Sunday, June 30, 2019


It's been almost a week since I posted here, and now June is just about finished. I wish this summer would slow down. It's passing by at lightning speed and I'll be back at work in no time.

I've been in a weird place, emotionally, for a couple of weeks now. Remember how I said I couldn't stop welling up with tears at our niece's wedding? I've been like that pretty much nonstop, over everything, recently. I alternate between tearful and emotional and irritated at the world. I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but I have an idea. About three weeks ago I stopped taking Zoloft. I've been taking a maintenance dose of it (50mg) for almost 20 years now. I think that's what's wrong.

I began Zoloft in desperation in my mid 20's after a particularly terrible, long lasting episode of OCD symptoms, crippling anxiety, and black depression. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can be a horrible, debilitating mental illness although very few people take it seriously. I still have to bite my tongue when people say, "I'm so OCD!" when what they really mean is that they have a penchant for order or cleanliness. It's so not that. And it's not a joke, believe me.

 It would be painful and embarrassing to describe my symptoms here, and so I won't, but I'll leave you with just one example of what the hell of OCD is like. One time when in the throes of it, I hit a pothole in the road while driving my car. I could not (could not) shake the irrational fear that I had hit a person. I drove back around the block probably dozens of times, trying to reassure myself that it wasn't a human being and just a pothole that I had hit. No matter how much my logical mind told me that it was absolutely ridiculous and irrational, my anxiety was kicked up to a level where I was powerless to stop myself. When I finally managed to get myself back home that day, I spent hours obsessing over that damn pothole, still trying to reassure myself that I hadn't killed someone. Imagine this scenario, and now imagine dozens of scenarios just like that happening every single damn day....for months. I was a wreck, y'all. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours a night, just.....couldn't. Couldn't function. Couldn't shake it. Add in the fear of losing my job, exhaustion, unrelenting emotional misery....well,  those months were hell. I've had OCD since I was a small girl  (my dad has it too, it's a genetic thing) but never like that. I finally had to go to the county department of mental health (I couldn't afford a private psychiatrist and had no health care coverage at the time) and get myself prescribed something to try to crawl back out of the hole I was in. Eventually, slowly, over a period of two or three months, my symptoms subsided, my depression lifted, and I became a normally functioning human again.

Eventually, I cut the dose down to only 50mg and fast forward to now, almost two decades later. I've been (mostly) symptom free for years. I like to think I've found other ways to cope with my weird brain chemistry. I began to wonder if such a small dose as 50mg was really making much of a difference. I still have no psychiatrist; my family doctor (and in years past, my gynecologist) will happily write the script for my refills. While I appreciate the refills, I've started to think maybe I need to speak to someone who specializes in mental health before I continue to take SSRIs. A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of pills, and had not taken them for a few days before realizing it. I considered getting reupped, but then thought maybe a break (just to see how things went) wouldn't hurt anything, especially now since I'm off work for the summer.

Well, I haven't had any OCD symptoms (yet)  but I'm definitely experiencing withdrawals. There's the overly emotional responses to everything, like at the wedding. There were very vivid, weird, sometimes frightening dreams most nights for a week or two. There are the "electrical brain zaps" that you sometimes read about, the momentary dizziness that comes and goes, and worst of all there have been two instances where I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. Both times I woke up from a sound sleep feeling a strange tightness, a panicky fluttering, in my chest and the feeling of not being able to breathe right. It was scary.

Today I'm just feeling irritable and out of sorts. It's why I've been mostly absent from blogland this past week, since I have nothing good or positive to say. I'm wondering now if this is still withdrawals from Zoloft (how long could those possibly last, you know?) or if I'm just starting up my PMS week. Hormones and brain chemicals can be hell to deal with.

And I wonder if I should call in a refill of the meds, or if I should give this break from them a little more time to see what happens? Overall the worst of the withdrawal symptoms seem to have subsided a little. Of course, I worry about the return of the old OCD monster and depression, but I'm trying hard to be vigilant about that. Maybe I need to find myself a psychiatrist. Maybe I'll get lucky and Dr. Spo will read this post and give me a word of advice.

I'm not quite sure where to go from here. If anybody reading this has any experience with stopping SSRIs, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A lovely day

Our niece's wedding on Saturday was simply beautiful. I've only ever attended a handful of weddings in my life, and I never considered myself the kind of person who would get emotional at them, but I surprised myself and my husband by brimming with tears over and over again. The first time was when we arrived at the venue, and I went into the dressing rooms with my sister in law to speak to the bride a few minutes before the ceremony. She looked so beautiful that the tears started right then and there:

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This picture wasn't quite as in focus as I would have liked, but it's one of the few
 I got before the ceremony. Isn't that a gorgeous wedding dress? 

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Examining Roxie's gift.
The couple had insisted that their little dog, Roxie, was going to be a part of the wedding. They had a tiny little veil that attached to her collar and a box that she was to carry in her mouth that contained the wedding rings. She sat in the front row with the bride's family, with the mother of the bride holding her leash. We had heard about this plan last week, and the manager and staff of the pet store where uncle Gregg works were delighted when he told them about it....and so they assembled a huge bag of expensive treats and toys for the "bridesmutt"! I made up a pretty gift basket....for the dog....complete with a tiny pink toy tiara I found at the dollar store. (The bride and groom had requested "no gifts" for themselves, but I knew that they'd be thrilled that we had a present for Roxie!) After I snapped that photo of Melissa looking at the basket, she gave Roxie one of the toys, and Roxie ran over to an upholstered settee, jumped up on it with her prize, and proceeded to shake and chew it. It made the bride and the girls in the wedding party laugh. 

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Roxie at the reception with the father of the bride.

I didn't take any pictures during the actual ceremony, of course. It was held outdoors by a small pond in front of a simple woven wood arch decorated with small bundles of pretty wildflowers. 

There were humorous moments, like when the nervous groom was asked, "Will you take Melissa to be your wife..." and he jumped the gun and said "I will!" before the officiant paused, smiled, and then continued " love and to cherish her...." and all of the assembled guests laughed. Jay blushed adorably and laughed, too. It was so sweet. At least twice during the short ceremony I was helpless to stop the tears, and Gregg was surprised. He hadn't thought to bring a hankie, but when he noticed the tears rolling he smiled at me and gently squeezed my hand. I had to laugh at myself a little. When did I become such a softie?!

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The bride and groom. 

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I thought Melissa's hair looked lovely. I love the flowers tucked in at the back. This photo also shows off the back of her gown. 
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I can't believe that the tiny 3 year old girl with big eyes that I met when I first started seeing her uncle 20 years ago has grown up into a beautiful woman (beautiful on the inside as well as the outside) and is now a married woman. Where has the time gone? I hope that they will be happy, and that their marriage will be a long and a good one. It's clear to see that Jay is utterly besotted with and devoted to Melissa, and she's lit with happiness when she looks at him. May it always be so!        


Friday, June 21, 2019

Help me choose

A couple of you asked to see the dress I bought for the wedding on my last post. Here's a picture of it on the hanger, followed by the two pairs of shoes I bought. Which ones should I wear with it?

And here's the dress I got really cheap to begin with as a backup in case I failed to find anything better. I'm glad I found something else, to my eyes this looks too dark for a summer wedding, although the material is light and gauzy and cool. Maybe I can wear it to work sometimes in the fall. We'll have summer temperatures right through September at least.

Off to finish a few last minute chores around the house, and to sit outside for a few minutes for a little bit more sun on my legs, arms, and shoulders. There's not a whole lot left to do, thank goodness.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Getting ready

You'd think that a one night trip out of town would be easy enough to plan for, but I haven't found that to be the case. Of course I'm referring to our niece's wedding that's coming up on Saturday. I feel like I've done nothing but get ready (and spend money) for the past two weeks.

First there was finding a decent hotel room, which was expensive considering it's wedding and graduation season in a college town. The one I reserved is nice, but nothing fancy, and it's expensive enough that we could only afford one night after all the other costs of the trip (clothes and shoes for me, gas for the 12 hours of driving we'll be doing, a check up on the car that ended up costing us for a minor repair on the tire alignment, dry cleaning for the suit Gregg will wear, a gift card for my friend Martina who will be pet sitting, and on and on).

Then there was the aggravation of finding a dress. The first day I went shopping I found an inexpensive navy blue dress with gray and white trim on the bottom that would do if all else failed. Since it was so cheap on clearance, I bought it as a backup, but I wasn't altogether happy about the sober colors for an outdoor wedding in June. I continued to look and ended up finding a cream colored, floral patterned summer dress that I like much, much better. Despite how much I like it, I did have a moment of disgust with myself while trying it on, though. I hate the lighting in dressing rooms; when you're overweight it shows every flaw in your figure and every single ounce of cellulite. I would so love to be slim and to have a pretty silhouette. Sigh...

I'm never going to have a graceful figure; even at my lowest adult weight I was still tall, with broad shoulders, large breasts, and thick, muscular legs and arms. And I'm far from my lowest weight, even after the 30 pounds I lost last summer. It makes trying on clothes a chore to be dreaded, not a fun activity. But the dress does show off my body's few good features (I have some curves, at least, and my weight is distributed evenly) and it looks as nice as anything is going to look on me, I think. So that's okay. I was also pretty disappointed with the appearance of the skin on my ankles. I have terrible eczema, and I've been working hard for weeks to get the skin as well as possible to avoid stares and comments. I've been slathering on steroid cream several times a day, and making a huge effort to not scratch. It's hard. Eczema is a miserable beast. Right now my ankles look the best they've looked in years, but in the dressing room lighting it was still obvious that the skin is scarred. Oh well. I've done my best to minimize it.

Do I sound terribly vain yet? Probably. I'm sorry. Moving on....

Speaking of ankles, I finally found shoes to wear this morning. I went out shopping without my dress and had a hell of a time deciding what shoes would look best with it. It took over an hour and I finally ended up buying two pairs in hopes that one of them would work. And I got lucky, because they both look great! Now that my outfit is complete, and everything is done except for packing, I can relax a bit until we leave (really early Saturday morning).

I'll try to take a few pictures at the wedding and of the mountains where we'll be staying to share here next week. I'm sure it's all going to be lovely and we'll have a good time. It will be nice to finally meet our niece's new husband, and to see Gregg's family, but I'll be glad to get back home on Sunday evening and have it all done. Then I'll feel like my summer break can really begin.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


"What? I might like salads, too. Try me." 

--Ginger B. Barlow

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Dragonflies, bats, and flowers

One of the classroom assistants at the school gave me a tray of  rooted gardenia cuttings on the last day before summer break. They're very small yet, so they're still in the tray they came in, sitting in filtered sunlight on the back porch. This morning a single, perfect gardenia blossom had appeared. It smells like heaven.

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The Brandywine tomato plants also have a few tiny yellow flowers, but they seem disinclined to actually turn into fruit. I remembered why I always got so frustrated growing them in the past; even when the weather is tomato-growing perfect (as it's been here for the past week or two), and even when the plants themselves are huge and green and healthy, they're stingy with their flowers and slow to set fruit. I won't be growing them again, no matter how good they taste. It's just not worth it.

Last night as we sat out on the porch enjoying the pearly-pink sunset and the unseasonably cool, pleasant weather, I noticed bats flying in curlicues in the air above our driveway. When I stepped outside to get a better look, I discovered that there were only three bats, but several large dragonflies were joining in with them in their sunset sky dance. Despite being less than 100 yards from the creek, we've seen very, very few mosquitoes at this house. I suppose the bats and dragonflies have a feast of them every evening in the summertime.

And have you ever noticed that dragonflies are companionable little creatures? They always seem to hover close when you're outside. Just this morning I was sitting in the back yard soaking up a little sun, and a dragonfly landed on my big toe and stayed there for a minute or two. What friendly little animals! 

Ah, June.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Talking to a bird (and a special day)

I was going to write about my wedding anniversary today, but we're putting off our celebration until we go to the mountains for our niece's wedding later this month. Gregg has to work today, and Wednesdays are his long days so he won't be home until at least 7pm tonight. We'd have been celebrating late in any event. But I do feel so very fortunate to be so happily married, 13 years today, to a good man, and usual I want to wish him a very happy anniversary here on the blog! :)

Instead of writing about all that, though, I thought I'd share a video I uploaded to YouTube this morning. Marco was in the mood to talk and I actually got him on film saying some of his catch phrases to me. Several of you have expressed interest in hearing him speak, so turn up the volume and listen carefully to this:

Have a good day, everyone!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Wedding season

We've been invited to three weddings so far this year, more than in all the years we've been a couple combined. Two are on the same date, June 22. The first (and the one we're attending) is our lovely niece Melissa's. The other is the music teacher at the school where I work, a young guy I get along well with and so he surprised me with a "save the date" card followed by an actual invitation. That was really nice of him because I don't have the impression he invited very many of our coworkers. Of course I had to decline since he picked the same day as Melissa, but he understood. 

I had to talk Gregg into going to the wedding. He's really introverted and hates big social events to begin with, and then it's going to cost us a nice chunk of money to attend. The venue is a 6 hour drive away, in the mountains of North Carolina, and requires taking two days off work for him. Then there's the cost of the hotel room we booked, and since it's a university town and the height of wedding and graduation season the prices are double what they should be. I have to buy a new dress and shoes (not that I mind that!) and we'll have to get a suit of Gregg's dry cleaned. Thank goodness Martina and/or Marla will be looking after the dogs and Marco while we're gone and we won't have to pay for boarding, but everything else is costly! But, all that being said, it means a lot to Gregg's sister, and her daughter is our favorite niece. We couldn't bear to miss the wedding and let the family down. 

I can't believe that the serious, bookish, introverted little girl I first met almost 20 years ago is going to be married! It makes me a little tearful when I think of it.

One of the bridal portrait photos...her mother sent me this earlier today.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

New friends

I've said it here before, I think, but it bears repeating: I'm rich in friendship. When I was in my 20's it seemed difficult to make new friends, but now in my 40s it seems to be a regular occurrence in my life.

This  morning I'm meeting a new friend for coffee, a woman named Norma. I met her at the school last week when she stopped in to pick up her son early for an appointment. She's from Mexico and her English is still rudimentary, so she brought her older son along to help translate. Since I'm trying to learn Spanish, I made an effort to speak it as much as I could, and she tried to hold up her end in English. (The older brother finally grinned and stepped aside and left us to it). Norma speaks English about as well I speak Spanish, which isn't saying a lot (ha!) but we had fun. Before she left she got my whole name, and when I left work that afternoon she had sent me a Facebook friend request. Which led to an hour of messaging back and forth and we've decided to get to know each other and help each other with our language lessons! How cool is that?

I have two Starbucks gift cards so I suggested meet up there this morning and get free drinks. (I don't care for Starbucks, but I appreciate the gift cards which were end-of-the-year presents from a couple of students and their families). Besides learning a new language, we discovered that we share a love of cooking, and last night Norma sent me a picture of the dinner she was making and this sentence, "You will learn to speak Spanish and you will learn to cook Mexican!" which made me laugh right out loud.

I'm looking forward to this new friend! Lucky me.

Friday, June 7, 2019

School's out

Today is the last day of school!

Actually, yesterday was the last day for students. Today is a "teacher's workday" and I'll be answering phones in the front office and cleaning out my desk for the summer. After today, I'm free until August!

In other good news, I'm mostly well again after that awful virus. I still have a little congestion in my chest, but overall I feel human again. About time, too.

Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Random Sunday

I'm still sick. I thought by this point in the weekend I'd feel better, but this cold is fierce and refusing to let up. So in lieu of a real post, here are a couple of pictures and random tidbits.

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When I got home from work Friday afternoon this creature was  hanging out in our front yard. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Gregg found a turtle just like this one (maybe the same one) in our driveway and carried him back across the street to the ditch that leads down into the creek. I did the same thing in hopes that it would save it from getting squashed by a car if he headed back across the street on his own. It was about the size of a dinner plate and surprisingly heavy. See him peeking out at me? Pond sliders like this are common sights this time of year.

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One of my orchids is reblooming. This is the first time I've ever had one to rebloom. It sure is pretty!


This is my latest Philippa Gregory read. I'm tearing through these novels about those wacky Tudors and Yorks during the Wars of the Roses. It's just like Game of Thrones, only without dragons. Great fun.

My last week of school before the summer break starts tomorrow! Here's hoping I'm over this damn virus by the time Friday gets here.