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)

Ten reasons i don’t date

Well, it's not entirely true. In the past few years I have been on a few 1st dates, but never, and I repeat never ever, has it turned into a 2nd date. I'm sure you are sitting there wondering "What the?" There's this unfortunate aspect of dating that I am scared of. Well, not really scared, let me just lay it out in detail for you. You see, sometimes dating gets serious. After awhile, one thing leads to another, and another, and another. Then one morning you wake up and there is someone's toothbrush in your washroom and suddenly you have less closet space. That's just the beginning! 1. Being out in the country on a septic tank, I use single ply bathroom tissue, you know, the 1000 sheet rolls. Well, that equals a lot of you know what. Four rolls generally last 2 months, but if there was someone else living here because dating became serious, well, usage would probably triple (not being sexist or anything, just stating a fact of nature). At $1.30 average a roll, my yearly cost on this necessity would jump from $31.20/year to $93.60/year. (Money) 2. I am most certainly a foodie! Love me some fine dining at a one of a kind establishment, but I also enjoy cooking and usually only eat out when roaming around the country. When I am home, I'm all about some chicken. Chicken every night! I buy in bulk and freeze appropriate portions to be cooked in an endless number of ways. Grilled, stir fry, baked, Shake and Baked, you name it. Throw in some local fresh produce and Bim Bam Boom, you have a meal. It would be extremely difficult to extrapolate the cost savings here because I'm almost positive that when "serious" dating, you cannot have chicken every night. (Money) 3. Maybe I am trying too hard to conserve electricity, but I'm one to have the windows open if at all possible. If in fact I do need the heat turned on, it is set firmly on 65, or the air conditioning at a comfortable 78. Should you become too cold, put a sweater on, or a blanket and if you are a little on the warm side, well, just take off some layers. This strict behavior keeps my average electric bill under $100/month. You can easily see that (based on my past experience of not having control of the thermostat) that an average $1200/year is a lot less than the $2000/year when I was not living alone. (Money) 4. I love to travel. Most of the time it is work related, but that's not where "serious" dating comes into play. At least 4 times a year, I run to random places for a few days or a week to get away from the day in day out of life (I suppose you could call it vacationing). Since I travel a lot, I have become a very lightweight traveler. I have an 18" roller bag and either a backpack or shoulder bag depending on where I'm going and for how long and can get 10 days worth of cold weather clothing plus a book, laptop, or whatever else might be needed or 14 days in warm weather with a little bit of room to spare (I bet I could hit 30 days if the destination was French St. Martin-read... nude beach). Now if I were dating and traveling for leisure, I would have someone with me who might be packing a 60" bag plus a roller plus a backpack or purse. Since I never have more than carry on luggage, my baggage fees are $0, however, if I were "serious" dating, my baggage fees could be in upwards of $100 per trip. That's $400 a year just to carry 10 pairs of shoes and a gazillion toiletries! (Money) 5. Speaking of travel, the lack of having to purchase a second plane ticket alone could save my anywhere between $2000 and $4000 a year. (Money) 6. Cheap beer, 'nuff said! (Money) 7. On the intoxication topic, I bring up fine wine. This will be another difficult topic to estimate cost savings, but in general, I would expect double the amount 'cause ladies, if I open a bottle, I'm going to drink a bottle! There's nothing better than a front porch rocking chair evening listening to the crickets chirp and the frogs sing and enjoying the sweet Carolina night air.  I am a red wine guy with the exception of the perfect summer evening Chard. (Money) 8. Clothing optional? If I were "serious" dating, I might not be able to get away with my attire. I see no reason to get all fancied up if all I am doing is working from home, so it's sweats and a T-shirt. I'm sure I would need to run to some name brand clothier, spend lots of money to dress appropriately while working from home in case the "girlfriends" show up for afternoon tea. I'm perfectly happy in my $2.00 Wally World shirt that was in fashion 5 years ago. As for going out, well, I sport business casual, deal with it, but I am OK with a nice sports jacket and I do have a weak spot for cowboy boots and winter jackets. (Money) 9. Minimalist. I despise clutter, junk, crap I don't need or use. Yes, there a still a few holes in my world where the piles of crap seem to congregate, but they are more of a collection area for things I need to throw away later but need to make sure I don't need them for 30 days before they hit the collection of waste piles in America. And speaking of those magnetic collection areas, I know 100% that the ones I do have are mine, and I need to deal with them. I will clean up my mess when I get to it and I don't expect anyone else to clean it for me. (Not Money) 10. I like my coffee black, if you want cream or sugar, you are on your own. This saves me $3.92/week plus there's nothing better in the morning than a hot cup of velvety smooth black coffee. (Money) I'm sure you probably now can see that the overarching reason I do not date is coffee. After putting this all down on paper, I am realizing that I probably could pull off a second date, but lately everyone wants to settle down, be serious, start a family, find that someone for eternity... been there, tried that, here I am, writing this post. I'd much rather hang out, have dinner, go to a show, chat on the phone, text, rinse and repeat. And drink my coffee black. File under extreme sarcasm, cheap beer and a kiss goodnight to that someone out there that I may actually retract 9 things for. Cheers and goodnight!

Dust bunny war

7:56 AM - This is just a gimmick, it was a challenge over a year ago when I didn't or couldn't or wouldn't do this. And now it comes a little easier, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard. Some days are easier that others, some nights a little longer, some words a little more challenging. I glance out the window of my world this morning over a tasty cup of coffee and wonder what is next, and I stop-like slam into a wall stop, rather abruptly. 8:22 AM - I expect my life to be full of ups and downs and lefts and rights, and sometimes a little crooked. I also know that in between, there is solid ground. It may not be much, but knowing there's a surface you can stand on is a pleasant feeling. Now it may mean that you are puddle jumping all day to find this solid ground, but heck, splashing every now and again is fun. 7:34 PM - "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." ~ Emerson 9:28 PM - The house goes quiet, the kids are in bed. Looking around, I'm feeling disorganized after this week. Do I need organization? Yeah, I think I do. I'm the guy that lines up the spices in the cabinet like perfect little soldiers, I alphabetize the wine (usually), everything has a place, and if it doesn't have a place, then I probably do not need it. 9:37 PM - But there are secrets. My bedroom closet is full of things I no longer need or no longer want, the pile just keeps getting bigger and I keep putting off the final cleansing. There's the junk drawer in the kitchen, there's the "misc" folder on my laptop. I suppose we all carry some junk in the trunk. 9:49 PM - Then there are the things you want in your life. And they are not really that organized, in fact, they are very organic in nature. These most important aspects of life are very much like you and like me, they have two each of arms and legs, five (or sometimes more) senses and compassion. They have ears to listen when you need to talk and a voice to speak when you need conversation. These things are impossible to tame, fluid, sometimes a little crazy but you love them anyways. 10:04 PM - Of course there are some things that end up in the closet that cannot be permanently disposed of. The sit there quietly collecting dust but occasionally they come out to rear their ugly head. A gentle reminder that they will always be there, just shoved off into a less prominent place in life. They have an indirect connection to the now and their own dark corner of the closet. 2:50 AM - "If you cant sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. Its the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep." ~ Dale Carnegie 5:59 AM - I think I dream too big sometimes, take more on that I can handle, fail to ask for help when I should. 8:17 AM - Yeah, it's permanently tattooed as an everyday reminder relax 9:38 AM - So here's to friends and people I haven't thrown into the closet. To the rest, screw you, I'll be civil and respectful as long as you return the favor. Just remember, if you come out from under the pile and attack me like dust bunnies often do, I will smack you with a broom without thinking twice, consider yourself warned.

I don’t know what to write today

It seems like we are always waiting for something. Waiting in traffic, waiting for a phone call, waiting for an email, waiting on Friday to get here. Waiting for information, waiting on someone, waiting in traffic, waiting in line. There's a whole lot of waiting going on that seems like it is such a waste of time. I need to figure out how to make better use of this time, so I'm compiling a list of things to do while you wait. 1. Send someone you haven't talked to in awhile a quick note, just a simple "hello, how have you been" goes a long way 2. Do some sort of exercise to get that blood flowing 3. Organize and clean out a drawer, cabinet or closet to keep yourself busy. The time will pass much faster 4. Write out a To Do list for the next week 5. Play a game of Eye Spy or Punch Buggy 6. Find a good book and curl up on the couch, feed the mind! 7. Count sheep, llama or some other random animal (This is best done while waiting to fall asleep) 8. Dance! Crank up the stereo and bust a move, no one is watching, right? 9. Go for a walk in the woods, sink into nature-just don't get lost. 10. Make a list of things to do while you wait

On publication, or, the history of just ten things

I no longer recall exactly when I started blogging. Most of the older posts are buried in some backup file on some computer sitting somewhere in the house. One of the things I was really good at was not writing regularly, so my blog moved from domain to domain and design to design and from topic to, well, not much. That was phase zero. Phase one, I started blogging at work on our internal blog, and I did pretty good for awhile. Next, I decided to sanitize work blogs and go back to the public space, which also worked for some time. Phase one lasted maybe six months. Phase 2. June of 2010 was my first vacation without... well, I'll be nice... it was my first vacation as a single man in his mid thirties. And it was nice. I spent a good deal of time sitting by the pool relaxing, the past 12 months had been full of crazy senseless interactions with a few people that I paid a pretty good hourly rate to, only to deal with the back and forth negotiations that just never seemed to gain any traction. I needed a break, and Vegas seemed like a good idea. I don't know what exactly was going through my head, but I started spending hours writing feverishly, retelling the tales of my previous night's Vegas excursions. The Sahara, where I accepted flirtations from a beautiful young lady only to receive a slap in the face (from her long brown hair) when I wouldn't go home with her, to a silly crowd with English accents rattling on about Peach Schnapps and 7-Up. The guy sitting at the bar at MGM wearing silver ballet slippers to the swimsuit model at the hotel with the ignorant companion. I think Cleveland was my next trip where I continued these writings. Cleveland brought me stories of women that could not differentiate between red and white wine, and a drunken Englishman who swore cucumbers made gin taste less like pine trees. Chicago kept the story rolling with a lady puking out of a Mustang, buying a stranger a bottle of wine, and laughing hysterically at balled up paper on the sidewalk (which to this day, I'm not sure why it was so funny). All in all, I ended up with close to 100 pages of little recollections of life, some a half page, some two or three pages, most sprinkled with some amount of humor, and others made you gasp with some emotion or another. After Vegas, Cleveland and Chicago, I went back in time to cover stories in Nashville, Chattanooga, Philly and New York, but all I did was mostly outline, very little meat, just gentle reminders to one day come back and fill in the details. Six months went by while I stared at this mess of a collection until I finally sent a very small subset (only eight pages) to a very dear friend. Meanwhile, on Facebook, I started to notice a trend. Not the trend of me frequently checking in at airports and pubs, but the one where I was assembling little notes of 10 things I had learned that week. You see, I have always begged of my life to teach me at least one new thing every day. When this plan fails, I am no longer living life, I'm just existing in a space sucking up air, not really going anywhere, no direction, no future. This was becoming my checkpoint for whether I was on track, racing around the corners, inhaling each breath as it were new, and 10 things in a week was pushing me just a little over the edge of one new thing a day per week, by three. And those three little things bred Just10Things late one evening while most likely drinking a Merlot. It seemed a happy medium, forceful, yet attainable, and could blend topics seamlessly of what I do, and who I am. Most importantly, was that 10 things was achievable, on a regular basis. Over time, Just10Things has become more writing and less 10 things, however, I have tried (with a few exceptions) to maintain the medium, just as an artist with oil paints. Over time, it has become easier to write. Over time, it has become more consistent. Over time, it has evolved, my Just10Things. The question arises... you should write a novel, seriously! The suggestion to write said novel has a side note attached. Herman Wouk's Don't Stop the Carnival was mentioned in the request and I promised I would read it. I promptly ordered a copy from Amazon and paid for 2 day shipping to ensure I could start the book on the plane on Monday. Arriving on Saturday, the book properly sat on my counter awaiting the packing rituals of Sunday night when my neighbor strolls in, notices the book and pulls a copy off my bookshelf. I had borrowed it from him a few months back and it was in queue for a reading. I honestly was at loss for words when I discovered this fact, and still at loss. Strange karma, coincidence, so many thoughts, no words. It's Tuesday, and I'm 3/4 done reading, love it! Will Just10Things become more, will the island adventures become a twisted tale of life, a page turner, a memoir, a travel diary, I don't know. More than these sometimes daily, sometimes weekly posts, and I get feverish. I can commit to the islands, but can they commit to me? I can find interesting tales, they seem to welcome me. But it all has to be real, and be true, which means I need to immerse myself in the islands. For at least six months. At this moment in time, all I have is the inspiration to do so. Should the time come, and the finances fairy align me, I know that I can lean on one individual that has already (unofficially, through suggestion only) committed to this journey for support and guidance (and threatens to crash my parties, yet has not followed through), and my dear friend that loans copy editor skills (and wonderful friendship) to me when I decide to post on the risque side (and edited my original 8 page subset of the beginnings of Just10Things). I stepped outside for a soaking in the unbelievable heat and humidity that Indiana has to offer before I conclude this post. I found my 10 things as a woman walked outside and slipped on the pavement, blaming the water residue on her shoes from the pool. She then proceeded to open 4 doors and 1 trunk of her car to retrieve 5 bags of goodies from the outlet mall across from the hotel in the middle of nowhere, Indiana. 4+1+5=Just10Things, sleep well, my friends.