Tag Archives: Coffee

The Latest 09-13-2015

Wendy and I have spent less time at the lake this summer than ever since buying my folks’ place back in 2008. There are a number of reasons for the reduction in lake-time including our increased involvement in Tulip Time, our trip to Scotland to see Taylor, Taylor’s move back home, a new house that still requires a  number of projects to get settled and finished, my parents transitioning into a retirement community, three weddings in August, and Suzanna’s final summer home and launch to college. As summer wanes, we figured we’d better get in some time down south before it’s too late.

We headed to Missouri on Tuesday, Sep 1st. Wendy and I worked from the lake and did some much needed cleaning up before our friends Matthew and Sarah joined us for Labor Day weekend. Matthew and Sarah were celebrating their three week anniversary (one of the weddings in August) and since they didn’t take a honeymoon after the ceremony this provided them with a much needed getaway for the two of them.

As soon as Matthew and Sarah arrived we jumped in the boat and headed to Bear Bottom for an afternoon of sun and fun in the pool. It was a gorgeous weekend and Saturday was also spent in the sun, this time off the dock. We had a fabulous grilled steak dinner on Saturday evening followed by watching the movie A Little Chaos (highly recommend). Sunday morning was spent in some amazing conversation before our friends headed home.

Wendy and I stayed behind and enjoyed some time to ourselves, though we continued to work while we were there. We were hoping for more sun on Labor Day, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We laid out on the dock with our books under overcast skies until it finally began to rain. Later that day we both had an “Awww” moment when we got a text from Taylor saying, “You can come home now!”

The lake gets so amazingly quiet after Labor Day when all the summer revelers have left for the season and only the residents are left. We enjoyed breakfast at local greasy spoon, Chances R, on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning we took a nice cruise on the lake (we were the only boat out there) before grabbing pizza at Captain Ron’s for lunch and heading home where we found new sidewalks out front of Vander Well Manor thanks to G&B Concrete.

We got settled back in at home, and Wednesday evening was spent doing handyman duty as we had a couple of nightstands and a desk for Wendy’s office for which there was “some assembly required.” The nightstands were a cinch, but the term “some assembly required” was a bit of an understatement for Wendy’s desk which game in about a half-million pieces. Got ‘er done, however.

Suzanna came home from college for the first time on Friday. It was great to see her. She’s enjoying her freshman year at Hawkeye CC while living on the UNI campus. One of her friends from USP had a birthday party on Friday night and Suzanna came home to surprise her. Wendy and I enjoyed a date night at Kaldera with our friends Dan and Anna on Friday. As always, good food, good friends, and good conversation were a winning combination. We were among the first to arrive and the last to leave our favorite Pella eatery.

Taylor and Tom Coffee on the Patio

Taylor has been house-sitting again this weekend but came home for our routine family breakfast on Saturday morning. Wendy wasn’t up yet so Taylor and I sat out on the patio in the gorgeous early fall sunshine for coffee and conversation. So excited that Taylor has an interview for a job on Wednesday. More on that at a later date.

Dumping dirt for lawnThe one last major project at VW Manor is our lawn. We missed the window for planting grass in the spring. The result has been a muddy, weed infested, wasteland of a yard which I’ve told people was landscaped by the four horsemen of the apocalypse.  We’re finally getting that remedied and on Saturday morning Hackert’s had the black dirt delivered and grading began for what will eventually be an actual yard. Seeding should take place early next week.

Saturday morning was clean-up day as Wendy and I prepared to host the VLs and JPs for an Iowa-Iowa State football extravaganza with dinner following. The crew arrived around game time and we set up in the V-Dub Pub downstairs. Wendy and I, Cyclone fans, were outnumbered by black and gold but it was a good natured crowd 😉 At least it was a good tight ball game which kept everyone interested until the final couple of minutes when the Hawkeyes took the lead and the Cyclones imploded. Ahhhh, as a long-time Cubs fan I’m reminded that there’s always next year.

We ordered take out from George’s for dinner and enjoyed ourselves late into the evening.

Speaking of the Chicago Cubs, Wendy and are still excited about baseball in mid-September for the first time in years as our beloved boys of summer make a run towards the post season. Go Cubs, go!

Top Five Coffee Roasts

My favorite mug and constant companion during my morning quiet time and posts.
My favorite mug and constant companion during my morning quiet time and posts.

I’ve been a coffee lover since I was a teenager. I don’t drink it as much as I used to, so as I’ve gotten older the quantity has given way to quality. My morning requires 2-3 cups of really good, fresh ground coffee. Here are my all time favorite roasts:

  1. Luna Tango (Grounds for Celebration, Des Moines, IA)
  2. Gold Coast Blend (Starbucks)
  3. House Blend (Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure, Des Moines, IA)
  4. Breakfast Blend (Starbucks)
  5. Butch’s Blend (Grounds for Celebration, Des Moines, IA)
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Top Five Moments in My Day

cwg coffee cup lr“Tom, you are man of routines,” my friend Sam once said to me. I guess he’s right, but I think we all have routines. There are little moments in life that we experience everyday, or almost every day, without giving them much thought. Here are my top five routine daily moments:

5. The quiet time. Most days I am up before anyone else in the house. I like the quiet to read, think, pray, ponder, get things done undisturbed.

4. The first sip of coffee. Ahhhhh.

3. The breakfast with my baby. After the quiet time, most days at home begin with Wendy and me sitting down with the Wall Street Journal to eat breakfast and read about what’s going on in the world. This usually leads to good and enjoyable conversation. I grieve that future generations will never experience the simple joy of reading the morning newspaper over breakfast. Technology is killing some really good things.

2. The hugs. I am an affectionate person. My home is an affectionate place. Hugs are physical, spiritual, emotional, relational and spiritual fuel for my day. I can’t count the number of hugs Wendy and I share each day. Some would find it ridiculous. Having Suzanna living with us this year and the subsequent increase in my daily hug quotient has made me realize just how much I’ve missed the days when Taylor and Madison lived at home and I experienced their hugs regularly.

1. The slide into bed. I love that first moment each night when I slide under the sheet next to Wendy. It is a subtle and peaceful moment. The day is done. Rest is imminent. I’m laying next to the one I love. Mm.

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Life Giving Conversations

from eulothg via Flickr
from eulothg via Flickr

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;
    the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.
Proverbs 10:11 (NLT)

There are two regular appointments on my calendar each week. Each weekday you will find the same person’s name on my list of people to call. I have three men in my life with whom I converse regularly. We are sharing the journey together. When life and schedules throw a wrench in our weekly get togethers I can feel the difference, and it’s not a positive one.

There is chit-chat and small talk with these men. Sports, movies, hobbies and interests are regular topics of conversation. But the conversations regularly meander into much deeper territory: marriage, children, fatherhood, children, parenting, work, manhood, God, sex, finances, and etc. There is no subject that is off the table. We cheer one another when there are things to celebrate. We share the burden when life gets heavy.

I thought about these men when I read the above proverb this morning, along with a handful of other men with whom I have less frequent but just as refreshing conversations. I thought about Wendy with whom I have daily conversations about everything. The conversations with my wife and these men a life-giving fountain. They fill my heart and life. They overflow into my daily life and work. Like crisp, clear water flowing in a fountain they refresh, soothe, heal, inspire, motivate and energize.

We all need good companions journey, along with the life-giving conversations that happen as we walk this life road together.

The Lost Art of Hospitality

Welcome mat
(Photo credit: Lynn Kelley Author)

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 19

Then [Lot] welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.” Genesis  19:1b-2a (NLT)

As I started reading the chapter this morning I was struck by Lot’s hospitality, which parallel’s Abraham’s hospitality from the previous chapter:

My lord,” [Abraham] said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”

About ten years ago I spent a short period of time in Israel and was struck by the tradition of hospitality that is shown by the cultures there. When I read about the way Abraham and Lot welcomed and honored their guests, it feels very much the same as the way I was treated by complete strangers in some of my travels. Taylor and Clayton reported similar experiences from their travels in Morocco and Uganda. Hospitality towards strangers and guests is a time-honored tradition.

As I look back over my lifetime and observe some of the drastic changes I’ve witnessed in our own culture, the loss of hospitality is one of them. I’m still proud of “midwest nice” that you’ll still find in our small town here in Iowa, yet when I remember the way my grandparents regularly welcomed visitors into their home I am struck at how different it was. The coffee pot was always on in the morning and the tea kettle in the afternoon. There were always treats ready for guests, and there were always guests.

Even in my childhood and youth the welcome sign was always out at our home. My parents used to say to us “your friends are always welcome here,” and they were. Friends would stop by for a visit even if we kids weren’t home. They knew my mom would feed them and they would be treated like honored guests.

Perhaps what I experienced was the exception not the rule, but I don’t think so. I tend to think that we shut ourselves in our warm homes in the winter and our air conditioned homes in the summer. We lock the door and socialize with others in front of a computer screen. Meanwhile, the art and tradition of hospitality – of welcoming one into your home and caring for them with honor and grace – has been slowly lost despite the fact that God’s Message hearkens to the previous two chapters we’ve read and calls us to perpetuate the very practice:

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

I have tried to perpetuate the spirit of hospitality in our own home, though when I think back to the experiences of my childhood I realize that I haven’t always been as fine a host as the examples I was given. It’s a good reminder for me today.

If you’re in the area, stop on by. I’ll start a pot of coffee and the tea kettle will be boiling.

My Life: A Photo Abecedarius

C is for coffee.
One large cup of regular each morning followed by 2-3 cups of decaf.
Preference: Black. Strong. Freshly ground and brewed. Served in a thick, ceramic diner mug.
Favorite roast: Grounds for Celebration’s Luna Tango
Favorite Starbucks roast: Gold Coast

Artist Date

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A month or so ago I wrote a post in the 30 day blogging challenge I was doing about a date I would like to go on. Wendy and I finally arranged the “Artist Date” a few weeks ago and headed out on a gorgeous autumn afternoon with our friends Sam and Candace. We spent about and hour or so wandering through the Des Moines Art Center, taking in the collection on display. Each of us then split up and spent just over a half-hour with one work of art that stood out to us for whatever reason.

Being a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon, I spent my time in the courtyard with the DMAC’s iconic statue of a man launching himself off of a pegasus. I’ve seen this sculpture a million times and it had sort of morphed into the background of the Art Center’s surroundings. I didn’t think much about it. So, I took some time to really study it. It spoke to me of the relationship of myth and culture. I realized that the statue, now surrounded by the three very different buildings making up the DMAC, had layers of meaning for me that the artist could have never envisioned since it was conceptualized and installed well before its present surroundings. I thought a lot about the meaning of artwork that gets layered upon it over time and the changes of culture compared to the artist’s original intent. It spoke to me of courage, faith, and adventure.

We stopped for coffee and casual conversation at Zanzibar’s on Ingersoll. It was a great time of building relationship and friendship as the process of knowing and being known deepened between the four of us. We then took a walk through the sculpture garden downtown before ending up at Noah’s for a wonderful dinner.

Over dinner, each of us shared about the work of art with which we spent time. It was really interesting to hear how each piece affected the viewer and intersected with our current life experiences. We had a lively conversation with great food and good wine, topped off with rich, dark chocolate cake for dessert.

The ride home flew by as our conversation continued. Wendy and I could not have enjoyed ourselves more as we looked back on the day. It fulfilled what I’d blogged about and envisioned back in August. Great experiences with great people certainly serve to fill life’s well.