Wednesday, October 31, 2018

First Halloween

This was by far my favorite trick or treater tonight even if she did sleep through the whole visit!

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Baby Carsen is wearing candy corn socks, a shirt that says "Boo" and a bee hat!
 Her cover has a pattern of cartoon dogs in costumes on it. 

A blast from the (Halloween) past!

Happy Halloween! I'm pressed for time this morning but I didn't want to let the day go by without wishing you all a safe and fun holiday! Here is the result of a bottle of wine and a couple of hours of work with my friend Meg back in 2011.

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The tiki pumpkin was my very own creation and remains my favorite!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Having fun at work

I still absolutely love my job. I'm so glad I continued to apply for positions in the school district even though it took 3 long years to get a foot in the door. I feel certain I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.

I've found (much to my surprise) that I really enjoy middle school age kids. They're an unpredictable lot--sometimes they seem like little children, still, and sometimes they show flashes of maturity beyond their years. I find them incredibly endearing, even when their behavior leaves a lot to be desired. They make me laugh every single day, and when they're hurting my heart aches for them. Twice last week kids were sitting in the office crying, and even though both of them had really misbehaved and were in trouble, I couldn't stand the sight of their tears. I remember how tough those years were. Growing up is hard. I have compassion for them.

Last night we had our annual Halloween Dance and Carnival. I volunteered to do face painting with the help of an older high school girl (the daughter of one of our math teachers). I had so much fun! One of the assistant principals along with the choir/piano teacher set up a sound system in the gym and played lots of current hits as well as old Halloween favorites like "Thriller" and "Monster Mash". (Earlier in the day, during afternoon announcements, Principal Oates had said, "DJ O'Neil and DJ Leroy are going to be spinning tunes for you tonight..." which really cracked me up). There were games to play for prizes, a "Haunted Science Lab" that was a darkened classroom where you put your hand in a series of boxes to "guess the body part" (things like slimy wet noodles and peeled grapes)...a "Creepy Critters" room with snakes and spiders from the school's science labs...and concessions for sale like candy and popcorn and soda. The kids had a blast! Watching them have so much fun, dancing, running through the halls with groups of their friends, laughing and playing games and being silly and carefree and young....was a total joy. Definitely good for the spirits!

I have to share photos of my three favorite costumes of the night. First up, for fans of the US version of The Office, I present to you Prison Mike and Dwight Schrute!

And of course, Bob Ross! This kid hammed it up all night long, running around and pretending to paint on any available surface and posing for the camera.

Wonder Woman was a very popular costume for the girls this year (yeah!!) and I probably saw at least a dozen of them, but this was my favorite--a real little Wonder Woman:

I'm so glad I have a job where I get to have so much fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Autumn sunshine

Marco loves to be out on his perch, basking in the warm sunshine streaming in the windows.

Have a good day, everyone.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

October Daybook--Finally Fall

After the last hurricane hit Florida and moved north through South Carolina it seemed to bring in fall. We had such an unusually warm and wet September and first half of October that trees that normally bloom in spring were confused and pushing out blooms we normally don't see until March. After the storm, it cooled down to seasonal temperatures and we went from wearing shorts to long sleeves practically overnight.

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Outside my window...

The fall colors are starting to pop! I love seeing the leaves changing against the backdrop of a bright blue autumn sky. A week or two ago we were out walking the dogs one night and saw four shooting stars in rapid succession. We had just started negotiations on the house we're buying and I took that to be a very auspicious sign! :) When I checked the almanac I discovered that we were in the middle of the annual Draconid meteor shower, which explained seeing that many almost all at once. And speaking of the wonders of the night sky, we had a flyover of the International Space Station last weekend. A local meteorologist I follow on Facebook gave advance notice, so we were able to be outside looking up at the right time!

I am thinking...

...about a million and one things that need to happen between now and our closing date, and then all the steps involved to get us, two dogs, a parrot, and a combined total of at least 240 gallons worth of aquariums with living plants and fish moved to the new house.

I am hoping...

that the closing process continues to go as smoothly as everything else so far. I've been very happy with the mortgage loan guy my realtor recommended. He's friendly and accessible and he really seems to know his stuff. Even better, he's great at explaining all the fine details of the application process in a way that even I can readily understand. So far, (knock on wood) the whole process has been shockingly smooth and simple. The inspection is Monday morning, and I hope our luck holds and they don't find any major issues to be dealt with.

I am reading...

...nothing much at the moment.The days are too packed with other things to do right now. But I'm looking forward to winter days in front of the fireplace with my knitting and a pile of books at the new house!

Celebrating the season...

It's almost Halloween and I've barely given it a thought. I did pull out two plastic light up Jack o Lanterns and stick them on the front steps, but only because I was beginning to pack up the closet where they were stored with the other holiday junk. Marla, Martina and I were originally planning to read something scary this month and have a book club party, but now with the new house it's just not possible. There will be other Halloweens....and I'm really, really looking forward to Christmas this year!

All that being said, I do love October for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with Halloween. I like the weather and the changing leaves, the heavier foods and spiced drinks, pulling out sweaters and jackets for the first time of the year....!

I can't let this lovely month go by without sharing a few seasonal quotes with you all. Here's one from a kindred spirit to start us off:

October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in the aftermaths. Anne reveled in the world of color about her.... "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?..." ~Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Green Gables, 1908

It was October again... a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun to drain — amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Green Gables, 1908

And yet another kindred spirit:

October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978)

Fresh October brings the pheasant,
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.
~Sara Coleridge, "The Months," Pretty Lessons In Verse, For Good Children; With Some Lessons in Latin, In Easy Rhyme, 1834

"The leaves fall patiently
Nothing remembers or grieves
The river takes to the sea
The yellow drift of leaves."
-   Sara Teasdale

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low...
~Van Morrison, "Moondance," recorded 1969

"Lord, it is time.  The summer was very big.  Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose.
Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetiness into the heavenly wine."
-  Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope you all are finding ways to enjoy this lovely month and season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


We're buying the house!

My realtor kept telling me to wait on accepting the last offer, and it turns out that was great advice. The seller got antsy and eventually dropped the price back down to what we originally offered! The only concession we had to make was to pay our own closing costs, which isn't a big deal.

We're beyond excited!

Our closing date is November 8th, so everything is happening very fast. The inspection is Monday, and I'm hoping that goes smoothly and there are no delays. At this rate, with a closing date so early in the month, we should be finishing the move by Thanksgiving. Once Christmas gets here, we should be settling in nicely.

Thanks, everyone, for all the positive messages and good thoughts. Please keep them coming over the next three weeks or so as we navigate the purchase and the move!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday at home

We're out of school again today. Hurricane Michael has turned into Tropical Storm Michael and is passing through South Carolina as I type this. This makes six days we've missed in this district thanks to the weather and it's only early October, but what can you do? Not control the weather, that's for sure.

I'm thankful we're spared the worst of this storm. There are still a whole lot of people devastated by flooding and the last thing they need is more rain, but at least Michael has been downgraded and is moving through quickly. I feel so bad for the people in Florida who have had to endure a true monster of a hurricane. I was relieved and grateful to read last night that Ms. Moon and her family are safe and sound, after seeing how strong the storm had become early yesterday morning.

I'll admit I was kind of glad for the chance to sleep in this morning. I haven't slept well in a week. The people selling the house we're interested in have been negotiating with us (we thought at first they were going to hold firm on the too-high price--turns out they're a little more motivated than they originally seemed) and I'm finding the whole process incredibly stressful.  It looks as though it may work out after all, though. I'm excited and nervous and, at this point, ready to get through this whole process and have it over with. If all goes according to plan we may be in our new home by Thanksgiving! Please keep sending good vibes our way for smooth inspections and no last minute unpleasant obstacles.

Today I should be catching up on chores, but aside from a couple of loads of laundry (provided we don't lose power) I'm going to try to rest and relax instead. Since we intend to call our realtor tonight and accept the last offer we got, I'm fully aware that the next few weeks will be busy and probably exhausting.

Yesterday I went by the bookstore where I used to work and picked up a load of good sturdy boxes, and this weekend we're going to start packing in earnest. But not today. Today I'm going to do my best to enjoy the last few hours before I'm fully committed. While the wind blows and the rain falls, I'm going to work on my current knitting project, watch some Netflix (again, that's dependent on the power staying on) and spend some quality time with the dogs and Marco. We're all in for an exciting few weeks!

The outside is very plain, but the inside has been nicely renovated and 
the neighborhood is exactly what we've been looking for.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

So much for that.

I got a text from my realtor last night saying that the owners of the house we put in an offer for counter offered the exact same listing price--they wouldn't budge an inch. When I texted the realtor back and asked her if this means the house if off the table for us, she said that no, we can counter offer back. I have no faith in that whatsoever; we were already offering more than we had decided we would spend, and it seems that they're unwilling to consider any reduction in price whatsoever.

They bought this house in 2015 and our original offer was a tiny bit over what they paid for it. The house was appraised for what they paid only 3 years ago and they haven't made any improvements to the property. All the updates and renovations had been done by the owner before them, and they only lived there for two years when they put it on the market. No wonder it hasn't sold in almost a year...they're asking too much and seem to be unwilling to negotiate. With what they're asking and with closing costs we'd be looking at blowing our budget by $25,000 and we're determined not to do that. So unless they're just bluffing for as big an offer as possible but are secretly more motivated to sell than they appear, this house is not going to be the one. Damn it. 

Our realtor told us that she's never worked with a couple like us. Most buyers, according to her, want as much as house as they can afford. She said she's constantly having to rein in buyers (especially younger first time buyers) by reminding them of the limits of what they can borrow. Gregg and I, on the other hand, are planning to borrow a good bit less than we were approved for. We want a modest house that we can afford to pay off quickly without a monthly mortgage payment that will cripple us. In order to accomplish that goal we've got to be determined not to get carried away when we see something we like. 

This first experience has been so disappointing. It's our own fault. We spent hours yesterday (prior to getting the text about the counter offer) talking about the house. We looked at pictures and discussed where our furniture could go; we drove past the house a few times close to dark to see what the neighborhood was like on a Saturday night (nice and quiet, of course), we looked online for items we would want to buy for the house prior to moving in, like new rugs and things. I was already planning the beginning of a garden in the spring and casual summer parties on the screened in porch.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. We should have known better than to get that ahead of ourselves. We won't make that mistake again. 

Lesson learned.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Word of the week: Eventful!

This has been the most eventful week I've experienced in ages, with surprises both horrific and wonderful, big and small.

There was the crazy active shooter that opened fire in a residential neighborhood here in Florence on Wednesday. It turns out that the gunman was the father of a child that attends the school where I work, and 30 minutes before he went on his two hour killing spree he had picked up his son in our school car line.  I left a long comment at the end of my last post if anyone cares to read more details about this tragedy, so I won't recount them here. It's been a terrible thing, as you can imagine.

The next day, Thursday, I got a text from our realtor about 3 homes she wanted to show us. She emailed links to the listings to my work account so I could have a look on my lunch break. One of the three was far enough above our price limit that I clicked through the photos quickly without paying too much attention to them. What I did see didn't look too remarkable, anyway, especially for the listing price they were asking. I didn't expect to even go look at it, although the realtor insisted we needed to see it and that the price would be negotiable. Turns out the photos didn't do the place justice. It was the first house we've been shown that actually looks better in person than it did in the photos. It was a real surprise.

And you know what's even more surprising?

We've submitted on offer on it! I can hardly believe it.

I'm also afraid to be too excited. We're offering $10,000 less than the asking price, with the understanding that the seller will also cover the closing costs and a one year home warranty. My realtor is confident that that's a fair offer and if we hold firm they'll go for it. It's tucked away in a quiet neighborhood and looks kind of plain on the outside and so although they've been trying to sell it for a while now it hasn't gotten much attention. I hope this means it was meant to be ours and was waiting for us! It checks off every single item on our wish list:

*Safe, quiet neighborhood convenient to everything.
*All hardwood and tile floors (no carpet).
*Gas range and tankless water heater.
*Fireplace (gas logs) 
*Plenty of windows for natural light.
*Fenced yard.
*Screened porch.
*A yard big enough to have a small garden and some trees, but small enough that maintenance won't be an insurmountable problem as we age. 

I won't say any more about it until I see if the current owners accept our offer. I probably shouldn't have said this much, but since we're not talking about this with our friends or family yet I just had to tell someone! Wish us luck!

Speaking of luck, I found out this morning that I won a prize over at my friend Rue's blog Rue and Hyssop !!! Every October she has the most wonderful seasonal giveaways on her blog (a new one each week, so go check it out!) and she's a gifted writer to boot. To wake up this morning and discover that I won one of the first week's giveaways was a fabulous surprise! Thank you, Rue, if you're reading this!

It's definitely been a week jam packed with news around here, and the next few weeks are going to be super busy if the offer is accepted. Our contract states that the closing date will be on or before November 8th....the day before Gregg's birthday! I can't believe that we might be in a new home by Christmas, much less Thanksgiving. I'll definitely keep you all posted!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Well, my town (Florence) has made the national news. We've had our first big active shooter situation this afternoon.

I was getting a coffee after work with two friends when their phones started blowing up with texts. Friends of theirs who live in a neighborhood on the west side of town said they were hiding in their houses while gunshots rained down for a solid 45 minutes. Ambulances, medical transport holicopters, and more police cars than you can imagine where flying past when I left to drive home.

So far we've learned that 5 police officers were shot. One has died and two are in critical condition. I also hear that a 20 year old man was found in a home dead of a gunshot wound, and that with the help of police from 3 neighboring counties they had finally gotten the shooter into custody.

It's already on the national headlines:

I was so relieved to get home. I nearly cried when I walked through the front door. Madness.

Gregg is at the mayor's office tonight cleaning aquariums, so I'm sure he'll have more information to share when he gets home. I won't be completely at ease until he's here safe and sound.

I still just can't believe it.