Happy Coffee Day! For all my fellow coffeephiles…

The Caffeinated Week

by Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Monday’s cup is the darkest roast,

to battle with the weekend’s ghost.

Tuesday’s coffee is triple shot,

like dragons’ blood served boiling hot.

Wednesday’s coffee has extra bite—

Medusa’s venom, black as night.

Thursday is Turkish, mythic and rich,

coy in the cup, it will charm and bewitch.

Friday’s latte has a touch of the Fae,

full of anticipation and promise of play.

Saturday’s mocha is gratefully savored,

steamed with intrigue and brazenly flavored.

The French Press on Sunday is carefully timed—

short to steep, slow to drink, and soon left behind.



© 2016 Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Daylight Begins to Dwindle

It feels like we have only had a few days of summer in Chicago so far, and yet with the Solstice on June 21st, the hours of daylight have already begun to decrease as we move slowly toward Fall.

The kids are out of school. We’ve been on one camping trip with friends and family, and there’s more travel in the works. The rest of the summer is mostly unscheduled, allowing us to follow our rhythms: stay up a little later, sleep in a little longer, have a pajama day here and there, lounge in the backyard, read in the shade.

I’m not a fan of overscheduling the kids with camps and activities, and while I may grumble about battles and complaints caused by too much time together, I think we’re usually able to come up with creative ways to spend the day.

I have signed them up for an hour-long art class, and I really savor that time to myself in the middle of the day, ice coffee in hand, sitting outside the cafe under a shaded umbrella with my book and notebook.

Plus I have been writing! So many stories this summer, and even as I gear up to start the next novel in the Fall, I have been immersed in short stories: reading them, listening to them, writing them. I love the form. There is so much to be learned from it, and I’m enjoying the process. I hope to have some solid pieces to shop around this Fall.

Exciting news also in the works about the comic book/graphic novel (to be announced soon), fingers crossed for agent news with the The Supper Club. More on that as soon as I am able.

So that’s the quick recap. I’m going to make an effort to write more, perhaps during that lovely little hour break in the day. Perhaps not. I may just sip coffee and soak in the glorious quiet.

Until then, I hope that you are also finding moments of happiness in unexpected places.


Exploring, Summer 2013
Exploring, Summer 2013



The Season of Tea

I’m sad for the end of October. It’s my favorite month for so many reasons, not the least of which is a burst of productivity that usually follows as the children settle into their routine and I into mine.

But this October was busier than I would have liked. Too many other responsibilities kept me from my usual month of writing furiously. Next year, I need to protect October.

So now November, and the Season of Tea begins (for me anyway).

I love coffee. Anyone who knows me, even online, knows that I love coffee.

I love it with a mostly-uncomplicated devotion. It has been a constant in my life for over 20 years, and I love the taste, the smell, the ritual of grinding and brewing, the swirl of milk, and the first hot sip.

Certainly coffee comes in different incarnations (espresso drinks, Turkish, Thai, café au lait, etc.), but for me it is a spectrum of one similar and familiar flavor. There are some beans I love more than others, and there are definitely bad cups of coffee. But for all the subtle nuances of roast and blend, I rarely attribute a memory to a particular cup of coffee. Instead they fall under the larger category of “memories of coffee and conversation.”

Tea, on the other hand, is more distinct. I have many favorites, and each has a taste and smell that brings me back to specific times in my life:

Lipton tea with honey is a Thanksgiving memory, served in a glass teapot by my mother’s mother with our desserts at the family table.

Maté tea, strong and earthy from Argentina, reminds me of tea with my first love and his parents in their apartment in the Ukrainian Village.

Earl Grey brings to mind black cast iron kettles and tiny cast iron mugs enjoyed during college, usually at the Bourgeois Pig Cafe in Lincoln Park. I was so impressed with their wall of teas from around the world, each in its own large glass canister. I would open each, pick one that suited my mood.

Vanilla rooibus tea evokes Autumn in Frankfurt, Germany, with my friend Al. I need only to open a box, and I can be remember sitting with her, talking about the joy of travel and trials of motherhood.

Loose leaf English Breakfast steeped in a china teapot and sweetened with sugar enjoyed with my Russian friend and her daughter on cozy afternoon teas in their Gurnee kitchen.

The best Indian Chai was savored with my Indian friends in their Frankfurt apartment during our second time in Germany. Such hospitality and delicious food, such beauty in their homes and preparation. The best chai. Ever.

I’ve had a tea cabinet as long as I’ve lived on my own, and it remains well-stocked each year as friends come by for holiday celebrations and bring some new blend as a gift. So many teas, so many cherished moments. It’s nice to think that I can call them up with a pinch of aromatic leaves and boiling water, like magic. A sensual companion to photographs, they are memories accessible in tea bags and tin canisters.

So I wonder, do you have a favorite memory of tea?

November begins on the edge of so many celebrations and the icy darkness of winter. Whether tea or hearth fire or the arms of a loved one, I hope you are surrounded by warmth this upcoming season.