It’s Halloween, Betwixt And Between, If You Know What I Mean

How in the world could it be the last day of October already?

Like witches, time flies, eh?

It’s been a busy weird month here at Chez Bean, but we did manage to turn three basic pumpkins into festive Jack-o-Lanterns, one of which is featured below.

And I have plenty of candy* + plastic bloody eyeballs on hand for tonight’s trick-or-treaters**.

So all is well here as I wait… wait… wait… for darkness to fall, when little ghosts and goblins at the front door will call.

Happy Halloween!

* I usually hand out Snickers, but [get this] yesterday when I went to buy Snickers at Kroger it was sold out, so I opted for Twix & Skittles & Starburst.

** We get anywhere from 125 to 225 kids here.  The number fluctuates depending on Halloween Day weather and the day of the week.

Carelessness, Coupons, And Cake– OH MY!

It would seem that at some point in the recent past we stole our neighbor’s mail.  Well, we didn’t intentionally steal it as much as we accidentally acquired their mail.

My defense for this lapse is that we aren’t mail thieves, per se, as much as distracted, pre-elderly homeowners who assume any and all mail in our mailbox is, indeed, our mail.

But that assumption would be wrong. Oh yes, so wrong.

In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed this theft accidental acquirement if not for the good old coupons.  You know, the paper kind that come in the mail IF you’re a Kroger Plus Customer.

I’m talking about the ones that are specifically sent to you because you buy the same stuff over and over.

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Look at those shopping carts all lined up. So tidy.  {Photo via Pixabay by Michael Gaida}

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IT’S LIKE THIS, my gentle readers: the other day I went to get our mail from our mailbox and I see that our monthly Kroger Plus Customer coupon envelope is among the letters/junk mail in my hand.  I go inside the house, open the envelope, whereupon I feast my eyes on our very special and specific coupons.

[Some of which are for FREE money off your order if you spend a certain amount of money at the checkout.  This is normal.]

But it dawns on me that just a few days before Zen-Den had retrieved the mail from the mailbox, opened what he assumed was our Kroger Plus Customer envelope and left the coupons on the kitchen counter for me to file.

Which I hadn’t done yet.

Suddenly I start looking at these coupons on the counter, thinking how peculiar it is that we have coupons for Hubba Bubba bubble gum, and Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Rolls with Icing, and Simply Potatoes frozen potatoes. Items we don’t buy. Ever.

[I also notice that the FREE coupons are for things like Betty Crocker cake mix, not for FREE money.  That’s not our normal.]

# # #

Look at Barney Kroger, founder of the Kroger supermarket chain. So dapper.  {photo source here via Library of Congress}

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SLOWLY IT DAWNS on me that the coupons we have sitting on our kitchen counter are someone else’s coupons.  And because the envelope that these coupons came in is long gone, there’s no way to return the coupons to them.

Meaning, of course, that we, the Beans, jointly and severally, are miscreants of the lowest order, stealing [acquiring?] grocery coupons from our neighbors, like we’re two addled-brained overwrought suburbanites without the sense to read the front of an envelope.

Which clearly we are… but does not necessarily mean that we’re above using an accidentally acquired coupon to get a free box of cake mix.

Because, you know, CAKE!

Saturday Morning At The Grocery: Of Red Blazers And Rousing Enthusiasm

You know, my gentle readers, that you can always count me in for some harmless unexpected looniness…

•  Walking into our small town Kroger on Saturday morning around 11:30 a.m. I chanced upon a group of people, clapping loudly, who were, depending on your point of view, blocking my path OR gathering together in the floral department to watch an important event.

[I’ll go with the latter explanation.]

Looking in the direction that everyone was looking, I saw 8, maybe 10, little old white-haired ladies, all dressed in bright red blazers. Some of the ladies were in wheel chairs. Some, seated on folding chairs, had their walkers beside them. A couple were standing on their own.

Despite their matching crimson attire, these little old ladies didn’t look they were emissaries from the Devil sent to steal my soul, so I decided to join in and clap too.

# # #

# # #

 Naturally I wanted to know what was going on, so I continued to watch.  First, an older gentleman, our MC, dressed to the nines in his Sunday best, mumbled something into a microphone… and we all clapped and nodded in agreement with him.

Then with a dramatic flourish of his arms, which left him wobbly, he pulled a shiny white polyester tablecloth off an easel that was tucked in among the roses. Being a latecomer to this event I hadn’t noticed the easel before, but I could tell that underneath that tablecloth was a piece of art.

The crowd, upon seeing the art, oohed and aahed… and we all clapped enthusiastically.

The MC, still tottering, then presented a large award plaque, presumably for first place in whatever this event was about, to one of the little old ladies… and we all clapped and smiled in her direction.

Continuing on, he slowly handed smaller awards to the other little old ladies in the bright red blazers… and we all clapped as each individual received her award.

# # #

# # #

 Now I know it’s often said that kids today get too many participation trophies that devalue the winner’s accomplishment, while falsely inflating the value of everyone else’s contribution.  And that may be true.

But after seeing the joy on these little old ladies’ faces, I’m going to suggest that when it comes to a Senior Citizen Art Event In The Floral Department Of Your Local Grocery, it hurts no one to give participation plaques to everyone involved.

Especially when each recipient, upon receiving a plaque, grins like the cute kid she used to be.

Grateful For Smiles, Three Unexpected Things

THING ONE: Looking Up


Our local Kroger is undergoing a remodel that started in April.  Since about day 1 this upside down wheelbarrow has been on the roof, not moving, just sitting up there.  While the unexpected wheelbarrow placement is a charming bit of whimsy, every time I see it I chuckle to myself wondering if anyone doing the remodel remembers that it’s up there.

Care to place a bet as to when [if] it ever comes down?

~ • ~

THING TWO: Looking Forward


Shopping in Half Price Books I noticed that the clever employees have quietly moved all the books by and about Hillary Clinton off the “First Ladies” shelves to the nearby “Presidents” shelves.  This might be presumptuous OR it might be prophetic, but it is, if nothing else, an unexpected bit of humor.

Good people in that store. I like how they think.

~ • ~

THING THREE: Looking Around


Fuzzy the Squirrel, who hangs out around our house, has found a new, unexpected way to entertain [annoy?] me.  For the first time he’s leaving nut shells all over any concrete or stone surface in front of the house.  Meaning that when I want to get the mail I have dodge sharp nut shells as I walk to the mailbox OR use a broom to sweep the shells away as I walk along.

Sure, he’s cute, but oh. so. bothersome.

~ • ~


{ This post, inspired by Nerd in the Brain‘s Three Things Thursday, is part of a weekly blogging event dedicated to the idea that gratitude is awesome and leads to smiles. You can join in too. Go here to learn more. }

May We All Be This With It When We Reach Our 70s

“I wore rouge today.”

I was standing in the personal care aisle at Kroger.  I wanted to buy some hair mousse, which is in a white container, and is on the shelf about ankle height, near the end of the aisle, on the left.

“Or I guess they call it blush now.”

In front of me was a woman, late-70s, with a coupon in her hand.  She and her cart were blocking my path– not because she was careless, but because shoppers and boxes of product yet to be stocked crowded the aisle.

“I have on mascara, too.”

She batted her eyes at me so I could see her blackened eyelashes behind her thick eyeglass lenses.

I smiled and said, “It looks nice.  I don’t have any on today.”  I batted my eyes back at her.

This made her smile.

“I don’t usually wear any, but I had to go somewhere special.  I went to lunch with a friend and there were men there.”

I smiled at her, nodded my head– and tried to casually, gracefully lean over to the left, reach around her cart and grab my mousse.

It was not meant to be.

“I’m sorry I’m in your way here.  But I have this coupon for $2.00 off and I can’t find the right product.”

I could see her predicament, the hair care line she was looking for had 4 different manifestations of their products, all in different colored bottles.

So I waited.  No rush really.

“It was a free lunch at Barrington Manor.  You know that place?  It’s assisted living for old people.  I’m not ready for that place yet.”

I told her that I knew where it was, in a fancy part of town.

“They had a make-up stylist after lunch who showed us how to wear make-up now that we’re senior citizens.  I didn’t have him do mine, but I asked questions.”

{ silence as she eyeballed the shelves  }

“And they gave us a make-up bag filled with $37.00 worth of free make-up.  FREE.”

{ big smile as she continued to look for the hair care product }

“Thirty-seven dollars!”

After about 30 seconds she found what she wanted to buy, then turned to me with her coupon and her product.

“This is right, isn’t it?  For the $2.00 off.  Like on the coupon.”

I looked at what she had picked up and pointed out that the words on her coupon were the same as the words on the bottle.

“Well, I hope I can read these words,” she said.  “I taught reading for years.  That’s what I did.  Read. Words.”

And with a chuckle and a “thank you” she moved on, leaving me to grab my hair mousse off the shelf and to reflect upon what it means to age stylishly while retaining your sense of humor.

May we all be so cheerful, curious and coherent when we reach her age.


A Chance Encounter With A Neighbor Most Unique

Some of you will remember this neighbor from previous posts…

While shopping at Kroger late in the afternoon on a rainy summer day, I happened to be in the International Food aisle.  There were three shoppers with carts in front of me, and the same number behind me.

I was trapped in the middle of the aisle, waiting, staring off into the distance, waiting, not thinking about a thing, when I heard a woman shouting as she came around the corner into the aisle.

Her voice sounded familiar.

“PASTA.  I need pasta!”

Then *clank, clank, clank* as she bashed into the carts of the shoppers in front of me pushing them aside as she grabbed pasta off the shelf.

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Could it be, I wondered?  Was this determined person none other than the neighbor woman who lives on the other side of the ravine?

The bird hater.

The neighbor who I’ve never seen up-close in real life?

It sounded like her.  Loud.

~ ~ • ~ ~

To make this chance encounter even more memorable, I saw in front of me a this loud woman dressed in a way that set her apart from the rest of us suburbanites quietly shopping in Kroger.

‘Twas a sartorial look one does not often find around here.  It was unique, with a certain insouciance that made me smile.

~ ~ • ~ ~

Naturally I wanted to follow her around the store.  My inner Nancy Drew was on high alert.  I needed to know more.

But I was unable to do this because I was trapped in the middle of the aisle, which now had carts + shoppers scattered at all angles.

So I had to watch as she walked away from me, leaving me amazed, and with no one to tell.

Until now.

Someone Likes My Laura Ingalls Wilder Blouse & It Isn’t Me

{Sub-titled: Never Underestimate The Youthful Appeal Of Calico}

Personal style is such a fickle thing.

I was in the grocery store about 10:00 a.m. standing near the deli counter, but not at it.  I was looking for a particular brand of taco chips, not sliced meat.

A woman behind me started talking to me.  She said: “Oh, it’s you!  I always know when you’re shopping in the store because of that blouse you’re wearing.”

I turned around to see who it might be that was aware of my grocery shopping ensemble, which I apparently wear quite often.

• • •

Standing there, in her Kroger uniform, was a women who works full-time behind the deli counter.  She is, as you can imagine from her unexpected chatty hello, a happy person who always gets my order right.

I like her.

I thanked her, and then not knowing what to say next I shared with her that this blouse, which I think of as my Laura Ingalls Wilder blouse, came from the Lands End at Sears sale rack years ago.

I didn’t explain to her that I bought this blouse, not because I thought that it was pretty, but because it fit perfectly, the price was right and the blue/periwinkle colors of the fussy pattern flatter my skin tone.

• • •

The woman went on to tell me that she liked my blouse because: “I had one just like it in junior high when I was 14 years old.  And now when I see you in yours, I  feel young again.”

Now isn’t that sweet?

The only problem here is that this faded summer blouse, which I do not like, is living on borrowed time.  Come cold weather it’s leaving my closet permanently and going into the Goodwill pile.

I hate to disappoint the best deli meat slicer in the store, but honest to goodness, I’ve seen enough calico print on me to last a lifetime.  I only hope that my decision to part with this blouse does not adversely affect my future deli counter service.

Only time, and a half pound of turkey sliced thin, will tell.