Sunday, September 30, 2018


Maybe I should write about contentious issues more often. Yesterday's post had a bit of a cathartic effect on me and I felt a little lighter after writing it. Thank you all for the thoughtful comments. For the next few days I'm going to try my best to avoid politics altogether, for my own mental health.

It's a warm, gray sky Sunday afternoon here, and my neighborhood seems oddly quiet. The dogs are sleeping at my feet--little do they know I'm getting ready to give them both baths. Ginger has her yearly vet trip for an exam and shots tomorrow, so I want her to look her best. And if I'm already geared up for washing one dog, I may as well wash the other. There's also a load or two of laundry calling my name, but that's about it for the chores.

I've done a good bit of cooking over the past couple of days so tonight's dinner is already done. I made a big crockpot full of vegetarian chili on Friday and it gets better with each passing day. I also baked a loaf of banana bread and a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread last night. I've been craving fall foods even though our weather hasn't gotten the message that summer is over yet.

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I'm not sure what I'll do later in the afternoon after finishing the laundry. I'm debating either going to the bookstore to find something new to read, or else just staying in and watching a movie. Either way, I plan to try to have a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Another work week is upon us already!

Have a good one, everyone.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Kavanaugh thing.

What a week.

I try not to talk politics much on this blog. Since the election of Trump there's never a slow news day, and all of it is bad. Everyone in this country spends half their time seething with barely controlled rage these days, and who wants to come to a blog and read more of the same? I prefer to focus on my everyday life when I write, family, nature, pets....the good stuff. Also, the majority of my blog friends and readers don't live in the USA.  While they may follow our news, and vice versa, something that feels like a burning issue to me doesn't have the same urgency for the rest of the world. I get that. When my friends in England argue over Brexit or individual politicians, for instance, I don't have much to add to the conversation. As for heated political discourse, I get plenty of that in my everyday life. There's no need for more of it on the blog.

But this week has been different for me. The Kavanaugh thing has really, really bothered me on a visceral level that I don't understand. For the record, I believe Dr. Ford. I think she's entirely credible and has nothing to gain from all this. When Brett Kavanaugh testified and alternated between raging, sniveling, crying, and screaming about conspiracies, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he lacks the temperament to be a judge of any kind, much less on the SCOTUS, allegations of sexual wrongdoing aside. If I had been asked some tough interview questions at my last jobs, and had totally lost all composure the way that man did, I would never have had a job! He's not on trial, no one is suggesting he's going to be prosecuted, he's in the process of a job interview. It's easy to imagine the entitled, selfish, aggressive teenager Dr. Ford described in the red faced, furious, sarcastic man we saw on Thursday.

Of course I'm mostly bothered by the utter wickedness of the GOP and Trump trying to rush through the nomination no matter what so that they can get their man on the court before the midterms. He was hand picked because he has said that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and because he's ready and willing to chip away at Roe vs. Wade. They don't care about anything else. But somehow that's not the main thing that bothered me about this story.

The worst part for me is the disgusting misogyny on full display for the world to see. How little a potential victim's suffering means to those in power when a wealthy, privileged white man might lose a job he feels entitled to. The way young men are indulged with a "boys will be boys" attitude and bad behavior is excused easily but every action of a young woman leading up to and after an attack is scrutinized and doubted for ways she didn't behave exactly "right". What was she wearing, was she drinking, how much had she had to drink, why was she out late at parties in the first place, why didn't she report it to the police right away...?

That last question (why didn't Dr. Ford report the attack to the police at the time) is one that some people think casts the most doubt one the story. That bothered me the most in this whole mess and it took me a couple of days to figure out why. Here's a little story from my teenage years that I had forgotten about until this Kavanaugh story came out.

When I was about 17 years old I attended a party at my friend Amber's house. You should understand from the start that I didn't have a lot of supervision at home; my parents were drinking heavily in those days and having marital problems, and they didn't take a whole lot of notice of me. I had a second hand car and could (and did) drive myself wherever I wanted to go, including the party at Amber's that night.

There were a handful of other teenagers there, but no adults. One of my classmates brought a slightly older friend from out of town to the party. I don't remember his name, but I remember how he spent the whole night following me around, hitting on me. He got very, very drunk and at some point produced a handful of pills from one pocket that were passed around. I didn't take any; I wasn't that reckless even as a teenager, and I distinctly remember only sipping at a couple of beers that night since I had to drive later. (Ultra responsible only child of alcoholics that I was). Staying relatively sober turned out to be a really good decision on my part.

At some point, after hours of this annoying guy getting all touchy-feely and following me around, he seemed to get the message that I wanted him to leave me alone. Maybe I asked my friend Kyle (the guy who brought him) to rein him in. It got later and later, and everyone (except me) got drunker and drunker, and before long people had started to couple up and disappear to private rooms or places on the property. I must have been getting ready to go home; if memory serves it was very late. The only lights on in the house were from a couple of TVs with the sound turned off, and the music was blaring. I remember it vividly because I walked into the den of the house and the Annoying Guy was standing there in the dimly lit room, alone, and stripped down to his underwear. His eyes were glassy and blank when we looked at me. Alarm bells went off in my head and I immediately turned to walk back out, but he rushed forward and grabbed me. He turned me around and pulled me to him, hard, and we struggled for a couple of seconds. It felt totally surreal. He never said a word and I'm not sure if I did. Luckily for me my adrenaline was pumping and the guy was stumbling, fumbling drunk and high; after a few seconds of trying to get away I shoved him hard enough that he lost his footing and fell. I ran from the house via the front door and found some friends outside to run to. I was pretty scared and went home soon after.

 Would the guy have raped me if he had been a little less intoxicated? Maybe. Maybe not. I'll never be able to say with certainty. I will give him this much: according to Kyle (our mutual friend) he didn't remember the incident at all, and the next morning when he sobered up enough to hear about it he asked Kyle to call me so he could apologize. I refused to speak to him, or accept his apology, but at least he tried to make one. I don't doubt that he didn't remember a thing about the incident, but the way he harassed me beforehand proved that he wasn't just some innocent victim of too much alcohol. And if I had taken some of the pills he was passing around, who knows what might have happened to me.

Did I tell my parents about this incident? Hell, no. It never occurred to me to tell them, much less the police. I was only badly scared, after all, and what would the police have done? Dismissed it out of hand, most likely. My parents would probably have punished me for being at such a party in the first place if I had told them. They might have blamed me for getting myself in such a spot and considered that I had learned a lesson. So, no...I didn't report it. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Dr. Ford has described an attack much more scary and calculated than the one I've described here, and she was two years younger than me, only 15 years old. There wouldn't have been any physical evidence of what happened to her except possibly some bruises, but maybe not even those, so what would the police have done? Nothing, that's what. Nothing at all. These were rich, elite, white boys from prominent families and it was their word against hers. And she was only 15 fucking years old at the time! Conservatives** are screaming about how she didn't handle it properly (i.e., how they think she should have handled it) for her story to be credible and they're talking about a child. How can the ones with daughters look their children in the eye? When they smear Dr. Ford and call her a liar, when they circulate wild conspiracy theories to try to discredit her (like a woman I know who keeps sharing photoshopped photos of Ford meeting with George Soros and claiming he's paying her off, ffs) when they make excuses for outrageous teenage male behavior, how can they ever expect their daughters to trust them? As a friend of mine put it yesterday on FB (and I have permission to share):

I want all of you to be aware that although I haven’t spoken up about Dr Ford’s accusations I have been watching. I have been reading your statuses and silently making note of who I no longer consider safe. I’m reading and I’m learning who, if I were to open up to them about my own experience with sexual assault and abuse, would look for any possible reason to excuse or dismiss the actions of my abuser. Who would wonder what I had been wearing or what I may have done to encourage them. Who would defend my abuser over me. Who would think I was lying or looking for attention. Who would consider me weak or stupid for not being brave enough to go to authorities with my story when it happened. I’m watching and learning who is unsafe, and I’m taking note. The same is probably true of all your friends who have suffered sexual assault and I just wanted you to know that. We see you. We know who you really are now and we’ll remember.

So this whole Kavanaugh story has really gotten to me. Although I've never been raped or molested, I've been on the receiving end of abusive male behavior and unwanted sexual advances more than once in my life, and seeing just how far women still haven't come in this country has been an eye opener for me. I've felt almost sick all week about this and I'm finding that most of my friends, at least the women, are feeling the same sense of anguish.

** I would like to go on the record as saying that I think Lindsey Graham is an utter sack of shit and a disgrace to the state of South Carolina.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Possibly the cutest thing you'll see this month

A young woman named Jessie who works with my husband at the pet store is fostering some little hurricane orphans right now. Just look at these tiny babies...!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Weaver

This beauty took up residence in my Confederate Jasmine hedge after the hurricane blew through last week.

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

House Lust

For years now I've dreamed of having a home of my own. Throughout my 30's, buying a house was high on my priority list, but those plans got derailed for several years when Gregg got sick. Now that we're ready again, and actively looking, the housing market in our area is really bad for buyers. It's a total seller's market; inventory of available houses is low, prices are up, and houses are under contract almost as soon as they appear on the market. Twice now we've asked to see a house, only to find someone had beat us to it a week after the listing went up! And of course, with that much demand, you can forget about negotiating on the price, which is bad news for people like us with a modest budget but high hopes for something good!

Speaking of something good, I'd like to show you an available property in a little town about 10 miles north of Florence that stole my heart. It's well above what we can afford to spend, nor could we afford to maintain it in the style it deserves, and it's in a crappy little town that I'd rather not live in anyway...but still. I have a bad case of house lust with this one! I've looked at the pictures several times, sighing, and my husband finally said, "You should stop looking. It's just making you feel bad" and he's right. It hurts my heart a little to think of the beautiful old workmanship in the house, the old garden with heirloom flowers lovingly planted and cared for over 100 years ago, the pecan and magnolia trees. If we were a little bit richer, this would be our home.

Take a look at the listing descriptions and the pictures. What do you think?

Emma Wilcox House.

2400 SF Victorian with hip roof, wrap around porches, sleeping porch and rear deck. 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Refinished hardwood floors and tile throughout. Built in china cabinets. Very large attic which could add 1500-1000 SF if desired. Period molding and door trim. Home is in very good shape. 1 acre lot with goldfish pond, grape arbor, large trees, and specimen azaleas, camellias, and tea olives. Approx 8x16 outbuilding and fenced back yard. 1/2 acre adjacent lot has basketball pad and adds privacy. Central Heat and AC. Home was built by Wilcox family in 1900 and current owners have owned it since 1988. Quiet neighborhood yet 3 blocks from groceries and downtown Darlington. Good neighbors.

Beautiful Victorian 1 story cottage on one acre wooded lot. Wrap around front porch with private screened sleeping porch off of bedrooms. Large yard with 6 pecan trees and a large magnolia. Large deck off of kitchen/family area. Hardwood floors throughout with tiled master bath and kitchen. Fancy door and window molding throughout. Two built in china cabinets. Built in ironing board. Large master closet. Private side yard. Beautiful old camellias, azalias and other specimen plants. Backyard goldfish pond.

Look you see the orange tabby? 

Grape Arbor by the pond.

It has a small library. This makes me swoon.

One of the two bathrooms. I love the window.
Linen and coat closets galore.

Built in china cabinets and ironing board.

One of the three bedrooms. They all have nice windows and doors like this.

This bedroom has a fireplace.

There's even a sugar maple tree on one side for fall color.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Florence update

This has been the strangest hurricane we've ever had.

The worst of the winds and flooding happened well north of us, although the storm is moving so very slowly that it's still making its way across South Carolina as I type this. We never lost electricity, although plenty of people around town did, and the water is just starting to rise in this area. Late last night people in two neighboring counties had to start evacuating due to flooding. Some of my cousins had to leave home, and my parents (who were without power for two days) are anxiously watching the water rise around their house and hoping they won't have to leave, too.

Meanwhile, it's just wet and windy and dull here, and I'm getting awfully tired of being stuck inside. I did venture out to the nearest grocery store this morning to try to get something to cook today. I didn't buy any perishable foods as the storm approached, because I really and truly thought our power was going to go out and stay out, so we've been eating canned meals and junk since Wednesday despite having electricity. I suppose I should be grateful I didn't have to heat it on a Coleman camp stove! So I drove the half mile to the nearest Food Lion, but although they were open, they had lost power for so long that there was NO perishable food available. No meat, no dairy, almost no fresh produce, and no frozen no home cooking again tonight! That's such a minor inconvenience I wouldn't dare complain when it could have been so very, very much worse.

We've been beyond fortunate with this storm. Last week when it looked like it was going to be absolutely devastating to this area people were really scared. I've never seen such a major evacuation and advance preparation by the state in response to a hurricane threat while the threat was still so far out in the Atlantic. Some of my most level headed, not-prone-to-drama friends were almost having panic attacks in the days leading up to Florence making landfall. Even my friend Marla, which surprised me. She's normally the last person to panic over a weather event, but I suppose having the baby to be responsible for now (not to mention new mama hormones) has made a big difference. Speaking of the baby...

Check out the look she's giving me while I snapped her picture! This was taken earlier this week when Marla brought her over for short visit ahead of the storm. Carsen is growing into such a serious baby. She looks at everything intently with the slightly knit brow that you see here. 

Thanks to everyone who left kind comments and good wishes for our safety during this storm on my last post! It meant a lot to me to see that so many people cared. You all are the best!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A ghost story

We're still awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Florence. The storm slowed down and is now expected to come ashore late tonight and then sit on top of South Carolina for two or three days. We're well prepared and I think we'll be fine, but it's been a long week of dread and I'll be glad when this is all over.

Whenever a hurricane blows through South Carolina, a legendary ghost story always comes up in conversation. It's been retold for generations now, the story of the Grey Man of Pawley's Island. My dad spent about 10 years of his childhood living near Pawley's and he grew up hearing it, and of course I grew up hearing it, too.

The Grey Man is a ghost that appears on the beach before a hurricane as a warning of what's to come. According to legend, anyone that sees the Grey Man will return to the area after the storm to find their home and possessions untouched, no matter how much damage and destruction surrounds them. Sightings have been reported for decades now, even down to this morning on the local weather Facebook page where someone claimed to have seen him yesterday afternoon. It just goes to show, the idea of the Grey Man is a solid part of South Carolina folklore.

Here is a great version of the story that I found on the Internet this morning if anyone is interested:

The Grey Man of Pawley's Island, SC

I'll check in as I'm able over the next few days and let you all know how we're faring through the storm. Too bad we're not close enough to the beach to go out for a walk (and hopefully a sighting!) of the Grey Man!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Batten down the hatches...

We have a real doozy of a storm headed our way. Hurricane Florence, with the same name as the city in Northeast South Carolina where I live, is headed our way with all the fury of legendary storms of the past. Our governor has already warned that Florence has the potential for "stronger winds than Hugo and more rain than Matthew". Hugo was the catastrophic hurricane of 1989 that people still shiver a little to mention, and Matthew caused historic devastating floods two years ago. People are panicking, and rightly so. The governor closed schools yesterday afternoon until further notice, ordered the mandatory evacuation of all coastal counties, and major highways that run to those coastal counties have been reversed as of noon today---all lines only go one way, out. All coastal counties are also in the process of a mandatory evacuation of all hospitals and nursing homes. It's serious business. I don't usually think much of Governor McMaster, but his response to this situation has been solid. He said in yesterday's press conference that it's better to be inconvenienced than to risk losing lives unnecessarily. I feel pretty good about the emergency preparations taking place in the state right now.

Here's the latest weather update from one of our local weather guys:

Ed Piotrowski WPDE
Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches have been issued for much of the South Carolina coast and all of the North Carolina coast.
Florence is going through an eye replacement cycle and has weakened a bit, but is expected to strengthen when that's done. It's possible it could become a category 5 hurricane over the next day or so. All indications point to Florence being a major hurricane on final approach to the Carolina coast. Conditions will go downhill Thursday with landfall Thursday night or early Friday.
Overall, the track has changed very little over the past 24 hours. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center still shows Florence coming ashore in southeastern NC. IF that track didn't change, we would be on the weaker side of Florence with less wind and storm surge. Right now the odds of this scenario are 50%. This morning's model runs basically support the current track, but PLEASE do not let your guard down. The average error of the forecast track 2-3 days out is over 100 miles. IF Florence's track were to trend southward by 100 miles, we would bear the brunt of a category 4 hurricane. I still think the odds of that are 40%. There is no reason to take any chances. Prepare for the absolute worst and hope for the best. To sum it up, odds still favor a landfall in southeast NC, but a direct here is still on the table. See the two graphics I posted for what kind of wind would be possible with each scenario.
Lots of people asking about the European model showing a closer track to us. Of course, that is possible, but for what it's worth, so far with this hurricane, it has had one of the worst track records. With that said, the euro thinks the disturbance in the Caribbean sea will help to pump up the ridge off the coast forcing Florence closer to us. That cannot be discounted.
Phase 1 of Florence s the storm surge and wind potential. Phase 2 will be the potential for life-threatening flooding. The steering currents directing Florence are well established for now, but as Florence approaches the coast the steering currents will collapse, That means Florence will meander and drop extremely heavy rain...somewhere. Right now, its impossible to be specific, but eastern NC is most favored with 15-20" of rain possible. Keep in mind that slow-moving systems are often erratic in their movement and very difficult to forecast. IF Florence were to drift west after landfall in southeast NC, it would weaken but introduce the threat of extremely heavy rain in our area. I've talked about this possibility for days so PLEASE no it is possible.
It’s a very complicated forecast so things are going to change. I’ll keep you posted.
I will be LIVE ON FACEBOOK at 7:30pm. Note the change from my normal time of 8pm.

Gregg and I aren't too worried. We have plenty of non perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, candles, camp stove fuel, and dog food put aside. I've bought extra snacks, ice (which will keep for days in our big chest freezer) and liquor to pass the time if we're stranded without electricity for a few days. Speaking of liquor, this popped up on my Facebook feed a little while ago from a local spirits, wine, and party supply store...

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May not be bread, milk or water...but we have you covered for Hurricane Florence.
-Mickey Finn's

And in the true spirit of South Carolinians facing a hurricane, here are a few funny memes that I've enjoyed this morning.
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Sunday, September 9, 2018

House hunting

I never knew that looking for a house would be as stressful as it's been so far. My assumption has always been that getting the financing figured out would be the hard part, but that ended up being a total piece of cake. It's the finding of the house that's the problem.

The inventory of available homes in this area is at an all time low, especially decent homes within our price range. We've set ourselves a limit of what we're willing to spend and it's a good bit below what we can actually afford to do. The plan is to put down a large enough down payment (somewhere between 30-40%) that we'll immediately have equity in the house, we won't have to pay private mortgage insurance, and we'll be able to afford the payments on a short (15 year) loan. We'll also be getting a better interest rate with a 15 year mortgage.

All that comes with a downside, though. We'll be saving money, especially over the long term, but it's hard to find something good when your cap is modest. Everything we see that manages to check off all of our wants and needs is anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 above what we've decided to spend. We've visited three houses so far that are right at our limit, price wise, and all three made my heart sink a little when I saw them. One was in a great neighborhood, but it was as bland as could be, just a little brick box with small rooms, few windows, and new but cheap updates done to the bathrooms and kitchens with everything (tiles, paint, cabinets) all neutral ugly shades of gray and beige. It did have a big nice backyard, though, and a wired workshop with heat and air conditioning that would make a great dog house. So it wasn't all bad. But it wasn't right, either.

Then there was the house that looked so promising! It was tucked away in a nice older neighborhood with a live oak in the front yard, a porch and deck out back, nice hardwood floors, a big backyard for the dogs, and on and on.....but the pictures were better than the reality. The floors really were nice, but the appliances and cabinets in the kitchen were worn out, and the screened porch was actually kind of shabby, and the deck out back was all but falling down and would have to be dealt with. And this house was a tiny bit above our budget, anyway. Had it been as awesome in person as it looked in pictures, it might be worth a trifling extra $5000 or so to have it, but it was shabby and needed a lot of repairs.

The third house we've seen was the biggest disappointment. It showed up on the realty sites Friday afternoon and looked perfect for us. It was in a small community less than 10 miles outside downtown Florence, and was beautifully updated. It's a roomy 2400 sq. feet but with only two big bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has a long, wide front porch with a carport underneath one side, a large lot with a privacy fence around it, new roof, new gleaming floors and appliances, new windows...and altogether very nice. It was exactly what we're looking to spend, and we hoped that the only thing wrong with it was being a little bit out of town (as well as having only 2 bedrooms). Well, we drove out there yesterday, and we were so let down to see what the problem was....the location. The property is surrounded by tiny little falling down trailer houses. It looks like a really low income country trailer park on two sides. Hence the privacy fence, I suppose. Please don't think I'm being a snob, our concern is more for our personal safety (and the safety of our property when we're away all day at work) than the appearance of the area. The house that's for sale looked even better than in the pictures, by the way. It seemed well kept and gleaming in the sunlight, the yard was neatly maintained, and the road beside it leads to a small creek which would be a great place to walk our dogs. It's obvious, though, that the location is the only reason we can afford the house in the first place. I'm still not totally sure what to think about this one, but I don't think it's the one, either.

I'm beginning to be afraid that nothing that fits our budget is going to work out, and I hate the thought of going over what we decided upon. And already I've found myself getting irritable with my husband over minor disagreements in what we're hoping for and what compromises we're going to be willing to make. We rarely argue and so I know when I get irritable enough to burst at him (and the feeling is mutual, I'm sure) I know it has more to do with our stress levels than anything else. That's when it's time to take a break from talking about the house hunt, even though we're both thinking about it all the time.

I'm trying to have faith that the right home is out there for us, and when we find it it will be something we can afford. It's hard to be patient, though.

Saturday, September 8, 2018


I swear I think the elements are out to get me. Remember how, at the end of the summer, I had a series of appliance breakdowns that shared a common theme of the four elements? Our washing machine died (water) followed shortly by the dryer (air) and then our lawnmower caught on fire (earth and fire). Well, the same thing seems to be happening again, but at the school where I work!

The first Friday after the kids came back a main city water line in front of the school broke, and we had no water for four hours. This meant that the cafeteria had no water, the fountains didn't work, and worst of all, we couldn't flush the toilets! You can imagine what a mess that quickly became. One kid misunderstood when the teacher said they could only go if it was an absolute emergency, and he thought he couldn't go to the restroom at all, and he ended up wetting his pants. (I'm surprised his parents didn't show up at the school the next day, raising hell). One kid got sick and vomited all over his desk and the floor of his classroom, and the nurses had to clean him up with bottled water. The adults were embarrassed to have to "go" in toilets they couldn't flush, and the whole school was in a bit of an uproar. The only reason the superintendent didn't just let us dismiss early and go home was the fact that the city was out working on the break immediately, and the logistics of getting the word out to parents and then rearranging the bus routes (over half the kids ride buses) is no small task. Our school alone has almost 1000 students out of the 16,000 total in the district. It threw the whole day off, and by the time the water was fixed we only had about an hour and half left. Everyone was relieved when it was finally time to just go home!

The next Friday, all of a sudden the fire alarms went off during second lunch. We hadn't planned a fire drill (we would never have a drill during lunch anyway, that's a recipe (ha!) for utter chaos) so the whole school had to be immediately evacuated. It was crazy...the kids were laughing, shouting, and running while their harried teachers herded them out of the building while trying to maintain some control. The administrators (principal and three assistant principals) were running around the building with bullhorns and walkies trying to confirm that all classes were together and everyone was accounted for. Then the fire engines arrived, all blaring horns and flashing lights. The kids were overexcited and having a field day (literally). And when the firefighters finally determined that it was a faulty wire in one of the smoke alarms had triggered the whole incident, and nothing was actually on fire, well, the fun didn't end there! Because by that time half the parents were frantically calling the school, thanks to their little darlings texting them during all the excitement. The story had grown and grown until parents were telling me that they had heard that not only was the school on fire, but that there were ambulances lined up out front and several fire engines battling the blaze. I got to spend the next hour answering the phone and explaining that it was merely a defective smoke alarm, and yes, we were all fine, and no, they didn't need to come pick up their child. It was a hell of a day!

You see where I'm going with this? One week, we had a water incident. The next, we had a fire fiasco. So what's going on this week? What might be the next elemental occurrence that will disrupt our school? Hmmmm......

It's even got our city's name on it. Florence.

As the storm moves over the warm Atlantic, it's almost certain to strengthen and become a hurricane. If a hurricane comes this way, we're going to have to look out for strong winds (air). I can't help but believe that we're probably in for it.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The other man

My husband has had to accept the fact that there's another man in my life. And isn't he handsome?!

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My sweet Georgie. :)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Baked Apple Roses

Last night I decided to do a trial run of a recipe I hope to make the next time I have my girlfriends over. We're planning to get together at the end of the month, and in honor of the Autumn Equinox I'm going to make Baked Apple Roses!

There are tutorials for making these all over YouTube. The technique is pretty simple and the ingredient list is relatively short: apples, refrigerated sheets of puff pastry, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and any other spices that go well with apples. I made these quickly because we were in the middle of a Netflix binge watch (Ozark season 2 has landed!) and I wanted to get back to the show.

Despite being a first attempt, and a hurried one at that that, I thought these ended up looking pretty good....and they tasted great! 

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Saturday, September 1, 2018

September Daybook

Outside my window...

despite the heat that just refuses to abate, it's unmistakably the beginning of a new season. It's getting dark earlier at a rapid pace (as it does close to the equinox), the green of the leaves on the dogwood tree has taken on a golden tinge, and the sky is a deeper shade of blue today than it's been in several weeks.

I am thankful...

that even based on my small salary, we were able to get approved for a mortgage loan! Although our new home's deed will be in both our names, I'll be the only one carrying the loan. Gregg had a very good credit score before he had cancer, but after six years of never ending medical bills it's been impossible to keep it up. So I have the credit score needed to get the loan, but Gregg makes two thirds of our income. Since we can't claim what he earns if the loan is only in my name, I was afraid that my lesser salary wouldn't be enough. It turns out I was worried for nothing; we were approved for more than we plan to borrow! What a relief!

From the kitchen...

fresh eggs from the science teacher at work who has a tiny homestead farm, as well as fresh local honey from her beehives! She's a certified beekeeper and is also mentoring her 13 year old son, William, who is on track to be certified himself as soon as he turns 16 (the minimum age allowed by the Department of Agriculture). William is a student at our school and he's the one who's been selling me the honey:

Twice now we've had scrambled fresh eggs and biscuits with honey and butter for supper. Delicious!

I am reading...

...nothing much, at the moment. I've been so busy the last few weeks with a new school year starting and working on the house hunt that at the end of the day, instead of reading for an hour or so I just fall sound asleep, early. I've been tired!

I am hoping... find the perfect house, soon! We keep finding little 1940's bungalows in the "historic" downtown area that really appeal to us both, although they usually need some work. But those older homes have really nice details that you never see these days, and the houses look like they were built when people didn't cut corners or use cheap crap for materials. One cute little house that just hit the market is priced well below what we're prepared to spend, and we could afford to really make it nice provided there aren't too many big repairs needed. We may to go see it next week after the Labor Day holiday.

I am thinking...

about all the things I need to get done in the next two weeks. I have two Guardian ad Litem children at the moment and two upcoming court dates for them. Both cases will probably be settled and I'll be relieved of my obligation to them, but in the meantime I need to visit both children and write reports for the court. I plan to tell the coordinator that I won't be able to take any new cases until after the new year--I just don't have the spare time this fall.

Around the house...

Gregg has taken down some of the smaller aquariums and we're collecting boxes to begin packing some of our things in preparation for finding a house and moving. I know it's awfully early, but any packing we do ahead of time we'll be thankful for later.

I am working...

...on staying consistent with counting calories and losing weight. I've had a lot of other things going on, but I'm determined not to backslide into old habits and to continue my forward momentum. I've lost over 30 pounds so far.

I am listening... Marco talking to himself in the other room. He's been very talkative since I went back to work, probably because he misses the extra attention he got when I was home all day. The other morning I was putting a bowl of fresh food in his cage and he looked me in the eye and said, sweetly, "Love you..." Today he pulled out a large feather while preening, watched it fall to the floor, and shouted, "What?!" He's such a little card!

Celebrating the season....

It's Labor Day weekend and I'm thankful for the extra day off. Cookouts are traditional for this unofficial end of summer holiday, and we might throw a couple of hot dogs on the grill Monday afternoon. I'm looking forward to the coming of autumn and everything that that means: cooler weather, apples and spices, changing leaves, marigolds and mums, blue sky mornings and golden afternoons....

"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
-   John Updike, September

"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."
-   Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

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