Thursday, January 26, 2017


Although I'm not a religious person, I've always believed in the principle of karma--also known as that old biblical proverb about reaping what you sow. I wanted to share with you two  amazing examples of karma that have happened to me just this week.

First, I must tell you all that money has been tight this month at my house. Some of Gregg's aquarium clients were not open over Christmas (the schools, mainly) and so income from those places has been interrupted this month. Then I had to have oral surgery at the beginning of the month, and I had to cover $500 of that up front before my insurance kicked in to pay the rest. In an effort to not dip into our savings account, I've had to watch my spending very closely.

On Monday, Ginger and George's veterinarian posted a sad story on Facebook about a very sick little dog whose owner is elderly and cannot afford the treatment for him. They asked for help covering the cost of the treatment, and even though I only felt comfortable donating $25 under the circumstances, I did it with the thought that every little bit helps. The very next morning, a check arrived in our mailbox from one of Gregg's clients for $250....ten times what I had given!

Then yesterday while at work I got a desperate text from my friend Ronnie who moved to New York about 10 years ago. He's had a terrible run of luck lately. Right before Christmas, he lost his job, and then on New Year's Eve his boyfriend broke up with him and kicked him out of their apartment. He called me on New Year's Day, first thing in the morning, sobbing. All I could do was listen and try to be encouraging. He was temporarily sleeping on a friend's sofa and trying to figure out what to do next. I was so sad for him.

When he texted me yesterday, he said he only had literally $.76 to his name, and asked me if I could please deposit $20 or so into his bank account so he could get something to eat. I was horrified, and told him I would run by his bank's local branch after work and do it. Instead of $20, I deposited $50 for him and told him that I wished I could have done more. He was so thankful, and it made me feel good to help even though $50 isn't all that much when someone is flat broke.

When I got home, there was another check in the mail from one of Gregg's clients.....for $500. Can you believe that?! That's twice this week that I gave money I could hardly afford, and got exactly 10 times the amount back immediately.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Willpower (and the lack thereof)

I hate dieting. Not that I'm exactly "on a diet" so much as trying to make some permanent lifestyle changes to lose weight and to get healthier. And I hate it. Hate it. I'm trying to cut out excess sugar and junk food carbs, and it's harder than I thought. I smelled cookies baking in our café at work yesterday and could have wept. Today an author who did a book signing with us on Saturday brought in a dozen doughnuts as a thank you gift and I wanted one so bad. There were chocolate doughnuts with creamy chocolate icing, and caramel iced doughnuts with tiny sugar heart-shaped sprinkles on top, and custard filled doughnuts....I didn't eat one, but instead of feeling proud of myself for abstaining, I just felt....resentful. Because for all the sacrifices I've made over the last couple of weeks, no sweets or soda or buttery croissants, drinking loads of water, and eating salads and baked sweet potatoes and lean protein, I haven't lost any weight yet. None. Nada.  And then I came home from work today and wanted nothing more after a hard day than to have a glass (or three) of wine, but that's off limits, too. I did finally decide to treat myself to a single beer, and I'm drinking it as I type this, and it's so delicious. I know I'll want a second one, but I need to stick to the one. But a tiny part of me keeps thinking "what's the point?" because I lose weight sooooo slowly and gain it so easily unless I police every bite that goes in my mouth. It's just not fair!

Somebody call the waaaambulance! Jennifer's feeling sorry for herself today!

But in all do you keep your willpower strong in the face of mediocre results and lots of temptations?

In a desperate effort to motivate myself to keep on going, I bought a giant pack of multi-colored star stickers yesterday for adding to my wall calendar each day to track my accomplishments. On a day when I eat healthy, wholesome foods all day I get a gold star. When I drink enough water, a blue star. When I surpass my 10,000 step per day target, a red one. Etc. etc. I thought adding all those stars for this week would make me feel good, but honestly, I just feel kind of silly. What normal adult uses star stickers for a reward? A caramel iced doughnut with heart sprinkles might make me happier. At least for a few minutes, before the guilt sets in. Sigh.

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With all that being said, this lunch WAS actually yummy as well as healthy!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Several buses from our area have just arrived in DC for the #WomensMarchOnWashington and how I wish I could have joined them! Two ladies from my book club went to represent us on one of the (three!) buses that were chartered from our area, and I have several other friends from all around the country that are making the trip, too.  My husband had to have a colonoscopy yesterday, and I didn't want to make any travel plans for this weekend when he had a medical procedure pending, but I'm with the marchers in spirit. And I'm so proud of them!

Here are some of the Florence, SC marchers en route to DC at sunrise this morning.

Representing the women of the Pee Dee area of South Carolina

And here's just one small example of why resistance to the Trump administration is so vitally important for women. Forgive me for putting something so despicable and disgusting on my blog, but the world needs to know what kind of man Trump is and what his values look like:

"I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look......
I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.......

.....Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything." -President Donald Trump

He was caught on tape (you can listen to the audio if you're so inclined) saying these words after he was married to his current wife, who was pregnant at the time. That's how much respect our new president has for women.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thank you, Mr. President

Today is a sad day for me and for our country. How I'm going to miss President Obama and his beautiful family! He's a truly great man and has been a credit to our country. I'm proud to have voted for him (twice) and I don't think we shall ever see his like again.

Here is an open letter to the American people he released today. It made me cry.

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Thank you, Mr. President.

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look on during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  US President Barack Obama rallied a new generation of Americans to the spirit of the civil rights struggle, warning their march for freedom 'is not yet finished.' In a forceful speech in Selma, Alabama on the 50th anniversary of the brutal repression of a peaceful protest, America's first black president denounced new attempts to restrict voting rights.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Continuing on the theme of weird things I've seen in public recently, take a look at this.

Those signs were at either end of the lawn in front of a neighbor's house, by the side of the road. We were out walking the dogs last night and spotted them.  Luckily, Gregg always carries a flashlight after dark and so I was able to quickly snap a couple of pictures to share with you.

I've never seen anything like this. The second sign is hard to read, but says, "Thank you, Ideal Funeral Parlor".....and, in addition the bizarre signs, there's an outdoor lamp post by the front door of the house that has a newly installed red bulb. The whole yard is bathed in an eerie glow.

We both thought the whole thing was weird and more than a little creepy. The pictures don't do the creep factor justice, to be honest. It looked like something more appropriate to Halloween than a funeral. Or is that just me?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Guess It's Cheaper Than a New Paint Job

Spotted in the parking lot at work today.....

My favorite is "In dog beers I've only had one".

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Crap morning

It's been quite the morning at my house.

It started off with me waking up from terrible, terrible nightmares. I think they were probably the result of needing to take a pain pill right before bed last night. I almost never have bad dreams so I think that was probably the trigger. I woke up shaken and depressed a couple of hours before I needed to actually get up for work, so I had something to drink, read a book for a few minutes, and then went back to sleep....

....and was awakened a few minutes later by my husband who had just had a frantic phone call from one of his aquarium clients, a nursing home 30 miles away, telling him that the 120 gallon tank in their lobby had water leaking all over the floor. Some old maintenance guy got on the phone, yelling that "the floor is probably ruined!!!" and "get your ass over here and do something!" Gregg took issue with the guy's tone and disrespectful attitude, and the conversation quickly escalated into an argument that ended when the guy actually threatened Gregg with bodily harm. Can you believe that?!

Gregg hung up on him and immediately called the facility manager and told her what had happened. She was suitably horrified by the situation and promised to deal with it. But still....physically threatened by a stranger over the phone at 7am is a first in this house!

Then there was the real issue of the tank losing water (maybe ruining the lobby floor, it's a 120 gallon tank, remember) and no one there having a clue what to look for.  And to make things even more fun, Gregg was due to be at his regular job at the pet store at 9am. Thursday is his live animal delivery day, which means that approximately $3000 worth of live fish were sitting in boxes at the store waiting on him. Dilemma! He was pacing the floor, really stressing out, trying to figure out what to do about all the chaos. He was almost frantic.

Luckily another (sane) maintenance guy from the nursing home called a few minutes later and had taken the initiative (bless him!) to check out the equipment, and it appears that a valve had somehow come loose underneath the tank. He was able to stop the flow of water temporarily. So Gregg decided to go to the store first, cut the new fish loose as quickly as possible, and then rush to the nursing home in a couple of hours to repair the faulty valve. He's hoping the lobby floor isn't ruined....AND that there's not some old janitor dude looking for him to kick his ass!

As for me, after waking up from nightmares, and then watching my husband stressing out over a crazy situation, I got physically ill. I've been taking antibiotics for my mouth, and they've got my stomach feeling all weird anyway. I threw up and I still feel nauseous. So I called in sick to work. I hated to do that. Also, I'm out of paid time off  (my anniversary date is in two weeks, and I'll get a whole year's worth of PTO then, how's that for timing?!) and I've already taken an extra day this week for the oral surgery. My paycheck next week is going to be pathetic! But when you're sick, you're sick. I can't very well go in throwing up. And with the way this day is going, I admit I'm a bit scared to so much as step outdoors!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Kind of a strange day

Today seemed really strange. Getting up at the crack of dawn, taking two Valiums, and then being anesthetized for surgery all by 8am was a bizarre beginning. It was seriously cold outside, too, 19°F (or -7°C). For this area, that's low. The ground was crunchy under our feet and everything sparkled with ice and frost. I was glad of the cold when we left the office because it helped to clear my head a little bit. I don't remember very much about the ride home, though. A nurse told Gregg to get me a milkshake right away so I could have something on my stomach. Milkshakes are cold and don't  require chewing so apparently they're the ideal food when you have fresh stitches in your mouth. He went through the Burger King drive through and ordered a strawberry shake for me to eat while he headed to the drugstore to fill my prescriptions. It  was kind of surreal, riding around in the bitterly cold early morning sunshine, eating spoonfuls of ice cream while avoiding the right side of my mouth (which was packed with gauze) and still pretty high from the anesthesia and valium.

As soon as we got my antibiotics and painkillers, we headed home. Gregg gave me a Percocet, a cold ginger ale to wash it down, and tucked me into bed. I spent most of the day dozing and reading by turns. Gregg kept checking in and asking me what I needed or wanted. He stayed home from work to take care of me and was really sweet about it. How I love that man!

Late in the afternoon, Marco started calling for me from the other room, so Gregg brought him to me for a little visit. He put him down on the foot of my bed, and quiet as a mouse, Marco crept up close enough to peek at me over the quilt:

"What's going on, mom?"

Luckily, I haven't had much pain. Gregg has been adamant that I stick to a strict schedule of taking pain medication. After all of his health problems in the past, he's a big believer in staying on top of pain and not letting it set in if you don't have to! So I've been comfortable. I tried to make progress on a new novel I'm reading, but my concentration wasn't very good. I finally put it down and stuck to two old familiar favorites: Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede and Elizabeth Von Arnim's Elizabeth and Her German Garden. It was almost a treat to spend the whole day in bed, reading and napping and being waited on and pampered. It was odd, though.

Woe is me

I had to go to the oral surgeon early this morning and get the broken tooth cut out of my mouth. I woke up feeling weird from the anesthesia and the two Valium they gave me to take a half hour before surgery. The empty socket is stitched up but it bled for a long while afterwards. My whole face is numb on that side, and swelling, and I've developed a splitting headache. They gave me percocet for pain so I just took one and got in bed. Gregg is taking the day off and keeps looking for things to do for me. He's so sweet. He went out and bought me soup, ginger ale, applesauce, and got my prescriptions filled. I'm all set to spend the day recuperating.

Now the pills seen to be kicking in. My headache is loosening it's grip. Time to nap. Adios for now...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Very little white stuff

There's a big winter storm blowing through this part of the country. Almost everyone I know (me included) has had high hopes for a few inches of snow. The forecast was initially for 2 or 3 inches in the Eastern half of South Carolina, but we've only had a few flurries and some freezing rain instead. Aside from rare low temperatures for the next few nights, I think that's about the worst we're going to get from this storm. It's disappointing.

Today is day 5 of my low-sugar diet plan, and let me tell you hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been much harder than I expected. I usually drink maybe 2 Canada Dry ginger ales in a day (it's our favorite soft drink) as well as having a cookie or scone most days at work, and then there's the sugar that I put in coffee and tea throughout the day. Among other things. I quickly discovered that I've been eating a whole lot more of it than I thought. My cravings haven't been too terrible, but dropping most sugar so abruptly left me with headaches, nausea, and the shakes, even after eating a filling meal of lean protein and vegetables.  Last night it got so bad that I ate 2 tangerines, and immediately felt better. So I've decided to add in some fruit and a few more healthy carbs like oatmeal and brown rice. Hopefully that will solve the problem. I don't mind having to withstand cravings, but feeling sick is something else altogether!

That's life at my house today--very little white stuff, of any kind. Sigh.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Gifted Art

A young girl who works with my husband painted this for us as a belated Christmas gift. How sweet! I had no idea she painted. Forgive the darkness of the picture, I took it in our den which is fairly dark in the morning. My husband has had so many original paintings given to him over the years--some by elderly retired artists, some by young musicians who also dabble in paints, and now this created by a 20 year old who wanted to thank him for always being nice to her.

I'll have to find a permanent home for it soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lifestyle Overhaul

One of my goals for this new year is to get my health back under control. There's been far too much overindulgence over this holiday season (and really, much of last year) and it's time to turn the ship around. I've gained back weight I had lost in 2015 and then some. It's embarrassing to me and so I won't go into specifics, but I have a significant number of pounds to lose. My blood pressure was edging up into the high end of normal the last time I had it checked, and I'm not a kid anymore. With my family history of heart problems, diabetes, and obesity I need to take better care of my body and that's what I've resolved to do in 2017!

I plan to keep up the extra walking I did at work through the holiday. I have a pedometer app on my phone and during the past 4 weeks I've been easily meeting my 10,000 step per day goal just at the store. Then Gregg and I take a long walk each night with the dogs, too, so I was getting in about 12,000 steps total. Things at the job will be dramatically slower now that January is here, so I'm planning to start each day with a fast paced, hour long walk with the dogs before work to make up for it. And of course the nightly family walks will continue, too. Eventually I would love to be able to run again, which I did every morning when I was in my 20's, but for now I'll settle for two long walks each day while I try to drop some of these excess pounds. Baby steps.

I'm changing my diet dramatically, too. My biggest problem is a crazy shifting schedule that makes it too easy to eat lots of takeout, fast food, and highly processed food. Too much junk, too much soda, too many lunches and dinners at restaurants with friends. Then it was Christmas. Now that the holidays are almost officially over, it's time to do better. I went grocery shopping yesterday with a detailed list I'd made while planning healthy dinners and work lunches for the rest of the week. I'm cutting out sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods for now. I'm committing to better eating, the extra exercise, to drinking 10 to 12 glasses of water each day, and to giving up some mild self-medicating habits I've been indulging in. It's not going to be easy, but I've planned carefully and will do my best. Today is day one.

Wish me luck (and a good dose of willpower!) to make it through this first week or two, which I image will be the hardest part. Is anyone else making changes for the better this year?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Language lessons

Sue's post about her upcoming trip to Spain got me thinking about my efforts to learn Spanish over the past couple of years. I've been studying very casually and should be further along than I am. As I mentioned to Sue, I have a very slow ear. Spanish spoken at a regular conversational pace is challenging for me to interpret without taking an extra minute between sentences. I can speak, read, and write it much more easily. I seem to have a knack for remembering vocabulary words, but only have the barest grasp of rudimentary Spanish grammar.

Still, I plod on. I've made a resolution for this new year to step up my efforts to work my way through the rest of the course I've been taking (via a set of Rosetta Stone knockoff cds) and try to make some real progress. There's plenty of Spanish language news, tv shows, and movies available that I should be watching to improve my ear. And there's Nate, the bilingual guy that works in my bookstore's café. We typically say the same few greeting type things to each other, being busy, or else I learn new unkind words he uses to describe our store's assistant manager! The ASM tends to be a huge cretino and a cojudo to everyone, but learning words like that isn't terribly useful for my purposes! I need to have more meaningful conversations with him for practice.

Speaking of Nate, here's a funny story he shared with me. He moved to South Carolina from New Jersey when he was in the 4th grade. His father is Venezuelan and his mother is Puerto Rican. He joined his new classroom right before Christmas, and in anticipation of his arrival his well-meaning teacher made a big banner that said in Spanish "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" to welcome him. The problem was that her Spanish was pretty much non-existent, and when she copied the phrase from somewhere she wrote "ano" instead of "año" ...thus wishing Nate a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Anus. Well, like any normal 10 year old boy (and me to this day) he broke down laughing. He also told his classmates about it, and it pissed his teacher off. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot at school! I love stories about those kinds of mistakes. It makes me feel better about all the times I mess up my Spanish, like the time I told a nice Colombian man that Gregg and I eat our dogs!

Now that New Year's Day is past, I'm off to do some house work and run some errands. I'm glad to finally see the last of the holiday season! I hope you all have had a Feliz Año Nuevo, and also a Feliz Ano....!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

The peas are simmering with the leftover Christmas ham bone and bay leaves, crushed red pepper, sweet yellow onion, and garlic. The fireplace is lit and warming the den. Outside it's chilly and a slight drizzle is falling. It will be dark soon, but inside our home everything is bright and cozy and clean. The dogs are napping. Everything is peaceful. It's a day to relax and do whatever we feel like. An auspicious start to 2017.

I wish you all comfort, health, peace, and happiness in the new year!