Crisp Breezes and Hot Coffee

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One of my favorite mugs for drinking coffee.

The weather has turned cool and crisp with the arrival of autumn. Well, at least right now it’s cool and crisp, I don’t really know about tomorrow because the weather has been all over the place lately. Autumn has arrived according to the calendar, but that doesn’t mean the temperatures are going to cooperate. Yesterday it was warm and humid and I was wearing shorts. Today started out the same temperature-wise but turned rainy and cool, with glimpses of sun here and there.

I’ve put warmer blankets on my bed and started using my humidifier instead of my fan at night when I sleep. I’ve also kicked those warm blankets off and torqued up the fan when it didn’t get as cool at night as I expected. I’d say this is typical autumn weather for where I live, but with climate change, I’m not sure “typical weather” is even a thing anymore. I just take it day by day and see what surprises await me.

When the air is actually cool and stays that way, I enjoy drinking coffee hot. In the summer or hotter weather, I drink it cold. The point is, I love my coffee. I like whole bean coffee that I grind myself, ground coffee from a can, and even instant coffee. I take my coffee, hot or cold, with flavored creamer of some kind. The flavor depends on my mood, the season, the cycle of the moon, and so on. There are certain flavors I avoid, but I like to experiment with new taste sensations occasionally. I always stir the creamer in with an iced tea spoon that I then leave in even while drinking my coffee. It’s a quirk of mine. 😉

As I work from home, I usually drink my coffee at my desk, enjoying sips as I type away on my current transcription job. I tend to have more than one cup of coffee a day, but I am usually at my desk when drinking it. I drink it while I’m playing World of Warcraft or writing in my latest story, or as now, writing a new blog entry. I always have a cup of water alongside my mug of coffee to stay hydrated because coffee isn’t exactly a thirst quencher.

I heard something the other day about coffee that made me evaluate my perception of coffee. Someone said that people don’t like the taste of coffee, but they put up with it for the caffeine element. I thought about that and realized that no, that doesn’t apply to me. I do actually enjoy the taste of coffee. Would I drink it black? I have in the past and while a bit bitter, it wasn’t horrible. I don’t however, drown the main flavor of coffee with my creamers, I just sweeten it a bit.

As far as drinking it for the caffeine content goes, that’s somewhat true, but since I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16 or so, it really doesn’t keep me alert like it used to. I have even been known to drink decaf coffee just because I wanted the taste of it without the caffeine. I love holding the mug of hot coffee in my hands, inhaling that familiar aroma, and then sipping at it. I like it hot, not tepid, but sometimes I make it a little too hot and can’t hold the mug without burning myself. Obviously even after so many years of making and drinking coffee, I still don’t know what I’m doing aside from just enjoying it.

Thinking deeper about my enjoyment of coffee, I believe one of the reasons I love coffee so much is because it reminds me of my father. I think the very first cup of coffee I ever had was from a pot he made and as I recall it was orange flavored. It was probably some specialty coffee ground from the store, but I remember that taste so vividly on my tongue. I remember it was during a family trip to a cottage in the Adirondack Mountains and I remember waking up to the smell of that orange flavored coffee brewing in the early light of morning. The air was cool and smelled like pine trees as it always does in the Adirondacks, and I recall that that hot cup of coffee helped warm me up on a chilly morning.

To this day, hot coffee warms me up on cool days and makes me smile as I think about my father and how far I’ve come from that first cup of coffee to the amazing life I live now. Wondrous that such a simple seeming thing as drinking coffee can hold so much meaning.

Making the Most of a Warm November Day

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A sunny, 70 degree day in November in Upstate NY must be appreciated for the wonder that it is so I spent yesterday appreciating the unseasonably warm autumn day in many ways. Considering that the forecast is calling for snow starting Sunday, I’m sure I’ll wish I could bottle yesterday and open it in the midst of winter cold.

My original plan for the morning was to mow some of my back yard after the girls got on their busses and the grass dried out a bit. To that end, I hooked my mower battery up to the charger and let it sit charging for a while as I tidied up the deck, put plants away, emptied water out of my deck storage totes and so on. For whatever reason, mower batteries don’t seem to last for more than a year so I just hook mine up to the charger before I mow, give it time and it usually starts. Well yesterday, it didn’t want to start.

Not one to waste the amazingly warm morning, I left the mower hooked to the charger and finished putting my deck and yard furniture away in my sheds. I then decided to string up the colored icicle lights on my front bushes since it’s never a fun job when my hands are frozen. My bushes still have leaves on them but that didn’t hamper my lighting efforts and now the lights are all set and ready to be turned on whenever I so desire. I’m not one to wait until after turkey day to decorate for Christmas so they’ll probably be on at night rather soon.

By the time I was done tidying up my outside areas, there wasn’t enough time left to mow before I had to pick up my youngest daughter from school. She had half days this week and I babysat her Wednesday and yesterday until her father could pick her up. I always love more time with my girls so it’s never a problem taking them. Although there wasn’t time to mow, there was time for a short walk with Jazzmin so she and I set out.

It was shortly before 11 a.m. when we headed out for our walk and it was so nice out that I was wearing shorts and a tank top! It’s a rare treat indeed for it to be warm enough for that in an Upstate NY November. Jazzmin loved the walk as usual and when we got back, I packaged up my latest order of earrings to ship to their new owner. I’m always happy when someone else loves my jewelry as much as I do! It inspires me and motivates me to create more lovelies, which is extremely helpful since I need to build up more inventory after a run of successful sales.

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After picking my youngest daughter up from school, we stopped at the post office to mail the earrings and then headed home to enjoy the afternoon. She spent quite a while swinging in the warm sunshine and was happy to be done with school for the week. It was lovely having her for some bonus Friday time. I finally managed to get the mower running and did the section of the back yard that was especially long but left the rest unmowed and covered with leaves.

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When Jaycie’s father picked her up, it was 3 p.m. and still just too nice to stay inside so I decided to take Jazzmin for a second, longer walk. We went up the big hill and relished in the sunshine and warmth. There were grasshoppers jumping across the road, crickets chirping in the fields, peeper frogs in the ponds and streams and I even saw a small yellow butterfly fluttering by.

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Once we got back home, I gave Jazzmin her post walk treat and headed out into my back yard in bare feet. I walked back to the small crop of milkweed plants growing by the southeast corner of my property and smiled at the abundance of white fluffy seeds bursting free of the plant pods.
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I grabbed a few handfuls of seeds that were trying to work free of the pods and sent them into the air to carry my wishes and gratitude through the breeze.
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If the calendar didn’t say November, I would’ve sworn yesterday was an early spring day and not a late autumn day. It certainly made me feel that November had given all the nice days it could and wanted to go out on a high note. I think it accomplished that perfectly.

In Love with Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season because I love all of the colorful, changing leaves. Every day is a new painting by nature as more trees change and the skies range from a chilly blue to a cloud-filled gray. This autumn has been one of the best I can remember in years with an abundance of warm weather that delayed the turning leaves until a more proper time in late September/early October. Past Octobers have been cold, rainy or even snowy and that’s put a damper on my enjoyment of the season.

To fully savor the season, I’ve been taking pictures almost every day on my walks with Jazzmin. I don’t want to forget the beauty that exists now once everything is cold and covered with snow in a few months (universe willing, not sooner!) Anyone who follows me on Instagram receives an almost daily treat of an autumn picture in the hills of Upstate NY, but for those who don’t follow me there, I decided to post some of the best pictures here. Enjoy!

Our favorite place to walk: the farmer's access road.

Our favorite place to walk: the farmer’s access road behind my house.

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Jazzmin Sundance: My faithful companion on all my walks.

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Found this monarch on a chilly day and tucked him safely away off the path.

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My shadow amid fall colors.

My shadow amid fall colors.

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Jazzmin and I explored the recently rebuilt bridge where their digging revealed just how much slate is in our area.

Some very pretty color variations in the slate.

Some very pretty color variations in the slate.

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Juvenile Eastern red spotted newt (eft) I helped cross the road recently.

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Happiness amid gray skies

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It rained almost all day today, but when it finally stopped this evening, Jazzmin and I set out on a walk. The air was chilly as autumn air should be and the leaves of almost every kind of tree have started to change.

Although the skies were still gray and the road damp, I was happy and content because my pup and I were out enjoying the fresh air and getting our exercise. Jazz would be happy walking in a blizzard (I know because we’ve been outside in one) but I prefer snow-free walks.

Autumn is my favorite time of year and I intend to cherish it for as long as it lasts. Cooler temperatures mean it’s time to bake and soon my kitchen will be filled with the smells of apple pie, homemade bread and various cookies. Yet another reason I love to walk in autumn, to burn off all those yummy calories! 😉

New season, new outlook!


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Today was the first day of my favorite season: autumn. I don’t particularly like the season that follows autumn but as I’m working on enjoying the present and focusing on the here and now, I’m not going to worry about that particular aspect of the future.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous with a cloudless blue sky, gentle breeze and enough sunlight to banish the cooler temperatures of yesterday. Once I’d finished my morning freelance work, I grabbed Jazzmin and we headed out on our daily walk. As I was curious to see how quickly the trees were changing along the farmer’s road, we headed that direction at a brisk pace.

My pup and I had just turned the first corner when I spotted something small and bright green in the center of the closest lane. I peered closer, realized it was a praying mantis and quickly but gently picked him up out of the road. He was the first non-squished praying mantis I’ve seen this year and I was happy to help him travel safely across the road.

The moment I picked the mantis up, he pointed in the direction he wanted to go and I carried him there as he held firmly to my hand.

That way please, Miss!

That way please, Miss!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Once safely on the opposite side of the road, I gently set him down in the grassy shoulder and he quickly blended in with his surroundings. Pleased with another successful creature rescue, I led Jazz onward to the farmer’s access road to continue our walk.

Even though there wasn’t as much color change among the trees as I’d hoped, it was still a lovely walk among dragonflies, butterflies and birds.

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Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

This year has also been very good for grasshoppers and everywhere I walk, the ground springs to life as multiple grasshoppers jump swiftly out of my path. I tried to take a picture of the little bugs in action, but they were too fast!

I led Jazz to the end of the canopy of trees over the farmer’s road and up a bit further before turning off the gravel and onto a path of flattened grass created by the large tractors that mow those fields. We walked in the shade of the large trees along the path and paused by a rather large and obviously frequently-traveled deer path. I took a picture to capture the feel of the trees and shadows.

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After that, we stepped out of the shadows and cut across the grassy field toward the little pond we visited earlier in the week. As we approached, a handful of deer went bounding away from the water’s edge and quickly disappeared into the underbrush of the distant trees. A higher up motion caught my eye and I raised my gaze in time to see a hawk flying out from the trees beyond the pond. Wearing a huge smile, I watched as he soared along the tree line for a short way before swooping upward and out of sight over the treetops.

By the time we finished crossing the field, I think Jazz had smelled every animal that had ever traversed the grass. We walked along the far tree line as I searched the ground for red tail hawk feathers. I found a small turkey feather but alas, my hunt for red tail hawk feathers continues.

Turkey feather I found today.

Turkey feather I found today.

Jazzmin and I returned from our walk quite satisfied by the exercise and our adventures. She took a quick snooze while I showered and then it was off to pick up Jordan and continue the normal routine of the day.

This evening was just as beautiful as the day so my girls and I took a short walk up around the corner to the nearby stream. Jordan had a chance to practice her pack leader skills and I was pleased to see how well Jazzmin walked alongside my oldest daughter.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, an ideal beginning to my favorite season, and an eye opening transition to a new perspective!

Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I've rescued this fall!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I’ve rescued this fall!

After a morning of writing work and college work, I decided to take Jazzmin on a nice long walk this afternoon. I felt compelled to walk to a particular farmer’s field that was two miles from my house and as it was a beautiful day, it seemed like the perfect time to obey that urge.

I can’t actually recall the last time Jazzmin and I did the 4 mile walk, but it’s definitely been a while. We started out strong as our spirits were bolstered by the nice breeze and big, puffy clouds that periodically shaded us from the sun. I’ve been so caught up in work lately, that I feel out of touch with nature and my bigger role in the universe but today’s walk changed all that!

We were going up the first hill when I spotted a fuzzy caterpillar crossing the road a distance ahead. The first thoughts that popped into my head were “Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!” and I quickly sped up to reach the little guy before a car came along and squished him. To better understand my love for the little things, read my Fall’s Fuzzy Caterpillars entry.

I scooped the caterpillar up, he curled into a tight ball, and I carried him safely to the side of the road he’d been crawling toward. As I carried him, he opened up and by the time I reached the shoulder, he was crawling across my hand. I placed him safely in the grass away from the road and wished him well on his journey.

Now, some people might find it odd that I think rescuing a caterpillar is my reason for being, but it’s perfectly normal for me. That one little act reminded me that I do indeed serve a purpose in the bigger picture and that nature and I are connected. My connection with nature was proven throughout the entire walk today as I saw just about every type of sign I’ve ever asked for. I saw two hawks-one on the way out and one on the way back-two merlins on the way out, tons of little white butterflies flying alone and in pairs, and over a dozen monarchs gliding gracefully in the breeze. It was one of the best walks I’ve had in a long time!

Looking toward the two mile walk back home...

Looking toward the two mile walk back home…

My walk also reminded me of a very important lesson: every journey outward requires the same distance traveled inward. Spiritually that sounds and is very profound, but physically it means that walking two miles out means we have to walk two miles back home. Jazz and I were dragging after only a half mile back toward home but we kept putting one foot in front of the other and made it safely home…almost two hours after we’d left. Not our best time, but we weren’t going for speed, we were going for fulfillment, and we achieved that. I feel happily reconnected with nature and know with certainty that the universe needs me and has great plans for me!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!

Jazzmin Afternoons

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

My favorite ways to enjoy autumn are by taking walks with Jazzmin to save caterpillars and by laying my old comforter out in the lawn to soak up the remaining fall scenery and warmth. The past two afternoons have been quite lovely here so Jazz and I have been relaxing in the yard watching the clouds roll by, listening to birds and watching butterflies. Jazzmin mostly listens for chipmunks and squirrels and sniffs the leaves but she will eventually lay with me on the blanket.

Watching and listening to the birds in the autumn is a learning experience. The goldfinches have lost all their bright, yellow and black feathers and are back to their dismal greenish-yellow color. They’re still adorable just not as vibrant. I hear them peeping all day long as they gather in little flocks to prepare for winter. Some of the finches go south and some stay in the area. I leave my bird feeders up year round to make sure they always have a place to find food.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Yesterday as I was laying on the blanket I watched two little finches land on the wire above my head. When they first landed they were about two feet apart. They were peeping and chirping at each other and eventually one moved closer to the other. They were soon sitting side by side and they snuck a quick little beak kiss that made me smile. It was almost as if they were saying “I’m looking forward to snuggling with you this winter.” I thought it was a rather sweet gesture.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

Today the finches were still flying around in their little flocks but they weren’t my main focus. I spotted a cardinal hopping around in the lilac bush behind my girls’ swingset. He must have been a young male cardinal because it sounded as if he was still learning how to sing their usual “pretty pretty pretty” call. He kept starting it and testing it out but the notes were somewhat choppy and off pitch. I imagine he wants to get it just right before trying to court a lady cardinal. Good thing he has all winter to practice!

There was also a chickadee making quite a ruckus in the hedgerow. I walked over to investigate thinking my cat Owl was bothering him but she was nowhere to be seen. I watched the little chickadee chirp and fuss and hop among the branches and I eventually realized he was eating bugs off the leaves. He was extremely efficient at it and had a great work ethic and I was impressed. Chickadees are my favorite little birds and they’re always the first to find any new feeders I hang up. I hope someday to get one to eat out of my hand but it hasn’t happened yet.

I know how lucky I am that I can relax outside in the sunshine during my work breaks. I missed far too many falls being stuck inside and while I can’t get them back, I can make the most of my Jazzmin afternoons beneath the vast, blue sky.