Monday, November 30, 2015

Worried--Updated in the comments

Just a quick post today as I get ready to head out the door. Not to work, as expected, but to go visit my dad. He had to make a trip to the ER this morning, and I'm worried about him.

Dad's health is very poor. He has some chronic conditions that he's been living with for years now, not least of which is congestive heart failure. Over the weekend he started having severe shortness of breath. He wouldn't go see a doctor until this morning (mom says he was frightened), and it turns out that he has a lot of fluid building up around his heart, and his blood pressure is sky-high. He won't have to be admitted to the hospital, thank goodness, but they're giving him a lot of medications to drain the fluid and to stabilize his BP and he has to go back Wednesday to have a stress test and some other tests, too.

Even though dad won't have to stay in the hospital, I still feel like I need to go see him. My parents live an hour's drive away, so it's not too far. I had to call out of work, and mom and dad both tried to talk me out of doing that, but family comes before my job. Always. Also, my boss was super nice about it. Even he's not enough of an asshole to begrudge a callout when it's a family emergency!

Part of the urgency on my part to go see my dad right now, today, is partly superstitious fear. Both his father and his brother dropped dead of massive heart attacks without any prior warning at all, at relatively young ages.  My uncle was in his late 50's and younger than my dad is now.  And unlike dad he had no prior health issues and no history of heart trouble. He just felt bad one day, went to take a nap, and his wife found him dead in bed a couple of hours later. I'd never forgive myself if I said, "Ok dad, since the doctor thinks you'll be ok this time I'll just wait to visit", and then something happened to him tonight.

Also, tomorrow is the first of December. I know what I'm about to say is going to sound ridiculous and superstitious, but for me that's the month that's always meant death and disaster. I've blogged before about all the bad things that have happened in my life in the month of December. There have been the sudden deaths of relatives, pet deaths, cancer diagnoses, and job losses...always in December. I dread it every year, and superstitious or not, I'm not taking a chance with not going to see my dad today. I need to go make sure he's okay.

I'll update this post later today or tonight after I've seen how he is. Any good thoughts sent our way will be much appreciated!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Typical Sunday

I had today off, and there were about a hundred things I should have been doing.

My house is a shameful mess. Between being sick last week, and the Thanksgiving holiday, and all the extra work involved with Black Friday sales when you work in retail, and my husband only having one day off in the past two weeks..........things are in serious, serious need of a real deep clean.

Also, I woke up at 6am and went to the kitchen for a drink, and discovered a hose under the sink (that connects the cold water from the pipe up to the faucet) had sprung a leak and water had drenched everything stored under there and had run out all over the kitchen floor. What fun to step barefoot into a big pool of icy-cold water at the break of dawn! I had to wake up Gregg to help me turn the water shutoff valve, which he was less than thrilled about. So the day wasn't off to the greatest start.

I really should have tried to catch up on some cleaning. Instead, I went to lunch with a friend and then we spent the day watching The Great British Bake Off and talking. She's the one who's expecting a baby in February. It was so nice to see her!

She doesn't care about my messy house because her house is a mess, too. We're both comfortable with that, which is part of why she's such a great friend! I'm really looking forward to the birth of her daughter.

Now I'm off to find some kind of dinner that doesn't involve turkey. I roasted a small one on Thursday for Thanksgiving, and we've eaten turkey sandwiches for three days now. I've had enough for the moment! I'm thinking some Chinese takeout or else a pizza. Then some more tv, some reading, and bed.

I don't suppose the housework will be going anywhere!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

My favorite read for the month of November was a re-reading of one of my favorite classics, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

The book is set in the early 20th century in the slums of Brooklyn. It's a coming of age story about a little girl named Francie Nolan who lives in extreme poverty with her hardworking but uneducated mother, her loving but alcoholic father, and her little brother Neeley. Her parents are the children of immigrants who have to struggle to survive, and life is hard for the family. In fact, it reminded me of Angela's Ashes and Francie's character is a bit like Frank McCourt's American counterpart. Francie is a sensitive girl trying to make sense of the harsh world she was born into and during the course of the book she slowly grows up to be a young woman with a bright future despite the hardships of her childhood.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn captures something of the American spirit in the early years of the 20th century when immigrants and first generation citizens were struggling to make a life for themselves here. There is sadness and struggle and plenty of harsh realities, but also love and beauty and resilience. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an American classic and well worth a read if you like stories about the human condition and the triumph of the human spirit.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Just a quick post tonight as I head to bed. Thanksgiving and the repulsive Black Friday are now over, finally.

I'm due to write a book review for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, but it's going to be a day late. I had to be at work this morning at 5 am to set up our BF sale, then when I got home at 2pm I fell asleep for a few hours. I was exhausted.  Then it was time to get up, eat some leftovers, walk the dogs, and prepare for bed so I can head back to work at 7am tomorrow.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll post my November book review. Until then, sleep tight!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Late November morning

I'm still trying to recover from this nasty flu I caught. I was off yesterday and today and I'm grateful for that--I wouldn't have been able to go in had I been scheduled to work.

 I'll also have Thursday off for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope I feel well enough by then to cook a small festive meal for the two of us.

No way will we go to Raleigh to see my mother in law as we had planned--her health is bad enough without exposing her to my germs.

We had our first hard frost last night. The temperature finally dipped below freezing and this morning everything was icy and sparkling when the sun came up. It's going to be a gorgeous day. I wish I felt well enough to take the dogs out for a good long walk to enjoy it.  Maybe a short walk will be manageable once it warms up if I take some ibuprofen and fortify myself with several cups of hot, strong tea. We shall see.

Speaking of walks, I want to share this essay by the great American nature writer Hal Borland. He wrote "outdoor editorials" for The New York Times from 1941 until his death in 1978. His work was compiled into two or three books which are out of print and hard to find nowadays. I first discovered old, old copies of them lying dusty and forgotten in the public library. I fell in love with his work and recently discovered a Facebook page dedicated to him (Readings from Hal Borland). Two or three times each week they share a selection of seasonal nature essays that are nice reading if you love the outdoors.

This essay made me think of my blogging friend Yorkshire Pudding and the beautiful, interesting walks he takes over in England.

I hope you all enjoy it.

                The Answers

"Those who would look for simple answers to the big questions should go for a country walk on a November afternoon, out where leaves scuffle, squirrels scurry, jays cry havoc, and the fundamental shape of the hills is now revealed.

Choose a crisp leaf, not matter whether maple or oak or ash, and try to catch it. And know that leaves are almost as varied as snowflakes. Watch the wind as it turns silvery in a clump of milkweed stalks, a shimmer of floss-borne seeds streaming from each open pod. Watch the glistening streamer from a pasture thistle's heads as the wind passes, airy down full of minute flecks of fertility. See how goldenrod and asters add to the aerial cargo, and know a few of the meanings of infinity, numbers that make counting a meaningless mumble.

Hold in your hand the empty shell of a beetle or the shed husk of a locust. See the intricate parts, the ingenuity of life, now gone elsewhere, to the egg, to the pupa. Chitin, the horny substance much like your own fingernail,but only a few weeks ago a living thing, an entity. Watch a rabbit scurry, a crow fly overhead. Look at your own hand. Know that life is more than protoplasm, more than a fertile egg or ovum, that it is ultimate order in complexity.

Feel the earth underfoot. See the sky overhead. Listen to your own pulse, rhythmic as the tides. There are the answers, for those who will feel, and see, and listen."

Hal Borland
"Twelve Moons of the Year"
November 1970

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Hello friends, please indulge me for a minute here while I whine. I can't help myself. I don't blame you if you want to stop reading now because this will be some self-indulgent pity - party listen-to-me-complain kind of post. Not interesting in the slightest. You've been warned.

Still here? OK.

 I feel soooo bad. Like I've been run over by a Mack truck that needs to come back and finish the job. I have a shitty headache and a shitty fever and (in case you can't tell!) a shitty attitude. Irritability is a sure sign that I'm sick. Driving home from work today I found myself cursing aloud at other drivers, not because they were doing anything wrong, but because just the very look of some of them inexplicably pissed me off. It was kind of absurd. Who does that?

Then I had to make three stops on the way home before I could reach the sweet sanctuary of my pjs and my bed. Each one felt like a herculean task what with my whole body aching and feeling feverish.

 First, the low fuel light in my car came on, so I had to stop for gas. I wasn't prepared to risk running out and getting stranded. Then I went through the bank's drive up ATM to deposit a check that had to go in if I wanted tomorrow's car payment to clear. And then I had no choice but to stop at the grocery store because we were running out of things like toilet paper and bread. Necessary stuff even if you do feel like you might die at any moment, if only for the sake of the other person who lives here. I thought I'd never make it home!

So here I am, in front of the fireplace, wrapped in a blanket, sipping iced cranberry juice and typing this out on my phone.  Settling in for the night has helped me feel a tiny bit better. I might live after all. Maybe.

Friday, November 20, 2015

At least the sun came out

I woke up today feeling like I'm coming down with a cold or some other funk. I have a sore throat, runny nose, headache, and some slight body aches.

After a few Motrin and a couple of cups of hot, strong coffee I feel as if I can manage my night at work. I wish I could call in sick but there's no other manager who could easily close the store for me. I'll just have to tough it out.

At least the rain cleared overnight and the weather is nice. It's a pretty day outside.

George loves a sunny day.

Have a good weekend, friends.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday stuff.

Today was a really weird day at work. I'm tired and stressed out. So this is what's going on in my den as of 5:30 pm...

A Whiskey Sour, made with mid-priced Kentucky bourbon that a friendly one-armed man at the liquor store helped me pick out. (He's apparently quite the conisseour of whiskey). Whiskey Sours are definitely on my top ten list of favorite cocktails to unwind with.

I'm assuming I didn't get the job I interviewed for last week. They made it clear they were in a hurry to make a decision. Whatever. (sigh.) I was hoping this was it--my current job environment is extremely dysfunctional. So dysfunctional that a long time employee (and personal friend of mine) walked in last night with a resignation letter, and with no notice whatsoever (or even another job to go to!!) she quit on the spot! I don't blame her at all; in fact, I envy her. She's just the latest in a whole long line of people that have jumped ship recently. I'm ready for my turn! Our workplace morale is the lowest I've ever seen at a job.

Thankgiving is next week. I'm not sure yet what we'll be doing. We thought about taking advantage of the day off work together to go see Gregg's mom, but I'm afraid she'll feel obligated to try to cook a meal if we do, and she's not in good enough health for that. Also, there's the chance that she and her husband are planning to spend the day with other extended family members.We may just end up staying at home together, which is our standard Thanksgiving. It's nice. We stay in pajamas until late in the morning, and I start cooking early. I usually roast a small turkey, because Gregg likes turkey sandwiches made from leftovers, and I make a few side dishes and desserts to go with it. We usually walk the dogs over to the park and in the wooded lot behind the church. And of course, Ginger and George eat really well that day, too. I won't mind if we end up staying at home alone.

Speaking of food, I've recently gotten addicted to The Great British Bake Off! It's so much fun to watch, but I find myself wanting to bake stuff but being thwarted by my limited free time, and, if I'm honest, my messy and disorganized kitchen. Still, I love to daydream about making elaborate pastries and pies and I have a fondness for cooking shows. And the GBBO is so much fun! I especially love Mary Berry, and might order myself a couple of her cookbooks at Christmastime.

That's it, my life on a rainy, gray, dull November Thursday evening. Cooking shows and big glasses of whiskey! Haha.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

An Overdue Note of Thanks!

Last month the lovely, generous Jen over at Rue and Hyssop did her annual October book giveaway, and I was one of the winners! Last week my book arrived and I couldn't be more thrilled with it!

This makes a great addition to my library. Thank you, Jen! I love it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

I had a job interview today! And I felt really good about how it went. I'm hoping that Friday the 13th will prove to be my lucky day.

It's for a position as a bookkeeper at a school. The principal was warm, outgoing, and easy to talk to. And 30 minutes into the interview she said such nice things to me that I was almost embarrassed. ..Things like, "I'm flattered you want to work for us as a bookkeeper, but I think you'd make an extraordinary teacher...have you considered going back to school to get certified to teach? It wouldn't take long since you have an undergraduate degree, and you could do it at night while working days. I could even help you get funding to pay for it, too." And she also asked me how much notice I'll need to give at my current job if they hire me--which has to be a good sign.

I should hear back very soon, as the current bookkeeper is starting a new job at another school on Monday.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I get this job!

Edited to add....

As soon as I hit "publish" on this post my husband came and told me about what's happening in France. How utterly tragic. My heart is heavy and I feel so sad for the good people of France. Here's part of a quote from President Obama in response to this atrocity that I wanted to share :

"France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism."


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sunny at last!

The sun is finally out today! To take advantage of it while it lasts, I took Ginger and George for a walk to the wooded lot behind a neighborhood church. There were beautiful sparkling puddles under the tall pine trees. The dogs love sniffing around back there.

They also love getting outdoors after so many rainy days!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I swear, it's done nothing but rain here for weeks and weeks. I'm so sick of it. Everything is damp and nasty and when you factor in the short days with the lack of sunshine, I just want to curl up in a hole somewhere and sleep until spring. I hate this time of year even when it's not pissing rain every single day.

My intention was to buy Gregg a new tent for his birthday--he's missed going camping since our last tent got damaged--but the lack of appropriate weather for camping made him indifferent about shopping for one. We have a long weekend off coming up and had hoped to take the dogs and go spend the night at a local county park. Too bad. Not only is it far too wet out, but there hasn't been a frost yet and mosquitoes have been terrible this year with all the standing water. Snakes are a concern, too. Our vet told me he's seen 50 or 60 dogs bitten by snakes this summer, so until we have some real cold weather, we won't be going to sleep in the woods!

Since buying a new tent had lost it's appeal for the moment, I picked up a couple of books for small birthday gifts. I also picked up some fancy cupcakes at a local bakery called Sweet! .

My favorite. There's a dollop of salted caramel in the center of the cupcake.

We had a nice dinner and spent the day indoors because of the rain.

Gregg seemed a bit down all day. I think it's because his mom forgot his birthday for the first time ever. She has Lewy Body Dementia but has been managing fairly well, so I had hoped she would remember.  He didn't mention it, and I hated to bring it up, but I know it made him sad. It's terrible watching your parents grow old.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Birthday greetings from the dogs

Today is my dear Gregg's birthday, and as usual he got two cards, one from me and one from the dogs. Here's the one from the furry members of the family!

Friday, November 6, 2015

My good deed for the day.

So on my way to work today I spotted a little dog running around in traffic, scared to death and about to get hit by a car. I couldn't stand to just drive on, so I turned my car around (almost getting hit myself) and pulled over onto a side street. I called the dog to me, and she came right over and jumped into my car. The poor little girl was whimpering in fear, but kept nuzzling up to me and licking my ear and obviously needed help. There was no collar on her, but she seemed very well cared for. I didn't know what to do. I knew she probably belonged to someone who lived nearby.

After calling work to tell them I'd be late, I decided to drive down the side street near where I'd found her, to see if anyone was out looking for her. I saw two young guys walking down the road so I pulled over, introduced myself,  and asked if they recognized the dog. They didn't, but one of them was very concerned for her and he offered to keep her at his house around the corner and to help me get the word out on Facebook and at the local shelters. We exchanged information, and he took the dog home so that I could go to work. I put a post up about a lost dog on Facebook, and so did he, and after I went to work we exchanged a few text messages about the situation.  Three hours later, the owner had been located! The dog is back at home now, safe and sound. I'm so very grateful to the young guy who helped me rescue this sweet girl!

Lost dog with good citizen Clark.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Aquarium art

After reading John Wooldridge's last post over at Of Brambles and Bears about setting up a planted aquarium in the the style of the late, great, Takashi Amano, I had to share a couple of pictures of with you all.

 Gregg creates and maintains aquariums for a living at various local businesses, schools, and hospitals. (He also manages the aquarium section of a retail pet store). He doesn't want me to share any photos of our current home aquariums,  because he's growing out aquarium plants in them to sell online and so they don't have the kind of design he would want to show off, but he did send me a picture of a tank we had last year, as well as one that he's currently caring for at an elementary school. 

These are works of living, underwater art.

120 gallon planted tank
in our den, with discus.
Here is a close up of the 120 (another incarnation).

One of several planted aquariums
he maintains at local schools.

Close up of the school tank.
The fish are called Rainbows.