Coffee Puzzle

November 4, 2019.  Recently, walking into my kitchen, my memory took a leap back to the kitchen I grew up in – the center of family activities.  The table was cleared for each meal and then immediately cleared for the next activity – homework, paying bills, making a new slipcover for the old rocker.  In early hours (before anyone else was supposed to be awake), Mother sat at the table drinking coffee and reading magazines.  The memory that won’t let go was a rare day when Mother sat down for coffee mid-day.  I was elementary-school age.

(I’m still puzzling why this memory pops up now.  I lean toward synchronicity, not coincidence.)

The table (now in my sister’s home) was available to photo for this collage with a map of the Monahans area in West Texas as backdrop.  (No recall of Mother’s coffee cups, though I do remember a metal coffeepot heated on stove top – just-poured coffee was surely boiling hot.)

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23 thoughts on “Coffee Puzzle

    1. All manner of things (more than food) gets stirred and stewed and digested in a kitchen – I really wish I had a big live-in kitchen like I grew up with. Your supper sounds delicious.

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      1. We had many kitchens when I was young, most of them small. But they were still the center of the house. I think the stew will be good – it’s from a cookbook I purchased at The Twig bookshop in San Antonio, after a Poets for Peace reading there. Everything I’ve made from it has been delicious.

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  1. I’m so glad this unexplained memory popped into your mind, since it led to your visit to photograph the table and our very pleasant lunch and conversation afterward. Thank you!

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  2. This stirred memories of my own parents, my father always with a coffee on a Saturday afternoon, often while chatting on his CB radio, and my mother during the week, a coffee by her side as she sewed or darned while talking on the phone with friends. And always coffee.

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    1. I suppose my Mother had afternoon coffee, but she seldom sat down for it – my memories are mostly of her standing in the kitchen, moving room-to-room, always busy when home (she worked two jobs: school teacher and then 2 hours at a print shop). Though I have a definite coffee “need” now, when my kids were little – not a regular factor. Getting more like Mother as I age? There’s a cup beside me right now … Maybe that memory was my brain calling “Coffee! Now!”

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  3. Very interesting Jazz! Your words bring back similar memories of being little and my mom visiting with a female friend and having adult conversation that I may or may not have understood. Sometimes adults speak in code so little ears won’t understand I think.

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    1. Betty, thanks. I suspect the conversation went a bit deeper once they shooed me out into the yard.
      The mothers of our grand kids use code! Sometimes we have to ask for a repeat and listen carefully to get the message.

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  4. I’ve been thinking about this poem all day. For some reason, I’m not able to like or comment on your blog posts from my phone, but I can do so from my computer, so I’m finally getting the chance now.

    Anyway, I remember those kitchen table conversations well! I remember accidentally being privy to some adult exchanges sans codes, and rather wishing I hadn’t been…

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  5. Thanks for feedback on blog accessibility. I don’t have a clue – but you’ve given a nudge to call those WP “Happiness Engineers” about this & issues I keep encountering when clicking LIKE on various blogs. I think I’ve figured out the WP phone app, but far prefer computer’s big screen. I’m spoiled.

    My mother had a way (probably a clinical term for this) of stopping short of finishing her sentences. We could usually fill in the blanks, but who knows what we may’ve missed (or twisted)! Daddy was the one who needed to cut tirades short, but instead frequently repeated his final few cuss words over and over. He’d sit at the table and rant while Mother shuffled between sink and stove.

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  6. I had a lovely time sharing coffee with a friend yesterday at a bakery nearby. It was so fun to sit and tell stories about what had been going on in our lives. This poem is so well written. It has a musical sound to it I think. So glad you shared this memory with us. It reminded me of mysterious scenes I witnessed in childhood involving my mother. I don’t think she was particularly secretive, I was just too young to understand the context.

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  7. As always, your pieces are multi-layered. I love the collage and that you have access to a childhood dining table – amazing. Funny what the mind brings up. I recall the moment my mother discovered about my dad – her distress and the disruption to routine made it stand out to a five-year-old who relied on consistency for structure. Children have a keen sense of when things are “off”. Interesting that your child measures the atmosphere by the amount coffee being consumed. Was your mother (or memory of this moment) reminding you of the importance of making time to listen?

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    1. VJ, thanks for your inquiries … I wrote the poem because my gut told me “This memory is important” … but my gut doesn’t elaborate much, and I’ve been standing on my head trying to figure out the message for me NOW … I think it has to do with expecting unusual interruptions and not “rushing” them when they come along. As a kid, I was physically focused on the coffee, but most likely I stood still long enough to notice coffee because something out-of-norm was happening in “my space”. The visitor did not drop in for coffee casually – something out-of-my-range triggered the visit. And I’m taking the dream as a heads-up that something strange may be coming at me. (Maybe the best course when it does will be to sit down and stare at a cup of coffee while I get my bearings? For sure a time to listen more than speak.)

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    1. There could be an entire book about all that transpired around our table … and likely many others could write similar volumes … we could take up a library shelf in the memoir section!

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