Of Slow Cooker Wisdom And Simple Garden Plans

“Knowledge is the process of piling up facts;  wisdom lies in their simplification.”

Martin H. Fischer, Physician and Author

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Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 8.51.47 AMWE SPENT MOST of this past warm and beautiful spring weekend working in the garden.

My goal, influenced by the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook , is to have what I’ve come to call a slow cooker garden.

A space filled with variety, but put together in a way that is simple to understand.  Pleasant to look at, but requiring less and less effort each year to maintain.

That is, we’re going to fix it now with perennials, paths and stones;  then forget about changing anything out there for the next decade.

• • •

SO WHAT HAVE we got going on?  Well, we’ve got:

  • a plethora of roses + daisies + hostas in planting beds beside stone and/or concrete steps that circle the house;
  • a landscape island in the front yard near the street filled with grasses and mostly purple flowers;
  • a newly installed dry faux creek bed under the deck;  AND
  • a lower terrace in the back yard down by the woods that features stone steps, grasses, roses plus the recent addition of difficult-to-find milkweed.  *yeah*

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Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.15.17 AMI’M NOT SURE how our garden ended up being so multi-faceted and unique, but over the years, little by little, it did.

My hope is that when it comes time to sell this property, like the HGTV show CURBAPPEAL suggests, the awe-inspiring exterior of the property will be so amazing that this house’s relatively small square footage won’t hinder a sale.

However, be that as it may, in the mean time, I’m not worrying about real estate business-y things like ROI.  Instead, I’m going to groove on all that we have going on in our pretty, pretty garden.

• • •

So tell me, gentle readers: how does your garden grow?

Bunny Haiku & To April I Say Adieu

April is one of my least favorite months of the year.

I’m allergic to it and I don’t groove on all the mud courtesy of the rain and I have to pay taxes and I have to watch on the news while “patriotic” wingnuts get their panties in a wad over what it means to be an American and et cetera, et cetera.


However, one thing that I do like about April is that it’s national poetry month.  I didn’t learn much of anything about poetry when I was in college because my English major program was much too practical for such things, but I did learn how to write a haiku.

Thus I give you the following poem, with stunning rabbit-y photos taken yesterday, as my good-bye to April, a month that makes me sneeze like no other month can.


Bunny Haiku


Bunny on a hill,


Spotted me, then turned ’round,


Now perfectly still.

Curly Hair, Haircut Appointments & The Games I Must Play

I.  I have naturally curly hair. 

Only a few people know how to cut naturally curly hair so that it doesn’t turn into a frizzy, choppy mess.  In fact, I recently got one of those lousy haircuts, but that’s not the story I’m going to tell you here.

No, this story is about how it came to be that I needed to go to a different hair stylist than my usual one.  It is a story about how difficult it is to get an appointment with my usual hair stylist, who moved her business to Salon Lofts about two years ago.

II.  Here’s why.

As a client I book my appointments with my hair stylist online using the Salon Lofts easy, intuitive scheduler.  ‘Tis a breeze to use it.  Love it.

At first this process was easy and wonderful.  When I needed a haircut I’d go to my account online and look to see when my hair stylist had an opening.  Then I’d pick my appointment.

However, other deceitful clients have begun to take all the appointments that they think they might want.  For instance, if Little Miss Suzy Self-Absorbed likes to get her hair cut at a specific time on Wednesday afternoons, she’ll book all of those Wednesday afternoon appointments for months ahead.

Then, 24 hours before said appointment, our Little Miss Suzy Self-Absorbed will decide if this is the week she needs to get her hair cut, or not.  If she no longer wants the appointment, she’ll cancel it without financial penalty.

III.   This leaves me in a difficult situation.

Either I play this take-all-the-appointments-I-might-want-game, or I check online every morning to see if an appointment I can use has opened up for the next day.  Then I re-arrange my schedule to take advantage of it.

I’ve talked with my hair stylist about this scheduling situation, but here’s the thing: from her point of view this is not a problem.  After 30+ years of cutting hair she has an established clientele who will do anything to get an appointment, so she’s always booked with clients who show up.

Leaving me to play games to get an appointment.  And when that fails, forcing me to go to some other available hair stylist who, as this last cut would prove, ain’t so good at what she does.

We Went To Washington, D.C.

ZEN-DEN NEEDED TO be in D.C. for his work, so we wrapped a couple of days around his business travel– and went to Washington, D.C. for a fast little vacay.

We figure that it must have been 15+ years since we’d been there together, which surprised us.  At one point, Z-D’s job in the midwest took him to D.C. about half of the year, so I’d meet him there on the weekends.

D.C. was our favorite vacation playground.

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Cherry blossoms were past their prime, but tulips were everywhere.  I snapped these photos at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

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FROM A TOURIST’S point of view much has changed for the better in D.C.

What amazed us was how much cleaner, easier, prettier, friendlier the city has become.  No snarly people [I’m looking at you, Boston] or people with superior attitudes [I’m looking at you, NYC].

Instead, hotel employees, nice.  Cabbies, pleasant.  Museum employees, helpful.  Restaurant wait staff, attentive.  TSA, patient.

Who would have thought that while the jackweasels in the U.S. Congress can’t agree on which way is up, the rest of Washington is buzzing along like cooperative little bees making honey while the flowers grow?

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I took all of these tulip photos with Zen-Den’s iPhone, which is something that I’ve never done before.

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WHILE MOST OF our time in D.C. was taken up with business events, we did manage to do a few things.

  • We had a delicious lunch at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, which is a gorgeous old-fashioned hotel in Adams Morgan that you may remember from scenes in The Pelican Brief.
  • We rode the metro which made me feel like a young twenty-something fresh out of college, assuming I’d end up in a big east coast city.  [That didn’t happen, now did it?]
  • We went to the National Gallery of Art, toured it, then ate lunch in the cafeteria in the basement by the waterfall because… well, that’s what we do when we’re in D.C. together.
  • We wandered around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden which was pretty even if we were a week late for the cherry blossoms.
  • We saw the Navy Yard, the Watergate Complex and Rock Creek Park from a taxi.
  • And while waiting at Reagan National Airport for our flight home, we saw an Honor Flight of WWII & Korea veterans arriving in D.C.  At their gate a live jazz quartet playing pop standards from the 1940s & 1950s met the group, while a crowd gathered round and applauded.

# # # 

While the flowers were glorious, these iPhone photos don’t do them justice. Next time I’ll bring my real camera with me. :-)

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IT’S BEEN A long time since I’ve been anywhere that I felt as comfortable as I did on this Washington D.C. trip.  We’re both ready to return soon.

Next time I’d like to focus on seeing more of the presidential and war monuments;  take in a few more museums;  perhaps go to a concert;  and breakfast each morning on fresh east coast bagels with a schmear & a coffee regular.

How have I lived without them?

A Week In Which A Mellow Bean Lets It Go

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I’m hiding in our home office this morning.  Adjacent to the foyer and away from the kitchen, it’s a room with French doors that I can close when need be.

Like today, for instance.

This is a morning when I’m trying to ignore the dreadful whiny motor sound of our dishwasher as it cleans the dishes.  Our dishwasher has, of late, become cantankerous.  Still doing that which is asked of it, but making certain that I know that it’s working hard to do so.

Old age affects us all in different ways, I suppose.

This week I’ve spent more time in the home office, or study as the builder referred to it, than usual.  Fortunately it’s a lovely room replete with my desk, my computer, a large over-filled bookcase, a funky old occasional chair and, of course, a potted pothos so that there’s another living organism in here with me.  It’s a writerly space.

From here I’ve watched this week’s happenings around Chez Bean.

I’ve overseen the AC being serviced, the windows being washed, the plumbing being inspected, the neighbor’s tree being cut down while using our driveway as a service road to get to their tree, and the gutters being cleaned out.

I’m exhausted from all of this work!  ;-)

But you see, that’s what’s going on around here.  Me, simply letting go, watching optimistically as other people and machines accomplish things.  While I research + write stories and essays that may, or may not, find their way into this blog.

If life is best lived by focusing on how you do things, then this week I’m one mellow positive bean, letting it all get done one way or another without my interference.

Come what may.

A Report From The Sidelines Re: Neighbor Vs. Birds

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[Note to readers: we live in a neighborhood with homes built on wooded ravine lots.  With many trees.  In which birds build nests, as they are wont to do.  These are facts.]

• • •

The neighbor woman who lives behind us has upped her anti-bird campaign.  She’s still out to chase all the birds away from her property, but she has a new tactic.

Now, in addition to her shouting and noise-making, she has begun to place bright shiny silver & red metallic streamers in her trees.

• • •

She wanders around her backyard throwing these streamers up into the air near tree branches.  Then when a streamer gets caught on a tree branch she loosely ties it to the branch, leaving yards of streamer fluttering in the wind.

This means that when the sun shines and hits the moving streamers, her backyard has bright lights randomly twinkling.  It reminds me of an old-fashioned used car lot, which I guess she thinks is a turn-off for birds.

• • •

I find this new behavior alternately entertaining or annoying.

What entertains me is that her neighbors on the property immediately beside her have put a large bird feeder on a shepherd’s hook.  They’ve positioned the shepherd’s hook in such a way that she’ll see the bird feeder ever time she steps outside onto her deck, but they cannot see it from their deck.

Don’t you just love passive-aggressive behavior?

• • •

However, what annoys me is that when the streamers are twinkling their brightest the light from them is strong enough to be noticed on our TV screen.  Inside the house.  Across the ravine.

Meaning that if we happen to be watching something on TV, our show has little sparkly red dots of color superimposed on it.  It’s kind of like stroking out without going to the bother of having a stroke.

Now how strange is that?

A Conversation In Which I Learn Something About E-book Readers, I Guess

Make no assumptions…

IT’S BEEN STORMY here this week.  Some days the sky has been as dark at 11:00 a.m. as it is at 11:00 p.m.  This weather phenomenon has been the talk wherever I go.

As you would imagine.

ONE THING THAT I’ve learned during these exceptionally dark mid-days is that my Kindle Paperwhite does what it claims that it’ll do.  That is, it automatically adjusts to the changing light conditions, making reading an easy pleasant experience.

I’m rather impressed by this.

SO I’M CHIT-CHATTING with two acquaintances, a man and a woman both in their early 50s.  And I mention, in passing, as a way of having something topical to say, that I’ve enjoyed my Kindle during these dark days.  And both of my acquaintances said: “what’s a Kindle?”

They did not know about e-book readers.  Any of them.

I WAS STUNNED, and started trying to explain what a Kindle is– what e-book readers are– how you use them– the different brands of them.  Et cetera, et cetera.  But while I talked, hoping to inform, these two seemingly normal people just stared at me like I was talking Martian gibberish.  Which to them, I was.

Can you even imagine? 

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[Hello FTC!  Please note: I’m opining here about an object that I bought with my own monies and just happen to like.  I received no compensation of any sort for this review, such as it is.  I mean really, who would pay me to say this?]