Soul-searching uncomfort

All “people of faith” should read this. Now.

My weekend habit since we had our deck rebuilt and expanded is to sit outside with coffee and read. I enjoy reading very much, and with the Goodreads app and yearly reading challenge, I’m trying to do more of it. This post is not sponsored by Goodreads in any way, I just wanted to mention them.

Since the killing of Trayvon Martin and the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been seeking to further understand and be a proponent for harmony and justice for ALL. With the senseless murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, the racial tension within our country has reached boiling. I’m frightened of what’s next if we don’t find a sustainable path toward peace.

I am white. I know I’m privileged. I can drive anywhere and know that I won’t be pulled over because of the color of my skin….and even if I were, the end result would more than likely not end in violence and/or the loss of life. My family is multiracial. I’ve witnessed firsthand the racial bias displayed by certain law enforcement officers in my community. Read that again…CERTAIN….not all. I have good friends who are law enforcement officers. I have good friends who are black. I have good friends of all cultural backgrounds and races. Why? Because they are good people. Not because of the color of their skin, not because of their occupation, not because of their religious beliefs.

I’ve been involved with religion my entire life. American Christianity, mostly, although as I educate myself on the religions of the world, I find that I identify with certain aspects of other religions as well, so I’m not sure what to call myself… if I need to “call“ myself anything. The behavior that some so-called “Christians” exhibit is behavior I want nothing to do with and don’t want to be associated with. How, as an example, does a person profess to be staunchly “pro-life” and oppose abortion but support the death penalty? If we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of it, the commandment is “Thou shalt not kill.” Notice, no asterisks, caveats, or exclusions. The same is true, in my mind, for what Jesus called the greatest commandment…Love thy neighbor as thyself. Again, no exceptions, exclusions, modifications.

I’m not writing this to get into a religious debate. I try, to the best of my ability, to be the best person I can be everyday. To be inclusive of all and show the love and grace I’ve been shown during my life. To stand for justice and equality for all because that’s what I’m called to do…and it’s the right thing to do. In the book I just finished, it boils down the concept in about the most perfect and succinct way I’ve seen….Black Lives Matter does NOT mean that other lives don’t. It means that Black Lives Matter in a society and culture that has been dismissive, passive, and treating black lives as though they matter LESS than anyone else.

My heart hurts. My soul cries daily for all the hatred in our country right now. For the hatred that has been a part of our country since its beginning. Especially the hatred hidden by the razor thin veil of religion.

Yes, I am proud. I’m proud of the person I am and what I’ve accomplished in my life. I’m proud of my family and my heritage. I am proud of my relationship with the Higher Power I worship. My pride, however, will NEVER result in my diminishment of another person.

A Mouse and a Mermaid

*insert happy sigh here*

Before quarantine, when my husband and I were both driving to our places of employment on a daily basis, rather than walking a few steps (for him) or down our basement stairs (for me….don’t worry, it’s a walkout basement and doesn’t feel like a basement at all), he had a weekly habit of going through the Dunkin’ drive-thru and grabbing some breakfast and a big iced tea. Once we were at home, for the first few weeks, we didn’t go ANYWHERE because places were closed…and we were concerned about this virus that’s taken our world by storm. To be honest, we still don’t feel comfortable enough to go out often for more than absolute necessities and being out for very long is just unsettling to me….classic introvert. If we’re being completely honest, Introvert Empath. My husband is a strong Extrovert, so this quarantine has been tougher on him than on me.

Anyway, he was kind enough to include me in “Dunkin Day” until I figure out that I don’t like the eggs that Dunkin serves. Since then, he still goes to Dunkin if I don’t want to participate, but if I do, he’ll go to Starbucks for me instead. He benefits too, considering he LOVES Starbucks black tea, no sweetener and can get a Trenta.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a coffee junkie, and last night, I re-did my “coffee corner” in my kitchen, switching out my Mr. Coffee and single-cup basket brewer for the Keurig that we’ve been storing in the basement. I flushed out the lines with straight vinegar several times, then flushed and rinsed with clean water and it’s good as new.

I love supporting local businesses, and our local coffee shops here are hidden gems in our community. This morning, I brewed some Chocolate Hazelnut coffee from one such gem into one of my beloved Disney mugs and enjoyed my bacon and cheese sandwich from Starbucks. On my deck. My day started the best way it could….with a Mouse and a Mermaid.

When “leaving it at the door” is impossible

Sage advice…but not the easiest thing to do

I’ll admit it. I’m a middle-aged woman. I was raised in an era where hard work was everything, work ethic was important, and the true mark of a professional was the ability to leave home issues at home and work issues at work.

What does a person do, though, when you’re a textbook over-thinker, and things at work are said that toe the line of things that should never be said, and hit right where a person cares most about? How does a person leave that at the office?

My dog is a jerk sometimes

Jazzy “on-guard” – big hair, big bark

I may have mentioned…Jazzy is part lab, part chow. The older she gets, the more chow she becomes temperament-wise. Don’t get me wrong…she’s never met a human that wasn’t instantly her very best friend. The only experience she has with cats is the experience she’s had with Disney…and she’s not sure what to think about that. Other dogs, however, are a different story. She’s always been the “race ‘em, chase’em” type of dog, which we thought was fine until we had her boarded over a long weekend and we got a call that she had bitten another dog and took a small nick out of the ear of the dog she was fighting with. After that, any time we board her, she’s on her own with playtime with staff only, no other dogs.

She also chases squirrels, rabbits, and birds, and gets into it with neighbor dogs as well. We took her through training when she was younger, and she has retained a lot of what she learned, but the truly important things, like recall, and getting her attention focused back on me and not on distractions, is something we failed at. Our trainer told us during class on more than one occasion that she was there to train us just as much as the dog.

Does this look like the face of a jerk to you?

Getting my day started

Are you a coffee person or a tea person?

Like many people, my favorite way to start the day is with a caffeinated beverage. Saying “caffeinated”, I certainly don’t mean some canned energy drink. I’m old school…coffee or tea is my preference…more often coffee. Hot coffee. Hot black coffee.

My favorite coffee is Chocolate Hazelnut from a local coffee shop here, brewed in my home. It’s less expensive than going out for coffee everyday, and I get to use my beloved Disney mugs. I also love Disney-inspired coffees, available from Joffrey’s and Expedition Roasters. While I do enjoy iced coffee, cold-brew, fancy macchiatos, frappes, and more, there’s something so magical about that first sip of hot coffee touching my soul.

I’m picky about tea as well. I prefer a wild berry, cherry, or raspberry unsweetened tea, either hot or iced. Tropical fruit flavors I prefer in iced tea, and tea that’s too sweet is just an abomination in my opinion. English breakfast tea is reserved for when I’m not feeling well, and this is the only time I want lemon in my tea, (unless it is, of course, lemon ginger tea), and just want a comforting warm beverage, and Peppermint Tea is one of my favorite teas, hot or cold, any time of the day or night. I also take my tea without sugar, lemon, or milk.

Sunrise over the Gulf in Orange Beach, AL

I recently subscribed to a monthly box of tea from Sipsby.com. Just by taking a quiz covering topics on my preferences on things like caffeine, sweetness, flavors, etc. and Sipsby selects 4 teas for me to try and rate so they know more about me and how to customize future boxes. I’ve been very pleased so far, and one of my best friends is also a subscriber, so we share teas and get to try a lot of options.

My August Sipsby Tea Varieties

My husband is a pure iced tea purist. No flavors, no sweetener, the bigger the better, the more ice, the better. Lipton is his favorite by far.

One of my oldest, and most favorite, mugs

Have yourself a Happy Birthday – even in the midst of a pandemic

Today is my husband’s birthday. In years past, we’ve celebrated by golfing, taking a day trip, and many other activities different from the daily norm. With COVID-19 however… and the fact that it’s Tuesday… daily norm is about all we can do at this point. We’re both working from home during this time, and he worked yesterday, but has taken the rest of the week off. He’s going to visit his brother and sister-in-law this next weekend, and I’m staying home to take care of the fur children.

He got up this morning and treated himself to a round of golf at one of his favorite courses in the area, had lunch with his mom, and came home and tried to take a nap. Disney had other ideas, however, and kept reminding him that she hadn’t had her wet food for the day yet. I worked. We ordered sushi for dinner, which is always a great treat. Yes…I would have rather taken him out for a beautiful steak dinner, but we’re really just not ready to venture down that path yet. A lot of the restaurants in our town are doing a great job being as safe and responsible as possible, but our main concern is the other patrons. There will be time for fancy dinners in the future.

After dinner, we came out to sit on our deck and enjoy the slight breeze. While the day hasn’t been anything fancy, he says it was still a good day. Every day with him is a great day for me. Please join me in raising a glass (shot, wine, highball, water, or mug) in toasting my wonderful husband on a very MEH birthday. Next year will be better.

My Fur “Children”

I’m one of those odd individuals who thinks of her pets as “children”…little beings that are completely dependent on me for food, hydration, shelter, and the best thing of all….lots and lots of love. Of course, I realize that caring for animals in no way equates to raising children, but since my husband and I don’t have children, this is as close as we’re getting.

Our cat’s name is Disney…named, of course, for one of my very favorite things. She came from a local no-kill shelter as a kitten and was my Christmas gift from my mother-in-law the Christmas after my husband and I were married. At the time I’m writing this post, she’ll be 19 in a few days. She’s starting to slow down a bit and has some trouble jumping, but she still plays like a kitten every now and then, and still loves to curl up on me and purr herself to sleep. She’s one of the only cats I’ve ever known who can telegraph her mood with her eyes and her tail. She expresses herself in some of the most unusual ways, such as if you come to visit, and she likes you, she will turn her back you and raise her tail, showing you her “third eye”. Wise guests know that then, and only then, is it safe to try to pet her. She’s a tiny cat. The most she’s ever weighed has been just over 9 pounds, and that was just four years ago. When she was younger, she had asthma that we tried all kinds of treatments for, including ear paste, pills (which involved burrito-wrapping her in a towel and praying you didn’t lose an appendage in the process), shots, etc. Magically, she seemed to outgrow it. She now takes a pill for high blood pressure every day, but doesn’t mind, considering she gets treats to go with it. We also have her on Cosequin for her joints, which we mix into wet food. She really enjoys that, and starts asking for her wet food each day between noon and 2:30, which is problematic, since we don’t give it to her until 5:00pm.

Our dog’s name is Jazzy….named for Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin” – the animated version, not the live-action version. She’s part lab, part chow, and yes…she has black spots on her tongue. She’s 10 now, and came to us from our local Humane Society when she was about 6 months old. She weighs about 75 pounds, and is very curious about her tiny, sassy-beyond-all-reason kitty sister, but is also quite frightened of all the noise and hostility that comes from Disney, so she steers clear. Because of the size difference, we play it safe and keep them separated, which neither one of them really object to. When Jazzy first came to live with us, we thought it was going to be perfect. We have a large back yard with a 4-foot fence all the way around, so we figured she could get lots of exercise and would be fine in our yard. We realized when Jazzy was about a year and a half old that we adopted no ordinary dog. This dog is far too smart for her own good, and figured out how to climb a chain link fence, and then decided that climbing was just too time-consuming, so she just started jumping the fence. Since she discovered this fun activity as an alternative to listening to us, we put her on a 40-foot tie out when she goes outside. Never fear…we don’t leave her out for hours on end, and when she is out for any length of time, we supply her with water and a place to go for shelter.

Jazzy “smiles”. No, really. She smiles. The first time I saw her do it, I was picking her up from puppy day care, and she came out wagging her tail like crazy and baring her teeth at me. I thought maybe she was having some stress at day care, so I talked to our dog trainer about it, and she asked if her other body language was showing any sign of stress, and I told her “No, she’s just as happy as can be and wiggly all over”. She said “Some dogs are smart enough that if their humans smile at them when they talk to them, the dogs learn to smile back” and sure enough…Jazzy smiles. I try to take pictures of it, but she’s either too fast for me to capture it, or she looks very mean. She’s just a big softie…unless you’re another dog. Then, she really has no purpose or wants anything to do with them.

Welcome to My World

In my opinion, I live in quite possibly one of the most BORING places in the United States. The “city” I live in…that I’ve lived in for my whole life…is nothing more than a big small town. It’s a rare event when I’m out and about (that’s rare in itself, thanks to COVID-19..but anyway) that I don’t see someone I know from school, church, community theatre, or some other connection. Yes, there are smaller towns…not that far away, actually. Rather than being surrounded by something interesting like a forest, mountains, or my beloved ocean, we are, quite literally, surrounded by CORN. The weather is humid…in the middle of the country….thousands of miles from even a whiff of ocean….because of the CORN and the moisture evaporating off of it. I have dubbed this phenomena “corn sweat”…and I’m sticking to that.

Don’t get me wrong. I love corn. Popcorn is one of my favorite things, and you really don’t get a much better side dish for any summer meal than an ear of corn with butter and a little bit of chili powder on it – We like to grill ours by wrapping it in tinfoil, putting a small pat of butter on top and putting chili powder on the corn prior to grilling…that way, the butter melts and helps distribute the chili powder during the cooking process….so good – and I’m so grateful for the farmers who help supply the food we eat, but MAN is corn BORING!

The first time I remember ever seeing the ocean was during a trip with my brother and his family. It was also the first time I ever experienced Walt Disney World, but that’s a WHOLE other topic and there will be plenty of posts on that subject….trust me. We took a day off from the magic of the theme parks and went to Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach. We went in March so my nephew could be out of school without missing too much. He was 6 or 7 at the time, and his little sisters were 22 months old. The weather in Florida was unseasonably chilly..now I understand that it felt much colder than it actually was because of humidity, but that humidity makes sense…because of the ocean…..

I stood there dressed in jeans and a jacket, took my shoes and socks off, and waded on into the very cold water….feeling every paper cut I ever have had or ever will have in my entire life with my first experience of salty sea water. As I stood there and looked out at the horizon, I realized just what I was looking at. Something so powerful..something that demanded so much respect…and something so beautiful, it nearly took my breath away. All I could do was stand and stare…and smile. Since then, I’ve loved the ocean, and have taken as many trips as possible to see it as often as possible. The shores of huge lakes will do if I can’t get to the ocean, but it’s not the same.

My husband also loves the ocean, and together, we’re making our home as close to a beach house as possible…even though we are thousands of miles away from shore…in the middle of the Corn.