Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another lazy weekend

I've spent another weekend basically hidden away at home. The weather has been chilly and damp, as per usual for this winter, and not very nice for being outdoors. Since I got most of the household chores I was planning done yesterday I did absolutely nothing today...unless you count a two and half hour nap! I slept so hard that I had vivid dreams and woke up confused about what day/time it was. There went the whole afternoon, which was kind of  a bummer, but it felt good to rest.

Ah, well. Such is life.

I need to go shoe shopping. All of a sudden last year I realized that none of my shoes were fitting properly. Apparently I've gone up a half size at the ripe old age of 43. So I had to get rid of most of my shoes right before moving here and I only have one good pair for work. I meant to go out and shop for more today, but it just didn't work out. I couldn't bring myself to go out and face crowds of Sunday shoppers on a cold wet Sunday afternoon, so I took a nap instead.

Now that I'm really awake and it's almost time for Gregg to get home, I'm off to pour a glass of wine and begin our supper. I'm making a hamburger casserole, one of those classic ones that have a mashed potato and melted cheese topping. Not fancy food, but it will taste good.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything good, get anything accomplished, or rest and relax like me? 

I'll be girding my loins to face the craziness of a Monday morning at a middle school tomorrow. 

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Husband: Hey honey, how was school today? BORED Me: TEACHERS'

Have a good one, everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


After only 3 months in our new house, last night we cleaned out and organized the garage enough to fit my car inside. For three months we put off a job that only took an hour and a half. We felt kind of foolish.

The whole left side of the garage is full of aquariums, aquarium gear, buckets of coral skeleton and substrates, and on and on.... but at least it all makes more sense now and we can walk around and access everything. Most importantly, we can fit my car inside to protect it from the weather. We just paid it off right before buying the house, and it's our only really reliable vehicle. Gregg has a 1996 Ford Ranger truck that probably has over 300,000 miles on it. He uses it for driving to work at the pet store and also for his nearby aquarium maintenance jobs, but we don't trust it for using outside of about a 10 mile radius. But for an old Sanford & Son type work truck, it's awesome...perfect for hauling stuff around and not worrying too much about the paint job or getting dents in it, and it's super cheap to own. The insurance and taxes on it are negligible. There's no real need to keep it inside the garage, since it's in poor condition on the outside. My car, however, is the "main" vehicle and we're trying hard to keep it in excellent condition, inside and out.

Speaking of cleaning out the garage last night, both of our dogs freaked out. They were on the porch watching us move around boxes and rearrange stuff and it seems that they got scared that we might be about to move again. Ginger watched us with big eyes full of reproach, and George started whining and barking at us. We felt so guilty! Ginger, in particular, has had a hard time adjusting to the move and is just finally starting to seem settled in here and happy again. We had no idea that working on the garage would be a triggering event for both of them! The move was apparently more traumatic for them than we knew!

Honestly. we should have gotten the garage cleaned up long before now. There's no excuse at all for it. As soon as we got the inside of the house somewhat in order, the holidays  hit, and after that was over we just wanted to sit around and enjoy the place for awhile. Well, it's time to get back to work! Spring is coming (actually, judging by the weather this month spring is here) and there are a million and one things I want to accomplish in the house and in the yard before the heat of the summer arrives. Do you procrastinate? How do you overcome the tendency? I always wait to the last minute to get things done, and I hate it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Garden plans

Three friends came to visit on Sunday who hadn't seen the new house yet. Look at the beautiful hyacinths they brought for a housewarming gift:

It was a funny coincidence that just the night before I was telling Gregg that I plan to plant hyacinth and daffodil bulbs around the bottoms of five crepe myrtle trees on the side of the house. Now I have a head start with the hyacinths! As soon as these finish blooming I'll plant them outside for next year. 

I've been having a lot of fun planning what I'm going to plant on our tiny little property. So far these are the things I've decided to have for sure:

  • Four 8x4 raised beds as a permanent place to grow veggies and some annual herbs. These will be on the sunniest side of the back yard, and will probably be made of brick or concrete blocks instead of the standard wooden frames. 
  • A large raised bed in front of the back porch that will be planted with perennial herbs and flowers for attracting bees and butterflies.
  • A fig tree in the back left corner of the back yard. Probably the variety "Celeste".
  • Two pomegranate shrubs, also in the back yard. I already have one that's been living in a large pot for years, and now it's time to give it a permanent home. I've read that you can increase flowering and fruiting if you have two or more, which is why I plan to buy another. Some of my neighbors had them when I was growing up and we kids enjoyed eating them in the summer.
  • Two or three camellias in the back, too, to cover up the spots where we can see through to our jerk neighbor's back yard. Camellias have that wonderful evergreen foliage that will make a nice screen year round. In the winter, nothing is any prettier than camellias in flower, cheering up the otherwise dull landscape. I have no idea what colors/varieties to pick, though. If Ms. Moon has any thoughts on this I'd love to hear them! She's the Queen of beautiful camellia flowers!
  • In the front yard, I want to eventually plant a small bed of roses with some nice companion flowers to go along with them. One rose I know I want is the famous "Peace" rose, but I've not decided which others to include. Any rose lovers reading that would like to offer suggestions? Somewhere on this property (maybe up the Southeast corner of the house) I'd like to plant a climbing "Don Juan" rose, but that's the only other variety I've decided on for now.
Of course, this is all going to take some time to accomplish (and to afford!). I plan to start with planting the fig tree (this spring) since a tree needs the most time to get established. Hopefully this summer while I'm off I can work on building the raised beds, at least.  I have enough plans already to keep me busy for years!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Beer and Skittles

A little while ago I did a Google search to find out when Chinese New Year falls this year. As of February 5th it will be the Year of the Earth Pig! 

While looking for the date, I ended up on a website with forecasts for every Chinese astrological sign coming up in 2019. Just for fun, I read mine and Gregg's. (I'm a Rabbit, he's a Dog). The horoscopes were awesome. Here's an excerpt from Gregg's:

you people under the Dog sign will be in good spirits, get more chances to beer and skittles and develop more consuming desires

Hey! I want more chances to beer and skittles! Doesn't that sound like a blast? :)

Here's a link to the website so you can look up your own forecast for the year ahead if you're interested. May we all have a year filled with chances to beer and skittles!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

For the birds

This neighborhood seems to be a haven for lots of bird species. Since moving in two months ago we've been astonished at the variety and sheer numbers of birds visiting the feeders. I think it's the close proximity to a creek and some wooded walking trails that make them happy here.

First and foremost, we see huge numbers of Northern Cardinals. One cold and wet afternoon I counted 19 males in our back yard, and I don't know how many females. The feeders are continually mobbed with these bright red feathered visitors!

The other frequent feeder guests are Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, and House Finches.

We also see quite a few woodpeckers. The Red Bellied Woodpeckers were a species we were familiar with, but the Northern Flicker pair are the first we'd ever seen:

So far we've also seen the occasional Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Juncos, and American Robins. We've heard (but not seen) owls at night in the neighborhood, too. I'm anxious to see what species the upcoming nesting season/spring migration will bring!

Do you feed wild birds? And if so, what kinds do you see?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Just catching up

I've had a bit of a blogging dilemma since we've moved to the new house: our tiny third bedroom that we're using as an office isn't a comfortable place to sit and write. We have an old desktop computer, but no desk to put it on yet. At the old house we used an extra dining table we had acquired along the way, but I hated it and refused to put it in the new house (it's in the garage now where we're going to use it as a work table). For the time being our computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, the computer itself, the modem and wifi router, and two small speakers are all crowded onto three end tables that we intend to donate to charity or give away as soon as we buy a proper desk. The end tables are not meant to be used that way and it's uncomfortable to sit and type. Not only that,

but the room is very crowded and messy, as you can see. Marco's big cage doesn't fit anywhere else in the house (that works for us, anyway) so this is where it's ended up. We also had to find room for two 120 gallon aquariums, so one of them had to go in here. There's a pile of boxes behind the door that need to be broken down and taken off to the recycling center, and the list goes on. What we really need is to find a new desk and get rid of all the clutter, but money is tight and there's a list as long as my arm of things we need and want to buy for the new house! I'm hoping to go looking at the thrift stores and flea markets for a nice (and cheap) desk.

But I digress. The whole point of all that is to say that sitting there to write anything is uncomfortable right now. We don't own laptops, unfortunately. If I'm at home and want to do anything on my blog, it's either from this spot, or on my phone. And typing comments on my friends' blogs is aggravating enough when using a cell phone keypad, nevermind writing a whole post on it! I'm actually sitting at the computer you see in this photo as I type this, and while it's not the end of the world, it's definitely not comfortable. I'm spoiled with a really fast, nice computer at work (and two monitors!) along with a nice desk to work from, but I never visit this blog from my work computer. Our IT department can track every keystroke we make, and every website we visit, and it's better to stay away from anything that falls within the realm of my personal life.

But speaking of work....look at the craft some of the kids in the PMD class (profoundly mentally disabled) made and presented to me this afternoon! It was my favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr. printed on one side of a cut out heart, with some scribbled color on the other side and a piece of yarn for hanging.

 Oh, my heart.

No photo description available.

We just had a long weekend, with the MLK holiday meaning we had a day off on Monday. I couldn't help but think about those 800,000 federal workers going without pay for over a month now. I get so angry when I think about the government shutdown and all those poor innocent people working without pay and with families to feed and mortgages and rent to pay. And we have food banks being set up so that our federal workers can at least's just absolutely mind blowing. It makes me furious and I hate Trump and his supporters and all of the GOP with my whole heart. Just bitter black hate. And then I look at the words of someone like Dr. King and I think: how did you do it? How on earth did you manage to keep love and tolerance and hope alive in your heart when the whole damn country just seems like a nightmare of conflict and evil and the worst kinds of narcissism and corruption?

In any event, it seemed fated for me to receive this message this week, and from our most vulnerable students, at that. I needed the reminder.

Did you see the lunar eclipse on Sunday night? Since we had Monday off I was able to stay up late. Totality was around midnight. It was bitterly cold outside so we just walked out on our front porch,  looked at it for a couple of minutes, then went back inside. It was almost directly overhead and a rusty orange color. We've seen lunar eclipses before; they're not all that rare, but they always seem kind of special. Gregg and I had a rare day off together the following day, Monday. We're enjoying the new house so much! We can sit and discuss plans for the yard or paint colors or things we'd like to do for hours and hours. I have no idea when (or if) the newness of having our own home will wear off but the house is almost like a new member of the family right now. :)

The good thing about having a long weekend with Monday off is the fact that it's only a four day work week. Tomorrow is Thursday already. This week has been hectic and a little stressful at work, but at least it's a short one. I'm already ready for another weekend!

What are you up to this week?

Friday, January 18, 2019

Sleeping in the Forest

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

from Sleeping In The Forest
© 1978 by Mary Oliver

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The weekend

It was a nice weekend, but it went by too darn fast (as usual). Marla and Martina came over for a while on Saturday night, and Marla brought the baby.

Just like other babies that have visited us over the years, Carsen is fascinated by the aquariums.

This afternoon I went to the movies with three of my book club friends. We saw On the Basis of Sex, which is about the early life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's a personal hero of mine. (And I couldn't help but wonder if her husband Marty was as handsome when he was young as the actor who played him....Armie Hammer!) It wasn't a great film, but was definitely entertaining enough for a cold, gray, rainy Sunday afternoon.