Fancy Coffee Friday: Sandfly Scourge… Or how I channeled Angelina Jolie

This past Saturday, Mr. Muse, a couple friends and I, spent a lovely afternoon-into-“prevening” on the Wisconsin River, kayaking, drinking adult beverages (Johnny Appleseed Hard Cider in 16 oz cans for me), stopping at sandbars and having discussions of the philosophical and not-so-philosophical kind.  The river was packed with weekend canoist-campers, many of whom were numerous-adult-beverages-in-the-bag before we shoved off into the water.  The weather was lovely, the sun came out and visited frequently in between hazy, somewhat overcast, moments and I didn’t end up looking like a wiener overcooked on the campfire.

After our friends headed home, Mr. Muse and I worked outside for a little while and I received what I thought were a couple of mosquito bites on the face.  Not a big deal; being allergic to insect repellent makes getting bitten an expectation rather than a rarity.  That all changed when I woke up Sunday morning looking like half of my forehead had turned Neanderthal overnight and that I suddenly developed a goiter on my neck.  I tried to think if I’d been bitten by a horse fly (green or black) or a deer fly, but I knew that whatever had bitten me was small enough that I mistook them for mosquitoes.  By Sunday evening the swelling on my forehead and neck had gone down and Monday morning it appeared that all things were back to normal.

Then, Monday night as I was finishing up evening chores, I stepped out of the barn with my container of scratch feed for the Happy Chickens and felt a sharp pain on my lower lip.  Licking quickly out of reflex, I caught up the offender and spit it out without looking at it right at the moment I noticed the local Chief of Police had pulled in and was walking toward me with a flyer in hand.  Mr. Muse had noticed the Chief pull in as well and joined us at the barn gate, chatting about this-n-that, including the reason for the flyer, and as we chatted I could feel the bite on my lip swelling larger and larger.  After the Chief left, I finished up chores and headed into the house straight to the mirror where I was at once crestfallen and amused that I looked like I had just took a punch to the kisser.  By bedtime I looked like I’d received a collagen injection on the right side of my lower lip.

I treated with some oral analgesic, hoping that would take care of the pain of the bite (it did), and really hoping it would help bring down the swelling (it didn’t).  When I awoke Tuesday morning, I could only laugh as my normally full-kisser was looking like I was hoping to imitate Angelina Jolie’s pillowy-pucker.  Thankfully, after a good hour-long stint on the treadmill the swelling had gone down considerably and as I approached lunchtime, my lip was approaching it’s usual size.

Researching online, I brought up the Sandfly/Sand Flies aka way-too-many-colloquial-names-to-list-here and discovered that if you’re allergic to their bite, the swelling I experienced was mild (some people continue to have swelling for 2 weeks!).  Also, next time – I’ll dose myself with Benedryl.

So, beware my dear readers!  The Sandfly Scourge is upon us!  Protect yourselves!

As for me, I think it’s about time I invest in a No-See-Um netted hat for being outside while it’s Sandfly Season.  No offence to Angelina Jolie, but I think her lips look better on her than they do on me.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Ponderous

wpid-img_20140620_081805.jpgI have spent the last couple weeks pondering a great deal about what I want to do next with my life (take over the world), what makes me really happy (writing and being at home), how can I squeeze more blood out of the rock that is my average day (impossible) and how on Earth I can actually get in a solid eight hours of sleep (get ready for bed starting at 7 PM instead of 8 which I usually fail at anyway… yeah, I know).

Besides all of that, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about blogging.  How to write better.  How to make time to write.  When to write.  Where to write.  What to write about.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that I love my blog and the writing that I get to do, even if it’s not always the best I can do.  I’m working on that.

I’ve thought about my strong suits for writing.  I’ve considered the “theme days” I have which really aren’t even themes with perhaps the exception of MLiP Wednesdays (that would be: My Life in Pictures) where I try to post a decent photo I’ve taken with a story about it.  I’ve considered what people in my life have told me about my writing, too.  Some have loved my fiction (not posted here) and commented that I write it very well, that I have a way with words.  Others love the style on this blog, commenting that it’s like reading a letter from a friend – that I make people feel like what I write is just for them.

I’m bombarded with messages from blogging sites that I should be catering to the whims of my public.  Does that mean I should suddenly start blogging about being a mom (I’m missing that gene) and children because I’ve suddenly acquired a few dozen “Mommy Bloggers” on Twitter?  Hell no.  That would make me a sell-out; but of course – if someone out there wants to pay me to write blogs about mothering and kids… I’ll do it.  Money talks.

I guess that last sentence leads me to the next thing I’m good at – telling it like it is.  I have never considered myself popular or a member of cliques.  I shun them.  I prefer being the “Woman in Black”, the black sheep, the person at the far end of the bar or in the corner who really doesn’t give a shit if people don’t like what I think, say or do.  I’ve never been a good people-pleaser; I’ve always been much better at doing whatever the hell I want as long as nobody gets hurt.  Being an outlier suits me well and I will tell people “how it is” if I need to.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Maybe nothing.  I might very well continue on with my present course of writing when I can about topics that matter to me.  Then again, maybe it means that once in a while I reveal a little bit more about myself that makes people sit back and think, “Wow… I would never have thought…”

Why?  Because life is simple but humans are complicated, so we make life complicated.  Because what we look like on the outside may not match what is on the inside.  Because I like to instigate conversations that make people uncomfortable and make them think.  Because I detest following the crowd.  Because ultimately – I’m complicated, just like each and every person who may end up reading this blog.  I’m not special, unique – yes, but not special.  Nobody is.  But yet, we’re all complicated.

Ponder that.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Feels like Sunday

The wind rushed through the opening in the car window as Mr. Muse and I made our way along the back roads on a much-needed frozen custard run.  The custard – it called to us, well mostly him – Mr. Muse was going to go whether or not I was joining him.  Who was I to pass up the opportunity for a Turtle Sundae though?

We’d been working at our To Do Lists since morning, though each time I went back to my list to check something off I ended up writing down another item to the end.  Completion of the ever-growing list was becoming something of a myth though I did manage to finish a lot of it (even this blog post once I hit “publish”).  I even made sure to put on a few items that were “for fun” like finishing a book (did it) and watching the newest arrival from Netflix (not done yet).

I forced myself to enjoy a somewhat leisurely morning today with a little pep talk that it was okay for me to relax a little bit… for a little while – the list would still be there.  A little coffee with almond milk, a little reading of magazines, some bacon, eggs with hot sauce, and potato pancakes.  I savored it all, at least until I glanced over at my list and all of the line items that weren’t yet checked off.

Yesterday the company owner called for Early Release mid-afternoon and after I got home I dug into my list, working on things until late into the evening.  Mr. Muse started a batch of cherry wine as well and my normal bedtime came and went.  Just one more thing.  Just one more check mark.  Just one last thing finished before I dragged myself to bed, exhausted, sore, eyes like each blink was done not with eyelids but with sandpaper.  Still, though, I pressed on, finishing the last 20 pages in a book and then allowed myself to sleep.

And there I was this morning, breakfast eaten and I began to gulp my coffee as my eyes scanned my list.  My foot started to bounce on the floor and soon I was up.  I slammed the last of what was in my mug and headed off to change into work clothes.  I have such a difficult time sitting still!  I had single-minded determination to finish my list!

But, back in the car passing fields with center pivot irrigation, sentinel rows of plantation pine trees and Mr. Muse and I both took matching deep breaths followed by heavy sighs.  The Cars were playing on the radio.  The wind was blowing through the open window and I turned to Mr. Muse and said, “It feels like Sunday.”  I yawned.  He said he felt the same way and we fell silent once again, minds focused on frozen custard and avoiding our exhaustion.

I hope I feel like I got two bonus days at the actual end of the weekend.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Uplifting and Ridiculously Tall

Yesterday I was tweeted at (okay… who else thinks that we’re all going to laugh 50 years from now about “tweeting” and how weird it sounded?  Anyone?…. Anyone?  Will it even take 50 years?) by Jim, one half of @Gromit801, that he needed to read something uplifting.

Moi?  Uplifting?  I have always considered myself much more introspective as opposed to uplifting, but who am I to argue with my public.  The people have spoken!  So, here we go on this Fancy Coffee Friday… a short post about something uplifting and my being “ridiculously tall”.

My previous job was in an office where if I were to show up in pajamas, nobody would have cared.  My current job, however, has a dress code and the attire is “business” to “business casual”.  Suddenly I found myself going from jeans, tank tops and flip-flops to wearing all kinds of dresses and the accompanying proper footwear.  The shoes that I wear most often are black patent, 5″ platform stiletto heels with a double “Mary Jane” strap, similar to these.

I’m 5’8″ tall when I’m barefooted.  When I wear those shoes I receive a lot of comments that I’m “tall enough already”, my shoes are “very tall”, or my favorite – and one that I’ve received from separate people at different times:  “Sarah, you are ridiculously tall in those shoes!”  I just smile and laugh as I tower over them with my new Amazonian statue of 6 feet plus (it depends on how much volume my hair has that day).

I’ve always enjoyed being one of the taller people around.  In grade school when we had to line up by height, I was always at the end where my friends, all the tallest boys in the class, were as well.  On a few occasions where people shorter than myself were attempting to pick a fight with me when I was sitting down – I would stand up, straighter than I usually would, and look down upon them, shaking my head that they really didn’t want to pick a fight with me.

Dating was where I ran into some issues.  Men who were shorter than me always seemed to stare at my chest, prompting many an instance of me crossing my arms over “Thelma and Louise” (I can thank my dance instructor for the monikers – I had to learn to lead with them for Salsa).  Sorry vertically challenged men – those who came before you and couldn’t keep their eyes off the girls caused me to make a rule that I’d only date men taller than me – thankfully, that wasn’t difficult to accomplish.  But I digress.

Height, bolstered by my strappy stilettos, goes right to my head.  I stand straighter, I carry myself more confidently (in case I fall I want to make sure I look like I meant to), overall – I have more confidence.  I also have a lot more surprise on my face when I’m not paying attention and my heel sinks into a hot strip of tar repairing a crack in an asphalt parking lot.  So, ridiculously tall or not – there is something to be said for high heels and have an attitude.

Attitude – it looks good on ya!


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Sunday…Afternoon: Best Laid Plans

Simpler times probably meant that the average person wasn’t surrounded by calendars and planners at every turn of a corner.  I’d like to think so at any rate.  There were no refrigerators and smart phones to display every moment of every day or jingle at us with a warning that we’re supposed to be somewhere for something in 30 minutes time.

Days used to seem longer and getting through an entire year too forever!  At least that was the case until I got into my 20’s, which are not all the far away.  Suddenly, it was as if adulthood plunged me into a wormhole and time sped past in a blur and before I knew it, and despite all the memories I made along the way, I now find myself looking in the mirror on many a morning, giggling at the grey hairs that seemingly appeared overnight.  As often as my hair stylist suggest it’s time for another round of balayage, I continue to put off coloring my hair out of curiosity for what is going to happen next.  I am hoping I’ll get a shock of white right at my widow’s peak and it will stay that way for decades to come.  The Fates are probably laughing at this thought and purposefully going to intersperse my crowning glory with greys here-and-there until I give up on the wished for shock of white and dye my hair purely out of frustration.  And perhaps a little vanity, too.

But, like my hair and my hopes for it’ll change as I age, Life’s best laid plans don’t always go as we envision.  Even today’s post, though I’d hoped to have something written and posted in the morning, were waylaid by an outage of the internet service.  Once the service had gotten back up and running, writing plans were usurped once more by running errands which led to pulling laundry off the clothesline once we got home due to storm clouds.  And that left me here, at the dining table with my college-ruled notebook and InkJoy pen, chicken scratching a post in the late afternoon.

Yet, when I look up from the page, my future plans literally lie strewn about me.  Cookbooks are lying open to recipes for the week ahead; thin, little post-its marking the pages just in case.  A small notepad has a checklist for an upcoming camping trip and my phone, the electronic keeper of my life, lays atop it so I can add “To Do” reminders and grocery items to ever-growing lists.  Magazines like Madison and The Sun are stacked, waiting for me to pick them up and resume reading where I left off; and my hard copy planner, in case my phone breaks, peeks at me from my satchel slung over the back of a dining chair.  I am surrounded by my life’s plans in nearly all their immediate forms.

Yet, these plans are never concrete or unchangeable until they have actually been completed.  Tonight’s dinner menu may still change.  Thursday’s dance lessons may fall through.  Today’s blog post may not get published (though if you’re reading it… it did).

There are phrases galore to make us feel better when what we planned becomes what we didn’t do. Sometimes, however, I think The Fates have a different path in mind for us and it usually ends up being better and more exciting than where we were headed in the first place.

Have you recently had a change in your best laid plans?  What were they and what happened?

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Changes


A moment.  That’s all it took: a moment.  After three plus years of moderating a modeling education forum on Facebook, I found myself heading into the group to take care of some moderatorly business and the moment my eyes scanned the screen I thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.  I no longer was enjoying myself as a moderator.  I’d been there from when it consisted of a couple dozen people in the modeling industry to now almost 2,800 members.  The spark was gone and it was time to make a change.

Thankfully, having already gone through one “the change” and probably at least a decade from the other “the change”, any changes that happen now are usually by my choice instead of biology.  I told my other moderators that at the end of June, I was done.  I’d worked the job, thankless at that, for a long time in terms of internet groups and when I was working part-time, I was putting in between 40-60 hours of time per week moderating the group.  That’s a lot of unpaid hours and grief which I had to tolerate.

So what changed to bring about the change?  Writing.  Well, the lack of writing.  The lack of time to write for this blog let alone other places asking me to submit pieces to them.  Did modeling change for me you may be asking?  Nope, I am still enjoying that.  Modeling has been good to me, taking me to exotic locations in countries outside of the United States.  I don’t want to thumb my nose at it, but I did have to ask myself if my heart was in moderating a group for which I’d lost that lovin’ feeling.  I spent time chatting with a photographer who has become a dear friend and they told me it was okay to “walk away” – and they understood why I couldn’t just drop the mic and yell “Peace out” – that hasn’t ever been my style.  So, I gave notice.

The time not spent moderating can now be focused on those things that I really want to work on, like learning Spanish (nine days in Costa Rica later this year… I better learn some Spanish), writing for my blog, writing for groups that have asked for me to submit pieces to them and bettering my photography.  I’ll still be modeling, but that will take a back seat to the writing.

There are other changes coming as well – namely that this blog will get an updated look.  I charmed one of my favorite people on the planet into creating a new header image for the blog as well as Twitter.  I’m excited to make the changes here and I know they will be awesome.  Change is something that makes me hesitant, but in the long run, I know that these changes which I’m making will truly benefit me.  I shouldn’t be viewing change as something scary, but as an adventure.

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Under the Influence of Europeans

Al Fresco dining.

Al Fresco dining.

It’s pleasant right now.  The sun is shining, it’s a lovely 72 degrees F., the birds are singing and the sheep aren’t “yelling” at me as I sit on the screen porch to write this post and eat my dinner.  I have spent more time dining al fresco in the last six years than I have  my entire life prior to then.  I blame the Europeans in my life.

It had been my experience up to meeting and getting to know so many people who were from Europe that meals were had indoors at the dining table unless you were at a picnic or camping.  Offered the option of dining on the patio at a restaurant? No thank you!  I’ll be eating among the civilized folks in the safety of the small indoors.  Then we had the winter of 2012-2014. It finally ended last month after having a six month grip on us here in Wisconsin.  Inquiries about meals out with friends began with, “…somewhere with a patio would be nice.”  Indeed!

When an entire population is forced to spend so much time in the small and narrow indoors for fear of hypothermia and frost bite, the first opportunity to get outside and relax is seized upon with fervor.  Such was the situation this spring.  We were thrust from freezing temperatures to those in the 80’s and I promised myself that after the long, and seemingly never-ending winter, I would not complain about the heat.  And so far I haven’t felt the need or desire to.

And so it seems to go with my friends from Europe.  They’re mostly from Sweden (from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of the country) where long winters are spent drinking* and as soon as the winter shows a hint of turning nice – they head outside.  When I was in Croatia – dining happened outside.  So then it seemed that Mr. Muse and I caught the al fresco bug and actually started to use our screened porch for spending time outside somewhat safely protected from mosquitoes.

It’s pleasant right now.  The birds are singing.  A woodpecker is hammering on a fencepost, announcing it’s territory.  The sheep are bedded down under a white pine and my dinner is done.  I’m enjoying my gin and tonic on the screened porch under the influence of Europeans.

*Never attempt to out-drink a Swede.

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