Men Who French Press

Our coffee maker broke about a week ago.  This weekend staple for me and daily essential for my husband left a void in our morning routine, as I would usually grind the beans and turn it on as a secondary alarm clock for him to get out of bed.  Ten to 15 minutes later the machine would sound a beep four times just as I returned from walking the dog.

We contacted they company, Cuisinart, who recommended that we clean it first and then let them know if it still wasn’t working.  When we informed them that the decalcification didn’t solve the problem, they offered to send us a new coffee maker of the same style.  Excellent customer service overall, and we’ll follow through on the shipping process after the holidays.

In the meantime, we needed an alternate brewing method, so we used one of our gift cards to Starbucks to purchase a french press.  We haven’t had one of these simple brewers in several years, so it seemed both quaint and complicated.  Similar to brewing a pot of tea, the french press uses water just off a boil combined with fresh coffee grounds.  After a four-minute brew time, the press separate the liquid from the grounds, resulting in a frothing cup of coffee.  I’ve made the error of leaving the coffee sitting in the press for several cups, and it doesn’t alter the taste, though my husband swears it does.  However, I add so much to my cup that it is better described as coffee flavored milk.

This addition prompted me to ask my coffee aficionado co-worker about her preference for making the perfect cup.  Curious to know whether she had converted to one of those fancy one-cup contraptions, I asked what she kept in her house.  In addition to the standard glass carafe coffee maker, her husband had just brought home a french press from the company gift exchange.  Ironically, he had taken it as the gift, then selected it as the one he wanted to take back home, another example of a man enamoured with the idea of the french press.

Finding Georgia

I wanted a quick read this past week, something inspiriting for the season and lighthearted.  I scanned the end of the year best books list, but of course all of those books were already checked out from the library and had a waiting list of hundreds for the digital versions.  The bestseller that was still available, like a bulging-eyed Boston Terrier from the shelter, was Julie Klam’s You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness. The 140-pages chronicle the adoption of her first dog in her twenties, to the second dog that coincided with the birth of her daughter, and the numerous fosters that found their way into her home and into her stories.  Unable to adopt them all permanently, she joins a rescue organization and records the adventures.  Though the stories become a little repetitive by the end, their value lies in the shared experiences, which is the reason that other dog lovers pick up this book.  Perhaps it is because we believe the passage that Klam quotes “A very wise woman once told me that dogs find owners, not the other way around.”  So here’s our story:

When I pleaded with my parents that I needed a dog, they said no, not when I was 12, but when I was 23.  Growing up, we had a two family dog, the later I named Happy, for the date I received her – my 12th birthday. She stayed with us for 12 years, until the year after I graduated from college.  I was alone then, renting a room, figuring out my next step and next school.  Two years later, I had earned my master’s degree, married by college sweetheart, and settled into a two-bedroom townhouse that had the space for a pet.

We were running several 5k races at the time, an appropriately our dog stationed herself just across the road from one during a campus pet adoption event. Having registered for the event, we had an hour to warm-up, but only need a quarter of that time since it was a warm, early afternoon.  Several shelters circled the open field in tents, with crates stacked two tall and dogs of all ages and sizes wandering around leashed to colorfully clothed college students.  A red and white hound caught our attention, so we asked if we could walk her around. She followed us instantly.  We even jogged a few paces just to see if she could keep up.

She was skinny at the time and new to the leash.  In the two weeks since being found on the road, she had starting eating again, learned to sit on command, and had all of the necessary medical procedures.  She wasn’t a beagle, at least not completely, but she had the same boxy nose and partial coloring of red and white that made us assume that she had beagle or hound heritage.  She used her nose to take in the world, and we would later learn that her other half might be boxer, since she also loved to take that upright boxing stance for a quick punch or high-five.

We debated whether we could handle the addition to our lives.  She was larger than the dogs I had grown accustomed to and smaller than those my husband had a kid.  Her short hair meant that she would be low maintenance in the grooming department, but her keen nose meant that she would get into plenty of other messes.  She watched us intently, with large brown eyes, as we decided to take her home.

We left the adoption event with a blue rope leash and her fade yellow bandana that she would keep for several weeks as a sort of comfort blanket.  Her first bed was a damaged University of Georgia blanket that we willing sacrificed in case it should be ruined in our townhome in Clemson.  She curled up on it in our otherwise empty kitchen while we shopped for all of the essentials: a dog bed, crate, food, bowls, and toys.  We set up her new house and sat on the linoleum floor playing with the new items until she knew they were hers.  We threw names back and forth across the room with the tennis ball, until it came down to two: Scout or Georgia.  The former came from my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and captured the 7 month-old pup’s inquisitive spirit.  The latter came from her home state and summed up her southern nature, sweet and proper, and completely fitting for our Georgia.

Better Homes and Gardens

On a recent trip, I selected Meghan Daum’s book, Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in that House, as my reading material for the cross-country flight.  The pick was partly the result of a search for a West Coast author and partly the result of finding a book to download from the D.C. library that didn’t have a two week or longer waiting list.  I love that the library allows it’s users to check out digital books for their e-readers (now including the Kindle), so I also downloaded a few travel guides in case I need to look up a good restaurant on a device other than my phone.

The book pick stemmed from my recent interesting in Better Homes and Gardens and other lifestyle and living magazines.  I can pour over the interior designs, make lists from the pages of items that I want to own one day, and basically expect my future living arrangements to sprout from the pages.  I added water to an issue once by accident when I set the magazine on the kitchen counter to cook chili by their recipe.  It shriveled instead of growing into a larger apartment with more counter space.

In her chronicles of various living spaces, Daum isn’t necessarily looking for more room either, but a place to call her own.  She loves the apartment in New York, the farm house rented in Kansas and the one later purchased there as well, and the Los Angelos abode.  She settles in on the transient American Dream, which for her is a literal dream of finding an extra room that she didn’t know existed, an realization that is at once exciting and disappointing. Though her focus on and fascination with the Plains, this book helped me stand grounded during the long flight, though it’s lessons may be less of a reality now than they were when Daum wrote most of it.