Tuesday Morning Questions

Overcaffeinated Owl Says WHOOOOOOO

  1. Is French press coffee is just pretentious cowboy coffee with a fancy strainer and no eggshells?
  2. Will anyone notice that I’m wearing dark brown woven slacks and black shoes?  Will they care?  Do I care that no one cares?
  3. When did waiting for other people to exit an elevator before entering it become an optional thing?  Forget common courtesy—it’s common sense, right?
  4. If you clip the feathers of wereduck’s wing, do his fingernails get shorter?
  5. How much is my book budget this fiscal?  How much?  Seriously?
  6. Why couldn’t Helen Mirren have been the next Doctor Who?
  7. Can I use the description “ventiest venti ever brewed” in a story without running afoul of Starbucks’ legal department?
  8. Why do I have three pencils behind my ear?  Why did I only notice this when I tried to add a fourth pencil?
  9. Why does the Admin photocopier always jam when I have a hundred copies to make and ten minutes to make ‘em?
  10. How expensive would were-proof silver handcuffs be?
  11. Where’s the &$*^# public restroom key?
  12. Is there any place nearby that I can get the venteist venti ever brewed?
  13. Did I see a sort of Mongolian death worm plot on CSI a couple years ago when a chef killed a woman with a baby octopus?  Would it seem derivative or like a fresh new twist on fugu poisoning?
  14. Since I had Janie’s leftover oatmeal for breakfast, I deserve something nutritionally bereft for lunch, right?
  15. Does this curl-enhancing mousse make me look like a poodle from the ‘eighties?  Since it takes ten minutes off my morning routine, keeps my bangs out of my eyes, and seems to be humidity proof, do I really care?
  16. How long until lunch?
  17. Why am I not disturbed by the concept of a “fresh new twist on fugu poisoning?”
  18. Does a list of questions count as a blog post?

Silver Linings on a Slapstick Day

This morning has been one long slapstick routine.

First thing I did—well, third, but the less about that, the better—was go twenty rounds* with my e-mail system, which does not understand why I might want margins and line breaks in the writing samples I need to send out.  I finally registered with a format-friendlier new e-mail provider and went ten more rounds with it before realizing that if I sent the samples to someone using the same provider, I didn’t need to use any of my usual fixes.

It was about this time that I decided to nudge “caffeine” and “waking up” a tad higher on my daily To Do list.

But it all worked out just before I had to turf the kids out of bed.  My beloved offspring responded to my cheerful order to rise and shine—or at least rise, I’m not a total despot—by  leaping into action like slugs after a molasses binge.** I bribed them to breakfast with their choice of poison from a cereal multi-pack and told them, repeatedly, that I was leaving at quarter after.  Big hand on the 3.

Does everyone understand?  I am not waiting for you this morning.  Lucky charm

Yes, Mommy.

It’s my first day back after a week away and I have to be on time.  If you aren’t ready, I’m leaving without you.

Okay, Mommy.  Oooo, look—a marshmallow rainbow!

When we finally left the house, fed, brushed, and shod, the big hand was on the six and the big vein was pulsing on the forehead.

And it was raining.

But I was armed with extra coffee in a travel mug and an umbrella,  and both kids gave me big hugs at the entrance to their day camp—even Janie, who is starting to exhibit public sensitivity to parental cooties —before they ran one way and I ran the other.

I parked in the library lot only ten minutes behind my planned schedule, opened my umbrella with a smug flair, and walked with professional purpose across the street to the staff entrance . . . just as I remembered  my coffee.  I went back to my car, retrieved my travel mug and spent some time juggling it, my bag, my keys, and the umbrella, until I finally figured out how to work the lock without dropping anything.  Much.

As I was braving the cross traffic for the third time, a small gust of wind hit the umbrella, which promptly exploded into bare spines and flapping cloth, leaving me holding aloft what looked like the red and white foot of an enormous dead duck, but was far less useful for keeping off the sudden torrential downpour.***

I couldn’t just leave it there—there were witnesses, laughing as they drove by—so I carried it to the library and abandoned it in the small airlock space because there’s a security camera there and beating it to shreds against the floor wouldn’t look good to admin, which tries to maintain a sort of mutually beneficial DODT when it comes to staff sanity.

When I reached my work area, I found that my coworkers had considerately filled it with newspapers and books and magazines so that I wouldn’t feel as though I wasn’t needed.

I set my travel mug carefully next to a stack of newspapers so I could unbury my chair.

My phone rang, and without thinking, I picked up the receiver.^

Which pulled the cord.

Which was under the newspapers.

Next to my mug.

Yeah.

Luckily, from a preservationist’s view, the coffee missed the papers and the books.  And my shirt was wet from the rain, anyway.

There are worse things to smell like than vanilla hazelnut.  And brown goes with green, right?

Plus, I got a blog post out of it.

Silver linings, guys.  Silver linings.

So . . . How is your Monday Tuesday going?

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*round (\rau̇nd\) : sending an email containing writing samples to one’s own e-mail account to make sure they will arrive with the intended formatting instead of extra line breaks, spaces, weird fonts/colors/sizes, graffiti from random cybergremlins, and, eventually, the swearwords inadvisably added during round seven.

** While prying Sunny out of bed, I found a book under her pillow.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Mom, I know you’re snickering—stop it.

***Not that I’ve ever tried using a duck foot to keep dry, but anything—a flyswatter, a colander, a water balloon—would have worked better at that point.

^It was our maintenance guy, wondering if that was my dead umbrella at the staff entrance.  “Yes,” I said.  “ . . . Again?” he said.

Things I Learned Today

Electric Kettle

— Electric kettles are perfect for people who have trouble boiling water for caffeine before caffeine. Supposing, of course, that they remember to plug them in before kvetching about how long it’s taking . . .

— Sugarfree caramel syrup makes coffee smell great and taste weird.

— If you have start the day a little earlier than usual, at a place you’ve never been that’s twice as far as you usually commute, you’d better allow time for slow drivers, red lights, trains, and well-hidden entrances. And you’ll forget to clock in, anyway.

— Teaching CPR is a lot of fun when the students volunteered to take it. And it’s tougher on the feet than one might think.

— Blueberry doughnuts are wrong.

— Everyone has problems striking the back of a ‘choking’ infant CPR dummy hard enough to do any good. Except, for some reason, female police officers and librarians. We don’t know why, either.

Wild Librarian— The number of library patrons and the complexity of their requests is directly proportional to the number of library staff who are on vacation, sick, or exhausted from teaching a CPR class.

— If you’re wearing pale colors, you will be changing the loose toner bottles in the ancient, incontinent microfilm reader/printer.

— The nicest patrons in the world are the most exhausting because we want to help them when they ask, so they keep asking.

— According to Herodotus, Cleopatra could speak Troglodyte, which was apparently not the language spoken by small fossilized bugs—according to my friend Grace, those are trilobites—but a rather large tribe of cave dwellers.  Who knew?

— Writer’s block disappears when there’s a million other things you have to get done.

— If you chew enough gum, your ears start to hurt. A lot.

— Jalisa Blackman finds the strangest music videos. And covers.

See Hear Speak— The First Sign of Spring isn’t flowers or birds or bees, it’s the number of patrons who forget that a public library isn’t a suitable place to access images and videos of young(ish) naked people performing. . . fertility rites on each other.

— Brain bleach doesn’t exist.  I’ve looked

— If you forget to write a decent, thoughtful post until late in the day because you’re too busy catching up on Mock the Week messing with GoogleMaps playing Plants vs. Zombies waiting for the unplugged kettle to boil writing and editing, you can always make up a list. No one will notice the difference.

All aboard the C8H10N4O2 Espresso!

English: Chemical structure of Caffeine. Franç...

I have no idea whether I’m coming, going, or spinning in circles today.

Part of this is Monday, part is bookbrain—thank GOD—and part, I’m sure, is a severe caffeine imbalance.

I gave up diet Pepsi as my main source three days ago and haven’t figured out how to compensate, yet..

Turns out carbonation isn’t the best thing to put in one’s body, at least not in the quantities I was mainlining.  Plus, while I wasn’t spending as much per week as the average Starbucks groupie, this stuff ain’t cheap.*

Tea is my favorite alternative, but it’s not as readily available in restaurants or at work, at least in the quantities I use  to keep the withdrawal gnomes at bay and the migraine fairy from nailing me with the icepick,  so I’m also experimenting with . . . and I can’t believe I’m saying this . . . coffee.

That’s right.  After forty-cough years of not drinking coffee—of, in fact, making a point about not drinking coffee**—I’ve gone to the dark-roast side.***

Sort of.

I don’t really have the knack of it, yet.

This morning, around 5:30, when all good decisions are made, I tried to make a drinkable cup of pumpkin spice specialty roast  with Watson’s ceramic filter thingie and see if it was drinkable.

Okay, it wasn’t a cup, it was a mug.

Okay, not just a mug,but my Ohio Renaissance Festival 24-ounce mug that I’m used to filling with carbonated, aspertamed love.

Except I didn’t use enough coffee because I can’t do math before caffeine, so it was really watery.  I drank it anyway, because pumkin spice-flavored water isn’t so bad and it was warm and I wasn’t paying that much attention because bookbrain.

It wasn’t until I was already halfway through the travelmug I’d brought to work that  I realized I’d already sucked down the equivalent of two fairly strong cups of coffee.

I’m not a caffeine lightweight . . . but that’s a lot at once.

The day started to blur after that.  Or maybe it was me.

It was probably me.  It probably still is.

So this is as much post as I can sit still enough to do at the moment and I have no idea if it’s in English or Hyperactive.

Leave a comment and let me know—I’ll read ’em after the screen stops vibrating.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll just bring a handful of teabags to work . .  .

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*Also, carbonation may be the life of the soft beverage party, but there’s no denying it  also supplies  the   balloonage and noisemakers, if you know what I mean.  It’s a gas is what I’m saying.  And that’s all I’m going to say, thanks.

**Though I recently admitted that I can see the attraction.

***Yes, Averil and josey, you can tell me you told me so.

The Power of Coffee

Last year, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I was standing in a long line at a grocery store when I smelled a fantastic, delicious smell. It was warm and inviting and lovely and I breathed deeply, trying to figure out what it was.

I turned to the woman behind me—because in the Midwest, standing in the same line for more than five minutes will encourage you to form bonds with complete strangers, even if the new People  is right there on the rack to the left—and said, “Do you smell that wonderful smell? What is that?”

Highlander Grogg“Oh,” she said, smiling. “That’s my coffee.” And—because in the Midwest, this is what people do—she reached into her cart and handed me a shiny bag.

I tried not to get my noseprints on it, but it was tough going. It smelled like butterscotch and hazelnut* and caramel and good mercy it was good.

Except under conditions of severe caffeine deprivation, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I thought I might at least offer it to the other adults in the family so I could stand over the pot and breathe while it was brewing.

Unfortunately, the nice lady made me give it back. There were too many people in line to beg the cashier to find me some—I hate doing that, anyway, unless there’s a price dispute, which may or may not be a Midwest thing—and I didn’t want to wait in line any more, so I let it go and made a mental note to buy some when next the opportunity arose.

Unfortunately, that was the only store around here that carries it, and by the time I discovered this and returned to the scene, I was informed that this particular flavor is seasonal and I was out of luck.

Drat.

Fast-forward to this morning.

Due to circumstances that were technically-but-who-are-we-kidding-here under my control—a late-night writing frenzy and early morning child wrangling—I was barely awake and running late. So after dropping the Slow-Motion Sloth Sisters off at school, I zipped around the same grocery, trying to find goodies for the short story group I lead at the library branch on the second Monday of the month.

Some of our members like chocolate, some hate it, some are on diets, the library has a budget, and it was suggested to me that store-bought cookies were losing their appeal.  So I’d thrown a half-gallon of cider and some white-chocolate-covered pretzels in my cart, found a brownie assortment and some lovely grapes, and figured I was done.

And then I smelled a happy, lovely, warm smell.

My mental notes usually come unstuck five seconds after I slap ’em into place, but there’s nothing wrong with my olfactory memory.

“Highlander Grogg!” I said, to the confusion of the man next to me, and headed for the coffee aisle.

I found it in decaf first, which is dangerous to give to a group who will be discussing a lesser work of Charles Dickens, and then a bag of beans, which wasn’t the safest idea in my current state.** The only regular bags, as it turns out, were for individual cups.

After doing some mental math—and finger math, too, I won’t lie—I bought eight little sweet-smelling bags of the stuff and called it quits.

Back at the library, I filled the filter of the industrial percolator a quarter-cup at a time,*** added a little roast to make up the difference, and plugged in the machine.

Ten minutes later, two staff offered to clean the kitchen for me, if I’d leave the leftover coffee for them.  It smelled that good.

So good that when it was done, I tried half a cup myself, liberally sweetened.

It’s not bad.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that it almost tastes like it smells, my highest level of java praise, since—to paraphrase Garrison Keillor—the best coffee I’ve ever had wasn’t that much better than the worst I’ve ever had.

But the group loved it^ and more than half of them wrote down the brand and the flavor.^^ There were four cups left out of a 24-cup batch, so the branch staff was able to sample it, and I was able to sneak out without swilling the pot.^^^

Plus, I got a blog post out of it, which is a nice bonus.

So while I’m still not a coffee-lover, I’ll admit that it did make my Monday a little brighter.

I wonder if the Berres Brothers make tea?
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*Have you noticed that hazelnuts don’t smell or taste like much even when they’re roasting, but mix them with hot coffee and they’re magic?

**Plus, I love this group, but I draw the line at trying to smash coffee beans for them with my giant Have You Given Your Librarian Chocolate Today? mug, which I don’t have and don’t actually know exists, but would adore and use every day, in case anyone with google-fu skillz and a generous nature was wondering what might be the perfect gift to give, say, a librarian and diet Pepsi addict who blogs about Highlander Grogg and HobNobs.

***Note to self: scissors, next time, and ask the dentist to check your bite around the right incisor.

^We digressed from a discussion of the chronology of Dickens’ Four Sisters to one about that $50-a-cup elephant-poop coffee that one of our members had read about last week in the papers.  No one minded much.

^^I did avoid giving them the name of the grocery store—I’d feel guilty, but I still have to find a gift for my MIL, and this just may do.

^^^I did dump the grounds and clean the kitchen first, in case any of my co-workers have found this blog.