Of Black Coffee, Morning Clouds, and Self-Expression

EARLY THE OTHER MORNING about 6:00 a.m. the clouds floating over our house were so pretty that I decided to sit on the deck, drink my mug of black coffee, and photograph the clouds as they drifted overhead.

AS I WATCHED CLOUDS morph into one shape after another, I remembered a recent interview I’d heard with Carly Simon.  She was on Here’s The Thing podcast with Alec Baldwin.  [Interview here.]

WHENEVER I THINK OF Carly Simon I think of the lyrics to You’re So Vain, specifically: “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, Clouds in my coffee.”  It seemed like the perfect thought for where I was sitting, what I was drinking while musing on clouds.

I HAD ENJOYED LISTENING to the podcast as Carly explained her life, her music, her memoir. Her conclusions.  My impression was that she sees her past clearly, with a wit and wisdom that made me appreciate her struggles. And her triumphs.

AS I WATCHED THE CLOUDS, reflecting on what Carly Simon had said, I began to wonder about my own abilities to understand and describe myself to others.  Would I ever be able to explain my past, either in verbal or written form, as eloquently and truthfully as she had explained hers?

NOT THAT I HAVE an overwhelming desire to tell all to everyone, but should I feel the need to do so for some reason, would I be able to do it?  Would you?

Seeing The Sights, Doing The Things In Georgia And South Carolina

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Statue of cute cherubs playing music, presumably happy, in Middleton Place Plantation garden.

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“There’s no rush.”

I can think of no better words to describe a fun vacation.  Not that we didn’t do anything while in Georgia and South Carolina.  We did lots, but we did it at our own pace, in our own way.

This was unusual for us because our vacations in the last decade or so have revolved around other people or business obligations or complicated air travel.

But this time, my gentle readers, Zen-Den and I were totally on our own to do what we wanted to do.

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We flew into Atlanta, rented a car, then drove to Savannah, GA, where we stayed for a few nights.  Located on the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is a charming town made famous by the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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The lovely, inviting beach on Tybee Island.

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As we remembered from being in Savannah years ago, the people who we met were helpful + polite, the nearby beach on Tybee Island was clean + beautiful, and the vibe, everywhere, was mellow.  I loved it all.

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Fancy walkway over a shallow swamp on Hilton Head Island.

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After Savannah, we drove north to Charleston, SC, stopping on Hilton Head Island, SC, for lunch.  Hilton Head has a smooth, upscale, planned feel to it.  Fun to visit, we’ve been there before, but it never calls to me like it does to so many people who live around me here in Ohio, who adore it there in South Carolina.

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Beautifully maintained brick homes in the French Quarter of Charleston.

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In Charleston, SC, we stayed in a hotel in the downtown historic district.  If you like to walk then this is a convenient way to be close to hundreds of restaurants + bars + shops.  My impression of this part of Charleston was that it was almost perfectly Disney-esque, but with panhandlers and uneven walking surfaces.  Looked gorgeous, but watch your step.

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Serene view of wood pilings and the river seen while sitting in Charleston’s Waterfront Park.

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While we were in the Charleston area we went to a fort, a museum, an island, a park.  We ate seafood, drank iced tea, and looked at architecture– everywhere.  The weather was sunny and the people were, as reported, friendly.

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A cute sail boat, seemingly with nowhere to go, floating along the shore of Sullivan Island.

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After Charleston we drove back to Atlanta, GA, for a day.  Because the weather had turned cold and wet, we wanted to be inside so we went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum.  It was fascinating, informative, well-organized, and pleasant to wander through.

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And on that note, we left Atlanta the next day returning home on an easy mid-morning flight that was a little over an hour long.  

A flight on which we both were pre-approved by the TSA, meaning that, for once in my life, there was no fuss + no problems involved with air travel.

Imagine that, if you can.

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An alligator swimming away from me in a pond at Middleton Place Plantation garden, lending credence to the saying: “see you later, alligator.”

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On A Plantation In The Stableyard With A Camera [For The Win]

We’ve been on vacation.  To some interesting places.  That I promise to tell you about later.

But right now I’m too busy in real life to do much more here than share a few stableyard animal photos with you, my gentle readers.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well if that’s the case, then here are 7000 words, plus a few more, for you.

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Water buffalo, very friendly, ready for a smooch.

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Mama pig snoozing with polka-dotted piglets.

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Sheep, with a bit of an attitude, lounging against front porch of house.

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Gray squirrel, technically not a farm animal, hanging out around the farm while eating a nut.

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Goat doing something goat-like, as goats are wont to do in pens on farms.

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Goose, northbound, waddling away from lady with camera while shaking south end tail feathers at her.

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Little lamb whose cuteness stole the whole farm show.

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All photos taken at Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark, located near Charleston, SC.

Share Your World | Power To The Purple Pansy

Last week while answering Cee’s questions I told you, my gentle readers, that I was looking forward to planting some pansies in a pot. Here is a photo of said pansies in said pot. Aren’t they pretty?

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• Does your first or middle name have any significance (or were you named after another family member)?

This is a tricky question for me to answer because I write this blog under a nom de plume.  Yes, Ally Bean is my nickname.  It evolved from the old saying: “Know what I mean, Jelly Bean?”  Back when I started blogging in 2004 no one used his or her real name when writing online, so I went with Ally Bean.  As for this name’s significance, all I can suggest is that it might mean, FRIEND LEGUME.  I guess.

• Music or silence while working?

Almost always silence when working.  Quiet focuses me.  And a focused me is a productive me.

• If you had a special place for your three most special possessions (not including photos, electronics, people or animals), what would they be?

Not sure if this question is asking me what are my three most special possessions OR what is my special place for them?  No matter.  I’ll answer the latter question by saying my most special possessions, of which there are many more than three, are in our house.  Ergo our house must be a special place, right?

• The Never List: What are things you know you never will do?

I will never do cardiac surgery, ride on a Segway again, write a textbook on quantum physics, collect dolls, imbibe any rum-based drink again, travel by submarine, buy a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps, teach a class about car repair, OR needlepoint a pillow cover.

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to Season 3 of Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.  I’m grateful for anything that makes me laugh and this TV series does that.  Over the weekend I watched half of Season 3, released on Friday, and I’m still smiling about the characters, the plot, the settings, the humor.  So funny + smart.

This week’s looking forward to something goes to an Ikea chest of drawers, now in three large heavy flat boxes leaning against the wall in the upstairs hallway.  Next weekend Zen-Den and I hope to remain married while we build this chest of drawers that, when assembled, will give me one place to put all of my foldable clothes.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Share Your World | Hail, Hail, Spring Is Here

This is a photo of hail, pellets of frozen rain that fall in showers from cumulonimbus clouds, as seen on our deck. There is nothing inspiring about hail, yet there it is.  Hello, spring.

Spring is here and I’m ready for a change of pace vis-à-vis blogging.  

So starting today and in the coming weeks instead of me dreaming up something to write about here, I’m going to do Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge wherein I’ll answer her questions on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week.

I may post a few other things along the way, but for the most part I’m going to see where Cee’s questions take me.  ‘Cuz, you know, why not?  

And now, onto the main event…

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• How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 

It depends on the time of day.  If it’s morning, say 9:00 a.m. when I’m caffeinated and alert, then I’m 35 years old.  However after a normal day, by 9:00 p.m. in the evening, I’m 85 years old.  This means, quite logically, that I age a little over 4 years every hour of the day.

• So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

I know where my umbrella is.  It’s red and in the backseat of my car.  No one except me may use my red umbrella without written authorized consent, submitted in triplicate 24 hours before the proposed using of my umbrella.

I wasn’t always so selfish with my umbrella, but *true confessions* I married an umbrella thief + hoarder whose behavior has led me to institute a strict protocol about all umbrellas, use of said.

• Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

To recharge I need quiet time alone, about 2 hours of quiet to every 1 hour of socializing.  Unless it’s Christmas-time, then it’s 3 hours of quiet to every 1 hour of socializing.

• Name three things you and your spouse, partner or best friend have in common.

Zen-Den and I: 1) look good wearing the color blue;  2) prefer mustard potato salad;  and 3) enjoy Ruth Galloway mysteries written by Elly Griffiths.

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to Olly, the doggo featured in the YouTube video below.  His energy combined with his disregard for the rules made me laugh more than I can tell you.

This week’s looking forward to something goes to the yet-to-be planted pansies, sitting inside our garage.  IF there’s no frost, THEN I’ll plant them in pretty pots, and place the pansified pots by the front door and on the deck, adding some color around the outside of the house.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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No Horses. No History. Just Happiness Courtesy Of The Blue Sky Above.

When it’s a glorious day outside and it comes to finding something to photograph, I’m nothing if not persistent.

•  PLAN A: HORSES  I drove to the horse vet wanting to photograph the horses that are usually standing around in his fields. However, when I got there not one horse was anywhere to be seen, so I kept driving.

•  PLAN B: HISTORY  I drove to a tiny 200-year-old village that, when photographed while standing on its bridge over the river, would make for an interesting photo.  However, when I got there the river was high, the sidewalks were muddy, and the wind was gusting.  Standing on the bridge didn’t seem safe to me, so I decided to go someplace else.

•  PLAN C: HAPPINESS  Dreamed up on the fly, I decided to drive to the canoe rental place and walk the bike path that runs by the canoe rental place, using the opportunity to photograph the blue sky above and whatever might be underneath it.  As the following four photos show, this plan worked.

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A Mid-Winter Walk In The Nature Preserve

On Saturday the sun was finally shining, so Zen-Den and I went to the Nature Preserve for a walk. We enjoyed the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air on a brisk winter afternoon when there was no snow around. Here are a few photos I took along the way.

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path

We decided to take the flat, relatively mud-free trail. It was less than a mile, and interesting to wander along. Having never been on it before, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.

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rowena

Near the beginning of the trail we noticed this little cutie pie squirrel munching on a seed. I immediately named her Rowena.

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bench

A little farther along the trail we saw this bench that had an inscribed plaque on it. The plaque said: “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have Fun.”

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pond

We walked beside this partially frozen pond that was reflecting light into the darker forest just beyond it. The scene looked like something out of an animated Disney movie.

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cabin

Soon thereafter we walked across a field and came upon this relocated 200-year-old cabin. Much of the cabin’s wood is original.

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cabin-door

Entering the cabin through this door, we discovered a table and two benches + a fireplace. Nothing else in there. Very rustic.

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pond-2

Then, near the end of the trail we walked beside this small pond surrounded by tall grasses under the blue winter sky, making for a picture perfect photo at the end of our walk.

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