Of Writing Prompts & Morning Walks

Here’s a fact about me: I read my horoscope once in a while, but not for the reasons that you might imagine.

No, I read my horoscope to get writing prompts.

On the days when I read my daily horoscope, I save the ones that I think will challenge me to think about my life in a new way.  Then on a future day when I cannot think of what to say, I peruse my horoscopes and use one as a way to start writing.

• • •

To wit, here’s a horoscope from who knows when that got me thinking over the weekend.

Use your energy wisely to work with the natural currents instead of trying to control them. It’s not your job to eliminate the clouds; the sky will clear on its own.

• • •

What did I get thinking?  I decided that even though I’ve almost always been a morning blogger, I’m going to change my posting schedule to the afternoon for the month of March.

You see, I’d like to use my energy in a different way.  I want to go for a walk outside each day, and mornings around here have the least amount of vehicle traffic.  [No sidewalks here.]

• • •

So instead of plopping down in front of my computer, typing my morning away– I’m going to be propelling myself out the front door, trudging my morning away.

Which means that you, my gentle readers, will just have to wait until I’m done being healthy each morning, and [hopefully] regain enough energy thereafter to sit down and pursue my passion for flapdoodle and twaddle write my blog posts.

Guess we’ll see how this all works out together, won’t we?

Fred the Monkey & Sandrine the Bear’s Fun Afternoon

[The following story is my entry in evilsquirrel13’s The Second Annual Contest of Whatever.  Please enjoy!] 

Fred the Monkey & Sandrine the Bear’s Fun Afternoon

~ • ~

Fred the Monkey was bored.


All day it had snowed outside while he was stuck inside Grandpa Aloha and Grandma Mahalo’s house.  He wanted someone to play with, so he asked them if he could call Sandrine the Bear and invite her over to play games.

Grandpa and Grandma said that it was okay.


Sandrine arrived at the front door wrapped in her mother’s scarf.  She looked pretty and was warm.  Sandrine was ready to have fun.


Fred suggested that they play an easy game first.  He found Grandma Mahalo’s Tic-Tac-Toe game and the friends started to play it.


Because Sandrine was his guest, Fred let her go first.  She was “X.”


Fred was “O.”


Grandpa Aloha looked on as they played.  He loved to watch the kids goof-off just like he did growing up in Hawaii.

Suddenly, he realized that down in the basement there might be his favorite game for the kids to play.  He went downstairs and searched.


When Fred and Sandrine saw what Grandpa Aloha had found for them to play, they were delighted.  Grandpa’s favorite old-time game was Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.


Sandrine got to pick her side first.  She was “Red Rocker.”


Fred was “Blue Bomber.”


But after many exciting rounds of the game, both monkey and bear were ready for a snack.  They’d had enough fun punching each other.

Fortunately, Grandma Mahalo was more than happy to make them some tea and serve it with cookies.


Then it was time for Sandrine to go home, but the friends decided to do one last silly thing before she left.  They took a selfie with Buddha so that they’d have a photo to remind them of their fun afternoon playing games together.


~ The End ~

Morning Calm Disturbed, Questions Raised

The Incident Described. 

Me at 6:15 a.m.  Ambient lighting on in kitchen.  Coffee brewed.  Mug in right hand.  Sitting at kitchen counter.  Left elbow on counter to provide support for head.  Eyes closed.  Thinking about a popular saying* and its applicability to the life of a writer.

Husband enters room.  I mumble something akin to “good morning.”  But husband, who is always too awake in the morning, decides to revert to his 8-year-old self, slobber on his finger, then put his finger up my nose.  Leading to the following:

  • me wide awake;
  • me wiggling out of his reach;
  • me laughing;  and
  • me wondering about something.

The Questions Raised. 

After the above incident, the focus of our subsequent early morning conversation was on defining exactly what makes up a wet willy.  Keeping in mind that this is a PG13 blog, I ask you:

What do you call a slobbery finger up the nose?  A wet willy?  Or something else entirely?

The Asterisk Explained.

The saying I was thinking about, taken from medicine, was: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.”  In other words, go with the obvious diagnosis/explanation.  Or as applied to this particular post, go with the most recent event in your life, even if it is devoid of profundity and seems a bit silly!

In Which Fuzzy The Squirrel Seems To Blame Me For The Snow

IT’S NOT LIKE I HAVE ANY control over the weather.

However, during this last cold snap I’ve gotten the distinct impression that Fuzzy the Squirrel, our resident goofball + star of many posts, has begun to blame me for the snowfall and wants me to suffer because of it.

I say this because he’s been consistently unwilling to get with the blogging program and permit me the honor of photographing him.  He knows that he is a favorite feature on The Spectacled Bean.

Idiot squirrel.

~ ~ • ~ ~


THIS NEW BEHAVIOR IS PECULIAR BECAUSE Fuzzy is by nature a show-off who in the past has adored having his photo taken.


~ ~ • ~ ~

SO WHEN I NOTICED HIM CLIMBING Tree #3479 to his home the other day, I hesitated about grabbing my camera.  I wondered if he’d be in the mood for a photo-op, but I decided to try, figuring that Fuzzy couldn’t hold out much longer.

He needs attention.

Thus it is with great pleasure, and the implied blessing of a narcissistic squirrel, that I give you my latest photograph of Fuzzy the Squirrel, titled: Rodent With Bad Attitude In Winter Our Dear Friend Enjoying Winter.


Day 5 Of My Self-Imposed So-Called Hermitic Existence

~ • ~

[I’m not sure, but I think that Ms. Bean has finally cracked.]

~ • ~

I’ve not left the house since Monday.  What with the white death and sub-zero temps outside I’ve chosen to become a hermit.  Sort of.

  • I see + talk with my husband every morning and night, so that would be un-hermetic.  Hermits don’t chat.  
  • I have no religious principles to underpin my decision to become a hermit, so that would be un-hermetic.  Hermits aren’t motivated by extreme weather avoidance.
  • I’ve groomed myself and have worn cheerful, colorful jammie bottoms + turtlenecks + Polartec tops, so that would be un-hermetic.  Hermits don’t look cute regardless of situation.

~ • ~

[Do you suppose that Ms. Bean has become loopy and wordy because of lack of sleep?]

~ • ~

I didn’t sleep well last night.  The weather forecasters predicted a low of -12ºF which we did experience.  Snuggled under the comforters I should have snoozed better, but the electricity went off in the whole subdivision.

I don’t know how long it was off, but when I awakened mid-snooze and realized that it was off, I trudged downstairs to open the cabinet doors under the kitchen sink so that the pipes wouldn’t freeze.  Then I checked the house temperature on the thermostat, which has a back-up battery.

It was 55ºF inside.

After that I went back upstairs, woke up Zen-Den to tell him the news, and tried to go back to sleep.  Sleep did not happen.  Operation Fret, however, ramped up and took over my mind.

~ • ~

[Do you think that Ms. Bean, poor frozen darling, will make it through another day at home by herself?]

~ • ~

I’m happy to report that the heat is on again.  I don’t know when it came back on, but it did.  We suburban hermits don’t need to know all the details about what keeps us warm.  We prefer to allow some mysteries to stay mysteries.

I’m sure that in years to come when I look back upon this week of frigid temps, boring days and heating mysteries, my mind will have turned it all into a positive memory, explained in glowing terms of self-reliance, creativity and personal growth.

Or some such nonsense.

But sitting here today, faced with another bitterly cold day of ho-hum, I’m more inclined to feel a need to whine about everything and everyone.  To discard any notions of bettering myself.  And to give in to the grumpy, enjoying it for all that it is.  *humph*

An Unsolved Mystery: What Became Of Dottie?

When the weather turns sub-zero, my thoughts turn to carbohydrates.  All kinds of carbohydrates.  Some of which are meant to be eaten with delicious stews and soups.

Carbohydrates like corn bread.

Homemade.  Using Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal, a regional favorite.  A product packaged in a rectangular shape made of thick paper.  Traditional.  Easy to find on the shelf.

• • •

So I went to ye olde K. Roger to a buy some of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal and instead what I found was Dorsel’s Corn Meal.  Packaged in a slick corporate plastic bag with a zip top and large writing that excluded Dottie’s name.

This, I said to myself, is an outrage.

I mean, Betty is still with Crocker.  Duncan is still with Hines.  Aunt is still with Jemima.  [Okay, the last one’s not the same, but go with me here.  I’m on a rant.]


The heroine of our story.

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.12.54 AM
{ Image courtesy of dannwoellertthefoodetymologist }

• • •

Naturally I started researching this mystery because it’s fricking cold outside and I ain’t going anywhere on foot or car [if I can help it] I had the time and I was curious to see how the current owners of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal would explain themselves.

I discovered that:

  • Dottie Dorsel, aka Dorathea Dorsel, was a real person from northern Kentucky whose father owned The Dorsel Milling Company in the late 1800s.
  • I learned from a recipe in a 1999 cookbook that the company was at that time called the Dottie Dorsel Company.
  • I know that today Prairie Mills owns, what it refers to as, Dorsels Brands.
  • I cannot find any corporate PR releases or newspaper articles that talk about the change in packaging– or why Dottie’s delightfully alliterative name was left off the new package.
  • I can find some recipes online [here and here] from the early 2000s that mention using Dottie Dorsel Pinhead Oat Meal (another regional favorite), but Corn Meal recipes, specifically mentioning Dottie, do not seem to exist.

• • •

Clearly, there’s a conspiracy going on here.  A cover-up.  You can’t go around messing with people’s names on food packaging, can you?  I realize that Fig Newton dropped the Fig from its name, but Fig wasn’t a real live person who I related to on so many levels.

Fig was a fruit.  Duh.

All I can guess is that Dottie must have overheard something so sinister or stumbled upon a secret so dark that there was a need to rub her out.  Which lead to some mysterious someone axing her first name from the packaging of her own regionally famous corn meal.


That’s what I can’t figure out.

A Mid-Winter Walk Through A Remarkable Cemetery


On Sunday afternoon there was no snow around, so Zen-Den & I decided to go to Spring Grove Cemetery to see what it looked like in the weak winter light.  [And yes, it’s the place where I got thrown off the Segway last fall.]



Spring Grove Cemetery, established in 1845, is one of five National Historic Landmark cemeteries in the USA.  There are people buried there who were born in the 1700s as well as born last week.


The cemetery is a fascinating place that lends itself to going for a long healthy walk or, if you prefer, a casual ramble.  It’s huge: 733 hilly acres, with 15 lakes and 44 miles of roadway.  We wandered around on foot for about 2 hours.



No matter what time of year I’ve been to Spring Grove Cemetery, I’ve found something unique, inspiring and/or downright trippy to photograph.  In my opinion, it’s worth the time and effort it takes to get there, if history, architecture and contemplation interest you.