Would you like some coffee?

Photo credit: Danielle MacInnes

I was five years old when I had my first taste of coffee. My Spanish grandmother slid the flowered porcelain cup sitting delicately atop its saucer toward me and said, “Es hora de que pruebes el cafe.” It’s time for you to try coffee.

Some might think that a five year old drinking coffee is preposterous, but for nana, it was every bit a rite of passage.

I remember inhaling its heady aroma, glancing at the creamy white cafe con leche (the Spanish version of a latte) that filled the cup halfway. Gingerly bringing it to my lips, I took a tentative sip. I let the smoothness of the Arabica beans, mixed with the frothy milk, slide down my throat slowly. And just like that, I was a goner.

I’ve had the privilege of drinking a varied amount of coffee since my first degustation. I’ve had frothy cappuccinos in Florence, dark and strong espresso in Rome, cafe au lait in Paris, cafe bonbon in Barcelona, and cafe lungho in Amsterdam. Not thinking myself a coffee snob, I’ve also had Americanos at nearly every train station in the Netherlands. Whilst in the States, I’ve drank coffee from Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and even McDonald’s. (Coffee connoisseurs inhale sharply here.) I think it’s safe to say I’ve never turned down a cup of coffee–all the way from free samples at posh supermarkets, to strong Turkish coffee poured ceremoniously by a host who refused to sit down till I told her I’d had my coffee fill.

Coffee permeates every aspect of life. Coffeemakers are an essential piece of equipment in the workplace and without a doubt, many homes boast not one, but many means of making coffee. Whether brewed in a French press, Italian moka pot, Chemex, or Nespresso machine, coffee knows it plays a leading role.

We are surrounded by coffee. It starts off our day, rounds off our dinner, and keeps us awake when falling asleep is not an option. More importantly, in a world where there is a demand for productivity, people turn to coffee to give them that jolt necessary to complete tasks.

Coffee does not discriminate. There are different flavors and roasts to accommodate all demographics. Some see coffee as the perfect initiator of round table discussions, while others drink it to stay alert while they study or drive. And while the place where java is consumed may set the tone, ultimately it’s the coffee that takes center stage.

Sadly, the passing of time has greatly diminished the social activity of coffee drinking. While some still frequent cafes for small talk, one is more likely to see coffee being consumed in places where individuals are working distractedly on laptops, reading, or busily scribbling to do lists. It almost appears as if in this modern day caffeinated scene, coffee has been demoted to a prop.

The hissing of the old Italian pot gurgling on the stove top wakes me from my reverie. I allow my mind to once again remember the kitchen scene where my taste buds first made coffee’s acquaintance. I see my grandmother’s nod of approval as she hears my sigh of content. “Now tell me about your day, Bella,” I hear her say as she takes off her apron and pulls up a chair. I narrate the day’s events as she listens attentively. I ask her questions and she answers them, a smile on her beautiful face.

Returning my attention to the present, I pour myself a cup of coffee and sigh nostalgically. How I miss those days!

Do you like coffee as much as I do?


Can we stop here to rest?


It seemed like a good idea at the time.

As Roxy and I peered out the living room window, the sun beckoned us to go outside.
Slowly inching our way down three flights of stairs, we made it outdoors.
Yet ten minutes later, the dog park no where in sight, I wondered why I had let myself be seduced by the bright, golden sun.

The sweat on my brow indicated it wouldn’t be long before my knee gave out. Desperately searching for a bench, I spotted one across the fence. Realizing it would only take a few more steps, I soldiered on.

As I approached the entrance, I realized my fatigue had blinded me to the fact that the bench rested in one of the corners of the local cemetery. As I tentatively took a step, Roxy looked up at me as is to ask, dare we? I nodded my head and we quietly entered this place of rest.

A place of rest–that’s what nana called the cemetery.

“It’s a place where the bodies of the deceased come to rest, Bella.”

“Nonsense, mamá,” my devout Spanish Catholic mother had replied. “Don’t confuse la niña, madre. It’s a place where people who once lived come so they can return to the dust they once were, Bella.”

Smiling, I realized that even then, I had liked nana’s explanation more.

Today, more than ever, it appeared nana had been right.

As Roxy and I sat on the bright, green bench, we took in our surroundings. The cemetery was devoid of any visitors. Looking around, I noticed there were graves that were decorated with flowers, plants, and even stuffed animals. Others were adorned with rosaries and religious icons.

And one grave was completely bare; devoid of any memento or decoration.

I wondered if the grave was bare because family members of the deceased had also passed away. Had they moved away to a faraway land making it impossible for them to visit the grave? I felt a great sadness wash over me. Many years ago, when we had moved from the Caribbean, we too had left nana’s remains behind.

Was her grave as bare as this one that only had a tombstone? I breathed a sigh of relief as I remembered that my mother sent a friend money every month so she would bring fresh flowers to nana’s grave.

Closing my eyes, I prayed silently.
I quickly became aware of how turning off one sense seemed to heighten all the others.

I felt the wind ruffle my hair.
I smelled the tasty aroma of someone’s barbecue as it wafted over the fence.
And I heard sounds. Many sounds.
Birds chirping, children playing, a car’s faulty exhaust, someone striking a can with a stick.

I inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled. I felt at peace. Sitting by my side, Roxy held up her snout to the sun. We basked in the sunshine a little while longer, not wanting to leave the warm bench that had cradled us for the past hour.

As we turned to leave, I looked back at the empty grave.
Suddenly I wished that someone, faraway, had stopped to rest by the tree that stood next to nana’s grave.

The thought comforted me as Roxy and I made our way home.

Where did you last stop to rest?

Note: Dear Readers, I wrote this post last weekend before I underwent surgery. I have since had my meniscus repaired and am presently on the mend. Thank you for all your tweets and emails. I greatly appreciate it!

Bella and Monica’s Excellent Adventure

Characters Welcome!

Remember how much fun you had when One Sister’s Rant partnered with Monica’s Tangled Web and asked you to join in creating a story, based on a photo of a cat on a bench?

Well, here we go again!
Sort of.

This time we’re giving you the premise for a story, one that, with your help, is sure to evolve into an excellent adventure.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Ed Yourdon

Picture if you will: a high school reunion on the high seas.

It’s been 20 years and anything can happen.

Mayhem, merriment, mystery—even murder!

And, the best part of this story?

Because, to make this story come alive, we are enlisting you.

We want you to create a character, a member of the class of 1992.

So read the beginning of the story below, and then, before you start giving life to your character, be sure to read the rules!

You didn’t think there’d be rules?

Of course there are rules!

Otherwise, how else would we end up with a story that makes sense and flows?
More or less.

So, are you interested in making this story come alive?

Then, read on!


Twenty years have passed since the Class of 1992 graduated from the Gene Kelly High School of Performing Arts.

Some went on to find work in the theater, while others took different paths.

Some moved away and others remained in the sleepy town of Mojito.

Some were housewives and others became business owners.

Some married their high school sweethearts, while others remained single.

Yet, the Class of 1992 had one thing in common—none had seen each other in 20 years.

But this is about to change, because for one long weekend, they will come together to celebrate their 20th class reunion on a cruise bound for Barbados.

Love, lust, envy, jealousy, and regret will surface during the next three days and before they reach port, one will turn up dead: Lupita Davenport, wife of Thurston Davenport, III, who, as heir to the Davenport Pickle Company, is also known as the Pickle King.


1) You will create ONE fictional character and be in charge of said character through the development of the story.  However, if you do not follow up, Monica and I reserve the right to eliminate the character in a crafty fashion. Your character is your creation. She/he can have any description, career, life that you want him/her to have.

2) You cannot write the story lines of other characters. However, the story lines will overlap as other readers introduce their characters. If you do not like the turn your character takes at any point in the story, we encourage you to steer him/her in a different direction. You may not kill off your character.

3) All characters must be fictional (preferably from your imagination), and should be a member of the Class of 1992. However, you can also create a character who is a teacher, custodian, or anyone else who is affiliated with the school. Children and pets are not allowed on board. Sorry!

4) Please read the entries before yours, so as to continue the story line and keep your character in context. If the story starts to ramble, Monica or I will step in to re-steer its course.

5) Your character can be any gender, race, or nationality. He/she can be straight, gay, or bisexual. Diversity is encouraged! However, our blogs are rated PG. Keep this in mind when writing your story lines.

Note: This post will run for three days and you can post as many entries as you wish. However, we ask that you limit your entry to one to three sentences at a time, so as to give others a chance to engage in the story.

Finally, at the end of the three days, Monica and I will determine the identity of the murderer, from among all the characters created.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to keep your character from being singled out as the murderer!

Oh, and we would love it if you participated in both stories!

If you choose to do so, you can either create a new character in each story or you can use the same character.

If you choose to use the same character, remember the story line will be different over at Monica’s blog.

Please be sure to read the preceding entries before diving in!

Time to create your character!

The high seas await!


Bloodcurdling screams pierced through the ballroom as music continued to play softly in the background. The maid, who had come to polish the crystal chandelier, continued to scream as she looked down on the macabre scene in front of her. Lying face down in a puddle of blood, was a beautiful woman with skin, the color of caramel, and raven black hair. Her ball gown, a designer label, was torn on one side. A streak of light made its way through a door that had been left ajar. The bright light shone directly on the gold-colored name tag pinned on the woman’s dress. It read, “Lupita Davenport.”

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.