Thursday, April 28, 2016

Strawberry time, and a recipe

It's strawberry season again! The local farms are once again offering baskets full of these beautiful red jewels. They're my favorite treat this time of year.

Speaking of favorite treats, lately I've been on an avocado kick. For several months now I've been craving guacamole and so I've developed my own recipe for it. It's simple, but delicious:

* 2 ripe avocados, mashed
* 1 small jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed, minced
* 1/3 small red onion, chopped small
* 2 small plum tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
* Juice of 1 large lime
* Large pinch of sea salt

Mix it all together, and enjoy. Lately I've been eating it with blue corn tortilla chips.

These were additions to last night's dinner: strawberries sliced and sprinkled with sugar, and guacamole. I didn't care to eat any of the chicken I had cooked as a main dish!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday night miscellany

This is what my day has looked like.

The iris are still blooming, and they get prettier every day...

And our huge Confederate Jasmine hedge is blooming. It smells like heaven...

(It's a really big hedge).

Then there's my potted miniature rose bush on the patio, looking good again this year...

In addition to all of the spring flowers, I enjoyed spending time with the dogs today. We all spent an hour or so hanging out together in the backyard.

Whenever we go out, Ginger loves meeting us at the back gate when we return if George isn't paying attention. That's because she's allowed to come out of the fence off leash as a special treat. George can't be trusted. He'll run from you and make you chase him all over the neighborhood.  When I got home from a quick trip to the grocery store this afternoon Ginger got to come out and help me bring in the bags. She's such a good girl. Look how happy she looks! I love her so much!

The best part of being off  leash is that George isn't allowed to be!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

And now, Prince....RIP

This has been a terrible year for celebrity deaths and it's only April. Enough is enough.

Pop icon Prince was found dead this morning at the age of only 57. The story is still breaking, so there are no details yet.

I wasn't a huge fan, so this doesn't hurt the way David Bowie's death did, but I'm still sad that such a talented and well-loved celebrity has passed away at such a young age.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Purple April

I associate the month of April with the color purple. For one thing, lots of the flowers that bloom this month are various shades of violet and purple. Look at this iris blooming by the backyard fence--isn't it pretty? And the wisteria is almost done blooming. I never can get photos of that, but huge swaths of it cover trees all over the place in early April. It smells heavenly.

Then there's my mom's birthday (another good Aries, Rachel!) that falls right in the middle of the month. Purple is her favorite color. I went to have lunch with her and my dad on the day, and I preordered a birthday cake for her from the bakery down the street. It was a 6 layer yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing. Mom likes chocolate. And since she loves the color purple so much, I had it decorated with purple violets. Again, isn't this pretty? (It was delicious, too!)

I also found this canvas tote bag for her, which she loved. We had a nice day together.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Photos from my hometown

I grew up in a tiny, tiny town about 30 miles from where I live now. I hated it when I was a teenager and left as soon as I could. It was dull and depressing even in the best of times, and these days it's truly awful because all the factories that used to provide jobs have closed and gone away and tobacco farming is just about over and done with, too. It's like a ghost town nowadays and very, very few young people are left. Most of the remaining population are either elderly or terribly poor and there's just nothing much to draw new people in.

Yesterday I went for a visit because it was my mom's birthday and her and my dad still live there. If not for them I'd probably never visit again because it just depresses me to see how shabby the town has become.

After having lunch and birthday cake with my parents I stopped at the newly opened Tobacco Museum that pays homage to the long history of tobacco farming that used to be the mainstay of the local economy. I took photos to show you all. My maternal grandparents were both born on share cropper farms and always told stories about working in tobacco when they were growing up. It wasn't an easy life.

This 18 foot canoe was made around the year 1800 from a cypress tree.

A beautiful old quilt from the 1800s.

Burlap tobacco sacks.

Wood burning furnace used in tobacco barns for the curing process.

Cigarette packs from all over the world circa WW2.

A typical midday meal served to the field hands.

Wash tub with homemade lye soap. 

Antique sewing machine. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Last Wednesday I had an interview that I really hoped would be my ticket out of my current job situation. In the two years  that I've been looking for a new job, I've never had an  interview quite like this one, in that when I left I had absolutely no idea how it had gone or what my chances were. You may recall that it was a bookkeeper/secretary position at an elementary school.

The principal who interviewed me was a middle aged woman, conservatively dressed, polite, and careful. I liked her well enough. She was clearly doing a lot of interviews because one woman was leaving when I got there and another was waiting to go in to her as I left. Also, the people in the office asked me if I was "Sarah" and when I said no, they checked a schedule and said that "Sarah" was someone who would interview later that afternoon. So just like I had feared, there were probably dozens of other applicants. The principal asked me about 10 questions, most of which were pure useless drivel. Here's a good example: "What does professionalism mean to you?"  Even she looked bored by the whole process. I don't think I did badly, but I don't think I stood out in any way, either. And seeing as how she said I would hear by the beginning of this week if they were going to make me an offer, and it's Wednesday afternoon, I'm pretty sure I didn't get it.

I'm trying not to be too disappointed. Even if I had been offered the job, the base salary was too low and I would have had to talk them into more money to be able to accept it. Without a couple more dollars an hour I would be forced to stay on part time at the bookstore, and I really don't want to do that. And it would be a 30 minute drive each way as opposed to the 10 or 15 now. But damn, I'm tired of looking for a new job! It's been a small second job in itself: checking job postings almost daily, sending out letters of interest and resumes, interviewing (if I'm lucky),  and then all the waiting, which for me is the worst part. All the while, I continue to plod along at a job that I've actively disliked for years now. When will it all end?!

I'm feeling kind of fed up with the whole process, to be honest. How do you all cope when you feel stuck and discouraged in life?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wee hour blues

It was yet another late, late night at work. I've got that too-wired-to-sleep thing going on even though it's 2am and I should really go to bed. I finally (finally!) have a day off tomorrow and I'd rather not sleep until noon and waste half of it.

Which is why I came home and poured two fingers of whiskey into a glass and drank it neat. I'm still not sleepy, though. Gregg and the dogs are asleep, as they've been for the past three nights when I finally made it home. It's lonely hanging around the house by myself  in the wee hours.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cool Car!

On my way to work yesterday a really cool car pulled up alongside me at a red light. I'm normally not one to care about cars, but this was definitely unusual looking, and when I saw that the driver was on the right hand side, I snapped a couple of pictures so that someone could help me identify it later.

It was, of course, a Bentley. But can anyone tell me what year?

In any case, it was unusual enough that even I noticed it!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review: Me Before You

My book club's selection for the month of April was Jojo Moyes' bestselling hit "Me Before You". Since I had a couple of days off at the beginning of the week I decided to start it on Sunday night. Six hours later, at 4:30 am Monday morning, I finished the book and dissolved into a puddle of tears. I'm talking the full-fledged "ugly cry" and it was almost dawn before I could stop thinking about it and finally go to sleep. I loved it despite how heartbroken it left me.

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)

Louisa Clark is 26 years old, and her life is very, very small. She lives at home with her family. She has a safe but unchallenging job at a café. Her boyfriend of six years is a self centered ass, but he's familiar and it's easy to continue seeing him. Her life is routine, if unexciting, and that's the way she likes it (there's a reason for her living this way that's revealed later in the book). Everything is predictable and routine until the day that she finds out that the café where she works is closing. Her family is not very well off, so she needs to find a new job immediately to continue to supplement their income. Her options are limited, since she never went to college and hasn't had much work experience. An employment agency finds an opening for her as a paid companion to a man who was left a quadriplegic after a terrible accident, and encourages her to apply since there is no need for any special skills (he has nurses for his medical needs). She's not thrilled at the prospect, but since the pay is good and no other opportunities are out there, she agrees to try. To her surprise, the man's mother offers her the job after a brief interview.

Will Traynor is thirty five years old. In his pre-accident life, he was on top of the world. He was handsome, wealthy, well traveled, and had a high powered career. Everything was snatched from him in an instant and he's deeply angry and miserable. His life is a series of urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, pain in limbs he can't even use anymore, and the humiliation of being unable to take care of his bathroom needs or even to feed himself. He doesn't want to continue living, and just prior to Louisa coming to work for him he used his very limited use of his hands to try to commit suicide in a horrific way. His family is desperate to see that that doesn't happen again, so Louisa is in effect a babysitter for him while his medical team takes care of his physical needs. Will has extracted a terrible promise from his family: 6 months for them to try to convince him to live, and if they can't, he wants to be allowed to end his life. Louisa doesn't know this; she only knows that she feels forced to accept a job where her charge seems to hate and resent her, and which she feels terribly unqualified for.

Will (in his previous life) and Louisa could hardly be more different. They argue regularly, and although Louisa feels sorry for him, she finds his cold, angry attitude very hard to take at first. But very gradually, a sort of respect begins to grow between them and a friendship begins to blossom. Then, to her horror, Louisa overhears Will's parents talking about his plan to commit suicide in six months. From that point on, she makes it her mission to make Will's life worth living and to change his mind.

This book was simply amazing. It's definitely not a traditional romance novel as I feared when I first heard about it. It's funny, tragic, wise, and very thought-provoking. What makes a life worth living? That's the question at the heart of Me Before You.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Another busy week, gone

It's been a ridiculously hectic week at work thanks to several people being out on vacation and a few more people failing to show up when they were supposed to.

It's always the same few employees who end up taking up the slack--like me.

I'm tired. I'm typing this on my phone, at work, and I won't be home until at least 11pm. Just like last night. And I close again tomorrow night, too, but at least we close at 8pm on Sunday nights so I should be home by 9:00 or so. My weekends are always the same. (Not good.)

BUT! There is fresh hope! I have a job interview on Wednesday!!

Once again, it's for a bookkeeping position at a school and there's always a lot of competition for those jobs. You can't beat regular hours, several weeks off in the summer, and state benefits! I'm sure a dozen other people will be interviewing for it, too. I hope this time will be lucky for me--please send good vibes, blog friends!!

I also have three days off in a row. Monday and Tuesday were to be my scheduled two days off next week, and I told my manager I needed to take a personal day on Wednesday. She didn't ask why, but if she had, I would have told her the truth. I let her know months ago that I was searching for a new job and that I'm miserable here. She said she was sorry to hear it, but that she understood. In fact, she confided in me that she's looking to leave the company, too.

I really, really hope this interview leads to a new career for me!!