Unusual gifts

Presents from my kids.

My son, his girlfriend and my daughter spoiled me with a pile of gifts for my birthday. The packages arrived all week and I was instructed not to touch or open anything. On my birthday morning, my husband stacked the gifts on the counter in our casita.

This whole pile is to make a cup of coffee. That’s right. All these items are used for “Pour Over” coffee. When I last went to Berkeley to help my son post foot surgery, I learned the arduous task of pour overs. The first time I made coffee my son said to me, “You didn’t let this bloom long enough.”

It did taste bitter, a side effect of not enough “bloom.”

If you’re curious what was in all the packages, the big bag held the grinder. The smaller packages included Ethiopian beans, a scale, a bowl to put on the scale to weigh the beans, a glass carafe to make and hold the coffee, coffee filters, a platter to put under the grinder (from a Finnish artist — since I’m of Finnish descent) and a special kettle with a thermometer on it to get hot water at the exactly correct temperature.

Here are the presents unwrapped — the Pour Over paraphernalia.

Why did they choose to give me pour over coffee equipment? It’s because at my son’s house, I began to enjoy the process of making coffee every morning. When I returned home, I called my son and said that my Keurig coffee — even the special Starbuck’s Holiday Blend — was tasteless. I could have been drinking water.

Here’s the secret recipe to making a good cup of pour over coffee:

Fill the kettle with water and turn on the burner.

Weigh 30 grams of beans in the small bowl.

Put a filter on the Chemex carafe.

Place the carafe on the scale.

Grind the beans right before the water is at the correct temperature.

Pour hot water into the filter to get it wet.

Pour water out of the carafe.

Place ground coffee into the wet filter.

Pour 60 grams of hot water from the kettle over the coffee grinds — making sure it’s all wet.

Let it “bloom” for several minutes. Bubbles will appear on the surface of the grinds.

Pour 100 grams of hot water onto the filter holding the ground coffee beans.

Wait for the coffee to drip.

Repeat three more times.

The result is an excellent, bold, full flavored cup of coffee! There’s something about the process that is relaxing and satisfying. Otherwise, it would be too much work — even for superior tasting coffee.

A friend from Palm Springs called with birthday wishes. I asked her if she knew about “Pour Over” coffee. She said, “Yes. My two son-in-laws have all that stuff. The glass carafe, the coffee grinder. I have to get to work in the morning. I drink a cup of instant.”

We met friends at a restaurant for my birthday dinner. They walked in with a huge wrapped gift. It reminded me of when I was a child and I’d get a large doll in a big box! I was so excited.

What was in the box? Pink flamingos. Now I need to find a home for them in the yard!

Have you heard of Pour Over coffee? Have you tried it? What are your thoughts of pink flamingos?

Sights and Sounds of Berkeley

Sunrise street view in Berkeley
The view walking from the airbnb to my son’s right before sunrise.

I’m in Berkeley staying a few blocks from my son’s house to take care of him post foot surgery. I hang out in the daytime with him, helping him do the things he can’t do himself.

fall leaves in Berkeley.
I love the color of fall leaves. We don’t see this in the Sonoran Desert.

I cook his oatmeal in the morning, walk to a local coffee shop to get a “pour over” coffee — whatever that is. I refill his water, make sure he’s comfortable and help him with whatever else he needs like hooking him up to his ice machine throughout the day.

His girlfriend and I go for coffee and breakfast for ourselves at a cafe my daughter and Waffles like best. We sit with them outside and chat in the morning sun. My daughter was exposed to COVID twice in the past two weeks. First time after her friend’s funeral, the test was negative. She doesn’t have the test results yet for the second exposure which happened at work. That’s why we meet outside and she sits at a table by herself where we talk and laugh and spend a tiny bit of time together.

Latte from Fellini's.
My latte is delicious and pretty.
Tree decorated with a face.
My son’s girlfriend and I noticed this decorated yard and tree on the way to coffee.

My airbnb is on the border of Oakland about six blocks from my son’s house. The first night, I was woken up to yelling, screaming, slamming doors and other frightening sounds between a man and a woman. The next night at 1 a.m., a car pulled up playing rap music so loud that it shook the bedroom window.

Angel's trumpets
Angel’s trumpets we saw on a morning walk.

The airbnb is spotless, somewhat spartan and has all I need. I’ve only been there in the dark to sleep. I arrive after dark and I leave in the morning before sunrise to walk to my son’s house. I’m left with a kind of creepy feel, since I haven’t been there in the daylight and I’m treated to mysterious sounds of the night. I’m sure broad daylight would erase that vibe.

yarn bombing, love on a stop sign.
I saw yarn bombing for the first time. “Why do they want to stop love?” my son’s girlfriend asked.
Waffles the Pug at a cafe in Berkeley.
Waffles at his favorite cafe. They know him by name and always give him a treat.

Have you been exposed to COVID or tested for COVID? Does it seem to you like more and more people are getting it? When you visit family and friends are you concerned about COVID and are there precautions you take?

On this trip, I wouldn’t have thought about COVID at all except for my daughter’s two recent exposures. Another strange thing was how busy the airport in Phoenix was. Seating was full at gates and groups of people were left standing or sitting on the floor.