01 May 2009

Libations Friday! 1 May 2009

From Denny: It’s Friday and time for new coffee recipes from our friends over at coffeerecipes.org! The site’s bit of trivia about coffee:

• Coffee represents 71% of all the United States caffeine consumption.

• When coffee first appeared in Africa, it was used as a type of religious intoxicant.

• Americans' taste for coffee grew during the early nineteenth century, as a result of tea imports being cut off due to the War of 1812.

Since my theme poem is about the birthday event - in Taiwan many years ago, a year ago my own birthday, and today's birthday of my mother, all overlapping - a coffee recipe for a group is the first order of the day. My husband’s favorite party drink usually involves Irish Whiskey so there is an Irish Coffee recipe to keep him deliriously happy too.


Coffee Punch


2 quarts of vanilla ice cream, softened

2 quarts of strong brewed coffee, cooled

2 cups of milk

2 cups of whipping cream, whipped

½ cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Ground nutmeg

Directions: Combine the coffee, milk, sugar, and vanilla; stir thoroughly. Chill.

Place the vanilla ice cream in a large punch bowl. Pour the coffee mixture over top of the ice cream, stirring gently. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with nutmeg, then serve.


Creamy Irish Coffee


4 cups of fresh coffee

1 cup of whipping cream

½ cup of Irish whiskey

¼ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey

Instructions: In a saucepan, add 4 cups of strong fresh coffee, ½ cup of Irish whiskey and ¼ cup sugar. Heat up, but do not boil.

Whip 1 cup of whipping cream until it is light, then beat in 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of whiskey. Pour the coffee into coffee mugs and spoon the cream on top. Serve.


Photo taken by my grandmother Isabel long before I was born, cropped for a close up and restored by Denny Lyon

From Denny: Today was my mother’s birthday. Besides her genius intelligence and high creativity, she was fun-loving, accepting of all - long before it was part of mainstream culture. It was very controversial in her time period. She did it anyway as she believed in truly loving others. She was a gentle soul who really wasn’t mean enough to stand up to defend herself, usually allowing things to pass on by. Her name was Marie, nicknamed Ree, and she loved to paint nature like the rugged seashore of Maine since water was her element.

She was beautiful at almost 5’ 10” and was most elegant. (I got the shorter genes, sigh.) While half Scottish and a quarter French, she looked her quarter Spanish with flashing soft brown eyes, a winning smile and dark warm brown hair. By today’s standards Ree was considered a curvaceous hour-glass figured “hottie.” When she entered a room, well, men’s jaws dropped and they drifted her way to grin stupidly in her aura while the less secure women threw eye daggers.

Because of her high intelligence and kind nature, Ree was a gifted conversationalist, the reason men were so drawn to her: a good-looking woman who could talk, well, almost anything! This is what petty jealous women never seem to understand. It’s less about the looks but about the ability to connect with others in a way that is meaningful to them. Sure it helps to polish the outside look but it cannot stand on its own.

While she was aware of her effect she never used it to her advantage, always taking the time to be kind, thoughtful and a team player in any group situation. That only made people love her more! She had plenty of female friends who were, well, cool! They were stronger personalities than she and stuffed full of personality and talent. Ree had this unspoken ability to enliven that sleeping talent in others so they could thrive.

Her friends appreciated that in an atmosphere where women’s hopes were often squashed. She really believed in people! My mother was forever showing other women how to make the most of their own beauty as she did not believe there was any such thing as an ugly woman. That’s a true artist for you. After all, she was born, and grew up, in New York City so Ree knew style, loving clothes.

Reee died when I was eleven years old and the family never recovered the happiness and fun-loving optimistic atmosphere that was present while she lived. Like any family there were a lot of negatives in the family culture which I won’t go into here as it would take far too much space! You can read a portion of it in my article on HubPages: Obama Valentine Gift: Black Man Makes White Women Equal.

I was thinking of looking for birthday poems but suddenly remembered one I wrote on my own birthday. It was composed as a thank you for writing group friends who indirectly had helped me start writing again - after over two years and a car accident where my brain was compromised with a severe concussion. They really helped with the healing process and I am still quite grateful to them though they did not fully realize just how much it meant to me.

Our family moved to Taiwan a few years after Ree’s passing. She would have loved exploring the Chinese culture! Ree’s favorite color was red and she enjoyed the vivacious feel from the color as much as the Chinese. The curious thing about when a traditional Chinese has a birthday, they explained, is that the birthday person is the one who honors the guests and gives out gifts at their own party. What a twist for the usual Western and American mindset! Yet Ree would have understood this immediately and adopted it. She was a truly humble person who could see the value in honoring others.

Actually, my husband and I adopted the Chinese custom. Every year we throw an Aquarian party, honoring all his friends who are born in that time period, a lot of them. It has become quite the popular event over time. Read that as there is not much to do around the end of January! We give them gifts and a good time is had by all.

I think if Ree were here she would like this poem as it reveals how much she loved people. How much she loved you if she only had the chance to meet you all.

On to today's poem:

Chinese Red LanternsImage by Abllo™ via Flickr

A Chinese Birthday Favor

A Chinese birthday glorifies, beauteously awarding the self, not
A Chinese birthday pays homage, reverence to honor others, yes

Scattered, sown, plenty of red color, ornaments, auspicious day
Red is the Chinese color choice, celebrating essence of our life!

The birthday person joyfully wallets the opulent celebration
The birthday person attentively invites a large gregarious crowd

As everyone heartily dines and laughs and reconnects, engaged
Presents given to the honored happy guests, the fulfilled hosts, not

A Chinese birthday is about extolling the celebrant host, not
A Chinese birthday is about everyone else exalted their due, yes

The birthday person invited to remember goodness, reminisce
The birthday person bid by tradition to honor others, adorn

So here are my birthday gifts to all of you at this huge party
Blowing gentle kisses, may they land welcome, light and free

Goodwill expressed to all who helped nudge my brain, released
For two years not able to write, not fun at all, deprived liberty

For my fellow writers, writing unleashed, and those just here to read
Thank you, thank you, thank you, all, for coming, blessings you be

Take the time to remember how special you are to me, others too
Take the day to gift yourself for the giving, tendered most worthy

A spreading smile, mind satisfied, love verified, heart validated: you!
Spread the word, pass it forward, and live well, goodwill to favored all

Tell everyone you meet today a Chinese is celebrating a birthday, honoring you!

Denny Lyon
Copyright 30 July 2008
All Rights Reserved

Coffee Photo by once and future @ flickr

Thanks for visiting! For more restored family photos of many generations (I love history and the faces that goes with it), visit my photo blog, Visual Insights, where there is a slide show of historical family photos going back to the early days of photography, the Civil War - and slide shows of some of my favorites from other photographers on flickr, go here.

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