Coffee Share 190406

This is a Weekly Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Alli.
Alli manages a weekly list of posts from a small group of bloggers who want to just stay in touch, chat about blogging, writing, travel, photography, children, pets, work, life hacks or just about anything else that might be of interest.
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Link to my Story Blog.   Come share a laugh with me.

Ahh – there you are.  Come on in, let me take your coat and hang it near the fire for you.  That way it should be dry and warm by the time we’re done.

Today we are back in the fictional Coffee and Tea House I introduced about a year ago with my first coffee share.  I decided to retain it as a frequent venue because it was so comfortable for our virtual meetings and hang-sessions.  Many of you have visited before, but new ownership has brought new life, new ideas, new goodies, even better coffees and teas while retaining all the things I liked so much the first time I gave it a virtual walk-through.

The new owner is Tamara and she’s calling it, Tamara’s Teanco Bistro.  I asked her about the non-word “Teanco” and she answered cutely, “It’s just a short, fun word for ‘tea and coffee’ and  I chose ‘bistro’ because I wanted it to remain mostly a tea and coffee house but I wanted to also serve healthy but great tasting foods”.

I told her that I think the name rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

As non-drive-through visitors, you’re going to love this. Tamara, has an interesting business plan that should be fun to explore with her.  You may have noticed the new drive through lane to right of store.  She told me, “I bought both the building and the parking lot, so I could mark off part of the lot for that long line for drive-through customers.  I lined it with a dense flower collection garden on both sides.  My gardener friend planted it  with exotic flowers to create a soothing view for the enjoyment of those waiting in line for their drinks and food.  I also left walking paths so walk-in customers can visit the garden.”

The strangest thing she’s doing, ‘quietly‘ she says, is the price structure for her drive through.  Everything is more expensive for drive-through customers, allowing her to heavily discount the prices for those of us who come inside to sit, visit or read.  She loves to bake and experiment with healthy sandwiches and she tells me she is committed to keep local fresh fruit and veggie selections either free at a new buffet table or available for low-cost inside orders.

“I’m going to see if I can earn enough from my drive-through clients to pay for the bistro experience inside for friends who want to hang around.”

Her WiFi works and she’s promised some light jazz or string music in the large room on Friday and Saturday evenings soon.

As we visit for future weekends, we’ll do some more touring and experiencing the things Tamara is up to. I’ve been here about an hour already because I wanted to progress a novel I’m reading and I saw Tamara put out a fresh stack of quilts to warm in the shelves by the fire.  Not all of you have warm early spring temperatures at home yet so go ahead and grab one to hold your spot on the couch while you grab your coffee or tea.  If you like spiced tea, she has the orange spice and some shards of cinnamon in the jar by the tea pot.  Make sure you grab a scone, they’re fresh and taste great with the vanilla yogurt.

cornbread“Gary!  Opps.  Sorry for yelling.  I thought you were out in the big room still, but here you are; ready for your guests, oh – hi, you must be the first to arrive.  Welcome.  I’m Tamara.  Let me know if you need anything.  I was calling Gary because he asked, ‘if I had time’ to make up a sheet of corn bread.  He likes it for weekend breakfast so there’s whipped butter and syrup to go with it. I just put it out in the warming tray.  It’s best warm so help yourselves.”

Thanks Tamara.  I’ll have some as soon as I’ve finished the scone.  I’m going to need to jog home by the time you’re done with me.

“By the way, I’m still settling on both coffee and tea brands to carry.  Let me know your preferences and I’ll try to have it ready for your next visit”

fireplaceThe fire looks healthy, we have our drinks and snacks.  Let’s dig into our visit.

I don’t think I’ve told you.  Years ago now, my daughter was in a Christian scouting group called American Heritage Girls.  It was stood up as an alternative to the much better known US Girl Scouts program.

She did well, learned lots and came out with the highest award they offer, but was frustrated because what they taught her was not as challenging as what she saw her brothers learning in the US Boy Scout program.  Because I was an instructor in both programs, I collected the reputation for raising the bar on what I taught the girls and now have a gig each year where I come back and teach the outdoors skills merit badge for the girls.  Most of the current parents don’t have the background to do it themselves so I get 1 or 2 days to play with both the parents and the girls in the outdoors to teach them stuff.

This gig is coming around again and I’m starting to assemble my stuff.  I have a new wet stones for the knife skills portion (girls with knives – how cool is that?) and am updating my poisonous plant section.  So yea, I teach the girls a lot of outdoors stuff including those plants to recognize and avoid.

Here in California, we have several mean-spirited plants that include varieties you likely already know about: poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac.  They are all thugs and are unfit for polite company. But, I’ll bet few of you have heard of ‘Stinging Nettles‘ unless you had the ill fortune of experiencing them first hand.  The scientific name of this little monster is: ‘Urtica what-was-god-thinking dioica‘.

stinging nettlesI show the girls this photo and have them memorize the leaf pattern and structure.  The things to recall are the combination of serrated leaf edges and pointed leaf shape and fractal pattern of two big leaves opposite each other with smaller sets offset by 90 degrees set after set, as the stalk grows out towards its victims.

Parents, unless you live in very cold climates, “Cold Lake, Canada” comes to mind, and never intend to visit the real world, I advise you to show this photo to your kids and get them to correctly describe this photo and the danger they represent.

The Threat

If you grab or even accidentally brush any exposed skin against this guerilla ambush plant, you will immediately know it because it will feel like dozens of hot needles just slapped your skin.  It’s both horrible and misleading.  Seriously, the pain is instant and will command your full attention.  But it is misleading because you will immediately look for small thorns or pins to pull out — but you won’t find any — and panic will grab you because you can’t see how to stop the pain.

So I tell the girls to both watch for this curse of Gaia plant and how to treat it if you get nailed by it.

The treatment key is to recall that the name is wrong.  “Stinging” nettles do NOT “sting.  If you could look close enough (and please – don’t try to) the formations are too small to see and just as you get close enough, some unexpected breeze will whip the branch across your face (yikes!) and trying to treat your face will be much harder than treating your hand, arm or leg.


If you could see the weapons in use, they would look like the above.  Depending on the variety, you will see ‘hairy’ stalks and leaves with tiny needle-like trichomes or spicules.  These spicules are not causing the pain – they are hallow and carry the chemical of the pain.  When touched, they break easily and spill out a nasty acid that, like any other strong acid, starts to burn your skin in a droplet pattern.

nettles sting

Okay – if there are no “needles” to extract, what can and should be done?  I tell the girls to waste no time screaming about this or trying to remove non-existent needles.  Also, don’t touch the affected area with your other hand (one hand burnt is more than enough) but:

  1. Back away from the plant and,
  2. Rinse the skin with lots of water if it’s handy or,
  3. Drop to your knees and use dirt as quickly as possible.  Dry or wet, dirt will either soak up or dilute the acid saving you from additional burning. Your friends or hiking buddies can help dump water or dirt over whatever the nettles spilled their acid on.
  4. Try hard not to scratch or rub your skin as this will only rub in the acid.
  5. If you can get to someone’s kitchen quickly, make up a quick thin paste of baking soda and cool water.  The baking soda will quickly neutralize the acid, but don’t wait to hike to it.  Use the dirt!
  6. Later, it helps to treat the effected area with an topical antihistamine such as Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) cream. The acid produced by this jerk of a plant contains a pretty strong histamine that can make some people extra miserable.

What you are trying to do is to neutralize and wash away the acid before it can burn you further.  But know this, once you feel the pain, it is already too late and (after removing any remaining acid) your skin is chemically burned and it will continue to hurt while healing.  Very unpleasant – I know. I’ve been there and made all the mistakes already for you.

Nettles, by this time, have ruined your day outdoors, so get back to a first aid kit or someone who has the means of helping with the pain.  You are not in further danger because the acid doesn’t sink into your blood or anything gnarly like that, but your skin is burned.  There are pain numbing products that will help that may be in your first aid kits, but if you have nothing else, ice will give you quite a bit of relief.

Given all this, don’t you agree that nettles really are worth your time and effort to avoid?

The thing that amazes me is that this cruel plant is not better known or understood.  It grows in; Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America.  Only South America, Mid and Southern Africa and Australia (which has many other wild things trying to take your life) are spared.

The other thing is that there are strains of Nettles that look similar but don’t sting (I would not give them the benefit of the doubt) — and my favorite fun fact for the day — when young, nettles leaves can be eaten (after boiling away the acid) or made up like a tea.  Seriously!?  Why would anyone. . . ?  Spinach has plenty of flavor and nutrients and is not trying to kill us.

Tamara – if you’re reading this – I am NOT interested in trying Stinging Nettles Tea thank you anyway. . .

Thanks for dropping by.  I’ll be over to visit with you soon if you post something.

Thanks again, and again, and again Alli!

Want to check out Tamara’s garden with me?


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Gary photo n bio

15 thoughts on “Coffee Share 190406

    1. Hi Shari, I’ll bet you don’t have this little monster as far north as I think you live and work. Trust me. This plant is much better to read about than experience first hand.

      It’s always a delight to host your visits to my corner of the coffee shares.

      Best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well if it isn’t stinging nettle it is something similar for sure. I am going to pay a bit closer attention when the flowers and such start to make an appearance here.

        Hope you are having a great week.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I SO love this coffee shop! And thank you for the education! Now I want to go look for these just to see if I can identify them. And HUGE kudos to you for letting the girls in on what the boys are learning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kathleen for your kind feedback. I just thought it would be fun to dress up our virtual coffee shop. I hope you never discover this plant by accident. You would have enjoyed the looks on the moms faces when I put the girls around a fire pit, handed them each a book of matches and told them, “we’re going to learn how to play with fire – safely.”
      Fun stuff! Thanks for your visit.


  2. I was puzzling together what Teanco might be.. Tea N Coffee oh thats clever and Bistro gives it a certain class too.
    Kudos to raising the bar on the scout programs,I am a firm believer in knowledge and skills being passed on symmetrically to those willing to learn
    We dont have stinging nettles this side of the world, but we do have countless other weird things not properly understood, we dont talk about it, we dont think about it, and we hopeit certainly wont get to us like a lightning strike on a clear blue sky, no rhyme or reason it strikes twice, once for the drama the second time to collect its eggs…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Beaton. It’s always a pleasure to host your visits to my corner of the coffee share club. I’m also glad you liked Tamara’s Teanco Bistro. I hope to have some fun with it in following weeks.

      Thanks also for the kind feedback on my attempts to beef-up what and how these girls are taught stuff. I’ve had a couple of amazing gals come through.

      I’m very glad that Zimbabwe doesn’t have stinging nettles. This plant needs to be eradicated from the planet. Unless someone has strong allergies to the histamine the plant produces, someone is not likely to die, but those acid burns are terrible. I was one of the little kids who got such a burn on my arm and was near panic trying to figure out what just happened to me. I didn’t know what it was or how to minimize the burn (all I had to do was stoop down and pour dust on my burn to stop the damage) but I didn’t know anything about it. So, when I started teaching the girls and they had a whole section on poison plants – I added this little monster. It’s proved to be an interesting discussion each time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the refresher on nettles, Gary! I don’t think I’ve run into those since I left home for college and the big city. We do have nightshade and poison ivy in our back yard and various and assorted wildflowers (aka weeds) that grow up everywhere, but I can recognize the poison ivy.

    I remember my dad’s explaining about marking a trail, finding my way out of the woods…how to catch, clean and cook fish &c. One doesn’t really know how much our childhood lives differ from others. Or find out readily. We leave things behind with the lost memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gary, I am getting a feel for Tamara and the place she has created, we may butt heads, but I have a great idea to bring to her cafe. I think I can convince her to take it on. I need a few days to come up with a good pitch for her. 🙂 I think she should at least give it a try! By the way, cornbread is amazing! -Pamela


    1. Good morning Pamela.
      I am intrigued and look forward to details. If you would like to get on the phone and think out loud, just ask. I would enjoy doing this with you.


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