The One About The Neighbors: What Will Be, What Isn’t Anymore, And What Is

Neighbor’s dead tree with turkey vultures [or turkey buzzards, pick your nomenclature]: I don’t like this.
WHAT WILL BE:

“Come and listen to my story bout a man named Jed, Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed…”  

Remember The Beverly Hillbillies? And remember their theme song?

Of course you do.

Well, that’s the song that’s been stuck in brain this past weekend.

Why?

I know not for sure other than Thanksgiving is about hospitality– and somehow seeing turkey vultures lounging above our property on the neighbor’s dead tree, that leans precariously in the direction of our screened-in porch, put the tune in my mind.

I don’t know that Jed Clampett shot turkey vultures, but it seems like something he’d have done.  I do know that the dead tree will eventually fall.  Fingers crossed, not on our roof.

So there’s that.

• • •

Neighbor’s empty backyard: I like this.

WHAT ISN’T ANYMORE:

“Well the first thing you know Jed’s a millionaire, Kinfolk said Jed move away from there…”

And speaking of neighbors I’ve taken the liberty of sharing with you, my gentle readers, a photograph of their empty backyard.  A backyard that is free from a huge, formerly well-used, swing set that is no longer there.

While I admit that the kids playing on the swing set were hilarious and the squirrels frolicking on the swing set were total goofballs, I’m happy that it’s gone from my view.

The neighbor kids are old enough to drive now and the swing set has disappeared, presumably to some other backyard where it’ll be loved as much as it was here.

Change happens, eh?

• • •

Neighbor’s wistful cat: I like him.

WHAT IS:

“You’re all invited back again to this locality, To have a heaping helping of their hospitality…”  

And finally while I’m on the topic of neighbors, here is a photo of their black and white kitty cat as seen on a foggy morning.

I don’t know his name, but he occasionally likes to sit under one of our trees.  He’s a natural, knowing how to pose for the camera– and takes a darned good picture.

He’s not destructive, just inquisitive, and not afraid to hang out in our yard when so moved by his need for a little peace and quiet away from kids and dogs.

I can understand.

• • •

Questions of the Day

{ answer whichever question OR questions strike your fancy }

  1. So what’s up with your neighbors?  Any of their trees poised to fall on your house? Anything missing from their yards? Any of their pets enjoying a respite in your yard?
  2. Can you sing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song from memory like I can?  How about Gilligan’s Island theme song?  Or The Flintstone’s theme song? 
  3. Do you believe I could get any more rambling and random than I have in this post?  And how does that make you feel?

Unexpected Entertainment: A Tale Of Grocery Shopping, One Little Girl, & Live Music

A bit of humor just in time for your holiday grocery shopping…

Imagine you’re a little girl about 7 years old.

It’s Sunday noon after church so you have on your best clothes: dress, tights, Mary Janes.  Your hair is pulled into two pigtails, one of which is higher than the other, and there are bows on your pigtails because… PRETTY.

You and your dad are shopping in Kroger, the new one with the huge 2-story foyer that has dramatic lights and large windows– and amazing acoustics.

As you leave the store, going through the foyer to the parking lot, you’re standing on the back of the wheeled metal shopping cart, being pushed along by your dad.

You have energy.

In spades.

Thus when you and your dad set foot in the foyer on your way to the parking lot you ask him: Now?

With a sheepish look on his face, as he glances at all the other adults in the foyer, he says: Yes.

At which time you, a wiggly little human being, start singing LOUDLY with gusto and joy.  Which one of the following five  songs did you sing?

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A Halloween Review: In The Rain With The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects waiting on the deck behind the house before going on stage in front of the house. 

~ ~ ~ ~

IT DRIZZLED THEN RAINED HERE last night, starting at about 6:00 p.m. just in time for the trick-or-treaters.  The temperature was in the 60s, about as warm as I’ve experienced in late October.  The night was in a word, unusual, and our reduced trick-or-treat count proved it.

In years past we’ve had anywhere from 120 to 220 beggars at the door, but this year our head count was only 60 kids.

Unheard of.

Despite the rain and because of the warm temperature, Z-D and I sat outside on our front stoop where we plopped ourselves onto two chairs he’d brought around front from the deck in the back.

There we waited to hand out candy, holding umbrellas over our heads, watching a slow parade of cute, polite kids shuffle their way across our yard, ignoring the precipitation.

Trick or treat!

~ ~ ~ ~

YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING WHY we didn’t stay inside our house, waiting for the kids to ring the doorbell.  And this would be a sensible thing for you, my gentle readers, to wonder.

But the thing is, and in my world there’s always a thinghere in Beanlandia our doorbell, a diva, is broken and has been for a few weeks.

From a distance it glows and looks useful, however if anyone pushes it the middle button thing pops out and dangles down from an electric cord.

Kind of dangerous.

The doorbell has one ring in it before it has to be manually reconfigured and placed back into the wall where it resumes its role as a pretend working doorbell.

Hence, maintaining its integrity is a bother that we avoided by sitting outside under our umbrellas in the rain.

As one does.

~ ~ ~ ~

AND WITH THAT GLIMPSE INTO the life and times of one woman, one husband, one house, I’ll end this wordy post in which I’ve discussed the weather, trick-or-treaters, and doorbells gone bad.

Scintillating, eh?

In fact, should future historians whilst looking through old personal blogs want an example of a blog post that is the epitome of flapdoodle and twaddle, I do hope they find this one.

Because if there was a point to what I said here, I dunno what it is.

Other than to say, Halloween has come and gone.  And we have a lot of leftover candy in this house.

Only 60 kids…

The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained

In the aftermath of the debacle there were questions, reasonable ones.

How could this have happened? What recipe did you use?

I used a recipe I found online from what I thought was from a reliable source.  Fake news, meet fake recipes.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t double-check the recipe, comparing it with other recipes, like a smart person would do.

After the debacle, when I found a wonderful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, I realized that I had used a recipe with the wrong batter to fruit ratio.

Did you set the oven to the correct temperature?

I did, but after the debacle I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the oven was heating like it should.  It is not.

In fact it’s heating about 25º below where it should be so the cobbler baked at the wrong temperature.  Hence, the cobbler remained a soggy mess even when it’d been in the oven for twice the suggested time.

 How much money did you waste on this debacle?

Oh, the shame.  I hang my head as I tell you that I bought raspberries and blackberries and blueberries for this untested recipe, assuming it’d be a wonderful desert.  But it wasn’t, it never even made it to the table– thus my $12.00 worth of berries were lost.

And from a good friend trying to distract me: what are the differences among the various fruit-based desserts? Do you know?

I didn’t know the answer to her question, so I did some research, which was a good way for me, an egghead, to get over the debacle.  This is what I learned.

• • •

BROWN BETTY – fresh fruit [often apples], spiced, then baked under buttered bread crumbs

BUCKLE – single layer cake that rises up around the fruit that is in the middle, making fruit buckle down, while cake forms circle above it

CLAFOUTI – fresh fruit [often cherries] covered with a flan-like batter and baked, usually in a cast iron skillet

COBBLER – fruit sweetened in a way that creates a thick syrup, with dough plopped on top like individual biscuits that when baked looks like a cobblestone street

CRISP – fresh fruit, spiced with cinnamon [+ other spices sometimes], baked with streusel topping

CRUMBLE – buttery crumbs that include oats with sweetened fruit baked between two layers of crumbs

GRUNT – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top, named for the sound the fruit makes while it cooks

PANDOWDY – a baked pie [usually apple] that has a thick crust on top with slits that allow the juices to bubble up onto the top of the pie, then using a spoon one pushes the crust down as it bakes so that the dessert looks dowdy when taken from the oven

PIE – sweetened and thickened fruit as the filling, baked, usually in a round pan, between lower pastry and top pastry or crumb topping

PING – fruit [usually cherries], covered in a sweet sauce, with spoonfuls of dough that form a crust on top that when tapped makes a hollow pinging sound that indicates it’s finished baking

SHORTCAKE – I’m not going down this road again… click here & read what we discussed earlier this year

SLUMP – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top wherein the topping slumps into the fruit

• • •

Sources of general information + a few specific recipes: Serious Eats, Huffington Post, the spruce Eats, FLOURISH, kitchn, Cook’s Country, COOKS.COM.

• • •

I’ve eaten 9 of the 12 desserts defined above.  I’ve not had Brown Betty, nor have I had Grunt or Slump– which some sources say are the same thing.  🤨

In Which Ms. Bean Is An Accessory After The Fact, Maybe

TECHNICALLY I am guilty.

That’s what Zen-Den, Esq, tells me.

That by not reporting what I saw to the authorities I aided in, but was not an accomplice with, someone who stole something;  that I am an accessory after the fact.

Well, so be it, says I.

Sometimes the entertainment value of not doing what you’re supposed to do is worth risking the wrath of the law.  As if this situation would ever involve the police.

You see, I was in the Self-Scan lane at the grocery checking out when I noticed a mother with a baby and a 5 y.o. boy.  The Mom was showing/supervising/focusing on Young Boy as he learned how to use the scanner.

🛒 → 😇 → 👶 ← 😇←🛒

MEANWHILE Baby Brother was sitting like a sweet angelic cherub in the seat part of the basket cart.

Mom had placed on the basket cart one of those quilted blanket-y thingies that attach to the seat part of the cart so that the baby never touches the basket cart itself.  [I have no idea what to call those things.]

Baby Brother, after looking at Mom to make sure she wasn’t paying attention to him, in a calculated and deliberate move, used his pudgy little paw to grab a toothbrush from the basket part of the cart.

I’m assuming that Mom had put the toothbrush in the cart as she was shopping in the store, planning on buying the toothbrush.

🛒→ 😁 → 👶 ← 😁 ←🛒

HOWEVER Baby Brother with the sticky fingers was planning to do something different.

His plan involved him hiding the toothbrush, where no one would see it, in front of himself in the folds of the puffy fabric that surrounded him.

Mine, mine, mine, his smile said!

This was a brazen theft right under everyone’s nose, except me who happened to see what Baby Brother swiped.  I could have, of course, squealed on him to Mr. Man who was in charge of the Self-Scan lane, but I chose not to.

And I cannot for sure say that Mom didn’t find & pay for the toothbrush before she left the store because I was out the door long before she and Young Boy finished scanning their purchases.

But I can say that I don’t know when I’ve laughed so hard leaving a grocery store, my cart filled with items, legally purchased, and my heart filled with the joy that comes from watching babies do what babies do.

One Grocery Shopping Trip, Three Unexpected Observations

When they ask you, my gentle readers, when did you first notice that Ally Bean was beginning to fray around the edges, please point them to this.

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OBSERVATION #1 {inside the grocery store}

Our store is having what I’ll call a re-shelving extravaganza in the middle of the store.  I don’t know why they’re re-setting the store, but many items that were somewhere on a shelf, are now somewhere else, often many aisles away.

I couldn’t find the crystalized ginger which was part of the healthy food department, so I asked an employee where it might be now.

Without a hint of irony the employee said: “It’s in aisle 7, under the sign that says Meat Snacks.”

And so there it was, by the beef jerky. 🤨

OBSERVATION #2 {in the grocery store parking lot}

Leaving the store walking to my car, I noticed a bumper sticker on a newish SUV with a license plate that said it was from this county.  The vehicle appeared to have kid stuff in the back seat.

I mention the possible kid angle because the bumper sticker was, to my way of thinking, a bit coarse for a family vehicle around here in this God-fearing politically conservative community.  I wasn’t clutching my pearls because of it, but I was surprised.

In large letters visible from far away the bumper sticker said: BERNIE F*ck This Sh!t.  [I’ve modified the message because this is still a PG-13 blog, but you get the gist of what it said.]

And so there it was, on a vehicle parked next to the cart corral for all to see. 🙁

Observation #3 {driving home from the grocery store}

Driving home, slowing down to make a righthand turn at the light, I noticed that on the large community calendar electronic sign in front of the fire station there were three words that seemed out-of-place.

While we live in an upscale subdivision, most of this township and county are less well-off and rural;  hence the conservative MAGA political nature of things around here.  Thus when I saw what I saw I was bemused, but slightly baffled.

Not because of anything rude, but because I cannot fathom why the community calendar electronic sign in front of the fire station said: “Et tu, Miami?”

And so there it was, a classic Latin phrase made famous by Shakespeare + a reference to the North American Indian Algonquian people. 🤔

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So, things making sense where you are? Or are things slightly off-kilter everywhere you look?

Let Us Talk Lettuce: Roaming For Romaine

Walking into the grocery store, my list in hand, looking for first item on my list, green leaf lettuce.

Am about to grab some green leaf lettuce when I’m approached by young woman, early 20s, cute in a confused but earnest way, who asks me if she can ask me a question.

And so the conversation began…

~ 🥗 ~ 💚 ~ 🥗 ~

HER: I’m supposed to buy my dad some romaine lettuce.

{pause}

ME: Yes…

{pause}

HER: I don’t understand where the romaine lettuce is…

ME: It’s down the way to our–

HER: This isn’t romaine lettuce, is it?

[She has a plastic bag filled with something green and leafy.  She puts the plastic bag directly in front of my face, about 6″ in front of my eyes… because I’m old, I guess, and she wants to make sure that I can see what is in the bag.]

ME: No, that’s Napa cabbage.  It’s not romaine lettuce.

HER: This is CABBAGE?  In the lettuce department?

ME: Yes, it’s leafy and looks sort of like romaine lettuce, but it’s cabbage… and won’t work if you’re looking for lettuce.

{pause}

HER: What does it taste like?

ME: Cabbage.

{pause}

HER: Is that lettuce?  It’s red.

ME: Yes, that’s red leaf lettuce.  It’s lettuce… as is the green leaf lettuce beside it that I’m going to buy.

HER: Lettuce can be RED?

ME: Yes.

{pause}

HER: I don’t understand lettuce.  How do you know which one is which?

ME: There are little tags on the shelves below each kind of lettuce that tell you what it is.

[She takes the opportunity to turn her head sideways and notice the little tags, reading a few of them.]

HER: Huh. That’s helpful.

ME: Yes it is.  Now if you go down the way to our right–

HER: LOOK AT THAT! The tag says Napa cabbage.  That’s what I picked up.

ME: Uh huh.  Down the way, to our right, there are bags of–

HER: What am I going to do with this Napa cabbage that I don’t want?

ME: Put it back. On the shelf. With all the other Napa cabbages.

{pause}

HER: I can do that?

ME: Yes, and down the way, to our right, there are bags of romaine lettuce that have three–

HER: THREE!!! Yes, that’s what my dad said.  Bags of three. Where are they?

ME: Down the way. To our right, where the big sign talks about–

HER: Yes, yes.  I see it.  How did I miss it?  Thanks.

[She scampers off to buy a bag of romaine lettuce, leaving me to finish my sentence, unheard and definitely unheeded.]

ME: — where the big sign talks about the current dangers surrounding consumption of romaine lettuce.

~ The End ~