Because You Asked I Answer YOUR 4 Questions. Got Anymore?

I’d hoped to have beautiful fall photos to share this week, but we’ve had an unusually warm fall and the trees have barely begun to turn colors. It’s not so pretty yet.   

Instead I’ll toss this out here. I was working on this before I took my break, intending on joining with other bloggers who were doing this. That is, asking for then answering, your questions.

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1: DID YOU EVER GET YOUR HAIR CUT?

I finally got my hair cut with Janelle. That’s the good news. The bad news is that she’s retiring, so it was a bittersweet appointment. We finally saw each other after all these pandemic months to laugh together one last time, then say good-bye probably forever.

2: WHY HAVE YOU BEGUN TO OCCASIONALLY USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IN YOUR WRITING?

Earlier this year a friend with lousy eyesight suggested that I needed to use more capital letters in my writing, spelling entire words with them. She knew they’re considered shouting, but she also likes to be able to read text easily.

I thought about her suggestion and realized she made a good point about visual clarity on little screens. Thus I  determined that quiet little me could, and should, shout more, but not all the time in an exhausting way, just sometimes for emphasis.

And you know what? I’ve learned IT’S FUN TO SHOUT.

3: IS ZEN-DEN A BUDDHIST?

No, Z-D isn’t a Buddhist. Like me he’s a lapsed Presbyterian. His nickname comes from my college roommate who used to call him Den-Den. Once he and I married I began to call him Zen-Den because of his ability to listen to my overwrought angst-ridden woes, then summarize my problem in one short sentence, like a Zen koan.

4: DOES THE DRAGON HAVE A NAME?

Kind of, maybe, probably yes. [Photos of him here and here]

You see, at first I tried to name him using this how to create a dragon name formula, but that name didn’t roll off the tongue. So in a post introducing my video directorial debut I asked you, my gentle readers, to name him. There were many great ideas, however none of them stuck.

In the meantime, whilst I was on my quixotic quest for a profoundly meaningful dragon name, Z-D began to refer to him, quite simply, as Drags. While not the most highbrow name, I’ll admit it suits this goofy dragon.

Thus he’s now known as Drags.

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Do you have more questions for me? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them to your satisfaction. 

The One About Improving Myself: Three Books And A Pie

HELLO!

When last we spoke I was languishing during this region’s second hottest summer on record.  You see, I’m not a “hot weather is great” person. Daily temperatures over 90ºF do me in, quickly.

BUT now that the weather in my part of the northern hemisphere has turned autumnal and cool and fresh + the final 2021 Mercury retrograde is over, I’m feeling more focused on getting my act together and doing things, good things, again.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I love the fall [except for pumpkin spice in coffee– that’s just wrong].  I’m feeling happy and agreeable, relaxed, and open to the idea that with some effort I might be able to become a better me.

It could happen.

Thus I’ve read three self-improvement books AND I made a delicious new-to-me pie.  So without further dithering, and bless you if you’ve read this far, here are the books I read and recommend + the deets about the pie I made.

THREE BOOKS

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

This book is filled with great advice, useful questions that prompt personal insight, simple worksheets, and a positive vibe that didn’t insult my intelligence, while nudging me to get to the heart of what matters to me.

The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer

This practical well-researched book explains that there are two aspects to writing: the scribe and the muse.  Each is your writing friend once you know how to engage with them, and therein is the crux of the book.  Pay attention to which part of your brain you’re using as you write that which you must write– and you’ll make progress.

Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This book, a compilation of short essays/personal stories + a meditation for each, focuses on 52 different aspects of life.  The tone of the book is encouraging.  It’s centering, quietly profound, without being icky inspirational sweet. [Hat tip to Nicole at GIRL in a BOY HOUSE for recommending this book.]

ONE PIE

In the photo at the top of this post [and isn’t it a cute one?], the wedge of pie the dragon is about to eat is called Atlantic Beach Pie.  Last summer when I saw the recipe for the pie in Southern Living magazine [LINK HERE] I had to try it.

Had to.

It was easy to make*, tasty if you like lemon-lime flavor, but what makes this pie interesting is that the recipe calls for saltine cracker crumbs.  You use them, not graham cracker crumbs,  when you make the crust.  Now how unusual is that?

AND IN CONCLUSION 

Having said all I can think of to say I shall end this post by asking you, my gentle readers, a few simple questions– because that’s kinda what I do here.

Have you read any self-improvement books lately that you’d recommend?  

Have you made any pies recently?

Have you discovered something unusual in your world?

Tell all in the comments below.  You know you want to.

* If you make the pie I used whole wheat saltines, because that’s what was on hand, and I made 1/3 of the whipped cream which seemed like plenty.  Wedges of the pie froze nicely, tasted great after defrosting at room temperature.

Not Monkeying Around: A Shocking Admission + 7 Links For Your Edification

Hello Gentle Readers and Kind Lurkers,

While I usually have a story to tell or some research to share here on this blog, that’s not going to happen this week.

You see, I’m tired of writing, don’t feel like doing it this week. Shocking, I know. Perhaps the rigors of blogging have finally gotten to me, assuming I believe that blogging has rigors.

Maybe yes, maybe no?

So instead of my usual weekly flapdoodle & twaddle I’ll share 7 links that I stumbled over in my reading. The links are about a variety of things, interesting things.  

Click on whichever ones you like, then chit-chat with me in the comments below.

Enjoy! 

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• Here is the PORTENT IDEA GENERATOR that “lets you create catchy titles for your next blog post, podcast, or video.”  You want to do that, right?  It’s fun.

• Here is THE WINE COLOR CHART. It’s cool. My favorite wines are Pale Yellow and Medium Ruby with a nod to Medium Garnet. You, too, can find out what your wine color palette looks like.

• Here is the ARE YOU A CONTROL FREAK? QUIZ. My results described me as “you can live and let live” meaning I’m not a control freak. This is one step above the bottom category of control freak tendencies, a category described as “are you being honest?”  

• Here is a drawing that shows the THE CIRCLES OF FRIENDSHIP. It’s intriguing, but according to it, the number of people I should know seems unrealistic, rather high. Decide for yourself.

• Here is the HOW STRONG IS YOUR MIND’S EYE APHANTASIA QUIZ.  Aphantasia is the inability to visualize objects in your mind. Not to brag but I have what they call perfect vision meaning I do not have Aphantasia. “You’re a naturally creative person with a very vivid imagination.” You betcha.

• Here is the OUTDOORSYNESS SCALE that provides you with a way to gage your own level of affinity for being outdoors. I am somewhere between “indoor cat” and “likes nature.”

• Here is an article about FRYING AN EGG ON THE SIDEWALK. I won’t spoil the how-to and what if of the process, but I will say it’s a fascinating read. Something to know, especially if you’re muttering about the summer heat.

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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

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Of Cornfields & Coolers: A Fast Weekend Trip North

Please note that after a week of rainy days the blue sky and puffy white clouds made me happy.

OVER THE WEEKEND we drove 4.5 hours north through central Ohio farmland, seeing cornfields hither and yon, so that we could go see Zen-Den’s mother.  She’s now spending her days in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home. We also wanted to meet up with Zen-Den’s sister and her husband who live about a half hour away from MIL.

We hadn’t seen any of them since November 2019 because of all the Covid-19 restrictions, yada, yada, yada.

The weather for our drive was great, summery warm but not humid. I’ll admit that it was mesmerizing to be on the road after 16 months of staying at home.  Everything looked the same, but different.

Mother-in-law was able to chat with us for about 45 minutes before she was tired.  Considering her situation she seemed in a good place mentally, physically, and even spiritually.  Never one for small talk, we knew that it’d be fast visit with her so we also planned on visiting with SIL and her husband.

We met them at a lovely, Mediterranean-esque vineyard and had a delicious lunch outside on the patio under a large umbrella where adult libations flowed.   Then we walked around the beautifully landscaped multi-acre grounds that included a pond, walking paths, a gift shop, and a swanky bar with a hip vibe.

It was a pleasant, relaxing afternoon outside in the sunshine, walking a little, drinking some, and laughing a lot.

I mean A LOT of laughter.

Please note that the empty wine glass, with visible dregs of red wine, was left on the rustic lamppost near the vineyard parking lot.

SO THAT WE could break up the 9 hour round trip drive, on the way back home we stayed at a Hampton Inn.  Naturally something goofy happened while we were there because that’s how it goes with us.

When we travel by car we put bottles of water on ice inside a small Igloo-brand cooler that holds about 6 bottles.  It’s nothing special, just practical and durable.

As we were getting ready to leave the motel in the morning Z-D went to get ice from the machine on the first floor near the reception desk.  He had the cooler with him.  When the woman working behind to desk saw him with the cooler she started laughing.

At him.  He was baffled, not upset.

She said that she was used to seeing large Igloo coolers on wheels, the kind families take with them, but our little cooler was just too cute for words, a miniature cooler that for some reason tickled her.

Z-D explained that the little cooler was just for the two of us, so it made sense. According to him she nodded her head in understanding, but kept chuckling as he walked away.

Thus it came to be, what I can only describe as, a situation wherein Zen-Den was COOLER SHAMED.  I mean, really, who goes around publicly criticizing a man’s cooler? 🤨

Anyhow that’s what we did over the weekend. Just a weekend, kind of normal, like they used to be.

What did you do over the weekend, my gentle readers?

Please note that this is the cute little cooler mentioned above.