Monday, December 30, 2019

What next?

I've decided I'm over this holiday break. Over. It.

Marco is still sick, but no worse. He's eating ok and seems to be hanging in there, for now. I emailed CVETS in Columbia yesterday, asking about what resources they have for parrots, and a nice lady called me first thing this morning to let me know which vets on staff are certified to treat exotic pets, and the shifts they're working for the rest of the week. So that option is there for us.

Last night Gregg's sister, nephew, niece, and nephew-in-law came back over, and then we discovered that his brother was in town and so he came over too and brought his wife, daughter, and two small grandchildren. It was chaos with that many people and two very excited dogs milling around. They didn't leave until almost midnight and we were exhausted.

Full House

(Did I mention that Gregg and I are both still sick? Well, we are. Not the best time for loads of company).

Then this morning my mom called and was in the Emergency Room with my dad. He went to the doctor for a scheduled appointment and they discovered that his blood pressure was alarmingly high and his heart rate was way, way up. We thought for a while they were going to admit him to the hospital, but now it looks as if they're just going to have to adjust some medications, and he can go home soon. I'll be going to see him tonight to check on him.

What else is going to happen to stress me out this week? I'd rather be at work on my regular schedule than dealing with all this crap. December has always been a very unlucky month for me and I'll be glad to see the back of it.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sunday afternoon Marco update

Marco is a bit better this morning. I was alarmed when I first woke up and checked on him, because his eyes were crusted shut. But once he woke up and got his eyes opened, he showed several good signs:

1. He's eating and drinking. Birds that are dire straits don't show interest in food. He's not eating a lot, mind you, but he immediately devoured a small slice of apple first thing today.

2. He's spoken a couple of times and even let out a half hearted screech once.

3. He felt well enough to be slightly inappropriate with his favorite toy (aka his girlfriend).

So for now I'm holding off on a panicked trip to Columbia and keeping a close eye on the little guy instead. A steamy bathroom seems to perk him up some so I've been taking him in there and turning on the shower. I'm also keeping him warm and quiet, tempting him with favorite foods, and sitting with him by the windows to get him some natural light (so crucial to birds!). Unfortunately it's a cloudy, rainy day today without much UV, otherwise I'd take him out to the back porch for some sunshine (it's been warm this week). Maybe tomorrow will be sunnier. Hopefully he'll continue to improve (or at least not get any worse).

Thanks for all the encouraging words and good thoughts....keep 'em coming, please!

Sitting in a steam bath with an under-the-weather bird.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Things the heart remembers

This morning I woke up from a dream about a dog I used to have, Nicky. I wondered what on Earth made me dream about him, given that he died 13 years ago. I still miss him on occasion but the sharp grief of losing him has long since passed.

It took me until late this afternoon to realize that this was the date 13 years ago when we had to have him put to sleep. December 28th.

How weird that somehow subconsciously I remembered the date and it triggered a dream about him.

Our company is in town. We had a nice evening with Gregg's sister, nephew, niece, and the niece's new husband. I made vegetarian chili for dinner (Melissa and her husband Jay are both vegetarians) and it was a big hit. There was a store bought chocolate cake for dessert.

Despite the good visit with family, I've been worried all night. Something is wrong with Marco. It looks like he's got some kind of respiratory infection going on and he's not been his normal self all day. Speaking of pets and memories, I keep thinking about the Quaker parrot we used to have. One day he looked and acted like Marco has today, and the next morning I found him dead on the bottom of his cage. I'm so scared. If he's still sick in the morning (and not, God forbid, dead) I'll be driving him to Columbia to see an avian vet. Please send us good vibes and healing thoughts. I can't bear the thought of losing my little feathered man.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Under the weather

Our Christmas was quiet and nice, spent at home with the dogs eating good food, watching movies, taking naps (me) and drinking wine (also me). We even had a Christmas morning walk with Ginger and George on a nature trail close to our house. All this despite the fact that I woke up with the beginning of a cold on Christmas Eve that's steadily gotten worse since.

Gregg is sick now, too. We're both feeling quite under the weather today, and the worst part is that his sister, nephew, niece, and niece's new husband are coming to town tomorrow to visit for a couple of days. They're staying in a hotel which I'm thankful for. I really don't feel up to having company at all much less overnight guests. If they hadn't already booked rooms I would suggest they come some other time. Gregg is running a fever now and I can't seem to shake a headache.

I'm hoping we'll both feel at least a little better by tomorrow. We've been looking forward to seeing the family and I hate for it to be spoiled by illness. And this is no way to ring in the new year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve greetings

I'm in a huge hurry this morning but I wanted to pop in and wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh, Cool Yule, or whatever else you may be celebrating tonight!

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to us all.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


The book club Christmas party I hosted on Wednesday night was a moderate success, I think. My kitchen and dining room/living room combination were the two areas where everyone congregated, and it felt really crowded to me at the time. Looking back at the photos, though, it doesn't seem too bad.

The view from the den, looking over the bar into the kitchen. Poor Gregg; he went to so much trouble to make the 120 gallon planted aquarium in this room look good for the party, and no one went in there or noticed it.

Here is some of the food I served. Not pictured are the crockpot meatballs, or hot cheese dip, or roasted nuts and assorted crackers and chips.

My friend Martina brought the Apple Pie. Aren't the cutouts on top gorgeous? The cake came from a local bakery: Cherry Pound Cake with Fudge Icing.

My homemade Dark Chocolate Rum Balls.

Of course, most of the cleaning I did was nothing anyone but me would notice. I expected that. But the amount of work I put in to the food was, in retrospect, almost a total waste. With a dozen guests all mingling and talking, the food was almost the last thing anyone focused on.

I'll admit that the whole thing flew by while I was distracted by being a hostess. Did I enjoy myself? Not really. It wasn't bad, mind you, only too crowded and too many people and things to focus on to relax and have a good time. Everyone came over almost at once, and left almost at once. I felt like a hurricane had blown through. I had to methodically clean the kitchen after everyone left just to decompress a bit, and I still had trouble getting to sleep that night. Half the number of people would have been just about right. I was overwhelmed by a dozen. This was me at the end of the night:

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The day is here...

Tonight is my first time hosting my book club gathering, and the holiday meeting at that. I'm excited about it, but I've also been nervous about it for so long that honestly, I'll be kind of glad when it's all over.

All of these women are my friends, as Gregg keeps reminding me, and there's no need to be stressed out about it, but I've enjoyed their hospitality so many times in the past that I feel like I should do extra. And of course I want to both impress my friends and show them how much I care about them. Hence the menu is a tiny bit.....excessive, maybe? I've spent a good deal of money not to mention the effort that I'm putting in to make sure the food is varied and delicious. The oven part of my stove mysteriously quit working over the weekend, then rose from the dead (a Christmas miracle!) Monday morning, nixing any plans I had to serve homemade cake and cookies. I like to think that the oven knew I needed to go a little easier on myself, and so gave me an excuse to serve store bought sweets! I still managed to make dark chocolate rum balls on Sunday, since you only need to melt chocolate over a burner for those.

The house is clean as a pin. I've worked on that for almost two weeks, deep cleaning from top to bottom. I went out and bought new candles to add to my Christmas decorations, and we hired a guy to come and repair the front glass storm door (it  had been malfunctioning since we moved in) and to add a door to our little half bathroom which had never had one. I want the house to look and be its best tonight. If I'm honest, I'll admit that a big reason is the fact that with only one or two exceptions, these women are all much more financially well off than I am. They all have large, beautiful, beautifully decorated homes. I love our little house and am proud of it, but it's much, much more modest than any of theirs. That's why I want it to be extra clean and well kept and Christmas-sparkley. But....These are your friends my husband would insist. And he's right! It's going to be fine, and we'll have a good time. I'm sure of it. But what a relief it'll be when the last guest leaves tonight!

I took a personal day off work today to finish everything up at a leisurely pace. That being said, if I don't finish my coffee and get off the computer, I'll be in trouble. So off I go! I'll share some party photos in a few days if all goes well. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

My favorite Christmas card

My 6 year old friend Little P. made me a Christmas card yesterday afternoon, and it's my favorite, hands down.

His momma laughed and laughed at the fact that he made Santa black like him. :) I think it's awesome!

I just love that kid.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

So busy....

I'd like to apologize to you, my blogger friends, for not being around much or commenting very often lately. I've been busy giving the house a thorough, top to bottom cleaning, as well as decorating and shopping for the upcoming holidays. Here are a few photos.

My book club Christmas party is only a week and a half away, so I'm also finalizing the menu for that. I'm excited to host for the first time, but I'll also be glad when it's all over. I'm nervous about having a dozen guests at once. That's a first for me.

How are your holiday plans shaping up? Are you excited, or dreading it all, or somewhere in between (like me)?

Having a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Thank you, karma!

Remember the crazy old man who lives behind us and harassed us endlessly whenever one of our dogs barked? He started banging on our door and acting out the first weekend we lived in this house, and he kept up the harassment until Gregg finally had to threaten him with the police to get him to leave us alone. If we so much as got in the shower and left the dogs outside to do their business, and George barked at the back door to be let back in, the crazy man would be banging on our front door demanding we stop him barking before we had even dried off and put on our clothes! That's a true story. The man might be a bit demented, or maybe he's just an asshole. Either way, once Gregg got in his face and threatened him with legal action for trespassing and harassment, he backed off and left us alone. I'm sure he still hates it when Ginger and George go outside and bark, though.

Over Thanksgiving the new owner of the house next door moved in. Since we're eager to be on good terms with the rest of our neighbors, we made them up a little care package with a note that said, "Welcome to the neighborhood! From, the Barlows: Gregg, Jennifer, Ginger (black dog) and George (tan dog)." For the people I got two dozen assorted cookies from a local bakery. For the dogs (we knew there were dogs because I'd glimpsed a couple of small ones on leashes during the move-in) Gregg had brought home fancy treats from the pet store where he works. No one was home when I walked over to deliver the gifts, so I left them at the front door.

Today Gregg finally met our new neighbor! She's a single, middle aged woman with....wait for it......


Not only does she have five dogs, but she also fosters rescue dogs. So there should also be a steady stream of temporary dogs living there, too!

Take that, jerk!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha!

You have no idea how this information made my day!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


My life feels awfully small sometimes, but even so, it's a comfortable, cozy kind of life.

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Sweet Ginger stayed close by while we put up the Christmas tree Sunday night.

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The Christmas tree this year. It makes me so happy.