Monday, August 11, 2008


When I was growing up, one of my mother’s favorite activities was having coffee with a neighbor or two. I always wondered what they talked about as they drank big cups of coffee laden with half-and-half and lots of sugar. But I was usually outside playing with the neighborhood children, so I never really appreciated the value of a cup of coffee with friends.

As a mom who worked outside my house, I never seemed to have the luxury of having a quiet cup of coffee with a friend. Not until now, that is.

The past two Monday mornings I have shared coffee with someone I have meditated with for many years. In those two outings, I have learned a lot more about her than during our many hours of silent meditation together.

We are drawn not to Starbucks, but rather to Sidamo, a small Ethiopian coffee and tea place in the reclaimed H Street Corridor of NE DC. We sit out in the garden area behind, which seems to completely mask the street noise. Today's coffee included a piece of hazelnut biscotti with dark chocolate.

This is the friend who introduced me to the idea of beet greens. As an acupuncturist she is quite knowledgeable of alternative medicine and nutrition. She’s also interested in renewable energy sources. We never fail to find things to talk about.

Although I have greatly reduced my consumption of coffee, I look forward to this cup a week, as much for the conversation as the taste of the rich coffee.

My project for today was to get rid of the 16 bags of books we no longer need. I had originally contemplated giving them to a prison, but then found out the prison takes only paperbacks. A call to the Arlington County Central Library confirmed they would take them all between 8 and 1 when volunteers were present to process them. The books have been delivered, even with a receipt as a charitable contribution.


Blogger Steve said...

Wow! That's a lot of books! Doesn't it feel great to thin them out like that?

I answered your question on my blog, BTW. :)

12:41 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

The question on everyones mind from your post last week...

"We have a considerable number of books on sex which I have never read including, a set of 6 CD’s entitled “Enlightened Sex.”"

so, who is the big winner?

1:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Yes, I love looking at my bookshelves that now have empty space for photos and new books!

Thanks for the explanation on your Blog.

Bulletholes -- I kept the CD's thinking one day I would listen to them and become enlightened!

1:33 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

A weekly cuppa sounds like a great tradition to start. It's amazing how little we (or at least I) know about the people I see regularly.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

Woah--what a massive amount of books! Although I'm not one to talk in the least, considering that I have more books than furniture. Good for you for giving them to people who will put them to good use, though :)

How long have you been meditating? I've been trying for the past couple of months, and it's gotten easier, but some days it's really a struggle to let go of my thoughts. Any tips for a novice?

7:02 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I have vowed to make a better effort to get to know people like this. Otherwise we're like passing shadows.

Mo -- I have been meditation for about 4 years. It is one of those things that could easily take a lifetime to learn how to do well. There are gimmicks like counting breaths and saying a mantra repeatedly. But you have to acknowledge that you will never be able to get rid of your thoughts. The best hope is to just continue to shove them aside as they come up for your period of peace and quiet. One person described it as analogous to walking down a path with a small child. As the child tries to leave the path, you gently take her hand and guide her back. See if that helps!

8:25 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick said...

Nice that you have an alternative to McStarbucks. Your coffee cafe sounds very nice. Coffee with friends is a joy. I live in a small enough community where I can do that almost daily. Nice to sit and share.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ched -- I give anyone credit who is willing to go up against the likes of Starbucks. The truth is this coffee is actually much better than anything I've had at Starbucks. My friend and I are thinking about going to the weekly Ethiopian coffee "ceremony" on Sunday at 2 pm. I really love the atmosphere at Sidamo.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I love the photo of the cup... I did a series of paintings of cups with saucers and there is alot of symbolism associated with cups...

I don't mind a Starbucks, but I always like to patronize non-chain places, if they have good coffee. I used to think that Peet's was a pretty anti-establishment place, but lately they are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, well, almost!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- I love the colors in the cup. They are happy colors, yes?

4:02 PM  

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