It’s the coffee talking

coffee talking
Bought a jar of fluorescent pink paint, months ago (prompted by a flash of inspiration that I can’t remember, now), and decided to see what it would do as a ground cover. I like the little bits that show through cracks or glow behind layers in the painting—in small amounts and under other, less-bright colours, the hot pink flickers interestingly—though I find the solid parts a bit too strong. Still, it was fun to work with. Not a colour I’ve ever used, so it was different.

I had fun with the woven pattern on the book cover…I don’t actually have a book covered in fabric like this, the original is an ordinary planner, beige,that I use to jot down deadlines, appointments and shopping lists.

The two cups look a bit strange together, especially since they are so different from each other, but I had simply sketched what was in front of me at the time, without thinking about composition or trying to make any sense.

Couldn’t decide, in the end, what the cup of coffee would say, so I left it blank with the idea of filling it in later. Before drawing anything else, I had stuck down a slip of paper from a fortune cookie—“You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”—and more words would have been overkill, I think.

Looking at the dark brown speech bubble now, the coffee simply seems to be announcing itself (I drink my coffee strong, black, and unsweetened). I may leave it. It’s just a journal page: something I feel the need to do every few days (really, I’d like to do this daily, but never manage to keep it up) for myself. It fills an inner need to slow down and look intensely at something for a couple of hours.
coffee talking


Coffee crisis

maxwell stables horseshit...
It’s never a good idea to have expectations when you travel; we broke this cardinal rule when we sort of allowed ourselves to look forward to the coffee in S. America. So far we have had no luck finding decent, locally-grown arabica beans. Neither Brazil nor Guyana had any decent arabica for sale. Everywhere we went, soft bags of dried-out, burned-tasting, robusta coffee were the norm. Dreadful stuff.
Now we are in Grenada, and the chance of scoring decent arabica are even slimmer here. The supermarkets have precious little in the way of real coffee (Nescafé has invaded all these countries…you even get instant coffee at fancy restaurants!) and what few bags of ground coffee are available are robusta (robusta is a high-yield, low aroma, low-flavour, high-caffeine crop…most countries grow robusta, now, because Nestlé is their main buyer, and Nescafé is made only from robusta).

It’s really disappointing…the local stuff is overpriced, and gives us palpitations, and doesn’t smell or taste like anything but strong dust. In desperation, we bought a tin of Maxwell coffee (the label on the back says “100% coffee”; that’s like buying “100% wine”, the quality could be anything!) but it’s no better than the local stuff, and more expensive to boot.

Hoping and praying that Cuba has better coffee, though we won’t be in Cuba for a long while, yet. Oh, well, I guess it’s time to check out the teas in Grenada…

Moulin D’Or…in thread and paint


Part of the set that includes the green camera embroidery is this work-in-progress embroidery of the old Zassenhaus Mokka Kaffeemühlen that my Dad gave to me 11 years ago.  I love it, and the steady crunching sound that it makes as it grinds freshly roasted coffee beans into a fine, fine powder.  Still works perfectly, though it must be around 45 years since he bought it in Germany.

I don’t know how I feel about the embroidery, yet, though I suppose it will look okay when more of the ground has been worked. The colors and pattern were chosen with less confidence than those of the camera, I felt.

moulin d'or

I wanted to explore other treatments of the same subject, so I started a painting today, as well…this as far as I got, starting at around noon today. Happy so far, though that pink horizon line is too far up. Already I like this painting better than The Sulking Chair. Trying not to be so heavy-handed this time…keeping the touches, the colors, the movements light, light, light…dancing over, just kissing the canvas…here, there…moving around and not brooding over any one detail.

(And yes, that is a tree on our deck…it’s about 2.7 meters (9 feet) tall now: a Moringa olifeira…Filipinos eat the leaves, they’re fantastically loaded with vitamins and minerals. I never make a soup or curry without throwing handfuls of the small dark-green oval leaves in. Yum!)

moulin d'or

picture of a contemporary Zassenhaus coffeemill in beechwoodNote: Zassenhaus of Germany is still producing its wide range of fine and beautiful Kaffeemühlen for the discerning coffee connoisseur, and each mill’s metal components are guaranteed for 25 years. German craftsmanship, what a wonderful thing in this Made-in-China-today-throw-away-tomorrow world.

I still like my 50-year-old one better, though…the wood has darkened with use, and the knob is shaped like a little mushroom.

Not-So-Still Life

Not-So-Still Life

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
—e.e.cummings (No.65 from XAIPE)

Lucked out this morning…had one of those serendipitous moments of everyday gorgeousness as I sat down to breakfast by myself.

It was cold on deck and I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. I pinned a bedsheet to the clothesline to air it, then shuffled around getting something to eat. I had wolfed down most of the kalamata bread in dry chunks, had peeled and quartered an orange, and was about to pour a second coffee and bundle away to my work table inside (out of the wind and cold) when the arrangement on the table in front of me stopped me in my tracks. All I had to do was move that old brass lamp a little to the left, and take the picture.

The sheer unlikelihood of an arrangement like this forming by itself, in our utilitarian and generally unattractive home—rather than having gone around trying to set things up for a photo—and then my having spotted it even though I wasn’t feeling creative or receptive to anything, strikes me as being ten times more precious than the beautiful or attractive things that I work on, think about, influence and pour my creative resources into.

And it made me wonder whether there mightn’t be two kinds of creativity—the kind that imposes itself upon the world, making something out of nothing, “breeding Lilacs out of the dead land…” sort of thing…and the kind that simply looks around, and sees the beauty and perfection that has always just been there—and which one would I prefer to have?

Or maybe they are two sides of one coin, and you cannot have one without the other?

Saturday leftovers, and some stitched kiwi fruit

Not many pictures of the Seabreeze Festival last Saturday…we were too busy making coffee. Here is a handful of shots I took just after we had finished setting up, but before the festival had started. Beautiful day…it’s like having a summer without the wilting heat. Snapped some kids playing on the beach as the tide was coming in. The guy with the dog was strolling about on a sand bank for a little too long, and had to wade through chest-deep water to get ashore. Doggy swam.

I love Darwin in The Dry.
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Brown Sugar, Who’s Ya Daddy?

Kris and I are working with Dave in the Brown Sugar Coffee Caravan of Lurrrrve today, Saturday, during the SeaBreeze Festival along the Nightcliff foreshore. It’s on from 2 – 10 p.m.

We’ve been practicing our capuccinos and espressos on the old machine…making, tasting, making another, tasting. Why, no, we haven’t slept since Thursday, actually. High as a kite on the amphetamine of the gods.

If you’re in the area, drop in for a cuppa!

Nah, we ain’t got no Decaf.

An’ we ain’t got no white sugar neither…

Nuh-uh, we ain’t got no tea, sorry.

But you sure as hell can has coffee. And what a coffee…

Dave is Brown Sugar’s Daddy-O. And possibly the coolest person I know. We love his retro green coffee caravan (housing an even more vintage Italian machine…), his tree-frog-green ’70s Holden, his poetry magnets and oversized vintage porn playing cards on the fridge, and his ’61 Jag, finally done up and running, with racing stripes and all. Awesome.