Just Having a Sit-Along

Today has been non-stop meetings, work, and networking, but it’s been fun. After working at my actual job all morning, we had another wildflower brochure meeting at the Hermit Haus.

I’m almost done with the brochure, thanks to lots of proofreading help. You can never see all your own typos. And I don’t spell in Latin well!

I took more Master Naturalist friends around the office, then some of us repaired to the Dutchtowne Deli for lunch. We had been talking about how we miss just hanging around and talking about things with each other, when John said that what we needed was to have a regular “sit-along,” (though that may not be the actual word he used, but I like it anyway).

Practicing our sitting and chatting after lunch.
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In Which I Try Poop Coffee*

*We were only calling it poop coffee or butt coffee as we laughed our way through our beverages…

The thing is, I always tell people I’m willing to try any food, at least once. So, when my colleague Chriztine decided she was interested in trying the coffee pictured at right, I (and two other coworkers) just had to say, “Yes.”

What does that mean, “zero contact with the animals?” Well, this is that coffee that’s passed through the digestive tract of the civet cat, which you may have heard of (many people think it goes through monkeys, but no). The sustainable part is important, because the poor little animals were being mistreated to get them to poop out enough beans to meet demand. We didn’t want anything to do with that!

So, according to the story on the bag, this is the nice version of the kipi luwak coffee.
Gimme some coffee. And don’t call me a weasel!

As a naturalist, I feel compelled to let you know that the civet is actually not a cat, and is more closely related to our friends, the mongoose family. I found this out in an article from Singapore, which informed me that “the special taste of these coffee is due to the fermentation process when the civets digest the beans.” MMMMM. Also I learned that this kind of coffee is called “weasel coffee” in Vietnam.

So, did I drink it?

First we spent a long time grinding the beans, during which time coworker Jen frequently reminded us that the roasting process will have killed off any germs or wee beasties living on the coffee. Whew.

You can tell they’re looking forward to this.

And then we poured hot water in and watched it drip. Was it chocolatey like Dipu thought? Were the beans old, like Jen thought? Were we all laughing too loud, like I thought?

Ready to give it a try. Note beautiful staging of coffee-making equipment.

Next, we all had to pose with our cups ready. And then we drank it. Guess what? It tasted very much like a cup of coffee. We didn’t detect any excessive smoothness or other fermentation results.

Yep. That’s coffee, all right.

But, since it was the most expensive cup of coffee any of us had ever imbibed, you can bet we all finished it. (Thanks, Chriztine.) We tried to get more people to drink it, but most flat-out refused, even when I politely stuck the cup under their noses and demanded, “Wanna smell my poop coffee?” So hilarious.

Rob painfully tastes the coffee. The new guy behind him got a good chuckle out of us. He was getting “pod coffee,” as we call the product from that machine (some like it; some don’t).

Rob here tried a tiny bit and said he did NOT like it. That will save him the investment of buying more if he did like it!

The best part of the day was making all the jokes and laughing away some of the work stress. I will say that I’m glad the only coffee I brought home was some medium-roast blends to drink in the mornings at the Bobcat Lair. No more poop coffee.

By the way, we have civets in Texas (ring-tail cats). Wonder what happens when they eat mequite beans?

Let’s Pretend It’s Autumn!

Sure, it was 102 again today. But today was the day Anita and I rewarded ourselves for all the garage cleaning and wine room construction. Yes, we went to Pier 1 to check out the fall decor.

Wait!

I forgot to share last week that Anita got a special accent for the wine room, a beautiful Tiffany-style lamp she found on Overstock.com. She also got a few wine books. Fancy.

Back to Seasonal stuff

Isn’t this post riveting so far? I’m pretty dulle when not ranting.

Anyway, we knew we wanted to get a couple more of the glass pumpkins Pier 1 does every year. Other than that Anita had her eye on an acorn made out of leaves, and I wanted a calm autumn wreath.

This one will join others in the wall shelving.
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How Do You Form and Maintain Community?

Monday evening we expanded our usual guest list to include some new people, in honor of Labor Day. We invited our cabin tenant, Tyler, along with his wife, Yanelly, who just moved to town. We also invited our new friends, Kayla and Matt, who recently bought a house from us and now live next to Martha and Mike.

And if you’re in the community, you have to hang out with Fiona (that’s Matt and Kayla)

We realized that we’ve been busy creating a community ever since we started coming to the ranch. We’re so grateful to Sara and Ralph for letting us buy our little slice of heaven and start down the road to making a life in Milam County. And now we’re helping bring in more folks, like my sister, Mandi and family, Mike and Martha, Kathleen, and Kayla and Matt!

You do have to cook a LOT of burgers for a community cookout, says Mike.

Forming a community

Pretty much everyone who’s become part of my social circle in Milam County has been because I volunteered to do something. That may explain why I’m such a “joiner,” as Sensei Larry, who taught my sons karate, has been saying for 20 years or so.

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Labor Day Labors of Love

I’ve been trying to not do quite so much this weekend, but other than putting off one important task (which I will work on all next week), I’ve been planning things, improving websites, and volunteering. I’m sort of proud of what I’ve managed to do! I love volunteering.

The Hermit Haus

One thing is that I improved the social media presence of our meeting venue, The Hermit Haus. I’d had a website since we bought the building, but not done much with it. I now have a Facebook page for it, where I can easily share upcoming events and news. Thanks to Mandi inviting everyone she knows, we have a good number of fans already!

Mandi and I also spent more time working on this business today, and we have pricing all set, with a sale for events during our renovation.

Who knows when it will actually look like this!

We also had lots of ideas for things to do. One thing is I want to start a coffeehouse/house concert series like the old Live Oak Coffeehouse I used to participate in. You know, so I can name it “CoffeeHaus Concerts @ The Hermit Haus” or something with “haus” in it.

I have some good music connections in town, so I hope to partner with one of them to do the bookings and such. The idea would be to have a “listening room” atmosphere where people actually pay attention to the music. By charging admission, the performers could get some pay and we could also give a cut to a local charity. Sound good?

That Brochure

I have also put in a surprising (to me) number of hours on the brochure I’m creating to our Master Naturalist chapter and another group. I’m real proud at how easily the draft came together. But, it’s taking a while for all the many, many comments and analyses by the committee to get cleared up. Thus, I’m making lots of changes.

To be honest, I’d rather work with eagle-eyed thoughtful reviewers than with people who don’t point things out until the item is published! Right?

One of the lovely images in the brochure, by Ann Collins.

I’ve been also chatting with potential people to work at Hearts, Homes and Hands, which I can’t help but do. And I am reading up on managing nonprofits so I can talk rationally about it with my fellow MTOL directors.

Spirituality

Those of you wondering what I was going to do about finding a spiritual community can rest easier. I think my friend, Martha, and I have come up with something we can do with a few local friends, which will nicely meet our needs but still be disorganized enough to NOT be organized religion. I’ll leave it at that, but I’m happy I figured something out!

I hope those of you in the US got at least a little break on Labor Day. I know many people don’t, including my own kid. And in other places, I sure hope you had a reasonable Monday!

New Mamas and Wannabes

I just had to share this! As I was driving into the Wild Hermits part of the ranch, I saw our tenant messing with a cow. Hmm, I thought, some of those cows looked pretty bagged up yesterday (yeah I talk rancher talk to myself).

Sure enough, when he left, I saw this shiny new calf he’d just tagged. Hooray! It’s New Mama time here! These won’t freeze to death for sure.

Brand new baby!

It turns out there were two new brown calves, but the mama blocked my view when I drove by. Lucky, I found that baby in a photo of the other pair.

There’s another baby hiding at right. Moo!

I found the cool magnifying glass thing in my photo tools. Handy.

Wannabe

I guess the cow hormones must have drifted over to the chicken coop, because Blackie has gone broody. That means she wants to hatch eggs. Last week Kathleen and I managed to remove one.

Thanks, Internet!

Yesterday and the day before, she was not happy to have me poking at her, but today I just used both hands and managed to remove four more green eggs from her. I only got poked badly twice.

I read that they stay broody 3 weeks, so I hope my hand makes it through two more. I also hope she eats and drinks enough. They only leave the nest once a day. Poor Blackie. She’s all hormonal.

That’s Blackie in the middle of this picture from back when I had more chickens.

(The remaining 6 chickens are still fine! They love the cube!)

Canine Capers: Dogs of Hermits’ Rest Report

I’m taking a day off from thinking about complicated issues and hard stuff, at least for the most part. I did do some brainstorming this afternoon with my friend Martha as a result of our spiritual life crises. That was good for us both!

I’m relaxing, too, says Vlassic.

It’s been a bit more relaxing than usual around here, so we’ve been hanging out with our precious canines. I’m relieved to say that they are all getting along really well. The worst behavior issue is that Vlassic has been avoiding the family room ever since Penney arrived and lashed out at him when he wanted to share a lap with her.

Vlassic is actually touching Penney. Harvey’s just watching the young ones tussle.

I think that’s getting better, though, because they have all been in my den on the couch playing away (I had intended to take a nap, but instead I took pictures of the smaller dogs all playing together indoors).

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