Tag Archives: coffee

2465. Let her eat cake

Some cultures eat cake with a fork; some with a spoon; some simply eat cake with their fingers.

Aileen had baked a cake for visitors. It wasn’t a fancy occasion. It wasn’t a particularly fancy cake. The cake was simply something to nibble on with a coffee or tea, or in Jackie Olwynn’s case, with a glass of water. The occasion was something that Aileen did every year, and that was to invite all the women who lived on the street in for a cuppa.

This was the eleventh year that Aileen had held such an occasion, but it was the first year since her husband had upped and left. He’d run off with a woman who lived two doors down the road. Penelope-Prue most certainly was not on the invitation list!

And then the worst happened: Jackie Olwynn arrived with Penelope-Prue in hand.  “She wasn’t going to come,” said Jackie, “and I said, don’t be a silly-billy.”

Penelope-Prue was from overseas. She was not a typical foreigner; she was loud, obnoxious, and did everything that was totally, socially proper in an ostentatious way. AND – she ate her cake with a fork.

The little afternoon tea began. Aileen had already divided the cake and placed the slices on pretty plates of delicate flowers. “And would any like a fork to eat their cake?”

Penelope-Prue did. “An educated lady is one who eats cake with a fork even if she dines alone!” joked Penelope-Prue.

Aileen nearly sniggered. “Aha!” she thought, “it is indeed very proper for that frump to eat her poisoned slice with a fork.”

2450: Welcome to Verona

A roundish number and a solid fifty before getting to story 2500! So here is a true saga – as is the custom on such occasions. Some may regard this tale as “inappropriate”.

It was New Year’s Eve. I had been staying with a friend in Passau, Germany (once again trying to find my way back to New Zealand after studying in Massachusetts). The next leg of my journey was to be Italy. The train left Munich at 10 p.m. and would arrive in Verona early in the morning of New Year’s Day. As the train departed my friend presented me with two bottles of red wine – to celebrate the New Year.

I waved farewell. The train was on its way.  It was already New Year’s Day in New Zealand! I shall toast the New Year there. I had recently been in England. I shall toast the New Year there! I had visited Ireland. I shall toast the New Year there!  I had been in many countries all over Europe. Well! I was given two bottles to celebrate the New Year. The train arrived in Verona.  It was three in the morning. I left the empty bottles neatly in my carriage compartment.

Aha! There was a café in the station and it was open. I had exchanged some German money into Italian currency before I left Munich. I said to the lady behind the counter: “Coffee please”, and what did I get? One tiny cup with what looked like a teaspoon of molasses.  I noticed other customers “knocked it back” and went on their way. I hovered and listened how to order a decent mug of coffee. I was successful!

And then I wanted to go to the toilet. Urgently.  Number 2. But to get into a cubicle you had to pay with small coins and I didn’t have any.  I handed the guarding janitor a hefty note and he let me in.

Let me explain before I go any further…  I am not exactly a fashion model but it was midwinter and I dressed warmly. I wore jeans and boots. The jeans were held up by a pair of suspenders (we call them braces).  Over all of that I wore a pullover and a heavy coat, a scarf, and gloves. And – oh dear – the toilet was not sit-down but a beautifully tiled hole in the floor.

Let me get over this bit quite briefly… One can’t lower ones jeans without undoing the suspenders. One can’t undo the suspenders without taking off ones coat, scarf, and gloves. One cannot squat on the floor with pulled down jeans. One can’t take ones jeans off without first taking off ones boots. One doesn’t want to get ones socks wet on the bathroom tiles. To cut a long story short, there I was (ever so slightly inebriated) totally naked in a freezing toilet in Verona at three in the morning. I have no idea how Italians do it.

Emerging (fully clothed) back into the station I checked the train timetable. No train to take me out of this God-forsaken place. The train station was some distance from the centre of town. I decided to walk – in the dark – and arrived in Verona town centre at dawn.

What a marvellous place! I fell in love with it and I was sad a few days later to leave this wondrous town! I even saw the balcony where Juliet said, “O Romeo! Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” It was magic and my real introduction to the entrancement that was Italy.

2280. Dare to ask

Every morning I go to the café to get a latte and hopefully to catch a glimpse of her. Her name I believe is Claudia. She seems lovely. She is one of three baristas that work behind the counter but the café is so popular that you can’t guarantee that you’ll be served by Claudia. In fact I’ve only struck her twice. But she is there behind the counter being pleasant to everyone and looking enchanting. I’m sure she notices me. Sometimes she nods a greeting in my direction.

Next time I get her in the café line I’m going to be really daring and ask if she wants to go to the movies or something. She can only say no. I’ve never had much luck at dating but I’m not giving up yet. She can’t say yes if she’s not asked.

I try to be positive about things but so often rejection seems to be the name of the game. You can tell that most women I ask for a date are not too keen to go out with a guy in a wheelchair.

2183. Broken coffee maker

When Irene’s coffee making machine broke down she could have cried. In fact, she did. After all these years it was one of the few things left that she and her husband, Dalton, had purchased together. They had been married for forty-one years, and then he died of chronic heart disease. One by one the things they had shared together broke or got dismantled. The worst example was the passing of their cat, Topsy. Now it was the coffee machine.

With sadness Irene tossed it in the trash. But she kept the jug that was part of it. What she would do with it she had no idea. From now on it would be instant coffee in the morning. Who can afford a new coffee machine when on the pension?

She did however take herself off to the second hand shop. Sometimes one stumbled across a bargain. And there it was! An almost new coffee maker! It was a different brand from her previous one. It was well within her budget. She bought it instantly. The man looking after the shop, his name was Taylor, said he’d thought about buying it himself. His coffee machine at home had a broken jug.

Irene had the perfect solution! Her jug was the perfect match! She would drop it off at his home.

That was a few months ago. They now have two coffee makers in the kitchen.

2131. Morning coffee

It was breakfast. Gordon and Jillian always sat at a coffee bench in the kitchen and stared vacantly at their coffees until they woke up properly. It was a ritual. Occasionally something was said, such as “Did you see on TV where the president has done this or the vice-president has not done that?”

Today was different. Jillian had gone out and purchased a morning paper; something they never did. She sat looking not at her coffee but at the obituaries.

It had been two days now. She still couldn’t believe it.

2059. The meanest, nastiest mother

Letitia’s nine-year-old son, Jason, was a brat. It was a quality he had inherited from his mother. Jason’s teacher (currently on strike) had described Letitia as “the meanest, nastiest mother I have ever encountered in my thirty-two years of teaching.”

Indeed, Jason had inherited every inch of his mother’s nastiness, and not an ounce of his father’s niceness. His father visited once a month, for an hour only. That was all that Letitia allowed. The father was there, said Letitia, to “pay the bills and stay out of our life.”

How the tables turned when Paddy came into a considerable fortune! The ink had hardly dried on Paddy’s newly-created will, leaving all to Jason, when Letitia conceived a plot. Next time Paddy visited she would poison him.

Letitia shared her plan with Jason. “You want to be rich? Let’s not hang around. Let’s get rid of him. Here’s the plan…”

Jason was to offer his father a cup of coffee. He was to put the poisonous powder into his father’s mug along with the sugar.

Jason took after his mother – the meanest, nastiest mother ever encountered. When his father visited Jason prepared the coffee as instructed. He gave his mother the special mug.

1971. Oh sugar!

Pamela was a sound sleeper. She lived alone. She locked the house thoroughly each night before she went to bed. The neighbours were a bit strange – especially the wife. She was a bit of a recluse. Pamela had met her just the once. Word had it that she had been in and out of psychiatric care centres throughout her life.

It may have been because of this that Pamela was nervously suspicious. She had suspected for quite some time that strange things happened in the night. She was always meticulous about things, and sometimes she noticed that some household items had been moved ever so slightly, or even that she ran out of tea bags faster than she should. In fact she counted the tea bags. She used two tea bags a day. The seventy-eight tea bags in the box should last for thirty-nine days. She marked the date on her wall calendar.

Ashley, the neighbour, was a bit strange, but not as strange as his wife. He would come over once a week to Pamela’s for a cup of coffee. Pamela had never warmed to him. But a neighbour is a neighbour and it was after all only about thirty minutes in her week that his visits lasted. His wife never came with him.

Now the doctor had told Pamela to go easy on the sugar, so she filled the sugar bowl (in case visitors came and took sugar) and put the sugar bowl high in the cupboard. That was the last time she used it. It was a lot easier to give up sugar than she had expected.

When Ashley came over next she filled the conversation with the usual small talk. She had given up sugar. Did he still want sugar in his coffee? Perhaps he would prefer a cup of tea?

“Oh,” said Ashley, “I think you’re out of tea bags.”

1849. Midmorning coffee

Cyril liked to have a coffee midmorning. It provided a break from sitting at the office desk. Not that he didn’t take his mug of coffee to the office desk to drink, but it was different. He didn’t have any of those fancy gizmos that sophisticated offices have. There was simply an electric kettle sitting on a little table next to a plug, a jar of instant coffee, and a jar of sugar. Anyway, there was just Cyril and his secretary.

When Ivy his secretary left for a new job, Cyril didn’t replace her for several months. During that time, to be honest, he simply couldn’t be bothered making a coffee midmorning. It’s not that he didn’t want one. It just that he really couldn’t be bothered having to wash his mug and teaspoon first. And then if the teaspoon was wet the instant coffee would stick to the spoon, and how does one then use the spoon to get the sugar out of the sugar jar?

Eventually Cyril hired a new secretary. Delesia was the perfect secretary; pleasant, efficient, capable, hard-working.

On her first day of work, around about half past ten, she announced to Cyril that she was taking ten minutes of time out, and would he like a cup of coffee?

Would he what! What a dear creature! Yes please!

That was years and years ago. This Saturday they will have been married for forty-two years.

1843. Hearty food

Dean’s doctor told him to start eating healthy. He searched online for healthy foods. There were links to different foods that said “Eat these for a healthy heart”. Dean clicked on them, link after link. It took a good half an hour to download all the pages each with a different healthy food.

The following, in this order, were good for the heart:

Oranges, kale, garlic, red wine, chocolate, sardines, lentils, almonds, pomegranates, blueberries, beets, salmon, turmeric, chia seeds, apples, avocados, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, chicken, chickpeas, coffee, cranberries, figs, flax seeds, red hot chilli peppers, ginger, grapefruit, green tea, kidney beans, kiwi fruit, mackerel, cashew nuts, oatmeal, pears…

Dean tried them all, one after the other, and it made no difference. He was still hungry. Health food doesn’t fill you up.

He finished off with a big slice of cream sponge cake and at last was satisfied.

1832. A spoonful of sugar

Craig’s doctor had said he was to go easy on the sugar. “You’re getting perilously close to being diabetic.”

The only occasion that Craig used sugar directly was coffee. In the mornings he had two cups of instant coffee, black, with a heaped spoon of sugar. His wife, Tracy, was the same – instant and black, with one heaped teaspoon of sugar.

Of course, Craig didn’t tell Tracy about the diabetes. He didn’t want to worry her. He ever so quietly simply gave up putting sugar in his coffee.

A week or so later, Tracy seemed to be in one of her moods. It was not an uncommon occurrence. Every now and again nothing in the world was right. Craig couldn’t hiccup without it causing a tsunami.

“I’ve been meaning to say this all week,” said Tracy. Her matrimonial corrections always began that way: “I’ve been meaning to say this all week…”

“What is it this time?” asked Craig.

“I’ve told you time and time again not to use the same spoon in the sugar as you use in the instant coffee. There are granules of instant coffee in the sugar bowl. It’s disgusting. Before long everything that has sugar in it will start tasting of coffee. Use a separate spoon.”

“I’ll do my best in the future,” said Craig.

Some lines of conversation are best not pursued – especially if down the line one is hoping to spend a little of the housekeeping money each week on a new fishing rod.