If We Were Having Coffee // Getting out of the City

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m not feeling all that great today. I’m recovering from yesterday’s hike, too many hard ciders afterward, too many snacks all day, and staying up a little too late last night. My body isn’t what it used to be and I wasn’t very careful or considerate of it this weekend and now I am paying the price. Copious amounts of coffee are being drunk and little more than laundry is on the agenda for the morning in apology and I hope that by the early evening my body and I will have come to an understanding.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The temperatures are still summer-like but there is a definite autumn-esque breeze coming through the open windows. It will be cold brew as usual and a healthy spoonful of creamy coconut milk—from the can, not the carton—for flavor. Let’s talk about last week.

“There is so much hope in a cup of coffee.”

@ellacalm

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am sorry I missed our coffee date last week. It was my fiance’s birthday weekend and I decided to unplug and spend the long weekend being present in every moment with her. We went to dinner at one of our favorite out-of-the-way seafood places and had another dinner with her family at a new favorite Italian place. We cooked together at home too and snuggled up on the couch for movies. She opened her gifts as the arrived and I think she liked them all, and then we got away from the city and spent a day hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we went hiking again yesterday too. We went back to Deer Creek Canyon, the same trail we hiked on our anniversary. We went back because it was an easy trail and our dog, Lola, needed to start slow for her first hiking day with us.

A bit of background on Lola: She’s, (we believe) an Australian cattle dog and basenji mix. She is energetic, smart, strong-willed, defiant, independent, and painfully shy. She is affectionate and loving, but very much on her own terms. She’s not especially food motivated and even my approval means very little so training and socialization have been a challenge. It’s as if wants to be a good dog, but only her own vision of what a good dog should be.

When we got her we thought she looked like the quintessential “Colorado dog”. The kind of dog you take hiking and camping. The kind of dog you take to dog parks and on road trips. The kind of dog that can be trusted off leash, that is well-trained, happy, confident, a dog that is a true life companion. We quickly realized after we got her home that she was far from what we’d expected.

Lola is certainly active enough but she required—still requires—a lot of work on her manners and confidence. She’s easily spooked, distrustful of strangers, and far too trusting of strange dogs. Hiking was out of the question. There was no way I could trust her to be safe and obedient on a trail, until now.

Yesterday she went on her first hike with us on a trail shared by people, dogs, and even mountain bikes! And she did so well! She didn’t try to run away from the bikes, and she, for the most part, ignored other dogs and people going by. This is a major improvement from even a few months ago where walking her around the block could be frustrating for both of us. I think we’ll take her again next weekend. I think getting out of the city does just as much good for her well-being as it does for mine.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the work week was…okay. I’ve been trying hard to get ahead of my schedule and get things done now so that I might have more free time in the next few months but because I have to rely on others to be available and to show up it’s been about 50% days where I get shit done, and 50% days where I have nothing to do. I’ve decided to start overfilling my calendar a bit in advance of inevitable cancellations and rearrangement. I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

As far as my route goes, new kids are being added all the time which always fills my driver and me with anxiety. You never know if the new kid will get along with the others or if they will come in and disrupt the delicate balance you have achieved through careful interaction and strategic seating charts. We’ve been lucky so far. Each new kid has agreed with the peaceful and quiet environment I have cultivated, but we have another one starting tomorrow and I worry our luck may run out.

I did have time for reading and writing, it was only my mind I couldn’t get to focus. I made some progress though and that has to be good enough for now. I hope to do better this week and I am giving myself every opportunity to by uninstalling most of the apps from my iPad and plugging y phone in well way from me for at least two hours a day. I made an effort to clean up my “creativity room” and am pledging to spend a half an hour in there a day making little things with my hands. No screens allowed.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m looking forward to this evening. We’re going to have an early dinner and a showing of the 90s classic Clueless at our favorite theater. Afterward, we’ll pick up a bottle of wine to drink while we scarf down the last of the spicy chip-chocolate bark I made earlier in the week and watch the season premieres of The Duece on HBO and Shameless on Showtime. A perfect end to a particularly perfect weekend.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it’s actually about time I start preparing for the evening. I need a nap—a “coffee nap” actually—a long shower and a little Sunday pampering time before we go no to mention there are still dishes in the sink and laundry waiting to be folded.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you got to do things for you and not just for others and not just because you had to. I hope this weekend was restful and that you won’t stress about tomorrow until tomorrow comes.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // Springtime Extremes and Happy Reading

Hello dear readers, and happy Easter Sunday to you all. Thank you for making time for coffee and conversation with me on this holiday, I promise not to keep you long. I admit this holiday isn’t one I celebrate much, being an atheist and all, but I enjoy seeing my family and watching my niece and nephew enjoy their gifts is fun. I hope yours was a good one too, whether you are religious or not, it is a pretty big deal in this country.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it is definitely Springtime here in Colorado. By that I mean the weather swings wildly from one extreme to another and last week was a perfect example. We started out with beautiful weather, our temps were in the 70s and we had beautiful blue skies on both Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday we woke to blizzard warnings and snow that shut down the whole city, which is a pretty big deal for us. The part of town I am in is reported to have gotten 25 inches of snow.By Thursday things had cleared up and the snow was being

The part of town I am in is reported to have gotten 25 inches of snow. Which makes sense considering I was sore for two days after shoveling the walk.

By Thursday things had cleared up and the snow was beginning to melt but we got more of the white stuff yesterday and we may get more by Wednesday. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, things will start getting more stable around here.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that  I have been trying to write a tiny bit of fiction every day and I am proud to say I have actually done pretty good. I am not writing full stories here, just bits and pieces, small scenes I plan to use in my Blogging A to Z Challenge. I also have a bunch of little ideas, many stolen from prompts I found all over the internet, that I can mix and match into new stories.

I haven’ written a lot of fiction, not seriously anyway, before this and I have to say it is a very interesting experience. Something pops into my head from I don’t know where and I really do just follow it along until I come to the end. It might not be the end of the story but it is the end of what the creative part of myself is willing to give. I frantically write it all down and hope that I will still like it when it comes time to type it.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I did a little book shopping this afternoon and I picked up some really good ones. I got Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Stranger by Albert Camus. I am currently reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus but it’s short and I expect to be done well before the end of the week. I was looking through the books I was supposed to be reading next and none of them felt right, so I got new ones.

So far this year I have read seven books which is more than I did all of last year. I am really proud of myself and I am very much enjoying the journey each author is taking me on.

***

If we were having coffee I would have just realized how late it is and I would apologize for keeping you so late. Thank you so much again for stopping by and listening to me ramble for so long. I appreciate you. I hope you had a good weekend and a happy easter. I’d love to hear how you have been too. Please, drop by the comments section and tell me a bit about what you have been up to.

Goodnight dear reader, and good luck in the coming week.

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Happy Easter!

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Colorado In The Fall and How I Am Learning to Cope with Help From My Readers

This past Sunday I received quite a few comments on my weekly coffee sharing post regarding my hatred for autumn and how much or how little that had to do with the fact that I live in Colorado. There were a lot of comments but most were in favor of fall and many thought I was looking at this all wrong. Some had even been to Colorado and thought that it wasn’t that bad, or that Colorado was just beautiful and I just wasn’t seeing it.

When it was all said and done I think my mind was changed a little. Maybe I really have been just seeing autumn the wrong way. The way I see it now, fall just looks like everything around me is sad and dying. The leaves changing isn’t beautiful, it’s a daily reminder that pretty soon all the pretty green stuff is going to be gone and it is going to be cold and snowing. That cool breeze that means you can finally start wearing all you favorite sweaters just means that soon there will be no more fun things to do.

All the amusement parks and pools will be closed. All the patios at the bars will be for the hard core smokers only. There will be no more movie event, or festivals or ‘fests. The pretty green parks will be bare and empty of human laughter. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit but mostly all of this is true.

My favorite comment on the subject, and the one that inspired this post, came from Sarah:

Fall has always been my favorite season with winter a close second.
Fall here in Florida is a continuation of summer and I hate summers here,
I love fall in the rest of the country.

Watching the leaves change from green to all the colors of the rainbow. Or if you happen to live in Colorado they change to a bright golden /red color. Simply beautiful.

I love how the air is fresher. I can open my windows and spell the fresh air.
My steps become alive again and I start walking. I am rejuvenated.
The animals gives birth and we watch them walk through the yard here.
Winter is warmer here and you would enjoy that. For me I long for the winters out West. The cold is warmed by the bright sun. It fresh and clear and sunny.

My reply to such a beautiful comment:

Oh my gosh, what a wonderful comment. The way you describe your love of autumn almost makes me change my mind, then I remember that here fall means cold, and wind, and snow. I do happen to live in Colorado and the leaves are turning very yellow right now. Sounds like I should be living somewhere like Florida, where fall is just summer 2.0.

I’ve often told people that I should move further south, and I would, except for the extreme conservatism everywhere. I have thought about southern California as well but the cost of living is high. So I am staying here for the forseeable future, which is okay because I really do love this state, I just hate the winter.

Sarah reblogged my post and I got another comment from one of her readers:

Ahhh it makes sense, your in Colorado, I understand completely….We drove through your beautiful state….I was mesmerized….I fell in love with Manitou Springs, we spent a week there, Cortez National Park, amazing…and we went over Lizard Pass…wow I thought I was in the Alp’s…..love it….glad to have coffee with you anytime..akthy

I will say that we have some of the best scenery that you can get in this country. Routine drives to work and home give you spectacular views of the mountains and amazing displays of color in every sunrise and sunset. The mountains are often purple or orange tinged and this time of year, the fall I hate so much, means the beginning of them getting their pristine white tips back. I do love the way the mountains look with snow on them and I admit that in the summer they seem a little drab.

The air here also does become much clearer and fresher. Most summers the sky gets pretty hazy due to California’s continual forest fires. Sometimes it’s so bad we can’t see the mountains at all. We can smell it coming in and the haze gives everyone the worst allergies. In the fall the fires die down and the sky becomes clearer. We get a better view of the mountains too.

We are also lucky that even though it gets very cold, the sun is usually shining. I read once that Colorado gets an average of 300 sunny days a year. In other parts of the country people go long stretches of time with clouds hovering and rain and snow coming down constantly. We get a good amount of snow, and we do get it in the fall, but it’s not that bad and we do have the sun to cheer us, even of the temperatures stay below freezing for a few months..

Speaking of the snow and the mountains we do have quite the booming winter tourist season. I do not partake, in fact I am one of the few Denver natives here who have never gone, and probably never will go skiing. I do like all the money this brings to the state and I do take pride in this fact. People come from all over the world to ski our slopes!….Maybe I ought to give it a try, everyone else can’t be wrong about this.

Then I remember that I still hate it and it’s basically a useless season anyway.

I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s because Colorado’s fall is so short and uneventful that I feel this way. Here the weather goes from warm to cold quickly, there isn’t much transition. I joke that fall lasts about 2 weeks, same for spring, so the two seasons do feel pretty useless to me.

So yeah there are some good things about fall and maybe I am beginning to see things in a different light, but even so, I think most people like fall because it is a real fall. Here the seasons seem to change rather abruptly. I don’t feel like I have enough time to adjust or emotionally prepare and I spend the rest of winter being mad that there was no warning and I didn’t get to end the summer the way I wanted.

I sound like a brat I know. At least one person, Sonya, kinda-sorta agreed with me:

And I’m sort of with you on autumn. We had lovely warm weather here last week, and I liked that the wind had a bit of a sting to it. But it’s 8:30pm and pitch black outside, and soon the days will be shorter than the nights and I just hate that.

So having said all that, and having read all that my readers had to say, I think I should try a bit harder to enjoy autumn in Colorado. For one, it could be worse, people who live further north would think me a wuss complaining about what they would consider to be very fine weather, and two, there’s actually some good to it too. I just hadn’t really looked for it and instead moped around like a kid who is forced to go back to school.

I don’t want to be that way, and I don’t want to miss out on what might be a beautiful time of the year just because I wish another wouldn’t end. I want to see the good in it instead.

I will still miss the summer though. I feel the loss of it deeply and I feel it every year, and no amount of soft sweaters or pumpkin spice lattes is going to change that. I will enjoy them none the less though, because it is the least the universe could offer for putting me through that cold hell of winter.

Fall is about warmth, and cider, and colors, and pumpkin spice, and.. and…

wccunningham

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: Expand a comment

Featured image via Unsplash

A Few Thoughts on the Death Penalty

It’s been a hard week here in Aurora, Colorado. Last week the defendant in the Theater Shooting trail was found guilty on all 165 counts against him. I watched the entire live feed as the judge read each verdict. It took about an hour and the defendant never reacted once.

Tomorrow they jury will begin hearing arguments for the “sentencing phase”. They will decide whether or not the defendant will spend the rest of his life in jail or if he will die for his crimes.

After the verdict was read I made my way to the comment section of the story and was a bit surprised to find everyone stating without a shadow of a doubt that this man was not insane and that he deserved death. I remember feeling, as I have many times since this tragedy happened over three years ago, a deep sadness.

I am sad for the victims and their families. I am sad for my whole community. I am also sad for the defendants family. And I admit, I am sad for this poor man too.

I know what he did was wrong. I would never dispute that fact but I wonder if our definition for insanity might be a bit off. It seems legally he only had to know that what he was doing was wrong to face the possibility of death by the state. I have a strong feeling that this just isn’t the right way.

Over the three years that I have had this horrible event and trial in my mind I have reevaluated my feelings on the death penalty and I think I have come out of this knowing that it just isn’t right. More than that, I don’t even believe it is useful.

The first thing that gave me pause was the permanence of death. Once we decide to kill someone we can’t go back. What if we are wrong? In this case we know he committed the crime but there have been others where we executed the wrong one. How can we live with that possibility? I would rather the guilty ones live so we don’t kill any more innocents.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.

– Exodus 21:24

Historically capital punishment seems to me to only have been used as a means of revenge and possibly a deterrent. Revenge serves little purpose other than the possibility of closer for the families but I would argue that letting the perpetrator live, studying him, and finding the underlying causes so that we could recognize the warning signs in others and prevent further tragedy would be a much more satisfying conclusion then simple execution.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Clearly the death penalty doesn’t work as a deterrent because, it seems, this country is dealing with a rise in mass shootings. In fact a simple Google search showed me there was “still no evidence that executions deter criminals” and that the F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000. I mean it seems obvious that if people feared death they would not commit such crimes but they do, time and time again. It seems almost….insane?

People laugh at me when I tell them the thing that finally changed my mind completely on the idea of capital punishment. IT was a quote from Gandalf the wizard in Lord of the Rings. In the books Frodo believes that if only Gollum had been killed he would have been safe. Gandalf in turn lectures him about what should be for him to decide and what shouldn’t:

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

This touches on my first point about the permanence of death and the possibility of killing an innocent. I just don’t think we should be dealing out death to the ones who we believe deserve it when we can’t give life to the ones who deserve that too.

So what do we do instead? How do we punish those who commit the most heinous crimes. Well, I think we should start by taking a look at the ways in which society contributes to it’s members feeling like this is the only way to get what they need, and we should look at the state of our mental health care.

People who commit theses crimes are deeply disturbed and probably hurting very badly inside. Wouldn’t we be a better more just society if instead of killing them we actually rehabilitated them? Maybe even learned something from them? Then need to shed blood for blood feels so primitive, but helping those who need our help the most feels a bit more enlightened. It feels like a step forward for us all.

I’m not saying this man should ever be released from prison. I don’t know enough about him to know if he could ever be deemed anything less than a threat to society. There is a possibility that he can come to understand what he did and feel real regret and sadness for his actions. I believe he could also find some redemption in helping us prevent future deaths. Why not go that route instead?

Why the need to “fry his ass” or “kill him by firing squad”. I know we are all angry but we cannot let anger make us do something we can never come back from. We can never undo what was done and another death doesn’t ease the pain of the losses we have suffered. We should all stop and think about what is right and why.

We might find out that there could be a better way after all.

P.S. This was written with all due respect for the victims, their families, and the community. The views expressed are my own opinion and were voiced with no ill intent.

If We Were Having Coffee – Exhausted, but Happy, and Even Writing Poetry

Oh man does coffee sound good today! The weather is really cold and snowy. I think we may have gotten 6 or 9 inches so far since this storm started yesterday. They predict we’ll get another 3 to 6 by tomorrow morning too. I have my fingers crossed they call a snow day but this is Colorado and we pride ourselves on being able to handle any weather Mother Nature throws at us. We rarely shut anything down here, life continues as if we are’t trudging through knee high snow to get from place to place.

If we were having coffee today I might need to take mine a bit stronger and in the biggest cup you have please, I am in need of the caffeine. I have been exhausted for a few days now but I assure you it is entirely my own fault. It all started last Thursday.

See last week I took it easy, only had to work 3 days, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I figured since it was a short week I could slack off a little bit. And since I was slacking off I didn’t need as much sleep so I could stay up, right? Then Thursday night we got invited out to a jazz place downtown.

The plan was to only have a couple of drinks, stay maybe an hour or two, then head home to bed. The problem was when I got there and saw how much fun everyone was having, I didn’t want to leave. I haven’t gotten to hang out much lately so I shut my rational self down and stayed out much later and drank more than I should’ve.

So Friday morning was a bit of a struggle. Thanks to my good friend Mr. Redbull I made it through the day but instead of coming home and catching up on the much needed sleep, I stayed up late again! Sleep sounded like a waste of time, I wanted to be doing things dammit! Nothing productive of course but I was up and conscious and that’s what I wanted.

Then I did the same last night and now I am drinking cup after cup of coffee trying to catch up of everything I slacked on the last few days. Writing, drawing, cleaning, I didn’t do any of it. I wanted to spend hours not doing anything worth doing. I played Xbox and watched TV and scrolled Twitter. I regret nothing!

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have come to my senses now and returned to the real world. I may be stuck in the house due to weather but I will try not to let myself get to lazy. I am going to get stuff done.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my mood has been pretty good lately. But I am also feeling bored and that is making me depressed. I am not very happy with the long hours I spend at my day job and I have the option of cutting back a little bit. I want to in order to focus more on writing and art but I am scared and reluctant to disappoint my bosses.

I have always wanted to do my own thing and maybe turn it into a business but being a grown up has gotten in the way of me doing the things that I love. I used to draw all the time and now I struggle to get the creative juices flowing. This is not how I want to be. Even if it means less money, I would rather be a creative person, an artist, than a worker bee.

That means making some tough choices soon and decided what matters more to me and what I can and cannot do. And once I start down a path there will be little chance of turning around.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that trying my hand a writing poetry last week was pretty fun. I learned that it isn’t quite as impossible a thing as I had thought it was. I don’t pretend that mine or all that great but they aren’t as shitty as I thought they would be, but I am still keeping the Shitty Poetry tag for now. It makes me smile.

If we were having coffee I would have to grab another to go and head out, I have a bunch of stuff to do today and I have to utilize the energy I have now. Thank you for visiting with me! I hope you had a good week. I hope the weather is nicer where you are. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday. :)

Monday Motivation

It’s a dreary and snowy Monday morning here in (typically) sunny Colorado. Monday is hard enough without weather like this tempting me to stay in bed under the warm covers and sleep the day away. It’s work time though and I have shit that needs getting done, sigh. So I’m up with my cup of tea and some music to get me motivated. Today is a fresh start and a new chance to do things my future self will thank me for!

On top of the weather making things hard I’m also adjusting to the time change. “Fall back” has me all thrown off and thinking I’m late to everything. My mind may have had a slow start but my body has been in panic mode since I woke up. I will say it’s nice to see the sun again in the morning though.

As far as I can tell this week will be pretty ordinary. I have work to do but not enough to stress about. My team at work is urging me to take it easy before I burn myself out too much. I think I’ll take the advice and relax a little.

I imagine the week will drag though. It always does when you are looking forward to something and I most certainly am. This Friday and Saturday me and my ole lady are going to get the tattoos on our chests finished up!!! We got outlines done last December but due to money issues we weren’t able to get back in as quickly as we’d hoped for color. My artist warned me that if we waited too long we’d have to do the outline over again. I did my best to get the money together because she charges $100 an hour and I do not want to have to pay for another outline!

So that’s all I got going on this week. As always I’m going to work on staying positive and ever mindful. I hope to enjoy every moment and take time to help others and strengthen relationships with my loved ones. I hope you all have a happy week and I wish you luck in all your endeavors. :)

Saying Goodbye to Summer

I work for a school district so, for me, summer ends tomorrow. School starts back up on Monday and that means I am back on a school bus tomorrow to practice my route.*

This is a hard time of year for me because summer is my favorite season. There is so much to do in the summer and everything looks so green and alive! There are water parks and amusement parks, there are festivals and events. Bar rooftops are open and nighttime temperatures are perfect for drinks and hanging out with friends. I am sad to see all that go. In the winter there is nothing to do but stay inside and try you best to keep warm.

Here in Colorado our winters last longer than our summers, and spring and fall are almost non-existent. I’m one of those people who needs sunny days and warm temperatures to feel happy. Seasonal affective disorder I think they call it. I get depressed around the same time every year, just as fall is hitting and when it gets bad it seems like winter will never end. By the time January rolls around I have given up emotionally. I start to feel like the cold and clouds will be there forever, and the warmth and the green will never come back.

I’m already preparing myself mentally for the leaves to start changing and everything to turn gray and cold. I am planning for coping with the cold and I even had a co-worker bring in a new space heater for us all. I will soon be buying a new coat and stocking up on hand and warmers. I hope the bus I will be in is sealed well and that the heaters work.

I long to live somewhere where the sun shines all year and the weather stays nice. I’ve heard Hawaii has nice weather all year-round, or maybe Southern California or Florida. One day I hope to be rid of snow and negative degree temperatures. No more shivering, no more cold, wet toes and no more runny noses!

So today I say goodbye to summer and hope that it doesn’t take too long to return again. I will try to remember all the fun I had this year and maybe the memories will warm my soul when the temperatures outside freeze my body.

*Just to clarify I work as a para-professional, or bus aid, not as a driver.