Herbie OR Cujo: Which One Would You Choose?

When we moved to this subdivision, I realized that one day I’d be faced with a situation in which I’d need to decide, instantly, what to do to keep safe.

You see, this large subdivision, built on hills around creeks, and with curvy roads, has no sidewalks.

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So there I was moseying along, midday, walking on the left-hand side of the street with the sun behind my back.  I was almost to the point in the street where it descends into a valley over a creek bed.

This is when two teenage kids sped by me and lost control of their mother’s van heading down into the valley, almost hitting another car, Herbie, who was driving up out of the valley.

Into the sun.

Where I was walking on the street.

And I realized in an instant that the driver of this other car, an adult who had swerved to miss the kids, could not see me– and that he was heading straight for me.


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So I did what I’d decided that I’d do if when this scenario played out, as I knew that it would eventually.

I ran across a neighbor’s yard, up about 15 feet onto their driveway, heading toward their garage which was open– where their large dog was sound asleep.

And said dog, startled from a nice snooze in the shade, came running full tilt down the driveway barking and growling at me, the intruder.

Not the greatest situation to be in.

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However, as I had always figured, a family dog in this neighborhood, while hellacious toward burglars, raccoons and the Fed Ex man, would never hurt another neighbor in distress.

These dogs are way too domesticated for that.  They know that all of us humans around here have access to treats.  And give delightful belly rubs.

So, while pointing out toward the street, I calmly said to this Cujo wannabe who I had just met: “Hi, sorry to bother you.  Bit of a problem here.  Got to get out-of-the-way of the car.  No big deal.”

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And dagnabbit if he didn’t look at the street, stop barking, started wagging his tail, yawned [!]— and then went back into the garage to continue his midday nap.

Confirming that from his point of view, I was not worth the bother.


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{Great minds think alike!  Check out what Carrie Rubin at The Write Transition said yesterday about walking in a world without sidewalks.  Click here.}

A Summer Afternoon At Home: Rocket Pays Gizzard

Sitting on the screened-in porch.  Reading a magazine.  Sipping an iced coffee.  Late afternoon.

Summer is all around me.

In the distance across the ravine hidden behind the trees I hear kids playing outside.  They have a trampoline over there–  and they play all sorts of “ball” sports, like football or softball or basketball.

These kids, who are around 8-10 years old, are a happy bunch.  Boisterous.

And supportive of each other.  I’ll hear some of them encouraging the other ones with “good job” and “awesome.”

There’s rarely an argument.

So, when I become aware of a lull in the kid noise, my ears perk up.

What is this, I think.  Not the usual light-hearted chatter.  Is there a problem over there in kid-topia?

As if on cue I hear one loud little voice yelling: “Rocket pays gizzard. Rocket. Pays. Gizzard. ROCKET PAYS GIZZARD.”

This child is insistent.

All sorts of other kid voices yell back at him: “That’s not right.”

Then silence.  Nary a sound.

Of course now I need to know what they’re up to, so I wait to hear what they will be say next– and much to my surprise I hear an adult voice.

An adult who is laughing while trying to speak.

An adult who has decided to intervene to keep things rolling along smoothly.

An adult who is correcting the kids who are trying to play…

{Answer in comments below.}

Of Slow Cooker Wisdom And Simple Garden Plans

“Knowledge is the process of piling up facts;  wisdom lies in their simplification.”

Martin H. Fischer, Physician and Author

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 8.51.47 AMWE SPENT MOST of this past warm and beautiful spring weekend working in the garden.

My goal, influenced by the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook , is to have what I’ve come to call a slow cooker garden.

A space filled with variety, but put together in a way that is simple to understand.  Pleasant to look at, but requiring less and less effort each year to maintain.

That is, we’re going to fix it now with perennials, paths and stones;  then forget about changing anything out there for the next decade.

• • •

SO WHAT HAVE we got going on?  Well, we’ve got:

  • a plethora of roses + daisies + hostas in planting beds beside stone and/or concrete steps that circle the house;
  • a landscape island in the front yard near the street filled with grasses and mostly purple flowers;
  • a newly installed dry faux creek bed under the deck;  AND
  • a lower terrace in the back yard down by the woods that features stone steps, grasses, roses plus the recent addition of difficult-to-find milkweed.  *yeah*

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Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.15.17 AMI’M NOT SURE how our garden ended up being so multi-faceted and unique, but over the years, little by little, it did.

My hope is that when it comes time to sell this property, like the HGTV show CURBAPPEAL suggests, the awe-inspiring exterior of the property will be so amazing that this house’s relatively small square footage won’t hinder a sale.

However, be that as it may, in the mean time, I’m not worrying about real estate business-y things like ROI.  Instead, I’m going to groove on all that we have going on in our pretty, pretty garden.

• • •

So tell me, gentle readers: how does your garden grow?

QOTD: What Are Your Dreams For This Spring?

DSCN4911Always looking forward.  Always planning.  Influenced by Arrowsmith Aerosmith.  I’m rarely without a list of what I need to do next.

Usually my lists revolve around practical matters, but occasionally I make a personal list of a few simple things that I want to accomplish.  So without further babble, I give you…

My “Dreams For Spring” List

I want to go for a walk almost every day.  There will be no numerical goals attached to this walk, I just want to move more.  Rain be damned.

I want to bake muffins.  The reality here is that for months I’ve said that I’m going to start baking again– then I haven’t done so. However, now that it’s on my list, let muffin-palooza begin.

I want to travel somewhere.  While this may seem vague, I’ve learned that when I talk about a specific vacation, the gods start screwing around with my life.  So mum’s the word.  I’m going to sneak travel by them this time.  You just watch and see.

I want to work in the garden.  Last year I was lazy about gardening because– well, I haven’t a clue why I was, but I was.  This year I’m planning some new features out there– and some new color schemes.  Nothing like a design project to ramp up my interest and keep me enthused.

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So here’s the Question of the Day, presented to you on the last full day of Winter:

What are your dreams for this Spring?

Answer in the comments below and I promise that we here at The Spectacled Bean will cheer you on to victory!

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Morning Calm Disturbed, Questions Raised

The Incident Described. 

Me at 6:15 a.m.  Ambient lighting on in kitchen.  Coffee brewed.  Mug in right hand.  Sitting at kitchen counter.  Left elbow on counter to provide support for head.  Eyes closed.  Thinking about a popular saying* and its applicability to the life of a writer.

Husband enters room.  I mumble something akin to “good morning.”  But husband, who is always too awake in the morning, decides to revert to his 8-year-old self, slobber on his finger, then put his finger up my nose.  Leading to the following:

  • me wide awake;
  • me wiggling out of his reach;
  • me laughing;  and
  • me wondering about something.

The Questions Raised. 

After the above incident, the focus of our subsequent early morning conversation was on defining exactly what makes up a wet willy.  Keeping in mind that this is a PG13 blog, I ask you:

What do you call a slobbery finger up the nose?  A wet willy?  Or something else entirely?

The Asterisk Explained.

The saying I was thinking about, taken from medicine, was: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.”  In other words, go with the obvious diagnosis/explanation.  Or as applied to this particular post, go with the most recent event in your life, even if it is devoid of profundity and seems a bit silly!

An Unsolved Mystery: What Became Of Dottie?

When the weather turns sub-zero, my thoughts turn to carbohydrates.  All kinds of carbohydrates.  Some of which are meant to be eaten with delicious stews and soups.

Carbohydrates like corn bread.

Homemade.  Using Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal, a regional favorite.  A product packaged in a rectangular shape made of thick paper.  Traditional.  Easy to find on the shelf.

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So I went to ye olde K. Roger to a buy some of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal and instead what I found was Dorsel’s Corn Meal.  Packaged in a slick corporate plastic bag with a zip top and large writing that excluded Dottie’s name.

This, I said to myself, is an outrage.

I mean, Betty is still with Crocker.  Duncan is still with Hines.  Aunt is still with Jemima.  [Okay, the last one’s not the same, but go with me here.  I’m on a rant.]


The heroine of our story.

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{ Image courtesy of dannwoellertthefoodetymologist }

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Naturally I started researching this mystery because it’s fricking cold outside and I ain’t going anywhere on foot or car [if I can help it] I had the time and I was curious to see how the current owners of Dottie Dorsel’s Corn Meal would explain themselves.

I discovered that:

  • Dottie Dorsel, aka Dorathea Dorsel, was a real person from northern Kentucky whose father owned The Dorsel Milling Company in the late 1800s.
  • I learned from a recipe in a 1999 cookbook that the company was at that time called the Dottie Dorsel Company.
  • I know that today Prairie Mills owns, what it refers to as, Dorsels Brands.
  • I cannot find any corporate PR releases or newspaper articles that talk about the change in packaging– or why Dottie’s delightfully alliterative name was left off the new package.
  • I can find some recipes online [here and here] from the early 2000s that mention using Dottie Dorsel Pinhead Oat Meal (another regional favorite), but Corn Meal recipes, specifically mentioning Dottie, do not seem to exist.

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Clearly, there’s a conspiracy going on here.  A cover-up.  You can’t go around messing with people’s names on food packaging, can you?  I realize that Fig Newton dropped the Fig from its name, but Fig wasn’t a real live person who I related to on so many levels.

Fig was a fruit.  Duh.

All I can guess is that Dottie must have overheard something so sinister or stumbled upon a secret so dark that there was a need to rub her out.  Which lead to some mysterious someone axing her first name from the packaging of her own regionally famous corn meal.


That’s what I can’t figure out.

[Hello FTC!  I forgot to add this disclaimer when I wrote this post, so I’ll add it now… a few weeks later.  I’d love to tell you that this company was savvy enough to respond to my concerns, but no such luck.  Meaning that there was no compensation for what I said here.]

I’m Not Obsessed With Logic But…

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I’ve no doubt that some people have wondered the above about me.  [For the record, I tie my shoelaces all by myself.]  We all have our moments, don’t we?  

Uh huh.

So it is with the foregoing in mind that I tell you the gist of a conversation that I had with a casual acquaintance.  It’s a conversation that didn’t make sense to me, but then I was having one of my logical days while my casual acquaintance wasn’t. 

Oh well.

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ACQUAINTANCE:  Congrats on your success.  I see that you’ve accomplished something.

MOI:  Thank you.

ACQUAINTANCE:  Did you do something different this time that contributed to your success?

MOI:  Yes.  {I explain how I did what I did.}

ACQUAINTANCE:  {Acquaintance asks 2 or 3 clarifying questions.}  Wow, so you did something entirely new?

MOI:  Yes I did.


MOI:  Huh?!  But you just said…

ACQUAINTANCE:  {Lots of explanation about how what I did will never work and how wrong I was to even try.}

MOI:  Well, thanks for telling me this.

ACQUAINTANCE:  Oh sure.  Just trying to help.

MOI:  Uh huh.

~ The End ~

[Source for the above image is anyone’s guess.  I found it on FB.  I’ve seen it on Pinterest, stumbled over it on many blogs, but have been unable to find its original source.]