Saturday, March 18, 2023

Saturday night stuff

I made it to the weekend! What a rough week. I hope I never develop another ear infection; it's been really awful, but it's finally starting to improve. This morning when Gregg left for work, I went back to bed and slept an additional three hours. I guess I needed the extra rest.

All of my plants survived the cold snap quite well. I covered everything with old towels, plastic, and large, overturned plastic pots. It looked weird but it seemed to do the trick. I may have to re-cover everything tonight and tomorrow night, but according to the long range forecast I should be good after that (at least for another week). 

Yes, it all looked funny, but it got the job done!

In other news, I did our taxes today. That's a chore I dread every year, but it wasn't too bad. It only took about 3 hours and now that's off my mind for another year. We're getting a decent little refund back, due to the fact I have extra taken out of each paycheck to cover all Gregg's self employment income from his aquarium gigs. Better to have too much taken and get a refund than have a nasty surprise (a big tax bill) at tax time. About half of the refund will go to some house repairs we've been needing to do, and the rest will go into savings. 

My birthday is coming up next week! I'm planning to have Marla and Martina over on Saturday to help me celebrate. Gregg will get off work early, and Marla's husband will probably stop by with their little girl for a while. I'd love to invite Martina's husband, Will, but he works on Saturday evenings. There will be food, cake, and drinks. I'm excited for all that because I'm still staying faithful to my diet. I've lost 19 pounds since the beginning of January! A day to treat myself (and see my friends!) will be a nice break for my birthday! One of my gifts to myself this year is a new pair of walking shoes. My old ones are worn out, and a nice new pair should help inspire me to walk further and more often. I hope so.

The school year is winding down. When I go back to work on Monday, we'll be in our final quarter of this year. I can't believe we're only 9-10 weeks away from being done. And there's a week of spring break in there that doesn't count (at Easter). On Friday we had a professional development day in the district, so students had the day off. Besides one hour long virtual training session for clerical staff at 8am, I had the rest of the day to catch up on work before getting off a half hour earlier than usual. The teachers were in the library all day listening to presentations be our principal's mentor. And speaking of our principal: she announced to the teachers on Friday morning that she's been diagnosed with breast cancer. She said she begins treatment next week. I have no idea what this means for our school for the remainder of this year. 

It's always something, this year. Thank goodness it will be over at the end of May!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


 For at least a week now I've been dealing with pain in my right ear. I haven't had an earache since I was a child, and it's been awful. This morning I woke up and knew I had to go do something about it.

My regular doctor couldn't see me for a couple of days, and urgent care costs a fortune, so I decided to give my allergist's office a call. The nurse said that Dr. Stone would be happy to look at it whenever I came in for my weekly allergy shot. So I called off work today and went up there right before lunchtime, and the doctor saw me right away--no waiting! What a treasure he's turned out to be!

Apparently, I have an infection in the outer ear canal, and he saw the cause of it, too. I've developed eczema inside that ear! I didn't know that was possible. I've also been having a terrible eczema flare on my ankles, and Dr. Stone looked at that and decided that there's an infection setting in there, too. I'm getting antibiotic ear drops and an oral antibiotic, too. Well, maybe. The pharmacy called and the ear drops are out of stock and won't be in until APRIL. Of course, I can't wait that long. My ear hurts really bad. So I called the doctor's office and left a message that I need some alternative prescribed. I'm still waiting to hear back.

I've been in bed most of the day. I feel awful and my ear is worse than ever. I sure hope I can get something tonight. I don't think I can bear to go back to work tomorrow if I've still got such bad ear pain. 

Have you ever had an ear infection as an adult? 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Sunday evening stroll

 Even when it's cold and misting rain outside, these two count on getting their after-supper walk. 


Saturday, March 11, 2023

Recap of the week

 This week, in bullet points.

  • Work has been tough. Student behavior among middle-schoolers always seems to be at its worst in early spring, but this year has been a disaster on a whole other level. More fights, huge classroom disruptions, four incidents in the past week alone where kids were threatening teachers and staff, and on and on. While I'm luckier than most in that I have a quiet, private office to work in, even the stress of my job is getting worse. I have to hold regular truancy interventions with families, and you wouldn't believe the cans of worms THOSE often open up. I'm on the phone at least once a week with DSS making reports of child neglect (educational and otherwise), and I have to schedule and prepare paperwork for all of our expulsion hearings this year, too. (Processing discipline referrals is part of my job along with attendance and record keeping). It can all be very unpleasant, to say the least, when you work in a school with such tough demographics. Our student poverty rate is up around 70% which explains all the other problems, I suppose.
  • I still haven't heard anything about the job I applied for. It's still listed on the district website as open, and I hope that since the job won't start until July they're just taking their time about filling it. But I've decided the best thing to do now is to forget about it and keep looking. I was sad to learn that four more teachers I've known for years and (and really like) have accepted offers elsewhere. This makes 15 teachers that I know of who can't or won't continue working at our school next year. I don't know how we're going to function given the teacher shortage (and our school's reputation).
  • WINTER IS COMING BACK. Because of course it is. It's going to get down to freezing a couple of nights next week, and I'm trying to figure out how to save the new young leaves and flowers on the crabapple, fig, and blueberries. Late freezes are pretty common in the spring, but what's not common is how far along everything already is due to the warm winter. If you can even call it a winter this year! 
  • At least the plants I started in the house are safe. I've already had to start potting up tomato plants and they're growing like mad under the aquatic grow light Gregg found for me to use. Soon I'll be out of room inside, but at least we have the porch to keep them on until they acclimate to the outdoors, and the weather is consistently warm.
  • Marco is driving us crazy. He's having some problematic breeding behaviors that we can't seem to stop. Gregg would tell you the main problem is his screaming for attention. (It makes him furious, and it is awful to listen to). But if you ask me, the main problem is that he tries to "feed" a pretend girlfriend as part of his mating behaviors, and that involves puking up food...wherever he can. We've removed all toys from his cage, and so now he regurgitates onto the side of his food and water dishes. I have to wash them multiple times a day and this has been going on for weeks now. It's pretty gross, not to mention, time consuming. If only it were possible to spay or neuter birds!
Last of all, here's a picture of my two sweet pups. They go nuts with happiness and excitement every day when I get home from work. Often this is the very best part of my day.

They were both vying for the chance to lick my feet after I took my shoes off the other day. That's true love!

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Saturday evening in springtime

Good Saturday evening, everyone! 

It's been absolutely gorgeous here today despite the pollen covering everything. We're  smack in the middle of pollen season (already!), meaning everything has been absolutely covered in a thick layer of the greenish-yellow stuff, but last night we got high winds and then a heavy rain and so (for the moment at least) everything looks washed clean and fresh. It won't last, but for a few hours at least the pollen was tamed.

Here's an actual image taken from the air off the coast of Myrtle Beach last week. Look at that massive film of yellow on the surface of the water!

Thank goodness that I didn't test positive for any allergies to tree pollen. My triggers were grass, dust, mold, cats, and dogs. People that are allergic to pine and oak are really suffering right now and I'm glad I managed to escape that, at least. I've been going faithfully for my weekly allergy shots for months now, so hopefully soon I won't react to anything anymore! 

The early spring progress continues. Early flowering trees like Japanese magnolia are past done and already getting a flush of new green leaves. Yellow jessamine is already rampant and wisteria has started to bloom. Even the daffodils are past their prime, and it's only the first week of March! 

I forget what these flowering shrubs in the front of our house are called, but aren't they pretty right now?

Another view:

Here's my newest finished garden project: a cage to protect the tender new crabapple leaves (once they appear) from hungry deer. It's firmly staked down with three metal garden stakes, and I think it should do the trick. Take that, deer!

Speaking of garden projects, a few of my tomato seedlings are almost big enough to pot up! The peppers didn't germinate at all, so I'll be trying again with those tomorrow.

The lettuce, radishes, and carrots are already sprouting in the raised bed. It won't be long before I'll have fresh salads to add to my daily lunches. I'm really excited about that.

Is it spring yet where you are? Or are you still buried in snow, ice, and frost? If so, I apologize for my photos. I'm not trying to rub it in, I promise!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

What are YOU reading?

 The administration at my school got the idea to provide all of the teachers and staff with one of these laminated signs to hang outside of their doors/offices to kick off Read Across America week. Dry erase markers can be used to update them with your name and whatever you're reading at the moment to encourage students to read more. Every staff member got one in their mailbox. 

I happened to be in the room where the mailboxes are housed when one of my favorite teachers came in, pulled hers out, and smirked. "Job listings" she said. Ha!

I've heard that the people I listed as references for the new job I've applied for have gotten reference checks for me. This morning I decided to email the person I'd be reporting to, to introduce myself and let her know I have a strong interest in meeting with her to discuss the position. Fingers crossed that I'll get an interview, but even if I don't, I've done everything I can. It's out of my hands at this point so all that's left to do is hope for the best!

And to keep reading those job listings.......

Friday, February 24, 2023

Calling all book lovers!

Do you love books? Do you love to read books FOR FREE?! If so, then have I got a site for you to explore!

If you go to this site and register for a free account, and then click on "books" (at the top left) and then "open library" you can find almost ANYTHING you care to read for FREE! There's a "borrow for one hour" button at the top that you can click to renew as often as you like. It's the easiest thing ever. 

The only books I've had trouble finding are those that have been very recently published. Anything back before 2019 or so, though, should be there. And the (almost) best part is that old books that are long out of print are there, too. The selection is vast. If you love to read and have a limited budget for buying books, this site is a game changer! I've been burning through books at an almost unheard of rate since discovering this treasure trove!

Check it out. You can thank me later!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Warm temperatures, early spring, garden work

The temperatures today and tomorrow will almost hit record highs: 80 and 85 degrees! Unbelievable weather for February, even around here. And we're known for getting freezes as late as the end of March (and mid-April one memorable year) so that's going to pose a real danger to all the blooming fruit trees for the next few weeks. Everything is early, as I mentioned yesterday. I sure hope the state's peach crop doesn't suffer a late freeze! I love and look forward to fresh peaches in the summer.

Anyway, as odd as it is to wear shorts at this time of year, I won't deny I'm really enjoying myself. The dogs are, too, judging by how much time they're spending either on the screened porch or out in the backyard. I took them both for a good walk this morning, and we all enjoyed that. 

"Just take the damn picture already!"

On Monday I called a local greenhouse/plant nursery and asked about blueberry bushes. More specifically, another rabbiteye variety that I can plant for cross pollination with the three I planted last year. The woman I spoke with said she'd have the fruit tree expert call me back, and this morning he did. A nice guy named Ryan who seems to know a lot about blueberries, and it so happened he had the very variety I was looking for in stock! He told me he'd put the two best ones on hold for me, since I didn't plan to go out there today.

A couple of hours later I got a call from a sweet lady who works in records at the district office, asking me for a favor. She needed a student's birth certificate scanned and emailed to her, and the student goes to our school. I really like this lady (she's been very kind and helpful to me this school year) so I agreed to go up to my school and take care of it. It only took a minute, and since I was out and about anyway, I decided to go pick up my blueberries before coming back home. Now I have a total of five blueberry bushes! Two Premier, two Climax, and one Pink Lemonade. I'm looking forward to lots of blueberries in the next year or two once they gain some real size.

Yesterday I fertilized all of our fruit trees, the three original blueberries, the fig, the crabapple, and the pomegranate. With these warm temperatures I don't think it's too early. Later this afternoon I'm going to plant the new blueberries and then sow some lettuce in the raised bed. Maybe some carrots and radishes, too. Early spring salads will be nice.

I also started a few more tomato and pepper seeds yesterday since they've been so slow to germinate. Now that I've got extra seeds started they'll probably all pop up at once and leave me with too many extras (like last year). I can always find someone to give seedlings away to, though. In fact, I had a great conversation with Ryan about heirloom tomatos, so I may take him a plant or two in a few weeks as a "thank you" for the fruit tree advice he gave me. 

I'm lucky to have had such nice weather during my time off for garden work. Alas, the daffodils I planted didn't come back this year. I'm pretty convinced the deer ate them, which reminds me of something: I've got to get to work building a wire cage to go around the tiny crabapple tree. Once it starts growing leaves the deer will have a feast if I don't do something! So there's my next garden project for this upcoming weekend, a deer-proof cage. If only I could completely forget about doing housework and concentrate on the garden! I'd much rather work outside than in.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Getting my hands dirty

We haven't had much of a winter in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina this year. Except for a cold snap in late October (I think), and one bitterly cold week over Christmas, it's been very mild and wet. Everything seems to be blooming extra early. 

I couldn't resist sharing another picture of Luella's tree with you. I took this yesterday while out walking the dogs.

I'm itching to get to work in the garden, and in fact I started yesterday. First, I picked the small baby collard greens I'd planted back in October. They never got very big, and most of the seed I sowed didn't come up. So this bundle was my first and only harvest of collards this year:

I trimmed and washed them and put them in the refrigerator. I'm planning to cook them tonight; we'll see how they taste. After pulling up the collards, I got to work with my hoe and tackled the weeds that had sprung up in the bed. After they were uprooted and tossed aside, I turned over the top layer of soil, breaking up any dense areas. Last of all I smoothed everything out with a rake. Now the bed is clean and ready to go for the new year!

I went to Lowe's midafternoon yesterday and purchased several large bags of compost.  I spread a layer of it a couple of inches deep over the top of the bed to hopefully enrich the soil. 

Speaking of compost! I have a compost bin! With Gregg's help I built it yesterday. It was the simplest design ever: three pallets at right angles to each other, secured with heavy duty zip ties. I had a roll of chicken wire that we stapled all around the inside to help hold everything in, and except for a top, it's done.

As you can see, it's not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it will be functional. That's the important thing, right? And if, for some reason, it doesn't work out, it will be very easy to take apart. The best part is that it cost me less than $20 to build. I only had to buy zip ties to hold it together and a strong staple gun for the wire. 

The tomato and pepper seeds I started a week ago are slow in germinating. So far, I have only three tomato sprouts and zero peppers. I've added a heating pad underneath the tray they're in to hopefully help things along, but I think today I'm going to start some extra seeds just in case. I'm not used to such slow germination and I don't want to be planting out late. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

A sweet kind of day

Happy Saturday everyone! I woke up in a great mood this morning because it's a bright sunny day and the beginning of a week off! Now I can sit down and enjoy my blog and catch up with all my blogger buddies.

Last week I put up a post, complaining about work, but then after a wise word of advice from Joanne I unpublished it. The last thing I need is to have someone I work with stumble upon my blog and take offense at something I've been venting about! In fact, I went back and unpublished some other recent posts. Better safe than sorry, and all my regular readers know about the issues I've had this year anyway. Suffice to say that things haven't gotten much better, and I'm still looking for a promotion elsewhere. No one can argue with a person wanting to better themselves, right? *

I started my tomato and pepper seeds on Sunday afternoon! I want them to be a good planting-out size by mid-April. Next week while I'm off I plan to sow lettuce and spinach in part of the raised bed, fertilize the fig tree and blueberry bushes, and attempt to build a compost bin out of wooden pallets. Gregg's been bringing them (the pallets) home from the pet store for me. Even someone of my limited (nonexistent, really) building skills should be able to attach hinges, hammer in nails, and screw in screws. Directions for simple bins are all over the internet, and I need a good, free source of compost! So we'll see what I can throw together. Of course I'll share pictures of the finished project if I manage to build something use-able.

I've been on a bit of a reading spree lately. I haven't posted a book review in a long time, but I'd like to write one or two next week if time allows. My book club met last week, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this month's selection enough to even finish it. I mainly went to see everyone and to partake (sparingly) of the treats. I'm still plugging along with my efforts to lose weight and get healthier, and it's working! Since the beginning of January, I've lost 15 pounds! And less exciting (but just as important) the last time I had my blood pressure checked it was the best it had been in over a year. I've just been eating very sensibly, walking more, and avoiding alcohol, and it's working without too much angst on my part. I've just got to keep sticking with it, and hopefully this will be a very good year for my health. 

I'll end on some photos I've taken recently with my phone. Have a great day, everyone!

Luella's glorious tree is in full bloom next door. We sure miss her.

When a small budding branch hanging over the road got knocked down by a car, I brought in a small bit to see if the flowers would open in water. As you can see, they did!

Our neighborhood turkey, Theodora, paid our yard a visit last week. Yes, she's still around.

Flowers I got for Valentine's Day, and also a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts I picked up this morning. Marla and her little girl Carsen are coming over this afternoon to share the sweet treats with me! (We had gotten a K.K. gift card at Christmas, and I've been saving it for a special occasion since I'm on a diet. Whatever we don't eat this afternoon will go home with Marla and Carsen}.

*On Wednesday an open position was posted on the district website that I'm interested in. It would be at another school, and would also be a promotion for me. Please wish me luck! I had to submit three references, and the three people I asked were all very encouraging. One of them was the principal who first hired me. After she left our school, she got promoted to one of the top positions in the district. When I called her and asked to use her as a reference, she said she would be "delighted" to do that for me. Then she said, "You would do a great job at that school!". That made me feel so good! Even if this particular job doesn't work out, with so many good references and people looking out for me, sooner or later something will. 

Friday, February 17, 2023


Hooray! It's my last day of work before winter intercession--I have next week off. I love the frequent breaks we get as part of our "modified year round" school schedule.

The break is sorely needed. I look forward to catching up with my blog reading here, and having the time to sit down and write some blog posts of my own. It's been a while, hasn't it? 

So I'm wishing everyone a good day, and I'll be back tomorrow to start catching up.


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Seed order

Oh, how I love a seed catalog in the depths of winter! This year I got two paper catalogs in the mail to pore over and plan my 2023 garden with: Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Today I finalized my plans and placed orders with both companies. It's hard to believe, but in a couple of weeks it will be time to start tomato and pepper seeds. I want them to reach a good size for planting out around mid-April. Things that can be started earlier will be sown directly in the soil (like lettuce, spinach, and radishes) and cucumbers can be started later in the spring. This year I'm planning to start cucumber seeds twice, ripping out the first plants when they're done producing and then replacing them with new seedlings. I want a large crop of cucumbers so I can try my hand at making pickles--I love pickles, both dill and sweet. And of course I'm dreaming of salsas and sauces with my peppers and tomatoes!

Here are the tomatoes I've decided on for this year:

Nebraska Wedding

Eva Purple Ball

Rosso Sicilian

Berkeley Tie Dye

Hillbilly Potato Leaf

Ingleheart Yellow Cherry

Mexico Midget Cherry

As for peppers, I ordered three kinds:

Zapotec Jalapeno

Datil Hot Pepper

Sheepnose Pimento

I also reordered the wonderful "Marvel of the Four Seasons" lettuce that I enjoyed so much last year, and for cucumbers I decided to get the "Boston Pickling" variety which have always grown well for me. 

Here's hoping for a great 2023 growing season!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Church ladies

There's a certain breed of little old ladies here in the South that are slowly going away, never to be replaced. I was thinking of this the other day when I read Tom's recent post titled "Vanished ladies". The women I'm talking about are very different in some ways than the ones he describes, but I understand his nostalgia when he thinks of them.

My friend Marla's grandma is a good example. Miss Mildred (around here we call elderly folks Miss or Mr. Firstname as a mark of respect) is 94 years old and the matriarch of her family. She's gentle, sweet, soft spoken, and in the old-fashioned sense of the word, a real lady. On the other hand, she grew up on a farming family of modest means (like most people of her generation around here) and knew all about hard work.  In her old age she's become one of what we call "little church ladies" because they're deeply involved in the workings of their church, doing lots of unpaid (and underappreciated) tasks behind the scenes. 

My neighbor was one such lady. She passed away unexpectedly last weekend.

Miss Luella was a couple of months shy of her 84th birthday. One of her daughters called me last Monday to give me the sad news and thanked me for being "a good neighbor" to her mama. I was shocked to hear what had happened to her. Apparently, she went out to get her mail on the previous Friday afternoon and stumbled coming back up the steps to her door. When she stumbled, she fell and hit her head on the headrail. She went inside and told her daughter (who had been staying with her for the past year) what had happened, and insisted she was fine. Nothing hurt, she felt good, and she didn't even have a bruise. She was fine all that night, fine all day Saturday, and Sunday morning drove herself to church, still feeling fine. 

On Sunday night, all of a sudden, she said she'd developed a bad headache. Her daughter asked her how bad, based on a scale of 1-10. Luella said, "Eight. I sure hope I'm not having a stroke!" Of course, the daughter called an ambulance. By the time it arrived, she was becoming unresponsive, and was brain dead within the hour. In the early hours of Monday morning. there was nothing left to do but take her off life support. She was gone.

You probably know where this story is headed. Miss Luella had an undiagnosed brain bleed from her fall two days prior. The doctors said that even had they known about it, they probably couldn't have prevented her death. The capillaries in her brain were thin due to age, and she was taking a lot of blood thinners.  

I've been so sad about this all week. The night after she died one of her young adult grandsons rang our doorbell to give us the news, not realizing his aunt has already told us. He cried and said that Gregg and I had been really good neighbors to his grandma and thanked us again for looking out for her. (We didn't do much; usually Gregg would try to roll her big garbage can out to the street on the morning of pickup and then back under the carport afterwards, and occasionally I'd stop by with tomatoes or lettuce from the garden or we'd chat over the back fence like neighbors do). She had a large, tight knit family that were always gathering at her house. She was lucky in that respect. I guess she was lucky, too, to live such a long happy life surrounded by loved ones, and then to die so suddenly and easily without any real declining health to make her last days miserable. 

She's going to be dearly missed as a neighbor. She bought the house next door to ours back in 1971 with her late husband, so she's been here longer than I've been alive. Her house is the one with the magnificent magnolia tree that blooms so beautifully each spring. It already has big fuzzy buds all over it, just waiting to burst into its spring finery. And for the first time in over 50 years, she won't be here to see it.

I posted this photo on Facebook last year and tagged Luella. I said, "Your tree is glorious, as usual!" and she replied, "Thanks! It is. Only God could make something so beautiful. Happy that you're enjoying the tree with me."

May she rest in peace.

 FLORENCE – Luella Morris Caulder, 83, died Monday, January 23, 2023, after a brief illness.

          Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Northgate Baptist Church followed by entombment in Florence Memorial Gardens Mausoleum.  The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, at Waters-Powell Funeral Home.

          Mrs. Caulder was born in Lake City, SC, a daughter of the late Clarence Douglas and Eula Mae Morris Clark.  She graduated from Lake City High School as class salutatorian in 1957.  She was the attendance clerk at Savannah Grove Elementary School in Florence for 29 years.

          She was an active member of Northgate Baptist Church and sang in the church choir.

          In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, Raymond Nathaniel Caulder.

          Surviving are her children, Wendy Caulder Davis, Jill Caulder, and Douglas Caulder (Kelly), all of Florence.  She is also survived by her grandchildren, whom she loved dearly, Johanna Davis Jones (Steven) of Darlington, Evan Caulder, Harrison Caulder, and Kathryn Caulder, all of Florence; her sister, Miriam Blackmon, of New Zion, SC; great-grandchildren, Gaven Yarborough, Bailey Yarborough, Carson Yarborough, Gavin Jones, and Kennedy Jones; a great-great-grandchild, Levi Felder; and a number of nieces and nephews.

          Memorials may be made to Northgate Baptist Church, 1217 N. Ebenezer Rd., Florence, SC  29501.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Dinner date

After work today I met up with my favorite kid (and his mom) for Mexican food. It was so good to see them both!

In the middle of dinner Little P. said to us, "You two sound just like the girls at my school. Talk, talk, talk....about other people!" I replied, "Are you saying that your mom and I are gossiping?" and he said, "YUP!"


I love that little boy to bits. He always makes me laugh!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Girl Boss

When we adopted Poppy last spring, we thought she was going to grow up to be a small, sweet, and somewhat meek dog. We didn't hear her bark once the first week we had her, and she was so little!

Now she's a year old, and we couldn't have been more wrong. She's got a big personality (my husband calls her "bossy") and she's not one to take on a secondary role. When we first got George, he followed Ginger's lead in everything, but we thought that was just because of the age difference. He's such a big strong fellow that we just assumed that a new puppy, particularly a female, would fall behind him in the pecking order. Even though he's older, and a male, he pretty much always takes a step back and lets her go first in everything.  You can see it in pictures:   


Somehow, we've ended up with two dominant female dogs who think they rule the roost! George doesn't seem to mind, though. In fact, him and Poppy are now best friends!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Check your spam!

I think Blogger is acting up again. I found some friends' comments in my spam folder, and I've noticed some comments I left on other blogs this morning never showed up. 

If that's been a problem for you in the past, you might want to check!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Last Saturday

Last Saturday I met a friend early in the morning for a cup of coffee and a walk afterwards. There's a new(ish) coffee shop right around the corner from my house that has access to a hiking trail nearby. My friend and I settled down with our black coffees (we're both trying to cut down on sugar and lose some weight) in the bustling little cafe and had a chat before going on our walk.

Naturally, the subject of work came up. I confided that the day before I'd heard someone (who would know) mention that the school secretary makes $***** per year. This is the secretary whose job our new principal asked me if I was interested in, set up a time to meet with me and talk about it, and then hired the day before our interview. I'd gotten over not being given a chance at the job, but then when I found out what a huge increase in salary it would have been for me, I got mad all over again. It felt good to vent to a friend about it. 

But then, in the course of the conversation I mentioned how much of a difference making almost double my current salary would make in my life. My friend stared at me for a few seconds with something like astonishment (and horror) written all over her face and then exclaimed, "You mean you only make $***** a year?!"  Um....yes. 

She sat looking at me for a few more seconds, made a few halfhearted suggestions about asking for a raise, and then completely changed the subject. She spent the next 20 minutes or so talking about her upcoming trip to Mexico (her third international trip in less than two years). I finally interrupted to say we'd better start on our walk if we were going to get one that day. I didn't feel like listening to her talk anymore right then.

I'll be honest, the whole exchange stung a little bit. I know she didn't mean to hurt my feelings; she was just too surprised to be tactful. But here's the thing: wouldn't a real friend understand without being told that a school attendance clerk makes a whole lot less money than a university faculty member? And she's married to an engineer, to boot! It's hard to believe she's never noticed the difference in our lifestyles, but she does tend to be a bit self-absorbed. Well intentioned, but self-absorbed. 

I also know I'm a bit over sensitive where money is concerned. I grew up poor, and as a kid it embarrassed me. I guess that's what triggered the small wave of shame I felt when she acted so shocked that I don't make more money. I'm approaching 50 years old and I'm still dealing with emotional issues from my childhood, which seems ridiculous. Does it ever end?

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Frustrations abounding

What a week it's been! I guess you could say it's not been the most auspicious start to a new year.

My car, which wouldn't crank on New Year's Eve, had to be towed half a mile to the Toyota dealership for repair. This couldn't happen until Monday because of the holiday, so I took a personal day off work (the first day after the break) to deal with it. We thought it seemed like a dead battery, but we own an electric charger, and it showed the battery as being fully functional. That wasn't the case, though. Apparently, a battery can be so dead that it won't show as being bad on a meter and it can't be jumped off. Or so says one of the mechanics, anyway. After the towing fee and a new battery, I was out $350--but at least I'm back on the road again. 

I decided last month that I was going to attempt to eat better, walk a whole lot more, and give up alcohol entirely from now until my birthday in late March. I know I need to take better care of my health, and I definitely need to lose weight, so (as is my wont when I make up my mind about something) I jumped in whole heartedly last Sunday. Well, I haven't missed the alcohol, but the sudden change in my eating habits has been difficult. I'm afraid of developing diabetes; my mom did about 10 years ago, and it's been hard on her. With that in mind, I decided to cut way back on empty carbs devoid of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. No chips, sweets, wine, sodas, or meals heavy on pasta, bread, or white rice. I'm not doing the super low carb/keto thing; I think those diets are dangerous and not for me, but I'm still eating way fewer carbs than ever before. The first few days have been rough. Mild depression/flat mood, difficulty falling and staying asleep, vivid (and unsettling) dreams, and worst of all...bouts of painful diarrhea the past three mornings. (Sorry if that's tmi). I've been eating well but the changes to my diet have been so drastic that I guess it's been a shock to my digestive system....and all my other systems, too. Today seems a little better, fingers crossed that my body is starting to adjust. I want to feel better, not worse!

I've been looking forward to telling you about this next thing. Everybody seems to love my bird Marco, and I'll admit he's a real character. Everyone loves a good Marco story! Well, here's one for you.

Thursday afternoon I was on my way home from my weekly allergy shot, and I got a text from Gregg. 

Let me show you that picture close up. 

I was horrified, because I knew that meant that Marco had somehow escaped his cage while we were at work.* That's only happened once before since we've had him, and he'd gone on a rampage. I knew it was going to be bad. 

He'd started in the pantry. He tore into the bag of walnuts (his favorite) and made a mess all over with them. He also chewed holes in the bread bag and an oatmeal cream pie wrapper. At some point he hurled the chewed-on oatmeal pie, a can of salt, and some spices to the floor.

If the damage had ended there, we'd have considered ourselves lucky, but no. He moved on to the dining room. That's where he really did some damage.

Behold my (former) best orchid, the one that had a long stalk of flowers getting ready to open.

That was heartbreaking. That orchid was my pride and joy.

For his final trick, Marco had flown over to a floor lamp and knocked the shade askew. That actually turned out to be a good thing, because when Gregg went over to straighten it, it shot sparks straight up in the air. It was an old lamp and there must have been a short in the wiring, because the shade getting knocked around couldn't have caused that. Thank goodness it didn't start a fire**, or electrocute Marco, or both. At least something good came of Marco's adventures, but despite that Gregg and I were both pretty pissed off in the moment. 

So that's how 2023 has started for me. 

*Just like last time, the latch on the front door of Marco's cage hadn't been firmly closed, and he was able to push the door right open.

**Our second recent brush with faulty wiring that could have started a fire (last month it was the pre-lit Christmas tree). Could this be a sign?