2013-10-12 04.16.31We lasted THREE (3) weeks on our trip to Europe each of us with only one carry-on suitcase. In the winter. That’s right: a few pair of pants, a few tops, washing every few days and drying over the towel racks, and VOILÀ.

It made me wonder when I returned home: Why do we need SO MUCH STUFF?

I overbuy. We overbuy. I buy when I’m bored, when I’m lonely, when I’m procrastinating. Then, I buy too much. Stuff I DON’T NEED. It’s the American way. Well, no, it’s the “affluent” way that keeps economies rolling and people in debt and working. Newspapers in Europe in early January carried articles bemoaning credit card debt (along with extra pounds) as the left over (maybe hung over, too) “blessings” of the holiday season.

I came home and threw out three pairs of socks that I absolutely hate to wear, but keep in my drawer because I made the mistake of buying them in one of the multi packs that Target and Costco sell. “Heck, I’m getting all these pairs for so little money!” I say to myself. And I end up with a bunch of things I don’t want and feel guilty about so I keep them, stuffed into already over-stuffed drawers and closets. When it’s dark in the morning, I grab a navy blue and black sock and wonder when I get to work, how THAT happened. Or wear navy blue hose with a black skirt. I hate that.

I think Henry Ford had the best idea. Black. Any color you want as long as it’s black. Wouldn’t that simplify our lives? And out of sheer boredom, we wouldn’t go shopping so much. Who needs another black outfit? And then the retail industry would falter, the automobile manufacturers would crash, and the worldwide economy would swoon. For a while. And then, all the brain power that drains into marketing stuff we don’t need would flow into important things like global warming, electric cars, solar energy, public transportation in Los Angeles, and real transporters, like on Star Trek, so we wouldn’t have to endure endless, cramped air travel to far-away places. We could live unencumbered.

Stuff makes me stuffy. It weighs me down. It forces me to pause to organize, dust, and categorize it instead of creating, thinking, writing, reading, and loving.

I’m de-stuffing this year. In fact, I read somewhere, that when you go into a drawer, a closet, or a cabinet to remove TEN THINGS in it and throw them away. I almost lost my wedding ring that way, but sanity prevailed. I get carried away sometimes, but I don’t want to get carried away by my stuff. Please. Don’t bury me with it. I plan to enjoy the other side. Without stuff. Heck. Without clothes at all!

© 2008


Above the Crash

I love this time of day. It’s quiet. The sun is out. It’s starting to smell like fall.

The world, though sullied with financial sewage will most likely make it through to the other side; spinning as it does on its axis in the quiet —the death quiet of space. OHM it seems to say. Maybe the noise of space is deafening, but it’s silent in the movies so whutdeeheck?

I look back aEartht earth as I ride out of the solar system, and hear nothing of the cries of anguish ringing up from Wall Street, haranguing off the pages of newspapers, crying up from tent cities, sidewalks, tenements, and six bedroom houses not paid for and in foreclosure. I’m not afraid.

I float ignorantly above the roiling seas, blood red from recessionary ink, the crimson sweat of crazed traders and stomach-knotting, blood-shot eyeballs of investors everywhere. How much nicer it is to see the world turning from up here, much as it always has. The distance lets me ride the river of denial — which is great because there’s not much I can do about it anyway.

© October 2008

Two P.M.

Two p.m. is an inauspicious time.  No — there’s no halfway through, or halfway from.  Starting at noon or starting at 1:00, it makes no difference.  Two p.m. languishes in the same non-urgent, no-account hour as say, 9 a.m. Not much going on. “Hey, Marvin, can I have that report by 2 p.m.?” It doesn’t sound nearly as pressing as, “Marvin! I need that report by noon!”  And so 2 p.m. sits on the clock and looks longingly at 1 p.m. and then at 3 p.m. and wishes it were anything but itself.Portrait Of Man In Military Uniform Saluting

One day, a military strategist comes along and says,  “Two o’clock is imprecise. Let’s make a twenty-four hour clock.” And so, lowly 2 p.m. became “fourteen hundred hours.” Now, there’s a time that struts. There’s a time that salutes.  There’s a time that sergeants can bellow across a room and not sound like a sissy.  “I’ll see you at fourteen hundred hours, soldier.” And he means that you should be there fifteen minutes before, or “Soldier, you’re late.”


Did you know that coffee is in most years the second most valuable product traded worldwide, after oil?  The International Coffee Organization (ICO) gathers and updates consumption, production, export, import and pricing information for coffee. Their work is important because of the unique makeup of the industry.  Coffee is produced (grown) in over 60 countries worldwide, and this one crop, coffee, may account for over 50% of the export revenue for many of these countries.  The fact that most of the coffee is produced by independent small farmers lends a fragility to the marketplace, and creates a responsibility on the part of the participants to be good citizens.

The ICO was set up in 1963 under the United Nations. The ICO member countries (not all countries are members) have agreed to agree on activities that will sustain this economically and socially important system.  This governing document is called the International Coffee Agreement of 2007, and it was set in force in February of 2011 to enhance the stability, sustainability, and science of growing and selling coffee.

The daily coffee that we take so much for granted supports the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. Stay tuned to this blog for trends and updates on a seemingly humble commodity that can make or break countries, companies, families, and individuals.

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