How Much Coffee is Enough? and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient

I figured out a long time ago that if I want to be resilient, there will have to be coffee. Organizing shelves and unpacking boxes of stored stuff showed me I must be really resilient by now — I have way too many coffee makers.Cafe Press, Chemex, and Drip Cup

My once-beloved Pyrex stove-top percolator is long gone but not forgotten. The Chemex on the left was a lucky find of the same era. At the time, Chemex was the epitome of cool and way out of my price range. Then one day I walked into the local Salvation Army store and was astonished to find one for $2.00… Sold! The French-press pots are recent, and make me feel ever so continental — not to mention green, for being filter-free — but they’re a pain to wash.

cappuccino-makers-dsc06658

Cappuccino makers basking in a ray of morning sun…

Two of these cappuccino makers were packed away in Bob’s boxes, so before donating, I’ll have to see if they still work. (It’s hard to believe now that in pre-Starbucks days we went all the way to Italy to discover cappuccino) I won’t include a photo of my standard coffee pot – it’s been misbehaving anyway.

Lately it’s all just too much trouble and this has been my coffee-maker —

Instant Coffee

We discovered it as hotel-coffee when traveling – it’s actually pretty good

Here on earth our relationship with a morning cup of coffee is complex. And now we hear that climate change is threatening coffee crops. (Do you hear that, politicians? How can anyone resist fighting climate change when coffee is at stake?)

But wait — when I savor that morning cup, I may feel slightly virtuous if I throw my coffee grounds into the compost, but I haven’t even been considering climate change, or excess waste and pollution from processing plants that pollute waterways, or deforestation resulting when farmers replace traditional shade-growing methods with sun cultivation.  I just get up in the morning and stumble into the kitchen to make my cup of instant-gratification. I haven’t noticed any shade-grown instant, but when I switched to instant I wasn’t thinking, wasn’t looking.

I need to get back to shopping and consuming more responsibly. Guess I’ll start by dusting off one of the coffee-makers (and we’ll see if I have the resilience to give up my instant gratification). Surely I can at least manage the over-the-cup drip coffee (first photo) —  I even found the cute little filters that go with it. I’m hoping that’ll help me work my way back to filter-free with the French-press pot.

How do you like your coffee? And do you have enough coffee-makers?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient

How to Green Your Cup of Coffee

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Buying a New Air Conditioner, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

I usually spend so much time snarled in the details of decision-making that it takes months to decide on a major purchase, but this time I had to be quick. On July 4 weekend, one of the hottest of the summer, my upstairs air conditioner uttered a mighty “thunk” and died.

Death was not entirely unexpected (but timing could definitely have been better). The old furnace and a/c were original to the house, which made them 37 years old. I’m surprised they made it this long, but a good maintenance plan helped.

Old AC-Furnace unit lurks in the attic

Here’s part of the old unit, lurking in the attic, disconnected and ready to leave.

I’d been hoping they’d last until I’m ready to move out. They were so large that I couldn’t imagine how they’d get them out of the attic, but as Sam would say, “these guys are trained professionals.” It all came down in pieces.

Furnace and A/C pieces are down

Old Furnace and AC unit come down the attic stair

Later I saw this part out in the driveway – I think it looks like a robot heart. See the aorta? But then, I’ve been watching The Iron Giant and Big Hero Six, so everything looks like a giant-robot-part to me.

Ductwork looks like a Robot Heart

I’m lucky the house has zoned systems, so the unit downstairs still worked. I moved downstairs and slept on the couch for two weeks until the new one was installed.

The old upstairs unit was noisy and friendly. I would hear it think about coming on, clink and groan a little, then run through it’s cycle. The new one is distant and serene, whisper quiet, and a little like the ambient hum of the Starship Enterprise. On the bright side, I no longer need to get a Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine (“Effective as a Vulcan nerve pinch”).

New attic furnace and air conditioner 'system'

Here it sits, crouching in the attic amid that muscular and shiny ductwork. Now I get to feel virtuous about its energy-efficiency.

 At least when it comes time to sell the house, it’ll be a desirable detail on the list of upgrades. Meanwhile, I can move back upstairs and sleep in a bed, lulled to sleep by the ambient hum of… oh dear, could there be a warp engine in my attic?

Oh yes, and the new system is smart. It emails me acknowledgement when I change the settings on the thermostat. It wants to talk to my phone, but I haven’t let the phone know that yet.

What does your A/C sound like? And, do you let it talk to your phone?

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

And, after some investigation on Youtube (where you can download hours of the sound) here’s the Enterprise…

 

Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon Base Stars are noisier, but you can get that sound too.

 

Sustainability, “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Here’s to sustainability in sneakerdom: the undulating wave-like curves on this ocean-inspired sneaker are threads made from reclaimed, recycled plastic ocean waste. The Ocean Plastic Program’s goal is to end plastic pollution of the oceans.

Adidas/Parley for the Ocean sneaker - High Museum 'Rise of Sneaker Culture'

Prototype sneaker: Adidas, in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, and industrial designer Alexander Taylor ( Retail availability 2016)

There’s a lot more to see in “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Though it’s a mostly boy-centric show,  I still found things of interest — like these silver moon-boots…

Moon Boot inspired sneaker - The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the High Museum, Atlanta

Sneaker moon boots! (well, sorta)

2014:   100 pairs were created in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, and released on July 20 at 4:18 pm, the exact time of the landing of the lunar module in 1969. This sneaker sold for $196.90 to honor the date.
GE, Android Homme, and JackThreads collaborated on the design, using GE materials, including GE’s silicone rubber (as in original moon-walk boots) .

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum, Atlanta

Still shiny — Christian Louboutain Roller-Boat.

2012. Gold pony-skin uppers with studs, for men who “treat shoes very much as objects, as collectors’ items.”

And while we’re still on in the realm of gold, let’s segue to sports…

Clyde Gametime Gold - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold, 2012

Puma archive – these are an homage to the gold medal winners of the US Olympic basketball team.

Next, here’s an early pair of lady-shoes (yes I know I’ve already complained that there’s not much here for women).

Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, 1925 - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA

For the ladies: Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, c. 1925

The apology here is that, “there were still concerns that women’s participation in athletics would detract from their femininity.” Hence the high heel. *sigh*   Still, it’s a unique show and well worth a visit if you live in the Atlanta area — on view through August 14, 2016.

Now for more thoughts on shoes and sustainability. If I google “average number of shoes a person owns”  the consensus from scads of articles seems to be “about 19 or 20,” at least for women. In view of that pair above I’m guessing the reason we have so many is that we’re still looking for some that are comfortable.

I’ve been reading The Boomer Burden, Dealing with your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, by Julie Hall. This morning, among sad facts like “Americans use 14 billion plastic shopping bags annually” (could that be true?) I read, “The average American buys 6.7 pairs of shoes a year.” Hmm, I am not innocent. I bought a new pair of sandals on sale last fall, and I’ve been staring hard at the soles of my walking shoes and wishing to replace them.

Now I’m off to count my shoes. I must have some I can donate.

How many pairs of shoes are in your closet?

 

More on The Rise of Sneaker Culture – at the High Museum, Atlanta until August 14 2016

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

 

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Another Drawer Explosion, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

I didn’t realize another drawer explosion was about to happen until I got home from vacation, couldn’t find the key to my pickup and went drawer-diving for a spare…

Another drawer "explosion"

I don’t even know WHEN it became a junk drawer, I usually just open it a couple of inches to grab scissors or extra house keys when I need them… who knew the rest of this stuff was there.

My friend Susan says drawers and purses are like Dr. Who’s Tardis, Snoopy’s doghouse, and Harry Potter’s tent — they hold many times more than their actual size would indicate. Sadly, she observes, this does not hold true for suitcases.

Here’s a partial list of loot from the drawer:

  • 6 pairs of scissors. Yes, 6.
  • 4 pocket flashlights – 1 I just bought, not knowing the other 3 were here.
  • 9 keychains – 3 with tiny squeeze-flashlights of their own.
  • 2 pocket knives – 1 standard, 1 with Betty Boop.
  • Old stuff – an extra key to Bob’s old PO Box, a coupon from 2008 (to be fair, just 1) and these —

A ticket from the Empire State Building Observatory — that would be from 1998, just before Bob’s second surgery in NYC.

A U.N. Guided Tour button — I haven’t been, so, no clue.

A U.S. wheat penny and a 5-pfennig coin, way pre-Euro.

And is that Odie? … I can’t imagine how he got here, either.

Odds and ends found in the "junk" drawer

Drawer Oddities

Moving on…

  • 3 folding rain hats. circa 1950-60. These would have belonged to Bob’s mother because: Kansas. Through what wormhole did they arrive in my kitchen drawer?
1950s folding rain hats

I unfolded the Wonder Bread one and, amazingly, recognized that dot pattern, from childhood.

  • 3 mystery objects…

Mystery objects from the "junk" drawerEventually I noticed there’s a razor blade inside the yellow one, so it’s a paper cutter. The silver one’s hard to open, so I haven’t. The black one? I finally got it open.

Is it a compass?

Apparently it’s a compass, but it’s an indecisive one, much afflicted by the wobbles. And why does it have a ruler on the side?

The drawer’s back together now, with most of its papers and many of its objects filling the recycle bin, with a few useful ones to donate.  I even stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond today and treated myself to some drawer organizers to keep me honest. The last job to do is sort through the keys. Am I happy with my clean drawer? Yes — I’m jubilant.

Do you know what’s in your kitchen drawers?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge

Catching up with a past Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

I may be the last person left on earth who still likes to get on an airplane. With the crowds these days, even I have second thoughts, but our trip home from the UK last Thursday was a lucky one — the flight wasn’t full. Sam and I each had our own row, and mine included the window.

1st View of North America from the air

Coming Home – maybe it’s the deep blue sky that I find so enthralling.

I love watching for that first view of North America. Someday I’m going to figure out where this is and go there. Another bonus this flight — I know pollution isn’t always visible, but it’s comforting to see the air look clean.

1st View of North America from the air

Still on the way home… I don’t see signs of human occupation yet.

Earth: our big blue marble

Earth: our big blue marble.

It looks like marble in more ways than one, doesn’t it?

Now that I’m home, of course I’m having trouble getting my mind out of “vacation mode” and back to daily business. We all have our vacation rituals, and for me, it’s the afternoon coffee stop. No excuses now, must resist. That other earth — the yard — needs attention today. People go on vacation, weeds don’t.

Do you feel like going out for coffee today? Are you resisting?

More on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

A Walk in Central Park (and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Harmony)

Here’s what I was looking at this time yesterday –

Central Park - view toward Midtown

Harmony of design in New York City: Central Park, looking toward Midtown

We’re still drawn to parks for a quiet moment, even when we love busy cities. Central Park was designed in 1858, the first landscaped park in the U.S.

Landscape planning is design in 4D. It seems to me it would be impossible to visualize what that extra dimension — time — would add to the composition. I wonder what Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, architects of Central Park, would think if they could see it today, with the city grown up like crystals around it.

Here’s the evening before, Sam walks up to check out the view while I fumble with my camera –

Central Park toward West Midtown

Skaters and Central Park DSC02902

And a closer look —

Snowdrops in Central Park

Snowdrops – we had real snow a few days ago – it’s just beginning to be spring.

But now I’m home and back to improving my own harmony by getting some work done today. Maybe I’ll start with the back yard…

What’s your favorite park?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Harmony

Forever Downsizing, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

It’s not just me: everything is downsizing. In a recent turn through the basement, I found a Wall Street Journal from the late ’90s. I’m comparing here to an Atlanta Journal Constitution, but they’re all smaller now, and a modern WSJ is the size of this AJC…

1990s WSJ versus 2016 AJC

Shrinking newspapers, and my State of Mind on downsizing.

Along about 2006 or 2007, newspapers changed, one-by-one, to the square format.  They’re thinner now too. I know it’s good to be using fewer trees, yet I also have a fear that the “news” as we have known it is downsizing too, and not in a healthy way (but I’ll keep that rant or another time).

1999 WSJ Year-End Review

One more oldie — here’s the 1999 WSJ Year-End Review. Remember Y2K? Other than that, some of the players have changed, but we still have Star Wars.

As for downsizing in general: I remember a Kurt Vonnegut story with a subplot in which the Chinese were working on solving over-population by making people smaller and smaller, so we’d use less space and consume fewer resources on the planet.

The last time I thought of that was on a sweltering summer day in Manhattan, when I felt like I was boiling just walking down the street. I looked at the trees: small. I looked at the buildings: large. “We need to shrink ourselves,” I thought. “Either that or make trees larger, so cities could fit under them and be shaded. Oh wait… Vonnegut already thought of that.”

I did a quick google to find out what story the shrinking people were in, and found this instead. Here’s a quote from this link

When Arne Hendriks, a 6” 4’ Dutchman, faced audience members at TEDxBrainport in 2012, he smiled apologetically. “I have some bad news for you,” he said. “You’re not short enough.” Hendriks believes that the planet’s growing population—currently at 7 billion—is unsustainable. His solution? We should shrink ourselves to 50 cm, around the height of a chicken. “I think we can actually achieve that,” he says.

But back to Vonnegut (and newspapers) I still don’t know which story has the shrinking people, but I found this in a 2007 NYTimes article:

But the time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is the indispensable footnote to everything everyone is trying to teach you, the footnote that pulls the rug out from under the established truths being so firmly avowed in the body of the text.

I’ve found copies of nearly all Vonnegut’s books as I sorted through my shelves and Bob’s boxes. I reread Cat’s Cradle not long ago and yep, still loved it. Maybe my State of Mind is extra goofy this week, or maybe I’m just one of those people who still suspects the world is not what it appears to be, even in the newspapers.

Are you?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind