Life, interrupted

To know a person is to walk in their shoes. To know Ian was to drink coffee (lots of coffee) with him and learn to move at his pace. At a young age of twenty something, he walked with a cane. He was an artist and had a brilliant mind with a take on life that surpassed anything I could ever imagine. We shared art class together and countless nights of me not coming home until well past curfew. We spent many late nights cruising Raleigh in his Blazer, getting into trouble, drinking coffee, getting into more trouble and drinking more coffee. We went camping at the beach, sitting up all night drinking the mixer for strawberry daquiries  because we were not quite of age for the alcohol part. I have many memories of "visions" we BOTH encountered when the moonlight danced it's magic on the moving ocean waters. White horses and giants. The sand. We lost touch for a few years, but found each other and once again, enjoyed coffee. The last time I saw Ian was in a photography studio where we did a photo session with some (I think) hot gals. We stepped out back of the shop after the session and cracked a couple of cold ones (we were finally of age to drink). After that, life happened and we lost touch. He seemed generally well, still with cane, but good. And we toasted to being over 21. Over the years, I haver tried to find Ian. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, People Search. I had people asking me if I'd been in contact. The answer always turned up as no, no one has heard from him in years. And today, I learned he has moved on from this world.  Almost 7 years ago, I lost a friend, a dear friend, and I didn't even know it at the time. We all lose touch for periods of time, but we expect that we will sync back up in a few months, or even years. Sometimes... that doesn't happen. I spent the afternoon in tears. I called the one person who loved Ian as much, if not more than I do. And yes, it was a call peppered with many tears. Life is short. Cherish every single fucking minute of it, because you never know when your best friend will be gone. Ian Sean Bennett, rest in peace my friend. All my love and we'll meet again on the other side.
"Ian Sean Bennett, 31, passed away Friday, October 12, 2007, at his home in Rocky Mount. He was born May 23, 1976, in Watauga County, Boone, NC. Ian was an Artist and previously employed with Lake Boone Photo Lab and Tri-Color Photo Lab in Raleigh. He leaves to cherish his memory, three brothers, James Tyler Diacont of Rocky Mount, Brian Cary Bennett of Prescott, AZ, Langdon S. Bennett of Los Alamos, New Mexico; his father, Brian C. Bennett of Alamos, New Mexico; his mother, Jennifer L. LaShorne and stepfather Jeffrey of Ft. Pierce, FL; stepfather, Dale W. Diacont of Waynesboro, VA; sister, Sabrina H. Bennett of Carbondale, IL. The family will receive friends and family Tuesday, October 16, 2007 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Johnson Funerals and Cremations on English Road. A graveside service will be held 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601 with Pastor Hank Vandergrift officiating." ~  source:http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?pid=96233871#sthash.qjc7wvGX.dpuf

Pouring coffee in the dark

One, lets just assume we've gotten past the part of actually making coffee in the dark. There's potential for some insight into this task, but there is much less chance of bodily harm (unless you use a sharp knife to make coffee, which is probably a small subset of the world population and therefore, any insight would just be a waste of my words), so we will just skip to the important part, pouring a cup of that freshly brewed, dark velvety concoction that makes us think we can finally start the day... in the dark. Now why would we be awake at an hour where we would need to pour coffee in the dark? Well, it could be a thousand reasons, you can't sleep, you have an early morning flight, it doesn't really matter, you are here, in the dark and you want coffee. Another assumption not worth insight is that you didn't bang your head on the cabinet door while retrieving a coffee mug and therefore aren't lying on the floor unconscious, so let's move on. You raise the mug up with one hand, grab the coffee pot with the other and start to pour. Your eyes have adjusted slightly to the black that surrounds you, but what this really takes is awareness. So now you basically have two options. Your first option is to pour until you feel the hot liquid overflow onto your hand that is holding the mug. This is dangerous and can lead to a pretty uncomfortable rest of the day as the scalding hot liquid finds your smooth flesh. Your second option is to listen. This takes patience and acute awareness, listen for the sound of the coffee filling up the mug, wait for the precise moment when the sound of pouring coffee echos just the right notes in the mug and then stop. Your mug is full. You go on about your day until you have to pee. Three things just happened here. First, you listened to the sound of the coffee pouring. Listening is a skill we sometimes fail at, it's easy to just let it go in one ear and out the other. Open your ears, shut down your other senses, you are in the dark, you can't see, only your ears to guide you. Next, drink your coffee, consume what you just heard. Sometimes you suck it down fast, other times, it's so hot that you have to let it cool down a bit before you consume it. If you've been lucky enough to have had a coffee tasting class, you should make slurping sounds while you consume (although others might find you strange if you utilize this behavior). Occasionally, you are doing other things (shame on you for multitasking) and put your mug down and forget where it is, only to find it later at room temperature and you promptly resume consumption. Either way, you are taking it in. Lastly, and dependent on your bladder size, you gotta pee! You repeat (let it out) what you heard in your own words (yes, I know, this is stretching it). Sometimes it's right away, other times, it could be a couple of hours. But the important thing is that it's coming out. What a strange analogy for listening skills. Four cups of coffee later, I'm laughing at myself for no apparent reason, and it is not even five o'clock. It's good to laugh, some say it is the best medicine. My dog is snoring. Almost six and my mind is already racing, what's on the plate for today? Seven years I have been in this house, and it is still not exactly the way I want it. Sure, a few years ago I went mad and repainted and redecorated most of the inside. I bought some new furniture and pictures to hang on the wall, but I'm just not finished yet. It does feel like home, my home, and I'm getting there, it's just slow. I've put all of this time, money and energy into the inside, but I've been neglecting the outside. I used to keep a tight leash on the flower beds and grass (and picking up all of the children's toys outside that no matter how many times I tell them, they just will not pick up themselves), but life gets in the way. Oh, and we've had some hot hot hot summers lately, and as much as I used to like hot weather, I no longer enjoy yard work in hot weather. And then Saturday happened! My ritual morning cup of coffee in my favorite rocking chair on the front porch and OUCH! Stupid freaking fire ant bites my foot. I've been battling these nasty creatures for years, but this year has been downright nasty. I blame the mild winter (which has also made fleas and ticks bad this year). With two kids and a dog, I really didn't want to spray all those chemicals around to get rid of the tiny little bastards, so I went on a hunt with the help of Google. A 50/50 mix of Borax and sugar, Splenda (the molecular structure is apparently similar to DDT and will eat away the oil on an ants skin after consumption), burn 'em out (pyro), etc., but I reached my limits. Maybe these "natural" tactics would work, I just no longer had the time to wait and see. There must have been a million ants on the front porch alone. Off to the big box home improvement store we go. Eight gallons of ant killer later (yeah, I ain't playing!), it's time to go to work. My theory was that the (once) Koi pond (now turtle/frog pond) was their source of water, and because of the run off from the rain, the ground also stayed nice and wet. Let's remove their water source, out comes the pond and in goes some dirt leveling. After a good half day of moving all of the rocks I had used for landscaping, I don't think there was a single one that weighed less than nine pounds (if anyone wants some big rocks, they are free, just bring a trailer), I then proceeded to empty 250 gallons of H20 from the pond where I discovered the turtle eggs! Fifteen of them to be precise! I guess Mr. Turtle was really Ms. Turtle and getting lucky! I pulled all of the plants out (including the iris' that came from Ohio, I think 30-ish years ago and have moved with me all over), I now had a big old bed of dirt. Well, if you know me, I sometimes don't do things small, I don't do things easy, I pay attention to detail and now was my chance to start getting the outside "right". This was not going to be a weekend project. Yes, I had a battle with ants to contend to, but those nasty little menaces to society were forcing me to get back in the game and get it right. One more trip to the big box home improvement store and I had a trailer full of top soil and mulch (and a few new plants). Decked out in my best flip flops and a pair of shorts, yeah, no shirt (calm down ladies, I don't exactly have a six pack), I went to work. After about 30 minutes with a pick ax, I was glistening in the bright Carolina sunshine (again ladies, calm down, it wasn't a Vampire glisten like diamonds, it was stinky sweat, hardly a turn on) and determined to get this done. Or so I thought. Or until I realized that I'm not as young as I once was. Or... ah, put the kids to work!!! I kick back in the rocking chair with a great book and they get to have all of the fun (work). Or until I realize that shoveling dirt is only fun for a kid when you aren't supposed to be doing it. And then it was back to manual labor and me sweating and stinking up the air, all the while trying to envision what the end product would look like. And also thinking that this was just the beginning as the rest of the flower beds have potential as well, and potentially more ants, and I'm not giving up, this is a war that I will win! How this ten things went from coffee to ants to yard work is beyond me. Such is the nature of randomness. That's what happens when dinner plans are cancelled and ants invade. Cheers my friends! (And next time you need to pour coffee in the dark, just turn on the light)

The java diaries

Can we say lost in a small town? 1. Enter "navigate to recent destination" 2. Cruise right past "you have reached your destination" 3. There is a Starbucks right next to where we had lunch yesterday, I recall how to get there, right? 4. Which way do I go on this roundabout? 5. This doesn't look familiar, search "POI near you" for Starbucks 6. Wonderful, 17th Street is closed due to construction, "recalculating" 7. "Recalculating" 8. All I want is a Venti Americano, "recalculating" 9. U-turn, this is NOT the Starbucks I saw yesterday 10. Late for work over a cup of coffee. Addiction!

Interactions

Pushing the limits... 1. Interactions with insects: I had heard on some radio show trivia contest the other day that the average human gets 17 insect bites per year.  I'd like to know where their sample pool was, I had 17 last night. 2. Interactions with software: Hacking it up because it never does exactly what I need it to.  There is a great challenge in taking something that partially fits the bill and mold it. 3. Interactions with computers: Does not compute!  Kidding aside, I have moved from a traditional laptop to a touch screen tablet with full laptop processing power and no keyboard (well, there is a wireless keyboard that I'm trying not to use).  Getting used to alternative input methods is nothing short of crazy difficult.  Typing on the on screen keyboard is getting better, but I'm still not very accurate.  Not having a cursor is just, well, odd.  I do believe that I will become accustom to this after a few more posts and work day emails. 4. Interactions with Carolina sunshine:  Yeah, so, we had a huge fight this week.  I almost broke up with Carolina in favor of Chi-town after my AC went out and it's only 98 degrees with a heat index of 105.  I love you Carolina, but Chicago treats me so well, is beautiful and pretty "cool." 5. Interactions with caffeine: I'm addicted to coffee, there, I admitted it.  (See #4) Yesterday, I survived with none, today, two cups. 6. Interactions with fragrances: For the last few nights, my yard is covered with the overwhelming smell of gardenia.  There is something about it that is refreshing, ranks up there with jasmine, honeysuckle and wormwood. 7. Interactions with words: Words can hurt, be truthful, but ensure the filter between your brain and mouth is in check. 8. Interactions in the dark: You may really think you can navigate your dwelling in the dark until someone leaves something in the middle of the floor. 9. Interactions with water: We are composed of a lot of water, respect it! 10. Interactions with people: I've realized this week after a brief encounter with my health that I have a lot of people in my life to thank for a lot of things.  In staying with the traditions of the medium, yet also breaking them by nesting Just10Things within Just10Things, here goes a few shouts to people I've interacted with that I may or may not have thanked properly (full names withheld, but you know who you are) (this is not a complete list, but I'm not breaking any more rules tonight) :
  1. For just being there, for support, for a shoulder to lean on - ND, KD
  2. For bookends, I never knew what they were used for before this week - HW
  3. For front porch moments and "My butt itches" - AO
  4. For kicking the town, good food, good drinks, and keeping it REAL - JD
  5. For being a best friend - RT, ST
  6. For saving me when I didn't know what was happening - RH, JW
  7. For Shadowboxer - VW
  8. For the best extended family anyone could ask for - DB and family
  9. For a wreck that was forgotten and you made me remember, it's all good - SS
  10. For showing me that there are still beautiful people in this world - CM
Breaking them anyways: 11. For being the best kids (I'm biased) - ED, JD

That time of the month

Yeah, it's that time again, time to move all the furniture and do a real thorough sweeping and mopping.  Here's what I found:
  1. One red high heel shoe (Barbie)
  2. One dried pea
  3. One beer bottle cap
  4. Two Cheerios
  5. One piece of yellow Easter grass
  6. One leaf of a house plant (unknown variety)
  7. Seven beads from a bracelet kit
  8. Thirteen coffee grounds
  9. Three million four hundred and six pollen spores to seed my allergies for a good week
  10. Enough dust bunnies to be classified as a swarm
Lovin' hardwoods :)

To justify a $3.00 coffee

Something a little different this time.
  1. Many villagers in some remote region are hand picking the coffee beans
  2. There are people who stare at monitors all day long to ensure the water treatment facility is delivering clean water to my barista
  3. A software developer helped write the interface to the POS system that allows me to be charged for a Venti Americano
  4. Another software developer helped to write the uplink contract between POS and credit processing centers which allows me to pay by credit card
  5. If the manufacturer of the lids has a defect and does not adhere to quality control, I will end up with coffee stains on my $60 shirt
  6. Someone drove hundreds of miles across open highways to deliver the coffee beans to my barista
  7. Assuming the beans actually come from the region by which they are named, a brave sea captain piloted a vessel across open waters to deliver the beans to a distribution center
  8. The inventor of the modern day espresso machine should get props
  9. On the rare occasion I add dairy products to my beverage of choice, the dairy farmer cannot go without thanks
  10. The wonderful baristas I’ve met at so many coffee shops across the continent aim to please each and every patron
So, you see, $3.00 for a cup of coffee is actually pretty cheap considering. This weeks tunage:
  1. Gold Guns Girls by Metric
  2. Ready to Start by Arcade Fire
  3. Let’s Do the Time Warp Again from RHPS
  4. Snuff by Slipknot
Stay tuned for 2010 10 things, coming soon!