Coffee and Home

Monday Morning Musings:

 “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien


“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”

–Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings

This universe must be home

(has always been home)

I wake warm and comfortable

drink coffee

(always coffee)

live mornings of caramel joy

remember a voice

a smile


celebrate a secret sky waking


I wake to the smell of coffee

a childhood memory,

an adult reality,

a scent wafting through time

am image, too, coffee cups and morning newspapers

spread across the kitchen table

(now joined by laptops and phones),

the table in my young childhood home

lived in the kitchen-dining-den space—

my mother hated it—the space, not the table–

and when I was teen, she, no longer with my father,

bought a house with a separate dining room,

a large, center-hall house with five bedrooms

that became too much for her to keep up with

but it was the house by which my siblings and I later measured all other houses.

In that dining room, my boyfriend, now husband, learned about Sunday brunches

with lox, blocks of cream cheese, bagels, herring, boiled new potatoes, and crusty rye bread–

and on the little enclosed porch we’d sit before a fire late on Saturday nights and drink coffee and consume the treats, fried and sweet, from Dunkin Donuts, wiping sugar from our faces with paper napkins and kisses.


Food and friendship, more valuable than gold,

I eat Vietnamese food with a friend

we laugh and talk

she tells me (I had forgotten) that she dislikes tomatoes

then is surprised to find them in her stir fry,

we laugh and talk

I slurp vermicelli noodles with extra hot sauce

and we sit, chatting and catching up,

her mother’s house, her childhood home, sold

she is pleased that the new owners seem like good people

another family for the house

to imbue it with new dreams,

the old ones will fade from the walls

like night shadows gradually erased by the dawn


We don’t order coffee

though we laugh and talk for two hours,

the restaurant owners, mother and daughter, probably eager for us to go,

but we’re enchanted by the little girl, daughter of one, granddaughter of the other,

eighteen months old

she blows kisses and says good-bye.


A few days later, my husband and I go to a first communion party

the daughter of a daughter of long-time friends

we sat with them every Friday night in their first house

a TGIF Sabbath meal each week of dollar hoagies and beer

we were there when our friend went into labor with the daughter whose daughter

we’re celebrating at this party

where I sit and talk the entire time with another friend, my twin

though her skin is darker, her hair shorter,

we’re twins of the heart

we wear our matching bracelets

talk about another friend who could not be there

but who is linked to us


New Year’s Eve, 2016 We are linked, heading into 2017.


and catch up on news, share photos, her sons, my daughters,

it’s a miserable day, cold and raining, more like March than May

but warmed by friendship


After that, my husband and I travel to my daughter’s house

bringing wine for her and her husband,

we laugh about all the wine we’ve ordered

delivered to our door all in one day in three large boxes

so that the UPS man thinks we’re having a party

we eat Pakistani food with them at a nearby restaurant,

the genial owner recommends dishes,

“We have new items”, he says,

“try the spring rolls, vegetarian.”

They are different from Chinese spring rolls,

delicious, though not as good as the vegetable samosas,

our favorites,

my daughter and I share the platter,

everything is delicious, eggplant, vegetable korma, naan, the goat our husbands have

(I suppose)

“Always a pleasure to see you,” the owner says as we leave,

and we assure him that it’s always a pleasure to visit his restaurant,

and it is, even on a cold and rainy night.


In the morning, a package of chocolate covered strawberries arrives,

a special Sunday delivery,

from my other daughter and her wife,

a thoughtful present,

a scrumptious treat for Mother’s Day

even first thing in the morning.


Later I will talk to her on the phone,

hear about her trip to national parks in Utah

(while they still exist)

learn about her surprising facility for rock climbing

and allergy to Los Vegas

I miss seeing her, but it is good to hear her voice

from across the miles


We have lunch at my sister’s house

where we take my mother for Mother’s Day


Before lunch H. had made a grand entrance,

“Hi, I have to pee and sprints through the living room.”



We later talk about the house she and her husband have fixed up to sell.

It was their first home, bought with an inheritance from my father,

her voice breaks a bit as she describes painting over the clouds in her first baby’s room.

The sun is out, and we sit for the garden for a bit

though it gets windy

My family is goofy and wonderful

I love them


I’ve baked a flourless chocolate cake

because there must be chocolate



and my sister buys, rather than brews, coffee

from Dunkin’ Donuts to have with it,

which makes me think again of those long-ago days

I think of all the mothers and daughters

the houses we’ve lived in

the coffee we’ve consumed

and despite all that is wrong in the world

I’m happy to wake in the morning to my coffee, newspapers, and cats,

to my husband saying, “Can I pour you another cup?”


The joys,

transitory like the flowers that have recently bloomed


but no less beautiful for that

timeless in our memories

the sky has cleared in the morning,

there is a half-moon hanging crookedly in the sky humming a song of hope

I go inside and pour a cup of coffee

a cat settles on my lap

this universe must be home

especially if there is coffee

–and love

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28 thoughts on “Coffee and Home

  1. Lovely memories, past and present; excellent photos; and the first thing we do in the morning is to share a large cafetiere of coffee, although I don’t have childhood memories of it. My family, except for me, were tea drinkers, and I had instant coffee which is not as enticing.

    • Thank you, Derrick.
      My husband didn’t grow up with it either. His father drank instant coffee, and his mother drinks decaffeinated tea that is pretty much hot water that she waves a tea bag over. 🙂

  2. The aroma of coffee is wafting through Aunt Ruthie’s kitchen as I read this. Phuong, a Vietnamese refugee she cared for in the 1970s and 80s, brought spring rolls a day or two ago. What a potpourri you have here. My favorite: you stuffing your face! Truly your family, like mine, equates food and love.

  3. What a love-ly week!
    My father always had coffee, either brewing or in his hand (cupped, of course!), but the aroma of coffee always brings to mind waking up during a visit to an aunt’s house, when I was four or five. Late autumn, very cold outside, with a chill in the house waiting to be chased away by the newly-stoked wood stove, and the smell of fresh brewed coffee cutting through that cold air.

  4. Merril, How lovely this is. And I feel the same way about coffee … a morning ritual that offers space carved out for me to start my day, hopefully, one filled with writing and not getting sidetracked by the news! It’s interesting you write about houses … our writing prompt this past weekend in the Women’s Writing Circle was to draw a blueprint of a house you grew up in or live in now, take one room or area of the house and start with “In this … (room, patio), the memory returns …” I’m going to share this post with our Women’s Writing Circle.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Susan.
      I like afternoon coffee, too, but it’s not a ritual or part of a routine.
      That is funny coincidence that your WWC prompt was about a house you’ve lived in.
      Thank you for sharing!

  5. While I don’t share the coffee enjoyment I recognize the love of food and drink and family. I found an old memory book my grandfather had filled out and he answered the question, “What does your family have in common?” He wrote, “Food!”

  6. Ohh, how I loved and related to so much of this Monday Musings: Coffee and Home.
    You told a special poem of many delightful intertwined stories, woven with bracelets or blood ties, family and friends.
    Flowers, strawberries dipped in chocolate coverings and your mother particularly warmed my heart!
    My parents made coffee every morning.
    Your afternoons and days ending at times with coffee match up with times when I am on vacation (and with daughters, son or Mom).

    As children, we were allowed to make a small amount in a tea cup, coffee poured, adding equal amount of milk and two teaspoons of sugar, on weekend mornings. We had a dog for some of the time who sat on our slippers, waiting for crumbs to fall from our mouths and laps. (Not the same as the sweet cat curled up on your lap, Merril.) 💖

    • Thanks so much, Robin. I hope you had a happy Mother’s Day!
      We always had dogs when I was growing up. I never particularly liked cats, but our little girls wanted cats–and now I’m a crazy cat woman. 🙂

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