Saturday, March 27, 2021

Spring progress

It's so beautiful outside these days. This time of year is truly a feast for the eyes when you live in South Carolina and if you take the time to notice. All of nature has erupted in gentle pastel colors. Pink sunrises, white drifts of barely-open dogwood blossoms, the first heavenly scented purple wisteria flowers opening (if pale purple had a smell, it would be of wisteria), yellow Carolina jessamine growing wild in the woods and along fences, red and pink and green buds in the trees. Speaking of green, there are thousands of shades of it this time of year. On our early morning walks with George these days I like to be quiet, soaking in the beauty and peace of it all. I would defy anyone to find a more beautiful place on earth than the Carolinas in early spring. It's my favorite season.

Here are some pictures I took of some of my gardening projects. As you can see, there's been progress.

The fig tree has new leaves!

So does the pomegranate!

My little potted ornamental pomegranate has new leaves, too.

And my miniature rosebush has the first flower of the year.

This is the oregano that I was just sure I'd killed last summer. I forgot to water it until it seemed totally dead, but I watered the dirt and dry sticks through the winter and it has re-sprouted. Yay!

Then onto the house "Christmas cactus" is more like an Easter cactus!

The biggest orchid is still blooming, and in fact, there's a new flower spike shooting off the main one.

I hope you're all enjoying the signs of spring, no matter where you are! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 25, 2021


Tuesday was a nice day. Thank you all for the birthday wishes. 

Little P. had loads of fun. He's a favorite of the staff and several other people had presents for him. His mom took a giant piece of red construction paper and made him a birthday banner that dozens of us signed. There were cupcakes, ice cream, and balloons, and this was after his elementary school class had had a little party for him. His father lives in Atlanta and he'll be going to see him this weekend, so I imagine there's more fun in store for the little guy. He's going to end up spoiled rotten! :)

After work on Tuesday Gregg and I went shopping. I had decided I wanted to buy some camellias for our backyard as my birthday present but I was out of luck. The big box store that had dozens of them for sale all winter didn't have a single one in stock. Could it be the wrong time of year to plant them? So Gregg said, let's find you something else, but I couldn't find anything I liked or wanted. Why is it so hard to find something you want when you have money to spend? Or is it just me? If I were broke right now I'd see everything I ever wanted while out shopping! There's a big flower and plant sale coming up at the farmer's market next month, maybe I'll find something there.

Last night I met two friends for dinner at my favorite restaurant, Tubbs Seafood. I got fried flounder and shrimp, and it was delicious as always. And it was great to see a couple of my friends now that we've all been vaccinated!

The fun will continue next weekend when Marla and Martina will be vaccinated and they're coming over to my house for a little cocktail party with birthday cake! It's been a long time since we've been able to get together and I'm really looking forward to seeing them!

Also coming up in April is my book club's first in person meeting in over a year. So that's exciting, too! Life is slowly returning to something like normal. 

                   Pretty Birthday Flowers

Saturday, March 20, 2021



A photo taken recently in Beaufort, South Carolina. I stole it off Facebook. Photo credit goes to Doug Noll.

It's the Vernal Equinox! I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm especially happy to see the arrival of spring this year. It's been a long, unpleasant winter. 

Just look at the tender new leaf buds coming out on the little baby fig tree! Just two weeks ago I was hoping it had survived its first winter in the ground. As of this morning, it would appear so!

Since I'm over a week out from my second shot, I picked today to go out and do some shopping. I needed new sneakers and jeans and for obvious reasons I'm hesitant to order either online. I also needed to get a birthday gift for little P. I hate hate hate the mall with a fiery passion but it's the best place to get a bunch of different shopping done in one centralized location. So that's where I headed. You wouldn't believe the hordes of people there, half of whom weren't wearing masks. I nearly had a panic attack just trying to navigate around the parking lots looking for a space to park the car. It's obvious stimulus money and tax refunds are hitting simultaneously. Ugh. I was uneasy the whole time!

Lots of businesses are gone since the last time I was there, including the Game Stop where I had intended to buy little P. a gift card to put towards the video game he wants. No big loss there; I don't like the idea of giving kids electronics or video games in the first place. I certainly wasn't going to drive across town to the other Game Stop, either. So I got him an alternate gift that was on one of his wish lists that his mom shared with me. It makes me much happier: a nice Lego kit. Apparently little P. is crazy for Legos.

He specifically requested Minecraft Legos, and when I texted his mom she confirmed that he doesn't have this one already. Legos are so much better for creative play! Of course I looked for books, and P. likes to read, but when it comes to his favorite series I don't know which he has already and which he doesn't. I think he'll be pleased with this--I hope so, anyway. I'll let you know Tuesday.

As for me, I looked and looked and couldn't find any shoes or jeans at the mall. I ended up driving to a shoe store close by and getting a new pair of Saucony sneakers. I love this brand! Not only are they very comfortable to walk in, but they hold up well. My last pair is pretty beaten up and well worn, but still perfectly useable. They just don't look nice for wearing when I'm out and about or meeting friends. I'm happy to have a new pair. Then I came home and did something that's a first for me: I bought a pair of jeans online. I searched for a pair that had great reviews, so we'll see. If they don't work I'll return them, but if they do then that will be a game changer. I hate trying on clothes in store dressing rooms, especially now in the age of Covid. If this pair works out well I'll order two more in different shades/colors.

That's been my big day so far. I stopped at one last place, a butcher shop, and picked up Santa Fe stuffed chicken breasts and baking potatoes for our dinner tonight. The spuds are baking, and in a few minutes I'll add the chicken breasts to the hot oven and make a nice salad. Gregg will be home from work in about an hour, and since he works late on Saturdays I try to time Saturday night dinner to be ready (or close to it) when he walks in. 

I hope you've all had a pleasant "first day" of spring! Happy Equinox, everyone!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day (and spider junk)

 Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

My day at work was fun. Little P.'s mom (one of our Guidance Counselors) goes all out on holidays to think of fun activities and treats for the entire school. Today she brought green iced cookies for the staff, arranged for candy and green bead necklaces to be hidden around the school for the students to find, served "leprechaun juice" (green Hawaiian Punch) during all four lunches, and encouraged everyone to dress up in green today to celebrate. No one can beat her for dressing up for special occasions! Here's a photo of her I shared on the school's FB page this morning.

Don't you just love it? It's obvious where little P. gets his quirky sense of humor and outgoing personality!

It being St. Pat's Day made the morning go by quickly, as I kept getting called to take pictures to share on social media of staff wearing green as well as all the treats. The cafeteria staff cooked an Irish themed lunch today: shepherds pie, roasted potatoes, and cabbage! There were even fresh strawberries for dessert. Everyone was in a good mood. The new band director, Mr. Cribb, greeted me first thing this morning with a  hearty "Top o' the mornin' to ya!" and made me laugh. 

So, speaking of little P....he's been coming to my desk the past couple of afternoons and Googling photos of spiders. I have no idea why he's so obsessed with spiders all of a sudden but that's all he's wanted to talk about. Today after we looked at some pictures of different types he turned to me and asked (giggling up a storm), "Mrs. spiders have penises?"  Hahahahaha!

After I quit laughing I had to admit that I have no idea whether or not spiders have penises. When I saw him reach for my keyboard to start typing into the search bar, I said, "Don't you Google that on my work computer!" I know him well enough now that I knew that's what he was about to do! Of course, then I had to explain why he couldn't look up the answer. Our district office can and probably does monitor our searches and online activity. It might look a little weird if my bosses saw me looking for spider penises on my work computer! The thought of that really made him giggle, the little imp.

There's never a dull moment with that boy around! 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sweet vs. Salty

Georgie P. Barlow is a total love bug these days. This was his disappointed face last weekend when he thought (mistakenly) that he heard his dad's car in the driveway.

George is so spoiled now that he's the only dog. He gets sweeter and more attached to us by the day.

Marco T. Barlow, on the other hand, doesn't give a flying f**k about any of the niceties of domestication. He wants what he wants, when he wants it, no exceptions. He does life his way. And if you don't like it, well, that's just too bad for you!

Here's the feathered terrorist defying me the other morning when I was attempting to catch him and put him in his cage for the day. He flew away from me every time I got close enough to try to make him climb onto my hand. He very nearly made me late for work with that foolishness! 

And before anyone feels sorry for him, being in a cage all day, please remember that he comes out first thing in the morning....showers with me.....perches on the sink and watches me blow dry my hair and apply makeup....prances around on the kitchen countertops while I cook breakfast.....and then eats his share of oatmeal or cheese toast or eggs while the rest of the family has breakfast...only then is he required to go into his cage because I have to leave for work. He comes out as soon as we get home, and now that the weather is warming up we've been taking him out to the screened porch in the afternoons to get some sunshine and fresh air. Marco lives the life of Riley. 

But does he appreciate it? Look at that defiant feathered face and tell me what you think!

I love both my boys to bits, though. Even when one of them drives me crazy on the regular.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

One whole year

Yesterday afternoon Gregg and I received our second doses of the Covid-19 vaccination. What a relief to know that in two more weeks we'll be fully protected from this dread virus.

It's been almost exactly one year since all this began. I'm glad I didn't know at the time exactly how long the pandemic was going to drag out; I distinctly remember thinking that in a few weeks it would be under control and life would get back to normal. Haha!

I'm thankful for science and the worldwide effort it took to get effective vaccines developed and distributed in such a short amount of time. Well, short is relative but you know what I mean. With all the loss of life and all the suffering, I'm also grateful that neither we nor anyone we're close to and love have gotten seriously ill or died. (I should qualify that and add the word yet so as not to tempt fate). 

So far the side effects from the second shot have been mild. My arm started to hurt sooner this time and was (and is) terribly sore. I had crazy dreams all night and when I woke up this morning I felt jittery and weak and out of sorts, kind of like when you're recovering from a bout of the flu. A good dose of Motrin helped a lot and as I sit here typing this, I feel mostly fine. Maybe a little tired. Gregg felt totally normal this morning and went to work as usual. His arm didn't even get sore this time.

It's strange to think about being able to do social things again soon. I feel a bit gun shy about it, to be honest. The first few times I meet up with other vaccinated friends without masks and without social distancing, I think I'm going to be uncomfortable. After a full year of forced vigilance and fear of getting sick, I can't imagine being able to immediately turn off the anxiety. And some things are probably over forever, like blowing out candles on birthday cakes. It's definitely going to be a "new" normal. I wonder what that will look like?

Still, the President has said that he wants vaccines offered to all adults without exceptions by May 1st, and we're on track to be able to celebrate a normal Independence Day holiday. That sounds good to me! The fourth of July seems like a reasonable target for a return to normalcy if everyone has a chance to get vaccinated starting in May. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Friday morning pictures

 I just couldn't resist: here are two more photos of the beautiful magnolia tree next door. 

According to Luella, my 82 year old neighbor who lives here, the tree was already there when she and her late husband bought the house in 1972. That means this tree is well over fifty years old! Luella says that it's been a joy to her every spring for all these years and that her children and grandchildren grew up playing under it. How wonderful is that? 

Speaking of trees, I'm eagerly awaiting new leaf buds on the little fig tree I grew from cuttings and planted in the back yard last October. So far, not much seems to be happening. 

Nothing but bare sticks... 

Then again, the pomegranate tree is still completely bare and I know it's doing well. I planted it in the ground on March 10, 2019 (our first spring in this house) after keeping it in a pot for almost a decade. In the two years since it's grown really fast, maybe to make up for all that lost time it spent confined to a pot!  It's early yet; I think it typically starts to leaf out at the end of March. The Crepe Myrtle trees will be even later than that. So it's probably too soon to expect to see leaves and new growth on the fig--I'm just anxious know if it survived the winter! I think it probably did, but we'll see.

All of a sudden our seemingly never-ending rain and cloudy days have given way to bright blue skies and lots of sunshine. It's still chilly and gets down close to freezing some nights, but the air seems to have a mild edge to it. Spring has definitely begun in this part of South Carolina. Even George has been enjoying hanging out in the yard lately, and he's the most inside-loving dog I've ever had. Here he was a few minutes ago, just standing there soaking up some rays. Doggy bliss.

Have a good weekend, friends!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021



As March rolled in, my next door neighbor's tulip magnolia began to burst into bloom. Only about half of the flower buds have opened so far, so there's still a lot of loveliness left to come. This picture doesn't do this glorious tree justice! It's the largest, most shapely specimen of a tulip magnolia I've ever seen, and it blooms its heart out every year. A nice beginning to the month of March.

Hello, blog friends! How have you been? I've been reading your blogs but have had very little time to comment in the past week, much less write my own posts. I've been on a mission for a few weeks now to get healthier which has included cooking and eating a healthy breakfast each morning, packing well-thought out lunches for work each day, and going for longer and more frequent walks with the boys. All of these things soak up extra time, but it's worth it.

I'm really looking forward to my second shot on the twelfth of this month. More than anything, I'm hoping to resume some normal activities afterwards. Just yesterday our state opened up the next tier of vaccine eligibility, and the school district immediately made plans for a huge vaccination event for employees on Friday! It's so big that the entire district is having an all virtual class day so everyone that wants the vaccine can go get it. How awesome is that?! So far over 1000 people are signed up. Of course, I didn't need to take advantage of it but I'm so happy for all the people that do. Also, I get the day (mostly) off since I'll be staying home and answering the phones from here. Now that South Carolina is on phase 1B, people 55 and older, people with pre-existing conditions, and essential workers can all get vaccinated. 

And the President has said that by the end of May, all American adults who want a vaccine will be able to get one. How wonderful to think that by the summer we might have this virus pretty well under control. I want to hug all of my friends again.

It's nice to feel hopeful again and to have stuff to look forward to. What are you looking forward to in the next few months?