Sunday, April 28, 2013

April showers bring...., of course......


...ferns in shady spots.....

...swelling blueberries.....

.....tiny walnut catkins and new leaves appearing....

and cottony clouds after the sun comes out.

This is what late April looks like in my backyard.



(And look what else is going on out there!)

The first clutch of house sparrow babies
being reared in the old birdhouse this year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life with dogs

I woke up this morning, and on my way to make the coffee I noticed that Ginger was curled up in her doggie bed with something small, gray, and fuzzy that I couldn't immediately identify. I figured it was probably some old toy she found in the yard yesterday and brought back to bed with her. So I started a pot of coffee, yawned a few times (I was only about half awake) and then went to have a closer look.

It's a dead squirrel that she apparently killed, then brought back to bed with her. Ugh!!

When I started freaking out and yelling, did she look guilty? Not a bit. She couldn't care less.

Life with dogs.

The unrepentant squirrel killer.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So far, April has not been my month. And that's a wee bit of an understatement.

 Yesterday I finally started to get some relief from the jaw pain I've been suffering with for two weeks after having routine fillings at the dentist. He said the pain was from the fillings needing adjustment, and I've had to go have them adjusted three times. I believe that any sort of mouth pain is the absolute worst. Nothing can ruin your day like a toothache, and two weeks of a toothache is almost beyond bearing. I certainly hope it continues to feel better, because I'm simply worn out with it. Plodding through the days at work with a deep ache in my jaw made a job I already dislike downright miserable.  I also had a long stretch (over a week) without a day off. By the eighth day (yesterday) I was ready to weep at the slightest provocation.

I'm finally off today, and although I was able to sleep in a bit and my jaw feels better, it's not shaping up to be a good day. For one thing, our washing machine finally bit the dust last night. We just replaced the dryer a couple of months ago, and now we have to come up with the cash to buy a washer. My house is an absolute disaster. Every room needs a deep cleaning, since the only housework we've managed to do this week is the very basics (picking up clutter, loading the dishwasher) and I'd be embarrassed if anyone came over. And at the end of the month my mother in law is coming to spend a week with us. And did I mention you could eat off her floors? Yeah, she's that kind of housekeeper. So we've got to get to work to make everything presentable for her visit, pronto.

Then there's the yard. Gregg is banned from mowing, since last year he inhaled some sort of allergen while trying to mow and ended up at the doctor's office with terrible shortness of breath afterwards. Since he only has the one lung, we can't take chances with that sort of thing, so mowing is now my job. Our grass, no lie, is almost knee high right now. We've had lots of rain and warm weather, and it's been growing like mad. I knew it was getting out of control, but with my intense toothache there was no way I was going to tackle the job last week, so today I will pay the price. I've got to get started on it. Our neighbors (most of whom have immaculate lawns) probably hate our guts right now.

So that's been my month. There hasn't been much worth talking about here on the blog for the past couple of weeks. I apologize for coming back with such a whiny, self pitying post. I try to keep the whining to a minimum in my daily life, so I guess I needed to vent. Such is life, I suppose.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The color purple

The world outside has exploded into a riot of color in the Carolinas. The blooming trees still have some vestiges of pink, white, and lavender flowers, and in the woods about a thousand soft shades of green are appearing. There are pink and red azaleas, yellow tulips, and blue iris in many yards. The sky is bright blue with fluffy cottony clouds, and the birds are developing their more vivid breeding plumage.

With all these myriad hues appearing outside my window, none seems more appropriate for the month of April than the color purple. Shades of it are everywhere: in the long swags of wisteria hanging from trees, the purple iris blooming in our backyard, the tiny wild violets that appear almost hidden in the grass, and sometimes faint lavender is even mixed with shades of pink and gold in the sunsets on clear evenings.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nesting season

One of the things I love most about April is watching the family life of birds as a new nesting season unfolds. Our feeders have been busy with mated pairs of birds stuffing themselves with seed and suet. We've seen pairs of doves, bluebirds, chickadees, northern cardinals, goldfinches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, house finches, house sparrows, and titmice. The addition of the suet feeders, and a birdbath that is kept clean and full, seem to have made the most difference in attracting a more diverse group this year. We've seen several of these birds gathering nesting material and even mating in the past few weeks, and so I'm sure that there are eggs and hatchlings all around by now. Soon little fledglings will be following their parents to the feeders which is always very entertaining! Nothing is cuter than a baby bird!

Mockingbird eggs. This photo
was taken several years ago.
Speaking of eggs, a friend of Gregg's gave us almost 5 dozen fresh eggs last week! It's an eccentric old plumber guy that keeps chickens as a serious hobby. Apparently the hens are laying lots of extra eggs right now, and they are wonderfully rich with golden-orange yolks. Fresh eggs are another great thing about nesting season!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday wrap up

It's a beautiful spring day here. The dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom, the birds are singing (and flocking to our feeders), the bees are out, the sun is shining, and it's warm. A nice day to be off work, and to have a little "me" time.

Last week was rough. In addition to the depression my husband and I were both experiencing, I had several bad days at work that made everything seem that much worse. It's no secret I hate my job. It's a retail store at the local mall, staffed by adults who act like they're in high school, and there is always some silly drama unfolding...blah blah blah. Same old story. Despite my best efforts to just show up, act in a professional manner, do my daily tasks, and go home, I still occasionally get dragged in to the middle of angry confrontations between my coworkers. Our store manager is a nice lady, but a terrible leader, and so there is no one around to effectively deal with the immature, counterproductive behavior. I hate the atmosphere this creates. I'm a peaceful soul; I abhor confrontation and arguments, and I refuse to play "office" politics. I'm kind and helpful to my coworkers, even when they drive me crazy. I work hard. I'm dependable and stable and never make trouble for anyone. And most importantly, I actively try to avoid any storms I see brewing. So how do I still get sucked into these stressful situations? Especially at times (like this week) when I'm least emotionally up to it? I left work in tears on Monday for the first time in months. I've gotten much better at letting this kind of nonsense roll off my back, but the timing was especially bad this week.

Topping off my week of woe was a dental appointment on Tuesday that resulted in a toothache that didn't really get going until Friday afternoon (after the office was closed for the weekend). I got two fillings in back molars on the left side, one on top and one on bottom, and the bottom one isn't....right somehow. It's uncomfortable to chew on and I have a constant, deep ache in my jaw. I've been taking Motrin every six hours and waiting for tomorrow morning to get here so the dentist can do something about it.  Why do toothaches (or any medical problem) get worse on the weekends? It never fails: if offices are closed and the only medical attention available is urgent care or the ER (with the prospect of  hours and hours of waiting) that's when a toothache or pain of any kind will really get down to business.

To sum it all up, this week was: depression, work stress, tears, and toothaches.

So I'm finally off today and it's gorgeous out, and I'm making the best of it, toothache be damned.  I'm going to take the book I'm reading (Ian McEwan's Atonement) and sit out in the warm sunshine, in the hammock, with a glass of sweet iced tea. I'm hoping that such a nice day is a sign of a better week to come.

The bees are working hard on this beautiful April day. I wonder
if they sometimes want to strangle their coworker bees...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Easter was a melancholy day here despite nice weather and a day off work. Gregg has been dealing with some depression and anxiety, which is common in people who have finished cancer treatment. Depression is also a relatively common side effect of a drug he still has to take, a nerve pain blocker. The oncologist wants him to continue taking it for awhile yet, as he still has pain and odd sensations (peripheral neuropathy) in his surgery site a full year after finishing treatment. Chemotherapy is rough. Especially when it's administered six weeks after a lung has been removed!

I thought, when all the treatments were over and Gregg got a clean bill of health, that life would go right back to normal. How wrong I was! I had no idea what an emotional roller coaster we were still in for. The fear of the cancer coming back that we both live with is the worst part. And although every three month follow up with the oncologist so far has resulted in a glowing bill of health, the appointments are constant reminders that all it will take is for one small shadow to show up on a scan, or for one of the blood tests to come back with an abnormal result, and we'd be plunged right back into the nightmare that last year was.

Knowing how grim lung cancer normally is doesn't help, either. A man that went to church with my mom was diagnosed about two weeks after Gregg--and he died last month. When she told me about that, it was like getting stabbed in the heart. Of course, I know that the statistics for lung cancer are downright dismal compared to other forms. The pulmonary specialist  (a close personal friend of ours that we are lucky to have) has assured us that Gregg is doing wonderfully well, and if he continues to have great checkups for another year or two that he will likely be considered cured. His current good health is almost miraculous, and I'm grateful beyond words for it, but one's sense of confidence about the future can never be fully restored after the kind of ordeal we've been through. The best you can do is take things one day at a time and learn to get on with your life despite the ever-present nagging fear. But there are days and weeks when that's easier said than done, and this week has been one of the rough ones.