Saturday, March 23, 2019

"Every year is a blessing"..

Yesterday I bought a cake from a woman in the school district who bakes as a side income. Martina and Marla are coming over tonight to help me celebrate my birthday and I wanted a carrot cake to serve. "Aunt Connie" as she calls herself delivered it to the school early in the morning and it was sitting on my desk in a box with a pretty bow for the rest of the day.

One of the guidance counselors walked past about an hour after the cake was dropped off and asked me about it. She said, "What's the occasion?" and I told her that tomorrow was my birthday. She wished me a happy one, and then asked me how old I would be. I kind of smirked and said, "Forty four." I've had some mixed feelings about entering my mid 40's and it plainly showed. The counselor then asked me, "Why are you frowning?" and I felt a little sheepish then and said something to the effect of, "well, you know, time is just moving so fast, and I'm not really young anymore..." and her reply gave me something to think about for the rest of the day. She said, "No, you should be happy. Every year is a blessing..." then she smiled at me, patted my shoulder, and went on about her day.

I thought about that all afternoon. I thought about my friend Michael, who died when we were both 31 years old. What wouldn't his friends and family give for another 13 years with him? One of my girlfriends from high school lost both of her sons to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when they were teenagers. Those boys never got a chance to whine about reaching middle age. Another woman I went to high school with never made it to work one morning, and they found her dead of a brain aneurism on her kitchen floor that afternoon, dressed in her work clothes. She was 42. I could go on, but you get the drift. That one small comment from my coworker really changed my whole perspective.

 When I take stock of my life at this point, I realize how much I've accomplished in my 44 years. I have a husband that I adore and love to pieces. We work hard to make each other happy. I have a home of my own, finally, which was something I spent years hoping for. I have wonderful friends, two of whom will be over tonight to drink wine and eat cake and celebrate with me, and we'll do it all again for them when their birthdays roll back around. Tomorrow another group of my friends (from my larger book club) are going out to eat with me to mark the occasion. I am rich in friendship! I have two sweet dogs that I dote on, and a sassy shit-talking parrot that makes me laugh every single day. I like my job, and my coworkers. I have a good life, and every single year I get to spend enjoying it really is a blessing. Thank you, Mrs. Betty Lawrence, for reminding me of all that!

Now I'm off to enjoy my day....and to be thankful for it! Have a good one, everyone!

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43 years ago's always been all about the cake!

Friday, March 22, 2019


My sweet husband sent these to me at work this morning  (a day early). Aren't they beautiful? He knows how much I love roses!

They're going to look so pretty on the table tomorrow when I have friends coming over!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Pictures from the Peddler

For absolutely no reason at all, I feel a bit of the old Sunday afternoon gloom coming on. I'm not sure how I want to spend the day. I'm feeling bored (unusual for me) and a little bit restless. I wish Gregg had the day off too but he always works on Sundays. Nothing I can think of to do seems appealing.

I'm also feeling a tad bit irritable.

Oh well. At least I seem to be over the worst of the stomach bug that tormented me last week.

So that reading this isn't a total waste of your time, I'm including some photos I took yesterday at a big giant flea market here in Florence called Palmetto Peddlers. I enjoyed looking around at all the crazy stuff, but didn't end up buying anything.

Have a good Sunday, everyone.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Sick day

I took a sick day today. Yesterday I got a terrible stomach ache as soon as I got to work and ended up leaving at noon. I can't be away from my desk for more than a minute without getting someone else in the office to cover for me, since I have to answer the front door (the camera and speaker are on my desk) and buzz people in. It's a constant job at a big school like ours, and it's embarrassing to me to have to let someone know every time I have to go to the restroom. Not on a normal day, of course, but when there's an upset stomach involved.....let's just say that by 10am my coworkers were encouraging me to leave. It was painfully obvious that the best place for me was at home.

When I woke up this morning I still had a bit of a stomach ache. I decided not to risk a repeat of yesterday and just stay home. I haven't used all the sick days I had left over from last year, and it looks as if I'll carry over all 10 of the days I got this year, too. So there's no issue there.

I actually feel better now that it's approaching lunchtime. It's warm and I'm sitting outside on the porch with Marco, typing this on my phone. It's another beautiful spring day, and it feels good to spend it at home.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Beautiful Sunday

It's as beautiful a day as we've seen in months. Blue sky, sunshine, warm breezes. Spring is here.

The weather is so nice, in fact, that I put Marco in his tall skinny cage and wheeled him out to the porch to sit with me and the dogs and soak up some sunshine and fresh air. It's his first visit to our new screened porch. Every time one of the dogs walk past he says "Hey Georgie! Hey Gingerbread!" so I think he likes it out here! Getting outside every now and then is going to be so good for him.

This sunshine is good for me.  A local meteorologist posted on Facebook yesterday that since September it's rained 18 out of 25 weekends!  All I want to do today is sit outdoors and bask. And now that the time has changed we'll have much later sunsets to enjoy from the porch. If today is any indication, maybe the time change is heralding the arrival of better (drier) weather and more of these beautiful spring days.

The view of the porch from the back fence. Just look at that blue sky!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Easy Friday

Today should be a relatively easy day at work. We have parent-teacher conferences at the school and so the students have the day off. The conferences are only scheduled until noon and then the principal said that the teachers and other staff can leave early. I'm thankful for that.

Yesterday was a bad day. I nearly cried at work. This week has been super stressful, what with the guidance counselors and half of the office staff being off at professional development conferences leaving me almost totally alone to run the front office. I was already feeling pretty browbeaten by endless phone calls, answering the front door, and basically putting out one fire after another, and when I asked one of the assistant principals for help (two sets of parents had called who needed an administrator to call them back and help them with situations) she totally blew me off and was quite rude about it. I felt like I was getting zero support all while trying to deal with stuff way above my pay grade. My feelings were already a bit tender, since it's almost "that time of the month" and I was completely overwhelmed to begin with. I had to fight with myself to hold back the tears. Luckily there was plenty of distraction and I was able to swallow them down, but I spent the whole day feeling unappreciated, worn out, and just....tired. I made the mistake early on taking on extra tasks for my coworkers and instead of appreciating it, they just ask for more and more. I'm going to have to go to the principal about it at some point, but I recognize that while I'm feeling emotional it's not the proper time, and he's been overwhelmed himself, lately. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, I should be off by 12:30 today and can come  home and get an early start on the weekend. It's sorely needed.

Have a good day, everyone.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Although I'm not a Catholic, for years now I've been inspired to observe some version of Lent thanks to an article I read years ago by the wonderful Waverly Fitzgerald called Pagan Lent. Here's a small excerpt:

If you think about what’s going on in the natural world, these food deprivations make sense. This part of early spring is the most hazardous time of the year for people living close to the earth. The first bitter greens (so prominent a part of spring equinox feasts like Passover and Easter) are just emerging. Fresh eggs, also associated with these feasts, are not yet available; birds are just beginning to nest. The foodstuffs, particularly the salted and smoked meat, that were stored to carry the family through the winter may be giving out. The potatoes and apples left in the cellar are getting soft and of dubious quality. The deprivation of Lent may not be voluntary but a necessity imposed by nature. As Caroline Walker Bynum points out in Holy Feast and Holy Fast, “Fasting is in rhythm with the seasons, scarcity followed by abundance.” By choosing lack, people believed they could induce God to send plenty: rain, harvest and life. As Gregory the Great said, “To fast is to offer God a tithe of the year.”

There is a long tradition of spring purification. Cleansing is part of the action of the tonic herbs of early spring on the body. Also think of spring cleaning. Those who planned to be initiated during the Eleusinian Mysteries in the fall participated in purification ceremonies in the early spring, which included bathing in the sea. When the world is being made anew, we wish to make ourselves new. Yet any change is fraught with danger and difficulty. As a friend of mine said while we were on our way to a ritual, “There is no transformation without change.” Gertud Mueller Nelson in her wonderful book on Catholic ritual comments, “which of us...does not know we must change and fear it, and in that fear come face to face with the mystery of death.” She believes that “conscious engagement of suffering and death forces us to take stock of our gift of life and consider ways of reforming and living our lives more fully and passionately.”

Waverly's website School of the Seasons is a treasure trove of seasonal lore and ideas for celebrating holidays.

Today is Ash Wednesday (this year I'm aligning my "pagan Lent" with the Catholic church simply because I couldn't muster up the self discipline to start back in February) and so I've committed myself to 40 days of logging all of my food intake into my Fitness Pal app. I've gotten out of the habit since November; first we moved, then it was the holidays, and then I couldn't seem to stop with the holiday eating! I haven't dared step on the scale yet but I'm sure I've gained a few pounds back...and losing 35 pounds was too hard to allow backsliding! I plan to use this 6 weeks to get back to where I was pre-Christmas, and then I need to lose 35 more. I know I can do it. Losing weight last year just  took daily calorie deficits (modest ones) that I did about 80% of the time. Since the other 20% of the time I allow myself treats or to have something for a special occasion, I don't feel all that deprived. It's a slow process, but do-able. I just need the kick in the pants to begin again, which is where my Lenten challenge comes in this year.

Do you observe a traditional Lent or similar periods of self discipline? I'd be really interested to hear about it if you do!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Spring is coming

I paid a visit to Forest Lake Greenhouses on Saturday afternoon and spent a happy hour browsing and dreaming of my future garden.

There's nothing like a trip to a plant nursery in late winter/early spring to lift the spirits.

Today my friend Martina stopped by for a couple of hours and she left a seed/plant catalog she saved to give to me. Our first thunderstorm of the season is on its way and I'm settling in like this tonight:

I love a good seed catalog this time of year! 

Anyone else ready for spring?