I bought a steel, insulated coffee mug several years ago at Starbucks that I cannot live without. Most mugs I buy end up in a cabinet, in the basement, or is given away. Some are too big to fit in the coffee holder in my car. Some don’t keep the coffee hot long enough. Some are too large and some too small. But this one mug that I’ve had for years is just perfect. It’s the right size and holds 12 ounces (tall size) of coffee. The lid fits snug and keeps the coffee hot for as long as the coffee lasts. The handle is corked on the inside as well as on the bottom. And it fits perfectly in my car coffee holder.
The cork on the handle came unglued once and it was easily repaired. When I go to Starbucks people tell me how they love my cup and I always tell them the same story. Starbucks sold it once and haven’t sold one since. I’ve even thought about writing a letter to Starbucks to urge them to reproduce the mug.
On a recent trip my wife, Jackie, and I had the opportunity to spend several hours in Seattle. We, of course, visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and bought a couple of different mugs, but nothing like my favorite one. I’m sure that one of them, if not both, will end up in the coffee mug underground world somewhere. We decided to walk down to the marketplace where the original Starbucks was located. The line was out the door and down the street. If you’re a Starbucks fanatic like I am though, a little line like that won’t keep you from entering the birth of the best coffeehouse in the world.
As we entered Starbucks my wife looked up to the left and grabbed my arm, “Is that your mug over there?” I said, “It looks like it but it’s probably just an illusion.” The place was packed but she managed to finagle her way through the masses and grabbed one of the mugs and was immediately stopped by one of the employees. “That’s only a display! You can’t buy that one!” She pleaded with her to let her show it to me. The mug had the original logo on it but it was the same style and same size. It was my mug! Finally! We found the mug! I bought two mugs and carried them both in their original boxes, through the airport, on the plane, to the bathroom (not really), and they are now sitting on the shelf in my kitchen – only to be opened in case of an emergency. Thanks, Jackie. You’re my hero!
Over coffee this morning I started thinking about my Uncle Vernon who died in WWII in the Battle of the Bulge, sometime in January of 1945. I hear the word “hero” used every day and the term no longer has meaning for the real heroes. I read a clip about my uncle written by John Potocki, called One Last Mission, whose father was in the same Infantry Division. He writes that “Pvt. Vernon Leathers lay mortally wounded on a cot in the bunker.” That’s the only memory I have of him being in the war. I’ve pictured him all these years thinking about what he must have been thinking before taking his last breath.
Uncle Vernon died about eight years before I was born. I don’t know what kind of uncle, or father, or husband he would have been. He never had that chance. On this Memorial Day, I would like to say Thank You to all the military men who never had a chance at life and went to war and died, not necessarily as a hero, but as an ordinary person who thought it was the right thing to do for this country. Thank you, Uncle Vernon!
Dinner with friends, especially friends that know our plant-based lifestyle, is always interesting. They know mostly that we’re not meat eaters and are concerned when they look at the menu. We tell them not to worry about us and that we always find something to eat. Out of curiosity, some will ask us, “What don’t you eat?” I’ll tell them that we do our best to stay away from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, processed foods, and minimum oil. But because these foods are so prevalent, we can’t always have fresh, healthful, nutrient-dense food. They always have that look on their faces, like “what the heck can you eat, then?” That question is rarely asked. Another question that is rarely asked is, “why” do we eat the way we do?” We are so accustomed to eating a certain way that eating the way we do seems a bit quirky and odd to most of our friends. I understand all that. And that is something I will discuss in another post.
Our waiter worked his way around the table and when he got to us, we simply asked if the chef would be willing to remove the meatballs and cheese from the spaghetti and meatballs entree and substitute whatever fresh vegetables they might have to cook in the tomato sauce? The waiter said with a smile on his face, “Sure, we can do that!” In the meantime, he brought us some minestrone soup and an appetizer that had beets, faro, and sprouts that was absolutely delicious. When he brought our meal out it looked fantastic! There were mushrooms, zucchini, green peppers, onions, spinach, artichokes – and it was incredible! The waiter told us that he had taken it upon himself to prepare our meal – said he, too, was a cook and took pride in his preparation. We were pleasantly surprised and very thankful.
We did our first excursion today in Ketchikan, AK. We visited Saxman Native Village where the Tlingit clan made totem poles and demonstrated their cultural dances. The people were so friendly and even invited me to dance with them.
The town of Ketchikan was a bit touristy for us. We went into a few restaurants hoping to find some food that we could eat for lunch but there weren’t any vegan-friendly restaurants to be found. The highlight of the day occurred when we went back to the ship to eat lunch. Jackie asked one of the head chefs if they could make us a veggie pizza with no cheese – and he said “NO PROBLEM!” So, he fixed it himself and served us the entire pizza! That was so cool of him to do that for us. And as a bonus, he said that they were planning a vegan night on Wednesday in the Oceanview Cafe.
We’re done with Ketchikan and on our way to Juneau, AK. We’ll be doing some whale-watching tomorrow evening. Can’t wait!
We were at sea all day today. This gave us a chance to walk around the ship to see what was available and what was going on. I found a great spot called the Spa Cafe. They had coffee and made healthful juices and smoothies. I sat down at a table in view of the ocean and made myself comfortable to read and write while Jackie went and worked out.
For lunch we found a place that had a veggie burger on the menu. When we got in line to order one, the guys says that it will be a while because he had to go to the galley to get them. That tells you how many veggie burgers they sell. When he returned he threw the frozen patties into the deep fryer instead of cooking them on the grill with the rest of the burgers. We asked for everything on it except for cheese. The only thing I could really taste was the ketchup and mustard. Won’t be going back for that.
For dinner, we found that the best place to eat that was somewhat vegan friendly was the buffet. I was able to order whole wheat pasta with a meatless tomato sauce. I had him add a bunch of veggies (mushrooms, green peppers, onions, etc.) to give the sauce some flavor. It was pretty good. The salads were also good but not so nutrient dense.
The first day on our vacation was a real adventure – a waiting adventure, that is. The nonstop flight to Seattle was great arriving around 9:40 am! But then we had to wait over 2 hours at the airport for a bus to take us to the pier. After a 45-minute bus ride to the pier, we found ourselves in a very long, serpentine line thinking that the escalator at the end of the line would take us onboard the ship. They checked our passports and we were finally on our way up the escalator to find ourselves in another serpentine line. It was a Kafkaesque moment (pseudo-titled, The Ship). But after another hour or so of laughter and telling jokes, we made it onboard.
It was around 3 pm (5 pm Nashville time) when we finally stepped onboard. We were famished and found a buffet before finding our room. But right as we were leaving to locate our room, we were alerted to a Guest Assembly Drill that was mandatory for the entire ship. We were hauled off to a jam-packed, standing-room only where we watched a safety video.
Okay, made it to our room where we found a note on our bed stating that we had a 6 pm dinner reservation. We cleaned up, relaxed for a few moments to catch our breath, then headed off to dinner. Dinner included very few healthful options – at least in our way of thinking. Our choices – soup, salad, and the only entree that was meat-free was an Indian dish that had potatoes and rice. I had the salad and potatoes. The salad contained mostly iceberg lettuce which is not very nutrient dense, but everything tasted great. Tomorrow will be a much better day! I can feel it!
Before I started my whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle, I thought I would be limited to my choices in cuisines. But, that is not true! Plant foods include vegetables, fruits, tubers (potatoes), leafy greens, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, sea vegetables, and more. Whole-food, plant-based eaters stay away from meats, fish, dairy, eggs, oil, and foods that have been highly processed. Some people choose to eat fish on occasion or have oil in their salad. Who am I to judge you on how you choose to eat?
If you’re looking for some recipes, try the Fork Over Knives website. They have tons of easy recipes to try out – and let me know what you think!