Sunday Afternoon At The Nature Preserve: The Uneven Path Taken

On Sunday, for the first time in months, Zen-Den and I went to the Nature Preserve intending to wander around the flat easy path that connects the herb garden to the old farmhouse.

‘Tis a pretty path any time of year, and knowing what I was getting into, I wore shoes for that kind of leisurely walk.  A stroll.

However, somehow [let’s blame it on curiosity], we got [shall we say?] off course and ended up on a moderately difficult path that took us half a mile down a steep hillside to a creek, along the banks of the creek, then back up to the parking lot.

From this experience, I learned three valuable lessons:

  1. I will always in the future, regardless of what we say we’re going to do, wear hiking boots when going to the Nature Preserve;
  2. I will always in the future take one of the free maps, readily available in a display in the parking lot;  &
  3. When descending uneven, seemingly never-ending limestone steps down a hillside, my mind thinks about the worst that can happen.  In this case, it flashed to the scene in Grace and Frankie [Season 4] when we get a glimpse of Grace’s icky knee, complete with stitches and a long bloody-ish incision, after knee replacement surgery.  Oy vey.

And on that angst-filled note, here are some photos of the path we took at the Nature Preserve as we walked, trudged, and then climbed our way around it.

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Oh so pretty in late winter! Must see more.

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What a charming little path. I wonder where it goes?

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My goodness, this path suddenly looks old and not tended.

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Well, at least that little stone bridge up ahead looks sturdy.

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Oh look! What a nice flat rustic wooden bridge over a little dry creek.

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Oh dear, this uneven path just keeps going down, down, down to a large creek.

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Finally! What a lovely, relatively flat, stoney path by a large creek.

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Yes! Look at these civilized wooden stairs leading back up the hill to the parking lot. Hallelujah!


A Conversation: Blue Is My Color, But I’m Not Blue

🔹 🔹 🔹 🦋 🔹 🔹 🔹

Oh dear, I got myself into a confusing conversation about, of all things, my mental health.

🔹 🦋 🔹

Which is fine.  I’m a bit cynical + anxious, but considering Cadet Bone Spurs is our so-called president, who isn’t?

Anyhoo, I was at the doc’s office having my quarterly micropeel with an aesthetician I’ve seen once before.  She had with her a new-to-this-practice aesthetician-in-training.  Both women, in their 40s, had worked in medical practices for decades.

I was wearing a cornflower blue cardigan sweater because: 1) I’ve worn shades of blue since I can remember;  & 2) as a graying blonde this particular shade of blue is flattering on me, if I do say so myself.

I walked into the procedure room and the aesthetician-in-training mentioned that I look good in blue.  To which I said: “Thank you, blue is the color of my life.”

Because it is.  If I’m not wearing blue, I’m probably wearing teal.  Another color of my life.

But not part of this story.

🔹 🦋 🔹

Now as I’m standing there in the procedure room, there’s a pause while both women look at me, troubled, concerned– ready to help.

🔹 🦋 🔹

They start saying, alternately: “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  “I know this time of year can be difficult when you’re dealing with depression.”  “How are you doing today?”  “You can talk to us… we understand.”

They had tears in their eyes.

Yet there I was, about as emotionally balanced as I ever am, suddenly aware of what they thought I’d said, trying to explain to them that I meant BLUE the color– not blue, a reference to depression.

But do you have any idea how difficult it is to dissuade someone that you aren’t depressed when they’ve misinterpreted what you said, thinking that you’ve felt comfortable enough with them to share your pain?

Anything I said sounded like I was in denial, trying to back-pedal about a mental health problem.  While in fact I was trying to explain to them that as a rosacea-challenged fading summer blonde, blue is a pretty color for me to wear.

Blue with green undertones. Blue with purple undertones.

Just plain blue.

Light blue. Medium blue. Dark blue.


It took some doing on my part but I think that I convinced them in a polite way that my mental health was fine, and that while I appreciated their concern, I was being literal about the color blue.

That really, I’ve not been sad or depressed my whole life.

🔹 🦋 🔹

But honestly… talk about a weirdly awkward situation to be in.  One that only I could get myself into, I suspect.

🔹 🔹 🔹 🦋 🔹 🔹 🔹


Musings On Inherited Stuff And The Right Details

My new mantra.

One that I’ve chanted as I sort through the basement. Where there is so much stuff, household stuff, just sitting there.

Stuff that I didn’t have the emotional strength and/or design perspective to deal with until now.

Stuff inherited.

Stuff saved.

Just. In. Case.

But *news flash* there is no case. There is no reason for me to keep this stuff anymore.

The details are wrong. Not my details.

Grateful that relatives loved me enough to trust me with these details.

Aware of how it came to be that I felt the need keep the wrong details for so long.

But now, slowly, I’m letting go of the stuff.

My head and my heart agree that this stuff, these details that are wrong for me, need to move on to happy homes where they’ll be the right details for someone else.

A decision that’s been a long time in the coming.

Date in fine print at bottom of newspaper advertisement that I used as packing material years ago when I first boxed up this stuff. 😣

In Which Ms. Bean Finds A Recipe & Makes It Her Way

Saw the recipe. Thought it sounded good.

Made the recipe using ingredients I had on hand.  Ingredients that were close enough to those listed in the recipe.


Didn’t have apple cider, so used pomegranate juice instead.  Most of a small bottle.

Didn’t have the specific aromatic spices required so substituted Penzey’s mulling spices.  Put about a teaspoon of them in a tea ball, so I wouldn’t have to strain the mess through cheesecloth later.

Lazy, but thinking ahead.

Didn’t have a clementine in the house.  Contemplated using a grapefruit, that was in the house, but decided that the tanginess of the pomegranate juice would not be improved with grapefruit zest in this recipe.

Also, I’m a messy zester, thus it came to be that no citrus was added.

Didn’t have any fresh ginger, so used crystallized ginger.  Two pieces.

Didn’t have the requisite amount of castor sugar, so used the end of the cane sugar in the bottom of the sugar bowl.  About three tablespoons.


Put tea ball with spices into juice in a saucepan.  Brought the mess to a boil, allowing it to simmer on the stove top for a while.  Took out tea ball, added sugar.  Mixed mess around until sugar dissolved, then let sweetened mess simmer on very low heat until it thickened into a syrup.

The result?

Delicious, drizzled on fresh fruit salad. Or added, a splash at time, to a glass of red wine.

The recipe?

Vaguely adhered to.

The friend’s response?

Shock + dismay that I didn’t follow the recipe as written, but a request for the recipe exactly as I made it.

As if I have any idea… 🙄

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Do you follow recipes precisely as written OR do you wing it as you go along?

And how does that work out for you?

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The Last Roses Of The Season With A Hint Of Shakespeare

“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

~ Romeo and Juliet

• + • + •

The other morning I gave the shrub roses their last trim of the season.  Even though the calendar says it’s fall, these bushes are officially ready for winter.

Most of the roses were faded and falling apart, but a few flowers were still buds or starting to bloom.

I saved the healthy stragglers, putting them together in a casual bouquet in a vase on the kitchen counter.

Later I noticed that the sun, shining through the window, made the water sparkle and the colors pop, leaving me with one last glimpse of summer’s beauty, while waiting for winter to arrive.

• + • + •

“Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile;
So ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.”

~ Love’s Labor’s Lost

Confessions Of A Formerly Super Conscientious Woman + 3 New Projects

Once upon a time I was a super conscientious woman.

I lived and died by Checking Things Off My To Do List. My self-worth was contingent upon these checks because the results were more important to me than the process. Woe be it to anyone who got in my way: I was not always the nicest person.

Sad to say, apologizes offered.

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CURRENTLY: I want the walls in our home office to be griege, the trendy color of the moment. All I have to do is figure out which shade of griege goes best with the furniture and artwork that we already have.

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Then my goals and desires began to change.

That is, I got older and more self-aware. I evolved into a wiser + wearier woman who no longer felt obliged to Do A Lot Every Day Or Else. I still accomplish things, quite a few things– but at a slower pace, focusing on the process that I now allow to be organic rather than forced.

Mellowness is good for me.

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CURRENTLY: I want to continue upgrading our terrace using odds-n-ends of slate and limestone to create a patio with a level surface that is unique– and less pebble-y than what is there now.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

This new me is easier to be around.

Despite these unsettling difficult Trumpian times we’re living through, I’m a more relaxed version of my previous self. This iteration, Ally Bean 2.0 The Best Yet, evolved quietly during the last decade of my life when I didn’t feel well and couldn’t decide a thing without overthinking it.

However, no longer stuck am I.

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CURRENTLY: I want to organize all the inherited stuff that has accumulated around here, in our basement, for decades. Then I want this stuff sold | auctioned | donated | given away | tossed out. Enough already with the past, I say.

~ ~ ~ ~

I don’t know why I’m telling you this today, my gentle readers.  

All I can say is that this morning as I was planning my day I realized How Differently I Handle Any Decision Or Activity now, compared to how I used to do things when society had me convinced that my self-worth hinged on my super conscientiousness.

But you know what? It doesn’t.

Share Your World | Who You Calling A Birdbrain?

Once a week Cee asks the questions on her blog, and I answer them here on my blog.  You can join in this week’s Share Your World Challenge by clicking here.

 List some of your favorites types of teas.

  • Oolong
  • Irish Breakfast Tea
  • Orange Pekoe
  • Peppermint

If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

“GO RIGHT TO TURN LEFT”  This is my favorite traffic sign ever.  I saw it years ago in a small town in MA.  This sign, which makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time, aptly summarizes my days.

What are a couple of things that people could do for you on a really bad day that would really help you?

Bring me food, then leave me alone. Check on me, then leave me alone. Pretty much, leave me alone… I’m having a bad day here. 

Irregardless [sic] of your physical fitness, coordination or agility: If you could be an athlete what would you do?  Remember this is SYW, dreaming is always allowed.

Oh, I could be a swimmer, I suppose.  Meaning I’d have to have muscles and feel comfortable wearing a swimsuit in public and have eyes that aren’t irritated by chlorine and hair that doesn’t get frizzy near humidity.  So, sure, if I must be an athlete, and all the previous conditions have been met, then I’ll happily be a swimmer.

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 the video below that demonstrates how to put an adhesive bandage on your finger so that it’ll cover the boo-boo and stay in place.  I’m inspired by this video– and am almost looking forward to doing that which it shows me how to do.  Who knew?

This week’s looking forward to something goes to the distinct possibility that our new washer and dryer will be installed in our newly updated laundry room.  When that happens, we’ll have a working clothes dryer for the first time since April– and a better washing machine for the first time in years.  *fingers crossed*