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?

Seeing The Sights, Doing The Things In Georgia And South Carolina

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Statue of cute cherubs playing music, presumably happy, in Middleton Place Plantation garden.

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“There’s no rush.”

I can think of no better words to describe a fun vacation.  Not that we didn’t do anything while in Georgia and South Carolina.  We did lots, but we did it at our own pace, in our own way.

This was unusual for us because our vacations in the last decade or so have revolved around other people or business obligations or complicated air travel.

But this time, my gentle readers, Zen-Den and I were totally on our own to do what we wanted to do.

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We flew into Atlanta, rented a car, then drove to Savannah, GA, where we stayed for a few nights.  Located on the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is a charming town made famous by the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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The lovely, inviting beach on Tybee Island.

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As we remembered from being in Savannah years ago, the people who we met were helpful + polite, the nearby beach on Tybee Island was clean + beautiful, and the vibe, everywhere, was mellow.  I loved it all.

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Fancy walkway over a shallow swamp on Hilton Head Island.

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After Savannah, we drove north to Charleston, SC, stopping on Hilton Head Island, SC, for lunch.  Hilton Head has a smooth, upscale, planned feel to it.  Fun to visit, we’ve been there before, but it never calls to me like it does to so many people who live around me here in Ohio, who adore it there in South Carolina.

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Beautifully maintained brick homes in the French Quarter of Charleston.

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In Charleston, SC, we stayed in a hotel in the downtown historic district.  If you like to walk then this is a convenient way to be close to hundreds of restaurants + bars + shops.  My impression of this part of Charleston was that it was almost perfectly Disney-esque, but with panhandlers and uneven walking surfaces.  Looked gorgeous, but watch your step.

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Serene view of wood pilings and the river seen while sitting in Charleston’s Waterfront Park.

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While we were in the Charleston area we went to a fort, a museum, an island, a park.  We ate seafood, drank iced tea, and looked at architecture– everywhere.  The weather was sunny and the people were, as reported, friendly.

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A cute sail boat, seemingly with nowhere to go, floating along the shore of Sullivan Island.

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After Charleston we drove back to Atlanta, GA, for a day.  Because the weather had turned cold and wet, we wanted to be inside so we went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum.  It was fascinating, informative, well-organized, and pleasant to wander through.

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And on that note, we left Atlanta the next day returning home on an easy mid-morning flight that was a little over an hour long.  

A flight on which we both were pre-approved by the TSA, meaning that, for once in my life, there was no fuss + no problems involved with air travel.

Imagine that, if you can.

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An alligator swimming away from me in a pond at Middleton Place Plantation garden, lending credence to the saying: “see you later, alligator.”

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Share Your World | Tulips A-Go-Go

Once a week Cee asks the questions on her blog, and I answer them here on my blog.  

• Have you ever participated in a distance walking, swimming, running, or biking event? Tell your story.

Yes, *sigh* back when I was a crazy, younger, athletically inclined woman who followed the crowd, I was a cyclist.  I did lots of 30+ mile bike rides for charities, and even once went so far as to go on a Backroads bike tour vacation.

This adventure in hell vacation started in New Bern, NC, and involved days of bike riding on dodgy, bermless country roads, littered with dead snakes and frogs.  Roads, filled with 18-wheeler lumber trucks zipping past us, spewing bits of pine bark and needles as they went by.  It was scary.

Throughout the tour we were on a strict time schedule to get to ferry-boats to go island to island along the NC Outer Banks, with the goal of getting to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

However, this did not happen because a huge storm, the aftermath of a hurricane, disrupted the ferry service to Cape Hatteras.  Meaning that our last ferry-boat was abruptly cancelled, leaving us stuck one island short of Cape Hatteras, on Ocracoke Island.  In a dumpy motel.

So with torrential rain falling and nowhere to go, we abandoned the pretense of cycling, made note of Ocracoke’s famous ponies, and drank excessively in the one bar that was open while it stormed, all the while lamenting that we were never going to get to Cape Hatteras.

Which *sigh* was the whole point of the bike tour.

• Name one thing not many people know about you.

I will not wear the color orange, so keep all your sports fan gear away from me.

• What is your favorite flower?

Tulips. Graceful and colorful, with no excessive leaves to muddle up their lines or draw attention away from their colorful petals.

• Things I want to have in my home (paintings, hot tubs, book cases, big screen tv etc)

While it’s true that I like things, and that if my life had gone in a different direction I might have become an interior designer, I feel that for me to list all the things that I want to have in my home would take hours.

Instead, I’ll leave you with the following quote by William Morris that summarizes how I’m learning to evaluate the things in my home: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

• 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 cats featured in the YouTube video below.  They make me smile.  I’m beyond impressed by their focus and skill– and that any human being was able to get them to do what they’re doing.

This week’s looking forward to something goes to Zen-Den listening to S•Town podcast so that he and I can discuss it.  At length.  Produced by Serial and This American Life, S•Town is the most compelling investigative-journalistic-true-crime-ish story I’ve heard [or read] in years.  Think Southern Gothic genre.  The language is coarse.  The topics are mature.  And the story is so good… in a bad way.  Highly recommended.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Share Your World | Hail, Hail, Spring Is Here

This is a photo of hail, pellets of frozen rain that fall in showers from cumulonimbus clouds, as seen on our deck. There is nothing inspiring about hail, yet there it is.  Hello, spring.

Spring is here and I’m ready for a change of pace vis-à-vis blogging.  

So starting today and in the coming weeks instead of me dreaming up something to write about here, I’m going to do Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge wherein I’ll answer her questions on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week.

I may post a few other things along the way, but for the most part I’m going to see where Cee’s questions take me.  ‘Cuz, you know, why not?  

And now, onto the main event…

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• How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 

It depends on the time of day.  If it’s morning, say 9:00 a.m. when I’m caffeinated and alert, then I’m 35 years old.  However after a normal day, by 9:00 p.m. in the evening, I’m 85 years old.  This means, quite logically, that I age a little over 4 years every hour of the day.

• So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

I know where my umbrella is.  It’s red and in the backseat of my car.  No one except me may use my red umbrella without written authorized consent, submitted in triplicate 24 hours before the proposed using of my umbrella.

I wasn’t always so selfish with my umbrella, but *true confessions* I married an umbrella thief + hoarder whose behavior has led me to institute a strict protocol about all umbrellas, use of said.

• Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

To recharge I need quiet time alone, about 2 hours of quiet to every 1 hour of socializing.  Unless it’s Christmas-time, then it’s 3 hours of quiet to every 1 hour of socializing.

• Name three things you and your spouse, partner or best friend have in common.

Zen-Den and I: 1) look good wearing the color blue;  2) prefer mustard potato salad;  and 3) enjoy Ruth Galloway mysteries written by Elly Griffiths.

• 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 Olly, the doggo featured in the YouTube video below.  His energy combined with his disregard for the rules made me laugh more than I can tell you.

This week’s looking forward to something goes to the yet-to-be planted pansies, sitting inside our garage.  IF there’s no frost, THEN I’ll plant them in pretty pots, and place the pansified pots by the front door and on the deck, adding some color around the outside of the house.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Phooey, Piffle, and Pshaw: Gray Days Return & I Am Tired

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

~ Cicero

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Phooey!  I’m working on being grateful now, but after last week’s unexpected clear blue skies, this week’s return to dreary gray skies with snow has been difficult.

Piffle!  Then add the lost hour of sleep [I’m looking at you, Daylight Savings Time] and I’m not feeling my usual writing mojo OR joie de vivre OR any other flapdoodle-y & twaddle-ish way of using words to indicate joy and productivity.

Pshaw!  So instead of stressing myself to find something to write about that is actually interesting and fresh, I’ll just share some photos– and attempt to remember that I am grateful for this change in weather because the more the wet now, the prettier the flowers then.

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In case you care, I looked up the meanings of the exclamatory words I used above.  They are defined as follows:

phooey = disbelief

piffle = nonsense

pshaw = contempt

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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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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.

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“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.