Fancy Coffee Friday: Jalapenos, Colds and a Goat in a Coat

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from England, caught a cold on the flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, harvested 3 kilos of jalapenos the day after I got back and have a goat wearing a coat out in the barn.

I’ll save the majority of the England talk for next time as I’m still going through my photos and weeding out the sucky ones. So, until then – England was great! Thanks for asking.

The Jalapenos? Well, I eat a lot of pickled jalapenos and at nearly $4 a jar, I decided that this year I would grow a lot of jalapenos so I could pickle my own. Success has been achieved. I’ve already canned/put up 12 pints of those delicious little pickled morsels. Next up, jalapeno jelly. I made it last year and it was highly popular among friends (and myself), so this year I’ll be making more. Admittedly, I’ve not gotten up the nerve to use it to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Weird? Yes, that’s that I thought too until I saw a comment saying that if you liked Thai Peanut Sauce, you’d like using the jelly for a PB&J.

Colds suck. This one that I caught is a doozy, hitting me Tuesday morning and causing Mr. Muse to tell me I looked like I was melting. No good. However, it is making for a great weight loss program since I can barely taste anything. That makes me a little sad as I love food, but this week I’ve just been looking at it and thinking, “Meh… it won’t taste like anything anyway.” This also makes me a bit peeved as Monday I picked up some beautiful ribeye steaks but I don’t want to cook them until I can taste them.

My “Goat in a Coat” is Disqua (pronounced Dee-Skwa; she came with the name). She’d been getting a bit thin this summer but I chocked it up to her nursing. That was part of it, she also had a high parasite load and it was all a perfect storm. So, after two vet visits that included deworming (yes, I admit that I didn’t think about dewormer this year – that’s my fault; it’s on the calendar now) and fluids, she’s on barn rest. She also gets physical therapy from Mr. Muse and I and she’s getting a little stronger every day. Why do this all for a goat? I have no children and she’s got a job to do eating brush in the pasture. I need to take care of my employees.

And now, it’s time for me to wrap this up, make some more tea, take a nap and get over this damn cold!

PS – I don’t get out of doing chores just because I’m sick and those jalapenos won’t get themselves in the jars. ;)

PSS – I’ve not had coffee in over a week… can’t taste it anyway.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: I’ve been in the same clothes for the last 30 hours

That’s the thing about international travel – there really isn’t much opportunity for a wardrobe change. Thirty hours in the same clothes? SURE! And, add to that the fact that we’re now six hours ahead of our usual time – we’re doing our best on little sleep.

However, I’ve discovered some things:

My newly purchased pair of Bogs chukka boots? Even after wearing for 30 plus hours – they are incredibly comfortable. I just took them off – my feet feel great. I’m really happy with that purchase.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport actually does have gluten-free options. We picked Ecco and the food was AWESOME! So were the cocktails.

Virgin Atlantic gives you a lot of swag when you fly with them. Too much swag. However, I did watch the movie “Inside Out” before I attempted to sleep. I didn’t really sleep.

Roads in England are similar to roads in Croatia: tend towards being narrow, no shoulder, and rock fences on both sides. Oh, but you drive on the left-hand side of the road.

Also, eating gluten-free seems that it will be easier than I initially thought. I got to have actual battered fried fish ‘n chips for lunch today at The Hydro Cafe. The owner is a Celiac and has a lot of gluten-free options. He also gave us a small local tourist map – one we hadn’t Instagramseen and which would be useful AND told us about some more places with gluten free options. Bonus! I think we’ll get back to Hydro, however, as he spoke much about the carrot cake they offered, saying it was his favorite. He also mentioned curry. I like curry.

And that’s it folks! If you’re on Instagram (or not) – I post photos of my trip (though I’m rarely in them).

Right now, I have a PB Chunk Cookie I hauled all the way over to England with me from Bloom. It’s currently calling my name.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: “That’s Devotion”

We have two cats, Alex and Rupunzel (yes, that’s how we spell her name). Alex is 17 years old, Rue is 16. They both have kidney disease. Alex needs to get more liquid into himself, Rue needs to get more food into herself.

These two cats have been parts of our lives for THEIR whole lives. Both came from my parent’s farm. Alex was given to my mom’s coworker, and through an unfortunate series of events, he ended up back with us within a few months. Rue lived in the barn for the first 18 months of her life, having us scoop her up to have her live with us after the passing of another cat Mr. Muse had.

This last month, after the diagnoses came that kidney disease was in our present, we had to start giving fluids to Alex. Every other day, I put him in my lap and stick him with a needle. A bag of “lactated ringers” slung from a hanger that I’ve hooked onto a floor lamp is at the ready, and I open up the line, scratching his chin as 100 ml of saline builds up under the scruff of his neck.

Every night, I take out two small dishes from the cabinet and split a can of wet, kidney support, wet food into them and put one in front of each mewling cat waiting impatiently behind me.

Now, during a conversation about pets and animals in general at lunch earlier this week, I mentioned the every-other-night ritual for fluids and my boss looked at me, his eyes large, and he asked, “Really?” I nodded, responded, “yes really,” and took another bite of my salad. He gave that nod of approval, you know the one where someone is scrunching their brow in thought, the corners of their mouth drawn down in consideration? That nod. Then he said, “that’s devotion.”

I paused, thought about a lengthy response, but fell back to, “Thank you”, and conversation moved on to other things. But this had me thinking, wouldn’t anyone do that for a beloved family member even if it was a pet? Both cats are happy and otherwise healthy, they are just elderly: 85 (Alex) and 84 (Rue) years equivalent to humans. They still play with their toys, use the litter box without accidents, eat their food, drink their water and look for attention. Their kidneys shutting down are a typical elderly cat situation and if my otherwise healthy cats need a little boost via fluids to give their kidneys a little relief – so be it.

I grew up with animals. I worked at a veterinary clinic. I saw pets and livestock that were in so much pain for maladies which were not treatable with owners who insisted on keeping these poor animals going despite every bit of evidence screaming that putting the animal out of its misery would be the kinder move. I saw a dog literally rotting away from cancer, its owner insisting the dog was happy even though it couldn’t eat (had to be fed with slurry via a syringe), could only walk half a dozen steps and needed twenty different medications to function at a low level. These experiences all helped me decide what I would and wouldn’t do for a pet.

For Alex, who is not on any medications other than his “prescription diet”, sticking him with a needle and giving fluids every other day doesn’t strike me as anything devotional. To me it’s just what needs to be done. Yes, I might be interfering with nature’s course a smidge, but he’s a happy 17/85 year old who doesn’t have any problems other than old age. When, not if, that changes – the true show of devotion will be making the hard decision that is in HIS best interest – not mine.

Do you have an elderly pet? 

Do you find yourself making decisions for them based on their needs or your needs?

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Fancy Coffee Friday: I Think I’ll Go For a Walk

Image via

Image via

This has not been a particularly pleasant week to amble about the neighborhoods upon the edge of which my place of employment is perched. It’s hot, it’s humid and while I did venture out on Wednesday in the pleasant heat and higher humidity, the fact that most of the routes I can take are mostly shaded and offer a pleasant breeze from time to time is most delightful.

I’m very lucky that my office is located where it is. The neighborhoods are quite nice. Lots of “pocket parks” are sprinkled about. Mature trees populate the yards, which are often manicured and perfectly landscaped. I have numerous routes from which to choose, and they are all pleasant even if they are all “uphill both ways”.

A good number of my coworkers are lunch- or break-time walkers. Some change into a workout outfit and head off to speed-walk over hill and over dale. Me? I don’t get so fancy. After working here for most of a year I headed to a shoe store and picked up a pair of Go Walk 2 slip-on shoes that I keep here at the office. But for all the fitness buffs in the office, the fact that I don’t go through a wardrobe change, and in the winter months tend to head out in my tall boots (they have a low heel), gives some coworkers trouble. One even seems compelled to comment on the weather, both pleasant or slightly-less than, offering up a sarcastic “Good luck”; coincidentally – they don’t take walks.

Wearing my boots in the winter has gotten me a sniff of derision accompanied with a raised eyebrow completed by, “You wore those out on your walk?”

Yes, yes I did.

I’m surrounded by fair-weather, technical-equipment junkies. This gives me great amusement as the only things you need for a walk are your two feet and mobility.

I love to walk. I prefer walking outside, even on a sidewalk, to walking on the treadmill – even though treadmill time is one of the only times I watch television shows that I enjoy. Walking outside also seems to be easier and go faster than 30-45 minutes on the treadmill. I find it fascinating that hoofing it uphill in one of the office neighborhoods at 3.5 miles per hour is far easier than the same speed and incline on a machine.

Walking is beneficial, whether you’re ambling around the neighborhood or marching on a belt. It gets your blood pumping. It clears your head; plus, it’s been shown to boost your creativity. Add to those benefits the bonuses for good health, physical and mental, you’ve got yourself a great reason to get out and take a walk.

So, here I am right now in my Fortress of Solitude which had the worktop raised to standing height this week, itching for a walk on a day that is once again too dangerous with high heat and humidity for me to be striding around the neighborhood on an uphill-both-ways route. I’m mentally preparing myself for a jaunt on the treadmill, begrudgingly, once I get home. But, I also know that while I may start off unhappy that hitting the belt is my best option today; and, once I’m done – I’ll be in a good mood.

Do you take lunch- or break-time walks to get out of the office?

If you’re a work-break walker, do you gear up or go in what you’ve got on?

What is your favorite way to get fitness in for the day?

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Perks That Come With Age

All relationships are accompanied with some level of difficulty, romantic or otherwise. Toss in some modern-day losses of things like formality and precision of language and etiquette along with societies ubiquitous message of “you’re not good enough”, we seem to breed entire generations saddled with a high degree of low self-esteem. Admittedly, I, too, was shrouded in that same insecurity when it came to my relationships.


Image via Mindfulness Ireland

However, this week I saw this photo on the Book of Faces and I gave a smile as I realized that in terms of personal growth over the last ten years, and most noticeably the last five, I have grown comfortable with myself and my worth to friends, family and lovers alike. Bring to light a conversation with a friend last evening who was venting to me about their personal life.

They started off talking about their worries regarding this matter and that, and followed up with an apology for what they felt was a rude message to me a couple weeks back that I might have taken personally. I smiled and told them that ten years ago, yes, I would have worked myself up to a lather, concerned that I’d done something to upset them. But now, I had reached a point of realization that their message had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with them and what was going on with them at that point in time.

My friend gave pause. Then they laughed. They admitted that I was correct and that they were glad I hadn’t gotten upset. I quipped, “There are advantages to getting older.”

I pondered on this conversation, and the topic in general, into the evening. I thought about my relationship with Mr. Muse and how when we were dating my biggest concern was that if things didn’t work out – I could very well lose my best friend. Once we were married, he had a job where he was on the road often for a couple weeks each month. Suddenly, I found myself battling the demons of “what if he finds someone so much better than me?”

I battled those demons on and off for a while, and now sixteen years later, I can look back and laugh at how silly it was to waste so much energy on feeding those “insecurities”. Perhaps it’ll come off as pompous and arrogant, but I’m a damned awesome person. Sure, Mr. Muse might one day decide his feelings have changed, but I don’t own him and he doesn’t own me. We’ve reached a point where besides loving each other, I respect and trust him enough to know that if he ever found himself in a situation where he developed affection for another woman, A) he’d tell me, and B) it wouldn’t be about me or any perceived shortcomings I have.

The same goes with friends. As we email and text our way through life with limited face time, words on a screen can often come across as abrupt and callous. We may misconstrue the message entirely and pin meanings to it contrary to the intentions of the writer. Why? Because we haven’t been taught to look beyond the surface. We take words at face value rather than read between the lines, as any good literature professor would tell you to do in class.

Image via

Image via

So now, as I approach my fourth decade on the planet, I look back and notice how much I’ve grown as a person. While I still might have horrible stage fright for getting up in front of crowds, my confidence with my relationships is at an all-time high. Aging isn’t so bad as I thought when I was younger.

And maybe watching a little Stuart Smalley helped, too.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Bleeding Hearts

It’s still officially Friday. Fancy Coffee Friday to be exact and today I’m going to do a bit of bragging.

IMG_20150821_150531Today, I gave up some vital life solids – red blood cells. I’d have said “vital life juices” but they gave the juicy bits back to me. I have type A Negative blood, which apparently only 7% of Caucasians have (and even less if you’re not Caucasian). The Red Cross has had a severe shortage of donations this summer, particularly from those of us who are negative individuals.

So, if you can take a little time to go donate blood, red blood cells, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross, please do. You never know when you, or someone you know, may need blood.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Blogging 101 – Back to Basics

Perhaps it is the lingering effects of Catholic guilt that nibbled away at my mind these last few months, whispering, “Sarah, you’re neglecting your blog,” that caused me to sign up for WordPress’s “Blogging 101”. Perhaps it was curiosity. Maybe both. The fact is: I haven’t been as attentive to my blog as I once was.

Sure, it happens to everyone. Life happens, things change. People get busy doing those jobs that pay for their lifestyles and the “fun” stuff gets put on the back burner.

Those very things have happened to me and I’m trying to get back to writing for this blog. Writing period. So, between emails from Blogging 101 and daily writing prompts from Sarah Selecky, I’m at least thinking about writing more.

Today, I’m tackling the first assignment: Introduce Yourself to the World.

Oh myI got caught up in Life happening. The goats were being born. The garden needed planting and now has been ripening. Work takes up 45+ hours a week.

I’ve been at this blogging thing for four years. If course, that’s twelve years less than my marriage to Mr. Muse, 20 years less than my relationship with one of my orchids and 35 years less than I’ve been on this planet.

So, why am I still at it?

Like my favorite flannel shirt (17 years longer than this blog), I’ve grown attached and I would miss it. It’s an investment of time, effort, and frankly, myself. It’s something I can claim as my own, even if my writing gets a bit threadbare, like my flannel shirt.

Because of this blog I ventured forth to two blogging conferences and met some really wonderful people. Considering I’m fairly asocial (that’s the latest buzzword, not to be confused with “antisocial”), surrounding myself with people who love their blogs was both intimidating and comforting all at once. I met people who blog purely for the joy of writing, some who love it and make money, and still others who have used their blogs as launching points to further their careers in journalism and various forms of media, not to mention writing books (a personal aspiration).

So, to answer one question for this assignment, “Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?” Because I write in journals the same way I write here – like I’m writing to a friend. Only, a blog often gets answers to the questions I put forth to the universe. A journal, not so much.

And maybe that’s why I’m still here, still writing, even if it it’s less than before: to get answers. A response. To leave behind my mark on the world since I’ve chosen not to leave it with progeny.

I write because, like gardening and raising livestock and spending a great many hours in the kitchen cooking and baking, it makes sense to me. It makes me happy. If ever I was passionate about anything, or many things, writing is one of those things.

I blog, I write, because it’s what I do. The same as when I write myself short stories in my younger years. The same as telling stories to my cousins and listening to my mom tell them to me. Writing is always something I have done. It is who I am.

Your turn:

Do you blog? Why?

Why do you read this blog?

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