Thursday, April 7, 2016

Miscellaneous Musings

Sometimes, it's nice to wander in one's own thoughts. Such was the case with these musings, and perhaps there's something useful and/or entertaining among them for you.

I bought a few new books recently: American Writers at Home, Designers at Home: Personal Reflections on Stylish Living, and The Life of a Bowerbird: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Collect. I like them all. Sibella Court's The Life of a Bowerbird leaves you finding relevance in otherwise insignificant things as collections. Designers at Home captures several contemporary designers and their thoughts of home and style in one book. American Writers at Home is a very cool book of many notable writers, their homes, where they wrote, and a short bio on each.
Late Winter Book Purchases
One of my daughters was an English major in undergrad, so I gave her the writers book for her birthday. Great pictures give you a glimpse into their homes and lives. It makes for good inspiration for road trips, if you like that sort of thing. I've only toured one of these homes - Ernest Hemingway's - in Key West, FL.
Contents of American Writers at Home

Speaking of English majors, listen up, word nerds, blog writers, and everyone else! In the same vein as elementary schools no longer teaching cursive writing, have you heard it is no longer cool (or appropriate) to put two spaces after a period when typing?! I'd stopped the two-space method shortly after I started this blog, when I noticed how it clearly left dangling space in my published posts. Now I have an explanation, and you can read about it, too, in Jennifer Gonzalez' post on her blog, The Cult of Pedagogy.

We had our boxelder tree cut down on March 9. The monkey guy who did the work in the tree, along with one buddy working on the ground, were a phenomenal team. I photo-journaled their activity, so efficient was their work. In just 8 hours that thing was down, and all the limbs chipped, logs cut and hauled, the stump ground, and the area cleaned up.
Boxelder Tree Collage. Bottom four frames show the before, after from east, west directions of the project.

Unlike my professional tree-cutting job, our local power company contracts with a tree-cutting firm to trim trees which obscure power lines. They came to my house once, a few years ago, and made me sign a form when I said I did NOT want them cutting my tree. I told them I'd seen the work they do, and I would hire my own service. Here are a couple examples of the work they recently did in our neighborhood (below). Notice how they left the unobstructing branch to dangle over the road on the one tree in the top frame. Lovely.
Power company's contracted tree service

I completed a 3-days-shy-of-a-year-long journey of two dental implants on March 11, and I learned a few things. First, I had no idea what the process entailed, and asked questions of anyone I knew who had been through it. I learned a hard lesson in patience, a virtue I obviously need work on. It took a team of 3 dental specialists - my family dentist, an endodontist, and an oral surgeon. I got screwed, literally (see photo of x-ray below), and also figuratively, by the money spent. I understand why many people just get their teeth pulled and do nothing else in these type of situations. I sharpened my negotiation skill (hey, it's not just for flea markets), asking for discounts (cash in full in advance, senior, patient longevity, etc.). Negotiating is a smart thing to do, even if you have dental coverage (it will not fully cover the cost). Every little bit helps. I will also say I am thrilled this process is over.
X-ray of dental implants and abutments (on which permanent crowns were placed)
I am not a food blog by any means, but when I cook you can bet it's with careful thought, since my Mr. is a fairly picky eater. I tried a recipe Ellen (Scribbler Unfocused) concocted back in February that looked too delicious to pass up. It's a Chicken Lemon Pappardelle Soup. I only substituted a rotisserie chicken for the chicken breast fillets she used. She is completely right in that the flavors only get better with each day of leftovers. The lemon flavor gives it the perfect taste for me. Thank you, Ellen!
Chicken Lemon Pappardale Soup

I've participated with the 40 Bags in 40 Days Lenten purge each year since 2014, and this year I managed to clean out paper, email inbox, my desk drawers, spice cabinet, a couple pieces of furniture and, most notably, my career clothes closet(s). This time, I donated my clothes to my local Goodwill Prosperity Center's "Suited for Success" boutique. This is a separate entity from their retail centers. It's designed to help people get back on their feet, whether they be veterans, recovering addicts, felons, etc. People receive help building resumes, have access to computers, get clothes to start work - all without fees. I filled almost an entire rolling rack with clothes.
Donations to Goodwill's "Suited for Success" Boutique

We've FINALLY found a contractor who will not only return phone calls, but has shown up for estimates, and has actually begun long overdue maintenance for us on our home! See how pretty the flower beds and front look in this March photo below?
Front of  Home, Spring 2016
What you don't see is the ongoing damage on the outer edge of the balcony that's been occurring ever since this thing was constructed in 2004 (and rebuilt once already in 2006). We are encouraged that it will be taken care of in the coming month. If all goes well, we may realize other projects on our list.
Home Balcony Damage 

Fiestaware, like Blenko, is manufactured in West Virginia. The annual retail/outlet tent sales schedule is out, and the first one just occurred in Flatwoods, WV (about 70 miles north of the capital city on I-79). Our local Macy's recently had a very colorful display of Fiestaware on their main floor (below). Whether for the tent sale occasion, or just a Spring display, I don't know, but the colors are fun.
Fiesta Display at Macy's, Spring 2016
I somehow get the sense that this dinnerware is to today's households much like the workhorse ironstone was to yesterday's households, it's so utilitarian. Last year Fiesta added the Country Living Fair weekend in Columbus to its list of tent sales (at the Columbus Fairgrounds), taking the show on the road for the first time.

Speaking of Macy's, remember in this post where I said other than finding a really cool pair of shoes or purse that I'd rather shop vintage and/or antique? Well, I not only found one pair of new shoes, but I bought two - different colors - at a great price, just before Easter. I love a sexy pair (or two!) of shoes, and we have three family weddings in this year coming. I may just be a Dancing Queen.
New shoes!
After Easter, the grocery store had a cart full of selected candies discounted to 25¢ each. I picked out a few, then Mr. P. picked his.
Candy!

Last, but not least, this story is one for the "boys will be boys" generalization....
My next door neighbors have twin boys, aged 12, and two Wheaten Terriers. Good people, the kind of neighbors you want. The other evening I was sitting at my desk and heard this THUD. A few minutes later THUD. And again THUD. I thought Mr. P. was dropping his shoes on the floor, but after the third time I realized it was outside, and went to see where. One twin was coming out of his gate to collect a ball (or two or three) which, evidently, hit our garage brick wall. He was practicing, picking up balls with his Lacrosse stick, and tossing them at a goalie net against the wall in his yard, but invariably missed, hitting our garage wall. I cautioned him of the accident waiting to happen, he apologized, and moved the net. Next day, we find a Lacrosse ball in our courtyard. We also found some random dog turds between our house and garage, and outside of our garage door. Who Flung Poo?- remember those zany book title jokes? Seems he didn't realize he wasn't just picking up his Lacrosse balls to toss. His mom was horrified when I called to let her know. She thought she got all the yard poop with the scoop before he was practicing. He moved his target net to the yard on the opposite side of their home, where the dogs aren't allowed. :)

Rita C. at Panoply