Yesterday’s Coffee


Before the Crankee Yankee and I married, I told him that I loved waking up to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. In fact, that is the first thing I want when I get up; a steaming cup of fresh coffee. Since he is usually up before I am, it’s a great deal for me.

However, nearly 15 years of marriage later, I find, more often than not, that the leftover coffee from the day before is the general bill of fare in the morning. Maybe it’s just my spoiled brat thinking, but it never tastes good.

From the Crankee Yankee’s point of view, it’s thrifty. Why make another pot when there is (in his mind anyway) perfectly good coffee left in the pot? But to me, it taste like motor oil….OLD motor oil.

It could all be in my mind; perhaps there’s nothing wrong with “used” coffee. It just tastes stale and somehow flat to me. This means that one of us has to give in and make a new pot of coffee.

We do own a Keurig coffee maker which the Crankee Yankee won in a raffle for a $10 ticket. I thought, ‘fabulous! This ends the leftover sludge in the morning; each of us can have as many cups of fresh coffee as we like, and as many flavors as we like!’

Sadly, that did not work out. Why? Because the Crankee Yankee doesn’t like to buy the coffee pods, claiming that they are too expensive.

I said, “Are you kidding?!? You won a Keurig coffee maker for $10 when they sell for nearly $100—we can afford coffee pods!” He grudgingly agreed, so we went out to buy some pods, and this happened:

Instead of getting a few different flavors to try (personally I wanted egg nog, coconut, and French vanilla), we ended up with a small pack of hazelnut pods. I tried to explain that the whole idea of having a Keurig is that you can have a whole selection of coffees to choose from.

But what are you going to do? The man is thrifty, and he is good with money. This is a classic case of the old saying, “take the bitter with the sweet.” And boy—is that old coffee bitter! So, when I just can’t drink any more sour old coffee, I ninja into the kitchen before I go to bed and quietly pour out most of that morning’s coffee.

It’s all part of my secret evil plan. Don’t tell the Crankee Yankee.

Growing Up Next to the Cemetery

In the early ’60s, my parents and I moved from our apartment to our new house . It was one of the first houses built on the street, which was right next to the town cemetery. Of course, when I told people where we moved to, I heard a lot of jokes about living in “Spookytown,” how quiet the neighbors were, and how people were just dying to get in, har, har, har.

But that cemetery was and is beautiful, peaceful (of course), and was a wonderful place to sit and read on a sunny afternoon. There were (and still are) flowering shrubs and bushes throughout, and some of the dates on the old slate stones go back to the 1800s. There is even the grave of a man who was a member of the Boston Tea Party.

As a teenager, I loved how you could smell the juniper and the flowers, and listen to all the birdsong. I never felt scared in the cemetery, and often walked up and down the “aisles” reading names and inscriptions, and seeing the little offerings people left on or near the gravestones.

Cemeteries have an unfortunate reputation; quite undeserved. It is a place of peace and beauty where we can go and remember the people we know who have gone on. It has become my habit these days to leave little stones or beach glass or other tokens on top of the pink granite “Bullock” headstone to mark my visits. I like to think that my people smile, wherever they are, and remember our lives together as I do.

My grandparents and now my mother rest there, and there is a place next to Mom for Dad. Me, I have no idea where my own bones will finally rest, but I hope that it will be in such a lovely and serene place.

Mom’s Magic Bowl

I was still living at home when Mom gave me an unusual gift for one birthday; a large well-used aluminum bowl. She told me that it was in this bowl that she had made her first batch of brownies.

I loved the bowl for its history, and to this day I use it for making Dad’s favorite chocolate chip cookies, and many other things. It could be my imagination, but anything I’ve ever made in that bowl always seems to taste better; cookies, coleslaw, brownies, salads, meatloaf, etc.

Sometimes objects have the ability to take us back in time, as this bowl does for me. While using it, I picture my mom making that first batch of brownies, how she looked at the time, and what her thoughts and dreams were. Whenever I use it, I feel happy and close to Mom.

It is said that objects carry their own energy within them. This especially goes for artist-made objects. While I appreciate being the beneficiary of good artistic energy, some don’t care for it. In that case, it’s easy to fix. Say you bought a gold ring from an artist whom you didn’t care for personally, but you loved his designs.

To cleanse the ring, place it on top of a small dish of sea salt for at least a day. Or you can leave it out the light of a full moon. Frankly, it’s much easier to use the sea salt method; that way you don’t need to wait around for a full moon.

So what do sea salt and the moon have to do with artistic energy? They both act as “cleansers” to remove the artist’s energy from the object that they made. This way you start off fresh with your artisan item, which will now fill itself with your energy.

But getting back to Mom’s magic bowl and all such precious and treasured objects passed down from generations before—old and battered they may be. Dented and plain they may be.

Used and touched by so many hands, and filled with the ghosts of all manner of delicious foods, these objects become part of our *lares and penates. We take them with us wherever we go, and they become part of our own family lore.

This old aluminum bowl is precious to me for its history, and for the love in which it was given. I like to think sometimes of all the treasures from so many people who have handed them down to their children, then those children’s children, and so on.

I hope that someday I may pass this precious and well-loved bowl on to one of my granddaughters; perhaps one or both of them will find joy in preparing food for themselves and their families.

But most of all I hope that they treasure their own history. Through circumstances I could never have imagined, I have been lucky enough to find myself in an **ohana with these two little girls and their mom and dad. Not only will I leave them with my never-ending love, but also all the things that ever mattered to me, including that aluminum bowl.

I will make sure that they know its history, and what it meant to me. I will leave it in their capable hands, knowing that the bowl contains both history and love; both of which they need.

Don’t we all?

* From

“Household goods (a family’s treasured possessions). ETYMOLOGY: From Latin Lares et Penates, from Lares, plural of Lar (in Roman mythology, the deity or spirit who protected a household) + et (and) + Penates (deities of the household that were believed to bring wealth).”

**Ohana is a Hawaiian word that means ‘extended family.’ You do not need to be blood-related to be part of it; you are welcomed in with love and joy.

It’s National “Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day”

They say that there is a holiday for every day of the year, and today’s holiday is “wear your pajamas to work day.” In fact, I am wearing mine right now. I think it would be a terrific idea to do this at least once a week, not just once a year. Since I am no longer working, I think I might start a fashion trend of wearing pajamas several days during the week. What do I care? As the Crankee Yankee says, “I have nothing to do, and all the time in the world to do it in.”

Just think of the benefits of wearing pajamas to work each day:

  • All day comfort
  • Slippers, not shoes
  • No need for panty hose or ties (two of the most restricting clothing items on the planet)
  • Inexpensive wardrobe, not to mention fun
  • Instead of paying out the nose for designer suits, you can get a whole wardrobe of PJs with matching slippers
  • If your pajamas get dirty, so what? Keep another pair in your desk drawer
  • Wouldn’t everyone be nicer when wearing a comfy pair of PJs?

Personally, I think that part of the ladder-climbing, bitchery and backstabbing at work comes from a lack of being comfortable. Think about it, how mad can you get when you and your peers are wearing pajamas printed with monkeys and bananas and wearing pink bunny slippers?

Just think of all the dry cleaning bills you’d save, too. I don’t know about you, but I am far more productive when I am comfortable. Now for us older people, there is another great perk about wearing pajamas each day. No more lamenting that you don’t look like your twenty-five year old self any more (shoot–who does?). No more worrying about what the neighbors say–they too will be wearing PJs! No more sucking in your stomach when walking by other people. In fact, how about this: wear pajamas with a nice kangaroo pouch in front. You’d have a place to carry your keys, a granola bar, a bottle of water, sunglasses, Kleenex, and so on. Then people will say, ‘oh hey–he’s not fat; he’s prepared!’

I say that, after years of busting one’s hump working, it would be a welcome change to don our PJs each day. We can call it “PJ chic.” Just wait–I’ll bet this catches on!



More Truth About Massage

For Christmas, one of the Crankee Yankee’s gifts was not one, but TWO gift certificates for a relaxing massage! I “spent” one just the other day, and I feel renewed, refreshed, regenerated and rejuvenated.

Many people have the wrong ideas about massage; some still view it as something that “non-celebrity people” just don’t do. Others feel that massage therapists only want to work on “perfect” bodies (I actually heard someone say this), and not “regular” bodies. Others feel that that kind of self-gratification is just not for them; either they are uncomfortable about it or they feel that they don’t deserve it.

Let me tell you about my own experiences with massage. I have been privileged to have wonderful, skillful, empathetic and talented massage therapists work on me, and I have felt absolutely great afterwards. Massage does wonders for aching joints, arthritis, disease, sorrow, repressed feelings, and so much more. Massage therapists have extensive training, and often they will have had a background in physical therapy or are Reiki masters, and so on. They view bodies as a battleground to which they work to bring peace and comfort where there is pain and turmoil.

As we get older, many of things we’ve done in our youth come back to haunt us as pain and stiffness. I was a Tae Kwon Do and self-defense instructor for years, and only now do I realize the toll it took on my body. When teaching punches and kicks, you end up practicing them thousands of times, and your joints and tendons eventually let you know that they are not happy. So you end up with a lot of residual pain, and massage is a real blessing. It cannot heal the damage that has been done, but it soothes it to a point where your body and mind can let the pain go. In fact, after a massage, I generally have a great night’s sleep.

I’ve written about massage in this blog before, but after having that most welcome massage recently, it brought back all that is wonderful about it. Not only can massage soothe your mind and body, but I feel it sends messages to the soul: “it’s ok, you can relax now. All is well. Your sorrows and worries will not last forever, you will be able to have good sleep again, and you DO deserve this.”

This is just my two cents, but if you are on the fence about it, do give it a try. For me, it is comfort and peace when *the world is “too much with us.”

*”The World Is Too Much With Us,” by William Wordsworth:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.”

The Comfort Basket – Another One of Mom’s Great Ideas

As Mom, Dad, the Crankee Yankee and I go through these precious days of spending time with my mom, who is dying of metastatic breast cancer, we find we talk of many things. Most of them have nothing to do with death and dying, but ways of helping people, bringing people together, the world in general and also ideas about making things easier on Hospice patients and their caregivers.

Since the end of August, Mom can no longer walk, but Dad or I or the Hospice nurses can get her around the house on her “sit down” walker. Other than that, she spends a lot of time in bed, resting, dozing, enjoying visitors and callers, as well as keeping her mind sharp.

Over time, we started putting together a small basket of items that Mom likes to have near her; tissues, lip balm, phone, pen, her calendar, and so on. When her “Lemon Sorbet” room spray ran out, I looked downtown for a replacement, and found a delightful citrus-y scented spray. Mom loved it, so we added “room spray” to the list of “comforters.” When you are in one room for long periods of time, the air can get stale, so a spritz of a good-smelling room spray is a welcome change.

So, after careful consideration, this is what we came up with for the contents of Mom’s own “comfort basket:”

  • room spray
  • tissues
  • wet wipes
  • eye drops
  • lip balm
  • daily pocket calendar and a pen
  • white board and dry-erase pen
  • breath mints
  • eye glass case and cleaning cloth
  • tooth floss
  • hand cream
  • sanitizing gel

…and of course, the phone and newly-installed “*panic button” are close at hand. All these things are in a small easy-to-reach basket. Of course, depending on the person, the contents of a comfort basket will vary, but these are the things that Mom prefers.

The white board (her idea) has become an essential part of Mom’s day. In a hospital room, there is always a white board stating that day’s date, the name of the assigned nurse and doctor, meal-time, etc. Mom likes having her daily information up on the board so that she can glance up at any time to see what each day will bring.

As you may or may not know, often meds will affect the patient’s memory or thought process. So having that white board and calendar are essential links to life for some patients. For Mom, this is her lifeline to the world, and it’s important to respect what she (or any person in her situation) finds comfortable and convenient.

So, just one more idea born of this time in Mom’s life. We hope that you find it helpful and something to make someone in Mom’s situation a bit more happy and comfortable.

*Local “first alert” type system just in case.