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Wednesday, February 9, 2011




Wednesday, 8:45 AM.  6 degrees, wind WNW, light to very blustery at times.  The sky is partly cloudy and the barometer predicts the same.  The city roads are hard packed and somewhat slippery and it was a wintry morning walk.
    Back when I was a child, the older men in my family drank their coffee in the Milwaukee German fashion, the boiling hot coffee being first poured into the cup from the pot, then poured from the cup into the saucer, from which it was sipped as it cooled.  The saucer was balanced rather delicately on the  spread open fingers of the palm-up hand. Then the coffee in the saucer was vigorously blown upon to cool it, after which the coffee was sipped from the saucer. All in all it was quite a feat, and probably necessary, as the German tradition was to boil coffee on the stove, not just perk it.  The only place in recent times I have drunk boiled coffee is in the Amana Colonies in Iowa, but I doubt the arcane tradition survives even there.  I always wondered why the coffee was not poured back into the cup after it had cooled, but that would evidently have reduced the complex social aspects of the ritual, for that is what it truly was. 
    I bring all this up because we have fought our own coffee battles for a number of years now, and I think have finally won the war.  I always threatened to boil coffee in a pot on the stove, but Joan would not let me be that atavistic, and early on we used an electric percolator.  Of course things wear out and we went through several over the years.  The last one was a real bummer, as it kept re-perking the coffee, and after the first cup or two it became bitter mud.  Things came to a head several years ago when we left on a trip, and when we were fifteen miles away Joan asked me if I had unplugged the pot, and I said yes I had.  About twenty miles from home she asked me again and I again answered in the affirmative.  At thirty miles she asked me yet again, at which I turned around, drove home and we both checked the pot and it was indeed unplugged. We both went back into the house, as neither trusted the other to tell the truth in the matter.  I decided then and there to enter the modern age and get a drip coffee maker with an automatic shutoff so this would never happen again.
    So we bought a modern coffee maker.  It beeped when turned on, beeped when ready, beeped when it went off. It used far too much coffee, never got hot enough and I had to heat the coffee in the microwave to enjoy a decent cup of coffee.  It had a clock that was never right, as if I needed another clock in my life.  The coffee was cold half the time because it had shut off.  It had a poorly written instruction manual large enough to run a nuclear power plant.  We put up with it for three years as I longed for a decent cup of coffee.
    At last, son-in-law Doug in Denver, who likes to go to rummage sales, found a like-new, very expensive percolator for which he paid a few dollars.  We brought it back on our recent trip.  I am ecstatic.  The coffee pours piping hot and stays that way, it tastes wonderful, and perhaps best of all I can hear it perk, and watch the lovely dark liquid bubble up into the glass top.
    Now if I can just remember to unplug it.

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