Morning Coffee: Happy Halloween!

halloween
Wishing you a Spook-tacular Halloween!
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Morning Coffee: Exactly!

fallFor me, the best part of waking up in the morning is that first cup of coffee. Coffee drinkers, you understand what I’m saying. Yes, I know, it’s great to just be alive, to realize God has given you another day on this earth. If I were struggling with a serious illness I would agree with you, but right now I’m really happy for that first cup of coffee. Nothing tastes the same; not even the second cup.

While perusing the internet for facts about coffee I came across an interesting article at goodhousekeeping.com by Amanda Hawkins: 26 Surprising Facts About Coffee. Here are a few you might not know.

Legend has it shepherds discovered coffee in Ethiopia circa 800 A.D. Goats appeared to “dance” after eating coffee berries. A local monk made a beverage from the coffee berries and found it kept him awake at night. There you are; the first cup of coffee.

Coffee is a fruit. The beans are the pits of a cherry-like berry grown on bushes. While more accurately a seed, it’s called a bean because of its resemblance to actual beans. And they were originally consumed as a food. Coffee berries were mixed with fat to create an energy-rich snack ball. (No, thank you.) It was also consumed as a wine made from the pulp of coffee berries. (Oh! My favorite end of the day beverage! Win! Win!)

The world’s most expensive coffee is another no thank you. If you’re squeamish you may want to skip this one. It comes from the feces of a Sumatran wild cat, the kopi luwak or civet cat. They eat the coffee cherries and then defecate the undigested coffee beans. If you’re interested, I see you can buy it on Amazon for roughly $12.00 an ounce. (I’ll stick to my pumpkin spice, hazelnut, etc. No civet cat feces flavored coffee for me.)

There have been five attempts to ban coffee. It was first banned in Mecca in 1511 because it was believed to stimulate radical thought. (I don’t know about “radical” thoughts, but it certainly helps me think.) Sixteenth century Italian clergymen believed it to be “satanic”; but Pope Clement VII loved coffee so much he lifted the ban and had it baptized in 1600. (Seriously!?) Ottoman leader Murad IV ascended to the throne in 1623 and created punishments for drinking coffee; including, beatings and being thrown into the sea. In 1746, the Swedish government made it illegal to even own coffee cups and dishes. Finally, in 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia declared beer superior because he worried coffee was harming the country’s beer consumption. (I don’t know; I’m acquainted with plenty of people who drink their fair share of both.)

I like this one: coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Studies show older patients with higher caffeine levels in their blood were more likely to avoid Alzheimer’s. It may also have positive effects on type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s. And, it may protect against skin cancer in women.

Coffee stays warmer when you add cream; but when you add milk, it weakens the effects of caffeine.

Coffee was brought to New Amsterdam, present-day New York City, in the mid-1600s but didn’t become popular until after the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The Civil War and other conflicts also helped boost coffee’s popularity.

Dark roast coffees have less caffeine than lighter roasts because roasting actually burns off some of the caffeine. And for you people who swear by your decaf, decaf does not mean caffeine-free. Although I will grant you, there is far less caffeine. An 8oz cup of decaf has 2-12 mgs of caffeine, whereas, a regular cup as from 95 to 200 mgs.

One last interesting fact about coffee, as all us coffee drinkers already know, just smelling coffee can wake you up. Simply inhaling the aroma of coffee can alter some genes in the brain. When you actually drink that cup, the caffeine will reach your bloodstream within 10 minutes.

Here’s the link if you want to check out more interesting facts about coffee: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a30303/facts-about-coffee/

Morning Coffee: What Love Looks Like

fallWhat does love look like? While love is different for all of us and can change based on the moment, we can still recognize it when we see it for someone else.

I was in 6th grade, 11 years old, when my grandfather died. It was October 16, 1970. He was a carpenter and died of a head injury when his scaffold was hooked by a crane and tipped. He was 53 years old. I remember being told then that he knew he would die on that job. What I didn’t learn until recently was that he knew what DAY he would die.

Believing that he would die soon, my grandfather completed all the outstanding repair jobs on their home so my grandmother wouldn’t have to worry about them. My grandmother’s birthday was October 22nd. Since he would not be there for her birthday, he bought her gift and gave it to her early. (My mother and I found the card tucked safely away in the same box with the guest registry from his funeral.) He did not want her to be without her birthday gift from him. My great-grandmother was living with them at the time because the weather was turning cold and she did not have central heating or running water in her little house. The night of October 15th she said her good-nights and that she would see them in the morning. Grandpa told her no she wouldn’t, this would be the last time she would see him. My grandfather normally rose and left for work before anyone else was awake. The next morning he woke my grandmother early and told her he wanted to hold her one last time. He was killed a couple hours later.

Like I said, I never knew this side of the story until recently. I knew my grandparents loved each other. I remember how devastated my grandmother was when he died. I can’t even imagine how she felt every time he told her he was going to die soon, or the fear she must have felt when he left for work that morning. How many prayers did she say asking God to bring him home again?

How many of us wish we knew the day of our death so we could prepare ourselves and our loved ones? We could make sure all the bills were paid and the financial accounts/files in order. We could see that the important chores were completed. We could buy birthday and/or Christmas gifts for our loved ones; perhaps write letters telling them how much they mean to us or take them on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation we’re always talking about but never getting around to.

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Richard & Edna Grumann married Nov 24, 1937

Unfortunately, even if we are told by our doctor that we only have so long to live we don’t truly know the day of our death. Doctors are human and it’s only a guess. You can be given six months and live two years. So, what I’m saying is, perhaps we should live every day as if it’s our last. I know that’s become a cliché, but it’s true. Don’t quit your day job and spend all your money on a world cruise, but do tell your friends and family how much you love them. Let go of grudges. Spend time making memories. That’s what will stay with them after you’re gone.

Move forward 34 years, the evening of October 15, 2004. My grandmother loses her balance reaching to pick up something she dropped on the floor of her room at the nursing home. She falls and strikes her head. Early the next morning, October 16, 2004, my grandmother passes away.

Morning Coffee: Fall Into Fiction

fallOctober 8th was WisRWA’s Fall Into Fiction workshop hosted by my own Chippewa Falls area group. Candace Havens, editorial director at Entangled Publishing, published author, and journalist spent the day teaching us about book mapping, revising, editing, and perhaps most interesting, how to write a book (Fast Draft) in two weeks! Candace Havens is a dynamo, a real pistol with a Texas drawl and a quick wit. Her mantra: NO WHINING! NO EXCUSES! I think I will hear that voice telling me to sit back down and write every time I think it’s time to quit and go do something else, like watch an all-day marathon of Hallmark movies. Heck, I edited 38 pages today and now I’m drafting this blog entry before turning on the television. She said wait and treat yourself AFTER you’ve finished your goal for the day. For me, the Packers are playing tonight so I need to get this blog draft completed within the next hour.

Going to a workshop (or conference) like this leaves me energized, anxious to get home and start writing. A good speaker will do that and she is a great speaker. I took copious notes but if I had the chance I’d still go see her again, even if she was giving the same talk. I’m sure I missed something. I got to meet some of my WisRWA friends I only knew by name on Facebook. That’s always fun. I even bought books from a few of them. I also bought Candace’s newest book to be released soon. Those of us who met her at the workshop had the chance to purchase advance copies. Watch for “Christmas With The Marine” from Harlequin. Yes, it’s as hot as it sounds. And if you don’t feel like reading at the moment, you can just sit and stare at the cover. You won’t be disappointed either way. I mean, a shirtless Marine wearing a Santa hat. What’s not to like? Right?

Candace also set aside times for those of us who wanted to schedule a book pitch. She’s always looking for new titles, new talent. I wasn’t planning to pitch “Mary Bishop” because, I admit, I was nervous. But I decided the day before that I would anyway, if for no other reason than the practice. So I prepared my talk (we were given 10 minute blocks but she said she only needed 5 minutes to determine if she was interested or not). I practiced it in the car all the way to Eau Claire and then pretty much threw it out the window when I walked in the room and nerves took over. But even Candace Havens can get nervous when she has to pitch and she led me through with questions and encouragement. Did I say she was really nice? Candace Havens is really nice! By the end she said she wants to see a full manuscript for consideration for their Women’s Fiction line! I smiled, shook her hand, thanked her, and then calmly walked out of the room before about screaming when I saw my friends waiting in the hall to see how it went. Obviously this is not a contract, a promise of any kind, but at least she wants to read it. I can’t sell it if I can’t get someone to read it first. So we will see what happens next and I will be keeping you all in the loop.

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Me  and  Candace  Havens

Now, to be clear, just because Candace Havens is nice, doesn’t mean she isn’t tough. Not only is her mantra “NO WHINING! NO EXCUSES”, but she told us just what she’d do if we started whining or making excuses… “I will come to your house and punch you in the face!” Then she’d smile and say, “No I won’t”, but that would be followed by the look and you were left feeling pretty certain that yes, she would.

Check out Candace at www.candacehavens.com.

Morning Coffee: Wedding Romance

001What’s more romantic than a wedding? This past weekend we attended our niece’s wedding. An outdoor wedding is a risky thing any time of year, but October in Wisconsin can be particularly unpredictable. After three days of rain and cold winds and the certainty that some other arrangements would need to be made, our weekend dawned with an almost cloudless blue sky and a warm sun. Not too hot and not too cold. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

003The guests gathered at the groom’s parent’s farm where they were met by three tractors pulling wagons. A ten-minute ride through the fields to the ceremony was a fun start to the day. The ceremony itself was held at the site of an old barn. All that remained was the cement floor, a partial stone wall, and the old stone silo. The groom’s sister painted sunflowers and vines up the side of the silo, an arch was placed at center, and in front were rows of hay bales (covered for our comfort) to seat the guests. No bride ever looked so beautiful on the arm of her proud father, and no groom looked more in love as he watched her come down the aisle. Surrounded by pumpkins, mums and other autumn flowers, the young couple said their vows.

hitchin-sign

After the ceremony, we all returned to his parents’ farm where the pole barn was beautifully decorated for a truly country celebration of love. All the food was “raised, grown, harvested, baked and caught” by the two families: smashed baby reds, carrots, corn, salmon, beef and prime rib on the buffet line. Home-baked bread and jars of jam made from their own berries waited on every table. Nothing could have better represented the farming, sportsmen, outdoors-loving couple. We danced and toasted the couple well into the night.

Every romance novel ends with what we call our HEA: our happily-ever-after moment. Sometimes it’s a wedding, sometimes a promise of a wedding to come. Saturday was Gus and Megan’s HEA and I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of it.

flowers-in-truck