Of Plans & Parsley Thwarted

“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”

~ E. B. White

• • •

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Two parsley worms munching on my parsley.

Zen-Den and I took last week off to go on a staycation.

My plans for our staycation, which we scheduled last January, revolved around the idea that together we’d be able to do a long list of outside chores.  But the weather turned hot & muggy with rain so we weren’t able to do much outside.

Like I’d planned. Carefully.

At first the weather bummed me out, but after a rather stern Come-to-Jesus meeting with myself I managed to convince me that all was not lost.  That I’d adapt to this unfortunate turn in staycation weather with a revised plan and a hopeful heart.

Dammit.

• • •

So what did we do on our staycation?

Well, I’m glad you asked, my gentle readers.  We did boring things, mostly inside the house, that had needed to be done for a long time.  To wit:

  • we cleaned out more of the basement, taking 2 carloads of stuff to Goodwill;
  • we sorted through clothes closets and our garage, tossing out all sorts of junk;
  • we shredded documents from as far back as 1998;
  • we cleaned out both the refrigerator + freezer, going so far as to replace the water filter in the frig;
  • we installed the last 3 new outdoor lights, a project we began last fall, taking the old still useable lights to Habitat For Humanity;  and
  • we tried 2 new dessert recipes, Mexican Brownies & Apricot Clafouti.

We were productive and made yummy things to eat.

• • •

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One particularly hungry parsley worm followed the parsley stem to the end.

But much more was going on here than de-cluttering and dessert.

While we were working to make things less cluttered inside the house, two parsley worms set up residence in my herb pot, and decided to devour as much parsley as possible.

I’d be upset about this except that in light of all the current chaos and discord going on in the United States, their destruction seemed insignificant.

Charming, even.

Plus I know that if they eat enough now, they’ll be able to turn into Black Swallowtail Butterflies later in the summer.  And that kind of small hope, of transformation and growth, of plans succeeding, makes me think that tomorrow will be a better day.

For them.

For us.

For everyone.

• • •

A Recipe For A Heart-y Dinner, So To Speak

Do you want to be happier about where you are in life?

Then I recommend you read the following recipe which will quickly make you incredibly content to be living in the modern world.

The recipe is from The Something-Different Dish, by Marion Harris Neil, Cookery Editor of Ladies’ Home Journal and author of this cookbook, published in 1915, a mere 101 years ago.

[She also wrote The Story of Crisco around this time. But I digress…]

Please keep in mind that a respectable cookbook published this recipe because [presumably?] people were eating things like this.

That they made at home.

Not that long ago.

So considering this reality, might I suggest that when you start to feel down about your life here in 2016, you need to remember that things could be a lot worse.

You could be eating Love In Disguise for dinner tonight.  😉

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Channeling Miss Marple As I Watch The Neighbor’s House Not Sell

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Over the weekend I got nosy.

I morphed from my free-spirited pleasantly indifferent self into an observant Miss Marple, watching our neighbors try to make their home look SNAZZY for an open house.

They put their house on the market a few months ago, but are only now beginning to realize that their house lacks what today’s buyers expect.  Other houses on the street have sold in days or weeks, while their house sits unwanted.

# # #

I like our neighbors.

However they’ve done NO EXTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS in the 5, maybe 6, years they’ve lived here.

In and of itself I could care less what my neighbors do as long as they’re tidy + quiet + say “hi” once in a while, but on a street where almost everyone has…

  • replaced the original builder-grade drafty front doors with something bright & shiny and …
  • upgraded the 15-year-old original builder-grade landscaping with something modern & to scale and …
  • substituted the original cedar-colored deck with something less state park-ish…

… well, on a street like this one our neighbor’s house is UNDERWHELMING because it lacks curb appeal.

# # #

I’m not alone in thinking this.

As it so happened on Sunday between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. I found myself outside crawling around in our front yard planting beds DOING IMPORTANT GARDENING THINGS while the open house went on next door.

I inadvertently overheard the open house visitor comments as they left.

“Nice place, but kind of blah on the outside,” said one woman talking to her realtor as they left.

“Oh, let’s not even bother to go in,” said a wife to her husband after they walked up to the front door, looked around, and then decided against going inside.

“Too much work out here,” said a woman to her friend after they’d looked at the inside of the house and were heading back to their car to leave.

# # #

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.53.32 AMI’m sad about all of this.

Apparently our neighbors do not understand that you can’t live on a street with building lots still available and then rest on your laurels.

Your property has to attempt to keep up with the new houses being built, because potential buyers see those new properties, and suddenly your house looks WORNOUT AND TIRED.

Which means that it doesn’t sell anywhere near your asking price and that doesn’t help anyone on the street.

Now does it?

What Say We Try Kindness?

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.27.09 AMI’ve blogged for a long time.

In fact, while messing around the other day in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for something unrelated to this blog, I found a logo from 10 years ago for an online group of bloggers who committed to using words kindly.

Although I’d forgotten about it, I was part of that group.

• • •

We were an optimistic bunch.

We sincerely thought that blogging would evolve into a source of respectful understanding and positive connections among people in this world.

I’m charmed by the naiveté of it all.  Especially in light of the past few week’s endless noise on FB and vitriol on Twitter.

But of course those social media didn’t exist when this group formed, so we had no idea about what was coming.

• • •

I rarely long for the good ole days.  

I realize that it’s easy to idealize remembrances of times past, and that these remembrances are often irrelevant when it comes to the issues of the day.

I’m a realist.  What was, isn’t.

But in this one case, regarding social media, I’m going to suggest that stepping back from how we as a society now do things would be a good idea.  The 24/7 insatiable need to be noticed and adored, which is how social media works currently, is not the best way to connect.

In contrast, looking back to 10 years ago, I remember how early blogging worked.  It was a heady experience that focused on authentic connections with other people, rather than the care and feeding of your ego.

• • •

I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.

And that my small voice of reason is going to be drowned out by the selfie-absorbed, the narcissists, the haters, the trolls.  But occasionally I like to believe that I might influence someone in a positive way that encourages him or her…

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.05.09 AMTo re-connect with their heart.

To cool it with the focusing on what’s wrong with other people.

And instead, perhaps even– to say something kind to, and about, someone else.

We’re Both Polite, But There’s Some Nuttiness Going On

I’m the first to admit that I can be slightly nutty.  So when I realized a pleasant casual acquaintance behaved in way that struck me as nutty, I started wondering: who’s the nutty one here?  Naturally I turned to a friend for her take on this.

Here’s what Acquaintance does that Friend and I think is odd.

Whenever Acquaintance sees you she starts the conversation by stating what you’re wearing.  She’ll say things like: you have on a red t-shirt… you’re carrying a brown purse… your jeans are faded.

Then she’ll just stare at you, saying nothing more.  There’s no comment, pro or con, about your clothes, your accessories.

Only her looking at you.

This makes Friend and I feel awkward, like we’ve done something wrong, but we’re not sure what it is.

I’ve taken to parroting back what Acquaintance says to me. 

That is, I’ll repeat exactly what she has said back to her in a declarative sentence: yes, I have on a red t-shirt… am carrying a brown purse… my jeans are faded.

Friend thinks my approach to Acquaintance is brilliant because it allows me to seem to be chatting.  Of course, in reality I’m feeling unnerved about how this peculiar conversation is starting.

Again.

Friend and I have our theories about why Acquaintance behaves like she does, but we are curious to know what you, gentle readers, think is going on with Acquaintance.

Is Acquaintance’s behavior normal or nutty? Do you know anyone who starts conversations like this?  Are Friend and I being overly weirded out by this?  And if so, why?  

Getting Jiggy With The Flakes. It’s Snowing Here.

I’ve never intentionally tried to photograph snowflakes before.  I’ve photographed snow, of course, and I’ve snapped a few photos of some people who are flakes.  😉

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But to take on the challenge of going outside with the sole purpose of photographing delicate little snowflakes as they fall from the sky is something new for me.

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I rather like these early morning artsy-artsy photos, even if they aren’t the most polished ones ever.

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For me the value in this challenge wasn’t perfection, but to remind myself to try new small things as I move forward through this year.  To step out into possibility.  And to get jiggy.

A Conversation About Self-Awareness & Assumptions

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A friend, who was clearly absorbed in her own thoughts, got into my car, buckled up, and without so much as a Sherman T. Potter “howdy-do” said:

Do you think you were wanted?

Now I’m a good friend. Attentive. A natural-born problem solver, but you have to give me some context.  So I said the first, rather inarticulate, thing that drifted into my head: huh?

Then the story unfolded as she went on to explain that she’d started reviewing her life, all of her life, in light of a recent setback in which her job ended.

While she understood on a logical level why her job, which she tolerated, had been cut, on an spiritual level this experience had sent her into a spiral of self-doubt– and a need to understand it all.

~ • ~

We talked for a while.  She explained that the question she had asked of me wasn’t about being wanted at work, but about being wanted within a family.  That is, did I think/she think that our parents wanted us.

In my case, Yes.  In her case, No.

Getting to the crux of her contemplation, she thought that being unwanted early on would have given her some superpower to automatically know when that sort of thing was happening again.

In other words, because she was so sure of herself had she missed some sign that she was going to be kicked to the curb by this employer?

We came to no definitive conclusion about her recent job loss, but we did stumble upon a good topic of conversation about self-awareness.  That is, how we all make assumptions based on previous experiences.

And how those assumptions when applied to the here and now, aren’t always a good guide for how to live your life, even though it’s easy to delude yourself into thinking that they are.

~ ~ • ~ ~