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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

…this year or any other year for that matter, is the following:

1.) Superlative coffee. Don’t try any funny business. I KNOW GOOD COFFEE.
2.) Cigars, preferably high quality, but I also have uses for White Owls and Backwoods. My favorite being Dunhills.
3.) Beer, even bad beer which I can alternatively use for cooking. I’m partial to beers from: Lake Louie Brewing, Ale Asylum, Rush River, Rogue, or the old standby, Guinness.
4.) Photographs of family – perfect.
5.) Gift certificates to bookstores. Any bookstore.
6.) Wine, preferably high quality but again, I can use the bad stuff for cooking. I’m thinking Oregon, France, Argentina.
7.) Smartwool socks.
8.) Clementines – I am currently addicted to clementines.
9.) Postage stamps – I will use them.
10.) Original art from artists that I know or follow. You don’t know any of my favorite artists? Ask me. Don’t try to “turn me onto” something new. That might backfire.
11.) Expensive olive oil.
12.) Rare Wisconsin cheeses. Don’t mess around.
13.) Expensive balsamic vinegar.
14.) Long underwear.
15.) Antique panorama photographs.

This list looks exhaustive and maybe presumptuous. But who cares? Everyone in America gets gifts every year that they abhor. Useless things that get thrown away or that people have to tote around with them for the rest of their lives like anchors of guilt. I’m just being honest here. You want to give me a gift? Give me something that gives me pleasure. That allows me to a take a quiet moment and engage my senses. Give me something to eat, drink, or smoke. Because I will consume your gift.

And I will remember your gesture.

Merry Christmas. I am, at present (no pun intended), drinking a chocolate stout from Rogue Brewing. Case in point.

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Parfrey’s Glen is a state natural area outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin and not far from Devil’s Lake State Park.  It is also one of my favorite natural places, though it certainly cannot qualify as being “wild” in any way.  The first time I visited Parfrey’s Glen I was a sophomore or junior in college, and my geology professor took us into the glen, explaining its deep history as we walked amongst the ferns, our fingers on the slick wet walls of the canyon.  Since that first visit, Regina and I visit the glen about twice a year and I never tire of communing with the giant trees there, the high walls of stone, and the gently bubbling waters.

On Sunday, we took a family trip to Parfrey’s Glen after stopping at Batch Bakery for some delicious danish and muffins and Intelligentsia coffee (Burundi).  With Henry in the Baby Bjorn we trudged over the crusty snow path in temperatures hovering around 20.  On our trek into the glen, we saw just one other hiker, who happily snapped our family portrait.  It was a terrific hike, though at one point deep in the canyon I slipped and fell face first into a snowbank.  Somehow Henry escaped without any snow on his face, or in his jacket.

Dinner that night was home-made mussels, sweet potato french fries, Ale Asylum beer, and good bread.  We re-watched Juno, and fell asleep exhausted and happy.  A terrific day.

Still no MFA news.  I think my odds of being accepted into Vanderbilt are effectively zilch.  I am equally unsure about Illinois and Notre Dame.  Everything else seems in the air.

Steak for dinner tonight with frites.  I think I’ll open a bottle of wine and maybe even smoke a cigar over the grill.  One has to maintain one’s sanity.

Please continue to knock wood, pray, or what have you.  I need the luck.

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The good news is this: I just won a poetry contest.  The magazine is small but was recently favorably reviewed by The New York Times.  They are going to publish ten of my poems and I’ll be the feature of their next issue.  I can’t say anything right now about who the publication is, because they’re getting ready to announce the results of the contest themselves.  But I am excited.  I sent them a manuscript of fifteen poems, and some of the poems were kind of gutsy, stylistically.  But they said they loved the tone and the voice.

In other news, I have a new essay coming out in Fresh Cup regarding my coffee plant and the importance of home gardening.  I’m always happy to be publishing with Fresh Cup and their very professional staff.  Good people.  Additionally, Volume One back up in Eau Claire has published my Brett Favre essay.  They did a very nice job with the layout of the piece, and I’m happy to be working with them again.

And – Henry was weighed a week ago at the doctor’s office and he is now 16 pounds and 6 ounces!  This is great news for us.  The doctor was supremely impressed by his weight gain, length, and melon size.  If only the doctor could explain why Mr Henry Bear is so resistant to sleeping all the way through the night.

Today is a Dude Day – just me and Henry.  Regina is back in school with only one semester left.  It feels like our lives are speeding up again, moving toward some indefinite point on the horizon.  MFA programs should begin reporting soon in earnest.  Knock wood please.

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Parenting Perils

This morning finds me hiding from Henry who, at the moment, is between sleep and lucidity. I hear him cooing and gurgling in the other room, no doubt chewing on his fist and marking the movements of his rainforest-themed mobile.

We live in an old house and everywhere I (or Regina) step is an audio-tripwire of sorts. Creaking Douglas Fir everywhere. I have become an unlikely cat burglar, walking on the margins of my own floor-plan, avoiding high-traffic pieces of hallway and kitchen. There are louder ninjas in the world than me.

I don’t think that the dishwasher is an effective lullaby for young Hank this morning. He is clearly trying to draw my attention with his sweet, high-pitched monologue to the mobile. But, I need a fresh pot of coffee too.

In MFA application news: Iowa State and Wisconsin are done. Only 13 more schools to go. If you believe in divine intervention, or positive vibes or whatever, please send them along my way. I need some luck this year.

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New coffee essay in Fresh Cup.

Much of the sentiment expressed in this essay isn’t news to the roasters out there at the cutting edge.  But too many roasters are bullied by inarticulate consumers/customers demanding a product preparation without better knowledge of the commodity as a whole.  I wanted to articulate that a diner does not enter Babbo or Blackbird or somesuch restaurant and tell the chef how best to prepare a plank of salmon, or a cut of steak for that matter.  Ridiculously, this happens every day in coffee and many roasters are forced to provide coffees at particular levels, rather than doing the best thing for the individual lot of coffee.

Here is the link: http://www.freshcup.com/issue.php

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