“Flame”, one of the adoptable kitties. My daughter thought Flame looked like Jim Gaffigan….

What kind of people go to Cat Cafes??  People like US!  Back in March, my kids had spring break but we were very busy and didn’t have a lot of time for a vacation.  Soooo, we did some local trips, including a visit to Seattle’s first cat cafe, Meowtropolitan.

What is a cat cafe?  Well, it combines coffee and cats.  Quite a simple formula really!  While they are very popular in Japan and other Asian countries, this is the first one to open in Seattle.  Appointments are made online and you have one hour, ten minutes or so to get your coffee and then 50 minutes to enjoy interacting with the cats.  The coffee house is separated from the cat room by double doors to prevent escapes, (and also because of health codes).  There were about 20 cats on the premises, half of which were available for adoption.  Overall, it was a wonderful experience!  The coffees and pastries are cat themed of course.  I had a “Meowcha” and an adorable chocolate macaron with a kitty face on it.  There were about 15 guests including us and you know what??  EVERYONE had a big smile on their face!  It was a very happy and relaxing experience!

                                                 Is there a cat in this basket??  Yes!


                                   Lots of structures for cats to climb on, or just sleep!

If you ever get the opportunity to go to a cat cafe, do it!!  The cats are lovely and it’s a terrific way to spend an hour of your day.  I will certainly go back and visit again!

Let’s Catch Up…Over Coffee

I did try to give up coffee.  Really I did try.  I made it almost a month but honestly, I never popped out of that zombie stage and went through my days feeling like a grouchy sleepwalker.  Then I ran into a woman I know, an older and much wiser woman.  She told me she had had to give up coffee a few times and found the thing to do was to have “a little bit of coffee every day”.  Sounded so simple.  Sounded so Yoda-like.  Coffee, little bit you must have.  My brain latched on to it and I turned it over and over in my mind. I decided that if I was going to have coffee it would be really good coffee. And that I would make it at home.  So, I went back to my old coffee snob ways of grinding my own beans and paying attention to the details.  I got help online, of course, at stumptown.  The result has been some damn fine coffee.

So, let’s catch up….June was a month that brought a lot of sadness to our lives.  We took it in, moved along.   July opened with the promise of blue skies, warm sunny days, trips to the lake and summer plans.  We got to the raceway to watch some vintage auto racing.  We celebrated our 24th anniversary with a Dwight Yoakam concert and a Twin Peaks themed date night.  It was lovely.

But, on July 10, we learned the tragic news that a close friend of my son had passed away.  It has left all of us so saddened and heart broken.  I know that my son will always miss him.  It has become a part of him.  And it grieves me as a parent both to think that other parents are hurting (fathomless hurt) and that my own son and daughter have known such sorrow in their young lives.  I couldn’t keep it from them.  I couldn’t shield their eyes during that part of the movie or whisper so they wouldn’t hear.  We talk about it, grieve and move along.
One thing that I will say about finding peace in a tough time, is that the mountains seem to soothe all wounds.  I have walked out, to the top of the “hill”, many times, to seek answers to life’s sad questions.   I don’t really find an answer, but I do find some solace.  I find the larger picture and while it often makes no sense, I find beauty and peace, and that gives me the strength to go back down the mountain and face life’s sorrows and challenges. Stay strong, do not weaken…lace up your shoes, pull on your pack and move along.

Coffee Lover, Part Two

Back in 2007, I gave up drinking coffee.  My daughter, 12 at the time and brutally honest, kept complaining that I had coffee breath. She would scream at me to open a window every time we got in the truck.   My cold turkey quit had more to do with a Starbucks visit though.  I went in , ordered a tall Americano and took a big gulp as I got back behind the wheel.  I felt something foreign in my mouth that jabbed at my throat as I swallowed. In a panic I tried to spit the coffee back in the cup thru that little drinking hole and ended up instead, spewing coffee all over myself, all over the dashboard.  It was pretty disgusting and a great big mess!  So, I quit.  The culprit was a  bristle from the brushes they use to clean the machines….nasty?  Yup.

I gave up coffee for about three months.  I don’t remember many side effects, just a few headaches from the caffeine withdrawal.  This time?  This time?  oh man!  I felt so miserable.  Here’s a list: Body aches, stiffness, moodiness, irritability, IRRITABILITY, inability to focus, sleeplessness, (yes, ridiculous) and of course the headaches.  This time the headaches were minor, but at the height of  symptoms I felt like I was getting the flu.  I was so out of it that at one point I was trying to unlock my car by pointing my phone at it.  I looked up symptoms on line and of course all of the above were listed.  Interestingly, caffeine withdrawal now has it’s own diagnosis code in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Seriously.  At least that’s that the internet tells me.  I could see how you could go to a doctor with the symptoms because really, I felt pretty awful.

It’s been about three weeks. No cold turkey this time.  This time I had to  wean and cajole, talk myself through it, sit on the couch and stare into space. But I am over most of the symptoms and feel a bit normal (that’s a stretch for me always).   Here’s why I decided to give it up:

1) Nutritionally, coffee was messing me up. 

My normal routine would be to get up have coffee and a banana and go for a run.  Bananas started to bother me, made my mouth itch ,upset my stomach.  I tried to find a substitute but nothing else feels right.  So coffee took over.  One cup became two, more coffee at 10 when my daughter got up, then of course more or a big mocha/latte/flavored thing for that afternoon slump. and hey, it’s the Pacific Northwest, so why not have MORE?  We do love our coffee here….In fact we survive the rain with coffee, it’s a KEY ingredient in NW life!  But all this coffee was not helping me nutritionally. My stomach was not enjoying the ride either.  Food seemed to pass though my system on a coffee flume, few nutrients staying behind to fuel me.

2) I never sleep well.

     I tell people i have’t had a good night’s sleep since the 80’s and I mean it. With age and stress and hormones (?) it’s gotten worse.  Caffeine is a known sleep enemy so, why not eliminate it?  it’s good to eliminate enemies right?

3) I am sick of bladder irritation and having to pee on runs. Or actually just         peeing while running.

     Have you ever peed your pants running?  Some of us have worse experiences I know.  Even famous runners! But it is a problem that can be made worse with coffee, a known bladder enemy too. And of course age and hormones (dang).   I’ve had it happen more than once and it’s not very comfortable!!  It has to end.

4) The coffee habit was taking up too much of my budget.

     It’s simple math.  A monthly massage may be a better way to spend?

I will give you an update soon.  I am already sleeping a bit better.  I wake during the night but can fall back to sleep and last week, twice, I spent over 11 hrs in bed!  I’m hoping eventually to reach an agreement with caffeine, moderate amounts, good coffee, good friends.

coffee lover

I realized when I started to write about caffeine withdrawal that I needed to back up a bit and talk about my life with coffee.  What’s your earliest coffee memory?   When I was about 4 or 5 my mom shopped at the local A&P supermarket.  In those days, there was a coffee grinder at the end of the checkout counter.  I loved watching the machine noisily grind the beans and even then loved the aroma! I don’t remember my folks being big coffee drinkers, but my Aunt Anna?  I can not picture her without the ever present cup of coffee in one hand, a cigarette burning in the other. My Aunt Margie is permanently connected in my memory to her aluminum coffee pot. I  can still see it percolating on the stove, boiling over, the liquid turning a dark brown in the glass bulb.  It was the strongest and best coffee on the planet!

I’m not sure when I started drinking coffee.  I know I drank it at 19 because I remember an older guy I dated telling me I shouldn’t put sugar in my coffee, it wasn’t very “grown-up”.  (ya, DOUCHE)  Anyway, I laugh at that now, but I take my coffee with cream, no sugar.

College and coffee go hand and hand.  Another vivid coffee memory I have is of a professor leading me by the arm to a large silver buffet urn as he said, “Kelly have you had coffee? Come and get some wake up juice!”   This probably would not have stuck with me all these years had he not also been a Catholic priest!   It wasn’t prayer he was offering or to take my confession, it was a cup of joe and it was very much a “come to the dark side Luke” offer, said with a hint of excitement in his voice.

For every friend, I have a corresponding coffee memory.  My buddy in grad school took his coffee “light and sweet”.  Our morning ritual coffee run brightened up so many days.  Richie?  Richie is waiting in line on a hot summer day for cups of cappuccino and drinking them in the sun.  Mike is a crisp white cup of espresso. Anne, my bff, is pots of coffee, lipstick stains on the cup and sugar all over my kitchen counter.  Kathy, Starbucks and Tevas in the Seattle rain.  And my climbing partner?  He’s a tall skinny mocha, no whip. He has a gorgeous home espresso maker and ….an at home roaster.

My husband and I have so many coffee memories that they probably deserve their own scrap book!  In the 80’s we knew where all the gourmet shops were. Remember the flavored coffee trend?  We were hooked on hazelnut.  We have ground, pressed and brewed our way around the country.  Coffee has fueled us at bike races, warmed us up camping and climbing.  It has kept us awake through 30+ years together.  I remember our first coffee as husband and wife, our first cups as parents. Sometimes on Sundays , he brings me coffee in bed.
So why am I giving it up?  Am I a coffee lover or a caffeine addict?  Am I a coffee achiever or just someone who has a bad habit?  What is your relationship with the bean?  Are you passionate about coffee?  Is it just another beverage?   I’ll be sure to fill you in on the caffeine withdrawal soon.  Until then, enjoy your weekend!  Run fast, play hard, have coffee with friends~