Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Summer hours, first year down

Today was the last day for teachers and most of the employees at our school. The students finished last week. Starting tomorrow, those of us who work through the summer will be on summer hours: 9am-3pm, Monday through Thursday. We'll have a 30-minute lunch break, and Fridays off. How nice is that? I don't mind working through the summer at all. I think that it's only going to be me, the principal, and the custodians there most days. I'll also have a week and a half off at the end of June, so there will be a little bit of summer vacation for me.

There won't be a whole lot to do. One thing I'm planning on is a big office clean-out; when I started last July, I was afraid to get rid of anything the previous bookkeeper left behind. She was there for 17 years so the office is packed with old and useless paperwork, training manuals, and lots of miscellaneous junk. We only have to keep financial documents for five years, and a lot of that can be boxed up and stored in the records room. I also want to rearrange everything so that it "flows" better, and I'm going to do some more decorating and add to the plants I'm growing in the sunny, east-facing window. I love my office, and after a full year on the job I'm ready to make it really mine. 

How quickly this first year has flown! I absolutely love my job, the principal, and my coworkers.  I haven't had even one stressful day (pertaining to my job) this whole year. The work has proved to be well within my capabilities, and I've gotten great feedback on my job performance, not only from my principal but also from the "higher ups" at the district office, including the CFO (chief financial officer). I'm proud of the job I've done this year, and I'm so glad I chose to pursue this position when it first opened up. 

One last piece of work-related good news: I checked my bank account this morning (we get paid on the 15th and 29th of the month) and it looks like I've gotten a raise! I don't know if it's a yearly "step" increase for number of years worked or just a flat out raise, but it's going to make about a $100 per month difference in my pay after taxes. Certainly not a fortune, but I'll take it!

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Turtle, deer, and crows

Yesterday was a good day for wildlife watching at my house. Of course there were the usual birds at the feeders, including hummingbirds, and we've even been lucky enough to get a pair of Painted Buntings again this year. The birdwatching is always good here, but the other animals we see can be pretty special, too.

The turtles that always climb up out of the nearby creek and come into the neighborhood to nest in the sandy soil have been very active this month. Yesterday when Gregg went out to get the mail, he spotted a big female laying eggs in a hole she had dug right beside our mailbox. He came in the house and told me about it, so we stood at our front door and watched her slowly retreat in the direction of the creek when she was done. Then a gang of crows who were around and also watching promptly showed up, dug off the top layer of soil, and ate the eggs. As sad as we were that mama turtle's efforts had been in vain, you can't help but admire the crows' intelligence and cunning. And as I told Gregg, "Crows have to eat, too."

Here's another thing that happened yesterday. Gregg happened to look out of the office window early in the afternoon and saw a young deer walking through our front yard. He/she continued around the house, to the south facing side, and laid down for a while beside the hedges next door. I gently raised the bathroom window and took a photo with my phone.

The deer rested there for a good 30 minutes, only leaving once it started to rain.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fruit in my garden

This year we have our first tiny figs! The little tree is coming along.

The blueberry bushes are still small, but they have berries. 

The bananas are really starting to grow thanks to all the rain we've had this spring. Poppy likes hanging out under the leaves!

The pomegranate tree has had more flowers than ever before. This may be a good year for pomegranates. I'm looking forward to them!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

A rough week, but a good day

The last seven days have been really rough for me. Last Wednesday I left work early running a low-grade fever and with a burning in my chest, and I ended up missing Thursday and Friday, too. I took a Covid test Wednesday night, which was negative, but I developed a really bad cough and chest congestion that was way worse than my Covid experience over Christmas. By Friday night, I was afraid I was going to have to go to the ER because my asthma was flaring so badly, but I kept putting it off because I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for Monday afternoon. (The appointment was one I made several weeks ago for a full physical with bloodwork to try to get to the bottom of some other health issues I've been having lately). 

I was feeling marginally better on Monday, but still very, very weak and with a lot of lingering congestion. It turned out to be a bad case of bronchitis and the doctor prescribed prednisone and antibiotics. I had been overusing my asthma inhaler for days just to get enough breath, as well as taking over the counter decongestants and expectorants. One indication of the distress my body was in was that my blood pressure was sky high. Hopefully when I go back for a follow up in a few weeks it will be back to normal. My doctor went ahead and did all the blood panels we had planned on, too, despite the bronchitis. I felt so bad and worn down by the time she was examining me that I kept breaking into tears. I just couldn't help myself. My issues with anxiety and depression always flare up at times like this. And to be honest, those things have been getting worse for a few months now anyway. I've really been struggling. Getting bronchitis on top of it all has been kind of overwhelming.

I discussed some of this with the doctor, so we're meeting again in a few weeks to go over my test results and to try to work on my mental health problems and also any issues that turn up in my blood tests. In the meantime the prescriptions she gave me should have me fixed up in a few more days. I'm still apt to cry at the drop of a hat, but at least I can breathe somewhat better now. Today was the first day I've felt like I'm making my way back to the land of the living.

BUT! To end this depressing blog post on a happy note, I have some really good news to share!!

Our great-nephew, Joseph, was born this morning!

He weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces, and he's 20 inches long. Baby and Mama are both doing great, and Daddy is over the moon with joy. 

Welcome to the world and your loving family, sweet Joseph!

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

First of May

Yesterday I told my husband the naughty rhyme that begins "First of May, first of May..." and he had never heard it before. I can't remember where I first heard it, but it may have been here in blogland. It made him laugh.

Unfortunately May didn't get off to a very good start. I started to feel bad first thing this morning after arriving at work, with a burning, raw feeling developing in my chest along with a cough. I had the nurse take my temperature, and it was slightly elevated, so I left work and came home to take a Covid test. Thankfully, it was negative, but I still feel kind of rough. Body aches, a cough, a slight headache. When I got home this morning I slept for four solid hours, and this was after a full night's sleep. I guess I've picked up some respiratory bug at the school. Fun times! I'm just thankful it's not any worse (or Covid again).

We've been seeing the annual influx of turtles from the creek walking onto our property, probably to lay eggs in the sandy soil. We saw three big ones in our yard on Sunday alone. Poppy is fascinated by them. One was right outside our front door so and I took a short video of Poppy's reaction to it.

We also saw a crow circling around a turtle on our neighbor's property later that day. The turtle kept stretching its head up to watch the crow, and the crow kept landing and creeping nearer and nearer. It was such strange behavior that we Googled it and it turns out that crows will watch for turtles to lay eggs, then come back later to dig them up and eat them! Who would have thought?! I guess this particular turtle knew what was going on, because it kept creeping away until it finally disappeared behind some shrubs. Hopefully if it was a nesting female she was able to hide her stash from predators. But as I told Gregg, "Crows have to eat, too." 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Today is Administrative Professionals Day. I was surprised this afternoon with a big basket full of gifts and a nice card from the staff at work! The receptionist and attendance/records clerk were also recognized. I don't know about them, but my gifts were obviously chosen with my tastes in mind. 

There were gardening tools, a gift card to the bookstore, a set of candles in pretty pastel colors, and hand soaps and lotions. 

In other work news, it's been a busy and productive week so far. I'm really starting to feel like I have a handle on everything that's expected of me in my new role. (I also got a really good performance review last month! Yay!) It's been almost a year now that I've been there, and I haven't had even one really stressful day yet. Not even one! 

Getting this job was a really, really lucky break. I'm grateful for it every day.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Stop and take notice

My workload has really kicked into high gear since returning from spring break. There's a big push to get final state funds spent as well as paying off all outstanding invoices by May 1st, and also lots of field trips and end of the year activities that must be arranged and paid for. I like being busy, but dislike looming deadlines (especially when I'm still in the first-year learning process). Next year will be much easier because I'll know what to expect.

My first day back last week was sad. I heard that one of the nurses I worked with at the last school had died suddenly over the break. She was only 34 years old, with a husband, a five-year-old son, and a three-year-old daughter. It's terribly tragic and was a huge shock. She collapsed out of the blue one afternoon and died several hours later at the hospital, and I don't think the cause of death has been confirmed yet. I feel so bad about this; she was a lovely young woman and a friendly, kind coworker. Her husband is devastated, and I feel so sorry for her babies. It's hard to accept that life is just like this sometimes. 

That being said, I think this meme I found the other day is worth sharing with you. This is what I've been pondering this week.

Things I'm stopping to notice and enjoy today:

  • A pair of bluebirds have a bunch of nestlings in the box out back and watching them feeding and caring for the babies is a joy.
  • Hummingbirds have returned and are taking advantage of the new nectar feeder.
  • My tomatoes are planted and the pole beans Mary Moon gave me are growing like mad. Soon the peppers will be big enough to plant out, and the melons should sprout any day now. The pomegranate tree is covered with flower buds and the blueberry bushes, while still small, are loaded with berries.

  • Today makes two years since Poppy came home! Happy Gotcha Day to the sweetest little girl ever. She makes us (and George!) so happy.

  • Fresh local strawberries, the first I've bought this spring. So sweet and delicious.

  • I've made some little friends at work. They're two groups of siblings who stop by the office every morning now to say hello and give me hugs when they get to school. They make me laugh regularly and seeing them always gets my day off to a nice start. I call them "the little wildlings"!

Anson, Emogene, Lucas, and Ethan. The Wildling Crew.

So, dear reader, what are you stopping to notice and appreciate about your life right now? What will you look back on and miss 20 years from now?  Time is short, my friends.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Spring garden update

The baby crabapple tree has doubled in size this year, and for the first time, it has a few flowers! Aren't they pretty? Unfortunately, the deer came back night before last and ate a bunch of the tender new leaves. I was so mad when I walked outside yesterday morning and saw the damage! Apparently, apple trees of all types are irresistible to deer. 

The tree will never amount to much without protection while it's young and just starting to grow. With that in mind I went to Lowe's in the afternoon and bought four seven-foot-tall garden stakes. Along with a big roll of fine mesh bird netting that we had stashed in the garage, they make a decent protective "cage" to keep hungry wildlife out. It's not the greatest looking thing in the world, but it should do the job. 

In other garden news, I've been hardening off my tomato and pepper plants and preparing the bed for planting. I started some herb seeds (basil, parsley, and oregano) in pots, sowed borage seeds in the bed in front of the porch, and planted marigold seeds in the raised bed between the spaces where the tomatoes will go. And I planted rattlesnake beans! (Thank you again, Mary, for sharing those with me!) I've been at home on spring break this week and the weather has been wonderful for working outside. Going back to the office next week is going to be hard!