Thursday, March 24, 2022


I've had such a great birthday this year, and there's still more fun to come.

For the first time I created a birthday fundraiser on Facebook, kind of on a lark and not expecting anyone to actually donate much, if anything. I picked Doctors Without Borders/Medecins san Frontieres and was pleasantly surprised that we've exceeded the automatic $200 goal that Facebook sets! I'll be doing that again next year--it's such a worthy charity.

I finally figured out what to get Little P. for his birthday. I asked his mom what kind of gift cards he might like, and she said his favorite place in Florence was Cold Stone (ice cream). So all your suggestions about ice cream were spot on! I ended up getting him a $25 gift card to Cold Stone and a tie-dye parafoil kite. He seemed pretty excited about both!

Since the nurses at school got me the pretty flowers with the Happy Birthday balloon attached, all the staff and parents and students saw that it was my birthday and I got lots of well wishes all through the day. A couple of the kids gave me hugs. It was nice. After work, I met up with a couple of friends, Paulette and Marian, and we had an early seafood dinner at Tubb's. After we ate, it was book club night, so we proceeded to Karen H's house (she was the host). I was given more flowers and cards and even a gift card, none of which I expected. It was so very nice of them!

Gregg's gift to me came earlier in the week: a nice food dehydrator! I'd been wanting one since last fall, and with my garden prospects for this year looking good it should be a useful gift. I've already made some delicious apple chips, and some less-than-stellar banana chips (I need to keep working on that recipe). I'm hoping to use the machine to cut down on food waste, since most vegetables and fruits can be dried and added to recipes later. I'm also interested in making homemade (good quality) treats for George. Dried strips of chicken breast treats cost the earth and should be easy enough to make in a dehydrator. In any case, I'll have fun experimenting!

The last part of my birthday festivities will be happening on Saturday. Season 2 of Bridgerton drops on Netflix on Friday, so on Saturday (Gregg's day to work late) Marla and Martina are coming over for food, birthday cake, wine, and a Bridgerton marathon!!! I'm sooo excited! Gregg looked at me funny when I told him that was my big plan for my birthday. "That's really what you want to do?" he said. Umm, YES! Marla and Martina both thought it sounded fabulous when I suggested it! We're going to have so much fun, even if the sexy Duke of Hastings won't be a part of season 2. :)

It's been a very, very good week. I'm such a fortunate woman.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A lovely surprise

When I got to work today I was presented with this by the two school nurses, Lisa and Shalonda. I was so touched!

I have plans with friends tonight and also this weekend--more about that later!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Some weekend pictures

 Can you spot the baby rabbit? We apparently have a nest in our back yard. This one let me get very close and take a picture, but even from a couple of feet away he was well disguised.

I repotted most of my house plants on Sunday.

The lettuce and radishes in the raised bed are really starting to grow. The carrots are sprouting, too, but you can't tell in this picture.

George and the daffodils. 

Spring is here!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Birthday boy

 Little P. and I have a birthday coming up next week! He's going to be nine years old. I adore that boy, and it's fun that we share a birthday. This year I have no idea what to buy him for a gift, though. A couple of weeks ago I asked him what he wanted, and you know what he said? "I don't know, I really already have everything I want." I thought that was rather mature, given how he usually has a big list of expensive items in mind when holidays and birthdays roll around!

I pressed the issue a bit the next day, since I'm going to get him something and need ideas. After giving it some thought he mentioned that he went to a birthday party at a skating rink a while ago and didn't have his own pair of skates. Since I know nothing about kids' sizing, or how fast his feet grow, I didn't feel comfortable with that suggestion. It's a specific enough request that it's likely someone in his family has already bought the skates, anyway. When I asked him what else he might like instead, he just shrugged. 

So, dear blogger friends, what would you buy for a nine year old as a birthday gift? I love to buy books for kids, but only if they like to read and will appreciate them. I'm sorry to say that even though P. reads really well (and well above his grade level), he's not turning out to be a real reader. What he does like is building things with Legos, and projects that involve electronics and robotics and even math. He recently qualified to begin the advanced/gifted academic track in school, so he's a really smart kid. And he likes active outdoor play and sports, typical boy stuff. Any suggestions will be welcome (not too expensive, though).

I have two more Little P. updates for his fans. Remember I told you he had a crush on a little girl in his class? Everything was going well until the day the teacher asked the class who had been whispering when her back was turned and the girl ratted P. out. He showed up at my desk that afternoon in a state of high dudgeon, a betrayed young man! From that day on, Love was Dead. 

At the end of January Little P. had his "Vocal Star" audition. He had picked I'm Still Standing by Elton John to sing. His mom said that when he first got up on the stage and saw the people looking at him, he froze, and then his bottom lip started to tremble. She thought, "Oh, no...." but then he pulled himself together, managed to smile (although she knew he was on the verge of crying) and then sang his song all the way through. His voice shook but he finished it! She told him afterwards how proud she was of him, even if he didn't win. I was pretty proud of him, too. That took guts!

 And look how handsome he looked in the new jacket she bought him for the audition:

(This picture makes him look so grown up for an eight year old! He doesn't really look quite this grown up in person).

Thursday, March 17, 2022


When I come home from work in the afternoon, George and Marco are always eagerly awaiting my arrival and are so glad to see me. This is what happens every weekday at approximately 4:50pm:

George meets me in the garage, at my car door, to give me kisses before I even step foot out of the car. I open the door and wait for him--that's our routine. Then he jumps up and down about 10 times and dances around me as I walk towards the house. The only time this doesn't happen is when it's raining. George hates getting his paws wet and will wait for me on the porch on those days.

Marco starts to let out ear-splitting screams the moment walk through the door. Gregg says, "Get ready!" and covers his ears when I cross the threshold because he knows Marco can't be deterred from shrieking as loud as possible to welcome me! I have to go get him out of his cage immediately and let him ride around on my shoulder as I put my stuff down, take off my shoes, pour a drink, etc. 

It's like a hero's welcome, every single day.

And you know what? On a lot of those days (today being one of them) I'll whisper, "I'm so grateful for you!" to George and Marco. You know why?

Because human children can be real pains in the ass sometimes, that's why!!!!!!! And when they are I'm SO GLAD I don't have any of my own!

It's rare for me to get annoyed with the students at the school where I work. Usually I like them and have empathy for them and enjoy their company. I've always enjoyed kids in small doses, anyway. But I'd be lying if I told you there's not a few that I swear to god I'd like to drop-kick into the next county!

There are two young men at the moment that are driving me especially crazy. They're both big boys because they've failed a grade or two. They're always in trouble. Because the ISS (in-school suspension) room is near my desk, and the discipline in there is lax, these boys are always walking past my desk to get water from the fountain or to go to the bathroom. Or, more likely, cutting class and creeping around the halls. Any time I say anything to them they're rude and nasty and sarcastic in return. They think it's funny to be openly defiant and mouthy and generally just awful. One of these boys is a physically big fellow and a couple of times he came and hovered near my desk, smirking and laughing at me, Well, I'm not about to be intimidated by an overgrown BOY and I put him in his place and made him go sit down, and I called the principal on him and then I called his mama! He didn't like that, let me tell you! I was steaming mad when I left work. 

Speaking of irritation, have I mentioned lately that I struggle with eczema? Like, really struggle? The last time I went to the doctor she said she thought I had dyshidrotic eczema because it's mainly appearing (these days) on my ankles and the tops of my feet. She prescribed a pill that's commonly used to relax patients before surgery, but that can also help with the allergies that seem to be a factor in triggering the skin inflammation. Well, just like topical steroid creams they worked great for a while and then gradually became less and less effective.

I'm currently suffering through a terrible flare. My feet are swollen, inflamed, and will bleed at the slightest scratch (thanks to so many years of steroid creams). And not scratching at the moment is agonizing, because the itch is absolutely maddening. It's really awful and it's making getting through the day a struggle. I itch almost constantly and have to fight with myself not to scratch. Sometimes I catch myself doing it without being consciously aware of it, and my socks will have bloody patches. 

Look away if you're squeamish. I'm embarrassed to show you these, but maybe it will help you understand the misery that is eczema. I've been dealing with flares like this for over 20 years now.

My ankles and feet today:

It's painful to walk, I itch to distraction, and I can't wear sandals in public. You'd be surprised at the number of people who will comment on it when my feet and ankles look like this. I can only imagine having a real disability and the things people would say!

I guess it's no wonder that I'm especially irritated at rude children and teenagers at the moment.  At least Marco and George love me, bad skin, irritation, and all!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

How we fared

 Here's how I prepared for last night's freeze:

This morning when we got up it was 23 degrees outside! I'm pleased to say that my plants were almost completely unscathed despite the bitter cold. The only loss was a few leaves on the fig tree (over where you can see a few leaves peeking out from the cardboard) but the majority of them were fine. The salad garden looked green and cheerful when I pulled back the tarp this morning, too. Tonight it's supposed to get just to freezing again, so I've covered everything back up now that the sun is going down.

One last thing....why, why, why must we continue to observe Daylight Savings Time?! I hate changing the time both times we do it in a year. I wish the powers that be would just pick one or the other and leave well enough alone!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Batten down the hatches

We're expecting wild weather later this afternoon and tonight. Strong winds and tornado watches through the afternoon will make way for a hard freeze tonight. Ah, March. I don't think any month is more temperamental. Just last week temperatures were reaching almost 80 degrees and I could wear shorts at night when we went out to walk George. Now it's going to be in the mid 20s tonight and lots of early blooms and tender new vegetation will suffer. 

My salad garden has been coming along nicely (lettuce, radishes, and carrots) and will have to be protected. I'm planning to drape a sturdy tarp over that side of the raised bed and find some good heavy stones to hold it in place overnight. The pots of camellia starts will have to be secured, either on the porch up against the wall or else in the garage. I doubt there's much I can do for the tender new leaves on the fig tree. A hard freeze this time last year took out the new growth, but more leaves sprouted immediately afterwards and there was no lasting harm. The daffodils should be fine. Did I mention that my newly planted daffodil bulbs are blooming like mad? I counted almost three dozen flowers this morning! I doubt one night of cold will hurt them, but I'm considering picking a vase full for the house just in case.

I'm not worried about the newly planted crabapple tree---because it's still nothing but a bare stick! At least in that case there's no tender new growth to lose. The pomegranate tree will be fine. It's covered in a flush of tiny leaves, but it's in the warmest and most protected spot in the yard.

What else? I think all that will be left to do after covering the raised bed and moving the potted plants will be to do one final scan of the yard and porch for loose items. My container of seed potatoes has small sprouts and will have to be moved into the garage for the night to protect them from the freeze, too. That should be all. All that I have any control over, anyway!

Radish and lettuce sprouts I'll be covering tonight
 when the temperature starts to drop.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Early March update

It's been the longest week ever. After a lovely end-of-February break, the days started to drag as soon as I went back to work on Monday. It was hard to leave George and Marco and my garden projects and my peaceful home, not to mention my warm and comfortable bed. On Monday when the alarm went off at 6am I couldn't help but groan. Back to the salt mines!

Speaking of garden projects, there's been quite a bit of progress. Last Sunday afternoon I started most (not quite all) of my seeds for the year. I like to use the convenient little Jiffy peat pellets that come with a tray for seed starting. It's super easy to grow out little seedlings in them for potting up later. I took a photo to show you the process.

Here's the tray this morning, less than one week after starting the seeds.

The tomatoes, basil, zinnias, and rose campion have all started to sprout. I'm still waiting on the peppers. 

Out in the raised bed, the radishes and lettuce are up! They're too close together and will have to be thinned eventually--sowing such tiny seeds is really difficult. I'm sure once the carrots sprout (no sign of those yet) they'll be the most crowded of all. 

Remember the daffodil bulbs I bought on a clearance rack over Christmas and planted on New Year's Day? The ones I thought might have been planted too late to bloom this year? This is what they look like today.

We planted the bulbs in clusters around the crepe myrtle trees. There were a dozen clusters all together, and all twelve spots look like this, with short flowers getting ready to open. This fall I'll probably add some more varieties of daffs (these are King Alfreds) as well as some hyacinths. 

I'm glad March is finally here. Besides being my birthday month (yay!), it's the real start of spring (my favorite season). Last night when we took George out for a walk, we saw the first rabbit of the year. It was on our neighbor's lawn close to the circle of light cast by their porch light. After seeming to disappear in the fall and winter months, the return of these little guys is a sure sign of spring.