In Which I Grouse About Punctuation & Think Fondly Of Erma Bombeck

I RECEIVED an invitation to attend a talk, at a university, given by an author.  Profits from the talk go to support the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, so it’s a good event to attend.

However, I find the invitation to be lacking, in a most disturbing way.  A way that displeases me, an English major and blogger extraordinaire.

A way, I have to believe in my educated-by-this-very-university heart of hearts, that would also displease Erma, a newspaper columnist and author.

~ ~ • ~ ~

AND HERE is what I’m talking about.  One of my pet peeves is that periods [as in punctuation] are disappearing, inexplicably, from the end of sentences.

  • Look at most billboards anymore.
  • Look at tag-lines on advertisements.  On the sides of trucks.  On the packages which hold the food you eat.
  • Look at this invitation in which many lines of words are sentences, but WHERE ARE THE PERIODS?!!

Invitation with no punctuation

~ ~ • ~ ~

HEAVEN KNOWS that I’d have flunked out of this university if I’d indulged in such disregard for punctuation.  I’m trying to not take this personally, but the evidence in this invitation shows…

A total lack of concern. For the very thing that I hold dear. Proper punctuation. Used almost frivolously. Stylishly. And without regard for cost.

Which is the only reason that I can fathom for why periods are disappearing from the end of sentences.  I have to suspect that in these economically challenging times, the up-charge for adding them to any written communication is so costly that leaving them out helps the bottom line.

That’s the reason, right? 

QOTD: What Are Your Dreams For This Spring?

DSCN4911Always looking forward.  Always planning.  Influenced by Arrowsmith Aerosmith.  I’m rarely without a list of what I need to do next.

Usually my lists revolve around practical matters, but occasionally I make a personal list of a few simple things that I want to accomplish.  So without further babble, I give you…

My “Dreams For Spring” List

I want to go for a walk almost every day.  There will be no numerical goals attached to this walk, I just want to move more.  Rain be damned.

I want to bake muffins.  The reality here is that for months I’ve said that I’m going to start baking again– then I haven’t done so. However, now that it’s on my list, let muffin-palooza begin.

I want to travel somewhere.  While this may seem vague, I’ve learned that when I talk about a specific vacation, the gods start screwing around with my life.  So mum’s the word.  I’m going to sneak travel by them this time.  You just watch and see.

I want to work in the garden.  Last year I was lazy about gardening because– well, I haven’t a clue why I was, but I was.  This year I’m planning some new features out there– and some new color schemes.  Nothing like a design project to ramp up my interest and keep me enthused.

# # #

So here’s the Question of the Day, presented to you on the last full day of Winter:

What are your dreams for this Spring?

Answer in the comments below and I promise that we here at The Spectacled Bean will cheer you on to victory!

# # #

# # #

In Honor Of St. Paddy, A Story About Corned Beef & My Daddy

Here’s a memory from my childhood, which was in many ways more unusual than most.   ;-)

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.53.19 AMSt. Patrick’s Day reminds me of my father.

He loved this holiday, partly because of his Irish heritage and partly because of the whisky [and whiskey] that flows on this day.

Among the many things that I could tell you about him, I’ll start with the fact that he was a genius.  As in, GENIUS.  Scary smart.  Wickedly funny.  Strangely conservative.

Always up to something batty in his spare time.

He was a foodie long before that term existed, and being a physician he thought that he could make anything, no matter how obscure, if only he had a good recipe.

• • •

So one day when I was about 8 years, Dad decided to make Corned Beef.

He bought cookbooks & researched recipes.  He bought the perfect pickling spices from catalogues.  He bought many large 10 gallon stainless steel cans with lids.  He bought 7 or 8 different cuts of meat after talking with meat cutters about which ones would be best.  He bought gallons of premium vinegar.

Then he set about making Corned Beef.  Lots of it.

This required brining solution, boiled in huge pots on the stove top;  large containers in which to put the beef, with brining solution, as it pickled;  a cool place, like the basement, to leave the containers;  and the ability to turn the containers every so often so that the beef was evenly brined.

It was a mess to make.

• • •

During this activity, my mother and I watched. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.51.42 AM

She was not thrilled with his latest excuse for spending money;  but I, on the other hand, found it fascinating to see what was going to happen next.  I had my doubts, but then again I’d seen this guy successfully do many a nutty thing, so I was rooting for him.

Well, as it turns out, when one is making Corned Beef from scratch one can determine if the brining process isn’t going well by using one’s nose.

That is, the meat begins to rot.

It fills a home, from bottom to top in our case, with a pungent carrion potpourri.  Easily distinguished from any other normal home scent, by anyone who is willing to admit that there’s a problem here.

• • •

But Daddy wasn’t immediately willing to admit defeat.  NO WAY.  For days he refused to say that anything was wrong, determined instead to make his project work through the magic of denial.

But he didn’t succeed.

Eventually, my mother convinced him that he had to throw out the rotting meat, and begrudgingly he did so.  Then he went to the grocery store to buy a piece of Corned Beef so that we might have it on St. Patrick’s Day.

Providing for us a holiday meal that could well be the most expensive one we ever had!

[Images from here.]

A Harbinger Of Spring: Hello Mr. Stink Bug




The itsy bitsy stink bug walked ‘cross the window sill,

down came the shade and made him take a spill.

Up came the shade and found him walking tall,

and the itsy bitsy stink bug was not fazed at all.


We started spring cleaning over the weekend.  Or, to be more accurate, we started Spring Let’s-Get-Rid-Of-All-This-Stuff-In-The-Basement-ing over the weekend.  As we did so, a friendly, non-judgmental stink bug, who wanted nothing more than to continue to live on our window sill, regardless of the amount of junk in our basement, watched us.  And then, without any qualms whatsoever, he posed for a photo.

An Impasse Whilst Wicker Furniture Shopping + A Short Quiz


Zen-Den and I have been researching online and shopping around town for wicker furniture to replace the sad stuff that’s in our screened-in porch now.

Currently, our furniture is a country look with a Band-aid beige wicker frame, tufted parchment-colored cushions + old floral pillows.

It’s ugly.  It’s worn out.  And its days are numbered.

So now in an effort to upgrade the furniture and to continue transforming this house into a home, we’re faced with yet another expensive decorating decision.

~ ~ • ~ ~

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.00.03 PM
Example of traditional country-style wicker furniture that we now have and may buy again. [source]

~ ~ • ~ ~


HIS IDEA:  “This may sound boring, but we could buy the exact same pieces of furniture again, only this time in dark brown wicker with off-white cushions.”

MY [1st] IDEA:  “We could buy the same country-style furniture, but in different pieces, in a warm medium brownish wicker with subtly patterned cushions– coordinating floral and stripes, perhaps.”

HIS IDEA: “This may sound boring, but we could buy the exact same pieces of furniture again, only this time in dark brown wicker with off-white cushions.”

MY [2nd] IDEA:  “We could replace the existing furniture with the same pieces, only this time get a light gray wicker frame with medium to dark-toned blue cushions that wouldn’t show the dirt.”

HIS IDEA:  “This may sound boring, but we could buy the exact same pieces of furniture again, only this time in dark brown wicker with off-white cushions.”

MY [3rd] IDEA:  “We could go with a completely different frame, one that is more modern & linear.  Then we could get a nut-brown wicker with ecru + tan striped cushions.  Plus two new matching end tables in the same wicker with glass on top.”

HIS IDEA:  “This may sound boring, but we could buy the exact same pieces of furniture again, only this time in dark brown wicker with off-white cushions.”

~ ~ • ~ ~

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.00.43 PM
Example of more up-to-date, linear wicker furniture that we might buy this time. [source]

~ ~ • ~ ~


  1. What do you think that Zen-Den wants the new furniture to look like?
  2. Which of the two people involved in this decision has the most creative ideas?
  3. If you were to place money on it, which person do you believe will make the final decision about the furniture that we buy?

~ ~ • ~ ~

[Hello FTC!  Please note that there’s no monetary &/or other compensation involved regarding our preference for this brand of furniture.  Considering how pricey this furniture is, would that it were so, but that ain’t gonna happen.  Hoping that all is well with you, FTC.  Long time no see.]  

The One About Kismet & Guidelines For A Contented Life


~ ~ • ~ ~

OVER THE YEARS, like most introspective people who I know, I’ve adopted all sorts of different versions of what I call the rules of life.

And sometimes babbled about them on this blog.

WHILE I LIKE my rules of life and feel that they apply in general, I’m self-aware enough to know that I need something visual + succinct to encourage me to face each day with quiet resolve.

That’s where I believe practical guidance comes into the picture. 

LATELY I’VE BEEN following the ideas that you see in the above photo;  I call them guidelines for a contented life.  I don’t know who wrote them, but when I first read them while browsing in T.J. Maxx, a discount store that I rarely go into, I liked them.

Now I ask you, what could be better than stumbling upon inspiration on sale?!

~ ~ • ~ ~

Here’s A Thought: Healthy Meals, Happy Life

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.31.52 AM

 I found an interesting infographic, from Cooks Smart, that talks about meal planning and the ways in which it can help a family live a better life.

It struck a chord with me because I’ve cooked more this winter than in the past three years combined.  For reasons related to good health, boredom and a husband who’ll eat [without complaint] whatever I dream up, I’ve gone back into the kitchen.

And I’m loving it.  Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.15.39 PM

I grew up around parents and aunts who enjoyed making meals.  Healthy meals.  Fancy meals.  Fast meals.  Exotic meals.  But meals created by using real ingredients and following recipes, written or oral, passed down through the family.

There was a sense of history associated with those shared recipes.  Back then we connected through food.

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.31.00 AM

 However today I hesitate to even mention that I like to cook, here or in real life.  Many women who I know see it as passé or pointless.

Most of the women really.

Better to eat a Lean Cuisine “like a normal person” one of them told me.  Why waste time cooking?

Another told me she cooks on holidays only.  That way she can use her fancy plates and silverware and glassware.  Everyday [thankless] cooking is not for her, she said.  Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.14.11 PM

But I like the stress free everyday sort of cooking that I do.  I follow some recipes [more or less].  Or I wing it to see what happens when I throw some ingredients together.

Either way, I believe, that with the right attitude cooking is creative fun that leads to healthy meals– and, maybe even, a happier life.

 [Image sources here and here.]