Wednesday, February 24, 2021


Since I don't have any one particular topic to write about today, I thought I'd do a blogpost of some random stuff that's on my mind today.

  • It's been a good couple of days for wildlife sightings in the neighborhood. Yesterday morning while out walking the dog we saw an owl being chased and harassed by several tiny songbirds. After moving from one pine tree to another, he (or she) finally gave up and flew away into the woods to escape the little tormentors. Then last night when we went out for our after-dinner walk, there were 4 deer standing in the yard across the street, calmly watching us walk past. They never run away as long as we stay quiet and move on after looking at them for a minute. George doesn't even bark at them these days! Then this morning we saw a pair of Cooper's hawks flying from tree to tree and calling to each other. None of these animals seem particularly afraid of us--obviously they see us twice a day, every day, and know that we mean them no harm.
  • Around lunchtime at work today both sides of my stomach started to itch. I went to the bathroom and had a look, and small red bumps had broken out on both sides. The shirt I was wearing had some scratchy stitching on the inside, which was just irritating it even more. I went to the nurse, who raised the possibility that it could be a vaccine side effect. I hadn't considered that! She said she's heard of some mild rashes developing (in a very small number of people) several days after a shot, but that it's not considered too serious and isn't a reason to pass on the second shot. She said that if it gets worse to see the doctor, but in the meantime she gave me some cortisone cream to rub on it, a Benadryl to take, a soft school tee shirt to change into. All that made it feel much better, but the Benadryl made me terribly sleepy for the rest of the afternoon! It seems better now, though, so maybe it was just the scratchy shirt and not the vaccine at all. Who knows? And unless something dramatic happens I'll be getting my second shot bright and early on March 12.
  • Speaking of the vaccine, I found out yesterday that a friend's dad had died of Covid last week. His mother is still in the hospital (she got sick too) but is expected to recover. He wrote a moving post about his dad for Facebook and added this to the end of it: And to everyone, I know we hear this all the time, but please wear a mask. My Dad took so many precautions and this terrible disease still touched our lives. If we all pitch in, some family out there can avoid going through the same pain ours is in right now. Thank you guys, and love to all our family and friends. I'm so sad for this guy. We used to work together, and he's among one of the best men I know. Seeing so many people out and about in our town without masks feels like a slap in the face after getting this news about a friend's family. I have nothing but contempt for them.
  • And on a lighter note...let me tell you the latest about my buddy Little P. Yesterday when he arrived at the school I asked him what he wants for his birthday. If you remember, we share a birthday and it's coming up in March. Well, he immediately told me that he got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas but he only has one game for it and he wants the Mario Kart (??) game. Since I don't know the first thing about video games (and feel slightly opposed to buying them for kids on principle) I said, "What else would you like?" but he wouldn't name anything else he wants. So I said, "Well, we'll see." Fast forward to this morning, and Little P.'s mom said that all he talked about last night was "Mrs. Barlow is going to get me a birthday present and it's going to be Mario Kart!!" Ummmm.....that is certainly NOT what I said! Haha. So when I saw him this afternoon (like the sucker I am) I asked him to tell me more about these games he wants. Sigh. And then that spoiled little boy had the nerve to ask me, "Mrs. Barlow, can I have my birthday present early? Can you get it for me tonight and give it to me tomorrow?" Of course I told him "NO WAY! You'll have to wait!" and refused to budge. I know I indulge him too much, but I do have some limits. Some.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Mixed feelings

 It's a beautiful sunny day here, the nicest we've had in ages. I love seeing blue sky after so much rain and all the dreary gray days. Although it's still cold out, today's the first day it's felt like spring is on the way. I'm so ready for it this year!

Late last night my left arm started to hurt from the vaccine shot. I couldn't sleep on my left side because of it and every time I rolled over in my sleep it woke me up. I also had a couple of nightmares which is unusual for me. Stress dreams, yes, but not nightmares. It may have been a result of the painful arm, or maybe it was a side effect from the vaccine itself. Either way, it's  a small price to pay for getting protection from Covid. I feel fine today aside from the sore arm.

I'm feeling a bit embarrassed by getting vaccinated so soon when so many people are still waiting for a chance. I want to tell friends about it (because it's exciting!) but I have this vague nagging feeling that I've somehow done something wrong. So many people who by rights should be ahead of me in line are still weeks or even months out, and I feel guilty about that. I've been assured that I'm being silly to feel this way. Here's how it worked out. 

A friend of Gregg's works in a large medical building here in town, and they're offering eligible people (patients and employees) the vaccine. They have to thaw out enough each day to meet likely demand. Some people fail to show for appointments, and (this blew me away) over half of the employees haven't had their first shots yet and are hesitating out of fear. So rather than risking having to throw away precious doses, the administration has quietly encouraged staff to bring in family members late in the afternoon to use up whatever's left. Of course, this is a friend, not family, but he knows about Gregg having had lung cancer and only having one lung. He's seen the devastation Covid can inflict on healthy people with no underlying issues, and he was quite adamant in inviting Gregg to come get his shot. Then he was kind enough to insist that it was perfectly okay for me to come, too. So I wasn't getting in line ahead of anyone, simply using a shot that might have ended up in the trash. 

Still, I'm very conscious of what a privilege it is to be getting the shots so early. I probably won't be shouting it from the rooftops, even though it made me want to jump for joy just out of sheer relief! I wish all my friends and all my family could get their first shots today (I include all you reading here when I say that) but as every person gets their turn we're one step closer to protection for us all. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

First of two


I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine this afternoon. I barely felt the needle, my arm is only very slightly sore, and so far there haven't been any other side effects. Oh, and we got these cute purple wrist bands!

Shot number two is set for March 12. I'm very, very grateful for the friend who made this happen. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021


 Guess what?! Gregg and I both have appointments to get our first jabs tomorrow! The friend offered to get me in, too, and I was thrilled to accept! 

My principal was happy to let me have tomorrow afternoon off for such an important event. We have a 2:30 appointment. 

I'm so excited and grateful! I'll have to bake the friend a cake or cookies or something as a thank you. I feel incredibly fortunate! 

I'll check in tomorrow and let you know how it went.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021


 It's already the midpoint of the work week, thanks to having Monday off. I'm glad. My job is really slow and boring these days thanks to the pandemic. Our in-person student enrollment is way down and we strictly limit visitors allowed in the front office. I can't wait until next year when things are expected to be almost back to normal. They've released the calendar for 2021/2022 and are planning to have all the students back in person five days a week. They're planning to get us all vaccinated well before then to make it safe. We'll see if it actually works out, but I do hope so.

Speaking of vaccines, Gregg texted me this afternoon to tell me that a friend of his who works at one of the hospitals has offered to get him in for his first jab on Friday! I'm really happy about that. It will be a load off my mind to see him vaccinated and safe. 

After a solid week of cold, gray, rainy weather, we finally had a sunny day yesterday (our first day back at work after the long weekend, because of course). Today started off clear but by lunchtime the dark clouds had rolled back in and we're in for more rain and gloom for the rest of the week. I won't complain, because my friend Meg in Texas just went three days without power or water thanks to a snow/ice storm hammering the state. She has a husband and three young children, and they've been really roughing it out there. It was 43F in her house when their power finally came back on a little while ago, and they're still boiling snow for washing and using bottled water for drinking. Several days of cold rain is nothing compared to that!

There was one ray of sunshine this afternoon, though: Little P.! He had a new trick to show me that he had learned in school. He lifted his shirt, stuck his right cupped hand under his left armpit, and proceeded to make farting sounds by cranking his arm up and down. He thought it was the FUNNIEST THING EVER. He had to demonstrate it to me several times, and he even tried to play "Old McDonald Had a Farm" with fart noises. (!!!) At some point he informed me "If you don't wear deodorant it's even more real!!!"  

All I could do was laugh and laugh. That boy is something else.

That's all I've got for now. Happy Humpday, everybody!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Soggy Saturday odds and ends

 This is life around here at the moment.

According to our local weather guy, Ed Piotrowski, out of 44 days in this year so far, our area has had at least some rain on 29 of them. It's pouring today and the forecast doesn't call for any dry weather until next Wednesday or Thursday! Ed says that we're above average in actual rainfall but nowhere near records, so for the moment at least we're not having any substantial flooding problems. Everyone is longing to see some sunshine, though. A couple hours' drive to the north and you'd run into a lot of snow and ice. I suppose you could say that we're lucky in just having cold rain to contend with, but it's disappointing to not even get a little bit of snow with all this precipitation. At least snow is a pretty novelty in these parts, whereas rain is just messy and cold and yuck. 

I've also noticed that nothing is blooming early this year. Normally if we have lots of sun and plenty of rain in February trees will start to flower prematurely, and then we worry about a hard freeze ruining them. There are buds swelling, but no signs of blooming yet. (That's a good thing). I'm looking forward to my next door neighbor's magnificent tulip magnolia coming into flower, and the redbuds off in the woods turning pink. At this point I'd just be satisfied to see a little sun, though!

Poor George. He hates going out in the rain to pee and poop. For that matter, he hates going out when the ground is wet even if it's stopped raining for a while. He'll hold it and hold it until I get worried and put a leash on him and make him go out. Such a prissy way for a big giant half pit bull to act! Ginger never was that finicky, but then she spent her first three years living the life of a carefree country dog. She loved being outdoors in all kinds of weather. George came straight from the shelter to a suburban neighborhood home and he definitely wants to be an inside dog. 

                                                               Rain is for suckers.

There's nothing much to blog about today. 

Oh, wait, I remember something I wanted to tell you about from last night! It's pretty gross and it made me so mad! On Wednesday I bought a pre-seasoned pork roast that is meant to be made into pulled pork. You put this brand of roast in the crockpot on high heat for 4 hours and then shred it up when it's done. We've had one before and it was yummy. So I bought one on Wednesday to be cooked Friday afternoon. I got off work early yesterday (and it's a long weekend, yay!) so I dashed home and put it on to cook so we could eat at a reasonable time. When the roast slid out of the packaging I noticed it had a kind of  odd, almost slimy texture. I thought that was probably because of all the spices and sauce rubbed into the meat, and again, I was hurrying to get the 4 hour cooking time started so I didn't stop to look closely. Mistake. At 7:30, when it was time to eat, I shredded the meat and noted it had a kind of weird smell. So I sampled a small bite. And it was most definitely off. It tasted kind of sour, and not in a good vinegar-based sauce kind of way. By now alarm bells were ringing in my head, so I dug in the trash.....

Then I flipped the package over and had a look at the expiration date. 

I nearly threw up. I had swallowed a small bite of pork that had been expired for a month.

I'll be going to the Food Lion down the road and finding the manager today to complain. This particular store has been going downhill lately but this is a bit too much. A person could get seriously ill from expired pork! Last week I was in the other Food Lion a couple miles away (the one I shopped at before we moved to this house) and I was stunned at how much cleaner, brighter, and well stocked it was compared to the one I've been using. After I go complain today, I think I resume shopping at the other location even though it's a tiny bit less convenient to get to. And you can bet I'll be checking dates on food a lot more closely from now on.

I didn't realize it was a long weekend until late last week. Monday is President's Day. I wish there was somewhere to go, or something different to do, but there just isn't. It's wet, it's February, and there's still a pandemic. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, but I don't imagine many people are feeling very romantic this year. It's never a big deal in this house, but I'll be glad for the chance to buy discounted chocolates on Monday. And for the extra day off, of course, even if I spend it at home, sitting inside...again. 

What about you, dear reader? What's going on in your world this weekend? I hope you all find small ways to treat yourself to something you enjoy over the next couple of days. Goodness knows we all can use it right now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


I've mentioned before how much I love all the animals we see in our neighborhood. The proximity to portions of Jeffries Creek makes this a great part of the county to live in if you want to see many varied mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptile species. We didn't realize it would be that way when we bought this house, because we're right off busy Hwy 76 and less than a mile from the center of the city. What a lucky break! When we lived way out in the country back in 2007-2010, we reveled in the wildlife and the quiet, but the 40 minute commute to work (which we couldn't share because we had very different schedules) got to be too much. It was a pretty place, though, and we were sorry to leave.

When we first found this house and bought it we liked the fact that even though it was off a main highway, it was tucked away and had no through-access. It's a half mile loop that's tucked away with woods and creek bottoms on one side. We've seen all kinds of animals, from large turtles to owls to foxes. Then there's the deer. We see two or three deer several times a week on our early morning/late evening walks with George. One neighbor, we discovered, was feeding some at her back fence early, early in the mornings late last fall. We would always stop and look for a minute, then move on. But we hadn't seen them lately.

Then yesterday morning as we walked past this neighbor's house, her dog was in the back yard for a change and barking loudly at us as we passed. Just as we both were about to say "So much for seeing the deer today..." we realized two does were standing at the fence, behind the fiercely barking dog, completely unfazed and apparently waiting for their breakfast! The dog obviously didn't mind the deer and vice versa. We couldn't believe our eyes! Then the woman walked out, saw us looking, and waved. All the while the two does stood there patiently, looking back at us. How cool is that?

We see two and sometimes three deer at night in other parts of the neighborhood, too. I'm sure it's the same ones. When we see them, we always stop for a minute and look and then slowly move on. They never seem afraid, nor do they bolt. They just look back at us and watch us pass. It's almost like we have neighborhood pet deer and I love it so much! A close encounter with them always gives me a few moments of pure joy. Those are few and far between these days, so I savor them.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Saturday ramble

Well, the weekend has rolled around again and once again, we have a gray, chilly, wet day. We've had a lot of rain this year, and consistently cold temperatures. I don't mind the cold but the endless gloom is getting old. On the rare afternoons when it's not totally overcast it's been heartening to see the extra minutes of daylight we've gained so far. 

An email went out at work last week that the district is making plans for our vaccine rollout. They've been partnering with one of the local hospitals to make sure that as soon as the shots are available to school employees we'll be able to get them. That was nice, but then later that same day I heard on the news that our lovely Guh-vuh-nuh (Ol' Foghorn Leghorn, as I like to call him, the bastard) is balking at the state department's insistence that educators need to be cleared for the vaccines. This is after he's pushed and pushed for schools to remain open, no matter what. So who knows when it will happen, but I'm hopeful that by the beginning of March our turn will come. The school nurse had her second shot on Thursday, lucky thing, as all school nurses and some types of therapists were already given the green light. What a relief it must be for her! I can't wait for my turn.

Saturdays have been long and lonely for me lately. Gregg works until 7pm or a bit later on Saturdays these days in exchange for an extra day off each week (Sundays). Pre-pandemic I treasured time at home by myself, but now that that's my only option on Saturdays I'm growing tired of it. Hopefully by the summer most of our friends and family will have had the vaccine and we can relax a little about socializing.

I was thinking that I'd like to host a small cookout this summer--Marla and Martina along with their husbands, Toyo and Will, as long as we're all vaccinated by then. It would be so good to have a small gathering of friends, mask free, when we can all be together and talk and eat and laugh and feel like normal human beings again. It's nice to look ahead to that time and plan for a party (or two) to celebrate. It's something I've been thinking about all day today.

I did go out and run a few errands after lunch. I picked up a prescription for Gregg at the drugstore, went by the bank to make an ATM deposit, then to the grocery store for a big (much needed) shop. I even went by the butcher shop and restocked our freezer with meats, since we've almost finished what I stocked up on back in the fall. I've also started making a "spring cleaning" list for the house. If we're going to be able to finally invite people over by the start of summer, I'd like to give the whole house a good deep cleaning between now and then. 

Are you making any plans for your post-jab year? What are you looking forward to most by the time summer gets here?

Oh, and just for fun....I thought this might make you smile. It made me smile. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021


A few minutes after I got to work this morning I was nearly overcome with the nastiest, most nauseating smell you can imagine. It kept getting worse and worse, and when I went to the little kitchenette in the office area to put my lunch in the refrigerator, I nearly puked. There's a microwave in there and it was obvious that's where the smell was originating. It was so strong it permeated the hallway and the main office and the whole general area. Gag, gag, gag!!!

 "What is that awful smell?!?! I started asking everyone. It just seemed to get stronger and stronger! The bookkeeper finally got an answer. Prepare yourselves for the scenario I'm about to describe to you. And a warning: if you have a weak stomach, don't read any further!

One of our coworkers had stopped by a local deli that serves breakfast, and had picked up a "to go" box which she brought in and reheated in our common microwave. What could it possibly be, you might ask. What breakfast food could she possibly have heated up, the smell of which had several people gagging and nearly throwing up their breakfasts? Breakfast food is usually fairly benign! Friends, she had eaten.........

Salmon and grits.

You read that right. Salmon and grits! For the love of God, why..............just WHY..........would anyone eat that in the first place, let alone heat it up in a shared microwave at work?!?!?! And the woman who did it thought it was funny. She says she enjoyed every bite and loves eating fish with grits at breakfast.

I was so mad. The bookkeeper jokingly yelled, "Mrs. Barlow can't work under these conditions!" but the truth was I didn't think it was funny. Not at all. How inconsiderate can people be? I was so mad I texted Gregg about it and even said (and this was unkind of me) "no wonder her husband left her!" It turned my stomach to the point I wasn't even over it by lunchtime even though the smell had dissipated by then. I threw most of my lunch away. I still felt queasy and just couldn't eat. 

If I could think of some way to retaliate I'd totally go for it, but clearly anyone who can reheat fish in a microwave at 8:00 in the morning and eat it for breakfast has a cast-iron stomach that no smell could deter. Holy moly. What a way to start the day!

And it is pretty funny to :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Got snow?

No? Do you want it to snow? If so, I have good news!

My 7 year old friend Little P. shared a method for summoning snow with me this afternoon and it's sure to work!

Step 1: Flush ice cubes down the toilet. 

Step 2: Put your pajamas on backwards.

Step 3: Put a spoon under your pillow, then go to sleep.

And voila! Here comes a snow day!

So says a little boy who's longing to see some snow for the first time. I hope he gets his wish.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Just sad

February is here, and this morning dawned gray and wet and cold. Unfortunately we won't be getting any of the snow that's blanketing the northeast. Just dull, cold, wet weather that makes you want to stay home and hibernate. 

No chance of that here. I'm typing this on my phone, at work. It's so quiet here today. Half of the office staff are out for one reason or another, and I hear we have lots of absent teachers. One of the absent teachers actually showed up at work today after her husband tested positive for Covid because she "needed to pick up some items".  Seriously. It makes you wonder how some people manage to finish college and get teaching jobs when they're so lacking in common sense. Of course, she was sent back home immediately, hopefully before she had a chance to spread her germs around. I'm glad I come in to work at 8:30, after she'd already left. 

I'm feeling so down in the dumps today. Saturday was a long lonely day at home (Gregg was working all day) and I couldn't shake my feeling of sadness. Late in the afternoon a friend from my book club called to give me the news that two of our members are in the process of moving away. That made me even sadder. Who knows if I'll get to see them again before they go--probably not. For that matter, who knows if we'll ever be able to resume meeting up when this virus is under control. Life doesn't stay static as the months continue to pass. People go on with their lives. I'm beginning to think nothing will ever be the same again.

It's unusual for me to feel sad for days on end like this. I try hard not to complain about Covid restrictions because I recognize how lucky I am in a lot of ways. But I'm missing my friends and my family (the ones I still have a relationship with, anyway) and most of all I still miss Ginger terribly. Things just seem like shit at the moment, to be honest. 

Sorry about the negativity. That's all I've got today.