The marigolds I started from seed to serve as a kind of living mulch have surpassed all my expectations. I never knew marigolds could grow so big and tall and lush. Butterflies seem to love the flowers; I saw another species yesterday and took some pictures.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
End of June garden notes
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Here are some photos of what I've harvested over the past two or three days. The garden is finally starting to pay off!
BLTs for supper tonight made with the very first Brandywine tomatoes...
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Sweet relief, and a garden update
I have a functional neck again! Hooray! When I saw my doctor on Tuesday she gave me a shot in the hip (cortisone, I think) as well as prescriptions for a muscle relaxer and a week's worth of prednisone pills. That night I got my first decent night's sleep in almost a week. That's medicine in itself.
Yesterday morning I started taking the prednisone. I know that oral steroids can cause major problems for people who have to take them long term, but for occasional use they're like a wonder drug. For me, at least. I felt like I'd had a small dose of speed, and combined with the easing of the neck pain and the comfortable night's sleep, I felt good yesterday. I gave the kitchen a fairly thorough cleaning and mopping, dusted a couple of rooms in the house, watered the garden, and then made it to book club to see my friends!
Marian was hosting this month, and she has a pool, so we wore our swimsuits and had our meeting out there. And that felt positively heavenly. Floating on my back in the cool, cool water was almost as good as a massage for my poor tense muscles. It's a salt water pool, too. I felt so relaxed and comfortable when I left that when I got home we took George for a leisurely late walk around the neighborhood. Another restful night's sleep and now I feel like a new woman. Oh, the relief!
I'll leave you now with some recent pictures of my garden, which is growing like gangbusters. Today I'll pick my first vine ripe tomato (dozens more will be coming along shortly), and I've already had two or three cucumbers and lots of peppers. So far there are at least 6 baby cantaloupes growing and the bees love those flowers so I'm expecting even more. My first garden at this house has been a delight so far!
Cantaloupe vines climbing our repurposed wood trellis:
Shhh! Don't tell anybody! These pond plants are illegal to sell or have around here because they can be invasive. A friend of Gregg's gave him these from his little backyard pond. Of course we're responsible people and would never allow them to end up in a local waterway. And aren't the flowers pretty? The dragonflies, frogs, birds and squirrels love this little container pond too--we're providing drinking water to the wildlife!
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Book review: The Silent Patient
While I sit here and wait to go to my 2:30 doctor's appointment, I thought I'd pass the time by writing a quick review of my book club's selection for June: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.
First, a brief synopsis from Goodreads.
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....
I'm impressed that this is the author's first book. Everyone kept saying that the "twist" at the end was shocking and that you'd never be able to figure it out. That turned out to be 100% true! I was trying hard to figure it out while I read (and came up with some crazy theories) but I wasn't even close. The reveal was so well done that you're literally in the middle of a sentence when it all falls in place and it's a giant WTF?! moment. And it's a particularly nasty twist, too. It hits like a punch to the gut. It made me uncomfortable, to be honest, and a friend I spoke to yesterday said it made her so uncomfortable that she just couldn't like the book despite how well done it was. I'll be interested to see what the rest of the group thought. We have our meeting tomorrow night.
Dr. Spo might well be interested in The Silent Patient because of the relationship between Alicia and her psychotherapist, Theo, and how his story runs parallel to hers. I kept thinking of him as I read it. If you're interested, it's a quick and entertaining summer read, especially if you enjoy psychological thrillers and mysteries, and I'd lay wagers on the fact that you won't see the ending coming. Disturbing or not, it was good fun and I thought it was a nice choice for book club.
Monday, June 14, 2021
Oh, the pain.
Yorkshire Pudding's comment on my last post proved to be oddly prescient. He said, "Don't celebrate too much or you might pull a muscle! " Well, we didn't get much chance to do any celebrating because I've somehow pulled a muscle in my neck and this is a wholly new experience in muscle pain for me. This thing HURTS.
I have a pre-planned doctor's appointment tomorrow but I called this morning to ask if they could squeeze me in today. No good. I almost cried when they said they were too booked up to see me. Then I put out a group text to my book club friends, asking if anyone had a muscle relaxer they could give me. My pal Kathleen, who lives close by and is working from home, brought over two different muscle relaxer medicines for me to choose from---bless her! I've already taken one along with a large dose of Motrin so here's hoping I have a better afternoon (or at least fall asleep and get some rest). Sleep has been nearly impossible the last two nights. There's no comfortable way to position my head, and even swallowing hurts. Who knew that even swallowing spit flexes muscles in your neck?! Not me, that's for sure.
So the last couple of days off with my husband have been ruined. He's been so sweet, and so worried about me, and I feel so bad that a day trip we had planned isn't going to happen. And I know I'm no fun to be around at the moment.
Saturday, June 12, 2021
A Very Special Day
Thursday, June 10, 2021
It's not easy being a people-pleaser.
When you grow up afraid of confrontation and conflict, and spend all your time and energy trying to be as accommodating and "nice" as possible to avoid it, you set yourself up for a lifetime of stress and heartache and feeling let down. No one respects a doormat. Even worse, your self-respect takes another hit each time you fail to stand up for yourself.
Somehow it's taken me getting to the age of 46 years old to realize this is one of the big life issues I'm going to have to address. I'm trying to speak up for myself more, advocate for myself more, demand better treatment from others. It's going about as well as one would expect.
This all started last fall when I finally set some firm boundaries with my parents. For those of you reading who aren't regular readers, let's just say we have a fraught history. Growing up with emotionally abusive bullies (my mother) and alcoholics (both parents) is mostly what got me here in the first place.
Since I've been thinking about boundaries with them so much in the last several months, gradually I've started to think more about other situations where I need to advocate for myself. Work being the main one. I'm trying to do better, but it's so hard. Things kind of came to a head for me earlier this week.
I was (yet again) doing the work of three people (who were goofing off, as usual) when I got a request to take on yet another task that involved lots of complicated calls home to parents. I simply couldn't do it. I was already juggling too much to even get a lunch or a bathroom break! So I sent the AP back an email saying simply "It's not possible for me to take this on right now. I'm overwhelmed with all the work I have at the moment. I am sorry." I felt proud of myself for setting that boundary, but then............
...later in the afternoon I got called into the Principal's office for a conference with him and with the AP who had made the request, and she was furious with me. So pissed she wouldn't even look at me! Then the Principal said that the "tone" of my email to her had been "rude" and it read like I was "refusing to do what my supervisor asked me to do". I was stunned.
But I'm proud of how I handled myself. For once in my life I didn't start to tear up and choke up. I calmly said that if my tone had come across as rude, and if it seemed that I was "refusing" to do what she asked, that that wasn't my intention and I was sorry if I had given that impression. Then I calmly went on to explain what my workload looks like and exactly the reasons for it (without naming names, although there was no need. They have eyes). I made a gentle suggestion: in the future, if they have tasks they need help with so urgently, maybe it would be a better idea to ask the people who always seem to have so much more free time than I do. I smiled.
At that point the Principal hastily ended our little "conference" and I went back to my desk. I was proud of myself for standing up for myself, even in such a small way!
One more day until sweet summer freedom. I'm really looking forward to the break this year.
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Next week can't come fast enough
A week from tomorrow is the last day of school. For the first time in the four years I've worked there, I'm feeling dissatisfied with my job and eager to get away from it for a few weeks. Yesterday morning was particularly stressful. Just like every day in the last few months, I was doing the job of three people (at least) while those particular people were hanging out in each others' offices, gossiping and laughing loudly from behind their shut doors, having a seemingly grand old time and not so much as lifting a finger to answer the phone.
The day had already gotten off to a bad start. Due to a "miscommunication" one of the assistant principals went off on me for something that wasn't my fault. (The "miscommunication" was that she hadn't bothered to read an email that went out to the staff a few days prior. I forwarded it to her again to show her that I had done the right thing. That really seemed to piss her off....like I wasn't respecting her authority enough!). It was really upsetting. I'm one of the few truly conscientious people up there and it hurt my feelings that she treated me the way she did. And then this happened:
Although thankfully, she wasn't around when I cried. But I'm sure she noticed later because my face gets puffy and red and my eyes go bloodshot and swollen at the first hint of tears. Also, if anyone out there knows of some method to stop yourself crying when you need to hold it in for a while, please, please drop a comment below and tell me about it. I hate crying at work or in front of other people more than almost anything!
Then the rest of the day was just me feeling excluded (which is typical) by the other office people and of course left to do others' jobs while they f*cked around and socialized. I was so discouraged by it all. I've complained to the principal a couple of times about some of the behaviors that directly impact me, and he'll go set things right in the moment, but nothing ever changes. I suspect that he hates confrontation and managing conflict, and while I understand it (and appreciate what a nice guy he is) that's not a good quality in a leader.
I'm far from alone in my dissatisfaction at the school, and the lack of accountability among the staff is the number one problem, in my opinion. I think the principal is thinking of moving on, anyway. He's finishing up a doctorate in December, and one day he quietly handed me a letter and asked me to scan it through to his email. It was a letter of recommendation to another school district. (It doesn't escape me that he chose me and not his secretary to do that for him. He knows I won't mention it).
Whatever, but I'm so sad that the school job that I love is being tarnished like this. I've begun casually looking at openings elsewhere in the district, and I'm thinking of moving on. It would be nice to make more money, anyway.