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?

Talking Daylilies Here: No More Happy Returns

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Good-bye cervine freeloaders.  Hasta la vista deer buffet.

Yep, after 17 years of growing and tending a patch of Happy Returns Daylilies out front of our house under the lamppost, I had the landscaper remove them all and re-design the area.

The irony is, and there seems to be irony with anything I do, that when we built this house I was adamant about wanting Happy Returns Daylilies, which are a lovely shade of lemon-y yellow.  I paid extra to not have Stella D’Oro Daylilies, which are more golden-yellow, and common around here.

They’re in all the gardens in this subdivision.

Nope, planning ahead, as is my way, I wanted lemon-y yellow colored daylilies because they would look better with our particular brick–and because doing things, just a little differently than everyone else, comes naturally to me.

However, turns out that Happy Returns Daylilies are a favorite nosh of ye olde deer.  Also turns out that these pretty plants need lots of almost daily maintenance during the summer to keep them looking fresh and lovely.

So, with just a tinge of regret, but not much, I decided to embrace Admiral Grace Hopper’s famous quote and let go of my favorite Happy Returns Daylilies [and a patch of Russian Sage + Bergamot– and a few lost Daisies] to make space for a simpler, more modern, design out front of our house under the lamppost.

One that looks infinitely better than that which I thought that I knew that I wanted… years ago… before I became a wiser, and lazier, gardener.

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Here’s the new look: Boxwood [hedge], Fineline Buckthorn [small ornamental tree], Barberry [small bushes] + Liriope [used as ornamental grass].

Social Media: Rambling Thoughts About People Who Hate-Follow

It’s not that I’m a martyr to nice, but I don’t hate-follow anyone on social media.  It seems like more work than fun to me, but maybe I don’t know how to do it right.

I know it’s a thing to hate-follow other people.  I keep hearing about it from friends and family, sometimes in the context of harmless mischief, other times mentioned as, what I’d call, peremptory maliciousness.

They tell me who they follow, often a high school nemesis or a work frenemy or a disliked neighbor.

They tell me that doing this makes them feel good about themselves. That by keeping tabs on someone who they dislike, they come to understand themselves better &/or stay ahead of any trouble that might be brewing.

I don’t know if I totally buy into my friends and family’s reasoning behind the hate-following. To me their reasoning sounds more like rationalization about doing something kinda fun + almost amoral, than behavior contributing to a person’s good mental health.

But considering no one expects me to become a hate-follower, and no one seems to have upped his or her dosage of Zanax because of the hate-following, I figure what the heck?

I mean if nothing else, these friends and family do seem to have some fun, juicy stories to share about people– and you know me, I always love a good story, regardless of how someone learns about it.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

• Do you hate-follow anyone on social media? If so, how’s that working out for you? Details, please.

• Alternately, do you know anyone who hate-follows on social media? If so, do they have good stories to tell because of it? Or is it warping their brain to the dark side?

• Even more intriguing, do you think anyone is hate-following you? Hmmm?

In Which I Listen With The Intent Of Exiting The Scene As Soon As Possible

I HAPPENED TO SEE AN ACQUAINTANCE WHO, after a polite “hello,” launched into a long story about something in her life.

Acquaintance, who is living in the River of Denial, started the conversation, which was really more of a soliloquy, with the words “I’m not a _________, but…” and then went on to tell me about her thoughts and actions that from an objective point of view would say that she is a _________.

“Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?”

WHILE I ENJOYED THE THEATRICAL UNHINGED WAY in which she rationalized her behavior, I began to ponder, if given the opportunity, what I was going to say to this woman who, without getting into any of the specifics, I’ll describe as a wackadoodle who needs to see a therapist.

However, being the grown-up that I am I chose to say nothing and remain quiet, listening to her and nodding my head in a supportive way, like an extra on stage behind the lead actor.

As one does, even.

EVENTUALLY ACQUAINTANCE FINISHED TELLING ME HER STORY, and me being me, I said the first thing that floated into my mind.  I let her know that I understood what she’d been yammering on about by saying Snagglepuss‘s immortal catchphrase: “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”

And that, kids, seemed to be all that she needed to hear me say to her, thus giving me my opportunity to gracefully walk away from this absurd conversation.

“Exit, stage left.”

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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What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

Make No Assumptions. It’s Greenery For The Win.

AS A WAY OF adding some color into our lives during this mid-winter gray time of year, I went to Lowes this week where I bought some little houseplants in little plastic pots.

I’m not a full on hippy dippy plant lady yet, so fear not. But I could be headed that way.  [And really, would that be such a terrible thing?]

While transplanting each plant into a proper terra-cotta pot, it drifted into my addled mind that Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery.

I also remembered that when I first saw this color in early December I wasn’t taken with it, thinking that this particular shade of yellowish-green was almost garish.  A color I’d never want to see in my house. 

Was. not. a. fan. and. said. so.

But you know what?  I was wrong in my snap judgement.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-11-04-10-am
“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.” via Pantone

I HAD TO ADMIT this to myself as I placed the new houseplants around the house– and realized that they were exactly Greenery green.  And as such, they blended beautifully with our neutral color scheme of khaki golds + creamy whites + warm grays.

In fact, the new houseplants added much-needed splashes of spring-y color everywhere, proving to be an amazingly easy, cost-effective way of lifting my winter spirits.

So the moral of this little story is that when it comes to unfamiliar colors reserve your judgment until you’ve given the new color a chance to dazzle you.

For all you know the new color might be the perfect thing ever to grace your life… on a gray winter day.