Saturday, October 20, 2018

October Daybook--Finally Fall

After the last hurricane hit Florida and moved north through South Carolina it seemed to bring in fall. We had such an unusually warm and wet September and first half of October that trees that normally bloom in spring were confused and pushing out blooms we normally don't see until March. After the storm, it cooled down to seasonal temperatures and we went from wearing shorts to long sleeves practically overnight.

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Outside my window...

The fall colors are starting to pop! I love seeing the leaves changing against the backdrop of a bright blue autumn sky. A week or two ago we were out walking the dogs one night and saw four shooting stars in rapid succession. We had just started negotiations on the house we're buying and I took that to be a very auspicious sign! :) When I checked the almanac I discovered that we were in the middle of the annual Draconid meteor shower, which explained seeing that many almost all at once. And speaking of the wonders of the night sky, we had a flyover of the International Space Station last weekend. A local meteorologist I follow on Facebook gave advance notice, so we were able to be outside looking up at the right time!

I am thinking...

...about a million and one things that need to happen between now and our closing date, and then all the steps involved to get us, two dogs, a parrot, and a combined total of at least 240 gallons worth of aquariums with living plants and fish moved to the new house.

I am hoping...

that the closing process continues to go as smoothly as everything else so far. I've been very happy with the mortgage loan guy my realtor recommended. He's friendly and accessible and he really seems to know his stuff. Even better, he's great at explaining all the fine details of the application process in a way that even I can readily understand. So far, (knock on wood) the whole process has been shockingly smooth and simple. The inspection is Monday morning, and I hope our luck holds and they don't find any major issues to be dealt with.

I am reading...

...nothing much at the moment.The days are too packed with other things to do right now. But I'm looking forward to winter days in front of the fireplace with my knitting and a pile of books at the new house!

Celebrating the season...

It's almost Halloween and I've barely given it a thought. I did pull out two plastic light up Jack o Lanterns and stick them on the front steps, but only because I was beginning to pack up the closet where they were stored with the other holiday junk. Marla, Martina and I were originally planning to read something scary this month and have a book club party, but now with the new house it's just not possible. There will be other Halloweens....and I'm really, really looking forward to Christmas this year!

All that being said, I do love October for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with Halloween. I like the weather and the changing leaves, the heavier foods and spiced drinks, pulling out sweaters and jackets for the first time of the year....!

I can't let this lovely month go by without sharing a few seasonal quotes with you all. Here's one from a kindred spirit to start us off:

October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in the aftermaths. Anne reveled in the world of color about her.... "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?..." ~Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Green Gables, 1908

It was October again... a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun to drain — amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Green Gables, 1908

And yet another kindred spirit:

October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978)

Fresh October brings the pheasant,
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.
~Sara Coleridge, "The Months," Pretty Lessons In Verse, For Good Children; With Some Lessons in Latin, In Easy Rhyme, 1834

"The leaves fall patiently
Nothing remembers or grieves
The river takes to the sea
The yellow drift of leaves."
-   Sara Teasdale

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low...
~Van Morrison, "Moondance," recorded 1969

"Lord, it is time.  The summer was very big.  Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose.
Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetiness into the heavenly wine."
-  Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope you all are finding ways to enjoy this lovely month and season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


We're buying the house!

My realtor kept telling me to wait on accepting the last offer, and it turns out that was great advice. The seller got antsy and eventually dropped the price back down to what we originally offered! The only concession we had to make was to pay our own closing costs, which isn't a big deal.

We're beyond excited!

Our closing date is November 8th, so everything is happening very fast. The inspection is Monday, and I'm hoping that goes smoothly and there are no delays. At this rate, with a closing date so early in the month, we should be finishing the move by Thanksgiving. Once Christmas gets here, we should be settling in nicely.

Thanks, everyone, for all the positive messages and good thoughts. Please keep them coming over the next three weeks or so as we navigate the purchase and the move!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday at home

We're out of school again today. Hurricane Michael has turned into Tropical Storm Michael and is passing through South Carolina as I type this. This makes six days we've missed in this district thanks to the weather and it's only early October, but what can you do? Not control the weather, that's for sure.

I'm thankful we're spared the worst of this storm. There are still a whole lot of people devastated by flooding and the last thing they need is more rain, but at least Michael has been downgraded and is moving through quickly. I feel so bad for the people in Florida who have had to endure a true monster of a hurricane. I was relieved and grateful to read last night that Ms. Moon and her family are safe and sound, after seeing how strong the storm had become early yesterday morning.

I'll admit I was kind of glad for the chance to sleep in this morning. I haven't slept well in a week. The people selling the house we're interested in have been negotiating with us (we thought at first they were going to hold firm on the too-high price--turns out they're a little more motivated than they originally seemed) and I'm finding the whole process incredibly stressful.  It looks as though it may work out after all, though. I'm excited and nervous and, at this point, ready to get through this whole process and have it over with. If all goes according to plan we may be in our new home by Thanksgiving! Please keep sending good vibes our way for smooth inspections and no last minute unpleasant obstacles.

Today I should be catching up on chores, but aside from a couple of loads of laundry (provided we don't lose power) I'm going to try to rest and relax instead. Since we intend to call our realtor tonight and accept the last offer we got, I'm fully aware that the next few weeks will be busy and probably exhausting.

Yesterday I went by the bookstore where I used to work and picked up a load of good sturdy boxes, and this weekend we're going to start packing in earnest. But not today. Today I'm going to do my best to enjoy the last few hours before I'm fully committed. While the wind blows and the rain falls, I'm going to work on my current knitting project, watch some Netflix (again, that's dependent on the power staying on) and spend some quality time with the dogs and Marco. We're all in for an exciting few weeks!

The outside is very plain, but the inside has been nicely renovated and 
the neighborhood is exactly what we've been looking for.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

So much for that.

I got a text from my realtor last night saying that the owners of the house we put in an offer for counter offered the exact same listing price--they wouldn't budge an inch. When I texted the realtor back and asked her if this means the house if off the table for us, she said that no, we can counter offer back. I have no faith in that whatsoever; we were already offering more than we had decided we would spend, and it seems that they're unwilling to consider any reduction in price whatsoever.

They bought this house in 2015 and our original offer was a tiny bit over what they paid for it. The house was appraised for what they paid only 3 years ago and they haven't made any improvements to the property. All the updates and renovations had been done by the owner before them, and they only lived there for two years when they put it on the market. No wonder it hasn't sold in almost a year...they're asking too much and seem to be unwilling to negotiate. With what they're asking and with closing costs we'd be looking at blowing our budget by $25,000 and we're determined not to do that. So unless they're just bluffing for as big an offer as possible but are secretly more motivated to sell than they appear, this house is not going to be the one. Damn it. 

Our realtor told us that she's never worked with a couple like us. Most buyers, according to her, want as much as house as they can afford. She said she's constantly having to rein in buyers (especially younger first time buyers) by reminding them of the limits of what they can borrow. Gregg and I, on the other hand, are planning to borrow a good bit less than we were approved for. We want a modest house that we can afford to pay off quickly without a monthly mortgage payment that will cripple us. In order to accomplish that goal we've got to be determined not to get carried away when we see something we like. 

This first experience has been so disappointing. It's our own fault. We spent hours yesterday (prior to getting the text about the counter offer) talking about the house. We looked at pictures and discussed where our furniture could go; we drove past the house a few times close to dark to see what the neighborhood was like on a Saturday night (nice and quiet, of course), we looked online for items we would want to buy for the house prior to moving in, like new rugs and things. I was already planning the beginning of a garden in the spring and casual summer parties on the screened in porch.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. We should have known better than to get that ahead of ourselves. We won't make that mistake again. 

Lesson learned.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Word of the week: Eventful!

This has been the most eventful week I've experienced in ages, with surprises both horrific and wonderful, big and small.

There was the crazy active shooter that opened fire in a residential neighborhood here in Florence on Wednesday. It turns out that the gunman was the father of a child that attends the school where I work, and 30 minutes before he went on his two hour killing spree he had picked up his son in our school car line.  I left a long comment at the end of my last post if anyone cares to read more details about this tragedy, so I won't recount them here. It's been a terrible thing, as you can imagine.

The next day, Thursday, I got a text from our realtor about 3 homes she wanted to show us. She emailed links to the listings to my work account so I could have a look on my lunch break. One of the three was far enough above our price limit that I clicked through the photos quickly without paying too much attention to them. What I did see didn't look too remarkable, anyway, especially for the listing price they were asking. I didn't expect to even go look at it, although the realtor insisted we needed to see it and that the price would be negotiable. Turns out the photos didn't do the place justice. It was the first house we've been shown that actually looks better in person than it did in the photos. It was a real surprise.

And you know what's even more surprising?

We've submitted on offer on it! I can hardly believe it.

I'm also afraid to be too excited. We're offering $10,000 less than the asking price, with the understanding that the seller will also cover the closing costs and a one year home warranty. My realtor is confident that that's a fair offer and if we hold firm they'll go for it. It's tucked away in a quiet neighborhood and looks kind of plain on the outside and so although they've been trying to sell it for a while now it hasn't gotten much attention. I hope this means it was meant to be ours and was waiting for us! It checks off every single item on our wish list:

*Safe, quiet neighborhood convenient to everything.
*All hardwood and tile floors (no carpet).
*Gas range and tankless water heater.
*Fireplace (gas logs) 
*Plenty of windows for natural light.
*Fenced yard.
*Screened porch.
*A yard big enough to have a small garden and some trees, but small enough that maintenance won't be an insurmountable problem as we age. 

I won't say any more about it until I see if the current owners accept our offer. I probably shouldn't have said this much, but since we're not talking about this with our friends or family yet I just had to tell someone! Wish us luck!

Speaking of luck, I found out this morning that I won a prize over at my friend Rue's blog Rue and Hyssop !!! Every October she has the most wonderful seasonal giveaways on her blog (a new one each week, so go check it out!) and she's a gifted writer to boot. To wake up this morning and discover that I won one of the first week's giveaways was a fabulous surprise! Thank you, Rue, if you're reading this!

It's definitely been a week jam packed with news around here, and the next few weeks are going to be super busy if the offer is accepted. Our contract states that the closing date will be on or before November 8th....the day before Gregg's birthday! I can't believe that we might be in a new home by Christmas, much less Thanksgiving. I'll definitely keep you all posted!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Well, my town (Florence) has made the national news. We've had our first big active shooter situation this afternoon.

I was getting a coffee after work with two friends when their phones started blowing up with texts. Friends of theirs who live in a neighborhood on the west side of town said they were hiding in their houses while gunshots rained down for a solid 45 minutes. Ambulances, medical transport holicopters, and more police cars than you can imagine where flying past when I left to drive home.

So far we've learned that 5 police officers were shot. One has died and two are in critical condition. I also hear that a 20 year old man was found in a home dead of a gunshot wound, and that with the help of police from 3 neighboring counties they had finally gotten the shooter into custody.

It's already on the national headlines:

I was so relieved to get home. I nearly cried when I walked through the front door. Madness.

Gregg is at the mayor's office tonight cleaning aquariums, so I'm sure he'll have more information to share when he gets home. I won't be completely at ease until he's here safe and sound.

I still just can't believe it.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Maybe I should write about contentious issues more often. Yesterday's post had a bit of a cathartic effect on me and I felt a little lighter after writing it. Thank you all for the thoughtful comments. For the next few days I'm going to try my best to avoid politics altogether, for my own mental health.

It's a warm, gray sky Sunday afternoon here, and my neighborhood seems oddly quiet. The dogs are sleeping at my feet--little do they know I'm getting ready to give them both baths. Ginger has her yearly vet trip for an exam and shots tomorrow, so I want her to look her best. And if I'm already geared up for washing one dog, I may as well wash the other. There's also a load or two of laundry calling my name, but that's about it for the chores.

I've done a good bit of cooking over the past couple of days so tonight's dinner is already done. I made a big crockpot full of vegetarian chili on Friday and it gets better with each passing day. I also baked a loaf of banana bread and a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread last night. I've been craving fall foods even though our weather hasn't gotten the message that summer is over yet.

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I'm not sure what I'll do later in the afternoon after finishing the laundry. I'm debating either going to the bookstore to find something new to read, or else just staying in and watching a movie. Either way, I plan to try to have a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Another work week is upon us already!

Have a good one, everyone.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Kavanaugh thing.

What a week.

I try not to talk politics much on this blog. Since the election of Trump there's never a slow news day, and all of it is bad. Everyone in this country spends half their time seething with barely controlled rage these days, and who wants to come to a blog and read more of the same? I prefer to focus on my everyday life when I write, family, nature, pets....the good stuff. Also, the majority of my blog friends and readers don't live in the USA.  While they may follow our news, and vice versa, something that feels like a burning issue to me doesn't have the same urgency for the rest of the world. I get that. When my friends in England argue over Brexit or individual politicians, for instance, I don't have much to add to the conversation. As for heated political discourse, I get plenty of that in my everyday life. There's no need for more of it on the blog.

But this week has been different for me. The Kavanaugh thing has really, really bothered me on a visceral level that I don't understand. For the record, I believe Dr. Ford. I think she's entirely credible and has nothing to gain from all this. When Brett Kavanaugh testified and alternated between raging, sniveling, crying, and screaming about conspiracies, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he lacks the temperament to be a judge of any kind, much less on the SCOTUS, allegations of sexual wrongdoing aside. If I had been asked some tough interview questions at my last jobs, and had totally lost all composure the way that man did, I would never have had a job! He's not on trial, no one is suggesting he's going to be prosecuted, he's in the process of a job interview. It's easy to imagine the entitled, selfish, aggressive teenager Dr. Ford described in the red faced, furious, sarcastic man we saw on Thursday.

Of course I'm mostly bothered by the utter wickedness of the GOP and Trump trying to rush through the nomination no matter what so that they can get their man on the court before the midterms. He was hand picked because he has said that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and because he's ready and willing to chip away at Roe vs. Wade. They don't care about anything else. But somehow that's not the main thing that bothered me about this story.

The worst part for me is the disgusting misogyny on full display for the world to see. How little a potential victim's suffering means to those in power when a wealthy, privileged white man might lose a job he feels entitled to. The way young men are indulged with a "boys will be boys" attitude and bad behavior is excused easily but every action of a young woman leading up to and after an attack is scrutinized and doubted for ways she didn't behave exactly "right". What was she wearing, was she drinking, how much had she had to drink, why was she out late at parties in the first place, why didn't she report it to the police right away...?

That last question (why didn't Dr. Ford report the attack to the police at the time) is one that some people think casts the most doubt one the story. That bothered me the most in this whole mess and it took me a couple of days to figure out why. Here's a little story from my teenage years that I had forgotten about until this Kavanaugh story came out.

When I was about 17 years old I attended a party at my friend Amber's house. You should understand from the start that I didn't have a lot of supervision at home; my parents were drinking heavily in those days and having marital problems, and they didn't take a whole lot of notice of me. I had a second hand car and could (and did) drive myself wherever I wanted to go, including the party at Amber's that night.

There were a handful of other teenagers there, but no adults. One of my classmates brought a slightly older friend from out of town to the party. I don't remember his name, but I remember how he spent the whole night following me around, hitting on me. He got very, very drunk and at some point produced a handful of pills from one pocket that were passed around. I didn't take any; I wasn't that reckless even as a teenager, and I distinctly remember only sipping at a couple of beers that night since I had to drive later. (Ultra responsible only child of alcoholics that I was). Staying relatively sober turned out to be a really good decision on my part.

At some point, after hours of this annoying guy getting all touchy-feely and following me around, he seemed to get the message that I wanted him to leave me alone. Maybe I asked my friend Kyle (the guy who brought him) to rein him in. It got later and later, and everyone (except me) got drunker and drunker, and before long people had started to couple up and disappear to private rooms or places on the property. I must have been getting ready to go home; if memory serves it was very late. The only lights on in the house were from a couple of TVs with the sound turned off, and the music was blaring. I remember it vividly because I walked into the den of the house and the Annoying Guy was standing there in the dimly lit room, alone, and stripped down to his underwear. His eyes were glassy and blank when we looked at me. Alarm bells went off in my head and I immediately turned to walk back out, but he rushed forward and grabbed me. He turned me around and pulled me to him, hard, and we struggled for a couple of seconds. It felt totally surreal. He never said a word and I'm not sure if I did. Luckily for me my adrenaline was pumping and the guy was stumbling, fumbling drunk and high; after a few seconds of trying to get away I shoved him hard enough that he lost his footing and fell. I ran from the house via the front door and found some friends outside to run to. I was pretty scared and went home soon after.

 Would the guy have raped me if he had been a little less intoxicated? Maybe. Maybe not. I'll never be able to say with certainty. I will give him this much: according to Kyle (our mutual friend) he didn't remember the incident at all, and the next morning when he sobered up enough to hear about it he asked Kyle to call me so he could apologize. I refused to speak to him, or accept his apology, but at least he tried to make one. I don't doubt that he didn't remember a thing about the incident, but the way he harassed me beforehand proved that he wasn't just some innocent victim of too much alcohol. And if I had taken some of the pills he was passing around, who knows what might have happened to me.

Did I tell my parents about this incident? Hell, no. It never occurred to me to tell them, much less the police. I was only badly scared, after all, and what would the police have done? Dismissed it out of hand, most likely. My parents would probably have punished me for being at such a party in the first place if I had told them. They might have blamed me for getting myself in such a spot and considered that I had learned a lesson. So, no...I didn't report it. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Dr. Ford has described an attack much more scary and calculated than the one I've described here, and she was two years younger than me, only 15 years old. There wouldn't have been any physical evidence of what happened to her except possibly some bruises, but maybe not even those, so what would the police have done? Nothing, that's what. Nothing at all. These were rich, elite, white boys from prominent families and it was their word against hers. And she was only 15 fucking years old at the time! Conservatives** are screaming about how she didn't handle it properly (i.e., how they think she should have handled it) for her story to be credible and they're talking about a child. How can the ones with daughters look their children in the eye? When they smear Dr. Ford and call her a liar, when they circulate wild conspiracy theories to try to discredit her (like a woman I know who keeps sharing photoshopped photos of Ford meeting with George Soros and claiming he's paying her off, ffs) when they make excuses for outrageous teenage male behavior, how can they ever expect their daughters to trust them? As a friend of mine put it yesterday on FB (and I have permission to share):

I want all of you to be aware that although I haven’t spoken up about Dr Ford’s accusations I have been watching. I have been reading your statuses and silently making note of who I no longer consider safe. I’m reading and I’m learning who, if I were to open up to them about my own experience with sexual assault and abuse, would look for any possible reason to excuse or dismiss the actions of my abuser. Who would wonder what I had been wearing or what I may have done to encourage them. Who would defend my abuser over me. Who would think I was lying or looking for attention. Who would consider me weak or stupid for not being brave enough to go to authorities with my story when it happened. I’m watching and learning who is unsafe, and I’m taking note. The same is probably true of all your friends who have suffered sexual assault and I just wanted you to know that. We see you. We know who you really are now and we’ll remember.

So this whole Kavanaugh story has really gotten to me. Although I've never been raped or molested, I've been on the receiving end of abusive male behavior and unwanted sexual advances more than once in my life, and seeing just how far women still haven't come in this country has been an eye opener for me. I've felt almost sick all week about this and I'm finding that most of my friends, at least the women, are feeling the same sense of anguish.

** I would like to go on the record as saying that I think Lindsey Graham is an utter sack of shit and a disgrace to the state of South Carolina.