The Adaptable Brew

FOR THE LOVE OF A BEAN

In morning mist of history, someone invented a pot.

Somewhat later one of these pots, full of boiling water, sat over someone’s cooking fire and they decided to toss in some dried berries they found on a bush. And when they took a slurp of the dark, dark water covering the beans, they thought, “Hmm… I kind of like that!” Someone soon thought of crushing the beans to release more of this appealing flavor. And the rest is history.

After years of boiling the crushed beans in a pot some clever soul saw the potential for improvement by putting these grounds in a bag and pouring boiling water over them. His idea caught on; folks did like the taste better.

Some years later another inventive person thought of a longer, skinnier pot with a spout for pouring, a metal basket like a sieve to hold the beans above the water, and a pipe that would pump boiling water up and over the beans. This “coffee percolator” went over well.

While percolators were bubbling merrily on stoves all across the world, other innovative people were at work with wires, metal drums, dams and windmills — testing, adapting. Finally lights went on all across the land and homes were wired for electricity. Some manufacturer of coffee percolators saw and opportunity and invented a stove-less coffee perk.

People developed more refined tastes. The idea of water washing repeatedly over the coffee fell into disfavor. Innovative designers produced an appliance where the water dripped down over the grounds only once. This new drip coffee-maker went over big time.

Electronics were added a clock so the user could programme when the machine would start to drip. Presto! Fresh coffee in the morning. Consumers were delighted with this innovation.

Someone else, in an attempt to satisfy the world’s need for speed and convenience, thought of putting the coffee grounds into small pods — then designed a machine that would hold an individual pod and drip water over it, to produce a single cup of coffee.

Innovation didn’t stop there. Someone else adapted the idea by adding a reservoir to hold water and a heating chamber to heat enough water for each cup. An electronic panel lets users select the amount of water that passed through the pod, and the speed, which affected the strength of the brew.

Our daughter found one of these marvelous inventions on Kijiji some months ago and presented it to us as a just-for-anyhow present. So we’re up with the latest; my morning cup of coffee sits here beside me as I type this. And I see a bug has landed in it. Grrr…! Guess you can’t fix every glitch. 😦

As I write these words, more adaptations are being tested in laboratories around the world. Ideas to make brewing our favorite beverage even more convenient. Who knows when the next clever innovation will appear in the market place?

Alas! If this process continues, I fear the day may come when I can’t figure out how to operate a coffee maker and have to become a tea granny like my Mom.

Disclaimer:
The writer makes no claims as to the historical accuracy of this article. 😉

Daily Addictions prompt: INNOVATION

FOWC with Fandango: PRESENT

Word of the Day challenge: POTENTIAL

That Long Dark Night

Fandango’s FOWC Word prompt for today is: MEMORY

I appreciate these agreeable, simple words! This one should inspire a wide variety of responses. For my response I’m going to pull up a tidbit I originally posted in Dec 2013.

“Where were you when the lights went out?”

Remember that question, popular in the early seventies? Do you remember the incident it stems from? Can you remember the BeeGees’ song “When the Lights All Went Out in Massachusetts”? If you can, you’re as old as I am!

One day my mind went back to that long dark night, so I asked some friends these questions. They’d never heard of it. Some had heard that question, but had no idea what incident it referred to. Tsk, tsk! A whole generation has arisen (maybe even two already) who don’t remember when the lights all went out in Massachusetts.

But what year was that again? And what caused the power failure? And which states did it hit? I was pretty sure I remembered, but when I googled it, I found that I hadn’t gotten the basic details straight at all. All these years I thought the Yanks were to blame, but it actually started when Canadian electrical workers used the wrong size of wire in a power substation. (Blush!)

One book I refer to at times and enjoy reading just for the fun of it is Jack M. Bickham’s The 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How to Avoid Them)  © 1992 by Jack M. Bickham

Chapter 20 in this book is titled: “Don’t Assume You Know; Look It Up”
This is invaluable advice.

So, dear aged friends, without asking Mr Google, when did the lights go out all across the Eastern seaboard and southern Ontario and Quebec? And where were you?

 

Teeth You Could Afford

Mail Order Teeth, Anyone?

Back in the spring of 2013 I was helping my cousin organize her place, and she showed me this letter her mother received decades ago. My cousin saved it all these years as a souvenir and I found the details quite interesting – especially the prices quoted. We all know what new dentures will set you back these days.

Daily Addictions prompt word for today: AFFORD

Before you read this letter I should tell you that Kinloch is a small remote town on the northern fringe of farming settlements land in eastern Saskatchewan, as much bush (mostly poplar forest) as farm land.

Ward’s Dental laboratory
Mail Order Dept
P.O. Box 16
Montreal, Quebec

June 10, 1944

Mrs W Vance
Kinloch, SK

Dear Mrs. Vance,

We have your esteemed inquiry re false teeth and in reply would say that we make full sets from $30 to $45, but we particularly recommend our $35.50 sets to give excellent satisfaction. This is $17.75 for each plate; upper and lower.

Terms for single plates: $5.00 with order, balance on delivery. Our terms for full sets are $5 with order, $20.50 on delivery and balance in two monthly payments of $5 each.

Our method of taking the impression is very simple. We send you dental compound that is soft and pliable. You bite into it, leaving an accurate impression of your jaws. By our simple method we give you the same high class service as one living in the largest city and without the loss of time and inconvenience.

All our work is done by skilled technicians in an up-to-date laboratory and few dentists are equipped to do work like ours. We guarantee the fit of our plates as well as the workmanship, for a plate that does not fit properly is not cheap at any price. Ward plates are natural looking and positively fitting. New hue Trubyte teeth $1.00 each plate extra.

We believe that one of the best investments a man or woman can make is in a properly fitting set of false teeth as poor chewing means indigestion and other disorders and one’s personal appearance means so much.

We thank you for the inquiry and it would be a pleasure to be of service to you.

Yours very truly,
Ward’s Dental Laboratory

P.S. : Our travelling dentist will call on you when in your area if desired.

(Weren’t they a trusting bunch? If you got your teeth and didn’t pay the remaining two monthly $5 payments, they could hardly reclaim them.)

Love Rewarded

This is my response to today’s RagTag daily prompt word: HEART

One day, a century ago, a boy of three was brought to an orphanage and placed in the hands of the kind, capable housemother. He’d never known his parents, so he took to Miss C right off; whenever she put her arm around little David, he clung desperately to her.

She had a heart for the little boy and did her best to bring him up as a proper gentleman – though he could be such a mischief. Keeping him on the straight and narrow proved to be a constant challenge for her as David grew up, in spite of the boy’s deep affection for her. Yet Miss C persevered because she believed in the end he’d do well. David didn’t disappoint her, either. He went on to be a successful and well-respected business man in London.

Miss C tackled the job of housemother at that orphanage for thirty years; she gave the children all the love and help she could, but there came the time she needed to retire. The future looked a bit rough right then: she was sixty years old and no home of her own to go to. However would she manage her rent and daily expenses on just her pension?

David came down from London for the send-off. When he got wind of her financial situation he patted her shoulder and told her, “Don’t worry; just leave it all to me.”

He went out and bought a nice little home in Nottingham, just around the block from Miss C’s brother, and had the place repaired and redecorated. Then he handed Miss C the key – it was all hers – in return for the home and motherly love she had given him in his boyhood.

Story retold from one that appeared in the 1972 Friendship Book of Francis Gay.

The Intervention

Fandango’s one-word challenge yesterday was PREPOSTEROUS. I wrote this response in my head but didn’t get around to making it into a file. So here I am, a day late in posting my effort.

As Ludwig’s his three cousins filed into his tiny study and circled around him, the grimness in their faces made him apprehensive. “Take chairs, my dear cousins. This is a rare treat for me, having all three of you come like this. I suppose you must have some family business on your mind?”

“We need not sit. This won’t take long.” Karl faced him and spoke clearly, as Ludwig was getting quite hard of hearing. “The family business we have on our mind is YOU, Ludwig.”

Franz nodded in agreement. “We’ve talked among ourselves and decided to speak with you about your problem. We’ve decided to call this little meeting an intervention, as we wish to intervene in your affairs — purely for your own good.”

“My problem?”

“To save you from certain poverty,” Karl added.

Franz shuffled his feet. “Your hearing, cousin Ludwig. You know it’s getting quite poor.”

“Ah.” Ludwig’s eyebrows arched. “And so? What do you propose to do on my behalf? Send me to yet another doctor? The ones I’ve seen all say nothing can be done.”

The third man held up his hand and spoke loudly, “Exactly! We realize that nothing will change your fate. If your hearing loss continues at this rate, in ten years you will be deaf as a stone.”

“You don’t need to shout, Leonhardt. I can still hear, if only you speak clearly.”

“I’ve talked with my wife’s brother, Walt Shnedden,” Leonhardt explained. “As you may know, he’s a successful meat-cutter, and he’s willing to take you on as an apprentice, even though you’re…older… He’ll teach you the trade so you will be able to earn an income that’s not dependent on your hearing.”

“Meat-cutter? But my hands are made for the piano. For writing music!”

“You’re still a young man. Ludwig,” said Karl. “And we’ll admit, you’ve done very well at composing. People love your sonatas. But that day will come to an end, once your precious musical ear has fallen silent.”

“I think it’s very generous of Walt.” Leonhardt sounded impatient. “Only a fool would try to carry on writing music when he was deaf. And you’re no fool, Beethoven. I hope.”

Franz, always the amicable one, chose an encouraging tone. “We believe you could become a skillful and moderately prosperous meat-cutter if you started now.”

“That’s preposterous,” Ludwig shouted. “Music is my life. How can I ever accept such a crazy suggestion?”

Leonhardt turned to the others. “Well, cousins, I doubted we’d be successful in our endeavor. He will not listen to common sense. Ludwig will scribble his sonatas all the way to the poor house. We may as well carry on to our second intervention. I’m sure my nephew Felix will listen to reason if Ludwig will not.”

Ludwig started. “Felix? Do you mean Felix Haustelraed — the boy who dreams of being a sculptor?”

“Just the one.” Karl shook his head sadly. “He imagines he can earn a living chipping away at stone, but we all know that’s impossible in this day and age. A man needs a real job.”

“But his work is brilliant! If he keeps on, he could be a famous man someday.”

“He’d make a good meat-cutter, too,” said Leonhardt. “And be able to support a wife and family, as every young man dreams of. So hopefully he will show more sense than you, Ludwig. Good day.”

Karl nodded curly as he left the room. Franz, the last to go, gave a quick smile. “Good day and good luck, Ludwig.”

Beethoven waved, then turned back to his desk where his latest sonata awaited its final crescendo.

The three cousins had more success at making young Felix see reason. He went on to become a moderately successful meat-cutter, while Ludwig van Beethoven stuck with his music, deaf or not.

And now, who’s to say…?

Rebel Gray and Union Blue

Part B

My poem started as haiku;
from there it grew, as thoughts will do—
expanded to a broader view
of rebel gray and union blue.
And now I’ll share my thoughts with you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Warning: Unqualified Political Views Ahead

Not so long ago I read one blogger’s lengthy and convincing article urging Southern cities and towns to take down all those Confederate memorials. Her argument: the Confederate army were fighting to protect and perpetuate a system that held people in bondage. Why should Americans honor their position and keep these memorials to their struggle? A question I won’t touch, not being black nor living in the South. My grandparents came up to Sask. from Minnesota.

Have you ever noticed, though, when it comes to war, how “causes” often aren’t causes? “Religious wars”, for example. How often are they really about religion? Yes, there’s always convincing rhetoric, but how often don’t money, land grabbing, and power lurk somewhere back there, feeding the flames?

This blogger’s take on the Civil War was limited (at least the angle of her article) to the issue of slavery. Ridding America of “the blot of slavery” was the face put on the declaration of war, but I’ve read a few historians who suggest other factors, too. Northerners may have opposed the idea of slavery but breaking the economic advantage of the prosperous South may have colored the picture as much as the issue of black and white, according to some analysts.

Southerners had accustomed themselves to the idea and practice of slavery, but when the Union army swept down on them, Southerners were fighting as much for their economic and physical survival. I’m not sure how much, if any, negotiation took place before hand, or whether the North simply issued an ultimatum Southern leaders rejected. But, as is usually the case in conflicts, the guys at the top make the decisions and the average Joe & Johnny have to pay the price.

Union General Sheridan, regarding the state of Virginia as the breadbasket of the South, was quoted as saying his army was going to strip Virginia so thoroughly that if a crow flew over it would have to bring its own lunch. If the leader of an opposing army about to unleash his troops on your area or country would make a statement like that, would you be thinking ideology — or would you be desperate to save your home and family? It’s only in looking back that we paint stories in their most popular colours.

One book I read describes the experience of Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Believers in peace, not wishing to take sides in this conflict, they saw their farms fall into the hands both armies, their livestock slaughtered, their young men arrested by one or the other side. They were hard-pressed to survive those bleak years.

The Civil War, we know, was a long and bloody conflict. And one thing quickly showed up when it was over: a better life for black folks was never the goal. After crushing the Confederacy, the Union army marched off and left Southern blacks to the mercy of some quite bitter white neighbours. Read the history; it’s not pretty. Black families that moved North soon learned that they’d face as much, if more subtle, discrimination there.

A great book on this topic: The Little Professor of Piney Woods: The story of Professor Laurence Jones, written by Beth Day Romulo, © 1955. It’s incredible what one man can do when he puts his heart into overcoming prejudice with gentleness and making life better for his people. He fought a tough battle against poverty and prejudice — and won.

Thankfully a lot of healing has taken place; I trust a lot more will yet. Unity and equality are worth fighting for, but these battles are best fought in people’s hearts. As Jesus once explained: all our actions, loving or hateful, spring from what we believe and desire in our hearts. Think of Charlie Brown’s “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!” That’s a heart issue.

David, who blogs at Hokku, pointed out in a recent post that some folks are preaching love, acceptance, and tolerance, yet trying so hard to silence those who don’t hold the same opinions as themselves. It takes an honest heart to recognize that “It’s me, oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Enough musing. It’s Monday morning and I have work to do.

Johnny Reb: A haiku

I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and have a number of planters scattered around the front of our trailer now, filled and flowering. This morning I felt to sit at my computer and spill out my latest vein of thought.

Recently I submitted some haiku to an on-line journal and the editor suggested I should get a better handle on juxtaposition. I’m sure this is quite true.

Juxtapose: put two things side by side. I’ll call it the art of implying a comparison. Whether I’ll succeed in this or not is another matter, but my mind started turning the matter over, working on a haiku.

There are a number of almost-dead trees in the narrow strip of woods beside us. Planted a hundred years ago when folks first settled here, these (mostly poplar) trees once encircled the farm yard to the immediate east of us. Sad to say, they’ve reached the end of their life span and now there isn’t much left to them but a bleak gray trunk. In the ten years we’ve lived here strong winds have brought a number down and we wonder, during storms, if another will fall. Envisioning these old trees standing against the storm, my mind made a leap to “union blue and rebel gray.”

stark gray tree
facing death from the boiling blue
Johnny reb

Good juxtaposition or no?

Stretched it out into a mini-poem:

Stark old tree
stripped of many branches
faces death in the boiling blue
storm sweeping over its head
Johnny Reb

Then I decided this post was long enough, so will continue in Part B: Rebel Gray and Union Blue. T’will be easier for you to Like and Comment on each.