Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Taxes and Flowers

I had to go to our city-county complex building yesterday to pay the property taxes on my car.

When I got there I saw that the landscaping crews have planted loads of summer flowers all around the multiple entrances. There were roses, zinnias, daisies, and several flowers I didn't recognize, but my favorites were these gorgeous red hibiscus.....

I'm sure some of the passers-by thought I was crazy, standing there snapping pictures with my phone, but I didn't care. The flowers were too pretty for me to resist! How pleasant for people headed to the tax offices (or to court!) to have something beautiful to see on the way in.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer in a bookstore.

Every summer at the bookstore it's the same old story. People drop off their kids and let them roam around the mall, unsupervised. I guess they either can't (or don't want to) pay for daycare and think a bookstore is an appropriate alternative. (It's not). We can't be responsible for unattended children. Mall security (or police officers, if it happens to be a weekend when they're on duty) are going to be called to handle the situation if the parents can't be located within 10 minutes or so. We're not there to babysit. As a wise woman once said, Ain't Nobody Got Time For That.

So today a little girl was wandering around the store for hours, playing with our display tablets, picking up books and then laying them down just anywhere, moving toys from the children's department, running, etc...and this behavior went on for hours with nary an adult in sight. I finally got fed up with the situation and went to talk to the child. And this is how it went.

Me: Hey, there. How old are you?

Girl: ..........Um.... twelve.....

Me: Is your mom in here with you?

Girl: Yes. (This was a lie).

Me: You need to go find her. Where is she?

Girl: .....................

Me: You can't be in here without your mom. Let's go find her.

Girl: Screw you, lady!


Being told off by a tiny 12 year old girl is a new one even for me, the veteran of six summers at the bookstore. Whew!

School can't start back fast enough.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The devil on my shoulder...

Marco likes being with me every second of the day when I'm not at work. He's usually perched on my right shoulder like this:

What a pretty bird!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pond Visitors

Blue Dasher - (Pachydiplax longipennis)

This little guy was hanging out around our container pond yesterday. Isn't he cute? Blue Dashers are friendly little beasts and will let you get close enough to take pictures. I like this one where he was perched on one of the Blue Pickerel flowers.

The bees like our pond flowers, too.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer is Evil

I've decided that summer is my least favorite season. It's just awful here in South Carolina.

I know that many parts of the country are having unusually high temperatures, and even parts of the UK are experiencing an unusual heat wave, but it's downright miserable here. Not only are temperatures in the upper 90s every single day, but the humidity is so bad (especially after it rains) that walking outside is like walking into a steam bath. It gets hard to breathe.

Another issue this year in this area are the pests. Thanks to a  mild (almost non-existent) winter and a whole lot of rain, mosquitoes, ticks, and snakes are having a bonanza year. On the way to grandma's last week I listened to a local NPR segment about how this is the worst year for ticks we've ever had. Not only that, but they're carrying a new disease that's as bad as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme, and all three diseases are being reported in high numbers all up and down the East coast. Our veterinarian has been warning the community about the number of snake bites that he's seen in dogs lately, and how frequent poisonous snake sightings have become. I can't stand the thought of a snake--I screamed like a child the last time I saw one--and I dare not take our dogs anywhere where they might be lurking. Copperheads are particularly bad in this area.

The weeds and poison ivy and quick-growing vines that have sharp thorns are taking over our fences and the sides of the house. The more evil the plant, the more it seems to love this awful summer heat and humidity. Our yard looks like crap. And who wants to do more than mow the grass in weather like this? Not us. We're considering hiring a yard crew to come for the rest of the summer just for the sake of comfort. It's probably not a bad way to blow some money.

How do you feel about summertime? I hope that for most of my readers it's a better experience than what I've described here!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day, and an anniversary

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and the day after, June 19th, would have been my paternal grandparents' 69th wedding anniversary. I promised you all some more family photos, and what could be better than vintage wedding pictures? Grandma gave me copies of all of these to keep forever.

June 19, 1948

The bride and groom with the maid of honor, grandma's cousin Clara, and the best man, grandpa's brother Johnny.

You guys.....wasn't my grandmother beautiful? And her dress...!!! Just lovely.

I also got a copy of their wedding announcement that ran in the newspaper. Back in those days, they spared no detail when describing a wedding in the society columns. Here are a few excerpts I thought you might find interesting:

Miss Margaret Martin Weds Mr. Czmiel in Rites at St. Louis Catholic Church, Dillon

In an impressive service on Saturday morning, June 19, at the St. Louis Catholic church in Dillon, SC, Miss Margaret Martin became the bride of Joseph Stanley Czmiel of Chicago. Rev Lawrence Sheedy of the Dillon church assisted by Rev. Maurice Shean of Rock Hill officiated........

......The lovely little chapel was decorated with tall floor baskets of white dahlias and gladioli. Sprays of ivy entwined the altar rail, where burning candles were placed..........

....The lovely young brunette bride, given in marriage by her father, was beautifully gowned in white slipper satin, with sweetheart neckline and long fitted sleeves ending in points at the wrist. Her full skirt, attached to a fitted bodice, ended in a wide cathedral train. She wore a fingertip veil of bridal illusion edged in rose point lace and caught to a halo of tiny beads. The bride carried a white prayer book topped by a white purple-throated orchid, and showered with satin ribbons.....

The bride had as her only attendant her cousin, Miss Clara Lou Hardwick of Aynor. She wore a blue taffeta dress fashioned with sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice and full skirt, and carried a colonial bouquet of yellow rosebuds encircled by Shasta daisies. She wore matching taffeta mitts and, on her head, a bandeau of roses and daisies.

Mrs. Martin, mother of the bride, wore Eleanor blue crepe with softly draped hipline and self embroidery, and on her shoulder, a corsage of pink roses.

Mrs. Czmiel, mother of the bridegroom, was gowned in beige. She also wore a corsage of pink rosebuds.

Immediately afater the ceremony the bride's parents entertained with a wedding breakfast at their home on Marion street, which was made attractive with numerous arrangements of white gladioli, dahlias, and snapdragons. The bride's table, centered by a triple tiered wedding cake tipped by a miniature bride and groom, was especially lovely, decorated with gardenias tied with maline and white satin ribbons......

.....During the afternoon, the bride changed her wedding gown for a dressmaker suit of white gabardine with which she wore black accessories and the orchid from her prayer book. Following a brief wedding trip the young couple will be at home in Chicago.

There was plenty more I left out, like who provided the nuptial music and the pieces they played ("Oh, Perfect Love" by Gurney and "Ave Maria" by Shubert, as well as the traditional marches), the usher/groomsmen names and where they lived, and who greeted guests, worked the bridal register, presided over the dining room and "assisted with hospitalities" at the reception. There was also a bit about my grandmother being a recent graduate of Winthrop University, and my grandfather being a veteran of WW2 and serving in Europe.

Clearly, wedding announcements were a big deal back in those days!

A year later, on June 12, 1949, my grandparents' first child was born, my uncle Paul.

A perfect picture for Father's Day: my grandpa with his first-born son.

Grandma was a pretty young mother. And look at the telephone in the background!

Grandma sewed all the fancy lining and ribbons on this bassinet.

My great-grandmother, Emma Martin, visiting Chicago when my uncle Paul was born. She's on the left, and my other great-grandmother, Angeline Pierog, is on the right. Can anyone guess what kind of car they're posing beside?

My grandfather's sister, Ann Czmiel, and his brother, Johnny Czmiel, with their new nephew.
I hope you've enjoyed these old family photos! I had so much fun looking through them and picking out ones to share here!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Go show your family some love, especially the older generations if you're still lucky enough to have them in your life. I feel very fortunate to still have grandma around at her grand old age of almost 90 years old.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Family photos

I'm home from a quick visit with grandma last night.  We spent some time poring through old family photos and I brought a few home. Here's one I especially wanted to show you all.

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My grandfather, Joseph S. Czmiel, in WWII. He was in the US Air Corps and served in  the 466th Bombardment group in Europe. Wasn't he a dapper looking man?!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Special Day

Eleven years ago today I married my best friend, and I've never once regretted it. I did good.

Happy Anniversary to us!

 On the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, June 2006.

He's my favorite. ❤

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Nine days!

I'm on vacation! I have nine whole days off work starting today! I don't have big plans, and will probably spend most of it at home, but I'm just glad to have a break.

Monday is our wedding anniversary so Gregg is taking the day off with me. I'm not sure yet what we're going to do, though. We've decided to postpone a trip until September or October when the weather is cooler and the rates are cheaper, since we will probably go somewhere on the coast. One year we went to the mountains in southwest Virginia in June. It was pretty up there, and naturally not so hot, but mountains don't really do much for me--I'd much rather be at the beach.

I do plan to go visit my grandmother and aunt next week, and stay overnight. They live across the state in Aiken, SC. It's almost a 3 hour drive so I don't go nearly as often as I should. Grandma recently sold her house and moved in with her daughter, my dad's sister. She'll be 90 years old this August and is finally beginning to have some minor issues with living alone. She saved two sets of "good" dishes for me when she packed up her house that I'll be picking up, and I've also asked for copies of family photographs. I have absolutely none from my dad's side of the family, and that's a shame. If I don't do something about that while grandma's still around, I won't have the chance. And it will be good to spend time with her, too.

For the rest of my nine days off, I plan to relax, spend time with the puppies, go for some bike rides, and maybe do a few things around the house that I never get around to at normal times--like clean out closets and donate things we no longer use to Goodwill. My friend Marian has talked about having me and a couple of other friends over for a pool day at some point, and another old friend (that I haven't seen in forever) has invited me over to see her new house and to catch up next weekend. I seem to have plenty of options for enjoying myself. I'm kicking it all off today with lunch at Tubbs with one of the Karens from book club.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


It's the last day of  Employee Appreciation Week at Ye Olde Corporate Bookstore.

What a joke. Especially at my particular location.

The official celebration consists of three things. First, an extra 10% added to our employee discount for a week. Which can't be combined with any other deals or specials going on. They're basically saying, "We appreciate your hard work all year so much, we're going to give you an incentive to spend back some of the money you've earned with us! Thanks!"  The second part of the "celebration" is one employee meal for the staff. A meal where there's only about $4-5 to be spent per person. The total will barely pay for a sandwich platter from Subway, so the company suggests that we turn it into a potluck and just use the funds they provide to buy the main entrée. They want us to do extra shopping and spend our money there, and they also want us to provide most of our own appreciation meal! Lest you think I'm being ungrateful, I'll point out that our store is the smallest in our region, and it alone makes more than 3 million dollars a year. It would be completely different if we worked for a small, locally owned business with far fewer resources.

The third thing that should be happening this week never will: store managers are supposed to go out of their way to thank everyone for all the things they do well. That would actually be nice, but our manager is completely and utterly burned out and mentally checked out. She's a nice enough person, but is obviously long past the point where she should have either found another position or taken early retirement. She never thinks to thank anyone for anything, ever. Nor does she notice what's going on around her most of the time at work. I don't know of anyone who feels appreciated there. I certainly don't.

Appreciation and validation are so important at work. I realized how much I miss a more supportive atmosphere last month when two managers from other stores in the region visited us for a week. We have some problems at our store (not the least of which is high turnover) and the two people they sent train new managers in the district. They were sent by the district manager to work at our store for a week to observe, make suggestions, and try to figure out where some of the problems lie. Both of the people he sent were mature, professional, and helpful. And on three separate occasions, I got big praise from the two of them. I've become so accustomed to never hearing any positive feedback that all three times I found myself blushing and then glowing with pride for hours afterward. Every day when I left work that week, I felt like I was walking on air. Of course things went right back to normal as soon as they left. But it was a great reminder that I have been (and can be again) so much happier at work than I am right now! The lack of appreciation is high on my list of grievances, and reasons why I'm looking to move on.

So Employee Appreciation Week falls a little flat for this employee!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Thank you, France

Look out, Cro, we may just have to take him up on his offer and become your neighbor! France and Canada both are looking better and better in these evil times.