Coffee is a Comfort Food

The earliest memory I have of coffee is my mother saying, “Don’t bother me until I’ve had my coffee and cigarette.” The dark brown sludge of instant coffee mixed with powdered milk was bitter, thick, and beyond disgusting.

We all have memories associated with our favourite food. I read an emotional article The Case for Bad Coffee; it’s a good and emotional read. I can’t criticize anything in it; it’s an emotional piece about the writer’s relationship with coffee. Two of my favorite things! I sometimes use a personal statement writing service for my writing but this one is all on me.  I would object to associating Starbucks with good coffee, or all diners with bad coffee. The two aren’t that far apart (source: Corporate Coffee Systems).

My Coffee Story

Something happened when I was eight: my mom got a job. She started working full time at a women’s shelter. A lot changed because of that job. We moved into a house, she became more confident, we started buying bagged milk, she bought a drip coffee machine, she quit smoking, and she started buying flavoured coffee.

That’s when I started taking notice. The smells of Amaretto, French Vanilla, Caramel, Irish Cream, and Chocolate floated in the house instead of the burnt rubber smell of her old instant coffee.

I can’t tell you when I started drinking coffee. I know it was sometime in high school but the exact date or year is lost to my terrible memory. I do know that the flavoured coffee was mostly for holidays and special occasions and she bought Timmies for everyday drinking.

The smell of flavoured coffee transports me back to our little house and Christmas in Northern Ontario, sipping Irish Cream coffee with the smell of holiday cooking and the howls of winter outside. There was a figurative, as well as a literal, warmth to discussing everything and anything at the breakfast table over a cinnamon coffee. I still have the cheesy Santa head mugs we drank from. I haven’t had the heart to unpack them since she died.

winter morning coffee

When I moved out on my own the first thing I bought was a coffee maker. It was tiny and made one large cup. I used it for ramen almost as often as I did for coffee. I used that machine until my third year university when I needed to pull all-nighters. I fondly remember making a large pot of coffee and working from 10pm to 8am on a 2000 word essay.

Caffeine fueled my university. My video editing job was Caramelo from Second Cup, my convenient store job was Vanilla Hazelnut Van Houtte’s, tour guiding was German Chocolate cake from Timothies, and late night classes were an extra-large triple-triple from Timmies.

They were never as good as the weekends when I went to visit my Mom and we had her coffee and watched a movie, chatted, or just argued.

When I graduated, I tried to get into Starbucks or exotic coffees. They were always bitter and over-roasted (I didn’t know that at the time, I just knew it wasn’t right). I tried to be “grown-up” and drink espresso or cappuccinos but my heart always yearned for the warmth of flavoured coffee.

Heart VS Stomach

My heart yearned for the warmth of flavoured coffee, but my stomach took that way too literally. Acid reflux was the result.

Most (some exceptions like Second Cup) flavoured coffees are made from low quality beans. Low quality beans are exceptionally bitter and acidic compared to other beans. The flavour masks the taste of both of these properties.

Unfortunately due to my stomach problems, I can no longer drink flavoured coffee without multiple uncomfortable issues. (I’ll spare you the details.)

Heart Wins!

I couldn’t find any place that made flavoured coffee with high, or even medium, quality beans. I was reduced to drinking unflavoured coffee.

Although my stomach was happy I missed the days of yummy flavours.

That’s when I got the crazy idea of making my own coffee. With the help of the internet, I started roasting in a hot air popper and loving the coffee.

I looked online for coffee flavouring. I found a lot of syrups (mostly made with corn syrup and tasting of red dye #5) and a few coffee flavourings that cost over $100 a bottle.

I wondered whether coffee flavouring and candy flavouring might be interchangeable. I found a random message board comment saying something like, “I don’t see why not?” and proceeded to run several days’ worth of experiments. (There’s a secret to when you need to flavour the beans.)

That’s when I decided to sell gourmet flavoured coffee.

JenEric Coffee

I now have delicious coffee I can drink and that reminds me of my mom. I think she’d have particularly liked the Mint Chocolate Chip and the Butter Rum.

Coffee is a food that is associated with a lot of social activities and a lot of interpersonal interchanges. It’s natural that a person would associate the coffee they drink with the people who are around or the events. It’s one of the things that makes coffee special and it’s one of the reasons I love it.

Enjoy what you love!

Éric

The Quest and The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some days require more coffee than others. Feel free to quote me on that.

The Quest

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A few weeks ago my brother recommended that I check out The Quest. I wasn’t all that interested at first but then I watched an episode.

Let’s just say that so far I’m loving it!

For those that don’t know, it’s a reality show with a scripted storyline, set in a fantasy world. The major reason I didn’t want to see it was my lack of faith in reality TV. I expected it to be filled with bad versions of fantasy with hammy actors and cut throat pretty people as contestants.

I was wrong. It seems everyone involved loves Fantasy and they’ve gone to great depths to make it awesome. The actors are great, the contestants are fantasy geeks.

It does like to spend time on drama and some of the challenges feel a little low budget but it’s a lot of fun.

I particularly like the Hag who lives in the woods. She really got into it.

Watch it on ABC in the US or CityTv in Canada.

Novel?

I have a bad habit of being inspired by things that I like. The Quest isn’t an exception.

While I watched, I wondered what if the cameras were hidden and the contestants started to wonder if it was real or not. Imagine the emotional effect of the end of second act realization that all the “Banished” characters were killed.

Think what it would mean for the characters who don’t understand it isn’t a game.

I really like this idea for a novel and I’ve even written a proof of concept for one of the characters. I was expecting it to be 500 words but it quickly ballooned to 2000.

I’ll post it on Thursday.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged and then challenged my wife.

For those of you who live under a rock, the challenge is to bring awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Charcot Disease).

It’s a terrifying degenerative disease that affects muscles. From what I understand your muscles slowly atrophy. It’s paralysing, painful, and those affected have a short life expectancy.

The challenge says that if you can, you should donate $10 to the cause if you’ve dumped a bucket of ice water on your head and $100 if you didn’t.

My video and my wife’s video.

Charity Drain

Last estimates see the challenge having raised over 80 million dollars.

Some people are saying that the success of the campaign has been stopping people from donating to other causes. I don’t want to be the reason that other causes suffer, so I’m encouraging those that can afford to donate to multiple charities at the same time.

I donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association in memory of my Mother who died of complications related to diabetes in 2008. I also donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of my Father who died of brain cancer in 2010.

I encourage those that can afford to donate to:

Even a little bit helps.

 

Would you join The Quest?

Have you or someone you love been affected by ALS?

 

Thank you,

Eric

Death is a Jerk

Death Bah!

I’m sure if there is a personification of Death, they are really sweet. It’s the consequences of their actions that are horrible. So he/she is a Jerk.

It’s a strange concept that haunts and terrifies me.

I remember when I first realized that someday I wouldn’t exist. I was in the car with my mother and had just clipped my seatbelt in for the hour ride to the nearest big town for groceries.

My whole world went black for a moment and I thought I might faint. I must have been seven or eight when I realized that someday I would end. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and talking to my mother about it, I internalized it and it freaked me out.

But Death only terrorizes the living. As far as I know, once you’re dead it’s not scary anymore. It’s those left behind that feel the pain and fear of death.

I’m older now and slightly wiser than my seven year old self, I hope, and I’ve come to realize that Death should be scary. It should paralyze people but it’s important to remind ourselves to appreciate what we have and those around us, while we still can.

Happy Birthday Mom

I lost my mother shortly after my twenty-fifth birthday. She’d been sick for several years, but it still took me by surprise. I had come to terms with my own mortality at seven but I never came to terms with hers.

Today is her birthday and I miss her.

She raised me and helped shape me into the man I am today. More than that she was also my best friend for a long time, I knew I could tell her anything.

It’s been over five years now and it still hurts the same, I think it always will.

Thank you and Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Death in Writing

I tend to shy away from killing my characters. I mean real death, not superhero death. It’s not that I’m afraid to, it that I’m afraid of not being able to give the death the emotional weight it deserves.

That last thing I want is to write a story or book, kill off a character, and be the only one who grieves.

The threat of death, and the history of death, drives most of my characters as I imagine it drives most of humanity.

Another reason I don’t often kill off my characters, especially in short stories, is that they’re going to die anyways. I’ll finish the story and their lives will end. It’s one of the reasons I hate writing short stories. I feel for the characters and then they are gone. It hurts in a ridiculous and silly way.

Question and challenge

Has there ever been a death in something you’ve watched, read, or listened too that hit you hard? Did it surprise you? Thinking about it now, was it important to the story?

I’m going to challenge myself to write a story where someone dies and see if I can make the Jerk come to life in words.

The Runaways

“Let’s runaway” my mother told me two years ago. Her rotund face framed by false blond curls, was aglow with excitement. She had said such things before but this time was different. If only I had known how different it would be.

“We’ll jump into the car and drive. No direction just you me and the open road. We haven’t been on an adventure in years and look how beautiful it is outside. The leaves are changing the air is crisp. Get your camera and we’ll go now.” The mask of her excitement cracked for only a moment, showing just enough worry that I had to say yes.

Before I had even finished nodding she was packing a sandwich lunch. Her homemade purple dress flapped and danced around the kitchen like a tiny purple culinary tornado. I ran to get my camera.

Being in my early twenties and having moved away from home meant I was no longer required to pretend I was too cool for these trips. I had always found them exciting. She called it “Running Away” but we rarely went far and on the rare occasion we did, we were home within a week.

I had a head start on the running away, I had flown it the night before. Running away from my life and growing up. I had just finished University with a degree in English and teaching. My mandatory Term of Service with his Highnesses Royal Army, started in a few weeks and after that I had a ready made, pre packaged life ahead of me. I’d return from service be wed to my genetically compatible husband or wife and teach the school I was most needed. It scared me, I felt like my freedom and life, were ending. Pushing away my worries, I concentrated on my last week of freedom and the only person I wanted to spend it with.

“Do you think we’ll see a T-Rex this time? I can’t believe I missed the picture last time.” I said as we got going. She smiled at me and took my hand, squeezing it and laughed. The one and only time I had seen the endangered species I was twelve and my shock and awe at actually seeing one made me forget to take a picture before it had run back into the trees.

[…]

A Review of Star Trek (2009)

star_trek_movie_poster_imaxIn my family Star Trek has been a tradition as long as I can remember. I’ve seen all the movies in theaters with my mom and brother since the Voyage home in 1986. I’ve read the James Blish Novelizations of the Original Series and Watched most of the episodes. I’ve seen every episode of TNG, DS9, and Voyager. I did miss season 3 but that will be rectified someday.

I went through 3 major phases as a kid, Dinosaurs, Star Trek, and Robots. I might have moved on from pure and total obsession but boy do I still love the universe. It might be because I have so many great memories of watching TNG with my family all comfy on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn or it could be the hopeful vision of the future either way I love Star Trek.

Sadly my Mom couldn’t be with us last Thursday when we went to see Star Trek but she was with us in heart. I know she would have loved it. I did however bring my Fiancée who had never seen anything but the Trouble with Tribbles. She loved it and I think she’ll be into watching the new Blu-ray release with me. We went back on Sunday and here’s my review.

Short Version: Amazing it was truly a good Star Trek movie.   Longer version after the cut.

*Warning Mild Spoilers*

Read moreA Review of Star Trek (2009)

A Review of Star Trek (2009)

star_trek_movie_poster_imaxIn my family Star Trek has been a tradition as long as I can remember. I’ve seen all the movies in theaters with my mom and brother since the Voyage home in 1986. I’ve read the James Blish Novelizations of the Original Series and Watched most of the episodes. I’ve seen every episode of TNG, DS9, and Voyager. I did miss season 3 but that will be rectified someday.

I went through 3 major phases as a kid, Dinosaurs, Star Trek, and Robots. I might have moved on from pure and total obsession but boy do I still love the universe. It might be because I have so many great memories of watching TNG with my family all comfy on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn or it could be the hopeful vision of the future either way I love Star Trek.

Sadly my Mom couldn’t be with us last Thursday when we went to see Star Trek but she was with us in heart. I know she would have loved it. I did however bring my Fiancée who had never seen anything but the Trouble with Tribbles. She loved it and I think she’ll be into watching the new Blu-ray release with me. We went back on Sunday and here’s my review.

Short Version: Amazing it was truly a good Star Trek movie.   Longer version after the cut.

*Warning Mild Spoilers*

Read moreA Review of Star Trek (2009)

What a year!

It has been one hell of a full year; a real rollercoaster ride with all the heart stopping twists and turns.

Let’s star with Viridian Sky, after November 24th I stalled completely on the story, since I’ve written maybe 2000 words. It’s not a terrible thing it’s just a by product or absolutely no planning ahead on my part. I have a good idea what’s going to happen from now on I just need a good ending to work towards. I don’t have any illusions, this book is ok and should be a little better after I fix certain things but it’s not great. Writing a great novel wasn’t the point of it anyways, writing a novel was my point and I’ve proven that I can do it. Well almost. I look forward to finishing it and cleaning it up. Hopefully I can do it before February for everyone who wants to beta read.

This morning I was walking to work thinking about the holidays. It’s going to be hard this Christmas. It was my mom’s favorite holiday and it’s going to be hard without her. As I was walking this morning the song, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” came on my MP3 player and I couldn’t help crying. It’s still hard for part of my mind to realize she’s gone.

I miss her.

Many happy things happened this year as well. I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes. We planned a good portion of the wedding and I’m very excited.

I spent the year job hopping. I’ve had 5 jobs this year and find myself unemployed. Although I do have several options open right now. Worst case I’m unemployed for a week and get to work on the novel.

On my livejournal I posted my annual Resolutions last year and I though it would be nice to look them over and see how I’ve done:

http://edesmarais.livejournal.com/41476.html
– Exercise more, join a gym. (Maybe if I pay for it I’ll go more often?)
– Write more.
– Draw more.
– Take more pictures.
– Start a D&D group.
– Start a Webcomic.
– Be more positive.
– Take an acting class this summer.
– Take at least one university class in spring.
– Pay off most of my debts.
– Keep moving Forward.
– Propose to Jen

Well I can split this into two groups, those I’ve completed and those I haven’t.

Completed: Write more, Draw more, Take more pictures, Start a D&D group, Be more positive, Keep moving Forward, Propose to Jen.

Not: – Exercise more, join a gym, Start a Webcomic, Take an acting class this summer, Take at least one university class in spring, Pay off most of my debts.

I did pay off some debts but not most and I will be taking a class in Winter… I hope.

Overal 7/12 humm 58%

Well that’s not really good but I’m still proud of the things I have done.

It’s been a tough year and I look forward to the next. I’ll post my new years resolutions some time soon.

Thoughts posted at The Creative Act.

Here I stand; she holds my hand.

 

The smell of wet earth fills my nostrils, and the late summer sun warms my face. The wind blows foretelling a storm.

 

Everyone is here but you. No one knows what to say but they all look beautiful. Suits, dresses, nice shoes, and colourful ties contrast the grey, green, and brown.

 

Read more at The Creative Act: http://thecreativeact.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/bye-mom/