Friday, May 31, 2013

All in a day's work

Weird things customers say in bookstores #834:
Teenage boy: Do you work here?
Me: Sure do.
Boy: Thank God! I need help finding a book from my summer reading list!
Me: What's the title?
Boy: "I Know Why the Caged Mockingbird Doesn't Sing"

(I laughed myself silly after he walked away!)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wild lilies

One of the best things about the house we're currently renting is the fact that it used to be owned by an old couple that loved gardening. All these years later, surprises keep popping up to make us smile.

Maybe it's all the rain we've had, but for the first time in the 3 years since we moved in, these beautiful white lilies have appeared in our back yard:



These little wild beauties have a subtle sweet fragrance, and would make nice cut flowers. What a pleasant surprise! I just adore lilies.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A beautiful Sunday in May

It's my day off finally! Yay me! It was kind of a long week.

My dreaded trip to the dentist turned out to be not too bad. I only had to have a very small filling, and it was on the opposite side of my mouth than where the last ordeal unfolded.
Being a believer in better living through chemistry (ahem!)  I arrived with a Xanax dissolving in my stomach and a lovely mellow feeling of calm. I never thought I'd be the kind of big chicken that had to take an anti-anxiety pill before going to the dentist, but there you are.

I never used to fear dental appointments, when kindly old Dr. Bryce was still my dentist. He was a gentle, sweet, grandfatherly man that took lots of time and care when he worked. While he worked, he would talk about his grandchildren and growing his beloved orchids (many of which were in the treatment room windowsills). He was so careful and, admittedly, slow, that there was never anything to fear with him. Unfortunately he retired rather suddenly last fall, and it was awhile before the ladies in the office explained why. Apparently he was having memory problems and was showing signs of early dementia, and his kids cornered him with his family doctor and recommended he retire. Right away. So he did, and I am sad to see him go. Since then, the practice has been run by a couple of other local dentists who are filling in until a new permanent dentist is found. I've not been impressed with the work they've done so far, but at least this last time wasn't so traumatic. One of these days soon, when I work up the courage to tell the office ladies I'm leaving (ridiculous, I know) I'm going to find a new dentist. I've had several local people make recommendations, it's just a matter of doing it. I feel like I'm bailing on the rest of Dr. Bryce's leftover staff, and that makes me feel guilty. But that's a story for another day.

Right now, it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We've had the most amazing cool sunny days lately! It's a real departure from our usual weather this time of year---already hot and humid. This is Memorial Day weekend, and it's turning out to perfect weather for all those people with a long weekend off. Traditionally people cook out over this holiday weekend, and spend plenty of time outdoors.

I've been doing as much of that as possible myself. Gregg and I have been grilling out whenever we can (last night included) and sitting on the patio in the evenings watching the big full moon of May rising, me with a glass of wine in hand. This afternoon will be spent outside in the hammock with the book I'm currently reading (The Mists of Avalon, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it!) and Ginger to keep me company. I have wild white lilies blooming by our back door, and my lavender bush is on the verge of blooming. The temperature is perfect. It's going to be a lovely day to be out there, enjoying some down time and relaxation.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to my U.S. readers, and may everyone have a beautiful, happy day. Get outside and soak up some sunshine if you can!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today I head back to the torture chamber dentist for another filling. And I swear by all things holy, if that jerk hurts me again like last time, I will find a new dentist! Crossing my fingers (and taking a Zanax) and hoping for the best.

A longer blog post will follow later, with my thoughts on why I'm still (at almost 40 years of age) a wimp about standing up for myself. It's been on my mind a lot this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Little neighborhood gang

Last week our mail carriers were collecting food for the local food bank. They leave a couple of plastic bags in your mail box early in the week, with a note announcing the food drive, and anyone that wants to donate can fill the bags with non perishable foods to be picked up on the designated day.

It's a very worthy cause.

Food banks really struggle this time of year. Donations pour in during the holidays, but then take a nosedive in the spring. For families struggling with hunger, this is an especially difficult time. School will be out for the summer soon, which means that kids from low income families that rely on the free breakfasts and lunches provided there are at a much greater risk for going hungry. I think it's wonderful that the postal service does a food drive in May for this reason. I always fill up a couple of bags to donate and leave them, as instructed, beside the street for the mail carriers to take.

On the day of this year's pickup, Gregg was at home reading a book when he heard the doorbell ring. He answered the door to find two little neighbor girls (aged about 8 or 9) and their mom standing there. The mom explained that her daughters had been going around our neighborhood peeking into all the bags, and they had deemed ours "the best" and then....they stole it!!!!

 Gregg had to bite his lip not to laugh. The mom kept saying how embarrassed she was, and she made the girls apologize. She asked him if anything was missing from the bags (so she could replace it). He of course had no idea, since I'm the one that takes care of those types of things. He couldn't really think of anything to say to the kids, except "You shouldn't embarrass your mom!" and of course he accepted their apology and told the mom to think no more of it. He got a huge kick out of the whole thing, and so did I when he told me about it later. I decided it must have been the box of brownie mix I had included that tempted the kids.

We had forgotten the incident until last night. When I went out to check our mail, I found a package of brownie mix in the box with this note taped to it:

Dear neighbors at 1900...

It has come to my attention that my 5-year old son was a partner-in-crime in the theft of a box of brownie mix. I apologize on his behalf. While he isn't old enough to understand what the food was for, he was certainly old enough to know that he shouldn't take something that is not his.

I have bought two boxes of brownie mix. One, I am returning to you and the other we are taking to a family in need. Our family works with a homeless/hunger ministry on Saturdays. One of the families that we work with will be blessed by brownies. It is a grandmother raising 6 grandchildren on her own and with very little resources. This little girl below is one of the children.

Again, I apologize and hope this helps to rectify the situation.

The Jordan family at 1889

Turns out there was a little gang of kids complicit in the Great Brownie Heist of  '13!! Haha!

This seriously made my day!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweet summer afternoon

What a beautiful day! It's still cool outside, but the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and I am off work. There are so many things I want to do this afternoon that I'm having trouble decided what to do first!

 I'm reading a good book (The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley), working on a knitting project that I'm anxious to finish (a baby blanket for a friend that's due to give birth in about two weeks), and I need to clean up our back patio and give Ginger a bath in anticipation of the girls' night I have planned for my friends this coming weekend. I also need to go to one of the local u-pick farms and get a couple of baskets of fresh strawberries, since I will be making my special strawberry daiquiris for the party. They are my signature drink in the summertime! Fresh strawberries, frozen, go in the blender along with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, superfine sugar, rum, and sparkling water. The fresh strawberries are the key to making the drinks over the top!  Actually, it may be better to wait until the day before the party to pick and freeze the berries, since I will need some left unfrozen for garnishing, and they won't last all week. So berry picking might be one task I put off until Friday (my next day off).

Today is so lovely, I don't even mind that I need to spend part of it cleaning out back and giving Ginger a bath. As long as I'm outside, nothing can spoil my good mood! Everything is so green, and jasmine and roses are blooming in yards all around the neighborhood (it smells like heaven), and the birds are singing and flying back and forth to the feeders and birdbath. It's a pleasure to do chores out there this time of year! And when I finish with the necessary stuff, I'll resume my book and/or knitting from a shady spot in the hammock. What a sweet afternoon it's going to be!

I have a soft spot for roses.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Good parenting

When you work at a retail store in a mall, it's easy to see the results of bad parenting all around you. Since taking a job at a bookstore, I've learned to despise most teenagers. So many of them are rude, loud, vandalizing, foul-mouthed little cretins that I find myself judging their (mostly absent) parents pretty harshly. Especially since so many of them obviously have very little supervision or guidance at home. When school lets out for the summer my coworkers and I will  spend about a third of our time dealing with the terrible behavior of packs of unsupervised kids. We all simply dread the end of the school year for that reason.

Occasionally, though, you meet a parent that's doing a good job raising their kids, and it's a refreshing change. I met a great dad last weekend that gets high marks for holding his kid accountable for his actions....and my coworkers and I have gotten a big kick out of what happened!

I was the manager on duty one afternoon, and the girl at the front register called me to come "talk to a dad" who "needed to speak with a manager". Well, of course I was dreading whatever was coming....normally parents side with their kids no matter what crazy stuff they've done, so after a heavy sigh or two I went to see what was going on. There was a man waiting for me by the registers with a thirteen or fourteen year old boy standing beside him, staring at his feet. The girl who had called me whispered a quick explanation: that the dad had caught his son with shoplifted items and had dragged the kid back to the store to confess what he had done, and wanted the manager to "give him a talking to". 

My first thought was "oh, shit"....I mean, I don't have kids myself, I have no experience with giving teens lectures for misbehaving, and I'm not exactly an intimidating authority figure, to say the least. I couldn't intimidate a damn mouse! I was wondering what I could possibly say that would have any effect on the boy. Turns out I needn't have worried. That dad had a plan all along to teach the kid a good lesson!

The man introduced himself, and his son, and then said to the boy, "Tell this nice lady what you did."

The kid looked really scared and embarrassed. He stared at the floor and in a voice barely raised above a whisper, said, "I shoplifted from you."

Then the dad completed his son's humiliation. He said, "Now show her what you stole."

Slowly, never once making eye contact with me, he opened a bag and pulled out...........two girlie magazines!!!! Hahahahaha!!!

At that point, all my nervousness vanished. I had to bite my lip not to laugh. If there is anything worse for a thirteen year old boy than having to confess to a woman that he was stealing porn...I don't know what it is! The dad stepped away so I could have a word with him; I merely said that his father was obviously disappointed in him, that he had let both of his parents down, and that shoplifters are always banned permanently from our store. (I wonder if he was ever planning to come back anyway! Ha!) The whole time, I don't think he said more than a tiny, whispered "I'm sorry" and "I understand".

As they were leaving, the dad assured me that the kid would be facing further punishment at home for stealing. I almost felt sorry for the poor kid, to be facing more consequences after such awful humiliation!

What a great dad, though.  It's nice to see parents holding their offspring accountable to others when they misbehave and/or break the law. And I'll bet this was one lesson that boy will never, ever forget!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A slow, rainy season

The weather has been a bit unusual this year around here. It's been a slow, gentle, rainy spring and all of nature seems to be taking it's time in it's march toward summer. May has arrived without a single speck of sunshine. Every day for two weeks now we've had  the most pleasant, near-constant rain showers. Everything outside is utterly green and lush; there are still iris blooming, as well as honeysuckle, roses in my neighbors' yards, dandelions, and the sweetly fragrant confederate jasmine at the corner of our backyard fence.

One afternoon last week I made a truly exciting discovery: my little potted pomegranate tree has tiny fruits for the very first time! I've been nurturing this small tree since it was a 10 inch seedling; I plan to plant it in the ground when we finally buy a house. It was a gift from an heirloom tomato seed exchange friend five or six years ago, and I just give it a slightly larger pot each year. It's about 3 feet high now, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the blueberry-size fruits on it! I can't wait to own a house of our own so we can begin planting a small fruit orchard.

This morning the sun is finally peeking out from behind the clouds for the first time since the end of April. Ginger needs a walk; we've not had opportunities to go lately with all the rain, so I'm headed out to give us both some much needed exercise.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Southern accents

I thought this was a very interesting clip about the origins of the American Southern accent. Apparently, we're the only people left in the U.S. that still sound like the first generation of settlers....most of whom were from the U.K.

I quit being ashamed of my accent years ago (as a teenager my friends and I worked hard to try and not sound Southern...without much success!). It's part of who I am; if anyone thinks it makes me sound stupid or uneducated, that's their problem. Down here we sound like our ancestors:

Origins of the American Southern accent

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day blooming

On my way to work this morning I saw masses of honeysuckle flowers blooming for the first time this year. It made me smile to remember how, as a kid, I used to pick apart the flowers to taste the tiny drop of nectar inside. (I wonder if children still do that?) After I got home, I saw that a local friend of mine had posted lovely pictures of "the first honeysuckle of the year" on her Facebook page. Apparently they bloomed overnight all over town, and it makes me happy to know that I'm not the only person who noticed and appreciated it!

Honeysuckle seems so appropriate for May Day; those pretty little yellow and white flowers are an early summer staple in Southern gardens and roadsides. The sweet fragrance is equally attractive to bees, hummingbirds, and people.

Happy May Day, everyone!

L. japonica
Japanese Honeysuckle