Thursday, May 28, 2020

A bit of levity--book lover's edition

After my last post, I imagine we can all use something a bit lighter as a palate cleanser. This is what I came up with:

My local county library shares some of the best funny bookish memes on social media. Since so many of my blog friends are readers, I thought it would be fun to show you a few. They all made me smile, and I hope they do the same for you. Enjoy!

For this next one, it helps if you're a Monty Python fan:

Book lover memes, Quarantine Edition:

So in this next one, I'm definitely a strong Clarissa, with just a touch of Maude thrown in for good measure. How about you?

And finally, just a good reminder for the times we're living in:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


My heart is so heavy today. I'm ashamed of this country and heartbroken for the friends and families of George Floyd, and all the other George Floyds out there whose stories will never be told because no one was there to film what happened to them.

I can't stand to think of this man begging for air, begging for his life, while his neck was crushed under a white police officer's knee. This whole country should hang its head in shame. We should all be in the streets protesting. What was it, a week ago?..that a man was openly lynched in the street for the crime of jogging while black. That same day, a white woman threatened (and then made good on her threat) to call the police on a black man who was birdwatching because he offended her by telling her to put her dog on a leash. She falsely claimed that he was threatening her. She could easily have gotten that man killed and I don't think for a moment that she wasn't absolutely aware of that fact. Even though the encounter was caught on film, and the man was doing absolutely nothing wrong, it still could have ended that way. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?!! How  are we still like this in America in the year 2020? When will it end?

That's really all I have to say today, except that I'm ashamed to be an American citizen right now. I'm ashamed to be a privileged white person who will never know the terror of living here while black. I'm ashamed of my own silence in the face of the things that have gone on. Somehow, we all have a responsibility to make this right, and I have no idea how anyone can even start.

Here is all you need to know about the state of this country in 2020:

Image may contain: one or more people and suit, text that says 'U.S. DemSoc So let me get this straight: Black Lives Matter protestors are tear gassed for protesting the murder of George Floyd, but MAGA protesters are left alone for bringing AR-15 inside state capitols? -Robert Reich'

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Week 10...just catching up

As hard as it is to believe, yet another week of staying at home has flown past. Some cautious forays out into the world have been necessary, though.

I worked on Monday. It was an easy day, answering phones (that barely rang) for four hours. There was almost no one else around. It's been a silent building for months now, which is kind of sad. It was never meant to be so quiet for so long!

On Tuesday morning I went to a long-delayed dental appointment to have a permanent crown put on. I'd been living with a temporary since early March. For the first week or two after the permanent one came back I was afraid to go out in public, then the office closed for a month due to Covid-19, then when they reopened I was too afraid to make an appointment right away. The temporary was holding up fine, so I kept waiting. Finally the office called and explained to me all the steps they're taking to protect patients and staff from the virus, so I decided it was time. What a relief to have that done!  I've had so much bad/painful dental work done over the last couple of years that going to the dentist has become somewhat torturous to me, no matter how minor the procedure. The temporary crown did not want to come off, and the scraping, pulling, and loosening that was necessary to make that happen had me so rigid with stress that tears started rolling from my eyes. (I wasn't in any actual pain. I think it was just adrenaline and fear). I was so embarrassed, but my new dentist, Dr. Abbas, was very kind and patient. I like him a lot, and I'm beginning to trust him. He finally got that stubborn temporary off, and the new permanent crown in place, and I'm still relieved a week later. 

Then I had a doctor's appointment with my regular GP on Thursday. I wasn't thrilled about going to her office, but I had to because I needed refills on a script that she didn't originally write for me. I wore a mask and hoped for the best--the office was taking every possible precaution, like calling ahead to check for flu-like symptoms, checking temperatures at the reception desk, spacing out chairs in the waiting area, etc. So that was okay. One funny thing: two days prior, they took my blood pressure at the dentist's office, and it was on the high side. Not crazy high, but elevated enough to alarm me a little bit, you know? But then on Thursday at my regular doctor's, my blood pressure was perfect again, just as usual. That will tell you something about my fear of the dentist!!  :)

On Friday morning I met up with two of my book club friends for our weekly date: doughnuts and coffee bought at a drive through and eaten in our parked cars while we talk. Our book club is talking about resuming meeting next month and how we can do it safely. I think our June meeting will be held on a back patio with plenty of room to space out chairs. I sure hope we can do it; I've missed that group of women and our book club nights so much! Fingers crossed.

Friday was also a special day: my little heart-niece, Carsen, turned two years old! It's hard to believe that she's already a toddler.

For everyone's safety, her creative mom and dad gave her a Zoom birthday party! They did a good job of making sure everyone knew how to access it, including Marla's parents and 90 year old grandmother. Everyone got to sing "Happy Birthday" and watch the birthday girl blow out her candles. She was sitting at a table with a huge arch of colorful balloons above her that her daddy had assembled. It was the most unusual birthday party I've ever "attended"!

After such a busy (well, busy by 2020 standards) week it almost feels like life is getting back to some sort of normal.....except not. Things seem more weird now than ever. I work for 4 hours this coming Tuesday and then I think I'm done for the summer. Who knows what school starting up in August is going to look like? I just hope we can start. It's so strange to still have weeks of staying at home in front of me after being here for 10 weeks already.

Gregg is thinking about returning to his pet store job next week--the beginning of June--barring any sudden large leaps in our local numbers over the next 7 days. He's planning to try to limit the number of people allowed to browse the aquarium aisle at any one time, asking them to observe 6 feet of distance. If the store gets too crowded for that, he'll either retreat to the back office for a while, or else come home altogether. He'll wash his hands often and avoid touching his face. Will that be enough? I sure hope so. We're both pretty nervous about it. Good information about the risk is just impossible to discern in our current political climate. It's scary and frustrating. We're all just doing the best we can, I suppose.

To end on a happier note, here is another (bad focus, but good color) photo of our male Painted Bunting. I say "our" because this beautiful bird, and a female, have been eating at our feeder for several weeks now! I'm the envy of the people at the Wild Birds Unlimited store where I buy my seed. Painted Buntings are almost never seen in this area.

The female is gorgeous golden-green color. Much more subtle than the male, of course, but very beautiful. I have yet to get a photo of her. They're shy birds that visit the most early, early in the morning and then again right before sunset. We've also had another new-to-us species visiting the feeder these days: a pair of Blue Grosbeaks. They're the most gorgeous shade of blue you ever saw, and it's been impossible to capture it on my cell phone camera. Here's a picture I lifted from the webs to show you:

All the while, we've still been seeing tons of Cardinals, House Finches, Titmice, Carolina Wrens, a pair of Red Bellied Woodpeckers, and a few pesky Cowbirds and a small flock of Grackles with fledglings in tow. The squirrels are also beyond bold at this point, which is going to end badly one of these days when Ginger or George takes them by surprise. We saw a deer the other night when we were out walking the dogs (it ran past under a streetlight) and we've seen a couple of rabbits lately, too. We're going to miss all this time at home to watch the animals and birds and the seasons change when we're finally able to fully return to normal work schedules. It's been a memorable three months, that's for sure!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Moss and ferns growing on the branch of an old dogwood tree in my neighborhood. 
Photo taken yesterday while walking the dogs.

We've entered our tenth week of staying at home/social distancing. While I'm still getting my regular salary, my husband has lost 3/4 of his. Half of that wasn't his choice, since he has a small business setting up and servicing aquariums and several of those are in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools--all places he couldn't go to right now if he wanted to. The other half is income from a pet store job he's had for over 20 years. He's the local aquarium expert and manages that section of the business at the store. He's an hourly paid worker there.

For the past 10 weeks, he's chosen to work very, very few hours at the pet store. The current owner has left it up to him to do as much or as little as he wants to. In fact, the owner, John, has been meeting Gregg up there hours before the store opens three days a week and letting him in so he can work on the tanks and take care of the animals without customers around. Altogether, he's working less than 10 hours a week as opposed to his normal 32.

His (our) dilemma is this: when should he go back to his normal schedule at the store? Our state is opening back up even though cases of Covid-19 are still rising. As some of you know, Gregg only has one lung, the result of cancer almost 10 years ago. That automatically makes him more vulnerable to a respiratory virus, despite the fact that he's reasonably healthy otherwise. But on the other hand, it's been 10 weeks, and while cases in our county and state are still adding up, it's not crazy out of control....not yet, anyway. Probably because of people like us, who are trying hard to do the right thing and stay at home. How long should that continue, though? It's not like the virus is going away anytime soon. In fact, I fear a second wave this fall that may make it crucial to lockdown again. If that's the case, we're going to need income between now and then to prepare. We haven't suffered any financial hardship so far, but we're hardly wealthy and sooner or later we will. Gregg also feels weird about the fact that so many people are resuming their jobs and activities yet we're still staying at home.....are we crazy? Is good hand washing, wearing a mask, and standing at least 6 feet away from others when in public enough to protect ourselves now? Or is going out now riskier than ever because of an unmerited sense of security?

This is the problem we're pondering, when to resume a more normal work schedule. Neither of us know what to think. What do you think? I'd love some outside perspective on this.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday photo parade

I actually have some plans to socialize this afternoon! Yippee! Marla is coming over later and we're going to sit on the porch (6 feet apart, of course) and drink wine and spend some time hanging out. It will be the first time in months that we've had a chance to catch up! I gave the porch a good cleaning yesterday to get ready, and this morning I'm going to clean the main bathroom and then maybe bake some goodies. I don't have a lot of time to blog, though, so....

in lieu of a regular post here are some photos I took over the past few days. I hope you enjoy them!Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Graffiti spotted around town the other day.

I was sorely tempted to buy this Pride champagne at the grocery store
 yesterday. I may have to go back for a bottle soon!

Thank you Spo for my raven mask! I love it!

Dog photos are a given.

And of course, Marco can't be left out.

The moon and Venus rising above our neighborhood the other night while we walked the dogs.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Like a shot in the arm

It's Thursday morning and already I can say that it's been a better week. I feel better and much more cheerful.

On Monday I was scheduled to go in to work and answer phones for a few hours. The administrators were there working hard to put together a virtual awards ceremony video. Due to a change in how registration was done last summer, over half of our students didn't have "media release" forms on file letting us know if we had their parents' permission to use their photos and names in something that would be shared on social media. Between honor roll, various school awards, and a photo montage of all of our 8th graders (in lieu of a middle school graduation) we had over 300 students whose parents and guardians needed to be contacted! I offered to come back the next day to help and the principal immediately took me up on it. So I went back Tuesday and worked a full day alongside him, his three assistant principals, and two other staff members they managed to find. I personally called and spoke to almost 60 parents and left messages for about two dozen more. By 4:30 I was beginning to stumble over my words a bit and my voice was started to go hoarse so I knew it was time to quit for the day. I haven't talked to so many people in months! Yesterday I went back and finished, I still had about a dozen parents to contact left on the my list. In between all these lengthy phone calls explaining who I was, what we needed and why, and how to access the video, I was also taking pictures of our Teacher of the Year and Support Staff of the Year and doing write ups on them and posting them to our school's social media. 

So yeah, I was busy. And I loved it! It felt so good to be contributing to the school again! It was even nice to talk on the phone to so many parents that I know--some of whom were desperate to talk after weeks of lockdown which I totally get. It was a treat to sit and have lunch with a few of my coworkers, too. The principal bought us all lunch and we gathered in a conference room, spread apart some, to eat it and there was much laughing and talking. Going to work for three days has made all the difference in how I feel.

Another great thing happened on Monday afternoon. When I got home from work Gregg and I went outside and trimmed some bushes in front of the house. While we were working on that, I got a text from Marla saying she wanted to drop something off at my house for us. I told her to come on by, that we were outside. A few minutes later her, her husband, and the baby pulled up. Marla got out of the car and stood several feet away and we got to talk face to face for the first time in months! She had brought two cupcakes for us to try. The baby's birthday is later this month and she's planning to make strawberry cupcakes for the party. And get this---it's going to be a Zoom birthday party! No one will actually be at their house except the three of them.


I was so happy to see them. The baby was in a carseat in the back, and I said to her, "Carsen! I'm so happy to see you!" and she responded in her tiny little voice, "See you....."

I've missed that little girl so much.

I got a little teary when they left. I swear, I'm turning into a weepy, emotional mess in my old age.

So that's been my week so far. I'm feeling much, much better. Thank you all for the nice comments and support on my last post.

How are you doing this week?

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Angsty Sunday

Happy Mother's Day to my readers here in the US who celebrate it! I hope you do something nice for yourselves today.

I sent my mom an inexpensive flower arrangement to mark the occasion, since I won't be seeing her. I probably wouldn't have seen her anyway, even without Covid-19, to be honest. I have a much older cousin whose children and (now) grandchildren my mom has gotten increasingly close to over the last several years. My cousin's daughter has three little children ranging in age from 5 years to 5 months old, and my parents have decided to consider them their grandchildren rather than great nieces and nephews. (I'm an only child who didn't give them actual grandchildren, much to their disappointment). Because of this, they usually spend Mother's Day and major holidays with these cousins and their families. A middle aged daughter and son-in-law aren't nearly as much fun as little kids they can play with and spoil! I understand that.

I go to work for 4 hours tomorrow, to answer phones. I hate only working a small token amount each week. I realized the other day that part of my low mood is coming from feeling mostly useless these days. Earned time off in a regular year, even when it's the whole summer, doesn't trigger any guilt in me, but I don't feel right about having this much. I haven't really worked since March, and I won't again until at least the end of July. (I say "at least" because I realized the other day that I haven't actually signed my work contract for next year yet. What I signed was a "letter of intent" back in January that just states I plan to come back the following year if my work agreement is renewed. The actual work agreements don't come through until May 18th, and as I stated in my last post, I have this nagging worry that the pandemic might end up making my job go away. So there's something else to keep me up at night). I'm beginning to understand why retired people feel a loss of a sense of purpose when they no longer go to work. I feel like I'm not contributing anything to the world right now. And I haven't used this time off to better myself in any way, either. I haven't started exercising more or working on my Spanish or picking up my long neglected knitting projects. Despite a few  household projects that I've helped Gregg get done, and some yard work, I've mostly been.....sitting around. On my bad days I tell myself that it's sheer laziness and I feel bad about myself. If I could somehow reclaim some sense of purpose it would help, I think, but it's hard to find ways to do that when we're still stuck in lockdown mode.

How do you retain a sense of purpose these days? Are you making good use of this time, or, like me....not so much?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Stormy weather

A big storm front rolled through the area late last night. I woke up to the sound of thunder, wind, and heavy rain an hour or two before sunrise. Try as I might, I never really went back to sleep after that. I finally gave up trying, got up, and put on a pot of coffee. The weather matched the mood for the first two hours of the day.

Gregg went to the pet store at 7am (it opens at 10am) to work on the aquariums for a few hours. As long as he doesn't have to have contact with the public, he's glad to get in a few hours' work. I imagine he's also happy to get out of the house for a little while, too, although he's much better at this stay-at-home and play hermit thing than I am. My husband is a true introvert. I'm much closer to the middle of the scale as far as that goes.

I did get to go to the school yesterday for a little while. I was scheduled for a 4 hour shift answering the office phone. It's a comfort to me to go to work right now, no matter that it's only about once a week for a half day. I have a secret gnawing fear that we're not going to be able to open schools back up in August, and at what point does the school receptionist become redundant in a situation like that? At the beginning of the year I signed my work agreement for the next school year, and as a state employee I probably have some protection against losing my job due to the pandemic. Still, I can't help but feel uneasy.

The worst part of this pandemic (to me) has been how uncertain the immediate future has become. Every day I'm dogged with this vague uneasiness and sense of dread that I just can't completely shake. I push it down and try not to think about it too much, but it's there, all the time. I'm still having weird stress dreams, not just at night but during the day when I take naps! That's a first for me. And for the past two days I've been feeling this weight of unexplained sadness. There's no rational reason for me to feel sad, I just do. I woke up that way again this morning.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Bringing in May

Another week of lockdown has come and gone. The time really flies when you're stuck at home, doesn't it? Our state is slowly opening back up while our positive cases continue to climb and climb. Florence county is leading the way with big daily increases, as well as number of deaths relative to the rest of South Carolina. It's already May so who knows how much longer social isolation will need to be maintained? I'm tired of it all (who isn't?) but since our local numbers keep going up this is no time to throw caution to the wind. I miss normal life so much, though.

Speaking of which, two of my book club friends and I found a creative way to spend time together on Saturday morning! We went through the drive-thru at Krispy Kreme in our individual cars for doughnuts and coffee, and then found an empty parking lot where we parked our cars in a triangle formation and rolled down the windows to talk. It was so good to see their faces!

The back porch and the bird feeder continue to be a daily source of happiness. On Thursday evening, May Eve, we saw two rabbits run the length of our back yard along the property line just before sunset! They appeared to be headed towards the creek. That was the first time we've ever seen rabbits at this house, and it seemed to be an auspicious date for it. Rabbit sightings have always been a sort of personal good luck omen to my husband and me. We started spotting them over and over in the weeks leading up to our wedding (14 years ago now) and during our honeymoon. The Painted Buntings are still visiting our feeder, much to my delight. The male is like a little flying jewel, with all his gorgeous colors, and the female is the most beautiful shade of yellowish green. They're exceedingly rare in this area and I'm shocked that they've stayed around for a full week already. The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were only here for two days, sadly, but I expected that because they're known for migrating through our state but not sticking around. I feel lucky that we got to see them at all.

We're not the only ones enjoying the back porch these days.

Marco, Ginger, and George all enjoy spending time out there, too. Not at the same time though!Marco can scream so loud that both of the dogs avoid him as much as possible. They dread those ear-piercing shrieks (so do we). When we bring Marco out, both dogs make a beeline back inside the house. Which is for the best, considering that they don't like him much to begin with and if he flew down into their faces something bad could happen. We try to be really careful when he's out of his cage around them.

Today is yet another beautiful day for going outdoors. It's still nice and cool, the sun is bright, and the sky is as blue as can be. I'll be out on the porch watering plants, filling the feeder, and afterwards maybe reading a book. How do you plan to spend your Sunday, friends? Whatever you're up to, I hope you're all well and having a good day!