Suitability: An Explanation Of What The Heck Is Going On With My Blog Template

[… for those who have wondered why things look different around here… and have taken the time to contact me about said… allow me to explain…]

Having the right look for my blog is important to me .  In fact, since I started this sweet little bloggy last January, I’ve had four different [free] templates. 

Let’s review, shall we?

#1  The one with the glowing orange candle up top.  It is called Coraline & described by WordPress key words thusly–  clean, conservative, generic, light, minimal. Yep, it was.  But in the end, it was not me.  So I moved on.

#2  The one with the lonely little pine cone up top.  It is called Pilcrow & described by WordPress key words thusly– clean, conservative, formal, generic, light, minimal, simple.  Again, yep it was.  But it had some features that I didn’t like, so I moved on.  [Also, I accidentally deleted it late one Friday afternoon.  There was drama.  There was swearing.  We’re not going to re-hash that event here.]

#3  The one with the bunch of bananas up top.  It is called Fruit Shake & described by WordPress key words thusly– artistic, colorful, faded, whimsical, yellow.  Again, let me confirm that this was an accurate description.  However, its cheeriness drove me bonkers and the way it scrunched up my words on the page was difficult to read.  So I moved on.

#4  The one with the big black rectangle up top.  It is called Quintus & described by WordPress key words thusly– calligraphic, elegant, formal, nostalgic, retro, textured, traditional.  Yep, it is.  And of all the ones I’ve tried, this one is the easiest to use, the most clear to read and the least annoying for me to look at.  In fact, a further description of it says:

“A theme that has an old-style appeal with semi-academic graciousness and elegant typography. Fitting for displaying either text or images, Quintus offers a fresh look with room for customization….” 

Now this is a look and description I like.  So I’ve stayed here.

Why have I been changing my template so often? 

While my academic background is in words/relationships/communication, my later-in-life inclination is in images/color/design.  The result is that I like to change things around and that I’m never satisfied with how things look… until I am.  All this trial and error here is really just me attempting to find the most suitable look for my sweet little bloggy.  Which I think I have with this gracious, elegant, fresh template.

At least for the moment.  😉

In Which Agnes Reminds Me Of Me

•  This comic strip has made my day.

•  Like Agnes, I can say anything with too many words, if need be.  Got me through grad school.  Not so useful in real life.

•  And like Agnes, I wanted a pair of cowgirl boots.  [Yippie-Yi-Yo-Ki-Yay]  But, alas and alack, it was not to be.

•  Yet, in my heart-of-hearts, I’m still Agnes– looking for the popularity “heaped upon those who are shod thusly.”

~ ~ • ~ ~ 

{ Source }

We Have A Backyard

[Sub-titled: The Big Dig Ends… And Not A Moment Too Soon]

Today as I reflect upon the inability of the 112th US Congress to do anything constructive about job creation, I am happy to report that our backyard project is complete.

As you may recall, in mid-August we began a very involved and expensive backyard landscaping project which happened in three parts.  To sum it up, in Phase One we had trees knocked down and dirt hauled in.  In Phase Two we had a concrete wall built to create two levels in our backyard.

And now, here is the rest of the story.  Welcome to Phase Three.


Below is a photo of the stone steps in process.  These large steps allow us to get down into our lower level.  Without them we’d be slip sliding away every time we went down there.

Here’s a photo of our deck and the newly formed backyard taken from the second story of our house.  This project was massive. 

And here is the finished product.  The oval that you’re seeing down there is about 12 feet x 9 feet.  It is large enough for a full size picnic table or a medium size fire pit with chairs around it.  We haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do with this space yet.  

One last photo of the side of the house where many of the machines came around to the back of the property.  The replanting of Pachysandra looks good and will fill in the area quite nicely.


While the results of this project are wonderful, the process was stressful.  In total about 30 men worked on this backyard.  They showed up [usually without warning] when they felt like working on it, anywhere from 5:30 am to 7:00 pm on any day of the week.  Some weeks the weather made it impossible to work back there.  Other weeks the landscapers were too busy elsewhere to bother with us.  So we waited.

And with that, I’m signing off on talking about this project here in my blog.  It’s been something good to share with the world, but now it’s time for me to go down into The Spoon and enjoy communing with nature.

After all, that was the original reason we did this to begin with.

All The Weekend News That You Can Use

I would prefer to write something with depth, research & thought behind it here on my little bloggy today.  I haven’t done anything like that in quite a while– and I have all sorts of ideas bouncing around inside my brain.

However, I don’t have the time today [or this week] to put my thoughts to [virtual] paper, so this fast post is going to have to do.



Things you need to know now about life here at Chez Bean.

•  Zen-Den’s foot is healed.  He is walking without any trouble and has even mowed our lawn– which I’d say is proof that he is back among the mobile.

•  We had a beautiful weekend.  On Saturday night, for reasons that were never fully explained to me, Zen-Den suggested that we should sleep outside on the floor in our screened-in porch.  So we did.  Doing this reminded me of two things:  1) I am too old to enjoy sleeping outside– it’s noisy and weird out there in the dark;  & 2)  I think that whoever invented mattresses with box springs deserves sainthood.

•  We planted 58 daffodil bulbs & 10 muscari bulbs around our property.  Planting these bulbs was by far the most normal home-owning activity we have done in a couple of years.  It has been nothing but upheaval and expense and mess around here for so long that I’d forgotten about the simpler things involved in keeping house.  Like just planting something for the fun of it.



Well, look at that!  I’ve written a passable blog post complete with photos taken this morning and pithy insights gleaned from my weekend.  I think that this is good for now.  More later in the week.

The Trouble With Nature

Just a little glimpse into what is going on around here.  A woman-vs-animal sort of post.  Presented for your edification and entertainment.   

•  It’s cricket-palooza in our garage this week.   Noisy little buggers.   After our previous two weeks of unseasonably cold & wet weather, we’re back to normal temps; the nights are in the 50s and the days are in the upper 70s.  I think that the crickets are rather charming, but Zen-Den has a different opinion of them.  For some reason they seem to like to jump on him in the morning as he walks through the garage to his SUV.  [*tee-hee*]

He’s started to mutter words like RAID & SWEEP & WEEKEND as he walks to Bullwinkle, so I’m guessing that by Monday morning our garage will be a cricket-free zone.

•  I sat in our screened-in porch this morning to drink my coffee and contemplate the meaning of life wake-up. As I tried to meditate on the profundity of the human experience remember what I had to do today, a squirrel fight broke out in the trees right behind me. Our screened-in porch is at the back of the house and is elevated. Thus, when sitting on the porch you are right in among the middle branches of the trees which are immediately behind the porch.  It’s cool.  It’s unique.  But, man-oh-man, is it noisy when unhappy squirrels start to argue over whose nest is going to be built where.

I really don’t care where these squirrels build their nests, AS LONG AS IT ISN’T INSIDE THE HOUSE.  Been there. Done that. Paid someone to catch/murder some squirrels. Not a pretty experience. Don’t want to repeat it.

•  It’s official.  The deranged woodpecker who delights in pecking on our guest bathroom window frame has ruined it.  The window now leaks dirty, grody water inside the house into the bathtub.  There’s a whole fricking forest for this bird to use for his dinner, but he prefers our house.  Yum, yum.

So next week, we will meet with HANDYMAN CONTESTANT NUMBER ONE to see if he’ll do this sort of repair & how much it’ll cost us for him to do this kind of repair. This is a new-to-me sort of house problem, so I have no idea what to expect.  I mean, are we talking the price of Thanksgiving dinner for 6?  Or the price of a lovely, romantic weekend in the city for 2?  Big difference there.

And on that chatty note, I’m out of here for a long weekend of play.  Some say:  make hay while the sun shines.  But I say:  dance while the sun shines.  It is such a rare commodity around here, that not taking advantage of it seems like a sin to me.  I’ll catch up with you, my gentle readers, next week.  

“You’re Taking This Well”

Last Thursday during routine furnace maintenance, the technician found a hole in the 2nd chamber from the left of the heat exchanger & a crack in the inducer transition of our 13-year-old gas furnace.

[You’re thrilled, right?  Scintillating first sentence.]

He immediately turned off the gas & electric on the furnace and put a red tag on the front of it.  The red tag said:


Then he very politely asked me to go with him downstairs into the basement to talk about our furnace.  I knew that this wasn’t going to be good.

[I didn’t just fall off the new homeowner turnip truck, ‘ya know?]

So, down we went.  The technician explained the problems, told me about my two solutions to the problems, and then stood there waiting for me to explode.

But I didn’t get mad at all.  I just started to laugh.  A crazy, silly laugh.  It was a laugh that a woman steeped in a life of irony would produce when told that her plans were once again being thwarted.

“You’re taking this well,” he said.  “Most woman yell at me when I tell them their furnace is dead– and needs costly repairs or to be replaced entirely.”

Instead, I stood there– laughed & smiled– basking in the self-knowledge that just that very morning I’d allowed myself to dream that we might actually get the new wall-to-wall carpeting installed on the second floor of the house by Thanksgiving.  That this year for the holidays our home might look tidy without 13-year-old skunky, dirty, original wall-to-wall carpet uglifying the place. 

[And let me interject here to say that wall-to-wall carpeting is something that I hate to my core, but I accept as a necessary evil of suburbia. Making this situation doubly ironic.]  

Yep, that’s what I was thinking as the technician started to tell me the price of a new furnace.   I didn’t listen very carefully to the rest of what he said.  It didn’t matter to me.  I knew that we’d be buying a new furnace, regardless of the cost, by the end of the day.

And that I could put my carpet samples back in the drawer where I’ve kept them for a couple of years.   Waiting for just the right time to buy wall-to-wall carpeting… which I’m beginning to believe is never.

Not So Smooth

“Man plans, God laughs.”

~ Yiddish proverb

~ ~ • ~ ~

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore.  I gave up on trying to do that a long time ago.  Instead, I focus on one word for the year– attempting to make my one word happen in all that I do during the year.

[I adopted this idea years ago after reading this blog post by Christine Kane.]

So, this year I chose the word SMOOTH as my one word of the year.   SMOOTH.  As in: calm;  consistent;  without harshness;  having no rough edges.  Lovely word. Wonderful concept.

But here’s my problem, 2011 is three-fourths over and I’m not getting anywhere with my word of the year.  In fact, I think that I’m doing just about the complete opposite.  Things are getting rougher, more problematic, and less consistent as this year drags on.

I thought that in 2011 I’d have the inside of the house finally put back together after our years of remodeling and painting.  Hasn’t happened.

I thought that in 2011 our little backyard project [understatement of the year] would be finished in a timely fashion and that we’d be having fun out there by now.  Hasn’t happened.

I thought that in 2011 I’d get back into blogging and feel more connected to the world at large again.  Hasn’t happened.

Instead, I’ve experienced flux & difficult endings & weird people– lots of ’em.  This would not be my definition of SMOOTH.

Fortunately, I’m good at going with the flow and adapting as needed.  If I was uptight and took myself more seriously, I’d be in a heap of hurt right about now.  But I’m not and I don’t.

I do have to wonder, though.  If I say that for the rest of 2011 my one word is unSMOOTH, will God laugh and make my life SMOOTH?  ‘Cause if that’s the trick to getting what I want this year, I will be a contrarian and do that.  Just watch me.