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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lightning Bug



I love this extreme close up of a lightning bug (or firefly, if you're inclined to call them that instead). Most summer evenings we see dozens of these flying around the neighborhood. What odd little creatures!

Have a great Sunday evening, everyone.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pigpen

Work has been bearing down on me this week and will reach it's nadir tonight with the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child midnight release party, which sounds like it should be fun but will actually just mean my working until 2am and dealing with crowds of irritating hipsters "reliving the release parties of my childhood" and bored families with small children up way past their bedtime. Tomorrow night I have to work until midnight doing a seasonal reset of part of our educational toys and games department, but after that it's just one more regular closing shift and then I will finally (finally!) have a day or two off. I've not had a day off since early this past week.

So hi! How are you, all my blogging friends? I've had very little time to visit with you this week.

I was trying to think of something quick and easy to blog about today before heading off to the grocery store for the 3 pounds of ground beef I need to make hot dog chili to take to work tonight (the managers are pulling together a hot dog dinner and snacks since over half the staff  and a few volunteers will be working the event tonight). It occurred to me that I haven't shared any pictures or stories about Ginger and George lately.

Speaking of George, he needs a bath in the worst kind of way. Both of the dogs like pawing up a cool spot of dirt under one of the camellia bushes in the backyard and lying on top of it when it's hot. Ginger's coat is thick and fluffy with an undercoat, and dust and dirt just shake right off her. But not George. His coat is so short and even somewhat sparse on his belly and the insides of his thighs that dust sticks right to him. He'll turn a grayish color all over and you know it's time to give Big G a bath.

And that day has come again. Gregg told me yesterday that if you pat George just right, a cloud of dust poofs off of him with each pat. Remember the character Pigpen in the Peanuts comics? Yep, that's my dog right now!

Georgie P

As soon as I get a day off, both the dogs are getting nice, thorough baths. They're going to love me for it. Ha!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Prepare Yourself

Yesterday afternoon I walked outside to check the mail, and found the usual stack of bills and flyers and assorted junk in the box.  I casually thumbed through the envelopes while still standing by the street, and at first glance I misread the front of this one. What I first read was

"Prepare to Soil Yourself."


I hope the day never comes when a bill arrives that requires that kind of advance notice!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hot!

We're having a terrible heatwave here in South Carolina. Actually, most of the country is sweltering with record breaking heat this week, so we're not alone. I can't stand it. I feel physically sick when I step outside during the day, and the nights aren't much better. I just checked the weather...it's almost 100°F with 52% humidity at 2pm. As the temperature drops in the evening, the humidity goes even higher. It's hard to breathe in weather like this.

And our power bill is outrageous! We bought a portable air conditioner for the garage so that Ginger and George would be comfortable back in June. Even with it running on the "power saving" mode, keeping them cool (and cooling our house) in this kind of heat meant that our latest power bill was almost $400. 
What can you do, though? We all have to survive the summer with some measure of comfort. We do what we can to conserve energy, keeping the thermostat turned up when we're not home, drawing the blinds during the day, turning off lights and unplugging appliances when they're not in use. There's nothing else to be done but wait for fall or for a break in the heat, whichever comes first.

A lot of our neighbors had trees cut down this spring. A tree removal service did some work at one house and then passed out flyers offering deals to the rest of us. Plenty of folks jumped on the bandwagon and had great big old trees cut down. That was such a foolish thing to do. We wanted no part of it, and now we have some of the last shade trees left on the block and our house is so much more comfortable for it. I can only imagine how much harder to cool it would be without all the big old trees blocking the midday sun. Plus, I love trees. They make a home so much more inviting year-round. Check out our shady green backyard oasis.


It's still hot out there, but much better than it has to be! I wonder how many of our neighbors now regret cutting theirs down?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Just another morning in America

Horrific news out of Baton Rouge this morning: 3 police officers are dead and more are in critical condition after being shot in the street by an unknown gunman.

Gregg and I just heard about this latest tragedy over our breakfast toast and coffee. What awful news to wake up to.

Oddly enough, we were watching Sky News from the U.K. when the story broke, and when we went online for more info, the U.S. news sites hadn't posted anything about it yet.

Gun violence and mass shootings are an every day occurrence here, but racial tensions are reaching a boiling point and making everything so much worse. Violence is never the answer to injustice. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, as the old saying goes.

Just once, I wish we could go a whole week without news of more bloodshed and hate here in America. Where will all this end? I don't want to live in this kind of place where violence and racism and hate are every day news and innocent people shot dead isn't even surprising anymore. What has happened to us?



You might have been a teenager in the 90's....


....if this picture of Cornholio approving the choice of the Trump/Pence logo makes you laugh. Or means anything to you at all, actually:




Here's another good one:




Friday, July 15, 2016

Crazy little kids!

Part of my job at the bookstore (and one of the few parts I actually enjoy) is overseeing our children's department. This involves leading Saturday morning storytime, organizing field trips, and helping to coordinate special events. I've discovered that kids can be a real hoot sometimes. They can usually be counted on for a good laugh.

An event we had last week is a good example. This one little girl (aged about 4) sat beside me coloring the whole time. We became friends. Before she left, she said to me: "Thank you for having me. I had fun! Now I'm gonna go poop."

Hahaha!

That cracked me right up. I hadn't laughed so hard all week!

Then tonight we had a Star Wars event with all sorts of activities for young children . I manned a table where we made light sabers out of glow sticks, cardboard toilet paper rolls, and duct tape. Here's a kid named George (that's been coming to our store since he was a toddler) doing a Jedi pose with his finished light saber.

The force is strong with this one.

And this next kid (named Ruby) made my day. She was coloring a picture of R2D2 and C3PO, and she informed me that she was giving R2D2 "a black ballet tutu" !


She also put lipstick on him. Ruby clearly believes in gender equality for robots!

Haha!!

I'm so thankful for these rare moments of fun at work!

(And before anyone asks, both of these kids' parents gave our store written permission to use their images on social media....so I feel perfectly fine sharing them here on the blog).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Getting there (or trying to, at least)

I wrote yesterday about how bad I feel, taking all this medicine and still recovering from my recent dental ordeal. Today I'll tell you what I'm doing to try to help myself recover.

Thanks to the mouth pain I've had and the medication I've been taking, my diet has been awful for a month now. On Tuesday, I went to the grocery store on a mission: to buy healthy foods full of fiber and vitamins!



This has been my breakfast for the past two mornings: granola with fruit. (Boy is it good to be able to chew on the right side of my mouth again!) I was inspired to have this by my friend Terra's blog post about breakfast last week. Doesn't that look nice?

I also bought some pre-bagged kale salad to have for lunch at work yesterday, but that didn't turn out too well. The antibiotic I'm still taking makes foods smell and taste funny to me, and I kept thinking I caught a tiny whiff of the smell of cat pee. I had to throw the salad in the trash. And the vegetarian refried beans wrapped in a burrito with mild salsa I had for dinner last night seemed terribly salty and kept sticking in my mouth. I threw that away too. Only a few select things, like the granola pictured here, taste normal to me right now. I guess I'll have to stick with fruit and yogurt and bland foods for the next few days, until I'm done with the antibiotic.

Another goal for the next few days is to drink a lot of water to flush my system out. I have a large tumbler that I take to work and keep full of filtered ice water. I try to sip all throughout the day. Hydration is especially important with the dangerous heat and humidity we've been having.

Which leads me to exercise. I need to get moving again! It's been far too hot to walk the dogs most days, even after the sun goes down. I think I'll start using my two 15 minutes paid breaks at work to walk around the air-conditioned mall. Even that little bit of time spent walking will make a big difference in how I feel on days when I wouldn't otherwise get any exercise in. But my poor dogs! We bought a portable air conditioner for the garage (where they live) so they could be cool and comfortable, but now they very rarely even venture out into the backyard! I don't blame them, and it's comical to see them snoozing all day in their big dog bed in front of the cold breeze from their very own personal a/c unit, but I still feel guilty that they're not getting enough exercise. I do wish this heat would break so we could resume our normal 2 mile walks each night!

I still feel a bit like Jabba, but I'm working on it.

What do you do to bounce back after you've been ill or somehow unwell? I'd love to hear from my blogger friends on this!







Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Just call me Jabba!

The only word to describe how I feel today is funky.

Five days now of pain pills and antibiotics have left me all kinds of out of sorts. I feel weird all day, I sleep like the dead and wake up sweating and covered in drool (sorry, I know that's gross) and it's hard to wake up, too.

I had my yearly pelvic exam at the ob/gyn yesterday (nothing says the week is off to a great start like a root canal on Monday and your legs in the stirrups on Tuesday!) and the nurse told me my blood pressure is up. That's unusual for me, and I was a little bit worried, but they said it's probably just the stress, pain, and infection in my jaw causing a temporary spike. I sure hope so.

Oh, and I was up at least 15 pounds when they weighed me! Which makes me mad when I consider I've barely been able to eat for a month now. (I will admit I've missed a lot of walks with the dogs, what with the awful heat wave and my painful mouth). I'm hoping that the 15 pounds is temporary, too, and just bloating from all the medicines I've been taking.

Between the weight gain and all the other stuff going on as a result of taking all this medicine, I feel like Jabba the Hut this week....a big swollen blob of funkiness!



Ugh.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Today was the worst.

Well, no wonder my mouth was hurting so much. When the endodontist went in to do this second root canal today (bless him and his staff for recognizing an emergency and squeezing me in) he found an infection had started in the bone at the tip of the tooth's root. And because of that, he had to inject twice as much numbing medication as usual to keep me comfortable while he worked.  Afterwards, he had me take a double dose of an antibiotic before I even left his office to get a jump start on addressing the infection. He also advised me to go get my prescription for pain medicine filled right away (Percocet) because he said I'm going to continue to have a good deal of pain until the infection is under control.

And the good times didn't end there!!

When I went to check out, I found I only had about $250 left on my yearly dental insurance allowance so I had to pay $700 out of pocket right there on the spot. Talk about painful! I just spent $350 two weeks ago when the first root canal was done....and that's not counting the money I spent at my regular dentist's office in early June when I got the two original fillings done that led to all this trouble! I'm disgusted by this whole situation.

So now I'm finally back home, and hoping the percocet will soon kick in because I'm hurting a whole lot. What an awful day it's been.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July Wildlife

Ruby throated Hummingbird



Container pond water lily

Little frog with a big voice!

All of these photos were taken several summers ago on my digital camera and were sitting, forgotten, on a thumb drive in my home office. They're all animals that call South Carolina home and are out and about this time of year!

In case your morale needs a boost today.....

Sometimes when the world seems like a difficult place, you just need a reminder that you matter. Or at the very least, that you aren't completely useless!

This made me laugh. I hope you all enjoy it too!

24 Reasons you should never feel useless again!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Heartsick

I have very few words about the latest round of violence that broke out last night in Dallas. This is all sheer madness. Violence begetting more violence. Tragedy upon tragedy. A national shame and disgrace. I've moved on from being horrified about it all to merely being tired. Tired and heartsick.
The events themselves are terrible and tragic enough, but the way people act afterwards is a tragedy in itself. Instead of people treating each other with extra kindness and grace, and listening to each other, the divisions grow deeper and more bitter by the day.

I think I'm done with social media right now. I've reached the limits of my tolerance for victim blaming, race baiting, and evil, hateful talk. And if I see one more person jumping at the chance to use a tragedy for political talking points and ugly arguments, I just might get physically ill. 

What the hell has happened to my country? And where will this all end?


More pain

It's been a long day, friends. Not in a good way, either.

I'm almost certainly going to have to have another root canal next week. The second tooth that got a deep filling has been hurting worse and worse every day. This morning I couldn't stand it anymore and called the dentist, only to find out that the specialist that does the RCs is out of the office until Monday, on vacation. I couldn't even get a prescription called in for pain medication. So I went in to work today with a deep, intermittent ache in my cheekbone shooting pain daggers up into my eye socket. It got so bad at one point that I was sitting in the break room, with my head in my hands and tears welling in my eyes, and a coworker walked in and asked me a question. When I looked up with my tear-wet face she was alarmed and went out of her way to be kind to me. I really appreciated her concern. She asked me why I didn't just go home, but what would be the point? It was going to hurt off and on no matter where I was, so I opted to stay and work through it. But God, what an awful day! I wasn't very productive at all and my patience with customers was at an all-time low. It's hard to give great customer service when it feels like someone's running an ice pick up through your sinus cavity!

I sure hope I feel better tomorrow . We're having a "Finding Dory" event at the store tomorrow night and I'm supposed to be in charge of an activity teaching little kids cool facts about the ocean. Having to pretend to be cheerful while doing activites with dozens of excited children while suffering like this sounds like absolute hell.

It's been over a month now since I got those two fillings that have caused all this pain.

I'm beyond fed up at this point.

I find myself fantasizing about all the mean, hateful things I'd like to say to the dentist that did this to me. And did I mention that once I get root canal #2 done, I will have paid almost $1000 out of pocket in just 4 weeks? If the ache in my jaw doesn't make me cry, that will!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The backyard pond today

A tiny spider has spun her web around a flowering pickerel plant in our container pond. Can you see it?


Under the surface, the pair of  wild bream are making themselves at home, too. There are about two dozen baby fish in there!

Fourth of July food and funnies!

I had today off with pay for the Independence Day holiday. That's always nice.

While I would have loved to go see a fireworks display somewhere, every place to do that in this area involves crowds of drunk rednecks. Not my kind of scene at all. And honestly, it's so hot outside right now that anything that takes place outdoors is sure to be uncomfortable. So instead, I did what I always do on holidays and special occasions: I cooked. Since grilling out is traditional on the Fourth of July, that's what I did. Here's the little celebratory feast I made:




Summer BLT salad with avocado and feta.



Grilled hamburgers, baked beans with brown sugar and bacon, and corn (also cooked on the grill).



What our plates ended up looking like. Gregg's has the least amount of salad (he's not crazy about green vegetables).



Today's choice of cocktail: Tom Collins. Cool and refreshing on a hot summer's afternoon.

Not pictured: the delicious Blueberry-Peach Cobbler I made for dessert. It's hard to get a good picture of a cobbler, and the one I took doesn't do it justice. I love to combine blueberries and peaches. The flavors pair beautifully, and our local peaches seem especially good this year.

I hope all of my fellow American bloggers had a nice 4th of July! And for my British friends, here's a great video I stole from someone's Facebook page to share with you:




And for my friends in other parts of the world, here's a link to The Oatmeal that made me laugh:


                                                 America explained to non-Americans



Monday, July 4, 2016

Lone Tiger



For only the second time in the five years we've lived in this house, one lone Tiger Lily has bloomed beside our driveway. What a sweet surprise it's sudden appearance was to me this morning as I was leaving for work! I didn't plant it--it's a remnant from the days when an old lady owned and lived in this house and enjoyed tending flowers. I always take a moment to send a mental "thank you" to this long-dead woman when something pretty pops up in the yard. Tiger lilies are among my very favorite midsummer flowers.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Honey-sweet July

It's been a while since I shared an essay by my favorite American naturalist writer, Hal Borland.
Here's an ode to early July that spoke to me this morning. I hope you enjoy it!


July 2nd and 3rd

Honey-Sweet July

"You can smell the season now, a special sweetness that marks the mists of dawn and the cool of dusk and is even there in the heat of a July afternoon. If it has a reminder of honey, that is no illusion, for it is the fragrance of clover and milkweed in bloom; and the essence of both is being stowed in the waxen comb. You smell it now on the summer air. You will taste it next winter on the breakfast plate.
...
The clovers are both wild and tame and range from the small white clover of suburban lawns to the big red clover of the hayfield and the tall sweet clover, both with and yellow, of the rural roadside. All are sweet of blossom. But clover fragrance makes no demands. It is a presence in the air, a gentle sweetness faintly spiced.
Milkweed, however, cannot be ignored. Its fragrance is like the essence of honeysuckle added to the heavy scent of the tuberose. It is almost too sweet, too insistent. Come on a patch of milkweed in full flower and you first wonder what careless performer had been at work. The warm summer air becomes almost heavy with milkweed aroma. Few other blossoms, wild or tame, are so full of such fragrance, and few flowers bloom more generously in July.
So you walk the roads and fields. The bees hum. The hot air shimmers. Grass heads ripen. Summer possesses the land. And you can smell July, honey-sweet, on every breath of air.


Hal Borland
"Twelve Moons of the Year"
July 1966