#FineArtFriday: Irene (poem)and The Coffee House, by Rita Greer 2008

The Coffee House


Portions of this post first appeared on Life in the Realm of Fantasy in 2015, as Flash Fiction Friday offering. The poem that follows, Irene, was written for a writer friend, a woman who moved to my Northwest town from Texas.

She participated in NaNoWriMo 2012, and we discovered we lived only a mile apart. Over the years she  became like a sister to me. Now, in 2020, one of her grandchildren has been hit with cancer, and she is temporarily relocating back to Texas to help care for him.

Believe me, she will be missed, as a neighbor, a dear friend, and as the heart and soul of my writing posse. My forthcoming novel, Julian Lackland, would still be languishing in limbo without her determined efforts over the last six years.

She and her husband quickly became members of our family, and no holiday will be the same with out them.


About this painting (quoted from Wikimedia Commons)

The original is an oil painting on board by Rita Greer, history painter, 2008. This was digitized by Rita and sent via email to the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University, where it was subsequently uploaded to Wikimedia.

Coffee Houses played an important part in the social life of Robert Hooke. Only coffee and chocolate were served (no alcohol). Here news could be had, conversation, arguments, meetings, card games, wagers made, workmen could be paid, etc. (Hooke would sometimes carry out a scientific experiment in front of a coffee house audience as witnesses.) Hooke is shown writing (bottom left) at a table with people waiting to talk to him.

About the artist:

Rita Greer is a history artist, goldsmith, graphic designer, food scientist and author/writer. On retirement in 2003 Rita began the Robert Hooke project, “to put him back into history.”

According to Wikipedia: Much has been written about the unpleasant side of Hooke’s personality, starting with comments by his first biographer, Richard Waller, that Hooke was “in person, but despicable” and “melancholy, mistrustful, and jealous.” Waller’s comments influenced other writers for well over two centuries, so that a picture of Hooke as a disgruntled, selfish, anti-social curmudgeon dominates many older books and articles. For example, Arthur Berry said that Hooke “claimed credit for most of the scientific discoveries of the time.” Sullivan wrote that Hooke was “positively unscrupulous” and possessing an “uneasy apprehensive vanity” in dealings with Newton. Manuel used the phrase “cantankerous, envious, vengeful” in his description. More described Hooke having both a “cynical temperament” and a “caustic tongue.” Andrade was more sympathetic, but still used the adjectives “difficult”, “suspicious”, and “irritable” in describing Hooke.

Back-biting and jostling for position was a hobby among the divas of 17th century science, apparently. Little has changed in the world of academics, it seems.

I spend a large portion of my life in coffee houses too, writing and meeting with other writers, and artists. The friend who inspired the poem today was introduced to me in a coffee house in Olympia, on a dark November night in 2012. It was the kick-off meeting for NaNoWriMo that year.



I met you in a coffee shop.

Knitters and authors vied for tables

In a dark, polished, coffee-scented room.

Texas wit met Northwest irreverence

And the world was never the same.

A sisterhood built on words

And books

And commonalities.

We met as old ladies, too wise to raise much hell.

We’d have been dangerous

Had Austin met Olympia in the young, wild days.

It must have been divine intent

That our lives converged in the quiet years.

Sisterhood binds and unites us

Because family is more

Than marriage or blood.


Irene © Connie J. Jasperson 2015, All Rights Reserved

Portions of this post first appeared here on Life in the Realm of Fantasy on December 12, 2015.

The Coffee House by Rita Greer, history painter, 2008. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:10 The Coffee House.JPG,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:10_The_Coffee_House.JPG&oldid=304207824 (accessed January 16, 2020).


Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

3 responses to “#FineArtFriday: Irene (poem)and The Coffee House, by Rita Greer 2008

  1. Lovely post, on so many different levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The friends you make in a writing group can be amongst the best in your life as your writing is very personal to you yet you read it out to them expecting and using their critique