Thursday, August 26, 2021

Just a Thursday update

 Thanks for all the positive feedback on my last post. It made me feel better about how busy I've been just recently. 

Things are still crazy at my job. Not really my job per se; so many students are out due to either having Covid or quarantining because they've had close contact with a person who tested positive that it's almost like last year with the A/B cohort days and some students using the all virtual option. I'll bet anywhere from a quarter to a third of our student body is out right now, and at the rate things are going I don't see how we'll manage to keep the schools open until Christmas break. A kid at one of our three public high schools actually died last week. It was a 15 year old girl who had some pre-existing health conditions, but it was Covid that killed her. Several staff members at our school have been out sick, and a couple ended up going to the hospital. This includes my teacher friend with MS. I've been so worried about her. She wasn't able to take the vaccine due to her MS treatments and it's monstrous that she had to come to work with the Delta variant raging in this community. I saw the other day that the ACLU is suing the state of South Carolina over the ban on mask mandates and virtual options for school, saying that it denies medically fragile students their rights to a public education. And it damn well does! We'll see what happens.

But my job is okay. I'm staying as safe as possible. Without the awful coworker from last year around things feel much better and the work is a little bit more fairly divided. And hey! I get a lunch break now! That's progress. 

Not much to report on the home front. I picked the last four (half green) Brandywine tomatoes the other day and now the garden is ready to be torn down and cleaned up. I harvested an astonishing 53 pounds of tomatoes this year and more jalapenos than I know what to do with. The last of those (the jalapenos) need to be picked and pickled if I can manage to find any canning jars to put them in.  I'm out and they're hard to find this year. I'm currently drying two massive ristras of peppers and don't need any more of those. I can't believe how much four plants have produced!


Saturday, August 21, 2021

My apologies

My job has exploded since the end of summer break. Covid is spreading like crazy through our school (and all the schools in the district) and hundreds of students are being forced to go home and quarantine for 10 days due to a close contact with someone who tested positive. Parents are angry. The phones ring off the hook. So many teachers and bus drivers and substitute teachers and other staff are out sick or quarantining themselves that everyone is run ragged. I don't have much energy left when I get home each day. And of course there's the minutiae of daily life that must be attended to, and my husband and pets needing attention.  After all that, I'm falling into bed totally worn out most nights. Saturdays finally roll around and I sleep a lot and not much else. Sundays are family time since Gregg and I are off together on Sundays.

With all that being said, I feel like I've been a really bad blogger.

So many of you have become real friends over the years, and there are several more of you I wish I could get to know better. When time and energy are in short supply, though, reading and (especially) commenting on blogs seems to be one of the first things to go out the window. I feel bad about that. Please know that it's not you, it's me. 

Here's hoping things calm down a bit soon and I won't leave work every day worn out and with my brain fried. (Sometimes I could swear I hear my office phone ringing faintly in the distance when I'm at home!) All I seem to want to do after work is sit on the couch with a glass of wine, have a simple supper, watch some good escapism tv or read a book, and get in bed early. 

Since I don't have a great way to end this post I'll leave you with a video I took the other night when we were having some incredible looking heat lightning. Happy Saturday, friends, and I hope you're all doing well.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

August in the countryside

This morning I went to a see a friend who lives out in the country. It's a pretty highway and I often want to stop and take pictures on the way. Today I noticed bales of hay all rolled up in the fields as well as soybeans and corn ready to be harvested, so I pulled over onto a dirt road and took a few. 

It's sweltering hot again today, a typical August afternoon. I can't wait for September to get here.

Thursday, August 12, 2021


 Yesterday South Carolina hit a grim milestone: 10,000 people in this small state have lost their lives to Covid-19. It's hard to fathom the true cost in suffering of that number. Not just the physical suffering of the people who died, but the emotional cost to the loved ones left behind. 

It didn't have to be this way. But here we are.

Here's where we also are: the Delta variant is spreading like wildfire in South Carolina and our infection rate, hospitalizations, and death rates are skyrocketing. All while half the population (at least) act like nothing is happening and the pandemic is over. It actually was almost over at the beginning of the summer, but with the variant out there now and such a huge percentage of the population acting like it's their God-given right to go around unvaccinated and unmasked, we're as bad off now as we were back in February. Misinformation about vaccines is rampant here. A local doctor (a guy I went to high school with) said the number one reason his patients give for not getting vaccinated is that they feel it's not "loyal to the GOP". It's maddening that a virus that threatens our very lives has been turned into a political issue.

 Speaking of which, I'm beginning to wonder if governor McMaster (nicknamed, fittingly, "McDisaster") is trying to kill us all off. He's joined other Republican governors in the South in making it illegal to require masking in schools or to offer a virtual option this year. Yes, friends, you read that right. It's illegal and we'll lose our federal funding if we require students and staff to wear masks, and we're not allowed to have a virtual option this year, either. Several school districts in Texas and Florida (two states with governors almost worse than SC) are openly defying these laws and filing lawsuits. All while our schools are a hotbed of Covid transmission.

The students at my school will have been back for two weeks tomorrow. Several students and a couple of staff members have contracted Covid already, and as of early this morning we had over 50 students who have been sent home to quarantine for several days because of close contact with an infected classmate. The number was probably more like 70 by the end of the day. Our school nurse, Lisa, is being run ragged trying to keep up with the tsunami that's her workload this year. She has to document everything, explain the quarantine process to scared parents, finish reports for the county health department, in addition to the normal middle school nurse duties. Normal duties like the little girl that had an accident in gym class and broke her arm this afternoon. It's a giant mess. Pretty soon so many kids are going to be at home quarantining that I'm not sure how we're going to continue to have normal school days. It's that bad.

Needless to say, it's back to masking and being super careful for me. I worry about the kids too young to get vaccinated, and the ones who are eligible but whose parents won't do let them have it. And then there's the teachers and staff: one teacher at our school has Multiple Sclerosis and was taking a type of treatment for it back in the spring that meant she couldn't take the vaccine. She has a choice: come to work,  unvaccinated out of medical necessity, and risk her life with the highly contagious Delta variant that we KNOW is all around us, or stop working to protect herself and lose her career and income. 

What the hell kind of place do I live in to allow such a thing to be possible? 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Beautiful bird

Marco's a great example of what a male eclectus parrot should look like when they have access to plenty of unfiltered sunlight. Isn't he gorgeous? ❤

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Little boys

Returning to work and to a more normal workload these past two weeks has been exhausting. Last night I was in bed sound asleep by 10pm and didn't get up until 8am, so I had ten solid hours. Then this afternoon, after watching the first few cheesy episodes of that old 60's gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (feeling like I ought to be smoking Virginia Slims and sipping a Tom Collins the whole while), I took a two hour nap. It felt great.

Prince George was super happy to come lie at the foot of the bed and take a nap, too. I think he probably misses our daily summer afternoon naps together as much as I do. In fact, I just miss him, period, now that I'm back at school. I mean, look at this face. How could I not?

He sure has come a long way. Next week will be a full year since we lost Ginger, and he's finally settled into being the only dog and soaking up all the extra attention. He's better behaved and more mature now. A thoroughly good boy. 

I miss this rascal while at work, too. My most troublesome son. He'll be fourteen years old next month.

The one thing Marco likes about me going back to work is helping me get ready in the morning. Sitting on my shoulder and "helping" me put on makeup is one of his favorite things. Sometimes he preens my hair while I do it, which is kind of adorable. Another good boy (most of the time).

Here's my final picture to share with you today. Meike asked if I'd seen Little P. yet this year. Yes I have! How I'd missed that little boy! Even with only a two month break, it looks like he's grown some. I was so happy to finally see him again this week and give him a big hug.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

A pretty good start

The kids came back to school this week, and the office has been hopping busy. Now that we have no virtual option and all of the students are physically back in the building, it's been a wild few days getting everyone properly (and completely) registered, bus transportation routes settled, a new phone system to learn about and adapt to (it's fancy and high tech: zoom capabilities are built in) and finally, a transition to a real middle school model that includes 6th,7th, and 8th graders instead of just 7th and 8th. I've been exhausted every afternoon upon arriving home and so haven't had the energy to read many blogs and certainly not to comment much. I'm sorry! I miss you all when I'm too busy to be here. 

The year has gotten off to a good start. The woman who caused me so much stress and irritation last year was apparently not invited back. What a relief! In fact, not a single person has even mentioned her name. It's kind of weird, but I'm okay with it! I have some new reports for the state department I'm responsible for this year, and there's a learning curve with that, but I don't mind. Already the year feels easier and better. Best of all, the principal had a meeting with the office staff yesterday and the first thing he addressed was everyone doing a better job of offering me support.....including a rotation schedule of who's responsible for covering a real lunch break for me this year! Things are looking up.

Here's a picture of some zinnias I cut for my desk at work. They reseed themselves beautifully in the garden bed at the entrance to the school.

Zinnias always look as if you've used some crazy Instagram filter. But no, these colors are natural.

I hope you're all having a good week out there! I'll be back over the weekend to catch up with you all.