Notes + Photos From The Backyard: No Bad Stuff, Only The Good Stuff

SITTING OUTSIDE ON OUR DECK late in the afternoon I heard the neighbor girl + her friends playing on the neighbor’s deck.  The girls were all around age 5 and they were chanting:

“No bad stuff… No Bad Stuff… NO. BAD. STUFF.”

They were loud. They were serious. They were coloring.

I started laughing to myself because they reminded me of a boss I worked for years ago.  This boss, a woman, would breeze into my office and say: “tell me the good stuff, only the good stuff.”

Let’s say she was singleminded in her pursuit of demanding creating a positive workplace.  For her idealism I admired her.  HOWEVER one does have to occasionally face reality and deal with complex, not-so-happy issues which, it’ll come as no surprise to you, this boss had difficulty doing.

Can you imagine? 🙄

THE FOREGOING IS MY STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS way of getting to what I think you, my little pudding cups, might find of interest.

Last April I decided to take a monthly photo late in the month of the same scene.  It shows part of our backyard [+ a little of the neighbor’s backyard].  I’ve no story to go with the photos, no particular reason why I started taking the photos.

I just did.

And now, as an homage to the determined little girls and my positivity-crazed former boss, I’ll end this post with four months of photos of our backyard in which you can see that things change, but remain the same.

From my point of view there’s no bad stuff in these photos, only good stuff.  I say this  because nature does what nature does. N’est-ce pas?  And it’s up to us to take note, then do our best to adapt to what is.

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

~ ~ 💚 ~ ~

In Which A Good Friend Suggests I Am A Bad Influence, As If

Catching up with a friend. Talking about what’s new with her…

FRIEND: I got thrown out of Bible Study.

ME: Wait what? YOU were in a Bible Study group? You? WHY?!!

FRIEND: I know, it’s hard to believe. It’s not really my thing, but my older sister’s high school best friend made me join.

ME: Wait what? HOW did she make you do this?

FRIEND: Oh, she asked me to join so I did. She got credit for bringing in new members. She got thrown out of Bible Study, too. Because of me… AND YOU, really.

ME: Wait, hold the horses. How did I get you two thrown out of Bible Study? I didn’t even know you were doing it, let alone in the group.

FRIEND: You told me about Cosmopolitans.

ME: Huh? Like back when Sex and the City was on TV? Those drinks?

FRIEND: Yep… and I think you were to one who suggested seeing the movie Sideways. The one about drinking wine.

ME: How does any of this have anything to do with you getting thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: My older sister’s high school best friend and I were to arrange a Saturday night Bible Study get together. It was at her house. She provided the location and I provided refreshments and a movie. It was so we all could bond, or something.

ME: Uh huh.

FRIEND: So we’d just been talking in Bible Study class about Jesus turning water into wine and I remembered the movie about the vineyards. It seemed relevant to me. Then I remembered how Carrie and her girlfriends loved their Cosmopolitans so I made those the drink of the night.

ME: Ok.

FRIEND: But the thing is that I didn’t know this get together was supposed to be alcohol-free so almost no one wanted my drinks. It was Saturday night for goodness sake. Who doesn’t drink then?

ME: This group of women apparently.

FRIEND: I think they would’ve overlooked the booze except for the movie. Well, one part of the movie. I’d forgotten there was nudity in it.

ME: There is?

FRIEND: Yep a full frontal shot of a naked man running down a street. You can see his junk and this shocked most of the girls. They left immediately.

ME: No kidding? They just left?!!

FRIEND: Yep, but those who stayed drank the Cosmopolitans and we had a good time watching the movie. They understood how it was about wine, something Jesus made. It was fine with them.

ME: So how did you find out you’d been thrown out of Bible Study?

FRIEND: An email on Monday morning told us. My older sister’s high school best friend isn’t upset. She says she’s relieved to be free from it… and them.

ME: And you? How do you feel about this?

FRIEND: Oh I’m fine with it. It was something to do for a while, but now it isn’t something to do.

ME: There’s that.

FRIEND: So tried any new drinks lately? Seen any good movies? You always know the most fun things!

ME: Uh huh.

~ The End ~

A Dilemma: To Cliché Or Not To Cliché, That Is The Question

I think that this resource, Cliché Finder, could be useful for writers. 

A cliché, as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is: “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” More information about clichés here: 50+ Examples of Cliches: Meaning and Origin & Definition and Examples of Cliches.

I’ve nothing against most clichés I suppose. I’m too easygoing to run around snarking about the use of them, BUT when writing something it’s good to learn/confirm that you’re using a cliché. And that is precisely what the free online Cliché Finder does for you.

For instance, even though I’m mellow yellow about most trite overused phrases I vehemently dislike one particular cliché: “thinking outside the box.” It’s so old I’m sure Moses used it. Adam probably used it before him just to annoy Eve. 

That’s how old it is. Quite rightly.

But thanks to Cliché Finder, I know for sure not to use my disliked cliché so that my writing is fresh and original, not stale and antiquated– because that would not do.

Anyhow, as a way of showing you how the Cliché Finder works, I wrote the following scintillating little flash fiction story, popped it into the Cliché Finder that told me I’d used SIX* overworked phrases.

Bad me. 😁

• • •

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What’s your least favorite cliché? You know, the one that makes you stop listening to what someone is saying or to stop reading what is in front of you. We all have one, don’t we?

[Extra credit to anyone who gets the Donovan reference.]

• • •

* The six clichés are: old as the hills, think outside the box, read between the lines, matter of time, busy as a bee, writing on the wall.

Thinking About Good Vibes Only: What Inspires You? What Limits You?

A friend said she was looking for inspiration.

She wanted it to be online, not in her real life because that was what she was trying to rise above– the people and situations therein.

To be clear, she wasn’t talking about inspiration about how to remodel the kitchen or plan a party or how to take better photos. Nothing like that.

She wanted to find something/someone online who had an encouraging message that resonated with her.

She asked me what inspired me online and I said people who write about their lives, share their joys and defeats, perhaps a few photos, a few quotes. I like getting to know individuals and how they process their lives.

However that was NOT what she wanted.

No, and this is where I thought the conversation got interesting, she was looking for an online group of people, a niche really, wherein she could belong. She said that her idea of inspiration was to be part of a group, then do what the group did.

That idea, in the context of looking for inspiration, seemed foreign to me, someone who joins in group things every so often but doesn’t make a practice of it. I’ve nothing against being part of a group, but I usually find it limiting, not exhilarating.

The conversation went on a bit longer, morphing into a discussion about what it means to be independent. That is, do you find yourself thinking you are independent because you have the freedom to join any group you want? OR because you are free to not join any group and do your own thing instead?

Obviously there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in this post, but the conversation prompted me to contemplate how I live my life, where I put my power, and the assumptions on which I base my actions when seeking inspiration.

Thoughts, anyone?

In Which The Beans Disagree Over The Value Of Texts Announcing Emails

Not seeing eye to eye, but that’s okay.

• • •

To be clear this is NOT a strong opinion tightly held situation.

It’s just that Zen-Den and I disagree over something.  Nothing large, a quiet disagreement.  In fact it might be best described as a puny opinion half-heartedly held situation, but one that does lend itself to consideration and conversation.

Never would I have thought to write about it here except that I’m reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and in her memoir she talks about that which we disagree on, i.e., the value of texts prompting you to do something now.

In fact if you’ve read what she has written about texting you know that she says: “Texts are not the boss of me, and neither is anybody who texts me.” She is not a fan of them, in general– allowing for a few specific situations in which they are good.

• • •

Getting to our particular disagreement.

Zen-Den, Esq, finds it mildly annoying when someone texts [or worse yet phones] him to say that this someone has sent Z-D an email that they want him to read.  Z-D considers that to be a remnant of old-school business practices left over from when everyone used snail mail and wanted you to know that the document was in the mail.

It is totally unnecessary in today’s electronic world. He thinks of it as weak sauce [my term for his thoughts].

I, on the other hand, like it when someone sends me a short text [no phone calls please] to alert me to the fact that this someone has sent me an email they would like me to read soon.  I consider it a polite heads-up to Ms. Bean, a woman known for forgetting to check her email accounts regularly.

It is not necessary but a good precaution if you want me to read your email on a timely basis.  I call it an act of random kindness.

• • •

So what do you think, my gentle readers?  

Do you like to know when someone has sent you an email? OR do you prefer to find them when you find them?

When receiving a text message about an email that’s been sent to you, does the context, business or personal, influence your answer to the first question?   

Also, do you consider text messages to be bossy? OR do you consider them to be like a polite wave from a neighbor across the street?

Please discuss in the comments below.

• • •