Saturday, December 31, 2022

The last post of 2022

I decided not to end the year with the post from this morning, complaining. So instead, here's something better I found to think about as we come to the end of this sometimes-challenging year. 

Blog friends: I love you. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

Well, damn.

Some years are better than others. Besides getting our new dog, Poppy, back in April, a whole lot of this year has been utter crap. And here we are on the cusp of 2023, and guess what? My car won't start! I guess 2022 just had to get one more little nasty surprise in before it takes its leave! *

Of course, Gregg had to work today so he wasn't able to stay home to help me deal with it. And tomorrow is a holiday, as well as a Sunday, so the dealership won't be open. Which means that I may end up taking a personal day off on Monday instead of returning to work to deal with it. But my car is our only "good" vehicle so we're going to have to get it repaired ASAP.

Even though we bought the Scion in 2014, I still consider it a "new" car. We've maintained it religiously, it hasn't quite hit 50,000 miles yet, and it still looks new. I was stunned when it refused to crank this morning. We've never had one single problem out of it! I'm hoping it's just a battery issue but afraid something else might be wrong. If I'm not mistaken, we got a new battery not that long ago during one of the scheduled maintenance visits. It may still be under warranty. I hope that's all it is, because anything else will probably be expensive. And beyond all that, I just hate dealing with car trouble. Especially during the holidays!

So, goodbye to you, 2022. Good riddance, and don't let the door hit you in the backside on your way out!

*I couldn't end this post without wishing a Happy New Year to all of you! My very best wishes for a healthy, happy, and lucky year to come. Thank you for being here!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Today's the day...

 .... when it all comes down. 

The Christmas tree (again), the glass poinsettia candleholder, the snowman cookie jar, the lighted greenery on the mantle, the cards displayed on the credenza, the seasonal dish towels and candy dishes. Yes, my friends, I'm making my house a Christmas-free zone today!

Although it's early by a lot of people's standards, in my family (and in the place where I grew up) it was considered bad luck to still have the tree up on New Year's Day. Plus, to be honest, I'm always tired of it all by the end of December. I like going into the new year with a clean and uncluttered house. And I've already started the first of several loads of laundry today, because washing clothes and bedding on January 1st is considered very bad luck. My grandma always said that if you wash clothes on New Year's Day, you'd "wash away" a family member in the new year. Of course it's silly, but there's no need to risk it, is there? :)

The only thing I really hate about taking down the tree this year is that we're going to have a big empty space in our living room, in front of the fireplace. Before the holidays we moved the large sofa in that room over by the windows, and it looked so much better there that we decided it would stay like that. Now we need some new seating to go in that spot, either two comfortable chairs or a single "chair and a half". A loveseat would work, too. Unfortunately, we have champagne tastes on a beer budget; whenever we look online to try to find furniture we like, only the really high-end stuff (that we can't afford) ever seems to appeal to us! Not that we can afford even cheaper furniture at this point. We're still catching up from all the job turmoil and missed paychecks Gregg had recently. I think we'll just have to live with the hole for a while.

When do you remove seasonal decorations? Do you clean and tidy your house before the new year begins, to start on a good note? Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Simple, but lovely

What a nice Christmas it's been!

I decided early on to keep things simple and to keep the work I do to a minimum, and I'm so glad I did. I still have four days left of winter break, my house is clean, my obligations (few as they are) have been met, and I'm thoroughly satisfied with how everything went.

I kept cooking and baking to a minimum. This is normally the most time-consuming part of the holidays for me, and guess what? No one seemed to notice the difference. That should be a lesson to me. We had good food (I roasted a turkey breast, made mashed potatoes with leftover potatoes in the pantry, and opened a jar of gravy) and delicious desserts (one, just one, batch of homemade sugar cookies, store bought pie, and lots of chocolate candy given to us by friends) and plenty of good cheer in liquid form (vodka and cranberry juice, wine, and mimosas). Presents were minimal; I ordered some new clothes for work for me, a warm fleece hoodie for Gregg, and a nice, luxuriously warm new blanket for the house. The dogs got a lot of new toys that we hid in their toy box on Christmas Eve. I can't tell you how much fun it was to wake up on Christmas morning and to the delight of George and Poppy when they discovered all the new stuff they had to play with!

The haul: dad works a pet store, so Christmas means LOTS of new toys from Santa!

The first toy Poppy pulled out from her basket Christmas morning. She ran and jumped onto the bed with it, which is where I took this photo. 

Unfortunately, the two stuffed llamas didn't last 24 hours with two enthusiastic canines playing tug-of-war with them!

We had such a good time, at home with just the dogs for company. It was bitterly cold last week; we had lows as low as 15F and highs only around freezing. It was nice to be all together, with plenty of good food and a gas log fireplace ready to keep us warm as needed. 

Martina came over the night before Christmas Eve, after she got off work, and we had our second annual holiday book exchange. She got me three (!!) new books this year, and I got her two. I'm about halfway through one of them; as usual, she knows my taste in books very well.

On Tuesday, I went to see my parents and we had lunch together. It was nice to see them, and I was glad I got to visit with my dad for a few hours. His health is very poor, and I'll be surprised if he's still here next Christmas. I'm going to try to visit them more often in the new year and to spend more time with dad. 

Last night two of my friends from book club, Paulette and Karen, came over for wine and dessert (apple pie, store-bought) and coffee. Seeing them is always fun and last night was no exception. It was also the last social thing I have planned for the winter break. From now until Sunday I'm going to read, watch movies, catch up with blogging, walk the dogs, and enjoy my remaining time off for winter break. New Year's Eve is coming up, but we don't have any plans. And that's just fine by me!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

All is calm, all is bright

Christmas Eve, 2022. 

To all our blog friends, near and far, we wish a very Merry Christmas Eve! May tonight be filled with love, peace, and joy for each and every one of you. 


Jennifer, Gregg, 
Marco, George & Poppy

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

For the solstice

So the Shortest Day came,

And the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us -- Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!
--Susan Cooper

If you've never read The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, I highly recommend it at winter solstice and over the Christmas holidays. Although it's a children's book, it's full of midwinter magic.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Starting over

 Sunday afternoon I dug out some strands of white lights and very gingerly stuck them in the branches of the Christmas tree...without taking stuff off the tree first. I'm not happy with the result. It's way too dim, and the ornaments look all disarranged and wonky, and the lights themselves are a cool white when I prefer warmer white lights. Since the tree is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, I'm going to redo it all.

This morning after I finish my coffee, I'm going to take a shower and head out to buy some new string lights. Then, later this afternoon, I'm going to take all the ornaments off and have the tree stripped bare by the time Gregg gets off work. I'll get him to help me add the new lights and then redecorate the tree. It's going to be a little work, but then it will be fixed, and I'll be happier. I don't want an ugly, dim tree!

So, that's how we're going to resolve the tree issue. Thanks to everyone who left a comment on my last post. I'm just grateful we didn't find out about the issue by having a fire! 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Yikes! What would you do?

Gregg got home from work late last night. I had the Christmas tree lit up along with all the other lights we've strung around the house for the holiday. We sat at the table after dinner, talking and enjoying the sparkle and shine of it all. 

After a few minutes, Gregg looks at me and says, "Do some of the lights on the tree you?"  

I saw what he meant immediately. A whole section of lights around the upper middle portion of the tree were suddenly a brighter, whiter white than the rest of them. It looked really odd. Then he got up and went over and touched them.

They were burning hot!

The lights that looked normal were warm, but these were almost too hot to touch. We immediately unplugged the tree, let things cool down, and then tried plugging it back in. Same thing. Most of the lights were normal, but in that same area the bulbs were a brighter white again and they immediately got hot to the touch again.

So much for our pre-lit Christmas tree. We can't risk a fire!

Gregg suggested leaving the tree unplugged and covering it with separate strings of lights. The only problem with that idea is that we'll have to take everything off the tree, add the lights, then re-decorate it. That's an awful lot of trouble. But I'm not sure what else to do if we want to have a lit Christmas tree this year. And if it's not lit, what's the point?

Sigh. What a pain in the ass. Part of me doesn't even want to bother, but I'd probably regret it on Christmas Eve.

What would you do?

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Winter break

I've finally made it to the mid-point of this difficult school year. Now it's time for a much-needed break and I plan to try and enjoy every minute of it. Yesterday was a half day for students, and staff got to leave shortly after they were dismissed. We go back on Monday, January 2nd so it's just over two weeks that we get off.

 Last month the principal asked if I'd be willing to change offices, since the one I was in was very large and could be used as an extra conference room (which we need on a regular basis). Of course, I agreed. My new office, while smaller, feels much more comfortable, somehow. The principal mostly leaves me be, and that's just how I like it. I've been more productive and less stressed out, and I hope that continues when I get back. On Thursday the principal brought me a nicely wrapped package of goodies from a local baker as a Christmas gift. She told me that I do a really good job, that she's glad to work with me, and that she "hopes you're happy working here". My husband said that translates to "please don't quit!" and I think he's right! (I'm still planning to look for a better spot this spring).

Christmas is going to be super simple this year at our house. Gregg has only gotten paid for one week's work in over a month now (and that came from the late owner's brother). There's been some problem setting up his paycheck/direct deposit account with the new owners, and he's starting to get a bit upset about it. He's been working a lot of hours, helping to get the store reopened, and we need his paychecks to start coming! It's put a damper on our Christmas spending, as modest as that generally is around here anyway. And to be honest, I'm just tired. I don't feel like cooking and baking up a storm, or of putting up lots of decorations that just have to be taken right back down. I don't want to fight traffic, or crowded stores, or go to a bunch of social events. 

 We do have a Christmas tree, and colored lights on our potted ficus, and candles and greenery on the mantle, though. I love lights and sparkle during these long, cold nights. I'll do a little bit of cooking and baking, just not as much as usual, and Martina and I are exchanging books again this year. I highly recommend having a book exchange with a friend if you're both readers--we tried it last year and liked it so much we decided to make it an annual thing! I plan to have a few other friends over for a glass of wine or mulled cider during the holiday season, nothing fancy. I want to do less work, spend less money, and take time to enjoy simple things over the next couple of weeks. I'm grateful that my little family has made it through another year together, loving each other, and safe and sound and healthy. That's all I need for Christmas!

The elephants on these shelves were from my dear, late mother-in-law's collection. They're very special to us.

What are your holiday plans? How are they shaping up? Is anyone else working on a quieter, simpler holiday this year? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Saturday, December 10, 2022


I strung some colored lights on our ficus tree that's overwintering in our den to give it a little holiday cheer. That's the room where we sit and watch tv (the real Christmas tree is in the living room). I decided to take a picture, and guess who just had to come be a part of it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A couple of brief updates

It was disgustingly warm and damp when I left work this afternoon. So far, this month has been nothing but mild temperatures and drizzly rain. I'd rather have at least slightly chilly weather as we approach Christmas to set the holiday mood. I shouldn't complain, though. We've barely had to use the heat and that's going to save money on this month's power bill. Saving money is top priority this year.

That being said, the pet store reopened today! It's already been sold, believe it or not.  I never imagined things happening this fast--it's been less than a month since the previous owner died unexpectedly. A couple of men (business partners) from Savannah, Georgia bought it. They already own three stores down there and are looking to keep expanding. Gregg's job appears to be safe for the moment, which is a relief to us both. We're still going to be very cautious with spending this Christmas, though, with an eye on saving money instead of spending it. Who knows what these new owners will be like and what kind of changes they may want to make. It seems prudent to shore up our savings over the next couple of months, just in case. You just never know. 

In neighborhood news, the turkey I saw on Thanksgiving is still hanging around! It almost has to have been a pet at some point. She's (it's a female) not too concerned when she sees people and has been spotted in everyone's yard at one point or another. Sometimes you'll see her just walking down the street, minding her own business. Other times, she can be spotted under one of the big old oak trees that grow here, eating acorns. Someone down the street decided to start calling her "Theodora" and so now that's her name. I guess you could say she's become our neighborhood mascot! What a crazy thing, huh?

We have seven school days left until winter break. I'm so anxious for the time off--hopefully there will be a lot more time for blogging activities then. Work sure puts a damper on all the enjoyable things in life!

I hope everyone is well, and I look forward to catching up with you soon.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Holiday hounds

The Christmas decorations are up in my house....and we had a lot of help from these two!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

I couldn't believe my eyes

woke up early this Thanksgiving morning, poured a cup of coffee, and stood looking out of the front windows. And what to my wondering eyes should appear....but a wild turkey running down our street! And no, I wasn't day drinking (yet) but I did do a double and then triple take!

I'd heard a couple of reports of a half tame female turkey hanging around the next neighborhood over, but never expected it (her?) to show up over here....and certainly not on Thanksgiving!

She was still hanging around an hour or so later, so I drove around the block and made a video of her from my car window for proof that it happened.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


 It's the eve of Thanksgiving and I'm grateful for so many things at the moment.

  • It looks as if Gregg will keep his regular income for the next couple of months in exchange for going up to the store a few times a week to maintain the aquatic systems and to help the manager care for the animals. The late owner's brother is in town meeting with attorneys to sell the pet stores and settle his affairs. A number of potential buyers have stepped forward, but appraisers will have to come in and put a monetary value on the stores before they can be sold. This process could take up to two or three months, and in the meantime the brother will be cutting Gregg and the manager (as well as the managers of the other two stores) checks every two weeks for their regular salary. What a relief that is! It buys us some time to prepare for whatever might happen next.
  •  I'm feeling much better. I'd caught a mild cold a couple of weeks ago that led to some chest congestion, and although I didn't feel bad, when I went for my (already long scheduled) follow up appointment with the allergist, my lung function had gotten really bad again. He thought my right lung sounded like an infection was setting in so back on antibiotics I went. He also prescribed another round of prednisone. Prednisone always makes me feel so much better that I wish I could take it more often but of course it has bad side effects. 
  • Dare I say this? Let me just whisper it, lest the Universe should decide to smite me upon my return to work next week for my hubris: work has been going better and my boss has been much calmer and easier to be around. Everyone was happy, given that we had a two day work week, and things felt more relaxed and almost fun than they have all year. We had a giant Thankgiving staff potluck in the library yesterday, and with almost 50 people bringing dishes, it was a feast. I couldn't even come close to sampling everything. There were two cooked turkeys, lots of homemade fried chicken, dressing, casseroles, hot dips, meatballs, puff pastry appetizers, a huge crockpot of savory collard greens (those were one of the biggest hits of the meal), deviled eggs, rolls and biscuits, fruit salad, watergate salad, and I don't know what-all. The dessert table was also full: fruit pies and pound cakes and brownies and cookies, tortes and banana pudding and hot cherry crumble (in a crockpot). Two teachers got together to make an autumn punch out of sparkling cider and pomegranate juice and sliced fruits. There was so much left over that all of the staff was asked to please take food home for their families, and we all did. I also brought back my contribution, which was virtually untouched, much to my disappointment.

Nobody wanted the healthy option! :)

  • George is doing much better. I'm SO grateful for that--it's been a real worry. We're pretty well convinced now that he doesn't have a torn ligament in his knee, just some arthritis. He's still favoring that leg a little, sometimes, but he rarely limps and wants to be active. I'm still giving him a (lower) dose of the NSAIDs once a day, along with fish oil at night, to try to keep that knee as loose and pain free as possible. We're also slowly building him back up to twice daily walks, and he seems much happier for it. So are the rest of us! Those walks have been sorely missed by us all.
  • Last thing I'm thankful for: this girl.

She's brought so much fun and energy and lightness to our home this year. She's wildly playful, smart, and very affectionate. It's been a joy having a young dog again. And this is the start of her first holiday season with us!

Tonight, Thanksgiving eve, is special in our home because it was the night before Thanksgiving 2007 when a stray puppy showed up at door and became our beloved Ginger. Since it was her homecoming day, it became a personal family holiday and that hasn't changed since she died. Now we have Poppy, who shares so many of Ginger's good qualities that I think she's going to be a worthy successor to her. 

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow if you celebrate, my friends!

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Morning sun

It seems I have a "Thanksgiving cactus" instead of a "Christmas cactus" like I originally thought. 

Whatever you call it, it's nice to have flowers blooming in the house to brighten these dark November days. The colors glow in the morning sun from a south-facing window. 

Monday, November 14, 2022


Right before bed last night, I looked at my phone which had been in my purse all afternoon. I had a mysterious text from the last manager of Gregg's pet store (who moved to Charleston a few months ago) saying to please call her, it was an emergency. I couldn't imagine what in the world she needed, and I told Gregg to check his phone to see if she had tried to contact him. Lo and behold, he had two missed calls from her as well as three missed calls from the current manager. This was all highly unusual, and so of course he immediately called the current manager back to see what was going on.

That's when we had a terrible shock. The owner of the pet stores, John, had simply dropped dead over the weekend. We were absolutely stunned. 

John was the third owner of the stores that Gregg has seen in his 20+ years as the "fish guy" at the Florence store. He was mid 50s, divorced, no kids. He apparently had a girlfriend who lives an hour or two away, and a brother in Louisiana. As far as we know, that's all the family he had. 

This morning we got a little extra information but not much. John felt bad and called himself an ambulance and died as soon as he got to the hospital. There's some speculation that it may have been an aneurism that killed him, but we don't know for sure.

Now we have no idea what's going to happen. Gregg is meeting with the manager this morning (and Jessie, the old manager who's driving up from Charleston to help) to try to figure out what to do about the live animals for the moment. Of course, the stores won't (can't) open under the circumstances. We have no idea how this is going to be handled, but what a mess. Hopefully John had some sort of will and an executor named in case of an event like this, but Gregg thinks it's unlikely given the sort of guy John was. What a mess!

And of course, we're worried that Gregg's job there (which is half his income) is now a thing of the past. He got in touch this morning with one of their vendors (based in Atlanta) who said she knows someone who might be interested in buying the stores, but who knows when or if that will ever happen. So many things are simply up in the air at this point.

If this is truly the end of the stores (and that's more likely than not) Gregg will have some tough decisions to make. He just turned 64 last week--old enough to draw Social Security, but not old enough to collect his full benefit from it. Thank goodness that he'll still be able to earn money from his aquarium maintenance jobs (up to a point) while drawing SS if that's what he chooses to do, and that well may be his best option. There are, of course, other local pet stores that would probably be thrilled to have him as an employee, but I'm not sure he wants to start over somewhere else at his age. Also, it's hard to look for a new job when you have a small business on the side that needs to be accommodated, time-wise. At the very least, I suppose he can draw unemployment while he decides what to do. 

I know he's really sad that all the years he's invested in this job is probably going to end this way, and sad about what happened to John, too. What an awful situation.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Staying in

Saturday night has rolled around again. I have no plans for the weekend other than staying in and resting.

I seem to be coming down with something. My school is filled with flu, Covid, and strep at the moment along with plenty of simple colds. I had a flu shot last month, and the latest Covid booster two weeks ago, so I'm hoping that this is just something simple like a cold. God forbid it turns out to be strep throat, which is the dominant illness there right now. I don't think so, though. So far, it's just sneezing, a mild cough, and some congestion in my chest along with some mild body aches. No fever (or not beyond a very mild one) so that's an encouraging sign. I'm feeling far from top form, though, that's for sure.

It's been a day of mostly sitting around watching tv and napping. I'm just beginning the final season of Lucifer (Netflix) which was recommended to me by a friend months ago and that I finally got around to starting recently. It's been the perfect show for me the last few weeks because it's funny and fun to watch and isn't very mentally taxing. Great distraction viewing during election season and a welcome break from the news. Also, Tom Ellis is a bit of eye candy, and that never hurts. :)

He looks great in a three-piece suit...or out of it.

Gregg and I finished the latest season of The Sinner, also on Netflix, last night. It was okay, although none of the subsequent three seasons have been quite as good as the first. I also decided to try Derry Girls and that's turned out to be good for a laugh here and there. At the moment, comedy and more lighthearted shows are my preference as an escape from stress. And who wants to watch dark, dramatic shows when they're sick? Not me.

So that's my weekend in a nutshell. TV, soup, ginger ale, and rest. One good thing so far about this cold (or whatever it is) is that since my asthma is now being treated, I haven't started wheezing or getting short of breath. The past few years I've dreaded even the mildest colds because I'd have so many breathing problems as a result. Fingers crossed that it stays this way!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Random daily life stuff

 It's a most welcome day off for me. Today is, of course, Election Day, and schools are always closed on this day. As a matter of fact, the school where I work is my polling place. Gregg and I went early this morning, before he had to leave for work. I was grateful to be able walk in the gym, cast my vote (with no wait), and then head back home for the rest of the day.

Work hasn't gotten any better, unless you're judging by how well I seem to be managing to keep my head down and power through.So far this has been a loooong year. For the first time in my six years at the school, I have a mild dread in the pit of my stomach on Sunday afternoons. Spring can't come soon enough; that's when contracts and work agreements start coming out and jobs start opening up. With 24 schools in our district, surely an opportunity to transfer to something better will come along soon! 

George's leg/knee is still a real worry. He still limps some half the time, despite almost six weeks of reduced activity and the NSAIDs he gets every morning. Arthritis in his left knee seems to be his biggest issue, and we're probably going to have to try to manage it for the rest of his life. He's gotten somewhat depressed because we haven't been taking him for his twice-daily half mile walk. Hopefully the vet will soon let us gradually get him back to walking more. We've just been making sure that if it's a ligament tear, it has some time to heal, but if it's just arthritis, then gentle exercise will be good for him. 

Poor George; we've been sneaking around with Poppy, taking her on walks. Not too often, and mostly when he's in a back room napping and so won't notice, but still. I hate going without him and I feel guilty. But as bad as I feel for making him rest for all these weeks, I can't deny an 11-month-old puppy the chance for exercise. She's got so much pent-up energy she's like a small package of dynamite!

Okay, well "small" might be the wrong word for Poppy! She was 50 pounds when I last took her to the vet. She's getting to be a big (and tall) girl. Although I'm a little sad that she's not really a puppy anymore, I'm pleased as can be about the dog she's becoming. She's turning out to be very intelligent, friendly (to humans and dogs alike), and playful, with the beginnings of a sense of humor that I didn't know was possible in dogs until Ginger came along. She's sweet, too. Very cuddly, especially late at night and early in the morning when she's sleepy. Poppy is already very much a part of our family.

Her only fault so far (and it's only really kind of a fault) is that she's stubborn and protective, and she'll bark like hell at people coming and going at neighbors' houses. She's also not fond of strangers (like the pest control guy that comes quarterly) who enter our home. She'll snarl and bark and put all the fur up along her spine, and no amount of scolding will make her stop. I always end up banishing her to the back yard if I have to let strangers into the house. But she's loving and loyal to all our friends and family, so at least there's that! Ginger was also protective, but she was smart enough to discern which people might actually pose a risk and which wouldn't. Since Poppy is so smart I expect she'll gain some discernment with maturity. She's still very much a puppy in some ways.

One last item of note: Gregg took down the last really large aquarium in our house. It was a 125 gallon that's been in our den since we moved in here 4 years ago. ** He decided he wanted to sell it while the tank was still in good shape, and he wants to concentrate on something a little bit smaller and less time (and space) consuming. He sold it for a very, very good price to a secretary at one of the medical offices where he gets paid to maintain their aquariums. He's known this woman for years, and she's been wanting a nice, large tank of her own. He only charged her $400 for the tank, stand, lights, filters, and several buckets of nice substrate. A real bargain.

The aquarium, cleaned and ready to go, right before the new owner came to pick it up.

Of course, we had to totally rearrange the den after the aquarium was gone. So far, I like what we've done in there, and today we're going furniture shopping for new barstools to go in this room! That's going to be Gregg's birthday gift--his birthday is tomorrow--and I'll post photos of the room once we're finished redoing it. I'm a little sad to see the tank go, but excited about rearranging and redecorating.

* Knocking on wood as I type this. When your boss almost certainly has a personality disorder, and you manage to stay in their (mostly) good graces, it's best to stay humble about it. All that could, and might, change tomorrow!

**Today is the 4-year anniversary of us buying this house! That's so hard to believe. Time really does fly.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween recap

Yesterday was the most fun I've had at Halloween in ages!

To begin with, we pulled a few seasonal decorations out of storage a couple of weeks ago. 

This past weekend I had to go to the drug store to pick up some prescriptions, and while I was there I bought some extra candy and small toys to hand out (glow in the dark bouncing eyeballs, anyone?!). I also picked up a few other things I'd been needing, including razor blades. I didn't think about how that looked until I got home--buying candy and razors right before Halloween! I wonder what the cashier thought.

Here are the treats spread out on the table for sorting. I wanted make loaded treat bags for the kids I knew who were coming. 

Guess who I got to see?! Little P.!

I also got to see Carsen, who is 4 and a half years old, now. She's growing like a weed.

Here's my favorite photo of the night: Prophet, Carsen, two little girls (who are nieces of the nice young couple across the street) and an extra girl whose parents are friends with Marla. Look how cute these kids all were!

The kids all had sooo much fun! Here's a little clip of them acting all jubilant after one house gave them candy. It reminded me of being a little kid on Halloween, myself.

Speaking of little kids.....the Batman had a blue tongue! All the neighbors were super generous, and most had good candy.

So many of our neighbors were extra generous with treats, and everyone seemed to have a really good time.

At the end of the night, George and Poppy were sorry to see everyone leave. They had a great Halloween (with lots of doggie treats) too!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Saturday music treat

Good Saturday morning! 

Not long ago my husband made me watch a video on Youtube of a young genius guitar player from Poland, and I was so impressed by it that I wanted to share it here with you. Have any of you heard of this guy? If not, and you like music, you're in for a treat.

Marcin: "Kashmir" on one guitar....

Bach's Toccata on one guitar...

Thursday, October 13, 2022

At least it's never boring.

The other day, my husband said to me, "There will be no more pets in this house. I am done.I think it was listening to Marco scream (for no good reason) for the 133,563rd time that sent him over the edge. Maybe.

I understood and agreed with him. Two dogs and a parrot are more than enough for anyone! That's not even counting the aquarium animals that have to be cared for (that's his department). Our pets are always needing something: feeding in the morning, walks twice a day, baths for the dogs, cage cleaning for Marco. Lots of attention for all three before we leave for work in the morning and again when we get home in the evening. Feeding everyone again at suppertime. Sometimes all I want to do after work is watch trash tv and zone out for a couple of hours, with no one needing anything from me. But no, I have responsibilities....and to be fair, it's not like they asked to live here with us. Duty calls.

And the vet bills! Two weeks ago, George had to go to the vet to get his limp checked out and also his yearly heartworm prevention shot. That visit was over $300. Then on Tuesday I had to take him back to the vet because his ears had gotten red and inflamed and were driving him crazy. It turned out he had bacterial and yeast infections in them and was prescribed an ointment that we'll be putting in his ears every other day for the next two weeks. He also needed a refill of his anti-inflammatory pills for his arthritic knee. Cost of Tuesday's visit: $190. Five hundred dollars and we're not even halfway through October yet! The vet bills are breaking us.

But hey, you can't put a price on love, right? They bring us a lot of fun and happiness. Plus, there's never a dull moment in our house, as the following little anecdote I shared on Facebook just now so vividly illustrates:

This morning when I let Marco out of his cage, he took off flying. The breeze from his wings as he passed through the kitchen caused a piece of wax paper (that had held a medicated dog treat for George) to flutter to the floor. Before I could stop her, Poppy snatched it up, raced to the bedroom, dropped down on her belly, and ARMY CRAWLED UNDER THE BED AS FAST AS SHE COULD so I couldn't take it from her. Then when I went back to find Marco, he was in the pantry attempting to bust into a bag of walnuts.

This is my life.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The chair

I've recently come to the realization that I'd like to learn to sew. 

Nothing too fancy, just basic stuff. I'd like to re-cover some furniture cushions, make simple curtains and drapes for the house, and maybe have the ability to hem a pair of pants if necessary. Stuff like that. 

What set off this line of thinking was an old, sad armchair we've owned for close to 20 years now. It needs updating with a slipcover to make it into a piece of furniture we're proud to display in our home, instead of an old, dirty, worn out (but still comfortable) chair.

It lives in the office with our computer table and Marco's cage. Poppy uses it the most (she likes to hang out when we're using the computer). 

I thought of my friend Karen and how she's mentioned that she sews. I called her up one day and asked her if she'd be up for helping me to sew a slipcover for this chair, and she said YES! She's been sewing for decades, and this won't be too hard for her by any means.

Today we went to two fabric stores and looked at everything available. One nicer store had a lot of good stuff on clearance in the back. All the clearance fabric was $5.99 a yard. They looked really attractive when I saw the prices of the non-clearance stuff!

Anyway, I saw two or three fabrics I liked. As soon as I get Gregg's input I'll pick one and we can get started soon. Karen's going to help me sew in zippers so that whatever we pick can be taken off and washed. I'm really excited about this project! And learning a little bit about sewing, too. It's awfully nice of my friend to help me with this. I think she's already having fun planning this project with me.

PS....Karen has a blog! Check it out: The Internet's Best Karen

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Time off

It's wonderful to be off work this week, and a much-needed break. Work continues to be a mostly unhappy place, although far more tolerable than it was at the beginning of this school year. We've just finished our first quarter, and in six months (when contracts for the next year have to be signed) there should be plenty of job openings in the district to apply for. I'm crossing my fingers that something comes open at this school because it's only about a mile from my house, it's a very nice new building/campus, they have a really good staff and principal, and it serves younger students, kindergarten through fifth grade. Marla's little girl, Carsen, will be starting kindergarten there next year in their Spanish immersion program. This would be the ideal transfer for me! But of course, there has to be an opening first. 

Even though I'm off this week, I've been busy. I've washed and vacuumed out my car, organized and cleaned my pantry, gave the refrigerator a major cleaning, and taken comforters and other large bedding to the laundromat for a good wash (things that wouldn't fit in my washer at home). 

Marco "helping" me clean the pantry. :)

The big chore of the week was finally chopping down the dead dogwood tree in our front yard. Gregg has a small chainsaw that we used to do the job.  I took a final picture of the tree before we got started.

It was bigger than it looks in this picture. We got it down and also cut up a bunch of firewood from it, to be used for a bonfire later on. Now that it's gone, our front yard looks strange every time we forget about it and glance outside. Hopefully the little crabapple tree will make it to next spring (despite the deer damage) and will begin to grow into the empty space. We've contrived a wire cage thing to go around it to give it a chance to grow out, so hopefully the deer won't be an issue anymore.

This morning I had to go to the dentist to get a crown re-done. I was dreading it, but it turned out to be much easier than I expected. Afterwards I drove down to the allergist's office to get my weekly allergy shot, so now that's out of the way, too. Tomorrow I'm going to see my parents. I haven't seen them in a long while and my dad's been back in the hospital. His health keeps deteriorating, and I need to go see him more often while I have the chance. After that, I plan to relax and enjoy my last few days off. 

These two love it when I'm at home all day!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Ian and George

It's a gorgeous, blue-sky kind of day to begin the month of October! This is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is usually as close to perfect as it gets around here in October.

Hurricane Ian coming through yesterday was a real surprise. Until late in the afternoon on Wednesday we had no idea the track was changing to bring it right over our heads here in South Carolina. Of course, it was a much-weakened category 1 hurricane when it made landfall (around 2pm in Georgetown) and was only a tropical storm by the time it went through Florence. We had gusty winds and rain all afternoon, but nothing really concerning. Our power flickered a couple of times, and we lost internet access for a few hours, but that was the extent of what we had to deal with. Of course, nearer the coast they had more damage. Three piers were damaged and had portions swept away, and speaking of swept away...

A shrimping boat was washed ashore in Myrtle Beach. And here's a shot of a big chunk of the Cherry Grove pier drifting south after it broke off during the storm.

All in all, though, South Carolina was very lucky. Of course, school was canceled yesterday so I got to stay home, and it's also the start of our fall break. I don't have to go back to work until October 10th! I have all of next week off. How good is that?

Several of you asked about George. He went to the vet last week and after examining him, she determined that he has arthritis in his left knee that's causing his limp. She said that she can't tell if he tore the cruciate ligament or not (without going in surgically and looking) but he certainly didn't completely tear it because he's putting weight on that leg. The arthritis in his knee joint is the more immediate concern. She prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine and six weeks of reduced activity (no twice daily walks!) so that a possible tear can heal, and so the inflamed joint can rest. Well, that's easier said than done! George wants to walk and run and play with Poppy, sore knee be damned. But at least it looks like he's going to be okay

In addition to the anti-inflammatory medicine, I've started him on fish oil and glucosamine/chondroitin supplements. They might or might not help, but they won't hurt. Thank you to everyone who asked about him or left nice comments about the situation! We were (and still are) worried about him, but I think he's going to be okay. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

It's always something.

This weekend has brought the most wonderful fall weather we've seen so far. The temperatures are in the upper 40's at night and the mid 70's during the day, just perfect. It's so nice to be outside.

The dogs think so, too. Poppy loves spending time outdoors, but George has preferred the air-conditioned house all summer and would rarely venture past the back porch while it was so hot. All that changed on Friday afternoon. It felt so good outside that George actually went out into the back yard with Poppy and wanted to play! They ran and wrestled and acted like two puppies together. We were amused, watching their antics, and happy to see George being so active. 

Well. Turns out, we should have discouraged George's boisterousness. He rounded a corner running at full speed, stumbled slightly, and let out a small yelp. He's been limping ever since. Martina came over the next morning to have a look at him (she's a vet tech) and she thinks there's a strong possibility that he ruptured his cruciate ligament. It's common among bully breeds because of the way their knees and hips are built. 

We had some pain/inflammation medication for dogs on hand, thank goodness, so I've been giving him a dose each morning. He's getting around fairly well, but he puts very little weight on that one back leg. I'll be taking him to the vet when I get off work tomorrow afternoon. Worst case scenario (if it's a complete tear of that ligament) is that he may need surgery. I dread the idea of that! My poor Georgie.

Please send all your best positive thoughts for a much less serious diagnosis when he sees the vet tomorrow! Any dog owners out there who have dealt with these kinds of issues? I'd love to hear about it if you have.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

This week

This week is flying by. Tuesday was another day off work, this time to take Gregg to have another endoscopy. They wanted to do an ultrasound of the lesion on his duodenum. The initial biopsy tested negative for cancer cells, but they wanted to look deeper and more closely just to make sure everything was okay. It turned out to be a totally benign cyst and nothing else. What a relief! I felt pretty sure it was going to be something like that, but Gregg had been worried for weeks. I'm so glad he can put that particular worry behind him now.

All the new asthma meds the doctor gave me have me feeling so much better. I have more energy than I've had in months, not to mention sleeping better and just generally feeling like my old self again. The only hiccup in the medication regime was that they forgot to tell me to rinse my mouth out after using a new inhaler medication each morning. I developed oral thrush, which is no fun at all! Of course, the doctor called in a prescription for something to fix it, and now that I know to rinse after using that inhaler I should be okay going forward. That's a small price to pay to be feeling so much better.

Poppy went to the vet this week for a weigh-in and she's up to 48 pounds! We're really surprised she's turning out to be such a big girl. She's double the weight she was when we adopted her back in April, and since she's not quite a year old yet she may still hit 50 pounds. She's a total delight, although I will admit she's a little bit bossy and stubborn. She's definitely no shrinking violet, that's for sure! She's carrying on that fine tradition of tough women dogs that Ginger started. :)

Work is going fairly well. I'm finally getting used to all my new job responsibilities and I'm feeling more and more capable as the weeks roll on. Although I'll never trust her, my boss has been nothing but complimentary about my work so far, so as long as I stay out of her way and keep my head down, it looks like I'll be able to cruise through this year with a minimum of trouble (fingers crossed). Fall break is coming up at the end of the month. A week off in early October is going to feel wonderful!

It was hot today, but tonight the weather is supposed to take a real turn. The lows will suddenly go down into the 40s and 50s over the next few nights, and the highs are only going to be in the mid 70s. Fall is definitely here! Speaking of which....