Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday stuff

 Our little blog community was shaken to the core last night as the news spread that Anne Marie in Philly had passed away unexpectedly. I admired her brash, salty, take-no-shit attitude and her willingness to be a loud and proud voice for the Black, LGBTQ, and other minority groups. Beneath that tough exterior she had a warm and loving heart and she had a talent for friendship. She will be sadly missed.

This reminded me of Anne Marie today. Rest in peace, Warrior Queen!

Another Saturday has rolled around, this time as part of the three day Memorial Day weekend. After I go back to work on Tuesday there will be less than two more weeks of school and I'm out for the summer. It's a bit shorter than usual, due to starting late this year and our new modified district calendar, but I still have 6 weeks off. I never dreamed of so much time off when I worked in retail. Plus, I get paid! Granted, my salary is lower than it's been in years but I sure am happier these days. That being said, I've begun looking at the job openings within the district in hopes of finding something that pays a little more. Eventually I'll probably go to another school or even the district office if it means a better position and more money. I'm not in a huge hurry, though.

My garden has blown up! All of a sudden the tomato plants are more than waist high, the peppers are covered with little bitty baby peps, and there are flowers all over my cucumber and cantaloupe vines. The bees have finally taken notice and I see several of them buzzing around every day. For a while I didn't see any and I was starting to get concerned, but I think they must have been taking advantage of a neighbor's half acre of dandelions which finally got mowed. This morning I saw three different butterflies hovering around my marigolds, which have also started blooming like mad. This includes the French marigolds I started from seed. It's all so pretty! As soon as I hoe the weeds that have sprung up (probably tomorrow) I'll post some pictures.

As to the new neighbors, it appears to be a young couple who have had lots of company the last few days, probably helping them move in. It's been very quiet over there, but last night was caught a glimpse of lights behind the house, probably from the tall deck out there, and the low murmur of voices and laughter. Today a middle aged man and woman seem to be hanging around, helping them put together white adirondack chairs for the front porch and carry in boxes.  They've also hung up baskets of hanging plants on the front porch--a nice touch. I'm crossing my fingers still, but it appears that they must be decent. 

Enjoy the holiday weekend, friends. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Nosy neighbor (me)

The house across the street from us just got sold. We were sorry to see that the young woman who lived there had put it on the market at the beginning of the month; as neighbors go, she was perfect. She was friendly but kept to herself, had a cute little dog, quiet, and her front yard always had something pretty blooming. The trees behind her little cottage are gorgeous and frame the house just right, obviously someone was very skillful in pruning and trimming. We've enjoyed the view since we moved in and we're really hoping the new owners don't mess it up. Yesterday there was a strange new car in the driveway and I did my best Gladys Kravitz imitation, peeking through the blinds to try to get a glimpse of the newcomers. No luck. They drive a large, shiny black Toyota SUV but that's all we know so far. Once the moving in process is complete I'll walk over with a box of goodies from a local bakery and introduce myself. We want to get off on the right foot with new neighbors. I certainly don't envy them the task of moving this week. We've had a crazy heat wave and it's more like the middle of July than the end of May. It's sweltering out there as I type this, with temps today reaching almost 100 degrees. Ugh! Moving is hard enough without sweating buckets the whole time. 

Speaking of the house across the street, it went way up in value in this crazy hot seller's market. The woman who sold it had only been here three or four years and it went up about $30,000 in value and was snatched up within days of being listed. I keep hearing stories about buyers offering well over the asking price just to get a chance to buy. I'm so glad we got in here when we did, we couldn't afford it if we had waited any longer. The neighborhood is changing and becoming a little nicer than it used to be. Several houses have new owners and lots of people seem to be painting and upgrading and landscaping more these days. That's nice. It's a pleasure to see these old houses getting lots of love and young families moving in and so far all of the new neighbors have been pleasant. The jerk behind us lost his wife last month, a fact that made me feel sorry for him even though he was so nasty to us when we first got here. He's well into his 80's and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't want to downsize now that he's a widower. I hate thinking of him living alone now and possibly being lonely, but I'll never feel comfortable having even a basic neighborly friendship with him after the way he acted. Maybe when he does leave nicer folks will buy the house. 

Hey! I just looked outside and there's a large black truck that has joined the large black Toyota SUV across the street. Hmmm. Still no sign of the new owners.  Wonder what that means? Both of the vehicles are large and new and shiny black. It's not much to go on! So I'm off to continue spying through the blinds to see what I can see! I'll report back later. Haha.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A day off

 I had a dental appointment early this morning. When I went for my six month cleaning a couple weeks ago they found the tiny beginning of a cavity and advised me to go ahead and fill it promptly. It was the quickest, easiest trip to the dentist I've had in years (not counting cleanings) because we caught it so early. Much to my dismay, though, the dentist is insistent that I need to have some crowns redone very soon. A few of you may have been reading here for long enough to remember when my old dentist retired and a series of awful temporary ones filled in while the practice looked for a permanent replacement. I ended up spending thousands of dollars for very badly done work. Now it's going to cost another $2000 or so out of pocket to fix everything. Since I'm not having any pain or problems I keep trying to put it off, but it's soon going to be necessary to avoid trouble in the future. Why does dental work is so damn expensive? I'm going to try to hold off a little longer, maybe until the fall. 

I decided that since I've hardly missed any days of work this year and my personal paid time off keeps accruing, I would take the whole day off work even though my appointment was easy and I was done by 10am. I had tentative plans to go to the bookstore or the library or even a couple of thrift stores this afternoon. Too bad for me, though, and it's a good thing I took the rest of the day off, because Gregg's truck broke down and we're currently having to share my car. Yesterday he had to have the repair shop come tow it in and it looks like the clutch may need replacing. Sigh. There goes another $1000+ , and all the more reason to put off the next dental bill as long as possible. We just can't seem to catch a break in the money department lately! It's always something!

But it's nice to have the afternoon off even if I'm stuck at home. It's a cool, cloudy day and the porch and my garden are calling to me. I'll leave you with a few pictures of the garden progress and the kids:

Tomatoes are coming along...

We finally planted something in a big concrete planter a friend gave us last year. It was one of several outside a restaurant he used to own and he had salvaged them for his home garden.  He also gave us the plant we ended up putting into it: a small ornamental pomegranate. 

Finally, for all you Marco fans out he is on his porch swing the other day, eating a lime and jalapeno potato chip. He loves chips, as you can see.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Like a Disney movie

Over the past six months or so the boys and I have become consistent twice-daily walkers. We take George out very early in the morning and then again after dark for a lap or two around the half mile circle that is our little neighborhood. Partly because of the timing, but maybe in part because we're actively looking, we see so much wildlife lately.

Yesterday I snapped this photo of our neighborhood deer, who are almost tame. (I apologize for the crappy picture; it was my cell phone camera). There were actually three but I didn't notice that until they started to saunter away. George stood stock still and just looked at them, as he's learned to do. We encounter these same three deer (a large female and two smaller animals of undetermined sex) almost every day and we always stop for awhile and just quietly look at each other.  Last night we saw the large one standing in this same yard, close to the road, a big black silhouette under the street lights. Sometimes they'll even lower their heads and graze in our presence! It feels like such a privilege to have them around and to have their trust.

We've been seeing lots of rabbits, too. One of our neighbors has a large shady yard sloping downwards in the back towards a small pond, and the whole grassy hill is covered in dandelions. It's really pretty and that's the yard where we usually spot rabbits. We saw one over there just this morning, in fact. Afterwards we saw a pair of bluebirds flitting around some power lines and pine trees and the male was the most spectacular shade of blue I've ever seen. 

It's also that time of year when we see large turtles all around the neighborhood. The other night we saw one crossing the road and I swear it's shell was at least 12 inches in diameter, obviously an older turtle. It's been a couple of weeks since we've seen an owl, but one night early this week we heard two of them making crazy jungle noises in a tall tree. Sometimes I'll wake up at night and if my bedroom window is cracked I'll hear them calling to each other.

Add to all this the cardinals nesting in our pomegranate tree and the little Carolina Wrens nesting in the attic vent slates on our roof, and as I told Gregg this morning, "It's like living in a Disney movie right now!" I like it a lot. Who knew buying a house so close to the creek would be so perfect for nature lovers like us? We feel very fortunate.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday tidbits

It's been an unseasonably chilly day here today. The high temperature only reached the mid 50s, which is more like February than May in South Carolina. Personally, I'm enjoying it. The heat and awful humidity will be along shortly, no doubt.

We've also gotten some much-needed rain. The last several weeks have been very, very dry and watering with the hose just isn't the same. Despite the cool temperatures and lack of rain, my garden seems to be flourishing. Knock on wood.

You may remember I mentioned a female cardinal had built a nest in our pomegranate tree. She's been sitting on it, but so far hasn't produced any eggs. I know because I snuck over there and reached up high to snap a picture with my phone when I noticed that she (and her mate) were off somewhere for a minute.

Isn't that a pretty piece of workmanship, though? There's even a strip of clear plastic woven in on one side which you can see in this picture. And the pomegranate is blooming like never before, so it's going to be a pretty place for a clutch of baby birds to come into the world. There are so many flowers on the tree this year that I'm beginning to think we may even get a few fruits for the first time! Baby birds and cool is that?

Here's something else I wanted to show you. Early Sunday morning we took George to the park down the road from our house, and had it all to ourselves. The city has just had a nice new skate park built over on one side and I got a photo of it.

It's bigger and nicer than it looks in this photo. Usually we see lots of kids with skateboards having a great time on this super-smooth new skating area. I never could use a skateboard as a teenager. I had several good friends in high school that were stoner/skater type boys, but I was too clumsy and uncoordinated to even stand up on a board. How some of those guys would have loved having a place like this to practice! They had to make do with homemade ramps and such when we were growing up. I feel lucky as an adult that I have easy access (less than a mile from my home) to one of the nicer parks in our county. This particular one has five (I think) baseball fields....speaking of which....

My buddy Little P. is playing baseball for the first time this year, and they play most of their games at this park! Gregg and I went to one a couple of weeks ago to see him play. It was so much fun! I know very little about baseball, but Gregg and his brother and sister played for years when they were growing up. Little P. didn't know we were coming, and we walked up to the side of the fence just as the game was starting. When he came to the outfield close to where we were standing, I started to go over and call to him, but Gregg stopped me and said, "If he knows you're standing here watching him he won't be able to concentrate" and he was right. A few minutes later he happened to look our way, spotted us, and for the rest of the game he kept checking to see if we were looking. :) He was so happy we came to see him! 

(Little P. is number 12 at the bottom left).

Speaking of P., his mom asked me if he could hang out at my desk for my last 30 minutes yesterday while she went to a meeting. Of course I said yes, and was happy to have him. He got on a roll telling me silly fart jokes and making me laugh, until I finally made him take a selfie with me while we were giggling. Of course he had to pretend to be picking his nose while I took the picture! That child is such a joy to me.

Q: What do you get when you eat bean and onion soup?

A: Tear gas!

Q: What do you call a dinosaur fart?

A: A blast from the past!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Mother's Day Eve

Wishing all the mothers out there a happy Mother's Day tomorrow! I hope your kids shower you with as much love as you deserve.

I'll be spending the day with this little troublesome (but beautiful!) son of mine:

And, of course, the other one, too.

I  love them both so much! They are my babies. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Random odds and ends

 No one particular topic springs to mind for a blog post today, so I'll just post some random junk and observations.

  • It's been the longest school year EVER. I guess that's because last year didn't seem to end, it just stopped in March 2020 due to the lockdowns and became a weird, slow, kind-of-work-from-home situation. Then we went back in September with crazy strict Covid precautions, stress, an extra long winter break, and now we're finally almost at full capacity with students again. The majority of the students returning to face to face learning since spring break has led to the expected return to middle school craziness. Meanwhile, we're in the process of becoming a three grade school (sixth, seventh, and eighth instead of just seventh and eighth) and also becoming a STEM magnet school. In addition, we have to go an extra two weeks this year to make up for our late start. June 11th is the last day this year, and I swear it can't get here quickly enough!
  • Speaking of work, an assistant who was hired this year to assist with part of my job responsibilities has turned out to be a real pain in get the idea. She's the most worthless employee I've had the misfortune to work with since the days of the bookstore. She's frequently absent, late, and is NEVER where she's supposed to be or doing what she's supposed to be doing. She's always hiding out in the library or cafeteria doing absolutely nothing and I keep having to take up her slack. Then to add insult to injury, she was horribly rude to me the other day, then proceeded to come stand in front of my desk and start screaming at me and attempting to get me to argue with her. The principal heard the commotion and came out and said, "ENOUGH!! THIS IS OVER!" but it didn't stop her from going all around the school running her mouth and talking sh*t about me. One of her complaints is that the principal "always sides" with me over her. Well, you damn straight he does! He knows she's worthless and trashy and I hope (and expect) that she won't be offered a contract next year. It's made work somewhat uncomfortable this week, but she's finally apparently decided that no one is siding with her so she's at least speaking to me again. I only speak to her when it's absolutely necessary and I'm polite, but very distant. Ugh. 
  • I need to see my doctor. Maybe it's stress, but my eczema is out of control again. My feet and ankles are an itchy, weepy, inflamed mess. It's really bad, and REALLY unsightly. My allergies have been worse, too, and it's triggered my latent asthma. I've taken to using an inhaler again at night, otherwise I wake up wheezing. Then yesterday a huge cold sore broke out all over my upper lip. It's all pretty miserable. At least we're still wearing masks so no one can see my lip!
  • Lest you think everything is bad.....I saw my first tiny tomato in the garden yesterday! That was a happy moment. We also got some rain over the last two days after a record setting dry April. We certainly need it.
  • Marco is sitting on my shoulder as I type this, being a sweetie. He's preening my hair and watching the computer screen as I type. George is a love bug these days, too. If only I could hang out with animals all day instead of people!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day garden update

 Happy May Day! We've been working hard in the garden lately and everything is growing and thriving. I'm getting so much pleasure from working outside this spring!

The mixed annuals are so pretty right now.

The sky one afternoon last week. That beautiful blue.

For the first time, my pomegranate tree is covered in flower buds! And although you can't really tell in this picture, a pair of cardinals have made a nest back in there which we have a great view of from the window in our den.

We took down half of an old wooden picket fence that was leaning and sagging and generally looking bad. This is a trellis we built yesterday from wood that we saved. Waste not, want not, right? This is where I'll be planting the cantaloupes tomorrow. I bought compost and garden soil to mix into the planting holes.

Gregg would not be happy that I'm sharing this picture, but you can really tell how the tomatoes have grown in it and capturing his image was an accident. Shhhh....nobody tell him!

Finally, more repurposed wooden pickets that I put behind the five biggest indeterminate tomatoes this morning. They will serve as stakes to tie the plants to when they start to get tall.

Happy May Day!