My Blog List

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mean Face

Image may contain: bird
The face of feathered terrorism.

Marco insisted on coming out of his cage as soon as I walked in the door today. He got on my shoulder and was good for a little while...but then I sat down at the computer for a little bit of relaxation. That's when the devil came out to play. He jumped down onto the desk and started flinging crap to the floor (including a half full bottle of ginger ale) and making a huge mess. When I went to stop him, he actually growled at me and wouldn't let me pick him up! I took this photo right before throwing a dish towel over his head so I could take him back to his cage without getting bitten.

As soon as I put him in there, he climbed up to the front corner, looked me dead in the eye, and said "I love you. I love you, baby."

 The little shit.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Social Media Sabbath

Now that I have regular weekends off, I'd like to try taking a break from social media on Sundays. A weekly Social Media Sabbath, if you will. A chance to turn off the computer, put down the phone, and spend time doing things that refresh my spirit. Like a lot of you, I spend plenty of time every single day checking in on Facebook and Instagram, reading news articles, reading and commenting on and reacting to silly Internet junk, and watching YouTube. I also spend a big chunk of most days worrying over politics. Since Trump took office it's been one terrible situation after another, and people are full of hate for each other and arguing bitterly on social media. (Speaking of hate, I can't even talk about what's going on right now in Charlottesville, Virginia. I don't have adequate words to express my feelings about a situation this awful). It gets exhausting, and isn't conducive to peace of mind. Not to mention how much time social media wastes, even the entertaining parts of it.

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

I've decided that from now on, Sundays shall be a day of rest (from social media) for me. No Facebook, no YouTube, no idle messing around on the Internet. I have 7 hours to myself on Sundays, because that's one of the days Gregg works at the pet store.  I want to spend time with the dogs, cook nice Sunday suppers, get together with friends sometimes, read, and write for this blog (which is the one social media activity I want to keep on Sundays). I want to make a conscious effort to not think or talk about politics or the news. I need a regular break from the Internet, if only once a week!

How about you? Do you set limits on social media consumption? Do you take a personal Sabbath day for religious or secular reasons? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

First Day

I started my new job today. Everyone was so kind and helpful and welcoming! I don't think I've ever had such a warm, friendly reception at a new job!

And the school itself is gorgeous!  It was built very recently and everything is new and shining and spacious. The school mascot is a Squire (a young knight) and there is a suit of armor in the main lobby!!! Haha! (I'll  have to take a selfie with him at some point and post it here). There are skylights with living plants, and an incredible library, and oh....just so many things to like and appreciate.
The teachers and staff that I've met so far all seem very positive, enthusiastic, and genuinely happy to be there. The bookkeeper, who started just last October, told me it's the best environment she's ever worked in.

I think I'm going to be very happy with this job.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


It's official! I went to court this morning and was sworn in as a Guardian ad Litem.

No automatic alt text available.

I've also been assigned my first case, a 17 year old girl in foster care. I plan to try to meet her and her foster mother this weekend. I'm terribly nervous, but I'm looking forward to it, too. Wish me luck (I'm going to need it!)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Surprisingly good

Well. I feel surprisingly good considering I drank a whole bottle of champagne last night to celebrate my last day at the bookstore!

I didn't intend to drink the whole thing. Gregg doesn't drink so I didn't have anyone to share it with. I popped the cork around 8pm and sipped until midnight, at which point the bottle was empty. I was a little worried about how I'd feel this morning, but besides a slight headache (easily solved with two Ibuprofen) I feel fine. Thank goodness.

Yesterday went by in a flash. Right before I left, my coworkers surprised me: they had pooled their money to buy me going-away gifts and a cake! They had also signed a sweet card for me. Between the card and the gifts and the hugs and the kind words, I had to fight back tears more than once. I never expected such a wonderful send off! Then at 4:30pm a couple of my book club friends showed up at the store to see me "dance your way out the door" as they put it...and one of those crazy women filmed me clocking out and leaving! Hahaha! That made me laugh so hard! I have some wonderful friends.

It feels really weird this morning to be between the old job and the new....but surprisingly good, just like my (mostly non-existent) hangover!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Nervous and emotional

Tomorrow is my last day at the bookstore. I'm really happy about that, but it feels weird. After 6+ years in one job, no matter how much you dislike it, there is a certain comfort level. My job before that (that I loved) was as a store manager for Pier 1 Imports. I was there for almost 8 years and it was a sad day when our store went out of business. Now I'm going to be doing something completely different than what I've done for over 15 years. I expect it will be much easier and less stressful than retail management, but in any job you have to learn the ropes and adapt to a whole new atmosphere and new people. I hope it will be okay.

One thing I'll remember fondly about this job I'm leaving is all the wonderful friendships I've made there. All the women in my two book clubs (with the exception of my friend Marla) are people I met through work. I've gained several new friendships because of the bookstore, so it hasn't been all bad!

Then there are the regular customers that have come to mean a lot to me that I'm going to really miss. Some of you may remember me talking about an older couple originally from Colombia that shop there and help me practice my Spanish, Mr. and Mrs. Sarmiento. Early on, I accidently told Mr. Sarmiento in Spanish that my husband and I eat our dogs! He still laughs about that to this day! They are the sweetest people, and I was happy to see them come in the other night so I could tell them about my new job and tell them goodbye. They were so very sweet, and happy for me...they both hugged me, and kissed my cheeks, and said so many very nice things to me that it made me cry. I sure will miss them, and a handful of others like them.

The district manager for our store visited yesterday, and asked me about my new job. He's been kind and helpful and we've  had a good relationship. I always knew that if the HR problems at the store ever got out of hand, that I could go to him for help. I never did, and probably should have a few times, but at least I knew it was an option. He was also very, very kind to me yesterday. He shook my hand, said some really nice things about my service to the company, and told me that if he can ever do anything for me in the future to please not hesitate to call and ask. That choked me up a little bit, too. It's nice that at least one higher-up in the company seems to appreciate me and the work I've done!

My coworker, John, has a little daughter (3 years old) that started calling me "Aunt Jenn" last year. It was completely her own idea. I'm going to miss her, too. John is off today and tomorrow, but he told me he's planning on bringing her up to the store today to see me before I go. I expect to get teary eyed again when I see her. So many farewells this week....

In addition to the new job that I'm starting next week, I'm also going to be starting my work as a Guardian. The program coordinator emailed me this morning about my first assignment--a teenage girl living in a foster home here in Florence. I'll be going to meet her one day next week after work--so now that's two things to be nervous about next week! I actually had hoped that my first case would be a younger child, but I had to be given an ongoing case that doesn't have any court appearances scheduled in the very near future since I can't take time off work right away. So it's going to be a teenager--meeting her is almost more scary to me than the new job.

Well, off to my next-to-last day at the bookstore. These are scary (but exciting) days!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Early August

It's been a while since I shared an essay from my favorite nature writer, Hal Borland. The start of a new month seems like a good time for it. Enjoy.

"August comes with hot days, warm nights, a brassy sun, and something in the air, perhaps the season itself, that begins to rust the high-hung leaves of the elms.The listless leaves of the maples have a dusty look and the sycamores and basswood are hung with seedy fruits. Sumac holds its candle-flame clusters, red as the sumac leaves will be in September.
First goldenrod comes to bloom along the roadsides, and early asters appear, lost in the clouds of Queen Anne's... lace. In damp places the purple vervain leads the parade of darker color that already begins to show in the first flower heads of Joe-Pye weed. Thistles flaunt their thorny tufts of deep lavender, and tick trefoil is in weedy bloom, its small lilac flowers preparing stick-tight pods. Bur marigolds, masquerading as roadside sunflowers, come to blossom, and great Lobelia lifts its blue spikes above the podding milkweed.
Brooks languish in their stony beds. Only the grandfather frogs groan and rumble in the dusk. The Whippoorwills are less insistent, and now a Barred Owl is heard questioning the night. The big, dark moths haunt the flower garden's deep-throated flowers, gleaning nectar the August-lazy bumblebees overlooked. The night still twinkles with fireflies but the day's heat lingers and the air has a dusty August scent, the smell of languid summer. And overhead the warm air touches the treetops, rustles the rustling leaves in the broad-tipped elms."

Hal Borland
"Twelve Moons of the Year"
August 1964

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ups and Downs

Today was a bit trying.

I had an appointment for my yearly pelvic exam and pap smear, which is never much fun to begin with. Then while the doctor examined me I saw him get a funny look on his face and he started pressing down hard on my abdomen. It hurt! And then he informed me that I've developed uterine fibroids.

It nearly scared me to death, but he quickly assured me that they're very common and almost never anything to worry about. Especially since I've not experienced any symptoms. He did an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok. He then went on to talk to me about menopause which I can expect sometime in the next 8-10 years and how the fibroids will likely shrink on their own after that. And if I start to develop problems before then they can be removed.

 I expected a normal easy-breezy yearly checkup and instead there was all this talk of benign tumors and menopause and alternative birth control measures I need to start thinking about because "at your age continuing the pill probably isn't a good idea". I also got the lecture about how I really need to schedule my first mammogram.


I hate to complain because my life is so good right now, what with the new job and all, but today really was a downer. After my appointment I had to dash home and pick up George for a vet appointment. I can honestly say he hated going to the vet almost as much as I hated going to the gynecologist, poor boy! He was only there for routine stuff but that dog hates getting shots.

We've both had better days.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A note of thanks, and other stuff

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the positive comments on my last post! I've been overwhelmed with good wishes both online and in person since I accepted my new job, and I feel very loved....and very lucky. I have so many wonderful friends, both on this blog and in "real life". Thank you for listening to me complain about the job I'm leaving for the last few years and the difficult (and often discouraging) job search. I look forward to regular blogging again now that the search is over and finding a new job is no longer something I have to worry about!

I have one week left at the last day is next Friday. Yesterday I finished my Guardian ad Litem training, and I go to court to be sworn in on August 8th, the day before my first day at my new job. Our GAL trainer, Kareem, told us yesterday that if we're ready we can be assigned our first cases next week. I took him aside after class and explained that I'm starting a new job and would like to hold off until September if possible. The newest cases all have preliminary court hearings on August 22 and I simply can't ask for time off a week in at my new job! He was wonderful and understanding. I explained that when I signed up for the GAL class I had been job hunting for years and had no idea that I would find a new job this summer. He laughed and said, "That's how it works. When you open a new door in life, other doors start to open, too!" He also suggested that for my first case it might be best to take over one that's in "monitoring mode", where another volunteer had to leave the program mid-case but all of the initial court hearings are done. He said he has a few like that and there probably won't be court dates for them for at least 90 days. That sounds like a good plan to me! After 90 days, I'll have accrued some personal leave time and won't mind asking for a morning or afternoon off to appear in court. Visiting the child can happen after work or on weekends, and I can write my monthly monitoring reports anytime. So by the end of this month I should have my first Guardian assignment, too! New doors are indeed opening for me all over the place!

Life is pretty exciting right now. After months and years of feeling stuck, it's exhilarating (and kind of scary, too). Thanks again for all your encouragement and support!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pure Joy

The day I've been looking forward to for years now is finally here! I've accepted the job at the school!!!!!!!!

The pay is a tiny bit more than the starting pay at my current job, which is better than I had hoped for! Much to my relief, I won't have to have a second part time job to make ends meet. This is a relief since my volunteer duties as a Guardian Ad Litem will be a second (unpaid) job in itself.

I'm just thrilled. Can you tell?! Haha!

I've been so unhappy at my current job, for years now. And for years I've been looking for a new job and a way out of retail management. My job at the school will give me state benefits: health insurance, retirement, etc. Not to more working nights, no more working weekends, no more working holidays..........! I'll be on the same schedule as the teachers: two weeks off at Christmas, a week off at Easter, and two months off in the summer. I still can't believe it!

Thank you all for your kind words, good wishes, and support. Today, I'm the happiest blogger in blogland!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A pretty picture, and another update.

This beautiful creature was fluttering around my backyard the other day. I ran for my phone but only snapped this one picture before it flew away.

I've been too busy to post much. Tomorrow I plan to call HR about the job I'm being offered and finding out how much money they're offering me. If it's acceptable I'll turn in my letter of resignation at the bookstore and begin working out my 2 week notice. Tuesday I'll be in court all day as part of my Guardian ad litem training. My classes will be done next week, and I'll be back in court getting sworn in on August 8th, the day before my first day at the new job....provided I accept it. It's been a busy, but productive, month.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quick update...

I'm this close to having a new job. In fact, the school called yesterday to tell me that I'm their pick (!!!) ....the only hurdle left is that I'm waiting to hear from the HR department what salary they can offer me. I can't say yes until I have that crucial bit of information! I know that even the best case scenario is going to be a pay cut, but as long as it's not too drastic I'm going to go for it!

Please continue to send good vibes and positive thoughts my way for an offer I can live with... I really, really want to say YES to this job!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The "Green Thing"

I saw this on Facebook, and wanted to share it with you all. I think some of my older readers especially will appreciate it! It made me laugh.


Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for ...the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
The older lady said that she was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.

Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a r azor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the"green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off... Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can't make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The fish guy

As I've mentioned before, my husband sets up and maintains aquariums for a living. He has accounts at nursing homes, hospitals, doctors' offices, and schools...including the school where I had a job interview last week.

When the interview was wrapping up, I mentioned to the principal and assistant principal that I'm married to the guy who takes care of their aquarium. Their response was gratifying:

"You're married to the fish guy?! We love the fish guy! He does such a good job and our aquarium is beautiful!"

They went on to add that if I start working there, we'll be able to have lunch together on the days when Gregg is there cleaning the aquarium. I took that as a good sign!

Speaking of "the fish guy",  he helped me set up a new (bigger) aquarium for my African cichlids a couple of weeks ago. I showed you a picture of the bigger male a while back. They were outgrowing the 30 gallon tank they were in originally. Now they're in a 55 gallon and doing great!

Arranging the pieces of coral during set up.

He's an artist! :)

The biggest male.

It's hard to take good photos of fish!

A breeding pair swimming in the filter flow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A really good day!

I've had a wonderful day!

First, I got a call yesterday for a job interview this morning at 10am. It's for a secretary position at a middle school. I don't want to jinx myself, so I'll just say that the interview went really well and no matter what happens, I'm satisfied with how I presented myself. I'm cautiously optimistic, and I definitely think I would love the job. And if it doesn't work out, that's ok too!

Then as soon as the interview was over I had to dash across town to my very first training session to become a guardian ad litem. I'm super excited about the work I'll be doing with abused and neglected children in our community! The people overseeing the training are wonderful and I know I'll be learning a lot in the weeks to come. We've worked out a schedule to complete our training (including one full day spent in court observing hearings) by the end of July. By early August I should be sworn in and ready for my first assignment. 

All in all, it's been a good day!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

Jumping in on a work break to wish my American friends a Happy Independence Day!

Yes, I had to work today, but it's dead slow. The mall we're attached to closed early, and I don't understand why we didn't, too. Oh well. We're making time and a half (along with holiday pay) to basically do nothing. There's over an hour left to go and I think there are maybe three customers in the whole store. We'll be done and out of here fast as soon as we can lock the doors.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Taxes and Flowers

I had to go to our city-county complex building yesterday to pay the property taxes on my car.

When I got there I saw that the landscaping crews have planted loads of summer flowers all around the multiple entrances. There were roses, zinnias, daisies, and several flowers I didn't recognize, but my favorites were these gorgeous red hibiscus.....

I'm sure some of the passers-by thought I was crazy, standing there snapping pictures with my phone, but I didn't care. The flowers were too pretty for me to resist! How pleasant for people headed to the tax offices (or to court!) to have something beautiful to see on the way in.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer in a bookstore.

Every summer at the bookstore it's the same old story. People drop off their kids and let them roam around the mall, unsupervised. I guess they either can't (or don't want to) pay for daycare and think a bookstore is an appropriate alternative. (It's not). We can't be responsible for unattended children. Mall security (or police officers, if it happens to be a weekend when they're on duty) are going to be called to handle the situation if the parents can't be located within 10 minutes or so. We're not there to babysit. As a wise woman once said, Ain't Nobody Got Time For That.

So today a little girl was wandering around the store for hours, playing with our display tablets, picking up books and then laying them down just anywhere, moving toys from the children's department, running, etc...and this behavior went on for hours with nary an adult in sight. I finally got fed up with the situation and went to talk to the child. And this is how it went.

Me: Hey, there. How old are you?

Girl: ..........Um.... twelve.....

Me: Is your mom in here with you?

Girl: Yes. (This was a lie).

Me: You need to go find her. Where is she?

Girl: .....................

Me: You can't be in here without your mom. Let's go find her.

Girl: Screw you, lady!


Being told off by a tiny 12 year old girl is a new one even for me, the veteran of six summers at the bookstore. Whew!

School can't start back fast enough.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The devil on my shoulder...

Marco likes being with me every second of the day when I'm not at work. He's usually perched on my right shoulder like this:

What a pretty bird!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pond Visitors

Blue Dasher - (Pachydiplax longipennis)

This little guy was hanging out around our container pond yesterday. Isn't he cute? Blue Dashers are friendly little beasts and will let you get close enough to take pictures. I like this one where he was perched on one of the Blue Pickerel flowers.

The bees like our pond flowers, too.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer is Evil

I've decided that summer is my least favorite season. It's just awful here in South Carolina.

I know that many parts of the country are having unusually high temperatures, and even parts of the UK are experiencing an unusual heat wave, but it's downright miserable here. Not only are temperatures in the upper 90s every single day, but the humidity is so bad (especially after it rains) that walking outside is like walking into a steam bath. It gets hard to breathe.

Another issue this year in this area are the pests. Thanks to a  mild (almost non-existent) winter and a whole lot of rain, mosquitoes, ticks, and snakes are having a bonanza year. On the way to grandma's last week I listened to a local NPR segment about how this is the worst year for ticks we've ever had. Not only that, but they're carrying a new disease that's as bad as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme, and all three diseases are being reported in high numbers all up and down the East coast. Our veterinarian has been warning the community about the number of snake bites that he's seen in dogs lately, and how frequent poisonous snake sightings have become. I can't stand the thought of a snake--I screamed like a child the last time I saw one--and I dare not take our dogs anywhere where they might be lurking. Copperheads are particularly bad in this area.

The weeds and poison ivy and quick-growing vines that have sharp thorns are taking over our fences and the sides of the house. The more evil the plant, the more it seems to love this awful summer heat and humidity. Our yard looks like crap. And who wants to do more than mow the grass in weather like this? Not us. We're considering hiring a yard crew to come for the rest of the summer just for the sake of comfort. It's probably not a bad way to blow some money.

How do you feel about summertime? I hope that for most of my readers it's a better experience than what I've described here!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day, and an anniversary

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and the day after, June 19th, would have been my paternal grandparents' 69th wedding anniversary. I promised you all some more family photos, and what could be better than vintage wedding pictures? Grandma gave me copies of all of these to keep forever.

June 19, 1948

The bride and groom with the maid of honor, grandma's cousin Clara, and the best man, grandpa's brother Johnny.

You guys.....wasn't my grandmother beautiful? And her dress...!!! Just lovely.

I also got a copy of their wedding announcement that ran in the newspaper. Back in those days, they spared no detail when describing a wedding in the society columns. Here are a few excerpts I thought you might find interesting:

Miss Margaret Martin Weds Mr. Czmiel in Rites at St. Louis Catholic Church, Dillon

In an impressive service on Saturday morning, June 19, at the St. Louis Catholic church in Dillon, SC, Miss Margaret Martin became the bride of Joseph Stanley Czmiel of Chicago. Rev Lawrence Sheedy of the Dillon church assisted by Rev. Maurice Shean of Rock Hill officiated........

......The lovely little chapel was decorated with tall floor baskets of white dahlias and gladioli. Sprays of ivy entwined the altar rail, where burning candles were placed..........

....The lovely young brunette bride, given in marriage by her father, was beautifully gowned in white slipper satin, with sweetheart neckline and long fitted sleeves ending in points at the wrist. Her full skirt, attached to a fitted bodice, ended in a wide cathedral train. She wore a fingertip veil of bridal illusion edged in rose point lace and caught to a halo of tiny beads. The bride carried a white prayer book topped by a white purple-throated orchid, and showered with satin ribbons.....

The bride had as her only attendant her cousin, Miss Clara Lou Hardwick of Aynor. She wore a blue taffeta dress fashioned with sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice and full skirt, and carried a colonial bouquet of yellow rosebuds encircled by Shasta daisies. She wore matching taffeta mitts and, on her head, a bandeau of roses and daisies.

Mrs. Martin, mother of the bride, wore Eleanor blue crepe with softly draped hipline and self embroidery, and on her shoulder, a corsage of pink roses.

Mrs. Czmiel, mother of the bridegroom, was gowned in beige. She also wore a corsage of pink rosebuds.

Immediately afater the ceremony the bride's parents entertained with a wedding breakfast at their home on Marion street, which was made attractive with numerous arrangements of white gladioli, dahlias, and snapdragons. The bride's table, centered by a triple tiered wedding cake tipped by a miniature bride and groom, was especially lovely, decorated with gardenias tied with maline and white satin ribbons......

.....During the afternoon, the bride changed her wedding gown for a dressmaker suit of white gabardine with which she wore black accessories and the orchid from her prayer book. Following a brief wedding trip the young couple will be at home in Chicago.

There was plenty more I left out, like who provided the nuptial music and the pieces they played ("Oh, Perfect Love" by Gurney and "Ave Maria" by Shubert, as well as the traditional marches), the usher/groomsmen names and where they lived, and who greeted guests, worked the bridal register, presided over the dining room and "assisted with hospitalities" at the reception. There was also a bit about my grandmother being a recent graduate of Winthrop University, and my grandfather being a veteran of WW2 and serving in Europe.

Clearly, wedding announcements were a big deal back in those days!

A year later, on June 12, 1949, my grandparents' first child was born, my uncle Paul.

A perfect picture for Father's Day: my grandpa with his first-born son.

Grandma was a pretty young mother. And look at the telephone in the background!

Grandma sewed all the fancy lining and ribbons on this bassinet.

My great-grandmother, Emma Martin, visiting Chicago when my uncle Paul was born. She's on the left, and my other great-grandmother, Angeline Pierog, is on the right. Can anyone guess what kind of car they're posing beside?

My grandfather's sister, Ann Czmiel, and his brother, Johnny Czmiel, with their new nephew.
I hope you've enjoyed these old family photos! I had so much fun looking through them and picking out ones to share here!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Go show your family some love, especially the older generations if you're still lucky enough to have them in your life. I feel very fortunate to still have grandma around at her grand old age of almost 90 years old.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Family photos

I'm home from a quick visit with grandma last night.  We spent some time poring through old family photos and I brought a few home. Here's one I especially wanted to show you all.

Image may contain: 1 person

My grandfather, Joseph S. Czmiel, in WWII. He was in the US Air Corps and served in  the 466th Bombardment group in Europe. Wasn't he a dapper looking man?!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Special Day

Eleven years ago today I married my best friend, and I've never once regretted it. I did good.

Happy Anniversary to us!

 On the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, June 2006.

He's my favorite. ❤

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Nine days!

I'm on vacation! I have nine whole days off work starting today! I don't have big plans, and will probably spend most of it at home, but I'm just glad to have a break.

Monday is our wedding anniversary so Gregg is taking the day off with me. I'm not sure yet what we're going to do, though. We've decided to postpone a trip until September or October when the weather is cooler and the rates are cheaper, since we will probably go somewhere on the coast. One year we went to the mountains in southwest Virginia in June. It was pretty up there, and naturally not so hot, but mountains don't really do much for me--I'd much rather be at the beach.

I do plan to go visit my grandmother and aunt next week, and stay overnight. They live across the state in Aiken, SC. It's almost a 3 hour drive so I don't go nearly as often as I should. Grandma recently sold her house and moved in with her daughter, my dad's sister. She'll be 90 years old this August and is finally beginning to have some minor issues with living alone. She saved two sets of "good" dishes for me when she packed up her house that I'll be picking up, and I've also asked for copies of family photographs. I have absolutely none from my dad's side of the family, and that's a shame. If I don't do something about that while grandma's still around, I won't have the chance. And it will be good to spend time with her, too.

For the rest of my nine days off, I plan to relax, spend time with the puppies, go for some bike rides, and maybe do a few things around the house that I never get around to at normal times--like clean out closets and donate things we no longer use to Goodwill. My friend Marian has talked about having me and a couple of other friends over for a pool day at some point, and another old friend (that I haven't seen in forever) has invited me over to see her new house and to catch up next weekend. I seem to have plenty of options for enjoying myself. I'm kicking it all off today with lunch at Tubbs with one of the Karens from book club.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


It's the last day of  Employee Appreciation Week at Ye Olde Corporate Bookstore.

What a joke. Especially at my particular location.

The official celebration consists of three things. First, an extra 10% added to our employee discount for a week. Which can't be combined with any other deals or specials going on. They're basically saying, "We appreciate your hard work all year so much, we're going to give you an incentive to spend back some of the money you've earned with us! Thanks!"  The second part of the "celebration" is one employee meal for the staff. A meal where there's only about $4-5 to be spent per person. The total will barely pay for a sandwich platter from Subway, so the company suggests that we turn it into a potluck and just use the funds they provide to buy the main entrĂ©e. They want us to do extra shopping and spend our money there, and they also want us to provide most of our own appreciation meal! Lest you think I'm being ungrateful, I'll point out that our store is the smallest in our region, and it alone makes more than 3 million dollars a year. It would be completely different if we worked for a small, locally owned business with far fewer resources.

The third thing that should be happening this week never will: store managers are supposed to go out of their way to thank everyone for all the things they do well. That would actually be nice, but our manager is completely and utterly burned out and mentally checked out. She's a nice enough person, but is obviously long past the point where she should have either found another position or taken early retirement. She never thinks to thank anyone for anything, ever. Nor does she notice what's going on around her most of the time at work. I don't know of anyone who feels appreciated there. I certainly don't.

Appreciation and validation are so important at work. I realized how much I miss a more supportive atmosphere last month when two managers from other stores in the region visited us for a week. We have some problems at our store (not the least of which is high turnover) and the two people they sent train new managers in the district. They were sent by the district manager to work at our store for a week to observe, make suggestions, and try to figure out where some of the problems lie. Both of the people he sent were mature, professional, and helpful. And on three separate occasions, I got big praise from the two of them. I've become so accustomed to never hearing any positive feedback that all three times I found myself blushing and then glowing with pride for hours afterward. Every day when I left work that week, I felt like I was walking on air. Of course things went right back to normal as soon as they left. But it was a great reminder that I have been (and can be again) so much happier at work than I am right now! The lack of appreciation is high on my list of grievances, and reasons why I'm looking to move on.

So Employee Appreciation Week falls a little flat for this employee!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thank you, France

Look out, Cro, we may just have to take him up on his offer and become your neighbor! France and Canada both are looking better and better in these evil times.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Finishing up May

My weekend off was wonderful.  I didn't do much but relax and enjoy myself. I did do some cooking, and I ate big beautiful salads like this both days:

I also took a trip to the newly opened butcher shop on Saturday afternoon and grilled quite possibly the best barbecued pork chops I've ever made that night. They were seriously delicious.

While I was out shopping on Saturday I bought myself flowers. Aren't they pretty on the table? The tomatoes in the bowl came from the farmer's market.

I was off again today (I get three days off this week because Monday was a paid holiday) and I got some errands taken care of. First of all, I took Ginger to the vet to get her yearly steroid shot. Every summer about this time she has an allergy flair that makes her miserable until she has one. My normally stand-offish girl actually made friends with an old lady and her puppy while we waited to be seen. She liked them so much she sat beside them instead of me while we waited! She has good taste, I must say. The woman was kind and kept gently petting Ginger's face, and the puppy was absolutely adorable. I think Ginger was telling him that the vet is nothing to fear. :)

Things took a scary turn for a moment after Ginger had her shot. Our doctor (an excellent vet who doesn't miss much) noticed two tiny drops of dark colored urine when they were about to lift her back off the table. He said, "Hey, what the hell's this?!" and grabbed a syringe to collect the tiny sample. My poor girl had a UTI and we had no idea! Just to be sure it wasn't caused by kidney or bladder stones, he did an xray too. Thank goodness she didn't have any stones, and so we have to give her antibiotics for 2 weeks and then take her back for a checkup. I was so scared while they had her in the back doing scans. It's hard for me to describe how much we love this dog.

After the vet drama, I went to the bank to make a deposit and then did a chore I'd been putting off for way, way too long.


Is that 70's song about Workin' at the Carwash, Hey! playing in your head right now? Good.

The end result:

My Scion is shiny and clean again! I vacuumed out the inside (which it desperately needed) and wiped down the interior with special car wipes. It's funny how a car seems to run better when it's freshly cleaned!

Other things I did today: finished my application for the SC Guardian Ad Litem program, mailed out the rent check, had lunch at a new Mediterranean restaurant in town, and rescued my husband when he ran out of gas on his way home from work. The old truck he drives to service aquariums has a broken gas gauge and about once every other year he'll misjudge and need to be bailed out. Fortunately I was at home and only about 2 miles away when it happened this time.

Not too bad for finishing up the month. Steady on to June!

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Hooray! I have the weekend off, and I didn't even ask for it! I'm thanking my lucky stars, too, because it's Memorial Day weekend. The bookstore/mall where I work is right off the exits of two interstates, which means a busy few days with travelers coming through. I'm so happy that I get to stay home today and tomorrow!

What will I do with two days of freedom? Hmmm........I have no idea! I think I'll just let the time stretch out before me and do whatever I feel like from moment to moment. I'm going to take it easy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 26, 2017

More naps, please.

No automatic alt text available.

This is how I feel this week after several late nights followed by two early mornings at work. I took a long nap yesterday afternoon, and slept in this morning, but I still don't feel like I've caught up on my sleep.

I have a rare weekend off after tonight's late shift, though! I think a couple more good naps will be on the agenda.

Do you like to take naps?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Volunteer Work

A lady in my book club volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem here in Florence County. We've been talking about it off and on for months now, and I finally decided to take the plunge and have her put me in touch with the program director. It looks like I'm going to become a GAL this summer!

A Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for children who have been abused or neglected and are in the custody of the state. Most are in temporary foster homes until their birth family either get it together so they can reclaim them, or else a permanent adoptive home can be found. In the state of South Carolina, minors are not present at court hearings that determine their fate, and a GAL can be there to testify on their behalf so that the judge can take their wishes into account. Serving as a volunteer means meeting with the child (or children, if it's a sibling group) at least once a month, writing a monthly report on their welfare, and writing a report and appearing in court whenever a hearing is scheduled. Beyond those basics, you can be as involved as you want to be and have time for. There will be 30 hours of training as a prerequisite which will start in July.

I'm super excited about this! I have an Associate's degree in Human Services and have always had a strong interest in social welfare. I've been looking for an opportunity to volunteer some time to a worthy cause, and I would love it if I could eventually find a new (paid) job in the field of Human Services. This opportunity to become a GAL will not only be a wonderful way to volunteer, but will give me new skills, new experiences, and new contacts. A win-win all around.

Here's a link to the program is anyone is interested in reading more about it:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Equal time

No automatic alt text available.

A picture of the Marcoman from 2011 that I particularly like. Posted today to balance out all the photos of the dogs I've shared lately. Fair is fair.

And isn't he beautiful?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Too hot already!

Well, here we go. Temperatures are expected to reach way up into the 90's today.  A heat advisory is in effect for the area for the rest of the week. And it's not even June yet. Ugh.

This afternoon we're going to set up the dogs' little portable A/C in the garage. We're trying to figure out some way to close off part of the garage with tarps, so that the cold air can be concentrated around their bed. Attempting to cool the whole area is expensive and not very satisfactory in terms of temperature. The ideal solution would be to just let them live in the house, but we can't. George might be a danger to Marco and we hate to risk it. Ginger's behavior is exemplary, but she doesn't like coming in the house, having been born out in the country on 14 acres of land with two ponds and plenty of fields and woods to explore. Even after we moved to town, she preferred to spend her days in the back yard, watching the sun rise, napping in the shade, patrolling the perimeter of the fence, etc. The good life for a dog!  Although I'll bet that if she got a taste of the climate-controlled house in the hottest part of the summer she'd quickly learn to love being inside, at least in the summer.

Now that George is here, though, with his prey drive and destructive chewing habits, it's necessary to keep them living in the garage and back yard instead. (Side note: not only do they have a portable A/C for the summer, they have a heater for the winter, a big cozy bed, fans, access to the laundry room, access to the back yard, and a view right into our den via the back door. They're hardly roughing it even if they're not "house dogs").

I need to prepare our house for the onset of hot weather, too. The houseplants that live in the front living room and dining room will have to be moved, so that the blinds and drapes can be drawn--we hardly use those rooms and they have hot westward facing windows. Gregg can't sleep unless the house is super cool at night. Since his lung surgery 5 years ago, he wakes up occasionally in the middle of the night struggling to get a deep breath and gasping. After about a minute of acute anxiety that makes him jump out of bed and pace around, everything goes back to normal and he can breathe again. These episodes are more likely to happen if the room is warm. So power bill be damned, we have to crank down the A/C at night, even now. It's in the daytime, when we're mostly at work, that we need to be conservative with it. Combining our cooling needs with the dogs' makes our summertime power usage soar. No matter what we do, our next four or five bills are going to be scary.

And don't get me started about how uncomfortable being outside will be for the next 5 months. Even at night, it's so hot and humid no one wants to go outdoors.

Yay for summer in South Carolina! (Not).

Friday, May 12, 2017

Reasons to smile

Thanks to my friend Terra over at Terra Garden for giving me an idea for a blog post today. I've been feeling uninspired and a trifle depressed this week, and haven't had much to say here on the blog. Making a list of reasons to smile has got to help lift my mood, right?

Here are a few things that spring immediately to mind:

* Everything about being outdoors right now.
This is such a nice time of year. There's about a thousand shades of green outside. Flowers are blooming in my yard and all over town: jasmine, magnolias, roses (how I envy my neighbors their roses!) the water lily and blue pickerel in Gregg's container pond, bright red geraniums in pots. Speaking of which, I bought myself  a small pot of geraniums at the farm stand down the road. They brighten up our back patio.

Blue Pickerel in the container pond.

*These two sweethearts.

Ginger and George both got baths on my last day off. They both feel and smell so good right now! And sweet? Oh my goodness. These two are always affectionate and happy and full of doggy zen. The hardest part of their day is when Gregg or I leave for work--they watch us getting in our cars and driving away with solemn faces and mournful eyes.

*Small surprises in the mail.
A few of my blog friends and I now correspond through "snail mail" and I love it! Here are two postcards I received just in the last week or so, one from California and the other from Arizona. Unexpected cards and letters in the mail make me so happy! Thank you both!

On the refrigerator for frequent viewing!

What kinds of things are making you smile these days?