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"Sunday Coffee Cup"

Re-post and Finale' - Sunday Coffee Cup

The following was the first Sunday Coffee Cup post. I have been considering ending the series (mainly because I have already told all of my mug stories), and it seems fitting that as my sister was the subject of the first post - her passing this past week should be the occasion for my last Sunday Coffee Cup post.

You can read them all here. So, please settle in and enjoy how this all began and know this will be the last weekly post of the Sunday Coffee Cup. I'm sure a significant mug may find it's way into my life and end up here sporadically...however, here's the ending as it was the beginning...

We all have them stashed and stacked in the cabinet. Why do we collect so many coffee mugs and cups? Some are little more than clutter. A plastic memento of a meaningless event or casual encounter with a random company. Yet, for me, what I see when I reach for a Sunday morning cup for my coffee is a cupboard full of significant life moments, memories of time well sent and people kindly known. My Sunday morning coffee cup selection is never really casual. Each time I choose a mug, I'm choosing to remember and reconnect with a segment of my life.

It seems selfish to keep all of these moments to myself, so each Sunday I'll plan on posting a Sunday Coffee Cup photo and story. Enjoy this inaugural post.

My Sister - Burp!

It was Christmas of 1999. I was just months past my departure from the ordained ministry, my spirit and my life still reeling from the trauma of personal burnout. Finances were bottomed out. I was working my first 'sales' job and beginning what would become a new career chapter. It was one of those life moments when all I had of certainty and peace was each emotion filled moment, each small rational choice and a tenuous faith that somehow God would see me through.

The trip to Myrtle Beach, SC for our extended family Christmas gathering was tentative, lacking in joy and confidence. There were to be few gifts given, few life accomplishments to celebrate. Enter my sister.

My sister is, and mostly has been throughout her life, a mess. Sometimes that 'mess' was of the playful, mischievous childhood variety of 'mess.' A mess you find yourself admiring for tenacity, boldness and undaunted determination. Sometimes my sister's 'mess' was more of the personal life catastrophe variety. Bad choices, bad timing, bad comrades and all in the worst possible order. Mt sister was going through a 'mess' of the second variety in 1999. She was, simply put, in worse shape than I was - at least it looked like it from the outside looking in.

That year, my sister took the time and a few of her very limited dollars and bought me a Christmas present. She gave me a perfectly selected mug. When I unwrapped it, the crass imprint on the outside and the playful lettering inside the rim gave me pause. The I felt a giggle forming deep inside, a giggle that begin to bubble up into a joyous laugh.

Now, years and gallons of coffee later, I still cherish this bold, playful, timely and loving gift. It makes my Sunday cup of coffee perfect. Thanks Sis!

NOTE: My sister died 5/12/12. I'll miss her. RIP Pam.

Sunday Coffee Cup - Tallahassee

A few years back, while searching out possible retirement locations, my wife (bless her heart) and I were considering Tallahassee, Florida. Not anymore.

Florida, the often selected retirement destination for northerners who woke up one day from a Winter slumber and realized, “Hey – snow, ice, heating bills and fast paced talking is optional,” was never high on my list of retirement destinations. I’ve enjoyed visiting the glass bottom boats, reptiles shows, Flipper aquariums and sipping “all the orange juice you can drink for a dime,” but always felt that Florida was – well, not really the South.  Let’s face it, you can throw a case of darts in Miami and the closest thing to a Southern you’ll hit is a South American. Don’t get me wrong, I like diversity, but I prefer the slow drawl and sweet tea of a Southern lifestyle.

Enter my wife. Although she’s not a Southerner, she married me and that makes her – well, smart and acceptable. She also grew up (read 'went through adolescence') in Florida (read 'Fort Lauderdale') and to college at Florida State University – which is in Tallahassee – which isn’t really in Florida even though it is the capital of the state. Tallahassee is located in the Florida panhandle and is very close to Georgia and Alabama. My wife suggested that it was a possible retirement location, in Florida, in the South. Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is a souvenir of our Tallahassee considerations.

Sunday Coffee Cup

Here is what I learned about Tallahassee:

1. It is a great city with lots to do – including worshiping regularly at the Florida State University shrine of Bobby Bowden.
2. Once you leave the city – there is really nothing else. Pine and palm forests, humidity you can bath in, heat that only makes you sweat more, an abundance of biting and stinging insects and pencil thin ‘beaches’ and ocean that looks like the froth of a day old latté.
3. Hiking consists of walking across level ground for miles, dodging spider webs and large spiders between pine trees.
4. The tea isn’t sweet enough.
5. You can’t get anywhere from Tallahassee. You have to go somewhere else first (read off the beaten track).
6. There are some very nice people who live there.

So, I don’t think we will be moving to Tallahassee for retirement. You know the old saying “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Well, the latter is true.

Go Seminoles! Heh.

Sunday Coffee Cup - The Collection

The Fine Art of Coffee Appreciation 

I've been posting the Sunday Coffee Cup reflections for some time now and I'm taking this week off. I'll be back next Sunday with a new mug, new thoughts and a opportunity for you to laugh, cry or both!

In the meantime, see if you have missed any of the past posting. See them all here Sunday Coffee Cup!

Sunday Coffee Cup - Clear Reminder

There aren't many clear glass coffee mugs. Today's Sunday Coffee Cup is the only clear mug we have in the house. It was a gift from some friends who stopped to visit with us on their way back home to Florida. There is some debate (read - my wife and I argue over it) as to if the gift was intentional or not.

The truth (read - my opinion) is that the mug belonged to our traveling friends and they accidentally left it with us. It is an orphaned mug. However, more importantly every time I see it I'm reminded of a more famous clear glass coffee mug - and a brand with a long history.

Remember these? They were the trademarked mugs of Nescafe instant coffee. Below is a flashback look at why this new 'modern' convenience was so popular. Enjoy.

Sunday Coffee Cup – Tropical Reminder

I love the tropics. Give me 90 degree heat and 70% humidity, clear skies, crystal waters to relax in and I’m good – for a very long time. Lucky for my wife, she understands this and when we talk about vacations, the options never include heading north unless it is the peak of summer – and even then – I need a very good reason to not head to an island.

I love places like these: Bermuda, The Virgin Islands, Cozumel Mexico, The Bahamas, The Florida Keys, South Florida and in a pinch, I’ll even settle for the Carolina coast. Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is for when I’m not at any of those places.

My mother gave us four mugs and matching saucers set for Christmas one year. They’re tropical. They make me smile and remind me of hot sun and bright sand. It isn’t anywhere near like being there, but it serves up a sizable cup of coffee and the occasion to remember and plan for tropical these.

Bermuda - Marley Beach


Bermuda - Witch's Island


Maho Bay Camps - US Virgin Islands

Cozumel 1976

Ahhhhh.... i remember them all!

Sunday Coffee Cup - Old and Royal

Before the days of Starbucks, when cell phones came with shoulder straps and discount compact disks could be ordered from a foreign land known as Columbia – fine coffee came mail order from Gevalia.

Gevalia (not unlike its beefy cousin Omaha Steaks) was the market leading - direct to your home  -brand for fine coffee. Gevalia’s coffee could be had as a subscription, delivered directly to your door via the convenience and speed of the US postal service. All one had to do was fill out the paper order form, stamp it and mail it in (no pesky internet back in those days) and for those lucky customers who watched the limited special offerings, one could grab a free coffee maker or drink ware set.

Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is the lone survivor of our Gevalia period. At some point we acquired a set of “limited edition imported fine porcelain mugs.” This one fossil remains, a remnant of Swedish descent bearing the gold seal and commission “”By Appointment to His Majesty The King of Sweden.”

Thus I hoist the standard of the royal coffee of old and hereby proclaim, “Dang! I’m getting old.”

(note: Gevalia appears to still be in the business of delivering coffee and stuff, only now via the web.)

Sunday Coffee Cup - Untouchable Things

There are things that we own that we never use. Some of these things are too small, relics from days when we were leaner, younger. Some of these things are out of date or fashion (I think I still have a pair of platform shoes somewhere - can you say DISCO!?). These are the things  that have outlived their purpose but for some sentimental reason we hold on to them. Then there are those things that are brand spanking new that we haven't gotten around to using, yet: that serving dish that hasn't seen the right party, the winter sweater bought on sale for next year, or the suitcase that hasn't been needed for a trip. Yes, we are people of abundance and guilty of our own share of hoarding and excess. We have many things we don't use.

This morning's Sunday Coffee Cup was one of those things. It is a small, delicate porcelain cup that barely holds 6 ounces of coffee. It has been shuffled around in the cabinet, jostled by the exit and return of more popular cups and mugs. Countless times I have reach for the diminutive vessel and each time have paused and selected another more practical cup - one that would hold a fair portion for a morning jolt of coffee. It just isn't practical. What is more, it isn't very manly. Look at it - all flowery and dainty - daring me to position my fingers in high society posture, pinky extended -  to sip with refined elegance.

Still - time and this dang blog series has worn me down. As I sorted through the available mugs for today, it was one of the last remaining pieces,  un-blogged and unused. With pinky extended and a full 4-5 ounces of heft, I toast to you this day with flowery porcelain. Gawd.

I need more mugs.

Sunday Coffee Cup - Brookgreen Gardens

There is stillness in the marsh as winter begins to yield to the caresses of spring and the low country creatures begin to stir, to tilt sedated attention to the tasks of advancing life. The ancient oaks drip with creativity and Spanish moss. Water runs deep and slow connecting statuary fountains to rice fields. Nowhere am I more at home than in the space of land that rests between the low country swamps and the sand of the shore. No place better represents that ancestral space than Brookgreen Gardens. 

Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup is from my favorite place in South Carolina. Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State park rest now on what was once the South Carolina plantation home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Milton Huntington. The Huntingtons were amazing artists of word and form.

The Brookgreen Gardens website describes them:  “Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The Huntingtons first visited the property in 1929. They were captivated by the Carolina Lowcountry with its undulating rivers and shadowy swamplands, sandy pine forests, sweeping marsh vistas and stately moss-draped oaks. So, the philanthropist and his beloved sculptor wife bought Brookgreen Plantation and the three adjoining properties, amassing 9,127 acres of forest, swamp, rice fields and beachfront.

Originally, their plan was to establish a winter home overlooking the wide, blue Atlantic, but the beauty and history of the land quickly transformed their modest intention into something more grand. In 1931, they organized a non-profit institution with a lofty mission: providing a showcase for American figurative sculpture within a refuge for native plants and animals. A year later, they opened Brookgreen to the public. It is the first sculpture garden in the United States and designated as a National Historic Landmark.”

Brookgreen Gardens - here you will find towering statuary, bold flowers and courageous creatures – all demanding the art from within you. One sip of this place will capture you and I’m sipping the South today and stirring in a spoonful of artistic passion for this Sunday morning.  Care to join me?

Sunday Coffee Cup - My 'Thoughtful' Brother

My family is loving, supportive and deeply interested in my work as a writer and blogger. Case in point.

My brother obviously reads diligently my Sunday Coffee Cup post each week. He is, no doubt, humored, touched and deeply affected by the artistic creativity and intellectual prowess exhibited in each carefully crafted post. I know this, because when we visited this weekend (the first time we have seen each other since before Christmas), he presented me with a gift that is today's Sunday Coffee Cup.

He said he thought I needed it since I was so interested in cups.


Sunday Coffee Cup – Tennis Anyone?

I don’t play tennis. The last time I tried, I broke a rib (Don’t ask. Although it is an interesting story involving a celebrity or two…anyway). My wife loves tennis. She played tennis for Florida State – back in the day. We had our first ‘date’ at a tennis match (That’s another good story. I pretended to be a doctor. She pretended to be my wife. Wait – that could be a country music song…anyway).

Today’s Sunday Coffee Cup touts the sport of tennis. Someone gave it to my wife. It’s really a pretty ugly mug – #justsaying. Over the years we have, like most folks, culled the coffee mug population in our cupboard. I keep thinking, year after year that this one will be among the chosen, the Tribute (yes, I just made a Hunger Games reference – I’m so ready to see that film) to see the path of a thousand donation deaths. I’ve even thought of taking it to Breakfast of Course (for those Dear Readers that don't know - Breakfast of Course is a local restaurant that was once  "Mary's of Course" and they served breakfast. They still do and they serve you coffee in random, used and often interesting mugs), but I don’t think they would take it.

As coffee mugs go – well, it is one.

Happy Sunday Coffee Mug.