Nipping home for a cup of coffee

Mediterranean cookery expert and coffee aficionada Claudia Roden once related the story of a Viennese man who loved java and conversation. Early in the day he found a seat and ordered his cup, which inevitably led to a convivial discussion for most of the morning. Suddenly he looked at the clock and asked his friends, “Would you mind saving my seat while I nip home for a cup of coffee.”

A doodle I drew before a disastrous game with the Red Sox, while having a Sowden coffee.

Honest evaluation brings one to the realization that only the best restaurants can cook a dinner better than one can fix for oneself. So also I have suspected for some time that I can make a better cup of coffee at home than I can find at popular coffee houses.

Last weekend I discovered an out of the way spot in the warehouse district nor far from the state line and Southwest Trafficway in Kansas City. A friend called it a “toy shop for coffee lovers,” and I found this aphorism to be as accurate as it had been intriguing. About the Coffee is the name of the place, and I believe it is now one of my go-to places for adventure. I saw coffee making devices previously unknown, interesting conversation with fellow coffee snobs and emerged with a Sowden Softbrew Oskar coffee maker/server that is wonderful.

I have been using the Sowden for a week and have not been disappointed (except by human error in grinding beans too finely). It is the easiest good method of brewing coffee that I have found. Now I can easily nip home for a cup of coffee! All I need to add is the good conversation!

Traveling East (Along Prairie Highways)

Do you remember when we were young and free from concerns of time and place, and when we would encounter eternal moments by chance? We would drive east along prairie highways that rolled and snaked through broad meadows of tall bleached corn stalks, fenced by wooded domes and moated by crumbling gullies.tallgrassoctober

It was during the literal hour our folks taught us to call evening. Behind us, the retiring sun reddened every shiny facet of flora that had invisibly reflected the sunlight at noon. Now it gave creation a Sleepy Hollow cast, and we sped through together, alone, without fear, intent on capturing the treasured moment forever. But we envied Katrina Van Tassel her realm and longed to sample apple dumplings in their dappled syrup that ran down our chins. If we stopped, we would don sweaters and hold one another close as the spin of the earth stole our golden moment, though it remained in our memories.

Today I uncovered those memories by chance and glimpsed again those gilded fields when I felt the first crisp air of autumn rush by my face, and felt the longing to drive east again with you.

Minds Don’t Move: Inspired by G. K. Chesterton

Drained from incessant grilling by the army of reporters during the news conference, Mr. Slight was escorted out of the building and across the street by four older men in expensive, dark suits. Feeling a light drizzle on his face, Mr. Slight glanced at the lowering gray skies and heard the quick splash of his loafers on the pavement. His companions led him to a highly polished black door atop a stoop with three well-worn concrete steps. The sole bearded man in the group opened the door for Mr. Slight and invited him to enter the building first with a wave of his hand.firebirdofaphorisms

Beyond the door was a square anteroom, a dark hallway with sconces and rich oak panels. Directly opposite from the entrance was an enormous double door of oak. Somehow the bearded man stepped to the front again and opened the doors with both hands, and this time Mr. Slight followed into a room that glowed a rich red from the largest fireplace Mr. Slight had ever seen and it contained a blazing fire of alarming proportions.

The bearded man addressed Mr. Slight: “Please, make yourself comfortable and sit wherever you like.” He and his companions left the room by a side door.

Mr. Slight thought this simple instruction was easier said than done. Every couch and chair in the room, save one, had a tweed-coated occupant who was either engaged in conversation or cradling a snifter, or both. The room smelled of cigars though it was strangely free of smoke. The one available chair was a red leather wingback near the giant blaze. Beside the chair was a side table with a carafe of red liquid and a black lacquered cigar box. On the other side of the table was an identical wingback chair with a completely bald man sitting in it. In his right hand was an unlit cigar, and he balanced a partially full snifter of brandy on the cushion between his legs. To achieve this balancing act, only his toes touched the floor and were turned in such a way that he appeared pigeon-toed. Smiling, he waved the cigar toward the empty seat in a summoning gesture.

“Please sit down,” said the bald man. “And welcome to the Mossbunker Club. My name is Eggith. I am a retired professor of philosophy.”

“Thank you,” replied Mr. Slight with a smile that lived up to his name.

“I watched your press conference. You handled yourself well.” Eggith broke into a smile as he said this.

“What, did I not commit any non sequiturs?” asked Mr. Slight.

“Oh dear, I am afraid I don’t look for those. We philosophers are human beings after all and must live in the real world. Most talk is chatter to me, but when I must I will form a general impression of an oration in the form of its principle–if it has one.” Eggith laughed, though the joke was lost on Mr. Slight.

“Very interesting,” said Mr. Slight. “So how would you frame your general impression?”

Eggith narrowed his eyes and looked away thoughtfully. “Well, hmm. Yes, yes. Here it is…”

Eggith paused for a full ten seconds and then dramatically turned to Mr. Slight and looked him directly in the eyes. Mr. Slight could see his jaw muscles twitching. Egglith opened his mouth.

Minds don’t move,” Eggith said triumphantly.

Mr. Slight nodded his head slowly as if he understood this obscure comment. “Yes, yes, I think I see what you mean.” But he didn’t. This was sheer nonsense, and he wondered if Eggith was a bit cracked. He laughed at the thought.

“But then,” said Mr. Slight. “Before we get too hasty, You need to tell me whether the sense in which you used the word ‘move’ is intransitive or reflexive.” This was more nonsense, made up for effect. It hit the mark: Eggith nodded vigorously, as if he understood. Thus Mr. Slight pressed his case further. “If I say that I think minds are static, what then?”

Eggith’s features became completely screwed around on his face. Starting with his ears, his entire countenance, chameleon-like, reddened until his head looked like a great tomato with white eyebrows. He stood to his feet more violently than abruptly. Mr. Slight’s sight was drawn to Eggith’s hands. He noticed that they were unnaturally small, and now he clenched them tightly into little balls so that his arms looked like two enormous tweed matchsticks. He thrust his arms forward so that they were suddenly extended straight in front of him. “So here is our angry philosopher,” thought Mr. Slight. “Insane with the continually buried pain and resentment of being unloved, if not abused.” These musings were interrupted by an outburst from Eggith that ended his flourishing of contortions.

“No! Minds are filtered receptors of the One Mind!” bellowed Eggith, and he turned on his heel and fled the room. Sixty or more astonished eyes crowned silent, gaping mouths as the heavy oak doors crashed behind him. Mr. Slight’s eyes were on the cigar box as he lifted the polished lid.

“Well,” he whispered. “This dream is over.”