Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Midsummer Flowers

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I snapped this photo at the county courthouse this morning. The raised beds on the property are always beautifully planted.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Last week of June

How is your summer going?

It's been ridiculously hot here in South Carolina. Temperatures up to 100F with heat indexes of up to 110F have made it nearly impossible to do anything outdoors. I've been staying at home in the A/C with the blinds drawn against the relentless heat. The dogs have been staying inside every day from around noon until bedtime. Ginger has decided that she loves being inside and has a favorite spot picked out in one of the bedrooms right beside an A/C vent. She and George have both been good as gold while inside; they mostly lie around all day and nap. I think they both appreciate getting to escape the heat. We've been giving Marco time out of his cage in the morning before the dogs come in, and then again at night when they go out (and maybe once or twice during the day when I make the dogs go outside for a few minutes to give them opportunities to pee and poop). Since I dare not leave the dogs (especially George) alone in the house, I've been stuck at home during the worst heat of the day so I can keep an eye on them. 

Tomorrow and Wednesday are supposed to be about 10 degrees cooler, which is a good thing, because I have things I need to do during the day. Hopefully it will be safe to leave the dogs out in the garage with their fans going and plenty of water. They also have access to our fenced back yard, which is full of trees and very shady, so they should be fine. 

I've been assigned as a Guardian to a new child, a little boy that just turned a year old this month. I'm going to meet him and the grandparents he's living with on Wednesday afternoon. His mother has addiction issues and wasn't caring for him properly, and so the grandparents had to step in and take him when he was a week old. Little B. showed some signs of opioid withdrawal at birth, but from all accounts is doing well now in the care of his relatives. The mother has supervised visits, but wants full custody back, so this case will likely be heard in court several times. Hence the need for a GAL for the child. I spoke to his grandmother this morning, to set up a time to visit, and she was pleasant and polite and (most importantly) receptive to my role as her grandson's Guardian. I'm not dreading this first visit as much as I've dreaded others in the past, partly because the grandmother assured me that little B. is a delightful toddler and "you're going to love him!" With that kind of positive attitude, I think this woman (and hopefully, her husband) will be easy to work with.

Speaking of children, I'm planning to go see Marla and the baby tomorrow! It's hard to believe that little Carsen is already five weeks old. She's the sweetest baby; she's always asleep when I go to see her, and she smiles in her sleep. 

A photo Marla texted me just this morning. 

I have a long list of chores I'd like to accomplish this week, before the beginning of July. July will be devoted to continuing the process of paring down our possessions in preparation for moving. I've already worked my way through our bookshelves, but that's the tip of the iceberg. Our garage is cluttered, our closets are stuffed full of old clothes and junk, and we even have a whole "junk room" filled with all kinds of things that need to be either organized, repaired, donated, or tossed. I always keep the door to that room closed because it's so shameful looking inside! Now that I have all this time on my hands, there's no excuse for it. Especially when we plan to buy a house before the year is out and will be packing up to move.

On the diet front, I've doubled down on my healthier eating habits and calorie counting--and it's working! I'm now down 17 pounds despite not walking nearly enough in the past week due to the heat. My clothes are getting looser and I'm feeling really good. I think the fact that I'm limiting sugar and junk food is making my skin better, too. The eczema on my knees is completely gone, and while my right ankle still has itchy patches, my left one has almost cleared up, too. The only two things that have really changed are my diet and the amount of water that I drink. So that's a good bonus, too.

I'm finishing up June in a good way on all fronts, and I'm looking forward to July and making more progress on my goals. Do you have any goals you're working toward this summer? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I thought that in honor of the solstice today I would share some favorite flower photos I've taken over the years.

Happy Summer Solstice to all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Family drama

I've always thought it awful how quickly a death in the family can bring all sorts of toxic grudges and resentments to the fore. Especially when money is involved.

My recently deceased grandmother left a sizeable estate. I knew her death was going to set off some family drama, because she and my mother never liked each all. Now my mom is furious because of some of the provisions of the will. 

My dad and his sister are the only two surviving heirs. While my aunt will get her half of the estate immediately, my dad's half has been put in a trust fund to be doled out to him yearly over the course of twelve years. If he should die before it's all paid out, the entire trust fund goes to me. Dad's health is very, very bad and has been for a long time. As much as it hurts my heart to say this, it's surprising that he's lived this long. My grandmother knew this. It's pretty obvious she wanted my mom to have as little access to that money as possible. 

When my dad questioned his sister as to why his portion was tied up in a trust to be doled out, and hers wasn't, she said, "Momma wanted to protect you in case of a divorce." A divorce?! My parents have been married for 45 years! And to add insult to injury, my aunt is on her third marriage. Let that sink in for a moment.

I completely understand my dad's feelings being hurt and my mom being angry. I also understand that there was plenty of blame to go around with mom and grandma's failed relationship. Maybe grandma had her reasons for what she did. In any event, it was her money to do with as she liked.

I'm trying to stay neutral and mind my own business in this situation. I refuse to get involved in family drama concerning money.The very idea makes me feel ill. But I saw my mom this morning and she complained long and bitterly over it all and kept talking about how hard she will have to struggle financially if dad dies anytime in the next few years. I was terribly uncomfortable. Not only because we were talking about my dad possibly dying soon (which is bad enough) but also because I feel guilty that grandma made me the beneficiary of her parting shot at my mom. 

I hate family drama. Hate it.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Heat wave, and a progress report.

Well, the worst of the summer heat is finally arriving this week. We're supposed to have highs of around 98F (36.67C) every day, with high humidity. It's miserable outside.

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 A screenshot of our local forecast for this week.

I had to force Ginger to come inside today. She's never liked being in the house, and would stay out in the garage and backyard no matter the weather if we allowed it. I think it's because she grew up in the country, with lots of land to roam on. She actually prefers being an outside dog. I had to put her leash on her to make her come in the house this morning. It's just too hot for her to be outside, and the small portable A/C unit we used in the garage for the last two years isn't very effective, plus it costs a small fortune to run. We've decided that during the worst heat of the day, both the dogs will just have to come in. George loves it. He'd happily stay indoors forever if we let him. I would love it, but it's not possible. Not only is he a destructive chewer and we fear for our furniture, but Marco has to live here and deserves plenty of time out of his cage each day. Neither of the dogs have ever taken much notice of him, but we dare not let him out while they're inside. Marco would boldly go right up to them both if given a chance. The dogs might not pay him any attention, but he loves them. When they're in the house he chatters away, calling them both by name and saying things like "Good dog!" "Ginger, c'mere...George, c'mere!" and "Hey baby!" I think it's exciting for him when the dogs come inside.

The worst part of this heat wave is that it's so hard to go outside and exercise. I did go swimming at a friend's house yesterday, which felt great. If I wasn't trying to save money this summer I'd get a membership at a pool so that I could swim every day. Maybe next summer.

Speaking of exercise....I'd like to brag a little. I'm down 14 pounds as of this morning! I've been seriously working at changing my eating habits and exercising more since early May, and after a slow start, the weight is finally starting to come off. Gregg and I both had appointments with a new family doctor last week, and I really liked her. I discussed the steps I was taking to lose the excess weight (technically I'm classified as obese in the BMI chart so there was no question that I need to make some changes) and she thought I was doing a good job on my own, but offered to help monitor my progress and support me in the process. Of course I said yes! She gave me plenty of literature about good meal planning, made some common sense suggestions about daily calorie targets, and will be doing blood work this week to check my blood sugar, cholesterol, thyroid and liver function, etc. I'm really excited to finally have a doctor I feel comfortable with and supported by. I'll be weighing in with her monthly. I think that with slow, steady progress I should be in the normal BMI range by the end of the year. That's my goal, anyway.

In order to get the exercise I need while it's so hot, I'm going to have to get creative. I have a couple of friends with pools, and also friends who like to go and walk in the air conditioned mall when it's too hot to be outside. I've been invited to join them whenever I like. Of course, Gregg and I will continue to walk the dogs in the late evening after it cools off enough to be tolerable. It won't actually be pleasant again until late September at least, though.

Speaking of the summer, I leave you with these thoughts.....have a great day, everyone!

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Summer "back in the day"

A friend I grew up and went to high school with shared this on my Facebook page recently. It brought back a lot of memories.

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My girlfriends and I always listened to WAVE 104.1 FM which was the Rock radio station out of Myrtle Beach, SC. I'll never forget how the DJs would announce (every 30 minutes) "Time to you don't burn!" and we would flip over so we would tan evenly. We only wanted to tan when we were teenagers and never gave a thought to possible sun damage to our skin. And the lemon juice or Sun In for your hair? Yeah, we did that. My hair had gone from my childhood "dirty blonde" to light brown by that time, and it was easy to achieve the much-sought after sun streaked look.

God, that feels like a thousand years ago. Another lifetime. These days, I sit outside in the sun for a few minutes now and again (with sunscreen and a hat to protect my face) for purposes of getting some vitamin D. I only expose my arms and legs and I strictly limit the amount of time I spend doing it. My teenage self would have wept to know it was going to come to that! Sunbathing was a real pleasure back then and I miss it.

What kind of teenage summer memories do you have?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Foreverness of June

June 16th and 17th

The Foreverness of June

"Mid-June, no matter what the year, is a kind of summary of all the Junes that ever were. It is a remembering, a knowing and a recalling, a time that was and is and always will be, a timeless time. The daisies that whiten the roadside are remembered daisies, and the bird songs are all songs that have sung in the human heart since hearts first sang. Mid-June is hoped-for truth and longed-for beauty and hoped-for happiness, dreams that could come true five minutes from now.
Wild strawberries ripen, remembered perfection with the taste of yesterday's youth. Pasture roses bloom with the simplicity of beauty as new as the night's dew and as old as time itself. The sun approaches the solstice and there are fifteen hours and more of daylight, within a few seconds of the year's longest span. The rains have eased the drought, the remembered sweet rains of June. Shade lies cool and deep beneath the long-known maples. Fireflies wink in the long dusk. Brooks have not yet languished into July's torpor. Venus is the morning star, and Mars is the star of evening.
The bees hum of mid-June bids one look for yesterday, and find it, in the lush meadows. Butterfly wings lead one down the hillside with other Junes. A dragonfly bids one to the water's edge, there to see mirrored the face of yesterday's June vagabond. And all around, overhead, underfoot, in the very air, is the remembering, the knowing, the very being of June and the possession by it, the partaking and the foreverness, the sweet foreverness of mid-June."

Hal Borland
"Sundial of the Seasons"
June 1963

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Today is my 12th wedding anniversary! Even though a lot has happened in the past twelve years, the time has gone by quickly.

We're postponing going somewhere until the end of the summer. Gregg has had to get so much time off for doctors appointments and procedures lately (and still a couple more to go later this month) that he just can't take any extra time off right now. We're thinking about a small trip to the mointains around the first of August, right before school starts back.

As for today, I'm making Gregg one of his favorite meals. Don't laugh, but we're having meatloaf and real mashed potatoes for dinner! Not exactly the height of romance, I'll admit, but he'll be pleased with it. For dessert we're having banana pudding. Gregg loves banana pudding, but I can take it or leave it....which makes it perfect, since I'm on a diet. I'll be making a double batch since he loves it so much, and has no problems with weight gain to worry about! How's that for an anniversary dinner? :)

I'm so incredibly lucky to be married to my best friend. Picking him has turned out to be the very best decision of my life!

Happy Anniversary, my love. Here's to the next twelve happy years together! ❤

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Bone Man

This morning a friend I grew up with shared this article about a well-known character from my hometown. I remember seeing his car around town when I was a little girl, because it was hard to forget: it was covered in animal skulls and bones. 

No one batted an eye when the Bone Man drove past. In the deep South, we're used to our eccentrics...they're just part of the landscape. Reading this article took me straight back to my childhood, and I thought some of my international readers might be interested in hearing about a small town witch doctor. Enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Summertime treats

 It's so much easier to eat better in the summertime. Here are some of my current go-to snacks and desserts.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

First week of summer

This has been my first full week of summer vacation, and I still haven't quite adjusted to the idea that I have the next two months free. I'll look at the clock at night and it'll be, say, 10:30pm and I'll think, "It's getting late, I should probably head to.....oh wait.....I don't have to go bed! I'm off!" and it's such a great feeling. I feel a little guilty about it, all this free time when my poor husband works practically 7 days a week between his regular job and his side gigs servicing aquariums. I will say he's been happy that I've temporarily taken over all the household chores (except mowing the lawn) and he doesn't have to lift a finger when he's home in the evenings. It's no big deal to keep the house picked up and to throw in a load of laundry here and there when I'm here all day.

I saw Marla and baby Carsen yesterday. They're both doing great. I've been over twice in the past two weeks and I usually get to spend an hour or two holding the baby. She's always so good when I'm there; mostly she just sleeps. Yesterday she finally opened her eyes for me, but only for about a minute. She looks far more like Marla than baby Alice did; Alice looked exactly like her father, who is of Asian descent. Carsen has light brown hair and fairer skin, and looks more like a mixture of both her parents. Speaking of her parents, Marla is glowing with good health and happiness, and her husband is already so calm and capable when handling the baby. I'm proud of those two--they're doing a great job so far! They're the sweetest little family.

I've been walking more this week, despite the heat. I'm in the middle of week 7 of my diet and exercise lifestyle change. I've lost 8 pounds so far and I'm feeling better and better, physically. I try to hit a target of 10,000 steps daily and sometimes I can get over 12,000 if I start off the day challenging myself to be mindful of opportunities to move around.

I went to the farmer's market on Tuesday and bought the first watermelon of the season. It's so delicious! I love cold salted watermelon on a hot day. I also bought some zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Eating healthier is so much easier this time of year when fruits and veggies are at their peak of goodness. I plan to make trips to the farmer's market at least once a week this summer. I may even try freezing some things, since we have a small chest freezer that's sitting empty.

Well, off to do my one "extra" chore for the day. I've tried each day to pick one thing to accomplish which takes about an hour and isn't part of the normal daily routine. Today's chore is giving both the dogs a bath. They're going to hate it but it needs to happen. George is always especially dirty. He loves rolling in dirt like a pig! Which is probably exactly what he'll do as soon as I finish giving him his bath today. He's such a punk!

How's your week going?

Monday, June 4, 2018

Well, there you go.

A few minutes ago our doorbell rang. Gregg got up to answer it, and it turned out to be a man handing out tracts from a megachurch here in Florence called Florence Baptist Temple. (I call them the Florence Baptist Taliban).

Among the bundle of tracts he handed us was this little gem:

And look at the verse I found in it.....

After yesterday's's that for a coincidence? 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Lazarus stinketh

A second quick blog post today to tell you about something that happened at the funeral yesterday.

A pastor (Southern Baptist) who knows my aunt was called upon to speak at grandma's service and again at the gravesite. While we sat in the 90 degree heat of midafternoon under a tent at the cemetery, the pastor was droning on and on about how all believers would have new, glorified bodies in heaven after Jesus comes again, and the dead would be raised from the grave and would fly to heaven in the Rapture to live again for eternity, and on and on...and then he started telling the story of how Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead.

He described the tomb being opened, and the Lord calling Lazarus forth four days after his death, and I swear to you all that I think in the middle of this rambling narrative the preacher said, "..and Lazarus stinketh". I quickly looked at Gregg to see if he had heard it too, but apparently not. He told me later that his mind had started to wander and he wasn't really listening, damn it! We had a good laugh about it once we got home, though.

I wonder if I heard the pastor right? Southern Baptists are definitely weird enough to say something like that at a funeral with a straight face and complete seriousness. Does anyone know if it's an actual verse in the bible? About Lazarus smelling bad? Maybe I misheard the man, but I don't think so.

Funerals down South. Haha!

How the summer began

My 10 week summer vacation has begun, and I have no idea what to do with myself. I haven't had a whole summer off since I was a teenager. There are so many things I would like to accomplish in the next two or three months! I'm so glad I kept applying for jobs with the school district; it took three years, but getting this job has changed my life. Summer break feels like the biggest payoff so far.

I actually missed the last three days of school this year. I went in to work the morning after grandma died because I wasn't sure what else to do. As soon as I told someone what had happened, everyone started saying, "Why are you here? You need to go and be with your family." The secretary went ahead and scheduled me for paid days off (bereavement pay) for the rest of the week. I stayed long enough to call a couple of parent volunteers to come help answer phones, and  tie up a couple of loose ends, and then I went on home. Of course, I drove to my hometown that afternoon and sat with my dad for a few hours. It's tough to lose your mother.

The funeral was yesterday. My dad and aunt had arranged for a very simple service in the funeral parlor chapel followed by a procession to the cemetery. I had forgotten how a funeral procession still works in a small southern town: there are police escorts on either end, and police at every traffic light and intersection along the way so that all oncoming cars must yield. Most of the cars on the opposite side of the highway leading out of town will pull off the side of the road (or else stop right in the middle of it) out of respect while a funeral passes by. Gregg and I had both forgotten about those customs and marveled that they still exist.

Speaking of my husband, most of my dad's family had never met him before the funeral yesterday. He looked so handsome in his smart dark suit, and his manners were so nice, that I was proud of him. He's been really sweet and supportive during all this, and I feel like a fortunate woman.

Now that the funeral and other family responsibilities are over, I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea that I am off work.....for weeks and weeks! I don't want to waste a single day of savoring this new summer freedom.