Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Extra cash

Yesterday I got a text from the secretary of the school where I work. It seems that our superintendent has done away with "comp time" this year. Basically "comp time" was when you worked extra hours off the clock that could be used later as needed. I guess it was too easily abused. So instead of a bunch of people getting in comp time next week during registration, anyone who works will be clocking in and getting an extra paycheck for the time worked. The secretary asked me if I wanted to work any or all of the 3 days of registration, and when I found out that I could make some extra money, I decided to work all three! So on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week I'll be working from 8am-3pm and earning a small extra paycheck. And after that I'll still have Thursday through Sunday off before I start back for real. I'm happy for the chance to make some extra cash.

Speaking of extra cash, Gregg is getting ready to sell almost 200 pounds of old dried coral skeleton we've had sitting around in buckets in the garage. One of the nursing homes where he maintains the aquariums is switching their 180 gallon tank over to African cichlids and they're totally redoing the aquascape, and coral skeleton will be perfect for it. Gregg has offered them a deal on the coral: $1.50 a pound, when it normally sells for at least double that (if you can find it at all). So that will be another extra check for us. We decided yesterday (when I was considering whether or not to sacrifice three days of my summer vacation) that we could combine the extra money we'll be earning to buy a piece or two or furniture we still want for the house. We still need a desk, two barstools, and a new chair for the living room. This will give us the chance to knock an item or two off that list.

I don't really mind giving up the three days. Last year during registration my job was to sit at a table and sell school t-shirts. For part of that time the band teacher hung out with me and we had a good time trash talking Donald Trump and exchanging funny student/parent/school stories. It wasn't really like work at all. I was already planning to work a day or two for comp time, so getting paid is a nice surprise! The last few days off will fly by no matter what I do, anyway.

Today I'll be hosing off the coral Gregg's about to sell and letting it dry in the sun. It's been in the garage for so long it's a little dusty. I'll have the house to myself until 7 or 8pm because Gregg has two aquarium jobs to go take care of after he finishes his shift at the pet store. I'm trying to decide if I want to meet up with some friends this afternoon for coffee and conversation. It's something I do fairly often on Wednesdays since that's his day to work late. I haven't spent nearly as much time with friends this summer as I'd planned to; somehow with one thing or another I've been busy with other things. The new house has been the focus of almost all my energy this time around. I imagine that by next summer we'll be more settled in and I can turn my attention to other things. Not that I mind pouring time and energy into our new home! I love it and want to make it as nice as possible.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Catching up as summer slips away

I've really not done much blogging this summer, at least not as much as I'd planned. All this time off has been filled with housekeeping projects, cooking, reading, watching tv, and spending time with the dogs. It's been really nice, actually. I'm not ready to go back to work yet; it feels like the summer just got started, and yet it's already almost over. I have two weeks left. I've worked hard to finish up the list of tasks I had set for myself this summer. Among them are things like:
  • Cleaning the porch. The wooden beams were dirty and cobweb-y, and the tile floor was really dirty. I spent a whole afternoon washing down the painted wood and mopping. 
  •  Rearranging the kitchen cabinets, and unpacking and storing the china my grandmother gave me before she died. I have some really fancy large collections of two patterns complete with teapots and serving pieces. I guess I'll have to have a tea party one day! Ha.
  • Cleaning and oiling all of our wooden furniture. We have a beautiful teak dining table and credenza that were badly in need of it, and several other pieces (end tables, nightstands) that I took care of too on the same day.
  •  Organizing and decluttering the laundry room. 
  •  Giving all of the floors in the house a good cleaning. We have pretty original hardwood floors in most of the rooms, with the exception of the den which has laminate floors (which are also very pretty). 
  • Washing all linens in the house, which included a trip to the laundromat for machines big enough for bedspreads and comforters. I just did that yesterday.
  • Plenty of yard work. Gregg has done all of the mowing and most of the weed-eating, but I've trimmed hedges and taken truckloads of yard waste to the dump. I've also pulled weeds and regularly scooped up dog poop from the back yard.
  • Cleaning out closets, although I didn't get as far with this one as I'd hoped.
Almost every day, I've given myself tasks to do over and above ordinary maintenance cleaning. Which is all I plan to do for the next two weeks before I go back to work--maintenance. I want to enjoy these last few days of freedom as much as possible. 

I got a new phone yesterday! I finally dropped mine one too many times, and it was toast. We had had our phones for years, and they weren't the latest thing when we first bought them. So now we have the latest Samsung Galaxy--the S10. It will take some time to get used to it, but already I'm loving the extra space, the much improved camera, and the longer lasting charge. Speaking of the camera, here is a video I took of a hummingbird visiting our back porch feeder with it yesterday: 

And here are a couple of pictures of our Crepe Myrtle trees, which are covered in blooms:

We have a line of five of these trees along the southeast side of our house. I just love them.

I'm reading a new book: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. It's set in Old Testament days and is the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob by his wife Leah. If anyone asks if I've done any traveling this summer I can tell them "Yes!"....time travelling, that is! Between the Philippa Gregory books about the Plantagenets and Tudors, and now this, I've been living halfway in the past these past couple of months!

I've also gotten hooked on True Blood and try to watch two or three episodes a night. It's dark and funny and outlandish--vampires and shapeshifters, maenads and werewolves, anyone?--but it's so much fun! It's bloody and sexy and soapy...a perfect summer tv series, in my opinion. And the music is good, too. I've been having a good time watching it.

Weather wise, the past week has been wonderful. Cooler and less humid, with blue skies and pleasant breezes. Of course, it would cool down as soon as our a/c was repaired. :)  It's funny how around here 90 degrees F for a high and 68 for the low feels almost like the onset of fall! All of a sudden it's nice to sit out on the porch in the late afternoon, again. We've been enjoying it out there each evening, sitting with the dogs. They're going to be so unhappy when I go back to work. They're more spoiled than they've ever been right now!

Well, that's about all I've been up to. What about you?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Emerald and gold

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A dead beetle we found in the back yard yesterday. 
That vivid green color sparkled in the grass.
I made my husband hold it for me while I took a picture to share.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


After a terrible night, I'm happy to say that our a/c seems to be fixed. The guy that came out said that the compressor overheated and quit working. It's still not very cool in the house, but he said it will take a few hours to cool things back down again and to not turn the temperature down too low all at once--to try to drop the temp in the house a couple of degrees at a time so as not to overwhelm the works. Whatever, I'm just grateful cool air is coming out of the vents again. And we didn't have to pay anything even though the last time the a/c broke it was for a different issue.

Last night at about 1:30 in the morning we discovered that the portable a/c unit was leaking all over the rug in our den. We had to scramble to move furniture, get the rug up, mop up the water, etc. We ended up dragging an old plastic kiddie pool from the garage to put the unit inside of to protect the floors from leaking water. It must have been after 2am before we were finally able to  (try to) sleep, and Gregg had to get up early for work. The house is in disarray still, but I'm exhausted from 2 nights of hardly getting any sleep. I'll have to deal with all that after a good nap.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Not again!

Our central ac unit quit working again last night. Of course this would happen during the weekend when it's impossible to get anyone out. And who knows how long it will take to get our home warranty company to send someone out to repair it.

We have a portable ac unit we bought several years ago for our dogs when they lived in the garage at the old house. We're thankful to have it today. The temperature is supposed to reach 98F today with a heat index of 108F. Without this backup unit we'd be forced to leave home in this heat. As it is, we can only cool one room with the portable. I won't complain about that, though. It could be so much worse!

Hopefully we can make the company that repaired our ac in May to come back and make this right. The fix should have lasted through one summer, at least. I'm about ready to raid our savings and just replace the unit altogether and to hell with the cost. South Carolina in July is no place to have a continually breaking air conditioner!

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Whew! This summer is flying by! I have exactly three more weeks left before I go back to work. I'm not complaining--I never expected to have a job where I get so much time off and I'm so very grateful for it.

It's been hot hot hot here. The temperatures and humidity have been so high that the heat index has been hovering between 105-110F. That's insane. Stepping outside is like walking into a sauna.  So much for spending time outdoors in the summer!

Since I've been in the house estivating for the past few weeks, I've been taking the opportunity to binge on books and tv. It's been a real treat to spend hours every day reading and discovering new tv shows. Here's what I've read and watched so far this summer:


As I've mentioned here already, I've been on a Philippa Gregory kick since May. I've read several of her Plantagenet/Tudor novels and since she's such a prolific writer, there are plenty more to choose from. I'm on a small break from them at the moment. Here are the ones I've read, in the order in which I read them:

The Red Queen
The White Princess
The Lady of the Rivers
The Constant Princess
The Kingmaker's Daughter
The Other Queen

All of these are set prior to the reign of Henry VIII, with the exception of The Constant Princess, and that one is mostly about Katherine of Aragon's early life, her brief marriage to Henry's older brother Arthur, and the lie she told to be allowed to marry Henry after Arthur's death. And now that I think about it, The Other Queen is set after Henry had died and his daughter Elizabeth was on the throne. I forgot about it because it was my least favorite of the six books I've read so far.

I've read a couple of other books this summer, too.

Educated by Tara Westover
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Educated is the true story of a young woman raised by mentally ill, violent, dysfunctional parents in the mountains of Idaho. They were fundamentalist-leaning Mormons, survivalists, poverty stricken, and "end of days" preppers along the lines of the Ruby Ridge family. Tara never saw the inside of a classroom until she was almost an adult, and the family never saw doctors even when truly horrific accidents and illnesses struck. Despite all this, Tara ended up going to Cambridge and Harvard and traveling all over the world, eventually earning a Ph.D and writing Educated about her jaw-dropping life story. It's incredibly compelling and I highly recommend it! This is my book club's August selection but I finished it in two days this past week. I couldn't put it down!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a loan from a book club friend that I discovered while dusting and organizing my bookshelves last week. I finally got around to reading it, and it was...meh. I'm not a huge fan of light mystery novels, and that's what this is. Apparently it's the first of a series of books about a brilliant 11 year old chemistry loving prodigy girl named Flavia de Luce. It's set in 1950s England, which was my favorite part of the book, but otherwise it wasn't my cup of tea. (Cup of tea! Ha!) I doubt I'll be reading any other books in the series.


I got a cheap 3 month trial of Starz so that I could watch their series based on the Philippa Gregory books: The White Queen, The White Princess, and The Spanish Princess. All three are gorgeous to look at (the settings, the costumes) and the actors are all pretty good. I'm through with the first two, and have just started The Spanish Princess.

We've also been watching American Gods on Starz. The book by Neil Gaiman is one of my all time favorites, and the show is pretty good, too. The casting is spot on and the way it's adapted for television is well done. I think Gaiman is one of the executive producers.

HBO  has been knocking it out of the park with some of their new series. We've been watching Big Little Lies (season 2...with Meryl Streep!) Euphoria, Years and Years, and most recently (and we're binging this one) True Blood. Yes, I know I'm extremely late to the True Blood party, but that just means we have the whole series to watch at our leisure. I always thought the premise sounded kind of silly but it turns out the show is very fun to watch. Speaking of fun....and the lack of it.....Years and Years is set 15 years into the future, and it's uncomfortable to watch as it's almost dystopian, and then the shocking surprise ending of episode 4 didn't sit well with me. I doubt I'll be watching any more of that one.

So there you have it: How I've been spending my summer vacation! Have you read or watched anything on my list? Or anything else good I should know about? I'd love to hear about it if you have.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


This bird loves nothing more in the whole wide world than "helping" with laundry.

He loves it so much, in fact, that he'll scream with outrage if you dare to turn on the dryer or fill the washer without his Feathered Highness in attendance. If you want to preserve the peace in the house you have to let him come into the laundry room and supervise every step of the process.

Life with Marco.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Junk out, junk in

The campaign to organize and pare down the stuff in this house continues. I didn't know we had so much pure junk stashed away! Yesterday I pulled everything out of the closet in the office to try to get a handle on it, and I quickly realized I wished I had never started! What a mess! Holiday decorations (not just Christmas), gift wrap supplies, old coats and sweaters, framed awards received from my job in 2009-2011, old calendars I kept for the artwork, 10 years worth of Gregg's aquarium job receipt and record books, knick knacks, and on and on and on. I was overwhelmed. But I got most of it sorted and there's three boxes of stuff to either donate or take to the dump today. There's still more to do: we have stacks of old CDs and DVDs in the office that need to be sorted, alphabetized, and either stored someplace handy or donated. Then there are two more closets in the bedrooms that need the same treatment, and lots of stuff in our laundry room cabinets too. Arrgh!!!! I've had enough for the moment, though, and I'm taking a break from it today.

Ironically enough, what I plan to do today is to go start scouring thrift stores for some items we need for our house. I know, I know: didn't I just complain about all the junk I had (and still have) to sort through? Yes, but there are items we need and I've resolved to shop at thrift stores to try to find treasures for cheap. We need things to hang over our mantle, above our sofa in the living room, and something for the wall in the foyer. While we have several small pieces of art painted by friends that we intend to get matted and framed, none of it is large enough for those three spaces. We also need lamps, and we'd like some that are both interesting and inexpensive. It would be great if I could find a few larger items, too, as we're still looking to add two barstools to the kitchen counter and a real desk here in the office. I kind of doubt I'll find big items like that in thrift stores, but you never know: a new Habitat for Humanity home store just opened right down the street. I resolved at the beginning of the summer to browse some of these shops at least once a week or so to be on the lookout for all the things we want. I hope I'll get lucky and find a few good pieces! I'm not usually one to find the really great deals in thrift stores so we'll see. I wish my mother in law was still alive. She was the queen of thrift store/yard sale/discount shopping and could find really good stuff for a song--and she wasn't afraid to haggle over the price, either! Part of the reason she was so lucky at it was that she was retired and had lots of time to look. Right now, I have way more time than money, so starting today I'm going to go do the rounds of treasure hunting.

Hey, part of the reason for cleaning out the old junk was to make room!

Do you like to go thrift shopping? And if so, what kinds of good stuff have you found? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The bounty of summer

I went by the school where I work the other day to drop off some honey and egg money. I buy them from the 4-H Club leader, one of our science teachers who not only keeps lots of hens at her home, but she's also a certified beekeeper who maintains our school apiary. Yes, our school has our very own honey to sell! Here is a picture of our "Spring Honey" (on the left) and "Autumn Honey" (on the right). Check out the difference in color!

While I was there dropping off the money, I observed that several of the small pollinator gardens scattered around the campus (planted by the 4-H Club and Environmental Action Club students) were blooming like mad. Here is one of them, right in front of the entrance to the school.

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There were several bees buzzing around, and if you look closely you'll see a butterfly sipping nectar from the coral colored flower just left of center.

Last week Marla called me up one afternoon and said her husband was coming by to give us something. I knew right away that her grandma must have sent us some fresh vegetables from her garden, and I was right! Look at these beauties!

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There's nothing like fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, and honey in the summertime!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Coming around

Good morning everyone! Thank you all for the supportive comments on my last post. I started back on my medicine a few days ago and I already feel a whole lot better. I've been trying to decide if the meds can really make a difference this fast or if I'm experiencing a placebo effect. After trying hard to be objective about it, I really think the meds are doing the trick. Within two days of taking the Zoloft I lost the emotionally fragile feeling I'd been walking around with for the past month. I'm also sleeping much better now and finally feel like I'm shaking the fatigue that's been dogging me so far this summer. Yay! I won't be so foolish as to simply stop taking the meds again without consulting my doctor.

Speaking of doctors, I probably should go see one about my foot. Specifically, the middle toes on my left foot---I think one of them may be broken. Yep, Miss Graceful strikes again! I got up the middle of the night last week to use the bathroom, and on my way back to bed I smacked my toes on the bottom of the exercise bike in my bedroom. Holy moly, did it hurt! And when I woke up the next morning the top of that foot underneath the toes had swollen and turned blue. I can't bear to touch the middle toe, and walking hurts pretty bad. I'm limping along taking Motrin and trying to walk on the side of my foot to accommodate the hurt toes. I hope it's just a couple of sprained toes and not a fracture, but even if it is a fracture I'm not sure there's much a doctor can do. Gregg suggested maybe I need one of those boot things. Wouldn't that be funny? A real summer fashion statement!

Today I'm going to work on starting some of the home projects I've got planned for this summer. Until I started back on the medicine I just couldn't muster the energy or will to do much of anything. All of a sudden I'm a month into my vacation and if I don't get a move on the summer is going to slip past. I'll be disappointed if I don't accomplish my list before going back to work. I've been making that list since we bought the house in November.

That being said, it's time to slurp down the last of the coffee and get to work. Today, reorganizing the kitchen cabinets is on the agenda. Everything got kind of crammed in willy-nilly when we were moving in last fall. Now that I've had time to use the kitchen I have a better idea of how things should be stored for maximum convenience. Another thing I need to do today (the first thing, in fact, before it gets too hot) is go out front and finish trimming the hedges. Gregg had the afternoon off yesterday so we did some yard work together, but it started raining when I was about 3/4 of the way through trimming the wildly out of control bushes in front. It shouldn't take over 30 minutes or so to complete.

Have a great weekend!