Encouraged By Your Interest I Answer Minnie Driver’s Existential Questions

These 7 questions are from the podcast Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver. In December I asked you, my gentle readers, if these questions would be of interest to you and there was a resounding YES! My answers are as follows

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Artwork created by Zen-Den the Retired who has figured out how to draw pictures on my iPad.

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When and where were you happiest? 

When? Now. Where? Here. Granted there’s nothing about my current midwest suburban lifestyle that years ago I’d have thought I’d like, but I do. I’ve adapted. I’m grateful for where I’ve landed.

And with whom, of course.

What quality do you like least about yourself? 

I still tend to be a perfectionist in certain situations. I’ve overcome it in the sense of meal planning and daily schedules and wardrobe decisions, but when it comes to interior design decisions or word choices/grammar I get in my own way because I want things to be perfect.

I know, I know, progress not perfection.

What relationship — real or fictionalized — defines love for you?

I’m going to go with a fictionalized relationship and say Amy Pond + Rory Williams.

They travelled with the 11th Dr. Who [Matt Smith] for a while and their love for/commitment to each other was so strong that Rory once guarded Amy’s tomb for thousands of years, just in case she would come back to life. Which she did, eventually [because time travel, like a bowtie, is cool].

They were honest with each other, kind and adventurous, accepting each other’s foibles for what they were, quirky personality features.

What would be your last meal?

Once upon a time Z-D and I were in Hawaii on Christmas Day. We didn’t have reservations at any restaurant so we ate our Christmas dinner sitting on chaise lounge chairs by the hotel pool.

We ordered from the poolside menu, choosing the only items that were still available. Thus we each had a tuna salad sandwich on wheat, a small bag of potato chips, a cup of pineapple cubes, and a couple cans of light beer.

It was memorable and delicious.

What person, place or experience has most altered your life?

I don’t have a specific answer for this question. Maybe going to college altered my life? Or having a house built altered my life? Or learning about reiki altered my life? Or writing this blog altered my life?

All of the above, none of the above, I do not know for sure.

What question would you most like answered?

I’d like to know why some people are only happy when they’re clinging to their problems.

They blah-blah-blah about their problems, sometimes even ask for advice, but if you offer a solution, or suggest that it’s not really a problem, then you are the foe in their narrative. How dare you deprive them of their precious problems!

Can’t you see how put upon they are?

I understand the need to vent for a while but there comes a point when you have to fish or cut bait. Do something or shut up about it.

What in your life has grown out of a personal disaster?

I’d say blogging. Years ago I had emergency surgery, called volvulus, to remove part of my large intestine that unceremoniously had knotted itself shut [plus while the surgeon was in the neighborhood he removed my appendix]. After 6 days in the hospital in a morphine haze I was sent home to recover.

Come to find out healing from major abdominal surgery was a huge lifestyle change. No longer was I the walking-est yoga girl ever. Instead I was told to not exercise vigorously, to not stretch, to not lift heavy objects– and pretty much to sit still.

For 13 months.

So I did the only thing I could think to do while sitting still, I threw myself into blogging as a way to pass the hours and feel productive. Thus thanks to emergency surgery I became Ally Bean, the blogger you know and love today.

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Questions of the Day
What do you think of Minnie’s questions? Yay or nay?
How do you feel about my answers? 
Will you answer Minnie’s questions on your own blog? Why or why not?
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For Love Of Reading, Answering The Bookish A-Z Questions

Earlier this week Deb Carey at Debs Despatches shared and answered these questions. She inspired me to do the same today. Do this on your own blog if you like and/or chit-chat about books [or whatever] in the comments below.

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Author You’ve Read the Most Books From: Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. I’ve read the ones written by Parker but not by the author who took over after Parkers’s death.

Best Sequel: No answer, I’m coming up blank on this question.

Currently Reading: Underground Fugue by Margot Singer

Drink Choice While Reading: Hot tea or cold wine

E reader or physical book: I prefer a physical book at home, but I use an E reader when I’m not at home.

Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school: I didn’t date much in high school so I doubt that I’d have gone on a pretend date with a fictional character. Just saying

Glad You Gave this Book a Chance: Slade House by David Mitchell. I tried to read Cloud Atlas by Mitchell and couldn’t do it, but Slade House I enjoyed. Sly premise, short read

Hidden Gem: Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan. This is a memoir with a positive message that confirms you can plan your life all you want, but reality will intervene, especially when family loyalty is involved. It’s sweet and funny.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life: As an adult I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The novel is meant for YA but while reading it I had a light bulb moment wherein I realized I was like the main character in the novel and had been a writer since girlhood.

Just Finished: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleton. Set in 1935 during a hurricane the novel is well-researched with a twisted plot. I enjoyed the characters, the odd circumstances that brought them together, and how they persevered.

Kind of Books I Won’t Read: Memoirs *written* by politicians or political hacks;  historical books about sports;  motivational books foisted upon us by grifters;  and any novel I sense will be filled with gore

Longest Book You’ve Read: A guess but I’d say Hawaii by James A. Michener. It’s about a million pages long. 

Major Book Hangover Because Of: If you mean what book stayed on my mind long after I read it, I’d say The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

Number of Cases You Own: 4 actual book cases;  many drawers filled with books;  piles of books under the coffee table in the living room;  and many cookbooks stashed away in kitchen cupboards + on the counter

One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times: Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Preferred Place to Read: a comfortable chair with decent light and a table beside it for my beverage

Quote That Inspires You, or Gives You All the Feels, From a Book You’ve Read“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” It’s the last line from The Great Gatsby.

Reading Regret: I was slow to get around to reading the Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. I don’t know why I hesitated because they’re funny and brilliant.

Series You Started and Need to Finish: Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway mystery series

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books:

  • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • A Judgement In Stone by Ruth Rendell

Unapologetic Fanperson For: No one I can think of

Very Excited For This Release (More than all the others):  I’m never current in my reading so it doesn’t matter when an author plans to publish, I’ll get to the book when I get to it.

Worst Bookish Habit: Starting one book in one room, a different book in another room, a third book in a third room… then getting confused about what I’m reading. Go figure

X Marks the Spot—start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Your Latest Book Purchase: Bomb Shelter by Laura Mary Philpott

Zzz-Snatcher Book (the last book that kept you up late): I don’t stay up late reading so the answer is none.

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Notes From The Last Weekend Before Daylight Saving Time Begins

This past weekend it was in the 60s F with mild sunshine. That’s unusually warm for this time of year. We had no specific plans, so it was two days of go with the flow, do your own thing.
Here are the highlights of what I did:

• I finished watching The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in Window.  It stars Kristen Bell and is on Netflix.  It’s a parody of books and movies in which the main character witnesses a murder, but can’t prove that the murder took place.

This 8-part miniseries has dark humor with a melodramatic plotline.  I loved it, think Twin Peaks OR more recently Teenage Bounty Hunters.

• I stumbled over the What is your style personality? quiz on a fashion website called 40+STYLE.  According to this website there are 12 style personalities.  Each style is explained in-depth and accompanied with photos + brand recommendations.  My results from the quiz confirmed what I already knew: my primary style is Natural, but I also lean into Minimalism or Classic.

For years I’ve been describing my personal style as tailored suburban casual meaning a relaxed non-trendy look with some texture & mellow colors, structured, simple jewelry, flats shoes–  with no flower-y patterns or twirly skirts.

[Downside of this quiz is that you have to give up your email address to get your results, but after I received mine I unsubscribed from the website.]

• I started reading THE SISTERS: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell.  This is the first time in years that I’ve picked up an honest and true biography, instead of reading a memoir.  I’m enjoying the book because it’s well-researched and footnoted.

So far I’m learning that the Mitford sisters were raised and lived in nonconventional ways that make for spectacular stories, as if they planned to be famous from the git-go.

• I’m a fan of Apartment Therapy.  It’s a website about interior design + organization that ostensibly focuses on small spaces.  HOWEVER, as you probably realize, any conversation about interior design preferences can also be a sly insight into who you are.

For instance, an ongoing Apartment Therapy feature involves real life people sending in photos of their amazing home improvement projects.  Apartment Therapy then interviews these people, always including a request that the real life person “describe your home in 5 words or less.” 

So for snorts and giggles I decided to answer that question here.  I’d describe Chez Bean, aka Happy House, as: relaxed traditional, warm vibes, eclectic.  Sound like anyone you know?

Have a happy week, everyone. 
Soon enough we’re going to be marching on, springing forward, trudging into Daylight Saving Time. May saints preserve us.

Pondering: If You Tell Me You’re Independent, What Does That Mean?

Something pretty to enjoy while pondering…

Shortly before the pandemic began 2 years ago this month, I was at a social function with Z-D.  It was for his work.

I was seated next to a 70-something woman, a delightfully chatty child-free extrovert, who was [and I hope still is] the wife of a man who used to work with Z-D.

Thanks to many social business events we’d endured together I knew this pleasant woman as a casual acquaintance so this was good.  From previous conversations with her I knew she was a Joiner with a capital ‘J’.

To wit, over the years she’d told me that she was in a garden club, a book club or two, a dog breed club, a bicycling group, a music guild, a Bible study group, a travel club, and she was a member of a country club.

She went on a *sisters only* cruise every year and hosted parties for her nieces who were involved in multi-level marketing schemes.  She always had a family Thanksgiving dinner at her house.  Plus at one point she had worked full-time and socialized with her workmates, seemingly every weekend.

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We had a lovely time chatting, which is to say I mostly listened and she mostly talked.

As we were getting ready to leave, perhaps sensing this would be the last time we’d see each other [and it was], she leaned over to me and said in a confidential tone: “I’m independent. I need for you to know that.”

INDEPENDENT?

NEED for me TO KNOW?

SAY WHAT?

I had zero idea what she was getting at and because of the circumstances I didn’t get the opportunity to ask her any, shall we say, clarifying follow-up questions.

Over these last two years I’ve thought about that comment often and have talked with friends in real life about what it could mean.  Without context it can be interpreted in a variety of ways.  Here is what we’ve come up with:

  • I’m independent because I have money of my own.
  • I’m independent because I am free to choose which groups I join.
  • I’m independent because I don’t have children.
  • I’m independent because I’m retired and so is my husband.
  • I’m independent because I grew up as a second-wave feminist.
  • I’m independent because I haven’t declared myself to be aligned with a particular political party.
  • I’m independent because the church I go to is outside the mainstream, not part of an established protestant denomination.

So what say you, my gentle readers?  

Do you consider yourself to be independent? And if you do, what does that mean to you? Also, do you need people to know you’re independent?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  This can be an interesting conversation.

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Because Maggie Asked The Questions About Blogging, I Will Answer Them

Good Morning! It snowed, and continues to snow, here. This is going to be a perfect day for answering questions.

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Earlier this week Maggie at From Cave Walls wrote a post offering advice intending to help new bloggers specifically, but useful to all bloggers in general.

She also asked her readers to answer 10 questions about blogging. After mulling over the questions for a few days, here are my answers.

 Do you respond to every comment, even if it is just an emoji?

I attempt to reply to all comments on a timely basis, although occasionally I miss one.  I’m not a fan of using just an emoji to begin a conversation but will reply with words to it.  I have no trouble with emojis used in conjunction with words or just an emoji to end an ongoing conversation.

Are there styles, colors, or fonts that make reading a blog more difficult?

Yes there are.  I find it almost impossible to read white/pastel letters on a dark background.  I know it looks dramatic or modern, but I find it difficult to see.

I also think that it looks messy when someone indiscriminately has words in too many different colors within the text of a post.  Same with words that are written using a mix of uPpER and LoWEr cAsE letters.  They slow down my ability to read the post and I don’t like to be slowed down.

Under what circumstances would you block a user?

I block spammers, haters, and people who are only here to try to get me promote their products or services.  This is my personal blog therefore: my blog, my rules.

Are there certain topics you refuse to engage with?

I’ll talk about many topics, but I refuse to talk about things like health issues or finances or the specifics about who we are/where we live.

How do you feel about blogging awards?

Early on they seemed important but now I’m indifferent to them.  If it makes you feel good about receiving one, then flaunt it.  However long ago I deleted the page on which I had mine, but that’s just me.

How old is your current blog?

The Spectacled Bean is 11 years old [as if my loyal gentle readers didn’t know that already 🙄].

Do you respond to prompts?

Generally speaking I freeze when I see a prompt.  Occasionally I’ll find something to say in regard to one, but overall they scare me and I immediately feel stressed.  It has to do with too many collegiate essay exams that were a large percentage of my final grade.

When it comes to playing follow-the-leader in the blogosphere, I like straightforward questions like these, or an ongoing weekly or monthly challenge, truth be told.

Do the number of your blog followers matter to you?

No, not at all

What motivates you to follow or unfollow a blog?

I FOLLOW blogs written by people who aren’t afraid to be unique, who know how to think clearly & write truthfully, who seem to be kindhearted, and who create blog posts that are visually pleasing.

I UNFOLLOW [or never follow to begin with] a blog whose tone is rude, crude, whiny, preachy, or there’s too much emphasis on selling something.  I’m not here for that crap.

What is your blogging pet peeve?

I want to see a well-written up-to-date ABOUT page on every personal blog.  I want to know who you think you are before I start reading your posts.  Have some gumption and define yourself, kids!

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TGIF, everyone.  Happy Weekend to you.

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