Weekend Coffee Share: Fall Colors and Full Houses

If we were having coffee, I’d comment first on the weather.  It was a beautiful week!  Sunshine, morning fog, crisp Autumn air… it doesn’t get much better than this.  I live for this time of year.  Summer is too hot, winter too long, but fall?  The best.

Inspired by the weather, I was able to get outside for some early morning walks.  Inspired by the foliage, I pieced together this video.  I’m no professional when it comes to videography, but I sure do enjoy experimenting.  It’s amazing what you can do with an iPhone!

Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Fall is in Full Swing

If we were having coffee, we’d be wrapped up in sweaters and scarves wandering through the woods with no clear destination.  We’d look up into the golden and red leaves and let out a long, contented sigh.  Fall is at it’s most beautiful point here in Minnesota and I am loving every minute of it.

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Walking in our woods last weekend

If we were having coffee, I’d apologize for being absent from the blogosphere.  Today is my first full day off in three weeks–although I may have to go over and help give staff lunch breaks if the orchard is busy.  Between working full time at the library and helping out at the family apple farm, free time has been sparse.  When I DO have time to relax, the last thing on my mind has been writing.  Which is okay.  I miss you all, but sometimes you just need to step away from things if you don’t have the energy.  I’m hoping to give blogging more attention when things settle down–and this includes finally updating my WordPress account to premium, getting my own domain, and customizing my site. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Things Are About to Get Busy

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by saying that it’s good to be back!  I missed out on last week’s coffee share on account of being out of town.  How have things been since we last spoke?

It’s strange to think that summer is over.  As it always does, it went by so quickly!  I’m glad, though.  September is here and with it comes cool mornings and golden sunsets.  Sweater weather is right around the corner and I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Training Wheels

If we were having coffee, we’d be cross-legged on the carpet wearing sweatshirts, sweaters, or flannels–take your pick!  The past few days have been rainy and cool.  It’s a welcome relief from the usual August heat and humidity.  Summers in Minnesota are so short.  I feel like I should be soaking in the sunshine and enjoying the chance to wear shorts.  Really, though, all I want is fall to come.  I’m ready for flannels, sweaters, leggings, scarves, and boots again.  I’m ready for crisp mornings and the smell of falling leaves.

In the meantime, the cool mornings have helped me be really productive.  I’ve been able to complete several of the small, around-the-house tasks I’ve been putting off for weeks. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: New Jobs and College Visits

If we were having coffee, we’d be bundled up in sweaters sitting outside.  The world is a painting of reds, golds, and browns–the leaves are just past the peak of color and are starting to fall.  I’d suggest taking a walk to enjoy the crisp air and crunch of leaves under our feet.  If your hands are cold, bring your cup with you.  It will keep you warm!

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I HAVE A NEW JOB!  You are now looking at (or rather, reading the words of) the new Interim Director of my community’s Chamber of Commerce.  Of course, the job isn’t permanent.  It’s only for a couple of months while the Chamber looks for a new Executive Director.  I’m just there to fill in and give the board of directors time to find a good fit for the position.

The frustrating thing, though, is I hope to start tomorrow and still have no idea what the job looks like.  I know I’ll be addressing the emails, phone messages, and mail that have come in over the past few weeks.  I know there are meetings I’ll have to attend–mostly to take notes.  I know that I now have keys to the building and a desk in the old Historical Society building.  But I don’t know what my days will actually look like.

My goal is to meet with the former Executive Director sometime in the next couple of days in order to learn the job.  The problem is, she’s not a very competent communicator and doesn’t really understand what I want from her.  She keeps texting my mom (who is the Vice President of the board) about it.  Mom passed her my contact information so she and I can figure it out… but clearly she’s stressed and confused because she hasn’t actually contacted ME yet.

It will all come together.  Hopefully we will be able to meet.  If not, I’m pretty good at figuring things out.  If all else fails, I’ll go to the office tomorrow (after all, I DO have the key), poke around for a few hours, and hope the info I need is lurking in a desk drawer or computer file.

If we were having coffee, you would know that I visited my college town for the first time as an alumni!  I didn’t think I’d be making the trip to Morris any time soon, but my old Bible study co-leader organized a retreat for the group and asked if I would be able to come as a guest speaker.  My old roommate, Alli, and I founded this Bible study four years ago and it was one of my favorite parts of college.

Selfie with everyone at Pomme de Terre Park, featuring the signature Morris wind turbines that provide energy to campus.

The retreat took place at someone’s house.  I was delighted to find that almost everyone in attendance were original members of the group.  We had art night on Friday–which was a fun exploration of acrylic paint and Canadian rom-coms.  On Saturday, we ate meals together, went on a prayer walk in Pomme de Terre Park, and watched Friends on Netflix.  Alli and I gave our talks, which both went well.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my trip to Morris has me feeling incredibly blessed.  As an introvert, I find that the best kind of people are the ones I can be with for hours without feeling drained.  Hanging out with these girls was like that.  I’m not close friends with anyone in the group, but that really didn’t matter.  We’ve spent so much time throughout the years laughing, making memories, and discussing faith that friendship comes naturally.  Being together again felt just like old times.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did.

My faith hasn’t been flourishing since leaving Morris in May.  It hasn’t been growing, but it hasn’t been receding.  I know that there are lots of important things going on that I can’t see right now.  This weekend was a wonderful reminder that God has big things ahead and I’m right where I need to be.

Now the time has come to turn things over to you.  How has your week been?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Weekend Coffee Share: Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota

If we were having coffee, I would, right away, ask if you’ve heard the news.  Well… actually, if you’ve seen the news.  Because, oh boy, is it exciting!  One of my state’s top news networks does a “Best in Minnesota” feature and their most recent focus was Best Apple Orchard.  My family owns an apple orchard!  We found out about the contest a couple of weeks ago and, right away, launched a social media campaign to get everyone we know voting.  I kept the news off WordPress, but was fairly obnoxious with my Facebook posts.

Anyways, we WON the competition and can now say that Pleasant Valley Orchard is the best in Minnesota!

My family's apple orchard, taken at sunset last Saturday.
Panorama of our orchard, taken last weekend at sunset.

On Tuesday, a reporter and videographer from WCCO came out and shot footage for a story on our farm.  I took a class on visual journalism last year and watching them work was fascinating.  They clearly came with a vision for the story and, right as they popped out of their vehicle, got to work filming.  My entire family was there and we showed them all around our farm, telling them the history, and sharing stories.  We were all interviewed, which was fun.

If you’re interested in seeing the story, hop along to the WCCO website!  When it aired, we watched it three times in a row. It really is a lovely story–it captures the essence of who my family is, what we do, and where I come from.  My interview didn’t make the cut, but no tears were shed over that.  I’ll leave the spotlight to my parents and brothers.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being the Best Apple Orchard in Minnesota also has negative consequences.  As soon as the story aired, we had a significant increase in traffic.  Friday had crowds like a slow Saturday and I worked for ten hours straight assembling bakery products, packing apples, and mowing as much as I could before the sun set.  Yesterday (Saturday), I worked in the store all day and now understand what it feels like to work retail on Black Friday.  It was the busiest day we have EVER had in the 23 years we have been open.  Working the cash register, I did nothing but smile and crunch numbers for eight hours straight.  We were short-staffed and, as a result, didn’t get lunch breaks.  Our bakery products were gone by three and we sold all of the 700 caramel apples that had been made for the weekend.  (Our baker had to work extra to make more.)

Before we opened, I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to make me an extrovert for the day.  It didn’t work.  My brain was total mush by 2 PM and my stomach growled most of the day.  At one point mid-afternoon, I turned to my coworker and declared, “I want to die.”

Nevertheless, I’m still alive and so are my parents.  It took a couple of hours to get all the post-closing chores done, but when they were, we went out for fancy steak dinner.  Because we deserved it.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that, even though exhausted, I was awake from 2:30-5 AM simply because my body was so wired from the day’s work.  Instead of rolling around for hours, I climbed out of bed, made a cup of hot cocoa, climbed back into bed, and watched Netflix.  I would have preferred sleeping, but Netflix is good too.

It’s now my day off.  THANK GOODNESS.  If I have my way, I’m spending the entire day in my pajamas, indulging in more Netflix, cleaning my room, and catching up on blogging goals.  The sad thing is, I’ll probably end up having to work.

Enough of my complaints.  I’m turning things over to you.  How has your week been?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster.

Weekend Coffee Share: The Last Summer Day

If we were having coffee, we’d probably be lounging on a blanket in my backyard basking in the sunshine.  I’d be favoring something cold–an iced mocha or frappuccino–behind my floral sunglasses.  An occasional leaf flutters from the maple tree above us.

In Minnesota, we usually have one last day of summer before the season shifts.  I think it’s today and am very thankful it fell on my one day off.  I’ve been ready for Fall to arrive for the past month, but can’t deny that today is absolutely perfect.  The air is fresh, no humidity whatsoever.  The trees are just starting to change colors.  I actually spent several hours on the aforementioned blanket alternately reading and napping.  It was absolutely glorious.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about the concert I went to last week in Minneapolis with a friend.  Maddie and I met during our semester abroad in London and she recently moved to my area and has been aching to go to a show ever since.  We went to see Ivan & Alyosha and Noah Gundersen.  I wasn’t overly familiar with either band, but it was a wonderful show.  Musically, both bands were a real treat.  Ivan & Alyosha were my favorite act (I’ve been listening to them nonstop ever since).  They’re really peppy with a California vibe.  Noah was much more serious–his whole band wore black and oozed angst.  I like his earlier music, but he mostly played stuff from his most recent album which is really existential.  It was hard not to be depressed after the show as I drove the hour home well-past midnight.  But I cured the overflow angst by listening to peppy pre-pop Taylor Swift songs.

If we were having coffee, you would know that I’m frustrated.  For the most part, things are going very well for me right now.  I have a job, a roof over my head, and get to spend lots of time with family.  But a big portion of my life, my Christian faith, hasn’t been doing well.  I’m not struggling, but I’m not thriving either.  One of the problems is that I feel like I have too much history with the churches in my area.  Most people my age go to the church I grew up in, which I no longer attend for some very painful reasons (which I discuss in this post).  My family usually goes to a mega-church in the cities, which was great for in college for weekend visits and long breaks.  But it’s not the kind of church I actually want to go to long-term.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not the right fit for me.  I’ve looked into trying some other churches, but I either know too many people who go there or have been turned off by hearing about people’s bad experiences.

The thing is, Christian culture tends to be extremely conservative.  And I tend to be more liberal.  When I’m around other Christians, even those I love and admire, I generally keep my opinions to myself.  Usually, this is because it’s not the time or place.  But another factor is that most people will strike up an argument.  I really dislike arguing–it does more harm than good.  In arguments, people tend to spend most of the time defending their own perspective without actually caring about what the other person has to say.  I don’t mind if someone thinks differently than I do, but it bothers me when others don’t respect my perspective in return.   So I don’t go there.

I’m in a bit of a rut, you see.  My relationship with God is one of the most important things I have.  I long for Christian community who will accept me without judging me based on the way I think.  I long for supporters who will spur me on in faith.  I known it exists–I’ve had it before in Morris and at camp.  Here, though, I feel very much alone.

If we were having coffee, though, I hope we don’t argue.  Because I’d love nothing more than to spend the afternoon sipping cool drinks on that blanket with you.  How has your week been?  Anything you’d like to share in return?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster.

To a Rainy Day (Writing 101, Day 9)

Dear Rainy Day,

I’m in love with you. The thunder that presses against my windows send a shiver of pleasure down my spine. The pattering of raindrops makes me feel cozy and safe.

Yet… How am I supposed to get anything done with your constant pestering?

You inspire the desire to shirk all responsibility. I can’t stop thinking about you. I want to spend time with you, to stand in your downpour and get soaked to the skin. I want to soak you in.

I want to curl up in a sweater and leggings in a large chair and watch you transform the normally vibrant colors out the window to a mass of fuzzy grey. I want to drink tea and read poetry aloud, letting the cadence of the words rumble in time with your thunder.

Will you wait for me, Rainy Day? Will you linger until my work is done? Will you save up a whisper so, when I crawl in bed tonight, you can sing me to sleep?

All my love,

Amelia

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This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

For a similar post, check out my breakup letter to Virginia Woolf.

Orchard Moments: The Open Sign is Out!

After two solid weeks of wiping, washing, digging, painting, picking, sorting, stacking, pricing, arranging, mowing, and so on, my family’s apple orchard is open for the season!

Now that we have customers everywhere and staff behind counters, my summer hermit ways are a thing of the past.  I enjoyed the solitude of working alone (minus those six hours deep cleaning the kitchen), but have missed seeing people.

We’ve got a wonderful crew of people on staff this year, from the retired men who pick apples to the high schoolers who wash them and the kind-hearted ladies who staff our store.  One of my old church friends bakes for us four days a week, which is an absolute treat.  It’s a pleasure to laugh and make jokes with someone that isn’t my parent or sibling!

Stop by this time next week for more about what it’s like to live on an apple orchard.

Weekend Coffee Share: Fall, Family, and KITTENS!

If we were having coffee, we’d be lounging on my couch watching rain dribble down the large windows of my living room.  My hands would be cupped around my favorite mug covered in Shakespearean insult typography and yours would hold a mug shaped like a large, round penguin.  (I hope you like penguins.)  Our chat would be a quick one–I have to head to work soon.

After exchanging pleasantries, I would probably spend a great deal of time complaining about the heat.  If you live  the tropics or desert, you’d scoff and roll your eyes.  It’s perfectly justified–eighty-five degrees and humidity, no big deal.  But, you see, it’s September.  September means sweatshirt-and-shorts weather–the best kind.  I don’t think it follows the rules of fashion, but there are few things more satisfying than wearing a sweatshirt and shorts.  Is this a Minnesota thing?  Or do people where you live do this too?  Anyways, as much as I love summer, I am ready for the weather to cooperate with the season.  The time for heat is past.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my younger brother, Sam, went back to college.  In typical little brother fashion, he’s really annoying and drives me crazy most of the time.  I would tell you about the weird/creepy things he does, but am reluctant to post such things on the internet for the sake of privacy.  So, if we ever meet in person, you’ll just have to ask.  I’m going to miss having Sam around.  This summer has been the most time I’ve spent with him in four years, since I started college.  We worked together every day and now I’m the only child in the house.  Who am I going to fight with now?

If we were having coffee, you would hear all about the kittens we found this week.  When you live on a farm you usually have barn cats.  Our resident mama cat, BooBoo, is pushing fourteen years and has stopped having babies, which means childbearing duties have fallen to our other female cat.  She’s had multiple names over the years, but we’ve finally settled on Gollum Kitty due to a cough that persisted most of the summer.

Aren't they the cutest?
Aren’t they the cutest?

To say it nicely, Gollum Kitty isn’t the most intelligent feline out there.  She’s also quite small, despite being two years old.  When I heard little mews coming from the bushes by my house, I was shocked to find not a kitten or two (which is usual for Gollum Kitty), but SEVEN.  They’re only a couple of weeks old, but their eyes are open and are just starting to explore.  Five of them are white with different colored spots, one is sandy with white feet, and one is all black.

When I visit the kittens, I feel like a little kid again.  All I want to do is pet them.  Last night, during the groggy moments between sleeping and waking, the kittens were always on my mind.  I woke up this morning to a thunderstorm and my first thoughts were devoted to their safety.  (It turns out, my dad got up early and moved them from the bushes to one of our cat houses.  So they’re safe.)  It’s only been a day and my parents are sick of hearing me gush about how much I love the little fur balls.  They’ve charged me with taming them–a task I’m a little too excited about.

I just glanced at the clock and it’s time to head to work.  But before I go–what would you share if we were having coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link-up at Part Time Monster