Saturday, November 28, 2020

Kicking off the holiday season

 For my friends who celebrate, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! It was really good at my my house. We got up early that morning and took George over to McLeod Park for a good walk. It's too bad we have to cross a very busy highway to get to it; otherwise we could walk over, it's so close to home. The drive only takes about 3 minutes. It's a pretty park with lots of space, and George loves it.

Then we came back home and I spent the next few hours cooking. I made a pretty good spread for two people, and it was all delicious, if I do say so myself.

Menu: Roast Turkey Breast, Hasselback Potatoes, Cornbread Dressing,
 Cranberry Mandarin Orange Sauce, Green Beans, Sweet Potato Souffle. 

A close up of the Hasselback Potatoes. This was my first time trying this recipe, and we liked it a lot!

And later, there was pie: Pecan (my favorite) and Cherry (Gregg's favorite). The cherry pie looks like hell but it tasted good.

The best part about cooking this meal was that I got to share some of it with our neighbor, Heather. She's single and doesn't have much family, so I sent her a text asking if she had any plans for a Thanksgiving meal. When she said she didn't, I offered to drop off some plates of food and she gladly took me up on it! I loaded three plates with enough food for two meals and took them over. An hour later she texted me and said, "OMG this is amazing! I can't stop eating!! The sweet potato casserole is just like I make it, just like my mother and grandmother would make it and with the marshmallows on top!! This has made me have a Thanksgiving Day!!" 

I can't tell you how happy that made me! My husband is a huge fan of my cooking and he always looks at me like I've worked some kind of magic when I make a big festive meal, but it's a lot of work to cook for just two. It felt so good to share our meal with a friend! Later in the evening when the pies were done I texted Heather again and asked her if she was ready for dessert. Within seconds she responded: "Yeeeeesssss!!" and walked over to meet me at my front steps. I gave her two slices of each pie and some more sweet potato souffle since she liked it so much. Another good thing about sharing our food was it cut down on the leftovers which we always tire of pretty quickly. We had some of everything again yesterday, and today there's just enough sliced turkey left to make a couple of sandwiches. Everything else should be finished off by tonight, too. Perfect. 

So that was our Thanksgiving and then yesterday we went back to the park, walked George a couple more times around our neighborhood, relaxed, and then PUT UP THE CHRISTMAS TREE. In November! We've never put up the tree so early, and I feel kind of weird about it, but it looks pretty. We started off by pulling out the tree and all the boxes of ornaments from the closet in the office/Marco's room. We'd already decided to clean out that closet and to start utilizing the attic for decoration storage, and since we had everything out we figured, what the heck. I took a photo of it this morning because the lights look so nice on this cloudy, gray, chilly day. 

Oh, and our dryer died this morning, because of course it did. It wouldn't be the holiday season without an unexpected expense popping up! So now I know what I'm getting for Christmas. Ho ho ho.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


 It's always a good time to focus on what we're grateful for in life, but Thanksgiving is a nice reminder to count our blessings. 

Two years ago on Thanksgiving Eve my little family moved into our new home! It was the first night we spent in this house and Thanksgiving morning we woke up here for the first time. Our home is modest; not very big, not expensive or expensively furnished, and probably not all "that" to a lot of people, but we love it. We waited so long to be able to afford our own home, and I've been grateful to be here every single day since.

Thirteen years ago on Thanksgiving Eve I came home from work and found a puppy hiding on our back porch. That, of course, turned out to be our Ginger. This photo was taken the next morning, Thanksgiving morning of 2007:

Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day ended up being a double homecoming for our family: first when Ginger found us, and then when we moved into our permanent home. Of course, this year it's a bittersweet holiday because we lost our good girl back in August. Tears are running down my face as I type this--I still love and miss her so much--but I'm so grateful for her and for her life. And I'm glad she had a year and a half in our new home before she died. I feel like her spirit is still here with us, her loving family. I'm grateful for our little family as a whole: my husband that I love dearly, our other good dog, Georgie, and even bratty Marco. We're an odd, slightly eccentric little family, but it means everything to me.

Then there's my job, that I also love; our continued good health (especially my cancer survivor husband's); and last but not least, our fantastic friends! I have so many wonderful friends that, pre-Covid, I had trouble making time for them all. A couple of my women friends have become as dear to me as sisters. I feel so very lucky to be blessed with so many friends.

Last but DEFINITELY not least, there are my blog friends! I never would have thought that so many people all over the world, people that I've never actually met in person, would become such a big and important part of my life. Just a couple of days ago Parsnip and her two good dogs in Arizona sent Georgie a care package in the mail, out of the blue, just because we're old friends and she's a thoughtful person. There was a stuffed duckie in there and George loves it so much he's been carrying it around with him and even sleeping with it! Other blog friends have sent me presents over the years: Anne Marie and her beautiful shawl, Terra and a lovely arrangement of flowers, Joanne and her hand woven kitchen towels that make me smile every single day when I use them.....But as nice as gifts are, what I really love is the thought behind them, and the love and support I get from so many other bloggers that I've gotten to know over the years. I'm humbled by all of the kindness I've been shown by you all. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being my friends. I count every single one of you as among my greatest blessings in life. 

So on that sappy and sentimental note, I'll end this post.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Love to you all.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Some favorite YouTube channels

Dr. Spo just posted about a few of his favorite YouTube channels, and it has inspired me to do the same. We watch a lot of Youtube in this house. Here are some of our vloggers for anyone that might be interested! 

Ask a Mortician 

Caitlin Doughty is an L.A. based mortician who founded The Order of the Good Death and has a funny and fascinating YouTube channel. Somehow we happened upon this video The Real Moby Dick Was So Much Worse and then we ended up spending hours watching her other videos. So entertaining, so informative, and so "death positive"!

Northern Heart

This is a vlogger from Sweden who posts the most wonderful videos about her home country. They're a lot of fun to watch this time of year, they're so cozy and....hygge. Here's a good one: How To Manage the Long Swedish Winter

Matthew Posa

My husband loves watching bushcraft videos, especially when the vloggers go winter camping with dogs. This guy is cute and funny and his collie, Monty, is the star of the show. Here's a recent link to some of his "best moments so far" as a compilation. Best Moments So Far

Mamrie Hart

These days, Mamrie hosts a podcast with her best friend Grace Helbig called This Might Get Weird which is hilarious, but what initially drew us to the Mamrie Hart universe was her ongoing series of videos called You Deserve a Drink. Once you get to "know" her, the podcast is a lot of fun, but try these two videos from You Deserve a Drink to get a feel for her humor (Mamie shares cocktail recipes she invents).    YDAD: The Aviation Martini    Amy Poehler's Parks & Wrecked

De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina

I adore this traditional Mexican grandma and the meals she cooks! It's in Spanish, but even if you can't understand what she says her traditional cooking methods and foods will make your mouth water. And she always wears the cutest aprons! I love this lady. She reminds me of my grandma in some ways. :) Here's a sample of her channel: Gordiitas Enchiladas en Comal

Thank you, Dr. Spo, for a fabulous idea! I hope some of you fellow YouTube enthusiasts find something here that you enjoy. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Happy face

George got to go for a car ride this morning! It's one of his favorite things lately. Gregg is off today so he took him to a (new to us) nearby park to explore. Look at this face when they got back! I heard that he was sooo excited!

Meanwhile, some of us are stuck in an office on this bright, crisp, beautiful autumn day! 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The children are watching.

 Yesterday afternoon my little friend P. came by my desk with his mom as they were leaving for the day. While his mom stepped into the principal's office to chat with him for a minute, P. and I talked. I asked him about his day at school while I half listened, as I was finishing up sending some emails and such. At some point I realized P. had gone quiet and when I looked up at him, he came close and leaned against my side and put his head on my shoulder. Then he said, quietly, "Mrs. Barlow.........who is the President?"

Slightly taken aback, I replied, "Of the United States...?"

"Yes" he said.

"Well, right now Donald Trump is the President. But starting in January we'll have a new President, Mr. Joe Biden, because he won the election we just had."

P. just looked at me for a few seconds, and he seemed troubled. Then he said this:

"But I heard that Mr. Joe Biden is supposed to be President now. And I heard that Donald Trump won't give him the money he needs to become President!"

I was surprised and only had a moment to try to explain that No, what you've heard isn't so. President Trump is just unhappy that he didn't win, but he has to leave in January. That's how elections work here, the vote is taken in November but the winner doesn't become the President until January. He still looked doubtful as his mom emerged from the principal's office ready to leave. This got me thinking.

What a damn shame it is that our current President can't ever be a role model in any way, shape, or form for the kids in this country! Even an 8 year old child is noticing the stress he's putting the country under by acting like the sore loser thwarted bully that he's always been. The man can't even summon the grace or decency to concede and is refusing to give the incoming Biden administration the daily intelligence briefings they're entitled to (that's what my little friend was referring to when he thought it was "money" they were withholding). It's a danger to national security, how he's acting, and more than that, what kind of example does he set? 

I know that as for my friends' children, that I love like nieces and nephews, I would be so disappointed in them if they acted the way our President is because they lost something they had hoped for! I know that their parents either are or will be teaching them to lose with grace and to win with humility. Too bad our Commander in Chief never had anyone to teach him those lessons! This country should have never allowed that man to become President. I hope the parents out there that voted for him (especially this second time) are enjoying the example he's setting for their kids.

The children are watching, folks. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Random tidbits on a rainy Thursday evening

 This week is flying by. After the relief of the election being called for Biden last Saturday I've found myself feeling a good bit lighter in general. I know the toddler-in-chief is throwing temper tantrums and making threats, but all of my worries about what he might do to steal the election, which kept me awake at night for months, seemed to evaporate all at once when I got the news, like a pin popping a balloon. I burst into tears from sheer relief, and ever since I've just felt like no matter what Trump tries to do over the next two months, it just doesn't matter anymore. He's pathetic and I can't wait to see him gone! 

My buddy Little P. continues to be a joy. I got Gregg a new pair of binoculars for his birthday, and he suggested that P. might want his old ones. They're not very good, but I knew that a little kid wouldn't care about that, so I took them to the office with me the next day. I told his mom about them that morning before I saw him and she said, "Has he been talking to you about binoculars?!" with a funny tone of voice. I said, "No, why?" and she told me that he had been talking about wanting binoculars off and on for a while! She said it was almost eerie how in tune with him I seem to be! Of course, I told her it was Gregg's idea, and it was, but the coincidence was perfect. You should have seen his face when I gave them to him that afternoon! He was so happy. The day after that his beloved uncle, visiting from Atlanta, came to pick him up from our school, and despite being thrilled to see his "Uncle JJ" he came to my desk to give me a hug first thing. He said, "Mrs. Barlow, my uncle JJ has four motorcycles!" and I looked up at the uncle, laughed, and said, "P., everyone should have an uncle with four motorcycles!" They left together after that, with the uncle teasing his sister, "See ya later....I'm going to buy this boy a cheeseburger" because P. and his mom are vegetarians. Mom just rolled her eyes at her brother and laughed. They're such a nice family. Uncle works for the CDC in Atlanta and was quite handsome and all the office ladies had to come out and meet him and talk to him. You can tell P. worships him! A close relationship with a "cool uncle" is something to cherish.

The remnants of Hurricane Eta have been blowing over us for two days now, flooding the area with rain and making for the kind of afternoons that you just long to be at home curled up with a good book. Speaking of books, I had some drama with my Barnes and Noble Nook account. Apparently a bunch of servers went down and there was a mass erasure of libraries for a whole bunch of customers, me included. I nearly had a heart attack; I've had a Nook for years and years now and my digital library is up to about 200 books. That's a lot of money invested even though I shop the "$2.99 and under" deals a lot. I ended up calling Customer Service a couple of times, and now I'm glad to say that my whole library appears to be back after two or three weeks. Such a relief!

I'll wrap up this random post with some pictures I took over the last couple of weeks. As usual, I'll try to catch up on my blog reading and commenting over the weekend. 

Homemade empanadas the Spanish teacher at our school brought to me for lunch the other day! 

She's such a sweetheart. She's forever making or buying food for her classes to add to their Spanish learning experience, and she always surprises me with lunch when she does. These were absolutely delicious! 

The Marcoman.

I snapped a picture of my vote last week......

......and then this is my friend Marian and I raising a glass of champagne last Saturday after the Biden/Harris win was announced!

Last, the view from the front doors of our school on Monday morning right as the first class of the day was starting. It felt like a good omen, the beautiful rainbow with our flag in front! May it be so.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Two in a row

 I realized this morning when my Facebook "memories" popped up that I made my husband the exact same birthday cake last year as this. Oh, well. It's still delicious and was well received!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sunday Supper--Birthday Edition


A friend of Gregg's gave him some duck eggs last week. They said they're good to eat and even better to bake with, but we both felt a little strange about it. Neither of us have ever eaten duck eggs, but there's a first time for everything!

Tomorrow being his birthday, I asked G. what he wanted for a special meal. His immediate answer was "Meatloaf!" Yes, out of all the things he could have picked, my husband chose good old fashioned meatloaf with real mashed potatoes for his birthday supper. I'll steam some broccoli for a side dish. So that's how I'm using two of the duck eggs, in the meatloaf, and three more will go into the cake I'm getting ready to pop in the oven. It's going to be pineapple upside down cake, and I'll post pictures of it tomorrow if it turns out pretty.

It's been a beautiful day here. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds, autumn colors in the trees, warm sunshine.....and we have a new President! I didn't realize just how stressed out I've been lately about the election and I feel so much lighter and freer today than I have in a very, very long time. Gregg says it's the best birthday gift he could have asked for! 

Saturday, November 7, 2020


 It's been a long four years. I cried tears of pure joy when I heard the news that we have a new President and, on the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, a new MADAM Vice President!

What a happy, happy day! The champagne is chilling in the fridge!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Well, here we are. Still waiting.

What a day. I've had a pint bottle of Corona Extra beer (an impulse buy at the convenience store the other day when I knew I was running low on wine--this is no time to be without alcohol) so I'm feeling a little what I want to say. Rather than type out the expletive laden rant expounding on what this election has been like in general and the shittiness of today in particular, I'll try to restrain myself and not write something here that will embarrass me tomorrow.  

But damn, y'all. It's after 6pm the day after this horrid election and we still don't know for sure who the winner will be. That just seems unfair. Insult added to injury.

It's looking more and more likely that Biden may eke out a victory, but that's bringing me very little joy or hope at the moment. It's undeniable that Trump still has way, way, more support than I thought was even possible. It's so disappointing. And even if Biden wins, if the Senate remains a Republican majority then the loathsome Mitch McConnell will make sure that he's not able to accomplish one single damn thing for at least the next two years. I'm disgusted that Mitch McC. and equally loathsome Lindsey Graham weren't given their walking papers. 

I just checked the latest electoral college numbers and it looks like Biden is at 264....only 6 more to go. What a ridiculous system. 

I'll check back in tomorrow morning. Let's hope we have an answer for sure by then. I'm ready for this election to be over!

How are you holding up?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A plea

To my American friends, please, please, please get out and VOTE today!

Vote for our democracy.

Vote for decency.

Vote for our Black, Brown, and LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

Vote for the kids in cages, separated from their families.

Vote for the Dreamers.

Vote for the downtrodden and disenfranchised.

Vote for the rights of women.

Vote for American values and for what is Good and Right.

Vote for Ruth. 

Vote for the women and men who made it possible for us ALL to vote: the suffragists, the civil rights leaders, the people who fought and died and sacrificed for our country.

And remember, no matter the outcome of this election:

We still have to find a way to coexist. Let's be better, America. Okay?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Boy Meets Bird

Or maybe I should say, Ninja Meets Bird...

It was a most memorable Halloween for all concerned!