Fancy Coffee Friday: Unmentionables

Last week during a conversation with a dear friend of mine I made the offhand comment that I didn’t want to be someone they couldn’t mention in polite company.  They responded immediately, “No worries.  I talk about you all the time.”

I was taken aback, stammered a bit to myself as I thought of how to respond to this revelation as my mind was reeling with information that was suddenly new and different from anything else I’d ever experience.

You see, my dear friend is someone I’ve been chatting with for over seven years now and I’ve yet to meet them in person.  My response of “You do?” would have been squeaked out had they been in the flesh before me instead of punched into my phone.

Of course, this got me wondering:  How often do friends, those met online or not (though, more specifically those met online) come up in conversation if mentioning them would be pertinent to the topic being discussed?

So Why The Weirdness?

I approached two other long-time friends with whom I’ve chatted for over 15 years (let us remember that the Internet has been around for the masses since at least 1994), and have met in person, with the question of whether or not they talk about their “Internet friends”?  I was curious if these two people that I admire and for whom I have affection openly spoke about friendships they developed online.

Results of my Officially Unofficial Poll?  They did, but seldom.

Why?  Because a lot of people wouldn’t understand and there would be too many questions.

Where do I stand on the topic?

I do not draw distinction between people I consider friends whether I’ve met them online or in person for anything other than clarifying context, such as the case with this post.  Chatting online seemed to me a natural transition from the hand-written pen pal letter relationships that I had in grade- and middle-schools.  In fact, many of my closest friendships are online, most likely because I’m not being judged upon appearance and my responses don’t have to be “shot from the hip”.

My normal day-to-day conversation with Mr. Muse typically has a mention of at least one, if not more, friend with whom I’ve chatted or texted with that day.  I’ve never been what I called “a closet chatter”.  Mr. Muse was fully aware of my online chatting when we started dating and it wasn’t expected to stop after we got married.

I speak of my online friends in the same capacity as I would anyone else I consider a friend.  It’s not taboo or something to be ashamed of – if we’re friends, we’re friends.

So why was I taken aback?

I’ve been chatting for over 20 years and for the first time in all of that time, someone who I considered a dear companion disclosed, without prompting, that I was not “unmentionable”.  My existence was acknowledged, and even admitted that I was someone in the great unknown of the Internet, and yet – I mattered and they didn’t hide it.

I puzzled this new information to Mr. Muse, astounded as I was, and he pointed out that for the first time I was friends with someone who wasn’t trying to hide their online activity from their friends or family.  Sadly, closet chatters appear to be the standard online.  People who are afraid of getting caught by friends or family for socializing online.  This was also seconded by DazyLady.  I suddenly was faced with the reality that there was another person out there in the “great unknown Internet” who treated people the same as I do.

It has never occurred to me that because I may have met someone in an online venue that their value as a friend, let alone a person, would be less than if I’d say, run into them at a donut shop.  And yet, I have friends who have developed great working friendships with people at their jobs whom they have never met in person – only spoken to over the phone, who roll their eyes at mention of friends made in chat rooms.  To me it’s all one and the same.

And so… now what?

Now?  After a week of thinking about how cool it is that someone I’m friends with online actually discusses me the same way I discuss them, I’m both happy and a bit sad.  I’m happy for the acknowledgement and I’m sad that A) it’s taken this long, and B) there are still people who I consider friends for whom I will always remain “unmentionable”.

So, my ideological bubble that all things were equal has been burst.  But that’s okay.  Honestly, it allows me to focus on those people for whom I do exist and matter.  The people who put forth the effort.   It’ll also allow me to reevaluate those other relationships that by all appearances do not matter nearly as much to the other people.

As as for people wondering if they are “unmentionable”?  Oh no, if we have a good conversation – I talk about it.  Here, on Facebook, on Twitter, in person – it’s all conversation fodder.  You exist and you matter.

So, how about you? To you, are people online “unmentionable”?  Do you bring up conversations from online, be they in Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms or otherwise?  Why or why not?

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Resting on my Laurels & Deep Thoughts

I think it’s been nearly a month since I last published a post.  I’m sure it’s very possible that I’ve lost some subscribers as they’ve given up hope that I’d never post again and didn’t know where to send the search party.  Fear not those of you who have stayed vigilant and kept the light on like Motel 6!  I’m still here, alive and kicking, but it’s Spring and this past month has found Mr. Muse and I afflicted with extra-strong cases of “busy”.

Between baby goats and honeybees, there is a lot of bleating and buzzing going on at the homestead.  Most nights have found Mr. Muse and I out at the barn, dealing with one baby with a gimpy leg (large baby at delivery, contracted tendons from being cramped up in utero) to a first-time freshener (first time giving birth) with a raging case of mastitis.  Her baby we’ve had to have nurse on the other two does as she refuses to nurse from a bottle.  So my mornings are spent making sure that little Mila gets a belly-full of milk in the morning to hold her over (mostly) until we get home and can get her another belly-full.  One doe stands still, begrudgingly, for being a wet nurse; our other doe, the largest one at 120#, does not want any part whatsoever of being a wet nurse (even though she puts out enough milk for at least three growing babies) and it turns into a wrestling match between she, Mr. Muse and myself to get her under enough control that Mila can latch on to nurse until she literally almost falls asleep.

It’s then that I can take the temperature of Mila’s mother, get an aspirin in her, check her udder again and get myself in the house, hopefully, before 8 PM to have some dinner, before working on all of the “inside the house” things that have to be done like washing dishes and cleaning.

So, that’s where I’ve been most recently, and even now, racked with guilt for neglecting the blog, I’m sneaking in some writing time (when I should be working).

Which brings me to an observation made this past weekend, and therefor caused me to muse over it and what it means, or could mean.

On Saturday morning I was sitting in church attending the funeral of a beloved grand-uncle.  I’d known the moment I heard he’d passed that his funeral would be a very large event, as not only was the family rather large, but he was involved in various church boards, civic groups, businesses and youth organizations.  The night he passed away, he was supposed to receive an award from a local FFA group.  The community was rattled and my Facebook news feed was filled with articles about my uncle.  A talk radio host announced the death of my uncle on his show the day afterwards and spoke of how appreciated and how influential my uncle was.

As I sat in the pew, I listened to my cousin give the eulogy and it wasn’t until the end of it when he choked up, that I shed a single tear.  I could hear the shuddered, suppressed sobs of those who were able to fit inside the church for the service (there we so many people they were also broadcasting the service outside of the church).  It wasn’t all sadness, though, as my uncle had been a jolly, happy man, and there were moments of laughter as wonderful times and turns of phrase were recalled.  It was when his grandchildren were brought up to the pulpit to say their goodbyes that something my uncle had said to me, and which I’d heard him say to others, gave me pause:

“Have you been hugged today?”

It was a moment of profoundness than something so simple suddenly had the whole of the attendees in church smiling, nodding, laughing through tears and yet, altogether choked up with grief at feeling the full weight of the loss of my uncle.

Image - Hugs!

Image – Hugs!

I’ve written before about how I’m not what I consider a “hugger“, and yet, after those words were spoken I wondered how true it was that I wasn’t a hugger.  As I drove back home I pondered upon my self-imposed label of non-huggery.  Was I a non-hugger or was that just something I said to avoid the visceral experience of physical contact because it was an act that got me “out of my head” – a place I very much enjoy being?  How did denying the expression of affection by someone, or for them, affect them – let alone me?

I knew that hugging Mr. Muse made me slow down and each time I’d find myself becoming “quiet” in my head, my thoughts settling down for the duration of the embrace.  As I drove I thought about how many other people there are who I hug.  How many are “one-arm hugs” and how many others are “the full embrace” – which of them get the cheek-press or the hand-on-the-head and held tightly.  Some are a full-embrace with the side-to-side rocking.  Each person is a little different, and no – I won’t hug everyone.  I’m a relationship person and the general rule-of-thumb is hugs go to those with whom I have some sort of relationship.  It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, however, as hugs have been given to console complete strangers, with me initiating by asking, “Do you need a hug?”

Image - Shel Silverstein "Hug O' War"

Image – Shel Silverstein “Hug O’ War”

Hugs can be scary – they “expose our soft underbellies”.  We express our vulnerability, our frailness.  For those of us who have been described as “The Rock”, the person who holds it, and everyone, together – hugs can feel like an expression of weakness.

But, hugs do seem to make the day a bit brighter.  The air a bit sweeter.  Grief a bit less oppressive.

So, maybe by asking, “Have you been hugged today”, my uncle was working at making the world a little better, brighter, sweeter, less oppressive.

Perhaps that is the lesson I’m supposed to learn right now – hugging isn’t such a bad thing and maybe we all shouldn’t be so stingy with them.  In allowing myself, ourselves, to be vulnerable, we get stronger. Perhaps if we all hugged more, maybe just one more hug a day, we’d make the world a little brighter, the air a bit sweeter and perhaps we could lessen the grief someone – even a stranger – is going through.

So, have you been hugged today?

Image - Have you been hugged today?

Image – Have you been hugged today?

Posted in Fancy Coffee Friday, Musings, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fancy Coffee Friday: The Dawn of Middle Age

The other week I found myself over at DSW looking for work shoes.  Specifically:  Flats.  Comfortable flats.  Wear-them-all-day-and-my-feet-won’t-hurt-flats.  No cheap, Old Navy flats with elastic backs that dig into my heels would do.  I’ve got a couple pairs of those and believe me, I regret the purchases.

I ended up buying a pair of Easy Spirit flats as well as a pair of LifeStride loafers and have been wearing them frequently since bringing them home.  They are comfortable, don’t pinch my toes and my heels are overly-tight-elastic-marks free.  Goodbye, cheap, Old Navy flats!

The next week after pulling my beloved pair of black stiletto heels out of the “I need to get rid of these” pile once again because only black high heels would do when it came to my chosen outfit, I decided it was time to replace that pair, too.   I headed back to DSW (because I still had a coupon…. damn those coupons!) and marched straight over to the high-heel aisles and like a puma I walked the aisles slowly, stalking the shoes.  I found one pair that was a very close match to the pair I was retiring and with glee I found my size, took off my booties and socks, and buckled those babies on for a stride.

I stood up and stopped.  The only thing similar to the pair they’d potentially replace was looks – they were uncomfortable, had no “give”, and after a few steps I found myself wrinkling my nose in disgust.  Back onto the shelf they went and I went back on the prowl.

I had my mission.  Closed-toe, black, at least a 3″ heel (because let’s not get crazy in the heel department anymore, okay?) and with a strap either over the metatarsals or around the ankle.  That first pair I tried on was the only one that fit that description and as they were so uncomfortable I knew I wasn’t willing to spend money on being tortured all day, even if my job is mostly sitting at a desk.

A little lost, I stood in the middle of the aisle and gazed about.  Perhaps I am shopping in the wrong season, I thought, it’s heading towards sandal season after all.  And I had my answer as I gazed about me at all of the open-toe, strappy sandals.  Fine, I nodded to myself, sandals it is.

The criteria changed, I was now on the hunt for black, dressy sandals with at least a 3″ heel.  I could do this.  There were lots of sandals on display.  I tried on one pair – too stiff.  I tried on a second pair – cute, but not right.  I walked past a third pair and gave them a hard look.  Dare I try them on?  Has it come to this?

I walked out of the store with a new pair of black, dressy sandals with at least a 3″ heel… and they were Naturalizer brand shoes.  When I put them on in the store and took them for a spin down the aisle I thought, “Hot Damn!  These are comfortable!”**

When I got to the car and slid in behind the wheel, I thought, Sarah, that’s three pairs of shoes in two weeks and they are all ‘comfortable’ shoes.  Apparently my days of wearing utterly impractical footwear are falling fast behind me and I’ve now entered into the phase of comfort above nearly all else.  (Sorry, Crocs… you may be comfortable but can’t get past how awful your original version looks.)

So, it was with a laugh that I told Mr. Muse about my observations on my shoe purchases of late and he said, “Perhaps these are signs you’re entering middle age?”

Probably, Mr. Muse… Probably.

**As an aside, my massage therapist commented that they were “sexy” shoes.  I agree with him.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: “There’s Nothing Wrong with Being Capable.”

incompetencedemotivatorI learned a lot of skills growing up. I absorbed knowledge like a sponge, ripped through books, devoured encyclopedias and discovered I hammer a nail like the Swedish Chef tosses a salad – shit is going to fly everywhere and someone is going to get hurt – probably me.

Summers were spent caring for animals, cleaning barn, mowing the lawn, gardening, pulling yellow rocket from the hay field, washing dishes, washing laundry and cooking meals – all from a young age.  Of course, this was before the USA became such a “nanny state” and goodness forbid that you have children do any sort of work around the house.  With two parents who worked full-time, everyone had to pull their weight.  I still had plenty of time for being a little heathen-child, riding my pony (and later, horse), running through the woods in my moccasins, finding deer bones and live snakes (and bringing them home) and poking sticks down woodchuck holes just to see if there was something alive down in the depths.

I was twelve when my parents ripped off the back of the house (no, really… hooked a pick-up truck to it and everything) and put on a new addition in its place.  I learned about framing walls, installing windows and doors and hanging drywall.  After the walls had been mudded and sanded, plastered and painted, I learned to hang wallpaper and install trim and molding.  Most of the skills I learned in my life were taught to me by my Mom; everything else came from neighbors, family friends, and my own ingenuity and dogged stubbornness determination to learn how to do something myself.  I was (and still am) smart, full of know-how and was capable of taking care of myself if I had to.


By the time I left for college I knew how to drive an automatic AND manual transmission vehicle (I still prefer manual though I’m terribly frustrated they are so difficult to find), was familiar with all manner of power tools, had a fully-loaded tool box and I could cook, clean and keep myself alive.  All rather important skills.

To quote my Mom after relaying to her yet another story of me teaching some guy in the dorms how to wash their laundry, or lending them something from my toolbox, “Sarah, there is nothing wrong with being capable.”

In college I dated.  I dated a lot.  And for the sake of expediting this post – most of those men didn’t stick around.  Why?

notaprincessYou see, I was not a princess waiting around for my prince.  I didn’t believe in shining knights on white horses (though my horse, at the time… was white) coming around to “rescue” me from my life.  I also didn’t sit around dreaming of my wedding day with a big, frothy dress and an eight-billion tier cake with a rock the size of the Hope Diamond on my hand.

Nope.  That kind of fantasy Candy Land wasn’t for me.  You know what?  It still isn’t.

princecharmingI was, and still am, an “eye roller” (though I’m much better at doing it surreptitiously) when women would launch into their diatribes of their big day.  How they couldn’t wait for a man to come along and take care of them.  How everything would be perfect when Prince Charming came into their lives.  I give a Dr. Sheldon Cooper scoff of derision, usually with a snort, and tell myself that I need to stop doing that because smashing their cute little fantasy they put on the table with a fist of reality is no way to win friends nor influence people.  Besides, it scares people when I do that.

I am proud to say I’m independent, fiercely so.  I don’t like being told what to do, don’t like people stepping in to “help” when I don’t need it and while I do enjoy wearing dresses and I look damn good in white (seriously, it makes my Pillsbury Dough Girl skin look tan… it’s pretty awesome) – I prefer jeans, tank tops, flannel shirts and heavy work boots.

I am, and have been, unafraid to state very matter-of-factly to Mr. Muse in private and before our friends, much to their horror, that I don’t NEED him to take care of me or rescue me.  I’d say it’s Irish stubbornness, but really I’m more German and English, and ultimately it’s because I wanted someone as a partner in life who had skills on par with my own, or that at least complimented the ones I had.  Mr. Muse is one of those people.

So the other day, when I read this post by Janne Robinson, item number three stuck out to me like a sore thumb.  Probably one I’d smashed with a hammer blow when trying to hit a nail.

3. Be the person you want to fall in love with

I decided this year that instead of dating the men who did things I admired that I would learn to do those things myself. As a good friend of mine and relationship coach Mark says, “Make a list of all the things you want in a partner and then be that list yourself.”

I now live in a log cabin in the woods, wear plaid, smell like smoke and taste like the sea. I learned to chop kindling with my teeth, use a chainsaw, caulk a sink, put a paintbrush to canvas and I went after what I love—writing, hard. Next up on my list is learning, “Ain’t no sunshine” on the guitar, learning Spanish, and buying a beginners motorcycle. I may never grow a beard but I figure I will leave something for my future partner to be good at.

Sweep your own ass off your feet. Be an asset to yourself by showing up in this world doing the things you admire and love.

Be mad about you. You’ll attract an even more badass version of yourself by doing so.

By learning skills, increasing my knowledge, and not being a whiny, needy little princess (incidentally… the name “Sarah”, my name, means “Princess” – how’s that for irony), I attracted an even more badass version of myself.  Plus, he has really gorgeous blue eyes and a beard.

He’s told me that the fact that I never needed, but wanted, to be with him is one of the things he loves about me.  We work well together.  We’ve got each others backs and most importantly – we make each other laugh.  Daily.

 So, get out there and do what you need to do to make yourself badass!

Posted in Blogging, Fancy Coffee Friday, Musings, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Fancy Coffee Friday: Reminiscing about Cows

The other day I was going through a stack of magazines and came across the Fall 2014 issue of Modern Farmer that I picked up as an impulse buy in the checkout of Willy Street Co-Op.  There is a picture of a Holstein cow on the cover and “HAVE A COW” in bold and black in the corner.  It was their “Pre-Apocalypse” issue and though I’ve written about preppers before here and here, and have have even been called a “prepper” by a coworker (goodness forfend!), I don’t consider myself a prepper.  (Like a Pepper… but less fizzy.  And not everyone wants to be one.)  I do, however, like to be prepared.  Y’all should see the amount of toilet paper and facial tissue I had stored up for the winter that we’re just now getting to the end of!

Back to the magazine.  Cows.

This is a Brown Swiss.  In Switzerland.

This is a Brown Swiss. In Switzerland.

Years ago as a child I loved going to my Great Uncle and Aunt’s dairy farm.  My childhood is filled with memories of baling hay, endless teasing by my older cousins, eating dinner at midnight on hot and sticky summer nights after working all day, strawberry pies, tater tot casserole and cows.  Brown Swiss cows in particular.

It didn’t matter that at my own house I had a pony, horses, goats, rabbits, cats and dogs; cows were a creature I didn’t have a ton of experience with outside of the annual steers we had kept for half a year only to end up in the freezer and be eaten come fall.  (I wasn’t really allowed to handle them as they were too fractious.)  The cows, they were different entirely, handled daily, the Brown Swiss tended to be docile creatures, unlike the uppity Holsteins that were beginning to make their appearance in the barn.

So, as I gazed at the magazine cover and then read the article, the memories that came into my head started with one summer day, heading out to the barn with the guys who were going to milk the cows and I wanted to “help”.  Of course, they let me “help” – which I’m sure meant that I was in the way, but I eagerly put out scoops of corn silage into the feeder in anticipation of the cows making their way into the barn soon.  I had to learn how to not scare the cows in my excited state of being allowed to close the stanchion, letting them put their head in and calmly shoving the mechanism together.  And once it was all done, and I couldn’t help any more, I ran the aisle of the barn with one of the ever-present St. Bernards on the farm or took up a prime viewing spot in front of a cow that seemed particularly patient and calm, No. 1.  As she licked her muzzle, the tip of her tongue reaching all the way up into one of her nostrils, then the other, I attempted to imitate her.  I failed, but I kept trying!

“No. 1″ was surely just a reference to the particular stanchion and not the cow who happened to occupy it, but to me, my memory of her is something of an idolization of “her”.  But, does it matter?  Fond memories of childhood have a way of becoming larger than life.

One winter, as I frolicked out in the barn among the cows who were brought indoors against the frigid temps, I quietly sidled up next to No. 1 who was laying in her spot, placidly chewing her cud.  Gingerly I tip-toed up towards her head, well aware that this thousand-pound animal could easily crush me had she wanted to but I held my mittened hand out to her nose so she could sniff and before I knew it, I had pulled off my mittens and was running my fingers through her thick winter hair, pressing my cheek to her shoulder and absorbing the heat from her.

To my younger self, I was no more intrusive than the barn cats that were curling up to, or on, various cows in the barn.  And, No. 1?  She let me.  She stayed lying in the stall, calmly turning to watch me with an air of aloofness as I wriggled my fingers into her hair.  I’m sure I imagined that I was giving her a good massage – and perhaps I was?  All these years later, if I attend a county fair or the state fair, when I see a Brown Swiss, I want to walk up to it and bury my face into it’s neck, hugging it.

Mr. Muse has a chuckle each time we pass by a farm that raises the breed and I see the cows outside, excitedly announcing how many are out or if there is a particularly pretty one at that moment.   He’s also well aware that if we had more acreage – I’d probably show up with one for the farmstead – my love for the breed runs that deep.

But alas, I don’t, and so I watch for them on my commute and pet them at the fairs and remember what it was like over thirty years ago to bury my fingers into the winter coat of a calm cow and enjoy the sensation and the warmth of her and imagine she enjoyed herself too.  For me, Brown Swiss are the best cows there are.

Do you have an animal around which is centered a, or many, very fond childhood memory?

Posted in Blogging, Fancy Coffee Friday, homesteading, Musings, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Fancy Coffee Friday: Happy Birthday to Me… Belated.

Well, Hello, Dear Readers!  Happy Fancy Coffee Friday to you and a top ‘o the morning as well.

I know, I know… two whole damn weeks since I’ve written.  What the fuck is up with that shit?  Three cuss words in two sentences!  YES!  I feel better now.  Do you?  You better.

(Also, I received an email from a dear friend asking if I was okay as I hadn’t posted to the blog since the 6th.  I figured I better take time out from my busy schedule to write!)

So, what have I been up to?  The elephant in the room is that I turned the big 3-9 on the 12th.  Actually, I don’t really consider it an elephant, at least not a big elephant… more like a cute, baby elephant playing in a tub kind of elephant.  My mother in law asked me over dinner if I was “going to now stay at 39″.  What?  Really?  People actually do that for real and not just in a sitcom joke sort of way?  Yeah…. no.  Age is just a number and while the years keep adding up, I still feel like I’m about 25; my body just makes a few more noises after a day of hard work (or not).

Now, celebration-wise, I went to dinner with Mr. Muse and my in-laws the night before my actual birthday.  An acquaintance asked us out to dinner on my actual birthday for another reason (and I didn’t mention it was my birthday… because, well, need-to-know sort of thing) which was cancelled at the last minute.  Then, a text at the end of the day from a friend who’d been invited out to the same cancelled event asking if we were then going to go out to dinner for my birthday and another text from her husband saying, “Where are we going to dinner… I need a drink,” meant that we threw together a quick plan and went out on my birthday after all.

I made this!

I made this!

The actual plan for my birthday was to have a pizza and ice cream party.  I’m not making that up.

But, Sarah, you’re 39 years old – why do you want to have a kids party?!  So, here’s the thing.  I had a birthday party (outside of family at the kitchen table) once when I was around 12, and like Grumpy Cat, “it was awful”.

It was one of the few times I tried to fit in with the “in crowd”.  I invited the girls I thought I was supposed to be friends with, plus the ones I already was, and we went to Shakey’s Pizza in Green Bay (not there anymore).  I ended up sitting next to my mom while the popular girls all crowded around each other at the opposite end of the table with my friend Jamie trying to split herself between me and them.   I came to a decision early in the night that my attempt to “fit in” was a bad idea, that I’d embarrassed myself enough for one adolescence, and I should never try to “fit in” again.

Thankfully, this attitude has worked out in my favor.  Flash forward 27 years and I’m taking a mulligan on that birthday party debacle all those years ago.  This time, I’m ordering pizza, cupcakes, picking up some frozen custard and getting together at the house of some friends with more friends and acquaintances and a whopping eight of us will be eating, drinking and playing games like Cards Against Humanity.

And not to worry, I celebrated my birthday with my family as well on Pi Day – with a delicious Pecan Pie and frozen custard.

In the meantime, things have been busy!  The farmstead added new layer chicks on the 28th of February.  They lived in an unused bathtub in my bathroom in the house and were put outside after a week as they were already trying to fly.  They had to go to accommodations with higher walls.

Mr. Muse made the decision last year that this spring he’d try making maple syrup and the sap is running!  The fridge and the freezer has been filled, emptied and refilled with gallon jugs and food-grade 5-gallon buckets of sap.  I’ve been forced to roast the first batch of lamb bones for making stock because he needed more room for sap.  Stock is good.  Homemade stock is better.

And then there is work.  Work is good, but work is work (it pays for my vacations… so there is that), and sometimes it gets really busy.  Since I work in social media for part of my job, I was tasked to bring some social media advertising in-house to bring down costs.  I’m happy to say things are working well, but it also means I have had to carve time out to work on marketing and learning about advertising.  It’s been an interesting ride, though, and when I discovered that my ad campaign was working… I think I looked like this:


So, chickens, maple sap and syrup, gardening season is almost upon us (time to plant the peas!) and in May?  Honeybees!  The fun (and work) never ends!

PS – If you haven’t read it yet, my most popular blog post continues to be “I’ve been POISONED” from May 25th of 2012… read the comments.  Really!

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Fancy Coffee Friday: The Cruise – Recaptured.

Now that I’ve been back in the frozen tundra (man, does that sound way too dramatic to anyone else?) of Wisconsin for a couple of weeks, it’s time to give a recap of my cruise to the Caribbean with the fine people of Bare Necessities.

Let me preface my recap with a statement:  I’ve noticed that with each successive trip I venture on, the number of times I take photos with all the camera gear I take, drops exponentially.

Charlie playing in the shells at Shell Beach, Gustavia, St. Barths.

Charlie playing in the shells at Shell Beach, Gustavia, St. Barths.

I took photos with my DSLR on two islands:  Guadeloupe and St. Maarten.  The rest of the time I carried my phone with me and took quickie snaps, mostly of Cedric and Charlie.  There is one phone of Mr. Muse and I aboard the cruise ship all dressed up for dinner one night (yes, even on a nude cruise) – so photographic evidence that we were actually on the cruise ship exists.  Now that I have that little bit of information out there, let’s get on with the rest of the story.

So, Sarah, tell us about the CRUISE!!!

Okay, okay!  The cruise was great.  The End.


Okay, the cruise.  So, for the average cruiser, I’m sure that this cruise ROCKED!  Seriously.

Cedric, contemplating life's mysteries as he gazes out to sea at Shell Beach, Gustavia, St. Barths.

Cedric, contemplating life’s mysteries as he gazes out to sea at Shell Beach, Gustavia, St. Barths.

Mr. Muse and I were “General Staff” for the cruise, our third year being members of the General Staff, and it was a great cruise.  That said, being part of the General Staff, when combined with the work ethic that Mr. Muse and I possess, means that we always feel “on”.  Is there something we should be doing?  Somewhere we should be?  Even the days we had “off”, we felt like we should still be working.

So, Sarah, what does that all mean?  It means we were tired.  It was a great cruise, but we were tired.

Now that I got the “we were tired” out of the way…  We had a great time.  Knowing that I’m pretty much a hermit if left to my own devices, Mr. Muse and I met a lot of really wonderful people that I hope we get to see again-and-again over the years.  We also got to revisit with people we’ve met on past cruises, George and John – if you’re reading this – I think the world of you both!

Island oasis number one was CocoCay in the Bahamas – the private island owned by the Royal Caribbean.  To be honest, if I had to pick between CocoCay and Half Moon Cay (owned by Carnival Corp) – Half Moon all the way!!  CocoCay was okay, but the beach was really rocky.  I also spent most of the day assisting or modeling for photo shoots.

Our second stop was the island of St. Barths, the yachters & celebrity playground.  As I was suffering from a pinched nerve in my hip and my wallet didn’t want to open THAT much, Mr. Muse and I spent most of our brief time on the island at Shell Beach and eating glace (ice cream) and sorbet.

Water Lily pond at Les Jardins de Valombreuse.

Water Lily pond at Les Jardins de Valombreuse.

Stop number three was the island of Guadeloupe.  Guadeloupe is a relatively new cruise port and I recommend taking excursions for now rather than venturing off on your own (unless you hire a cab).  We took a tour of the botanical garden, Les Jardins de Valombrouse and the distillery Domaine de Severin.  The garden was beautiful in spite of the overcast skies and that’s also where we met a wonderful couple, R & S, whom we got to know better throughout the rest of the cruise and who treated us to ice cream when we got back to Fort Lauderdale.  We also got to watch a lot of hummingbirds in the gardens and I was in heaven.

The distillery?  We thought we were getting a tour of the distillery… it was just a drop-off at the store and we could walk the “grounds” (a circuitous walk around the shop) if we chose.  Our tour guide was great, the grounds were interesting, but the rum?  “Rot Gut”.  Mr. Muse and I have had  much, much better rum.



Our fourth and final stop was the island of St. Maarten, where Mr. Muse and I have visited twice before.  I love St. Maarten, and I wrote about our time there and my being Captain Oblivious last week.

I still have a bunch of places to write reviews on at TripAdvisor, but at least all of my laundry has been washed AND put away since then!

Want to know more about a port?  Let me know!

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