Saturday, August 31, 2019

Farewell to summer

This is how I spent the last day of August....drinking mimosas with several friends at the pool.

Since I was the one taking pictures, I turned the phone around and got a still-wet selfie.
Onward to September!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Change is in the air

Summer seems to be on it's way out. The signs of fall are undeniable now. It's not just the cooler weather (although that's my favorite part) but also the rapidly shortening days and the difference in the angle of light, mornings and afternoons. The leaves on the trees, while still green, have started to turn a more golden shade of green. There are red berries on the dogwood tree. The very air seems different.

Sunday night was delightfully cool after the awful heat of the summer. I actually slept with two bedroom windows open, and it got down to 69 degrees with a good strong breeze. I put freshly laundered sheets on the bed, took a shower, and then settled down under the covers with lots of fresh cool air circulating in the room. Heavenly. I woke up a couple of times during the night, still feeling all nice and comfortable, and was reminded both times of hurricane weather. The gusty winds stirring the trees outside and the fresh cool air felt just like when a hurricane is approaching.

Speaking of which, there's the storm Dorian down in the Atlantic right now. The latest forecast predicts that it may strengthen to a level 3 hurricane and approach Florida (most likely) or else maybe Georgia or even South Carolina. It doesn't seem like a big deal yet, although my husband thinks I should go ahead and stock up on supplies early. The stores will be overrun in another day or two if Dorian continues to head this way. There won't be a loaf of bread or gallon of milk left anywhere! Ha! People make jokes about "milk sandwiches" around here for a reason. Those two things sell best in the grocery store right before any kind of weather event and I once saw two middle aged women get in a screaming match over the last loaf of bread when it was supposed to snow.

(Southerners are crazy.)

Moving on...…...since we had cooler weather last weekend, I cooked a nice pot roast in the crock pot and made mashed potatoes for the first time in months. It wasn't really pot roast cool outside, of course, just cool compared to the rest of the summer. I was finally able to cook a meal like this without worrying about breaking a sweat while eating it:

Moving into a new season is always exciting in the kitchen. As much as I love sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, peaches, new potatoes, grilled chicken, and summer salads, I'm longing for soup, stews, chili, and beans. Apple pies and pumpkin bread.

And oh, how I love sitting on my screened back porch these days! Now that it isn't quite so hot in the late afternoon we've been sitting out there every day after work. There's a ceiling fan, so even on warmer days it's pleasant, and the birds are becoming more active at the feeders. We're seeing three hummingbirds right now, but I know they'll be leaving soon. It's a fact that hummingbirds will travel the thousands of miles from South America and back and often will return, year after year, to the exact same feeders. Maybe these three will be back in March. I hope so! As to the seed eaters, their feeders have been invaded by a giant flock of Cowbirds. They're greedy and loud and pushy and I wish they'd go away! And some of the Cardinals have a second brood of fledglings which are pretty cute to watch. I usually have a glass or two of wine while we talk and watch the sun go down.

 The dogs like to hang out on the porch with us in the afternoons. George watches the feeders with us, but Ginger naps a lot these days. It's hard for me to admit that she's getting old. But she's definitely slowing down a little and is maybe a little hard of hearing, too. But she's sweeter and smarter than ever and a truly great dog. We're trying hard to notice and appreciate every day with her right now, while she's still healthy and engaged and sassy. Who knows how many more good autumns a twelve year old dog will have? It makes me cry to even type those words. We love her so much. But we're conscious of the passing of time and the need to make the most of the time we still have with her. And George is getting to be a better dog by the day. He's improved so much since we moved here; now he lives inside and never has accidents, or chews anything up, or does anything bad, really. Quite a change from when we first adopted him from the shelter as a wild, undisciplined, mistreated youngster! He's really growing up to be a good dog, too.

I find I'm  really looking forward to my last new season in this house. We bought it and moved in last November, so autumn is the only season left that we haven't seen in our new home. I'm trying to notice and make the most of every single day of it. We're finding that we really like it here.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Notorious RBG

She's tough as nails and I'm confidant she'll beat cancer again and stay in her spot as long as it takes to see this administration out. And then I hope she retires and enjoys herself..goodness knows she deserves it.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


These first two days of the new school year have been hectic. I'm sipping my second glass of wine right now, so I feel nice and relaxed, but I'll need to go to bed extra early again tonight to keep up with the demands of this week. The district rolled out a new registration system this year, and it's an utter nightmare. A large chunk of our sizeable student body still doesn't have the registration process completely done, and enrollment is way up. Our classrooms are bursting at the seams. And the bus department....what a nightmare. I remember Ms. Moon talking about her grandsons being stuck on the bus for two hours on the afternoon of their first day of school. The same thing happened here yesterday. Some of the bus kids were still getting picked up at the school over an hour and a half after dismissal. Some of them didn't arrive home until after 6:00pm! We have almost a thousand students, and about half of them ride the can you imagine how many frantic phone calls I took in the front office yesterday? I stayed almost 2 hours late to reassure parents that their kids were fine, just really late. And then this morning the pissed off parents started to call. I'll bet that altogether, between the bus fiasco, the registration problems, the requests for schedule changes, the new parent questions....I took several hundred phone calls over the last few days! I stayed late again today because there was so much left to do. It's been a lot of work.

I had some embarrassingly nice compliments from the principal and one of his assistants this afternoon, though. We were talking in Mr. Oates' office late this afternoon and he said something to the effect of: "Mrs. Barlow, you have one of the most stressful jobs in this school. You have to juggle demands and people asking you for things all day long, and you always keep a great attitude and go the extra mile. You deserve a raise, and I wish I could give you one. (Raises come from the district office, and I actually did get one this year). I appreciate you and I want you to know it." And then the assistant principal, Mrs. Frierson, starting talking about how much I do and how she knows she can count one me if she needs anything, and how I always smile and make the effort to be pleasant to everyone no matter what--I'm able to keep my composure. Well, after all these compliments, my head might have started to swell!!! Haha. But seriously, it feels so good to work somewhere a serious effort to do a good job is noticed. That's worth more than money, honestly.

Well, off to feed the dogs their supper (ours is still in the oven, but it's almost ready), take a short walk, watch some tv, and go to bed early. Tomorrow promises to be another busy, busy day. My apologies for being somewhat slack in commenting on your blogs right now--when the weekend arrives I hope to catch up with you all!

Have a great week.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Domestic stuff

This is what I did earlier today:

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Pickled peppers and garlic
I like to have some spicy vinegar on hand in the fall and winter, for eating on greens.

I'm also preparing to grill some chicken breasts this evening for work lunches this week. I bought some more of the wonderful local sweet corn to put on the grill, too, and a ripe cantaloupe to slice and refrigerate for dessert. Cantaloupe isn't my favorite summer fruit, but Gregg likes it.

Besides kitchen stuff, I'm doing laundry and a few extra house chores this afternoon. Tomorrow the kids are back at school and this week is going to be hectic. I'm trying to enjoy a quiet day at home to prepare for the craziness of the next few days. Another school year is about to really begin!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rain dance

It's been so terribly hot and dry here lately. I heard on the radio the other day that most of the state is experiencing mild to moderate drought conditions. Not only has there been very little rain this summer, but it's been incredibly hot for days on end, more than once. Today it got up to 101 degrees with high humidity doesn't get much more miserable than that.

Driving home from work this afternoon I heard about a chance of severe thunderstorms in the upstate. Despite the fact that we're east of that, the sky is turning dark as I type this. Oh please, oh please, let it rain tonight! It's hot in our house since the a/c is having a hard time keeping up again. I'm sweating as I type this. The grass has turned to dust outside and the late summer flowers seem to be fading fast. I'm so ready for fall....but a good hard rainstorm would be such a relief in the meantime!

My mom swears that one of my great grandfathers on her side was over half Native American. Do you think if I go outside and dance it would help matters? If I thought it would.....I would!

Original painting by Sylvia Zalmanson

Monday, August 12, 2019

First day back...

This is how it started:

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Marco loves to hang out with me in the morning. Sometimes he showers with me, sometimes he just perches on the shower curtain rod while I get ready. That's what he was doing this morning when he decided to jump down and land with a *plop* on top of my towel-covered head. I had to go grab my phone and get a picture. It was too funny to resist.

Then I went to work, and as soon as I sat down at my desk and started answering the phones it was like the last several weeks off never happened. The district rolled out a new online registration process that has a lot of parents confused and frustrated. It's beginning to look like next week (when the students come back) is going to be a bit...chaotic. We'll see.

It's still crazy hot outside. Putting on makeup again in the morning is unpleasant, since it's so easy to sweat it right off just walking to and from your car. As one of the local meteorologists put it on social media today:

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That's as good a description of life here in the summer as I've ever seen!

All in all, it was an "okay" first day back. And hey, there's only 189 more work days to go until my next summer vacation!

Sunday, August 11, 2019


It's the last day of summer vacation. Sunday isn't my favorite day of the week to begin with, and so today just felt kind of sucky. There was a mountain of laundry to do, and I gave the kitchen and bathrooms a quick scrub. Tomorrow will be a better day if I come home to a tidy house after work.

I'm actually ready to go back to work. I like my job, which helps. Also, I'm ready for fall. We've begun another period of awful heat and humidity, and I'm just done with this weather. Sick of it. I feel trapped in the house, but when I try to go outside to get a little exercise I'm immediately wet with sweat and miserable. Cooler weather will be, as always, a welcome relief.

Yesterday I went to visit with an older lady friend of ours whose husband died a few months ago. She's very lonely and had been asking us to come visit, so yesterday I did. I had never been to her house, and what a surprise. First of all, the house is gorgeous, filled with lots of custom details and glowing wood. There are stained glass windows all over the house, because that's a former hobby of hers, and watercolor paintings she had done as well. I never knew she was such an artist! But best of all was the outside of the property: 18 acres, most of which is wooded and slopes back to a portion of a creek. There's about 5 acres of cleared and landscaped land immediately around the house, and she had the most wonderful trees and flowers. Old roses, lilies, gardenias, and spring flowering shrub, and masses of annuals that reseed themselves every year. There were oak and magnolia trees dripping with Spanish moss, crepe myrtles in bloom, and even a giant, magnificent Brown Turkey fig tree. When she found out that I plan to plant a fig tree in our back yard, she insisted on giving me some cuttings of that even though it's the wrong season to try to root them. She said that if it doesn't work out, we can try again later, and she also gave me two types of flower seeds: Rose Campion and Hummingbird Vine.

Rose  Campion

Hummingbird Vine
I found both those images on the internet. I didn't take many pictures at Carol's house, but I wish I had. It was beautiful. And she's offered me bulbs, shrubs, rose cuttings, or anything else I might like to have for our yard--how generous!

That's been my whole weekend, right there. Visiting with a friend yesterday and doing a little bit of housework (but mostly sitting around being lazy) today. Another friend invited me over to her house to swim this afternoon but I decided I needed to do the laundry and prepare for tomorrow, instead. I won't have to cook tonight; we grilled out yesterday and have leftovers: pork chops with honey chipotle bbq sauce, corn on the cob cooked in it's husk on the grill, fresh farm stand tomatoes and cucumbers, and I may make a side dish of mac and cheese. That only requires boiling water, after all. We'll eat as soon as Gregg gets home from work, probably in another half hour or so. He usually works until around 7pm at the pet store on Sunday nights.

As I type this, I'm having a "farewell, summer" gin and tonic with lime. It's been my go-to cocktail these last two months. Easy, light, and refreshing. I may have another after dinner.

Have a good night, everyone, and wish me luck tomorrow--a new school year is about to begin!

 I'm ready.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Last four!

I'm down to my last four days of summer vacation. When my husband was leaving for work this morning he said, "Better make 'em count!" and he's right. I'll be craving some time off in a month or two once we're back into the full swing of things.

Working the first three days of this week during registration was super easy--not like my regular job at all. Sitting in the gym with a book, selling a t-shirt or two here and there, was actually pretty fun. And I ended up selling over $2000 worth of shirts so it definitely wasn't a waste of time! I got to meet a couple of new teachers and the two new additional guidance counselors joining us. I spent an hour catching up with the band director and hearing about his summer wedding and honeymoon trip to Holland. The science teacher/4H leader/beekeeper that I buy eggs and honey from gave me some advice on my plans for landscaping our small property (I want to make it pollinator friendly) and that was an interesting discussion. Here's a new photo of the zinnias her students planted in front of the school last spring, still going strong in August:

I must plant some of these lovelies here at home next year. They're bright, cheerful, and seem to require very little in the way of care. Plus, the bees and butterflies love them!

On a less cheerful note, the office assistant who spoke Spanish has found a new job and will not be coming back this year. That puts me back in the hot seat when dealing with our many, many Hispanic parents in the front office. I've neglected working on my Spanish this summer and need to spend the next week before the students return brushing up on it as much as possible.

Yesterday afternoon when I got home it seemed like our air conditioner wasn't working very well (again). It was 80 degrees in the house (82 in a couple of rooms that are always warmer) even though the thermostat was set on 76. Folks, I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I nearly had a panic attack over it. I'm not sure if I blogged about the last night of the last time our a/c went out, but it was...dramatic. It was during a sweltering heat wave, the temperature in the house that night was 87 degrees, there was no breeze to catch in the open windows, and the humidity was so high the air felt like thick soup. We had brought in our portable a/c and had it running in the den to try to get some relief, but it wasn't helping much at all. Sleep was impossible. And then about 1:30am I discovered the portable unit was leaking water all over the rug, which led to a mad dash to move furniture, take up the rug and move it to the porch, mop up the water, and resolve the leakage issue so we could continue using the only source of cooler air we had. "Miserable" doesn't even begin to describe it. I suppose I'm a little traumatized by it all. Thank goodness that last night the a/c cooled down to where it should be. What a relief! I suppose because it got so hot outside yesterday it just had trouble keeping up in the late afternoon. I'll be glad when summer is over, honestly. I hate being sweaty all the time. I hate worrying about the a/c. Next summer, we need to just replace the damn thing and be done with it.

Well, off to find a way to "make today count". :) I tried to sleep in, but Marco had other plans. After only three days of me working again he decided getting up at 6:30am is now our "thing". The dogs have already gotten up, eaten breakfast, and are now starting their midmorning naps. What a life, huh?

The crepe myrtles are still blooming, too.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Hello from the t-shirt table!

I'm at work, stationed at the t-shirt table in the gym. I've already sold several and it's only 8:30am!

It sure is nice to see everyone. Coming back to work doesn't feel bad at all. And it's nice seeing returning students and how much they've grown over the summer!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Thoughts from the porch...

While I sit out here and watch a thunderstorm:

Our power sure seems to go off more often and for longer periods of time than at our last house. At least it's cooler outside and I can open windows. It's been 2 hours already from a puny little storm.

We have some picky spoiled birds that eat here! Money was tight the last time I went to buy seed for the feeders, so I got a cheaper mix than we normally offer. These fat bastards are snubbing the feeders, in what I can only assume is a bid to get back their fancy boutique bird feeding store gourmet mix. 

Speaking of spoiled animals, Ginger and George are LIVING IT UP this summer and have had me at their beck and call. Lazy, spoiled, and entitled...that's them.

And let's not forget Marco T. Barlow, the Terrorist in Feathers.

And finally....

How is it August already? And why doesn't time fly like this during the school year?