Wednesday, January 27, 2021


 This morning I asked our school nurse how she felt about us coming back to work and the kids coming back to school (in person) while the pandemic continues to rage through our community. We were discussing how bad our county's numbers still are, how many people we knew of that are seriously ill, how many people have died. Just yesterday the son of a friend of ours stopped by the pet store to tell Gregg that his dad had just died of Covid. The nicest man you'd ever want to meet, with three kids (two of whom are in their late teens), gone. Our school resource officer, listening to our conversation, told us his 47 year old brother just died from Covid over the Christmas break. These stories are everywhere at the moment. The nurse told me she's torn on the issue. She said her feelings about whether to come back are pretty much a 50/50 split between whether or not it's the right thing to do. I certainly understand where she's coming from.

Part of me thinks that a year or so of lost schooling, bad grades, and truancy (all serious problems since last March) can be made up, but a life can never be replaced. And so many people in our community are still being so very irresponsible. A large group of well-to-do parents at the high school our middle school feeds into took it upon themselves to host a large dance at the local country club last weekend, and then filled up social media with pictures of their two dozen or so kids dancing, posing for photos, and having a grand old time---with no masks, no social distancing, and no mention of any safety protocols. They were upset that the school wasn't hosting the dance this year and decided that their precious teenagers shouldn't have to "miss out". The district office even shared these photos on Facebook, then quickly deleted those posts when there was a huge community outcry. That was last weekend--right before we all came back to school face-to-face. 

The sheer callousness and entitlement made me furious. Just furious. These people have zero respect for the lives or well being of others. I wish there was some way to make all those parents and their bratty kids stay home and quarantine until we can be sure they're not carriers, but of course we can't. And besides, what good would it do? If they'll be so blatant about an expensive social event as to put it all over Facebook, what kind of precautions must they be taking on ordinary days? Probably next to none. 

But then there's another angle to our schools being out that I can't stop thinking about. There's a sweet little boy in our disabled class who lives in foster care. He's non verbal and sometimes has to use a wheelchair. A couple of months ago when he arrived at school for the day and the classroom staff went to change his diaper, they saw visible evidence that he had been abused. They called the school nurse down to have a look and to get her opinion, and she immediately said, "Call DSS. And this child needs to go to the hospital." What a blessing that this poor boy had the school staff to look out for signs of abuse and to help him! And if we'd not been at school that week, no one would have known. I shudder to think of all the things that can slip through the cracks more easily when kids aren't at school. Then, of course, we have so many kids that depend on us for things like two full meals a day. They have drive-through meal pickups every day while we're out on virtual learning, but how many poor folks lack transportation to come and get it? Despite all best efforts to provide services to poor kids, they're definitely at a disadvantage when we're forced to stay home. Also, for lots of our students school is a safe place where they get emotional support, too, and I'm sure schools closing are damaging to their mental health. (Another reason why I get so mad when I hear the wealthy parents of the popular kids whining about their little snowflakes "missing out" on parties and sporting events and dances!)

So I'm kind of like the school nurse: split 50/50 on whether it's a good idea for us to be back at school in person. What do you think? Do the risks outweigh the benefits, or vice versa?

 Georgie feels the same way I do about returning to an early wake up time this week. (I'm back at work).

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Nearly naked

 Question for my readers, particularly (but not limited to) women: do you shop for clothes online? And if you do, which retailers do you recommend and why?

Once again, I'm in desperate need of new clothes. With Covid infection rates still through the roof here I've been putting off shopping in person for anything non essential. All of a sudden, not only could I really use some new clothes for work (we go back in person on Monday), but all of my lounge-around-the-house clothes are wearing out. I need things like pajamas, socks, jeans, and t-shirts just as much as I need business casual, maybe more. I need new sneakers, too. I've hesitated to order online because most things need to be tried on, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and be prepared to just return things that don't fit. 

I actually steeled myself to it and went out today, to try to do a little shopping as safely as possible, but that didn't go so well. There were crowds everywhere, and even when people were wearing masks properly I still felt like I was taking my life into my hands being in proximity to so many strangers. A couple of places were just too crowded or else had too many maskless people milling around and I just walked right back out. I ended up buying one sweater and three pairs of underwear, nothing that had to be tried on, because I couldn't stand the thought of going into small changing rooms. It was a less than satisfying experience.

So do you recommend any places? Preferably with great customer service and easy returns. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day

 It's been a wonderful day! Congratulations, President Biden and Madam Vice President Harris! 

I love both of these new families coming into the White House. The Bidens have endured so much loss, and yet they're a beautiful example of a family (not without their flaws) that love each other fiercely and unconditionally. They're all exceptionally close. And have you seen the way the new, first Second Gentleman looks at his wife? They, too, have a lovely, devoted, decent family. How refreshing.

On a related note, did you see the lone soldier kneeling by Beau Biden's grave at the moment his father was sworn in this morning? In his speech today President Biden said this about his son:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I only have one regret. He’s not here, because we should be introducing him as president.”

That made me cry, as did so many other moments today. As the swearing-in started, I poured myself a tiny little half glass of champagne to celebrate, even though technically I was working from home until 4:30. I had to wait until now to have a full glass! And as soon as Gregg gets home from work (late on Wednesdays) we'll have dinner and then I'm going to have a few drinks to celebrate!  It's the perfect occasion to get a little tipsy!

I'm so grateful that everything went off without a hitch today, that leaders of both parties (including the outgoing Vice President) behaved with dignity and decency towards our new President, and that we now have hope of healing and reconciliation. Onward and upward!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

At long last, only one more day!

 It's been a long exhausting four years, but as of noon tomorrow we will finally have a new president! I can't tell you how happy I am to see the Trump years draw to a close. Of course I know it won't be all sunshine and rainbows, and that the cult 45 people are still out there and causing trouble, and the pandemic is raging, and there are still many, many, evil and corrupt politicians who enabled Trump and his ilk who will do it again as soon as they see half a chance. I know all too well how much trouble this country is in at the moment no matter who the president is. 

But damn, it still feels good to know that this dark chapter in our history is finally about to be over. I wanted to do a little dance when I saw footage of the moving trucks being packed at the White House. What a relief after the fear and stress of the past four years.

It's sad to see the military presence required for tomorrow's inauguration, but unlike my husband, I don't think Biden and  Harris should be quietly sworn in in a room somewhere and all public events canceled. F*** that. To me, any concession to lunatics and rioters and insurrectionists is a mistake. Period. I don't care how much military and National Guard protection it takes to make the event safe, this is America and damn it, our newest President and Vice President deserve all the same pomp and ceremony as any other! Mind you, if it were just a matter of being safe during a pandemic, I would be all for a scaled down ceremony. But to appease domestic terrorists? No.

I'm glad I'll be working from home tomorrow and can watch the coverage of the inauguration! I plan to pick up a bottle of champagne to open as soon as I sign off work at 4:30. I'm going to make two desserts tomorrow night as a further celebration: apple pie for America, and peach cobbler for the great state of Georgia that helped us win the presidency and take back control of the Senate! Although nothing will magically change overnight when 45 leaves office, I hope we're turning a corner and headed for better days in this country. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Life with boys

It's been five months since my girl Ginger went and left me as the lone woman in this house. Between her passing and the Covid restrictions on gatherings of friends, I find myself surrounded by males 24/7. This house is seriously low on female energy at the moment. But hey, I guess you could say I'm the Queen Bee!

The Marcoman "supervising" Gregg's  water change technique.

George looking sadly towards the door as Gregg was backing out of the driveway this morning, headed to work. George thinks we should all stay home as a pack, together, all day every day. He has no respect for the what it takes to earn a living! Speaking of which, here's a photo I emailed to the whole staff at work on Friday. My work-from-home office assistant helping himself to my coffee--and standing on my keyboard to do it. Talk about no respect!

With the exception of my husband,  the boys in this house are way more needy and troublesome than Ginger ever was. (Gregg's just a normal "husband" level of needy and troublesome! lol) Marco is naughty, but super cute and smart enough to charm you just when you're about ready to open a window and toss him out. Yesterday a wineglass slipped from my hand when I was washing it and shattered, dramatically, on the hard kitchen floor. Marco, who was perched on the countertop a foot away, stared, wide-eyed, for about 3 seconds and then said in a little doleful voice, "You bad bird." Even he rarely destroys something in so dramatic a fashion.

George is a total love these days, but he's so needy he's like an overgrown puppy. He depended on Ginger and probably loved her more than he loved us, and now we've had to step up and give him lots more attention. He's eating it up, and getting super spoiled. He's going to be a sad boy when I go back to work. Which, by the way, isn't happening for an extra week. He's going to have to suck it up and deal with it eventually, though.

One day we'll probably get a puppy or else a young dog as for a companion for George. We're still not ready in any way, but maybe by the end of this year. And it's going to be a little girl!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A walk in the sunshine

 I took a walk around the neighborhood with George this afternoon while taking a short break from work. The sun is finally out and it's been a pretty day. I snapped a few pictures to show you how blue the sky was and how pleasant our little walking loop can be, even in the winter.

It's nice to see the sun again!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Just a Wednesday

 There's been precious little sunshine in my part of the world lately. Every day has been chilly, damp, and gray with only the occasional bit of sunshine peeking through the leaden clouds. I wish we'd get some snow. It's been three years since we've had any, and we've yet to see it happen in the new house. I've been dreaming of sitting by the fireplace sipping wine with snow falling outside the window since we moved in. Oh, well...the winter's not over yet, I suppose.

This afternoon between work calls and emails I took George outside for a quick walk around the neighborhood. About halfway through I noticed turkey vultures circling around a yard, and saw what looked like something small with brown and white fur lying in the dead grass of my neighbor's yard. A squirrel? A rabbit? Not  sure, and I averted my eyes because I really didn't want to know. Then when we rounded the next corner I saw more and more vultures showing up, and eventually counted 13 of them. Thirteen vultures seemed like a bad omen, so I hurried into the house and shut the door. I can't imagine why there would be so many of them for a single squirrel or rabbit or (god forbid) a cat. Maybe there are other dead things around. Turkey vultures will never make anyone's top ten list of favorite birds, but they provide a valuable clean up service and I respect that. I just don't care to watch them at work.

Speaking of birds, Neil mentioned American robins vs. English robins yesterday. When I went out later in the afternoon to pick up a few things at the grocery store the trees around our house were full of robins. A large flock of them seem to be moving through the neighborhood this week. Our yard teems with good juicy earthworms so it's probably like a robin's buffet after rain forces the worms up to the surface of the dirt!

 I was out back today thinking about where to put a bluebird box we've been saving for a few years, since my late mother-in-law gave it to us as a Christmas gift some years ago. She loved feeding wild birds and she and her husband kept several bluebird nesting boxes at their home in Raleigh, NC. I wish she could visit our home....not only would she love the house itself, but she would really love all the birds and animals we see here. I miss her. Even though she's been gone for three years I can't really write about her too much, yet. I spoke to her husband a while ago. He's in his eighties but seems a good bit younger. I like to call him once a month or so, just to check in and to let him know that we haven't forgotten him. He doesn't feed birds or maintain nesting boxes now that Edythe's gone, it was really always more her thing than his, but despite Covid restrictions (which he's been observing very strictly) he manages to have a full and busy life. He loves the internet and technology and is far more tech-savvy than I am, probably. He regularly has Zoom meetings with his "old geezer" friends to talk politics and eat meals together (but apart). He also takes part in a virtual version of a group that call themselves "Pints for Presbyterians". That's men in his church that meet up at a pub once a week (with the pastor!) to have beer and conversion. They've moved it to Zoom for the duration of Covid, and I'm sure they're all looking forward to getting vaccines so they can resume their in person meetings this year! Lou is a gem. My mother in law picked a good man to be her husband for the last 20 years of her life! We respect him a lot because of how tenderly he cared for Edythe when she was dying, and also because he's a smart and interesting guy. He liked hearing about how we'd be putting up the bluebird box she gave us soon (and finally!)

So that's it for my gray Wednesday afternoon in Florence, SC. Working from home, wishing for snow, missing my MIL. 

What's today been like for you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Flowers and showers

In the comments on my last post, Steve asked me to show a picture of my blooming Christmas cactus. I had mentioned it but didn't share a photo at the time because I didn't have a good one. Here is a photo of of it alongside my blooming orchids. I'm also throwing in pictures of the two smaller orchids that I took yesterday.

Flowers really brighten up the house when the weather outside is cold and gray!

For the rest of you who love Marco stories and Marco pictures, I snapped some of him fresh from the shower the other day. He loves to shower with me and then he loves getting blow dried afterwards!

Friday, January 8, 2021

On a more positive note...

I don't like having yesterday's post as the most current one on my blog. We can all get enough of the news elsewhere (and likely you're all as sick of it as I am) so I decided to kick off the weekend with a happier post.

First of all, I wanted to show you the beautiful holiday cards I got this year. I couldn't bear to put them away with the rest of the Christmas stuff at the end of December. I also kept out some fairy lights that I put around them so that they'd glow and sparkle at night.

Next, here's something else that's making me happy. My orchids and my Christmas cactus are blooming. The orchids are my favorite.

The weather has been wet and cold this week. On Wednesday morning while working from home I started a crockpot of homemade vegetable beef soup and let it simmer all day. It's been our supper for the past two nights, and it's maybe one of the best batches of soup I've ever made. Delicious, and just the thing for the kind of weather we've been having. This is comfort food at its best.

Last of all, this sweet boy. He loves basking in sunshine as much as any cat. On bright days he follows the sun through the house and parks himself wherever he can soak up a few rays. This was early yesterday morning.

Wishing you all a weekend filled with comfort, content, and the happiness that comes from the little things in life. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

A shame and a disgrace.

I don't know what to say. Words seem inadequate to express my horror and disgust at what happened in our nation's Capitol yesterday. It's a disgrace. A national embarrassment. A dark day in this country's history. 

THIS is what support for the Republicans' orange demon god has brought our country to.

So my question now is this: are the Republicans finally going to denounce and root out the rot in their party that has led to this sad day? Have they had enough yet? Is this what you Trump voters wanted to see happen? 

Because if you voted for this criminal, especially for a second time, this is on you. Shame on you. Shame.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Thank you, Georgia! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 The great state of Georgia has flipped BLUE today! What a great day for our hurting nation.

Congratulations to Senators-elect, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff! These remarks from Reverend Warnock made me cry this morning:

During his statement, Warnock talked about his family's long history in the state and about following in the footsteps of Rep. John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Democrat serves as the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King's spiritual home.

He spoke about his parents' humble origins in the deep South and overcoming the odds in a race against one of the richest senators in U.S. history.

"A son of my late father, who was a pastor, a veteran, and a small business man. And my mother who as a teenager growing up in Georgia, used to pick somebody's else's cotton," Warnock said. "But the other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator."

He continued: "May my story be an inspiration to some young person who is trying to grasp and grab hold of the American dream."

Also, let's not forget one of the heroes who made this possible...

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


 I don't know about the rest of you (my US readers) but I've got Georgia on my mind today.

Don't let us down, Georgia! We're counting on you!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Working from home

 Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from someone in technology at the district office. He had instructions for me to download an app that re-routes phone calls to the school to my phone. So I'm officially working from home this morning. The school phone has been ringing off the hook since I logged in at 8:30. Since I have access to my work email, and more importantly, our Powerschool program on my home computer, I've been able to get a surprising amount of work done. I can check attendance (and put in excused absences), email teachers with parent questions, give out the number to tech support when the child's laptop is acting up, and for the most part do almost everything else I'd be doing on a normal day at work. It's pretty weird to be working from home, though. 

And this jerk isn't helping matters any:

He started screaming bloody murder when I was on the phone with a parent a little while ago! I had to apologize and explain that I was working from home and owned a parrot. The woman just laughed, but I was furious with Marco. Think about that the next time you think how "cute" and "sweet" he is! Thankfully he seems to have settled down and hasn't made a peep the last few time I took a call. His cage is in our office, which is where our desktop computer is set up, so I have no choice but to work in here with him. Looks like I have a little feathered a-hole as an office mate for the next few weeks at least!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Quiet Start

The first two days of 2021 have been overcast, chilly, and rainy here in my part of the world. It's been a fairly non eventful beginning. The weather has been too bad to even take a good walk with George and we've had to make do with a couple of small walks to the end of the driveway so he'll do his business. He hates wet weather like this and chooses to stay curled up on his pallet at the foot of the bed, sleeping most of the day. Speaking of George being bored, he destroyed the toy he got for Christmas in record time, and then tore up a stray baseball we brought home from the park the other day. That last one worried me, because he appeared to swallow the leather cover of the ball after he chewed it off. (Since his "plumbing" has been working just fine since then, it seems that things will be okay). So Gregg brought him a need toy home from the pet store on New Year's Eve, one that will hopefully be a bit more long-lasting.

It's made by Kong and it's almost solid rubber. So far so good. Do your worst, Hurricane George.

Speaking of the pets, this little goblin growled at me yesterday over candy. He still didn't get any, but he was willing to fight me for a chance.

We got word from the district office that our schools will be all virtual on Monday and no one is to return to the building until further notice. Covid is worse than it's ever been in this area, so I think that's a good call. I'm not looking forward to more time at home, but people are dying at an alarming rate in this county. Five more deaths were reported just today. Those vaccines can't come soon enough! The building will be open for teachers/staff to gather supplies they may need tomorrow so Gregg and I will be going up there to service the aquariums. The principal will be meeting us up there so we can figure out what to do to keep the fish alive and healthy during this crazy time. It's worrisome. Now I understand why my husband stresses out so much about all of his aquarium jobs. Hopefully we'll be able to pull these two tanks through these times of less than ideal husbandry. All we can do is our best.

I got all of our Christmas stuff put away ahead of New Year's Eve, and although we stayed up till midnight, it just wasn't the same as most years. I had a glass or two of champagne and then went to bed. I'm hoping this year will bring a return to normal (or at least semi-normal) and the next time the holidays come around we'll have a lot of fun making up for lost time. 

I'm re-reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Clink on the link to see my review of it from 2015. I had almost forgotten how beautiful it is. 

How are you bringing in 2021?