For The Win: In Which I Bid Adieu To Jibber Jabber July

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.17.08 AM
“What’s up, Doc Ms. Bean?”

I STARTED my #JibberJabberJuly challenge with Scrat, my blogging muse.

But now that July is almost over, I think that I’ll end my month of writing with Bugs Bunny.

Always loved him, too.  Observant.  Funny.  Snarky.  He makes a good counterbalance to Scrat’s earnestness.

* * *

THANKS TO my faithful gentle readers who followed The Spectacled Bean during this month of wordiness.

I appreciate your support via comments + likes + link backs.  It’s only through those means that I, as a blogger, can know if what I write here resonates with my readers.

And rings true.

* * *

ALSO HELLO to my new followers.  This has been a delightful unexpected consequence of #JibberJabberJuly.

As part of my writing challenge I also commented more often elsewhere, and in the process of that became visible to many new people who found it in their hearts to visit this blog.

Many of my new visitors even left a comment &/or started following The Spectacled Bean.  Isn’t that cool?

Thank you!

* * *

AND ON that happy note, I’ll leave you, gentle readers + newbie followers, with Sweet Baby James singing Secret of Life.  I’m going to take his words to heart and use them as my August mantra.

“… try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.”

* * *

A Chance Encounter With A Neighbor Most Unique

Some of you will remember this neighbor from previous posts…

While shopping at Kroger late in the afternoon on a rainy summer day, I happened to be in the International Food aisle.  There were three shoppers with carts in front of me, and the same number behind me.

I was trapped in the middle of the aisle, waiting, staring off into the distance, waiting, not thinking about a thing, when I heard a woman shouting as she came around the corner into the aisle.

Her voice sounded familiar.

“PASTA.  I need pasta!”

Then *clank, clank, clank* as she bashed into the carts of the shoppers in front of me pushing them aside as she grabbed pasta off the shelf.

~ ~ • ~ ~

Could it be, I wondered?  Was this determined person none other than the neighbor woman who lives on the other side of the ravine?

The bird hater.

The neighbor who I’ve never seen up-close in real life?

It sounded like her.  Loud.

~ ~ • ~ ~

To make this chance encounter even more memorable, I saw in front of me a this loud woman dressed in a way that set her apart from the rest of us suburbanites quietly shopping in Kroger.

‘Twas a sartorial look one does not often find around here.  It was unique, with a certain insouciance that made me smile.

~ ~ • ~ ~

Naturally I wanted to follow her around the store.  My inner Nancy Drew was on high alert.  I needed to know more.

But I was unable to do this because I was trapped in the middle of the aisle, which now had carts + shoppers scattered at all angles.

So I had to watch as she walked away from me, leaving me amazed, and with no one to tell.

Until now.

Herbie OR Cujo: Which One Would You Choose?

When we moved to this subdivision, I realized that one day I’d be faced with a situation in which I’d need to decide, instantly, what to do to keep safe.

You see, this large subdivision, built on hills around creeks, and with curvy roads, has no sidewalks.

# # #

So there I was moseying along, midday, walking on the left-hand side of the street with the sun behind my back.  I was almost to the point in the street where it descends into a valley over a creek bed.

This is when two teenage kids sped by me and lost control of their mother’s van heading down into the valley, almost hitting another car, Herbie, who was driving up out of the valley.

Into the sun.

Where I was walking on the street.

And I realized in an instant that the driver of this other car, an adult who had swerved to miss the kids, could not see me– and that he was heading straight for me.

Unaware.

# # #

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.19.29 AM

Herbie

# # #

So I did what I’d decided that I’d do if when this scenario played out, as I knew that it would eventually.

I ran across a neighbor’s yard, up about 15 feet onto their driveway, heading toward their garage which was open– where their large dog was sound asleep.

And said dog, startled from a nice snooze in the shade, came running full tilt down the driveway barking and growling at me, the intruder.

Not the greatest situation to be in.

# # #

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.15.03 AM

Cujo

# # #

However, as I had always figured, a family dog in this neighborhood, while hellacious toward burglars, raccoons and the Fed Ex man, would never hurt another neighbor in distress.

These dogs are way too domesticated for that.  They know that all of us humans around here have access to treats.  And give delightful belly rubs.

So, while pointing out toward the street, I calmly said to this Cujo wannabe who I had just met: “Hi, sorry to bother you.  Bit of a problem here.  Got to get out-of-the-way of the car.  No big deal.”

# # #

And dagnabbit if he didn’t look at the street, stop barking, started wagging his tail, yawned [!]— and then went back into the garage to continue his midday nap.

Confirming that from his point of view, I was not worth the bother.

Thankfully.

# # #

{Great minds think alike!  Check out what Carrie Rubin at The Write Transition said yesterday about walking in a world without sidewalks.  Click here.}

Stormy Nights, Foggy Mornings & Musings On Curse Words

DSCN5428 - Version 2
Butterfly in the sun.

IT’S RAINING HERE AGAIN this morning.

We had a few days of blue skies and sunshine last week, but late yesterday afternoon the thunder and rain rolled in again.  It was just about the time we were getting ready to have a cookout.  Natch.

I’m beyond caring about the weather.  What more is there to say about it?

Well, what more is there to say about it without resorting to swearing?  And you know, gentle readers, that this is not that kind of blog.

Oh no, we keep it polite here at The Spectacled Bean.  Or, at least, polite enough to not offend the delicate sensibilities of any reader over 40 years old.

• • •

OCCASIONALLY I WONDER IF I wrote in a more, shall we say, direct way using curse words, then readers would perceive me as being more authentic and edgy, therefore interesting.

If I’d done that kind of writing, which I easily could have, I wonder if I’d have been more popular as a blogger, than I am now.

DSCN5413
Cherry tomatoes in the rain.

I’ve no moral objections to curse words, I say them irl.  However when it comes to writing I hesitate to use them.

I’m content as things are on the blog, but observing the language used by revered bloggers, I do [sometimes] question my decision to keep it clean here.

I’ve Read 23 Out Of 35, But I Don’t Know About This Book List

Earlier this week Time magazine published 35 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime.  I’ve added the list to the bottom of this post.  The list, compiled from responses by Reddit users, attempts to answer the question:

“what is a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their life?” 

# # #

dalmatian-sideeye

# # #

WHAT IMMEDIATELY STRUCK ME about the list is that out of the 33 authors, only 3 are women: L.M. Montgomery [Anne of Green Gables];  Harper Lee [To Kill A Mockingbird];  and Margaret Atwood [The Handmaid’s Tale].

Considering that the first two books are about children for children, and that the last one is about a society in which women are slaves, this list doesn’t lend credence to the idea that in 2015 we are living in a post-feminist society.

You with me here?

# # #

I THINK THAT WE can all agree, to use the article’s words, that: “Books have the profound capacity to stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

This is good + positive.

But by accepting this premise I think that it becomes even more important to turn a critical eye toward all the possible books that one can put on a list such as this.  If one is going to have these books with him or herself forever, one must be discerning.

N’est-ce pas?

# # #

TO MAKE THE LIST more balanced, I’d suggest that we include &/or replace on it, at a minimum, the following books written by women:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

There must be more.  Suggestions?

# # #

Time’s List of 35 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime

{ bolded ones I’ve read – asterisked ones I’ve never heard of before }

  1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
  4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  6. The Forever War* by Joe Haldeman
  7. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  8. Bartleby The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street by Herman Melville
  9. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
  10. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  11. Kafka on the Shore* by Haruki Murakami
  12. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  13. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  14. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  15. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  16. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  17. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  18. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  19. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  20. Dune by Frank Herbert
  21. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  22. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  23. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  24. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  25. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  26. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  27. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  28. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  29. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?* by Philip K. Dick
  30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  31. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  32. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  33. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  34. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  35. 1984 by George Orwell

# # #

A Glimpse Into Life With The Beans, Mid-Summer Edition

The Good

Zen-Den went to the grocery and bought everything on the list, including cornstarch.  This, as he pointed out to me, was a big deal because, as he said: “even five years ago I wouldn’t have known what cornstarch was– and would have bought corn meal instead.” 

Congratulations, darling.  You’ve passed GROCERY SHOPPING 201, an intermediate level course in advanced shopping techniques wherein husbands learn to buy exactly that which is written on the list.

Isn’t he something? Let’s give it up for the Z-D.

~ • ~

The Bad

Influenced by Mad Men [and a bit of nostalgia for my parents], I had a hankering for an Old Fashioned.  So I got out the bourbon and the sugar bowl in which I keep sugar cubes and the Angostura Bitters.  Then I made myself an Old Fashioned using the last of the bourbon.

While my drink sat on the counter below, as I attempted to put the sugar bowl back onto the cupboard shelf above, in a horrible moment of miscalculation, I knocked the lid off the sugar bowl.  It fell onto the counter, shattering into 3 gazillion + 1 pieces, many of which landed in my drink.

Leaving me distraught and drinkless.

~ • ~

The Ugly

Because of the excessive rain, we’ve not used our screened-in porch as much as we usually do in the summer.  However, the other evening there was no rain, so we decided to go out there to sit.

Almost immediately we both noticed that there were ants walking around on the rug in the screened-in porch.  This is amazing because the porch is up a story from the ground below, but those miserable, icky, sneaky, destructive ants were on. my. porch.

I took off one of my Birks, grabbed it with my hand and started hitting the ants until they stopped moving.  I put the sandal back on when I thought that I’d killed all the ants, but I hadn’t.  So when I saw one last ant moving, in a fit of anger, I stomped down really hard with my sandaled foot on the last ant… and twisted my left ankle in the process.

I hate ants.

~ • ~

WordPress Reader: So This Is What It Has Come To?

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 6.23.34 PM
Opus the Penguin reacts.

LIKE SO MANY OTHER WP BLOGGERS, for the last week or so I’ve fussed around with my Reader* account.  WordPress changed the thing and now it’s pretty whacked.

I’ve blogged hither and yon forever, so while I understand why people are upset about the change to Reader, I’ve shrugged it off. There are other ways to follow blogs.

For instance, now I’m using feedly.com to keep track of everyone until WordPress gets this latest kerfuffle under control.

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 4.07.12 PM

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 6.24.33 PM
Bill the Cat opines.

BUT GETTING TO MY POINT HERE, as the above screen shot shows you, what I’ve found to be curious + hilarious about my current Reader account is that it tells me that I’m now following -11 blogs.

This, I’m sure, is a first for me.

Apparently Reader has taken it upon itself to carry out peremptory measures to make sure that I will not read the next 11 blogs that I think that I want to follow here in WordPress.

I’m becoming concerned about Reader.  It’s getting uppity.

Truthfully, I have to wonder if when the computers rise up and take over the world, we’ll all look back on this moment and realize that Reader was a leader in the revolution against the human race.

Be forewarned, people.  ;-)

• • •

*  For those of you outside of the WP system, Reader is a way to follow WP blogs. It’s a free feature that involves minimal effort on my part to have access to a current feed of all the WP blogs that I choose to follow.  In theory, it’s useful. However, in practice… 

• • •

{ It’s back! Images from Bloom County. More here. }