Color Me This

Yesterday, our friend, Sharkey, posted some fall foliage colors on her blog.  The images are delightful.  Our secondary road is enough south of her that we are a few days behind in the color tour.

Nevertheless, it sent me to the front deck this morning.  That’s where I get a view of some of the first trees in the neighborhood to go through the transformation.  Here’s the wide view:


Neighbor, Bob, Cut hay last week and Sylvia power washed the decks.  Their combine actions seemed to bring on rain.  It’s finally dry again.  Hay can dry and, if this weather holds, we can seal the decks.  Back to the color.


It’s not much, but it’s the best we can do for now.  It’s scenes like these that bring joy and contentment to those that live in this house.


To my eye, that red on the left looked brighter.  Oh well . . .

Yesterday’s Sighting

Last evening, as I was getting supper ready, my eye caught sight of the red-tail hawk sitting on a power pole.  He’s been a regular visitor recently.  This time, he looked especially great in the fading light.

I went to a window and slowly lifted the blinds.  My plan was to go for the camera next.  However, as I finished lifting those blinds, he dove from the pole toward the ground.  Prey?  He was half way to earth when the strangest thing happened.  He seemed to split in two with one side going right and the other left.  Yes, it was a pair of red tails.  From my vantage point they appeared as one until they split apart.

The hawks turned to fly in the same direction, side-by-side.  I wish you could have seen it too.

Fall Has Fallen

It happened as we slept last night.  The declination of the sun was 0 degrees latitude as it hung directly over Earth’s equator.  This marked the autumnal equinox and the beginning of [astronomical] fall.

Sylvia has harvested over 30 pounds of potatoes and there are more in the ground.  We are still harvesting green beans.  It has been a strange year.  We were harvesting peas well into August and we’ve never done that before.

Meanwhile near our back door our old friend thrives.


Peppermint is a long-time tradition in Sylvia’s family.  Her mother’s parents and maternal grandparents were pioneers in mint cultivation in Clinton County, Michigan.  For that reason, we’ve always grown some close to our back door.  It’s nice to pick a leaf and chew on it.  It smells good to just crush a leaf for that fabulous fragrance.  Or crush it into your tea cup for a refreshing flavorful sip of brew.

Three Reasons

Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days?

It’s nearly 4 PM and I’m still sipping on my morning coffee.  I offer three reasons for that.

1. My insulated cup keeps my coffee hot for hours.  (More than four even.)

2. I sip on my coffee.  (I don’t race to get it down.  It tastes too good to gulp it down.)

3. I got a late start.  (Yes, it was before noon.)

This probably never happens to you.  Or does it?

More Coffee Love

Yesterday, I posted on coffee brewing methods.  Because the post was running long, I didn’t talk about the coffee itself.  Here is the continuation of that story.

The national brands you buy in the grocery store are ground from beans from many locations and perhaps several countries.  This results in a mostly consistent flavor.  It also washes out the subtleties of beans from each individual farm.

I buy my beans from Sozo, a local coffee shop (also on FaceBook)  that engages in direct trade.  That is they buy directly from the farmer/producer.  With a batch of beans all from the same place, those subtleties and nuances are preserved.  However, it is an agricultural product so it may not be the same next year.

For a few years I had been enjoying La Flor del Café from Guatemala.  I like the earthy tones that characterize Central American coffees.  This year’s crop has changed.  Perhaps it results from a change in their weather?

I decided to try something different.  I went with Oaxaca from Mexico.  I enjoy this product very much.

As I mentioned yesterday, the secret to good coffee is to use water at 197 F.  Brewing is an extraction process and that temperature is important.  Cooler and you won’t extract all the goodness.  Hotter and you also extract some bitterness.  Which explains some of the nasty coffee I’ve had in the past.

Brewing time is also important.  For my AeroPress, 30 to 60 seconds is about right.  I’ve turned the process into a ritual.  That way I don’t have to time the brewing.  By just going through the ritual motions, it times itself.

I use an insulated mug.  That way I can enjoy my favorite beverage over two or three hours.  Never leave coffee on a heating pad.  That will cook out the flavor and leave you with an inferior product in your cup.

Do you have a secret for brewing good coffee?

I Love Coffee

Our friend, Ratty, left a comment on my last post.  He mentioned that he had given up instant coffee and was doing his own brew.  That was a wise move my friend.

Here is a re-post of a piece from January 7, 2013.  I hope you enjoy it.

I had signed up for coffee tasting and brewing classes last fall. The tasting (cupping) class taught me how to evaluate coffee and identify flavors and subtleties in various coffees.

In brewing class, I discovered that rinsing the paper filter helped remove that terrible taste from the cup.  In the class we watched our teacher brew coffee using various methods and then evaluated the final product.

The vacuum pot looked like a high-school science project.  The results were just about that good.  We were told that this could produce the finest or the worst results and you could never be 100% sure which you’d end up with.

Then we tried a couple of pour-over methods.  They weren’t bad, but failed to impress.

Some were enamored of the French Press.  I wasn’t.

Then we tried the AeroPress.  Aha!  That produced excellent results.  Cleanup would be relatively easy.  The only catch?  How can you consistently heat water to 197 F?  All of these methods rely on that.

The answer is a cordless electric kettle with a temperature control.  I bought this:

I use it for my coffee and Sylvia uses it for her tea.  How handy that Sylvia has a birthday this week.  Happy birthday honey!   Thanks for letting me use it too.

The rest of the equipment (AeroPress) looks like this:

I don’t use the paper filters.  A stainless steel filter (purchased separately) keeps the grounds out of the brew.  I only have used grounds to dispose of.  These I keep to use on the garden.  The grounds help protect root crops from bugs.  Neat, huh?

I’ll not bother you with the details, but this takes no longer (may be shorter) than brewing with Mr Coffee.  There is less waste and the coffee is incredibly better!

WARNING: Use of this method can turn you into a coffee snob.  Therefore, exercise discretion before purchasing anything like this.

I have one final thought to share with you today.  The coffee beans make a huge difference.  I’ll write about that for tomorrow’s post.

To Start the Day

Adam@Home by Rob Harrel

Adam@Home by Rob Harrell

As I sat here sipping on my morning cup of brew, I came across this cartoon.  It spoke to me, as you might guess it would.

Ahh . . . morning coffee
In the cup that’s in my hand
Right way to start day

My foot is mending nicely.  When I woke there was no feeling of pain whatsoever in that foot.  I frequently have the “pinched” feeling of wearing a tight sock.  Color me one happy camper for today.  (Any day for that matter.)

Been doing e-mail exchanges with my two sons this morning.  In the words of Tony, “It’s going to be a great day!”  I hope it is for you too.

After Math?

The title for this post doesn’t really fit, but I like it.  I was going to write, “Aftermath.”  This to introduce a report on the first post-op trip to the surgeon.

As we entered the podiatrist’s office, we were met by a pair of friends that live in the neighborhood.  They were leaving as we came in.  How cool is that?  It was a very happy surprise.

When the doctor speaks, I listen.

When my doctor speaks, I listen.

The surgery went well.  The bones are perfectly aligned.  Swelling is less than expected.  Also I’m experiencing less pain than expected.  Hooray!  On Friday, I can shower and I’m already counting minutes.  Okay, hours.

I go back in two weeks to have stitches removed.  That will be nice.


In his Sunday sermon, Pastor Mark talked about planning.  He told of rehearsing a conversation in youe own mind before talking with someone.  As he said, you think about what you will say.  You imagine their response.  You plan your followup.  Only one problem.  It doesn’t work out that way.

I’m thinking that we’ve all experienced an encounter that didn’t go to plan.  Maybe that will help you understand the plight of this poor fellow.


Perhaps he was presumptuous.  I’m sure he didn’t envision this reaction.  Sunday sermon topic: Self Control.

Today’s Task

Five AM and the alarm sounds.  Haven’t heard that in a long time.  Shower.  Take my morning (BP) meds with just enough water to wash them down.  Sylvia and I head out the door.  Next stop Pennock Hospital in Hastings.

Paper work and preliminaries to go through.  Then relax and wait.

My mission?  To get my foot screwed up.

Not really my surgeon.

Not really my surgeon.

Mission accomplished!  The big toe joint has been fused and held in place with a plate and a handful of screws.

We were back home in time for lunch.  I was ready.

Now I wait six weeks for it to heal.