An Old Joke Repurposed: A Squirrel Named Chaz Walks Into A Bar…

What is this, you ask? This is my entry into evilsquirrel13’s annual Contest of Whatever. Details here. You, too, can join in the fun until February 28, 2019.

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Chaz the Squirrel, our mutual friend, was sitting outside on the deck staring into the woods, pondering what to do next.  

Behind him was a bleak house, empty at the moment because since Christmas, Carol, the owner, had been away.  

In fact, truth be known, Chaz was a little sad, having fallen on hard times.

With nothing much to do Chaz decided to go to a bar that was a much of the old curiosity shop as it was a place to get a fine cocktail.

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He didn’t have great expectations as he walked into the bar, but was delighted when he saw his favorite bartender, a petite woman, some would say little, Dorrit.

Upon seeing Chaz, Dorrit exclaimed, “Hey there you little dickens!  What’ll you have?”

To which Chaz replied, “A martini, if you please.”

“Sure enough,” she said. “Will that be with an olive ‘r twist?”

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THE END

Rambling Thoughts: Hand Me A Doughnut, It’s Time To Celebrate Valentine’s Day

I WASN’T GOING TO POST ANYTHING today because I know many of you dislike Valentine’s Day with a red-hot passion that burns deep within your very souls.

You, my gentle readers, mentioned this in the comment section of my post, Just Curious: Tell Me, What’s Your Least Favorite Holiday?

From your comments I discerned, because I am a woman who can discern, that many people have issues with Valentine’s Day.  Issues that remind me that I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes by being happy about this day.  Nope, crazy lurks everywhere, causing issues until there’s medical intervention.

Or doughnuts.

Which are just like time spent with a therapist but more accessible and less expensive.

Quote me, if you like.

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WHICH, OF COURSE, BRINGS ME TO the quote I’ve shared at the top of this post.  It’s a quote from Tom Robbin’s novel, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.  I read this novel in college.  I majored in English Literature, and this novel is an example of a subculture hippy novel, well-written, descriptive, not based in reality.

Yada, yada, yada.

So here’s the thing, the above quote is what I remember the most from the novel.  As I recall the quote means that in life, love is what you use to fill the space so that there’s no emptiness.

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OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT I think it means, and considering how long ago I studied that novel, I want some credit for even remembering the quote… about love… on Valentine’s Day.

And with that glimpse into my addled brain I’ll end this post.  You may choose to believe that I’ve wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day OR if you hate this holiday you may choose to believe I have not wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

As with most things, it’s all in how you look at it.

It Was A Jammies Day, Meant For Bookworms

Dear Diary,

We never got the predicted deep snow, but we did get the frigid temps.  And because we could, Zen-Den and I spent Sunday at home going nowhere.

He watched football on TV.

I read.

In fact, I finished one novel, The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.

[I don’t do book reviews on this blog.  Instead I’ll tell you that I enjoyed this historical fiction novel because it had unique characters, a predictable but interesting plot, and explained the history of women spies during WWI, something I knew nothing about.]

Then I pulled out an Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton because I wanted a lightweight British cozy mystery to while away the rest of the day.

As one does when one is me.

I admit I looked outside and contemplated walking into the screened-in porch to brush off the snow from the winter furniture, but that seemed like too. much. effort. for a woman in her jammies all day.

[Plus, that furniture is teak which is supposed to weather the elements so that it can develop a rich gray patina and show a little character.]  

And that, Dear Diary, is about all there is to say about Sunday instant.

I’m hoping that the temps will get up into the 20s today so I can comfortably go for a walk outside, but if not I’ll keep reading.

Up next in my TBR stack is Beartown by Fredrik Backman, so you know I’ll be enjoying the book in front of me.  Thus I say fear not, for I shall keep myself entertained while avoiding inclement weather.

Yours truly,

Ally Bean

A Cautionary Tale About Socks: One Woman’s Experience With KonMari

YOU MAY REMEMBER last fall I organized my section of our walk-in closet [discussed here].  What I didn’t tell you, my gentle readers, is that when I did that organization I adopted, sort of, the KonMari approach to tidying up said closet space.

Oh yes I did.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been 100% convinced her approach to organizing stuff is for me, but I’m open-minded so I gave it a go in our closet wherein I have a chest of drawers + a rod for hanging clothes + some shelves on which to put things.

Please note that in keeping with my experimental mindset I went full-out joy-sparking in that closet.

Uh huh.

SO LAST WEEKEND Zen-Den and I were going to dinner with friends at a nice restaurant in a swanky part of town.  I was wearing black pants, intending to wear a new pair of black leather + leopard print loafers with socks.

Black socks, obviously. Because winter is finally here and for the first time since last winter I needed to wear dark socks.

All was good in my uber-organized sock drawer, or so I thought, until I realized that during my Marie Kondo organizational purge last fall I’d saved 5 dark socks.

Five. Individual. Socks.

They are: 2 textured brown socks, 1 plain navy blue sock, 1 plain black sock, and 1 tone-on-tone patterned black sock.

APPARENTLY I GOT a little too joyful, and a trifle distracted, when I sorted through my dark socks last fall, giving the ones I didn’t want to the Salvation Army.

I think we can agree on that.

But be that as it may this situation created an interesting problem in the moment for which I had no immediate logical solution.  Thus I’ll share with you what turned out to be my four choices– and ask you to contemplate what you’d do in this situation.

My solution is in the comments below.

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HERE IS THE SOCK CONUNDRUM I FACED

1) I could wear the matching brown socks that didn’t go with the black pants and cute black leather + leopard print loafers;  or

2) I could be an outlaw a la Agnes and wear many possible mismatched sock combinations;  or

3) I could go sockless on a cold winter’s night;  or

4) I could give up wearing my cute loafers and wear black boots instead, knowing no one would see my socks that way.

WHAT DO YOU THINK I DID? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

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Blogging: When Nagging Doubts Take Over Your Mind

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Would you like to know a secret? Something about me, as a blogger, that I’ve never told anyone before?

Well lean in closer, my gentle readers, here goes…

I’m spending way too much time worrying about what to write here.

I mean, if I learned one thing from my blogging break it is that when I’m not blogging I wake up in the morning with a mind filled with mellow thoughts.

And I start my day with a sense of clarity and purpose that’d make Covey [and his Seven Habits] happy.

But when I’m actively doing the bloggy thing I wake up in the morning uncertain, with confused ideas about what to write here and low-level anxiety about whether or not what I published earlier in the week was a good idea.

Doubts fill me in a way that only the Devil [and his Seven Mortal Sins] could take joy in.

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So you know what I did? How I handled these nagging doubts that worry me?

I conducted a study on my bloggy self and my writing behavior wherein: 1) I tracked the time I spent blogging during October;  2) I reviewed my following/commenting process looking for a better way to do it; and 3) I evaluated my categories with an eye to revision.

Here are my findings + changes:

1) I put in about 3 hours per day on all things blogging, such as researching, writing, editing, publishing, reading other blogs, and commenting;

2) I follow a variety of bloggers and to do this more easily I’ve ditched WP Reader entirely, choosing to upgrade my Feedly account wherein I can have everyone filed away, all orderly like;  and

3) I need to have fewer categories, well-defined in my head, so that when I sit down to write I’m focused and unworried, thus I’ve re-envisioned my blog with 7 categories.

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So has my little foray into personal blogging self-awareness helped me feel more in control of what I’m doing here?

In a word, YES.  Most definitely.

And maybe the message of this blog post is that once a year I need to revisit what I’m doing on this blog and how I want to keep on doing it, so that writing my personal blog doesn’t cause me to worry.

Seems obvious as I say it here, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come so easily to me.

No secret about that, now is there?

Fashionable Or Not, Here Are My Answers To The Fashionista Questions

Over the weekend I saw that Carol had answered these questions. She got them from Melanie who got them from Rory who asked them originally. I thought this looked like fun so I did it too. Here are my answers.  

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Q1 How important is colour in your life?

It’s very important, so much so that I have a blog tag for it: Colors Of My Life.

Q2 What is your most favourite colour to wear?

Blue, all shades– but not at once.

Q3 Is there a colour that you wear that brings the best out in you and in others – in so far as compliments?

Teal or aqua.  I get compliments when I wear either of those.  They bring out the color in my blue, sometimes greenish, eyes.

Q4 Are you a person who likes to overdress for the day or are you a follower of the credo, less is more?

Less is more, my gentle readers.  Overdressing makes me feel silly and contrived.

Q5 What are five of your best items of clothing that you simply couldn’t be without? [and l don’t mean underwear/socks]

T-shirts, cotton sweaters, Birks, denim jacket, jeans.

Q6 Do you dress for the season, as in colour wise, or just throw on whatever is warm and practical?

Remember the book, Color Me Pretty by Carole Jackson?  With a hat tip to her seasonal color analysis [learn more about yours here], I dress for each season using colors I know flatter my skin tone;  I’m a summer.  Then I add a shade or two associated with whichever season it is, so that I “blend” with the world around me.

Q7 If you were going for an evening out and the dress code was ‘smart casual’ what is your ideal outfit and why?

Dark jeans, silk blouse, a spectacular necklace + simple hoop earrings, leather flats with a bit of attitude.  Why?  ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

Q8 If you were having to attend an important meeting or appointment and the dress code was smart – what would your outfit be then?

Dark pants or a pencil skirt in wool [maybe], a blazer or v-neck cardigan, white blouse or t-shirt, small necklace + stud earrings + watch, flats or pumps [depending], a stylish leather purse.

Q9 How many pairs of shoes do you own, and what is the breakdown [as in casual, smart, evening, leisure]

Flats [5], sandals [12], pumps [3], boots [5], athletic [5].  This means I have 30 pairs of shoes.  Is that a lot?  Seems like it to me.

Q10 Do you have classic clothing, or classic items in your wardrobe that you have had for years and never go out of fashion if so name three?

Of course I do!  I’m all about classics.  Three items are*: cotton cardigan sweater by Lands’ End, three-quarter-sleeve blouse by L.L.Bean, Court bag by Coach [from before they lost their mind].

Q11 Are you into plain colours, wild colours or outlandish designs or a mixture and which do you favour more?

Clear colors, simple textures, as little pattern as possible.  Nothing too match-y, match-y.  I want people to see me not some goofy overpowering pattern or unflattering trendy color.

Q12 Do you have a favourite quote with regards fashion or design – if so what is it?

Yes, it is bien dans sa peau, a French saying that means to be happy + comfortable in your own skin.  ‘Tis a goal and a mantra.  I read about it first in French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano and the idea has stayed with me.

Q13 Knee high socks, ankle socks, shin socks or no socks?

No knee socks ever.  Ankle socks sometimes in the winter when it’s cold everywhere I go.  Sans socks when possible.

Q14 Can you see the connection between colour and music and if so does it influence your dress code for the day in any way?

No, I don’t see a connection between color and music.

Q15 If you are going out somewhere special and want to listen to some music to put you in the mood whilst getting dressed up, what do you listen to? [Provide link please]

I play no music while I’m getting dressed.

Q16 How often do you buy new clothing for the season or the year?

I HATE SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES, however I may buy one or two new items each season… if I have to… preferably while shopping online… so I don’t have to go near a store… with other people in it.

Q17 Remember tie-dye from the 70’s was it a thing you followed, bought into or worse, how do you feel about it now?

I have no strong opinions about tie-dye.  I’d wear it on a t-shirt or scarf, if I liked the colors in it.

Q18 What is the brightest coloured item of clothing you have in your wardrobes/drawers?

I have a bright pink [blue undertone] fleece jacket that I wear more often than you might think I would.  It goes with everything I own.

Q19 What is the most expensive item of clothing that you have in your wardrobe? How often do you actually wear it?

The most expensive item of clothing in my wardrobe is my lined wool winter coat that I wear when it’s below 30ºF outside.

PQ20 Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope, answered them all, thank you very much.

Q21 Is being ‘fashionable’ important to you, or is being comfortably attired more so?

Being stylishly attired is important to me, which means that occasionally I’m fashionable, but for the most part means I follow my own aesthetic that I’d describe as relaxed classic with a little boho chick thrown in for fun.

I have a casual vibe.  I like simple structured clothes in natural fabrics, with an occasional foray into animal print or ethnic print or lace or tiny shiny bling.

I want NO extra fabric draping all over me, NO sports team apparel, NO tacky jewelry or makeup.  Just me, pulled together without fuss, comfortable in my own skin**.

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*Hello FTC! As usual no company has paid me a cent to talk favorably about their products here. Fear not, my old friend, The Spectacled Bean remains an ad-free blog.

** In case you’re interested, three personal style blogs that I like are: GIRLS OF A CERTAIN AGEThe Vivienne Files, & une femme d’un certain âge.

My Inaugural Three Thoughts Thursday | Listening. Doing. Watching.

I’ve decided that once in a while I need to have a bona fide feature on this blog wherein I allow myself to just tell you, my gentle readers, a few thoughts.  

To share with you what I’m focusing on without fiddle-farting my morning away writing a whole long involved story about it.  

So with this groovy introduction and with the snazzy image you see above [created by me on Canva], I give you the following.  

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ONE

I think that the By The Book podcast is delightful.

It’s hosted by comedian Jolenta Greenberg and her skeptical friend Kristen Meinzer.  These women pick a self-help book, read it, then live by it for two weeks.  Their subsequent conversations about how living by the book went for them, and sometimes how it went for their husbands, are funny, insightful + mature.  I’m enjoying this podcast, listening to one episode every few weeks.

TWO

I think that the Happyfeed app for your smart phone is useful.

I admit that initially I thought this app seemed flaky, geared more toward teenage girls than grown-ups, but I’m enjoying doing what it wants me to do each day.  That is, I’m creating a small gratitude journal by writing three good things that have happened to me on each day.  The app then shows me my days, in a list, with my good things on the list.  It’s easy.  It’s up-lifting.  What’s not to love?

THREE

I think that Santa Clarita Diet is hilarious.

I binge-watched this Netflix TV show a week ago and haven’t stopped smiling about it yet.  WARNING: it is bloody & gory.  However, once you get past the fact that Drew Barrymore’s character, Sheila, a suburban realtor, turns into a hangry accidental zombie who devours people, the humor in this show is over the top yet *somehow* spot on to reality.

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Question of the Day

What have you been thinking about lately? It’s Thursday, no better day than today to share your thoughts on any topic! Add them to the comments below– and we’ll talk.  

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