Thursday, December 23, 2004


8:30 a.m. -- Grandma Moses

Okay, so 8:30 is a bit on the late side for the first cup of coffee of the day. But it's my coffee days -- do I have to explain that all over again?

I'm at my favorite coffeehouse, Grandma Moses, with a mug of Alterra Fair Trade Sumatra, a medium roast. Up until yesterday, I'd been getting my favorite here -- iced coffee, made with their cold-brewed process, the best I have ever had. Temperatures have been in the teens outside, and I've had to endure jocular comments from the servers. But today, with temps in the single digits, I have to give in to the world outside.

Gra-Mo's serves hot coffee in an assortment of what appear to be second-hand mugs. This one shows Santa and Mrs. Claus cuddling in a wreath against a backdrop of candy-cane stripes. Mrs. Claus appears to be comforting Santa, who looks sad, probably about all the commercial greed that makes this day a living hell for him workwise, or perhaps the fact that he's not getting any younger and that Mrs. Claus is in many ways not the woman he married. Gra-Mo's is not doing a holiday mug thing, just so you know -- my companion has a mug with whales on it.

Gra-Mo's, located in a small, boxy brick building in the funky neighborhood, is painted with wild colors inside that slightly set off the subdued lighting: natural light petering out about halfway toward the back, and warm lamps on each table as well as the occasional floor lamp scattered among the seedy upholstered furniture. I am comfortable here, my home away from home. Gra-Mo's offers a selection of crumbly, unappetizing vegan pastries that I like to call "why bothers?" I get scones from another of my hangouts, Rude 'N' Slow's, and sneak them in sometimes. I'm here so often spending money on joe that I feel a sense of entitlement to sneak in bakery and, if they ever challenged me, I'd say that I'm allergic to vegan and then ask why, if they serve half-and-half for the coffee, they can't offer one baked treat with animal fat. But they never challenge me -- they're really nice here.

This morning, a young couple has brown bagged an entire breakfast -- fresh fruit, Dannon yogurt, bottles of V-8 and a tub of some sort of nut butter. They're making no effort to be clandestine. I'm not one to object, but isn't this taking a good joke too far?

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