Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Simple Pleasures

Awhile back, I read this great fable about a college professor handing out coffee in different cups. Some of the cups were fancy, limited editions, or expensive. Some were rather plain every day mugs that you can pick up at the dollar store. It was a great fable about how we (we as in we in society) get all het up over the trappings that we forget about what is in the cup. I believe this fable was posted by An Oklahoma Granny or it was posted by Lanyard Lady.  I can't find the post so I'm using my best "guess" as to which one posted it. I could be wrong.

(If you posted this fable, please speak up so I can give you proper credit!) 
[EDITOR'S NOTE: It was An Oklahoma Granny who posted this lovely fable on her blog. Thanks for clarifying OK Granny!] 

 I like this fable a lot because it fits in with my philosophy about the half empty or half full glass. You know what I mean. Are you the kind of person who looks at a glass of liquid as half empty (pessimistic) or half full (optimistic). I never worried about it being half empty or half full--I wanted to know what was in the glass! That was always the important issue--What's in the glass? 

Back to the fable. As I read the fable, I was reminded about our ordeal with coffee pots and the battle I won with my wonderful husband. Since we were married, we have gone through many automatic drip coffee makers. The only one that lasted for any length of time was the GE his father gave us. It lasted nearly 2 years before giving out. That's a long time for a coffee maker to last in our home. Most last--if we are lucky--6 months. I kid you not.

Last summer, I woke up early to grade some papers before running off to teach one of my summer classes. My usual  morning routine is get up, nearly step on a cat in putting my feet on the floor, travel to the kitchen, tripping over cats to hit the switch on the coffee pot, do a delicate balancing act trying NOT to step on more cats on my way back to the office to hit the switch on the computer, stumble and stagger around cats on my way to the bathroom.  Then when I'm finished there, I go feed cats, feed birds, feed more feline hungry monsters and the coffee is ready. Ahhhhhhhhhh coffee--makes life better any day!

This particular morning there was no coffee. I checked to make sure the coffee pot was plugged in and that we had electricity. Yes we did but there was no coffee. The clock on the coffee maker was on, but there was no heat from the heating element. Fine. 

I broke out the back-up machine. When you go through as many coffee makers as we have, you always have a back-up machine. ALWAYS. For mornings like this. Luckily, I decided to leave the broken machine alone and empty it AFTER I had a cup of coffee. But now I was behind. And being behind schedule makes me a nasty person to be around--especially without coffee. Trust me on this one and save yourself some grief later. 

My poor husband had picked that time to walk into the kitchen, joyously proclaiming it was a good morning. Remember I said I was in a nasty mood? I snarled at him that it wasn't a good morning. That the damned coffee maker broke. AGAIN! That I was behind schedule and wouldn't get those papers graded for my morning class.  

Now my husband has seen me without coffee before and he knows what I'm like. But he hasn't seen me like this in a long while so imagine his surprise to find his sweet loving wife turned (like a Gremlin given food after midnight) into this ranting, raving nasty person. He immediately did what most men do when their wives confront them with a list of problems: He tried to fix it. He promised to look for a new machine that very morning--he would skip work to find us a new coffee machine. He would have promised me anything within reason (and probably anything unreasonable) at the moment to get me to calm down. (Hmmm...I need to think about that one--did I miss an opportunity???)

I told him I wanted our camping coffee pot. NOW.  D replied that he would just find us a new machine. I told him that I wasn't having it--that we weren't spending ANY more money on cheap, plastic crap any more. That I wanted what worked for centuries and by the gods-n-demons-above-and-below us, I wanted our camping coffee pot NOW. 

To say he found our camping coffee pot in the next 10 seconds is exaggerating a bit. It was more like 35 seconds. He only brought up finding a new coffee pot once. He's only brought it up once because I gave him a look that would curdle fresh cream. He was relatively unscathed from the look but took note and kept his mouth shut afterwards. He's a wise man.

So now we have our coffee out of an old stove top percolator. Yes it means getting up 20 minutes early to turn on the stove in order to have coffee fresh and hot. But it gives me lots of options. For instance, I can go back to bed and catch an extra 20 minutes worth of sleep, or wash dishes if I didn't do them the night before, or attack some other unexciting household chore. Like laundry or scooping a cat box or two.

Which brings me back to that fable about the coffee cups. My coffee pot and my coffee cups are simple. They aren't expensive. They aren't extravagant. Nonetheless the richness of what they contain is one of the simple pleasures that makes life in the  mornings coherent, blessed, and sparkling like the first rays of sun breaking from the night's cloak. 

                                           My two favorite cups and my favorite coffee pot.

What does your coffee pot and favorite coffee cup look like? 


  1. Cathryn, I have to raise my hand. I posted the coffee cup story here http://okgranny.blogspot.com/2009/11/coffee-anyone.html
    You might remember that I never acquired a taste for coffee or tea. My husband on the other hand does love his coffee. In fact he told me last night he'd like to have some particular kind of coffee maker that costs in the neighborhood of $100 & the coffee that goes in it is pretty expensive too. Because his luck with pots is much like yours, I don't think he'll be getting one for Christmas. I do have an idea of what I want to get him and I'm sure he'll like it just as well - well, maybe. . .

  2. Oh Cathryn, your story is a breath of fresh air!
    We seem to have the same problem with the coffee makers here. No matter which one we buy, give it a few months and it commits suicide. I am not a pleasant morning person, I do not even speak until I have had my cup of coffee. I grunt! Then shortly thereafter I become human.
    The other problem to this morning picture is when we run out of my favorite brew. I have become addicted to " Pike's Place", a Starbucks blend. Nothing compares for me.
    It doesn't take much to make me happy, just a great cup of coffee.

  3. I have half-full and half-empty days! Like you, I like the tried and true things in life, even if they are not the coolest.

  4. What a great post! I do love all of the mentions of the cats. I can picture it! My husband drinks coffee at home, I do not. He gets it ready at night and there is his coffee ready and waiting in the morning. The coffee makers really don't last very long, or if we finally get one that is doing well, I manage to break the pot and then we are buying a new pot or another cheap coffee maker!