Sunday Scribblings #65: a meme

I have a secret…

This is the prompt for Sunday Scribblings #65.

I confess myself stumped. I carry no secrets. I haven’t any secret burdens of the heart. I keep nothing from my husband. I have always attempted to be honest and straightforward about any inner insecurities or self-doubts.

I would surmise that many people would take the opportunity provided by this prompt to confess inner secrets that they have pent up over a long period of time. Others will perhaps turn the prompt into a catalyst for a short fictional story (which was my first inclination for my own entry.) I shall present you with a meme instead.

Secrets Meme
Consider yourself tagged if you stopped by to read this. Reply to the meme in your own blog and then pass it along to five other people.

1.What is your secret guilty pleasure?
Mine is rather selfish. I would prefer to be left completely alone when working, and I secretly covet those times when Better Half is napping.

2. What do you secretly hate?
I secretly despise it when people have more than 15 items in the “15 items or less” line at the grocery store. Inevitably, these same people will wait until all 30 items have been scanned and the bill totaled before hauling out a gargantuan purse and fishing about the innards for payment (usually doled out in dollar bills and a bunch of change.)

3. Has anyone ever told you a deep, dark secret?
Yes. I have been taken into confidence on many things; I keep those secrets and do not use them as gossip fodder.

4. Have you ever been told a secret and then broken trust and passed it along?
Yes, I have, during my high school years. Keeping that secret would have compromised the personal safety of my friend.

5. Do you think that keeping secrets is a healthy?
I hear all sorts of rubbish concerning secrets. “Women should never reveal their grooming habits to their husbands (i.e. don’t let them see you shave your legs) in order to keep the marriage fresh.” How can we possibly keep our “female secrets” as secrets when the media bombards men with commercials covering everything from keeping our pores small to vaginal itch?

I also believe that keeping some secrets hush-hush does a disservice to our society as a whole. How many people are afraid to “come out of the closet” simply because their family can not accept their orientation? How many women remain in abusive relationships because they are afraid to confide in anyway regarding the domestic violence? Many men die yearly as a direct result of their unwillingness to disclose medical problems to their physicians.

Tag; you're It. You will not be able to right click copy off this page - I have listed the meme in simple form in the comments section.

Sunday Scribbling #64: Eccentricity

The theme for Sunday Scribbling #64: Eccentricity is fun & tempting -- for this Sunday Scribbling I'd like you to:

a) admit any eccentricities you may have, or wish you had, or any you might choose to cultivate;
b) write about eccentric people you know or have heard or read about;
(In popular usage, eccentricity refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive. Eccentricity is contrasted with "normal" behavior, the nearly universal means by which individuals in society solve given problems and pursue certain priorities in everyday life. For people who consistently display benignly eccentric behaviour, there is a label: "eccentrics". Eccentrics will often find unconventional solutions to problems. ~ Wikipedia.)

Honey lamb, most of my friends are gay; they all have idiosyncrasies.

I am not stating that “straights” do not have their quirks, which are merely more sublime in nature. Consider the vast population of Americans that can not leave their homes without having cell phone, iPod, or a laptop on their person. There is another entire group which swears that a day can not officially commence without a cup of Starbucks in hand. Yet another group insists that one’s shoes must at all times match one’s outfit (hence they have more shoes in their closets than most of us have in our lifetime.)

Other (now common) eccentric behaviour would include the amount of money we spend on our pets. Fluffy or spot is oft attired in (what we think are) comfortable sweaters, vests or shirts. Some go as far as buying booties for their little pawpaws so that nasty brrrrzy snow does not bother their sweet little pads.

Eccentric is buying a car because it has a built-in flower vase, by the way.

Eccentrics may comprehend the standards for normal behavior in their culture, or they may not. They are simply unconcerned by society's disapproval of their habits or beliefs. Many of history's most brilliant minds have displayed many unusual behaviors and habits.

I personally do have many eccentricities, which I shall not bore you with here. Things must be “just so” and they are what identifies me. I embrace my idiosyncrasies as they define me. I collect things (manthoms) that other people would find absurd or pointless. My hearty lust for fossils, books, certain animals (such as my newfound “sheeps” wanderlust) and books knows no bounds. I am quite anal retentive in what I procure, as any first-rate eccentric collector will attest to when conversing in regard to his own collections.

Other people may have eccentric taste in clothes, or have eccentric hobbies or collections which they pursue with great vigour. They may have a pedantic and precise manner of speaking, intermingled with inventive wordplay (I am very guilty of that!)

Wikipedia ponders the behaviours of eccentrics by stating, "Behavioral eccentricities have often been classically associated with psychological profiles indicating overcompensation, insecurities, unresolved childhood issues, involuntary celibacy and other sexual issues, repressed feelings, social ineptness, monomania, or a variety of other influences, even if the person would not necessarily be classified as insane. Some accepted psychological profiles that are commonly attributed to eccentrics are the Oedipus complex (a primal desire on the part of a young male to compete with his father for his mother's love and affection), Napoleon complex (colloquial term used to describe a type of inferiority complex suffered by people who are short), Peter Pan Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and various forms of autism, most notably Asperger syndrome. Eccentric behavior has also been attributed to drug use.”

Yes, dear Readers, some eccentrics are mad. It is the fuel that pilots them in life, the addiction that grounds them (or so they assume), and the shackles that oppress them in their daily lives. Howard Hughes collected his own urine and never clipped his toenails.

The word “eccentric” it not as bad as one might think (although I strongly urge you, dear Readers, to not label yourselves as eccentric until you are prepared to deal with how the real world perceives you going about in your created one.)

In mathematics, eccentricity is a parameter associated with every conic section. It can be thought of as a measure of how much the conic section deviates from being circular. In particular,
· The eccentricity of a circle is zero.
· The eccentricity of an (non-circle) ellipse is greater than zero and less than 1.
· The eccentricity of a parabola is 1.
· The eccentricity of a hyperbola is greater than 1 and less than infinity.
· The eccentricity of a straight line is 1 or ∞, depending on the definition used.

In astrodynamics, under standard assumptions, any orbit must be of conic section shape. The eccentricity of this conic section, the orbit's eccentricity, is an important parameter of the orbit that defines its absolute shape. Eccentricity may be interpreted as a measure of how much this shape deviates from a circle.
Under standard assumptions eccentricity (“e” as the actual symbol will not transfer into the blog format) is strictly defined for all circular, elliptic, parabolic and hyperbolic orbits and may take following values:
· for circular orbits: e = 0,
· for elliptic orbits: 0 <>
· for parabolic trajectories: e = 1,
· for hyperbolic trajectories: e > 1.

But I digress (it is one of my idiosyncrasies!)

A Downtime Week

I am having another Downtime Week. This is not to say that I am psychologically down; I am physically out of commission. I am rather used to this, having put up with my body for so long.

I do lament that I am not able to do all the things that cross my mind. I am not capable of ambling down the back steps in order to check on my squashes. I have not had the strength to park myself on the front porch. I certainly would not risk driving anywhere whilst on my heavy pain medications.

What does Autrice do? Autrice enjoys looking at pictures that she has taken, of course!

Better Half and I spent a relaxing Saturday on our front porch. We have become avid bird watchers and have thoroughly enjoyed the antics of a Downy Woodpecker family. Both parents brought their fledgling to our tree and have been feeding it from one of the suet boxes. I had a bugger of a time trying to capture them with my camera!

Our dogs enjoy their Porch Time immensely. All five animals will settle onto the cushions or the cool concrete and watch the world go by. We have trained them to not wander off the porch and barking is never allowed. The birds and chipmunks sense the dogs’ impotence and scuttle about the yard, business as usual.

His Majesty, the Italian Greyhound, takes delight in appointing himself Lord of All Living Things, Duchess of the Dianthus, and Head of the Hosta. He really is a rather prissy dog.


More Sheeps

More "sheeps" have been added to my collection. These two come from Willow Creek Crossing (the lovely store where I purchased my "Sheeps Slate".)

Morning Routine

I have embarked on a new morning routine ever since moving our bistro set onto the front porch. It entails putting on a pot of coffee and finding a good book in order to greet the dawn.

The early morning ambiance was breathtaking today. Mist clung to the distant dells and hollows, creeping up the street to harbor between our planting beds. Small birds and a few grackle emerged from their slumber and fluttered down to the feeding stations. The ground emitted an earthy smell after a night of heavy rain.

I permitted myself to awake in harmony with the environment, sitting quietly as the world around me broke into life. Soft rays of sunlight dispelled the fog, the sky changing from velvety plum into a pale cerulean. The flowers uncurled tender petals to bask in sunbeams sneaking through the maple canopy. A small red fox, returning from a night on the prowl, jogged down the asphalt and disappeared into a copse of trees at the far end of the street. Small rabbits emerged before long, pausing now and again to breakfast on sweet clover growing in my lawn; the cranking of a neighbor’s garage door sent them bolting towards their secret lairs.

I remained outside until the neighbors emerged from their homes. I thought it best to not startle them with my unkempt hair and pajamas. The birds, rabbits, fox and I will meet over coffee again tomorrow.

SS# 63: The Spice of Life, Manitou Springs

“Variety is the spice of life.”

This phrase once graced every business card and label Michael and Doug owned. It is the inspiration for their business, the
Spice Of Life, an ingredients emporium.

Michael and Doug live their vision. In the early 90’s they opted to leave the corporate world behind in order to open up a small coffee, tea and spice shop. It was in a tiny 6’x8’ room located in the (then) dilapidated Spa Building in Manitou Springs. That was where we discovered them, nestled between tourist bric-a-brac shops and a pet store.

They carried premium spices and herbs during a time when cooking was not that trendy. They had a large variety of flavored coffees, hot cocoa, and exotic teas. There was an odd mix of prepared sauces and mixes. Michael combined his heritage with his business sense in order to provide unique items such as Grandma Lela’s (dry) Salsa Mix. They were ahead of their time: Starbucks had not reached the Rockies yet. These were the days of “free samples!” in order to build a customer base.

Doug continued to work during those early years in order to cover the mortgage and bills for their home. It was a strain on them and at times a hardship; their personal relationship only grew stronger.

The Spice of Life eventually brought in enough profits to relocate to a more ideal location, set off the main street by a charming walkway. Michael and Doug expanded their offering of goods, adding more variety. They began dreaming larger as business increased, eventually taking a leap of faith and moving into a space large enough to offer a full deli (including breakfast, lunch and dinner) with seating for patrons.

The new location was a risk and a major expense but many friends and family members helped them along. People volunteered to paint murals on the ceiling. Others came in tp build wooden shelves to house all the jars, bottles and bags. Michael and Doug have beautiful wooden hanging signs handcrafted by talented individuals in the area.

There is a steady clientele that comes in for “their usual” each day. Coffee always flows, as does mirth. No one is an outsider in the Spice of Life; newcomers are frequently invited to sit with the regs.

In the background – their personal lives – Michael and Doug have also found success. They perhaps suffer from a touch of “Old Married Couple Syndrome”, although they are not legally permitted to marry yet. They have raised a son, Zack, together and I am delighted to say that I have watched him grow from a babe into a charming young man. Doug no longer works an outside job to help support them. They are active in the Court, in PFLAG and in the community of Manitou.

Variety is indeed the spice of life, however success is doing what you love and loving what you do. To Michael and Doug, success is achieved by living a dream.

To visit the Spice of Life
727 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs, CO 80929
(719) 685-5284
Spice Of Life

Gift Baskets Available worldwide

More spicy posts can be found at: Sunday Scribblings: #63 - Spicy


"Sheeps", for Annie and Roadchick

For Annie and Roadchick:

This whimsy welcome sign was painted onto an ancient slate roof shingle taken from one of the buildings recently torn down in PA. Better Half’s wish for a sweet woodcut welcome sign (pear themed) was vetoed in favor of this “country kitsch” accessory. I am not really into that style, however (damn it all) it is “sheeps themed” and therefore must be purchased.

This hangs next to my front door. I repositioned the small sheep statue under it in a feeble attempt to group my collection (and to hide a bottle of ant killer.) Would only two items count as a “collection” in this day and age?


My Peaceful Retreat

Our front yard is a haven that I retreat to with a cup of coffee and an engrossing book.

Chipmunks scamper across the lush lawn, their cheeks filled with seed stolen from our bird feeder (Better Half greased the pole to day in order to discourage them from stealing all the seed.) They have prepared small food caches beneath the deep red mulch under our maple tree where the hosta forest and ornamental grasses provides plenty of cover their food finding forays.

Delicate Dianthus grace the walkway beds, keeping Dusty Miller and ferns company. Our old fountain (which apparently has a leak) tinkles in harmony with the wind chimes hanging from the porch; the wind is a maestro.

Clematis invades my hummingbird trellis in preparation for a bountiful midsummer blooming period. It is the first thing seen on the property as one wends their way up Pembroke. Better Half and I have devised to widen this bed as the daylilies and hosta are now too crowded together. Last year’s Easter Lilies returned.

This is my peaceful spot. I absorb the splendor of nature and my spirits rehabilitate.


Sheeps, Friends, Better Half, and Dead Muses

Better Half and I enjoyed a gorgeous summer afternoon today. Our first stop was our neighbor’s garage sale, where I found a hardbound copy of Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg for a dollar. It is not nearly as satisfactory as Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn by William J. Mann, an author I greatly admire. Mann also wrote The Biograph Girl, yet another highly recommended read. But, I digress –

We swung by our local bank to use the ATM, and soon found ourselves on the road to the Commissary at CE Kelly. Better Half surprised me with a short stop at a local Oakdale shop (I found the sweetest welcome sign) before we headed on to purchase our groceries. It is sheep themed and I fear I am becoming overly fond of those animals. I have learned more about sheep this month than I ever wished to know (as in the fact that sheep do not have upper incisors.) Some people do like to ramble but in doing so they impart a love of animals. Hence I have begun collecting “sheeps”. The one in the photograph above is my first “sheeps” item. (Please do not bother to correct me on the proper use of the word “sheep”, dear Readers – the “s” at the end is a running joke.)

It was perfect weather today. A storm brooded on the horizon during out trip home and the skies opened up shortly after we had tucked away the last of our groceries.

“Back East Weather” is a humid brute, ever vigilant as it continues to drown you in your own sweat. It bested Better Half this round and he soon withdrew to the cool confines of the bedroom in order to find comfort with his CPAP machine. His lungs/cough have had little improvement since January but we can at least take comfort in knowing that it is not heart related.

We have plans to visit the arboretum tomorrow and I will certainly attempt to blog the visit.

It has been quite a while since I have sat down to do any serious blogging. My other writing has also suffered from neglect. I simply have not had any motivation or insight. My office currently contains the television, and it blares in the afternoon (Better Half’s food network programs, which are rather distracting. I despise Rachel Ray’s voice.) My book is on hold. My short story for TFMM is untouched beyond a basic mental outline. I wonder if my muse died?

TFMM is on a business trip to LA to meet with the editors of The Advocate, as well as to interview a very hot rugby player. I am hoping that he is enjoying the break. My news of him is coming second-hand as he is unable to find a good AOL connection.

The exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been pushed back to November 2007 and I am growing rather impatient!

It feels as if the entire world has gone “on hold” until the fall. I theorize that I should utilize these lazy summer months productively before that season kicks in. It is always a busy time of year, and will be more so if TFMM comes out for a visit. Fall, holidays, friends and exhibits – all of my favorite things happened in one season is pure bliss! I will remain content with my stab at blogging for now.