church I stopped at religiously, but certainly none within walking distance. Nor was there one near my then-office. Two years later, we moved to Malden. The Starbucks perimeter held firm. I changed jobs, and still was not near a Starbucks. We moved to Stoneham. If you draw a circle around my house, you would find I’m in just about the furthest possible location from any Starbucks. I was appalled to learn that Stoneham, when wooed by a Starbucks, didn’t enthusiastically support the project, but blocked it. Really, selectmen, the town is now sufficiently supplied with nail salons, convenience stores and liquor stores. But we’re terribly underserved by purveyors of fine caffeine solutions.

Black whole of Starbucks at home
Black hole of Starbucks at home

Since then, I’ve changed jobs twice. It wasn’t a huge surprise that the Billerica location was not close to a Starbucks. But when I got a gig in one of the most cutting edge districts of Boston, I was ready for my luck to change. At last, finally, I would have easy access to a Starbucks – for the first time in my entire life! I could go grab a cuppa in the dark stretch of afternoon. I could swing by in the morning if I was running short of my brewed coffee. It would be great.

Then I discovered that, while there are about six Starbucks at the half a mile mark, there is not a single one inside that radius. D’oh!

How is it possible to be this far from a Starbucks in Boston?
How is it possible to be this far from a Starbucks in Boston?

So anyway, if you have some local coffee shops you’d like to protect in your neighborhood, can I recommend that you hire me/sell a house to me? I can all but ensure there will be no Starbucks in your town then!

Prelude to the Afternoon of Shovelling the Driveway

The last few days have not gone as planned. First Grey got the stomach bug, and lo. Sunday was not as expected. Then Monday I had procured tickets to The Secrets of Tomb 10A, and my husband and I were going to go check out the mummies ALL BY OURSELVES. It was going to be just like Vienna. And maybe we’d have a dilatory lunch or something. Bliss!

Then I was going to pick the kids up from Lawrence and drive past all my old haunts one last time. You can go back to visit, but you never again go back to belong. It was such an unexpected belonging — me and the creaky, broke, corrupt, lovely City of Lawrence. I would go a last time over the 130 year old iron bridge that will soon be demolished, that I could see from my window at work. I’d check out the latest foreclosure signs. I’d whisper goodbye and feel silly and maybe shed a few tears as I pulled away from Rubertina’s a last time.

All this was not to be. I spend the day as sick as I’ve been in Grey’s lifetime. I think the last time I was that sick was while I was pregnant with him. The time before was my freshman year of college. I rarely get very sick. But I was washed out. Sitting up was too much work. I napped from 10 am to 3 pm. My butt hurt from excessive sitting. Before about 8 pm, what I’d had to eat was 20 cheerios, 5 Ritz and some Jello. I skipped COFFEE people, that’s how serious it was.

On the plus side, I seem to have lost some weight! Not the best way to go about doing it, but don’t look a gift stomach bug in the mouth! (No really, to be avoided.)

Then, this morning, the boys’ first day at their new daycare, we go in to find Thane’s crib covered in vomit. Of course, based on his behavior today I’m not at all convinced he’s sick, piker. He’s certainly not anywhere as sick as *I* was, Mr. Incredibly Perky and Can I Come Up On the Couch For the 93rd Time Mom?

And so my last week of employment freedom races by in a blur of effluvia. And I haven’t even done the taxes yet. (Tomorrow! It must be tomorrow!)

I’d tell you more, but there’s about 3 inches of sticky white snow that should be shoveled while Thane sleeps, or this’ll get ugly.