Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coffee Roasting

Today the Garden St House got a very special delivery... a coffee roaster! We are always trying to find ways to save money and do things for ourselves. The coffee roaster fulfills both of those. We make other things as a house: bread, yogurt, granola, laundry and dishwasher detergent, but this is the first time it has warranted a blog.

First, let me tell you about the price difference. We were ordering fair trade, organic coffee from a local roaster at about $9/lb we now order green beans from the same company for $4/lb. The coffee roaster, which cost us about $100 will pay for itself very quickly, especially in a house the size of ours (10 adults). Then there is the quality. Perhaps even you coffee drinkers out there don't realize that coffee is not actually supposed to taste bitter. Green coffee is fine to sit on the shelf for months, but once it is roasted time only makes coffee taste worse. Think of the difference between Maxwell House (roasted goodness knows how many months ago), and Your local, high quality coffee shop (roasted maybe a couple of weeks ago) and you start to get the idea. Now consider that coffee is at it's peak flavor 12 hours after it's roasted. Then think of having a cup of that greet you every morning for $4/lb! And, its great fun too. The beans start out small, green and very dense (I tried to bite one and hurt my teeth). They don't smell like coffee either; more like an earthy vegetable. In our roaster it takes about 8 minutes to go from green to espresso roast, in which time a lovely smell and sound of crackling emerges as the beans slowly darken.

You all will have to come over some time for a fresh cup of coffee.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Work From Lawrence

David here. I have been able to spend some time here in Lawrence photographing and printing. I have been drawn to the mill district. The history and character is so rich. Per request of my good friend Mary, here is some of what I have so far. You can see some of her wonderful illustrations via a link on the right. Sorry about the quality (no scanner) but you get the idea.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November!!!

Liverpool Historic district across the river with the longest running ferry system in the world making it's way across the river.
On my way to find the Historic Warship Museum, that doesn't exist, I walked by this amazing old building that looks like an old lookout tower on the water
Wirral Museum in downtown Birkenhead
Jesse and I at the firworks display
Mary and I at the fireworks display
Today I travelled across the river with Mary to Birkenhead, she was interviewing for a position at an all girls private school in the art department while I explored on my own. I walked along the boardwalk and looked at Liverpool across the way, spent an hour trying to find a warship museum which I never found, and meandered through the downtown streets of the very pretty town of Birkenhead. Then after returning to Mary and Jesse's flat we enjoyed dinner and went to watch a wonderous display of fireworks and later mulled cider and treats, to celebrate the day Guy Fawlks was unsuccessful at bombing the parliament building. It was really fun to be able to celebrate a English holiday while I was hear. You can read more about it at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On My Own

 I ended my day at Union Coffee, Mary's favorite cafe with an Americano, cappucino muffin and my book. Below are select pictures of the days events while Mary was working. Blogger has been unruly here in England so the pictures are actually all backwards so it starts with pictures from the end of the day and ends with my first adventure to Victoria Museum, however you get the idea.

St Luke's - was bombed during WWII and the shell of the building is still in good condition. Artists and musicians use it as a stage for their shows. Above is a show called Liverpool Ladders

Below is the inside of the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, it took almost a whole century to build and is absolutely magnificent.

Anglican Cathedral from St James' Garden

Below - St James' Garden, is both a garden and cemetary with gravestones dating back to 1700's

Below - Victoria Museum on University of Liverpool Campus - it has a great photography exhibit of ...

photos of Liverpool from late 1800's, early 1900's

Catholic Cathedral - Entering Liverpool you can see both the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals and Jesse likes to say they look like the two towers looming over Liverpool city center.

Remember, remember the fifth of November...yesterday I spent the day in Birkenhead across the river from Liverpool and we celebrated the 5th of Nov with a huge fireworks display in Sefton Park, soon to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

This is David reporting from Massachusetts. Last night was one of the most memorable of my life, to be sure. Some 30 people from the Lawrence community came over to watch the election results. From very early on the mood was jubilant. As soon as we saw some of the first key states coming in bongos came out and people started to sing in Spanish something I didn't quite understand--"Obama! Obama! Obama! bah bah bah bah bah, Obama! Obama! Obama! bah bah bah bah bah." We drank Presidente beer and ate American flag cookies. When the announcement came that Obama had won, however, the real celebration began. Whoops, hollers, random hugging, crying, champagne. Then came McCain's concession speech. There were some cynical remarks, but we did quiet down and we listened. It was the best concession speech that I have ever heard. Everyone agreed. In the time between McCain's concession and Obama's acceptance speech people got up and spoke about what that moment meant to them. One woman, Rosa, got up and talked about how up until that night she had thought that government had nothing to offer her. It was her first time voting. It was an amazing night, not only on national scale, but because we also had a house full of people involved in their community and hopeful that they, too, could make a change in their city of Lawrence. Then we watched the Obama speech. It was a beautiful thing. After emailing Alison in Liverpool, walking around in a bit of a daze, I went to bed.

I worked today glued to the radio, listening to stories from across the country about people inspired by the election. It sometimes seems like a simplification to talk about this as a symbol, but I believe in the power of symbols, especially on this level. Listen to this to hear what I mean. I was only sad that Alison could not be here to share this moment with me.

I voted for the first black President in U. S. history. This is a momentous day for us all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mary and Alison's day in Liverpool City Center

Mary at her favorite cafe on Bold St, that serves an excellent Americano
Down by the water, there is a section of town that is protected from construction because of historical laws, providing a beautiful cityscape
Liver Bird, originally was suppose to be an eagle, however it doesn't look like an eagle so it was decided it would be called the Liver Bird.
Typical architecture in city center
Catholic Cathedral
Mary and I spent the whole afternoon walking around city center, she showing me the sites and sharing with me her favorite parts of town. It was so much fun to have the day to reconnect and see this new home of her and Jesse's. It's really quite beautiful. I often felt myself thinking the buildings were so unique and very thick or solid feeling. I hope that is captured in these pictures.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Alison is in England!!!

Hey everyone, I am in England for the week, specifically Liverpool, visiting very special friends of ours, Mary and Jesse!!! I thought I would update you on my travels every couple of days while I am here. It was a very long day and half of traveling, beginning November 1st with a redeye from Bostonto Amsterdam, then Manchester England and taking a train from Manchester to Liverpool, but now that I am here I am so happy to be able to spend time with these two. They really are such amazing  people. They have been good friends of David and mine for years as many of you know, so to not have them in the states with us is very sad but now we both have an excuse to make our way to England to visit them. David sadly is not visiting with me this time but is making the sacrifice to stay home and work while I am here. Thank you so much David, your the best!

The first picture is Palm House in the Sefton Arboretum right down the street from Mary and Jesse's flat, we didn't get to go in because there was a concert but it's filled with palm trees from all over. The second is on Lark Lane. The first afternoon we went for a long walk through Sefton park and down Lark Lane, it was really neat, the architecture was awesome. The streets are so narrow and it really freaks me out that the cars are on the left instead of the right. I always follow Mary across the street, afraid I'll look the wrong way.

I will post more photos tomorrow since it appears the computer doesn't want to cooporate.I have spent more than half the time trying to rearrange the post and fix the font instead of writing about my trip. Soon to come... Alison and Mary in Liverpool City Center.