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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Fancy Coffee Friday: “So, the story behind that is…”

Scars. Lots of scars. Scars usually come with a story.  The stories are either harrowing, funny, or “man that was stupid but at least you have that cool scar to go with it”.  This story is the last of those three.

My most recent walk down the path of “that’ll leave a scar” was last Sunday when I decided that my monster rhubarb plant needed some thinning out once again and I’d already given a couple pounds to one of my Swedish friends (they love rhubarb in Sweden).  The fridge here at the homestead was already bulked up with a whole lot of black raspberries from our very productive patch and I had the brilliant idea to make some rhubarb-raspberry crumble. Mmm, dessert!  Delicious!

Well, you see... what I DID was...Now, I was chopping away on the cutting board, making neat little quarter-inch slices, moving my fingers out of the way like one should when they are using a hefty chef’s knife when time slowed just a bit as the knife came down to the board and into the rhubarb… and my pinky finger.  Feel free to cringe at this moment because even typing that out still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just a bit.

So, I did what any self-respecting person does who is prone to injury.  I removed the knife from my finger and the rhubarb.  Said, “Oh, I cut myself,” and quickly followed that with, “that’s bleeding. That’s a bleeder.”  And then I applied a crap-load of pressure as I walked outside to where Mr. Muse was cleaning the pool and said, “Oh Nurse! I require your assistance.  I’ve cut myself and it’s a bleeder.”

He slowly turned and gave me “The Look” followed by asking in his resigned-yet-humored-but-not-going-to-panic way, “What did you do, Ray?”  He climbed out of the pool as I calmly explained that I didn’t know what happened. I thought my fingers were out of the way, and well… for the most part – they were.  I said that apparently I wasn’t paying attention as well as I should have and the knife came down and it stopped – possibly when it hit bone – but it didn’t go all the way through my finger and I was pretty certain I didn’t need stitches.

So as I hustled to the bathroom ahead of him, holding my finger above my head, applying so much pressure that my right hand cramped, and reassured him that I was sure I didn’t need stitches – it was just bleeding a lot.

Our first attempt at bandaging the finger failed from the “whole lotta blood” issue and so he made me sit on the couch, applying pressure for another hour (he turned on the TV for me). The blood finally slowed to a fraction of what it had been and we got a bandage around it along with a finger condom (aka “finger cot”) in case I sprung a leak. The wound was deep as far as pinky fingers go but not wide.

Of course, I took a photo and posted it to the world.  A friend from high school who has also been accident-prone as long as I’ve known him suggested super glue. How brilliant! We HAD super glue. And then, at the bandage change that night before bed, Mr. Muse and I looked like a couple of mad scientists in the bathroom with me squeezing the wound closed and him applying the glue with both of us blowing on it to dry it as I also worked at not passing out from the blood loss (I’m sure it wasn’t that much – blood draws take more) and the blowing.

I’m proud to say that nearly a week later – the wound looks pretty damn good.  The super glue also flaked off by now.  Plus, no more bleeding.  Now I just wait to see if I get a scar.

What’s your best “How’d you get that scar” story?

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Go Take a Hike at…

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN.  Weeks ago I wrote a post about a camping adventure I took with friends where we saw Yoda in the forest and I promised to write more about the park, etc.  So here it is!

A brief warning for all you first timers to my blog, I tend to write off the cuff and usually while I’m doing (or supposed to be doing something else) – today, for example, I’m in the middle of cooking down some Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet – the potential for typos (and burns from molten sugar and cherries) is high.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way – to the park!  Or, rather, about the park!

Cedric the Roaming Gnome posing on the last day.

Cedric the Roaming Gnome posing on the last day.

We’d selected Site #29 from the map online and I have to say that we lucked out with a great campsite.  We were not far from the bathrooms/showers had potable water in either direction and I have to say that when it comes to comparing state park campsites between Wisconsin and Minnesota – Minnesota wins.  So far, every site we’ve stayed at within a MN State Park has been well-maintained and they have a screen of underbrush between you and the neighbors.

The weekend we stayed was damp, then rainy, and then – of course – on the last day it was absolutely beautiful with the sun shining, humidity down and a nice, gentle breeze.  Murphy’s Law.  But, because of all the rain that had been falling – there were mushrooms and various other fungus growing everywhere.

Beautiful mushrooms.

Beautiful mushrooms.

I also need to put in a warning.  There is a raccoon who appeared to be making the rounds of every campsite.  As we were with friends who had a screen tent to go over and around the picnic table – we congregated at their site and the raccoon visited on two nights to see if it could get in the trash.  Our friends have some nifty zip-close collapsible trash and recycling bins which thwarted the raccoon who, when caught red-pawed attempting to get into the bins had to be scolded into leaving.  After repeatedly stopping to turn back to see if we were actually serious about not wanting it around, it meandered off to the next site.  A few moments later we could hear shouting of, “Get!  Get outta here!”, followed by the crash of a bottle being chucked in the general direction of the raccoon.  So, you’ve been warned.

Guides in Historic Forestville.

Guides in Historic Forestville.

Besides Mr. or Ms. Raccoon, there was an abundance of birds, there is trout fishing in the Rock River (Preston is apparently Minnesota’s Trout Fishing capital) and lots of great plants to check out.  There is also the abandoned-turned-historical town of Forestville; you can purchase a ticket to tour the town with a guide in period clothing or just stop in the ticket building/store to check out the items on the shelves.  And last but not least, for the horseback riders and hikers reading this – TONS of trails, most of them are horse-and-people accessible and our weekend there we hiked about 17 miles (loops and in-out trails).  The trails, especially those that are open to horse and human traffic, are very well-maintained.  The people-only trails are in good shape, but they tended to be dirt trails which on a rainy weekend made for muddy and/or slick spots.

Finally, there is Mystery Cave.  This is a feature now run by the forest service and they have a variety of tours you can take – we opted for the 2 hour geology tour.  Our Ranger Guide, I believe her name was Jean (but I’m probably wrong), was an enthusiastic young lady who gave a very interesting and enjoyable tour.  Having been a tour guide once upon a time, I can tell you that your group stays more engaged if you enjoy what you’re talking about.  But I digress…

Cedric the Roaming Gnome, "Look at this giant shelf fungus!"

Cedric the Roaming Gnome, “Look at this giant shelf fungus!”

We had a great camping experience, the hiking and bird-watching were fantastic, the mushroom-hunting superb (even though it was for photographs only) and finally – I have to say that if you truly want to “get away from it all” – the park is in a cell-phone dead zone.  NO service.  It was great!

Happy Hiking!

PS – my Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet (extra sugar version for making the non-alcoholic cordial) is finished and in jars: 5 pints total!

The cottonwood tree that was "43 Sarah Steps" around at the base.  It is a DAMN big tree.  No Sarah posed next to tree for scale.  Sorry!

The cottonwood tree that was “43 Sarah Steps” around at the base. It is a DAMN big tree. No Sarah posed next to tree for scale. Sorry!

Posted in Fancy Coffee Friday, Hiking, Outdoors, Personal, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fancy Coffee Friday: A Little of This, A Little of That

Four score and seven years ago… oh wait, not the Gettysburg Address… Traumatic memorization memories from middle school.  Anyhoo, four years and seven hours ago (give or take, but for the sake of this post that’s what I’m going with) I signed up for a blog with WordPress. Huzzah!  And the masses rejoiced!


Rejoice, dammit, you ungrateful bastards!  Bask in the glory that is my writing!  Behold its wonder in your… minds!

Just kidding.  If you were doing what I was when I read that (eating the last of the Lebanese Potato Salad in the fridge for breakfast – I think it’s my new favorite potato salad), you probably just shrugged, gave a slight, upward movement of the corners of your mouth and thought, “How very interesting, please, tell me more.”

Though I know you were only being polite and you really don’t have time nor the inclination to keep sitting there politely listening to me ramble on about all manner of things, I’ll bring up a topic of conversation from last night between my massage therapist and myself.

So, there I was in my birthday suit, face-down on the massage table with the sheet over my lower half, when my normally very calm massage therapist who really doesn’t say a whole lot during the massage started talking.  And talking a lot.  And talking fast.  It was a few seconds after they began where I thought, “Hmm, they are worked up… agitated even.”  The kernel of the agitation was that their significant other did not trust them.  They brought up how their significant other looked through their phone, their Facebook messages for their work and personal accounts and has accused them of “looking” among other things.

I know what you’re thinking, well, I’ll pretend that I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah, what did you do?  What did you say?”

And there’s the hitch in that get-up – they weren’t asking for my advice, only for me to listen.  I kept my big yap shut and let them do what they needed to do, after all, if I was someone with whom they felt comfortable enough to divulge their relationship issues, the least I could do was listen to what they had to say even though every fiber of my being wanted to shout my thoughts on trust issues and insecurity.  But, they are an adult, and it’s their life, and like I said – I was picked to listen.

So, when finally the riptide of venting had ended, and things got back to their usual quiet, they asked me what I thought.

I asked, “Are you happy?”

There was a moment of quiet, thoughtfulness that even though my eyes were closed it was palpable, they said, “Yeah, and I know a lot of this is due to other stuff going on, and the stress we are under because of…”  And they continued to talk about all the reasons they were both stressed and what was going on and how it would all work out some way.  I continued to listen and at another long pause I stated, “Never give up your happiness for someone else.”  The words hung there for a moment and they quietly said, “I know.”

So folks, what this all comes down to is that I forced myself to be quiet and listen to hear this person, who I consider to be someone with whom I’m in the early stages of friendship, and not listen to respond to them.  Sure, I could have commented on their relationship about which they were venting, but we all vent from time to time – often it’s just so we can hear ourselves work things out aloud and not just in our heads.  Sometimes we do it for validation from someone else of our feelings, sometimes we want advice and we ask for it.

As much as I wanted to give my knee-jerk response at every moment I formed my thoughts – it wasn’t my place, nor was it the time, to offer up unwanted ideas about how they should be doing this or that.  The skill of listening is something that more and more people seem to missing.  And, in this case, when I truly listened to what they were saying what it came down to is asking if they were happy.

So, on this Fourth Anniversary of the Blog and Fancy Coffee Friday, go forth and truly take time to listen to hear people, not to respond.

And, if you’re sending gifts for the anniversary…

Traditional:  Fruits & Flowers
Modern:  Linen, Silk or Nylon
Alternate:  Appliances

I’m in the market for a few fruit trees, don’t really need any linens, but I could really use one of those commercial kitchen-sized food processors or a Vitamix (or BlendTec) blender.  Just sayin’.

Oh… you’d need my address…. I KNEW there was something I was forgetting!

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Fancy Coffee Friday: Wisdom?

I’ll start my post today saying that I know I said in my last post that I’d write about my camping and hiking experiences from a month ago (was it only 3 weeks?), but I got a bit side-tracked.  Last week was Mr. Muses and my 16th wedding anniversary, plus – we had a house guest – plus, we had a get-together grill-out with friends for their visiting family.  Their family seems to have become our extended family so, therefore…

But I digress…

As I sit here in my screened porch basking in the final rays of the sun and sipping a Bee’s Knees, I feel compelled to write about a message I received via Facebook from a young woman of 18 asking me about modeling.

She wanted to know what I modeled, did I make any money, and ultimately she disclosed her desire to get into modeling as a way to make a living and get out from under the rules of the house with her parents.

Now, let me remind you that I’m 39 – old enough to be this young ladies mother – and I found myself staring at my computer screen, shaking my head at what I was reading. Sadly, I told her that most models lose money and the likelihood of her making enough to live off of was very slim.  She said she’d been told the same thing by a couple of other people she had asked and then said that she’d probably look into dancing at a gentleman’s club.

I advised against it even though I admitted that some dancers have been able to make quite s a lot of money.  She retorted that I probably have never done it based upon my response; I admitted she was correct and while one day I may entertain the idea of jumping on stage for amateur night, the idea of being a dancer at a gentleman’s club had not even entered my mind at age 18.  The conversation effectively ended with me saying that while I appreciated and admired the dancers’ athletic prowess, the fact is that most of the these women are objectified and that went against my “code”.

Later, I pondered this conversation wondering how it is that a young lady would even seriously consider the idea of, for the sake of shortening a few words as we go along, a stripper?

I went to college when I was 18, and I picked a degree I felt I would reasonably enjoy:  Agri-business.  By my second year, I decided to double-major, adding History to the Ag-biz, simply because I had so many credits in History.  But stripping?  I didn’t know anyone who did and only one guy in the dorm who would make the multi-mile drive to the closest strip joint in a seedy part of the city in which it was located.  He would come back with stories of dancers ridden hard and put away wet, for lack of a better analogy.

Twenty years ago, so many of the stories I had heard about stripping were about desperation and last resort moves.  They were about a lack of options.  Eighteen seems far too young to have a lack of options.

And now?  Now, I still think there is a whole world of opportunities before this young lady – but admittedly, I don’t know her whole story.  I don’t know her reasons for so desperately wanting to get out from under the house rules or for entertaining the idea of a career, however long, where the statistics for sexual assault, abuse, drugs and sex trafficking are so high.

The world is your oyster – no matter your age.  When opportunity comes along, I’m a firm believer in grabbing the door handle, opening the door and saying, “HELLO!”  So, normally I would end my posts with a question, but rather than continue to speculate upon what I feel are rash decisions by the young, I will take  a more positive route.

What is an opportunity that came your way which you were unsure about that you took and now know it was a great idea?

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