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?

Let The Remodeling Wild Ride Begin, Part 2 Of 2

[Continuing from Part 1 yesterday.]

AS FRIENDS AND FAMILY already know, Zen-Den and I have been dithering around for years about:

What to do about our master bathroom?

It’s never been a good use of space, and I’ve never felt safe in it because the builder grade floor tiles get slippery when the room is humid, which is often because the builder grade exhaust system is pathetic.

Considering we like where we live in this large subdivision, one that caters to people of all ages– some neighbors retiring here to build their dream houses, other neighbors buying their starter house here, and everyone else in-between.

Like us.

And considering we like living in this small town that’s known for outdoor activities and casual dining, we’ve decided to stay where we are, remodeling what displeases us about this house, making it retirement-ready.

For later.

So, we talked with three remodeling companies about doing work around here, and decided to go with the company that remodeled our kitchen years ago.  Their workmanship and our style seem to be in sync.

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Thus here’s what’s going on around Chez Bean this summer:

  • we’re having our master bathroom partially gutted, reconfigured, and modernized so that it’s safe [& pretty] for us as we age;  and
  • we’re having our laundry room reconfigured so that we’ll have a newer-style [larger] washer and dryer + usable storage space;  and
  • we’re redoing our family room fireplace tile and mantel + having the walls painted a neutral, timeless color;  plus while they’re here
  • we’re having our kitchen tweaked just a little bit to tidy up a few things.

And now, for a few “before” photos…

Small cabinet with sink over in corner where only Zen-Den could manage to use it.

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Jetted garden tub that I hate, used as linen closet because there is no linen closet in this bathroom.

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Larger cabinet with sink, and almost no storage, in another corner of bathroom. Technically not the builder’s fault that I’m messy by nature, but I think I’ll blame him anyhow for not giving me enough drawers.

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Boring shower with absolutely no character that lacks an exhaust fan above it.

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Small laundry room that doesn’t accommodate the larger side-by-side appliances that are now available.  Also dryer does not work, because it’s a poopy head.

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Family room in which we pulled down the mantel last summer, then painted test colors on the wall intending to redo this mess ourselves. Obviously, we never did.

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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.

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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An Experiment: Photographing The Woods With My iPhone

I need something new + creative to do in my life so I’ve thought about maybe joining Instagram.

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In order to get an idea of what it’d be like to be an Instagramer, I wandered down our backyard stone steps to the terrace-level…

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walked across some crunchy leaves…

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then sat down on a chair where I started taking photos of the autumnal beauty around me with my iPhone.

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Looking at the blah results of my experiment I wonder if I’d ever be happy using a phone to photograph my life.  I do well capturing my life using my camera, but if I was on Instagram I’d be using my iPhone.  I dunno. Maybe yes, maybe no.

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QOTD: 

Are you on Instagram? What do you like about it? What do you photograph? How often do you go there?

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Unwanted: A Photo Study Of Stuff, With Commentary

• OUT FOR A STROLL AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD, I saw this little chest of drawers sitting out by the curb, waiting for trash pick-up.  I immediately thought of Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson’s observation: “If you are tired of style, you are tired of life.”

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• WALKING THROUGH OUR LITTLE DOWNTOWN, I saw this sign on the window of a dilapidated building that I hope to heaven is torn down soon.  It’s the kind of private property that appears to be one sneeze away from collapse, and as such, is dangerous to walk by.

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• ORGANIZING THE JUNK DRAWER, in search of coins, I found this long-expired casino voucher for a whopping 15¢.  Never let it be said that I am not a frugal optimist, albeit a disorganized one, who believed that she’d get back to the casino to redeem this voucher.

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• SORTING THROUGH THE BASEMENT, I found these moving boxes that I saved from our last move 17 years ago.  Interestingly enough, I have no idea where they came from.  We are not the Sparks family, but apparently years ago we got their stoneware, plus bowls and glasses.

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