Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad

Last night was the final episode of one of my all time favorite tv shows, Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, I don't have cable tv, so I've been watching it on Netflix. Which means I haven't been able to watch the final 8 episodes yet. I've had to be very careful about social media because there are so many die hard fans that spoilers are everywhere! I'm dying to see the final episodes.

I found the following clip this morning "Why people in other countries wouldn't get the premise of Breaking Bad" and thought it was worth sharing. Sadly, I think there's a lot of truth in this.

If you haven't seen Breaking Bad, do yourself a favor and give it a shot! The writing is superb. The moral downfall of terminally ill chemistry teacher Walter White turned meth empire kingpin is stunning. This is seriously one of the best American tv shows, ever. I can't even say enough about how awesome it is!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Multiple dog owners--I need advice!

My dog Ginger is a 6 year old sweetheart, and my husband and I love her dearly. She is always happy, always sweet, and 99% of the time will behave perfectly and do exactly what you tell her to do, on or off the leash. We take very good care of her (long daily walks, total vet care, high quality food, lots of love and attention) and would never want to jeopardize our relationship with her.

The best dog in the world.

All that being said, we've discussed getting another dog multiple times. Not only would we love to have another one, but we wonder if it wouldn't be good for Ginger to have a friend. When we first got her we lived out in the country and our neighbor's Boykin Spaniel pretty much moved in with us. He was Ginger's best friend and partner in crime. They roamed the 14 acres we lived on every day, and Charlie (the spaniel) loved the 2 small ponds on the property. They loved each other. We hated leaving Charlie when we moved, but he didn't belong to us (and he wouldn't have been suited to neighborhood life.....he is a country dog if ever there was one).

Since then, it's just been Ginger. We've become more bonded with her since we moved here and don't want to spoil our great relationship with her. But. We wonder if (after some initial jealousy) she wouldn't be happy with a new dog to hang out and play with. Or would she be miserable with losing our exclusive attention? And what if she hated the new dog? Sometimes she gets along with strange dogs, but sometimes she really doesn't. She loved Charlie, but got in fights with another friend's unspayed Boxer female. She does ok with Gus, although she's jealous if I pet him and will sometimes growl if he gets too close to her food bowls (or the giant hole she's been digging in the back yard).

 I think that if we are going to get another dog, we should do it soon, before she gets any older. I follow our local animal shelter's Facebook page and I've seen a dog I may be interested in. What do all of you dog owners think about the situation? Do you think Ginger will be less happy in the long run? Will it change our great bond with her to introduce a new pack mate?

Thoughts and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Late September--seen and heard

Rain on the roof, lulling me to sleep.

Cool nights. Bright days.

Young squirrels playing in the back yard. Migratory birds passing through.

Pomegranate leaves turning golden.

Cardinals and House Sparrows bathing in rainwater puddles. Blue Jay rooting through fallen leaves.

Spiders and their webs tucked into corners, nooks, and crannies.

The last butterflies of the season.

Pumpkins and mountain-grown apples appearing at the market.

Loosening leaves fluttering with every touch of the wind.

Morning glories gone to seed.

Mellow afternoon light.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gratitude Sunday

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining both Taryn Kae Wilson at  Wooly Moss Roots ( and Hannah at Following Bliss ( in taking a moment to reflect on the things that I'm grateful for as another week comes to a close. Thanks for the wonderful idea ladies!

  • The gorgeous weather that ushered in the equinox this year. Not only were we treated to a clear view of the golden harvest moon each night, but the days have been filled with cool air, blue skies, and leaves just beginning to get the first tints of fall color. Crickets have been singing me to sleep at night. Even they seem to be delighted with the changing season.
  • Friendship. I can honestly say I have at least one true friend. She's not only loyal and steadfast, she's also really funny and fun be around.  She's coming over this afternoon for wine, tea, apple tarts, and some catching up time. A happy way to spend the equinox!
  • My husband's continued good health. The big scary monster is finally receding into the past and seeming less and less relevant to our current life. So FU, cancer!
  • And on a less serious note, I'm beginning to appreciate drinking hot tea! (This is the South. We drink our tea sweet and iced. Period. Hee.) I've been experimenting with different brands of hot tea and finding some that I like. I don't own a functional teapot or know much about tea, I admit. I just microwave a cup of water and dunk a bag of English Breakfast in. And yes, I know that method sucks. But I like it, and it's an easy pick-me-up after work that doesn't seem to give me the caffeine jolt coffee would. A cup of tea is a nice little welcome-home ritual, too!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harvest Moon

Tonight a sunset stroll around the neighborhood was lit by the golden harvest moon rising in the east. This is one of my favorite full moons of the year, and I always try to get in some hours of moongazing when it rolls around.

Today felt like a real autumn day. It's cool outside, and the leaves are beginning to turn. The first sprays of goldenrod and masses of morning glories are appearing alongside the roads. I made homemade apple pies this afternoon and the smell of apples simmering with cinnamon made the entire house smell wonderful.

What a great time of year!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday morning: weekend recap and quantity cooking

This past weekend was so nice for me.  Two days off with no worries or obligations was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. I feel refreshed and ready to take on a new week!

I visited the farmer's market on Saturday and had planned to take some pictures, but the rechargeable batteries for my camera had pooped out. Until I buy some new ones, no pictures for me! I was a bit disappointed as I left for the market that I wouldn't get to share any photos, but it turned out that it barely looks like autumn at the market so far. It's still a bit early this far south. There were no pumpkins, no gourds and Indian corn bundles, and very few mums. I did happen upon the first apples from the North Carolina mountains, and I bought a half box of mixed varieties that are destined to become pie filling and crockpot apple butter. Most of the produce for sale still looked like all the late summer offerings: a few peaches, some corn, and tomatoes. In fact, I found one stall selling heirloom tomatoes and I bought about 6 pounds to add to the first pot of chili of the season--which is slowly simmering on the stove as I type this.

Today is an unusual work day, as I am going in late (4pm) and working till midnight resetting our games department. I get to go in late, dressed down, and work with a couple of people I like doing "off hours" so no dealing with customers! And going in so late has left me plenty of time  to cook the chili, which consists of black beans, kidney beans, peeled seeded and chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, yellow and green sweet peppers, onions, one cooked and mashed sweet potato, and lots of chili spices and garlic and a small bit of cayenne pepper. Since I will be gone until late, the chili will be perfect for Gregg's dinner tonight and will reheat beautifully for the rest of the week. That means very little cooking for the next few days! That makes big batch cooking worth all the trouble--effortless meals during the work week.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bright spots, book review, and other assorted stuff

Bright spots this second week of September:

  • Several beautiful sunsets featuring the waxing crescent moon and Venus shining like a jewel in the western sky.
  • The very beginning of the trees changing colors in my neighborhood, and the feeling of fall approaching as the days grow shorter and shorter.
  • A weekend off coming up! I had originally planned to have my Mid Autumn moon party this weekend. Since the party has been called off, I've decided to spend the weekend doing things for myself that I'll enjoy: shopping at the farmer's market, cooking and baking, planting some fall flowers in containers on our patio, and spending quality time with Gregg and our pets.
  • A cleaner-than-usual house. I originally requested an extra day off this week to do housework (for the party) and so that's just what I did. I cleaned for hours yesterday, so now my weekend off can be spent doing fun stuff without guilt!
  • My perpetually happy dog and our daily walks with her.
Also: I've recently read a wonderful book. It's called Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

It's the story of a 14 year old girl dealing with the death of her beloved gay uncle during the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1987. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with her uncle's grieving partner, a relationship she must keep secret from her family, who hate and fear the man they believe killed the uncle. June and Toby are both lonely, both outsiders, and both grieving the loss of the person they loved best in all the world.

 The story resonated deeply with me. I was 12 years old in 1987, and I vividly remember the fear and misinformation about AIDS that was prevalent then. The author's insight into the inner workings of an awkward adolescent girl dealing with a terrible loss was nothing short of amazing. This story was so beautifully told that it broke my heart a little bit. Tell the Wolves I'm Home was a completely unexpected pleasure, bittersweet and lovely.

One other thing I've been enjoying for the past few days is a new app I purchased for my tablet called Distant Suns. It's an astronomy app that gives you an up to the minute view of the night sky from your location. You can look up all sorts of information about stars, planets, galaxies, and deep space objects as well as meteor showers, eclipses, and other space phenomena. Technology is such a wonderful thing!

That's been my week in a nutshell. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The flock

I've mentioned before that we have three little rescue birds living with us. If you haven't read about them, here is a link The Rest of the Flock.

I'm sad to say that Peeps and Pogo have both recently passed away. Chip is alone now, and lonely.

A few weeks ago, Peeps had started flying around the house sometimes (exploring?) and wasn't content to stay in the "bird room" all the time. Which was fine. She would always go back after a while. One evening it was getting late and she was perched on a curtain rod in the dining room, and so we decided to let her stay in there for the night. We figured she would find her way back home once the sun came up the next morning and we didn't want to freak her out by chasing her down and catching her. Well, that was a mistake. I'm not sure what happened, but she must have freaked out in the middle of the night and started flying around in the dark. When I woke up the next morning, I found her dead in a pan left soaking in the kitchen sink. It was horrible.

After that, poor little Pogo just seemed to lose the will to live. He had major problems to begin with. When Gregg rescued him from the pet store, he only had one leg and was blind in one eye. He would have been killed if he had spent another day in a cage full of finches at the store. We brought him home, gave him a roomy cage of his own in a sunny room with a window view, and he started to improve. He also seemed to thrive with Peeps and Chip as roommates. Like all birds, he needs social interaction desperately. Peeps would hang out on top of his cage and they would sing to each other.  It was super sweet. Once Peeps was gone, Pogo lost interest in eating and drinking, and he quit singing altogether. Yesterday I found him dead in his cage. It wasn't a big surprise, but I sure felt bad for him.

Now there is Chip. Although he is a totally different species from the other two, they made up an unlikely flock and kept each other company. Now the poor little guy is all alone in the bird room. We need to figure out some way to make him happy. There is a huge flock of house sparrows outside his window that eat at our bird feeders and live in our back yard. Although it may be a bad idea after all these years, we're considering opening his window and giving him the option of learning to be a wild bird again. When we tried that last time, he wouldn't leave, but now that he's all alone it may work out. He's been with us since he was a little hatchling and has never had to fend for himself, but if he went out to live in the backyard he would have access to feeders full of seed....and a flock of his own kind. It may be the best option for him. We want to do the right thing and give him a chance to be happy.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

If you don't have anything nice to say..

September is here, and this first week has been a quiet one. I imagine cricket sounds here on the blog.
I hate negative posts and know they're a drag to read, so I try not to indulge in them very often. Which lately meant I haven't had anything to say!

I canceled my annual mid-autumn moon party last week. It pained me to do so, but I just didn't have the heart for it this year. With only one exception, my friends haven't been reciprocating in the friendship department for months now. They didn't seem terribly interested in this year's party, and even some of my closest friends casually said they "might not make it". After last year's disappointment, when I put so much work and planning into everything and then all of the new people (who had all accepted invitations!) failed to show, it seemed too much like I was setting myself up for a letdown again. I had started to dread everything about the party, not least of which was the effort and expense involved. So I decided to put my own best interests and comfort level first for once and bow out of the whole thing. I instantly felt nothing but relief, so I knew I had made the right decision. I'm disappointed in my friends right now, though. I've decided to take a step back from trying so hard and let them have a chance to do their part in our relationships. If they care enough, they'll make some effort. If not, then I need to move on.

Work has been a real pain lately too, often literally. I seem to get stomachaches when under stress these days. Work has been especially stressful lately, with petty power plays going on between people all the time. Most of the drama doesn't involve me directly (thank you, Universe!) but it still affects my stress levels to be in such an environment. So I've had stomachaches almost every day this week. Not fun, and not good blog material either.

Then there's the worst thing of all: I found out this week my mom is sick. She was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was a lucky thing for her that they found it out. She had blood work done for something unrelated, and they discovered by accident that her blood sugar levels were way off the charts.  The good news is that she rallied almost immediately and is already making huge changes to her diet, and is carefully monitoring her blood levels to figure out how well different foods are tolerated. The doctor gave her medication but is hopeful that she can eventually get the disease under control without it. She's making a great effort so far, and I'm proud of her. I'm looking for ways to support her in it, and have offered to follow her new diet with her--as I have a solid family history of diabetes and need to lose some weight, it will be good for me. She seemed to like the idea of having a diet/exercise support buddy. Maybe some of the changes I make will make for some interesting future blog posts. Right now, it's too early to have much to say.

So that's been my start to September. Kind of frustrating, stressful, and disappointing. Nothing anybody wants to hear about! I'm hoping to be back next week with some awesome fall recipes for you, as well as more book recommendations and some silly pet pictures. Stuff someone might actually enjoy reading!

Meanwhile, hope everyone else has had a good and happy start to the month.