Friday, June 30, 2023

Soaking in summer

I'm approaching the last week of my summer vacation. As a now 220-day employee, I'll be going back to work on July 10th. I can't believe it's almost time to start, the last month has flown by. My only plan for next week is to enjoy every bit of summer fun possible. Not that summer will be over on the 10th by any means, but I expect be so busy and preoccupied the first few weeks at this new job that I won't notice much of it.

Wednesday afternoon I went swimming for the first time this year. My friend Marian has a nice saltwater pool, and she and her husband are generous in inviting friends over anytime to swim. The cool water felt wonderful, as it always does this time of year! I've been invited back tomorrow (provided the weather cooperates) and I plan to take her up on it.

I'll have a nice tan by the time I go back to work, between the pool and being out in my garden. I'd like to be able to wear cool dresses and skirts with bare legs to work while it's still so hot out, and my legs will look better with at least a little tan on them. I'm careful not to overdo the sun exposure, though. 

I've been eating a lot of fresh fruit. The Food Lion down the street has been getting in the most delicious honeydew melons, and I went to the farmer's market and bought strawberries, blueberries, and fresh peaches the other day. Before heading to my friend's house and the pool I made guacamole and fruit salad to share. One shouldn't arrive empty handed, right? 

The fruit salad was as tasty as it was pretty. :)

What else? I'm watching soapy tv shows that my husband wouldn't like during the day while he's at work. This is an annual summer tradition for me. This year I'm watching The Mayfair Witches on AMC+, a show based on Anne Rice's book The Witching Hour. They changed a bunch of stuff (although I supposed they had to, the book is an absolute tome coming in at over 1000 pages) and they even "combined" some characters to move the story along, but it's fun and mindless and fills some time in the long hot afternoons. I've also been doing a lot of reading. 

The dogs and Marco are so happy when I'm at home all the time. They're all in for a sad letdown very soon! I had to take both dogs to the vet last week. George had inflamed and infected ears, as well as allergies and a rash on his belly, and Poppy suddenly started scratching herself raw around her eyes. She's apparently developing some allergies, too. Well, both dogs got exams, ear slide tests, medicines, and George got a big shot of prednisone. Poor George also had to be muzzled to let the vet medicate his ears (they were so painful, and he was so distressed we were afraid he'd bite someone otherwise) and I had to take him back in a week for a second dose to be administered. The bill for everything came to almost $500. That was a hard pill to swallow (ha!) after paying for a new roof earlier this month, but what could we do? The dogs needed help, and they're both feeling much, much better now.  (Gregg said, "They'd better be!")

One last bit of news is that my dad is doing a little better at the moment. He's been up and around and has responded well to his latest treatments. My mom sounded almost giddy with relief when I called yesterday to check on them. Please send all good vibes our way for it all to continue for awhile! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Midsummer greetings!

We've been doing an inventory of the animals we've been seeing or hearing around the neighborhood lately. It's apparently the time of year for new babies:

  • Every night for a couple of weeks now we hear two baby Barred Owls calling to their parents for food. It's a thin, high-pitched screech. We've seen the babies a few times, too. Power lines across the street from our house (close to a streetlight) are favored perching spots. 
  • Yesterday I spotted two baby deer standing in a neighbor's back yard. The property is bounded on the back side by a small, wooded lot, so I'm guessing they stay in there during the day. They're beautiful little creatures! My neighbor, Heather, saw one of the fawns along with its mother in her yard one evening last week. 
  • Bluebirds have another nest in our box right now, and from the frantic sounds of the babies inside, it won't be long before they fledge. There was an earlier brood nesting in there last month, but of course we have no idea if it's the same parent pair or not. There are lots of bluebirds around here.
  • Thanks to all the rain we've had over the last week, the nearby creek is alive with a frog chorus at night. 

Marco on the porch during a rainstorm.

My garden is really coming along. It's awfully late this year, but I'm hoping my patience is about to be rewarded. We have loads of green tomatoes, small peppers, and cucumbers. Another couple of weeks and we should have more produce than we know what to do with. Here's hoping, anyway! :)  I'm planning to make pickles and salsas and hot sauce with any extras.

And I just love all the flowers!

Two bees share a single blossom of Bee Balm.

Another baby: a tiny grasshopper on a marigold.

The latest zinnia...

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Random odds and ends

I have nothing special to blog about at the moment, so today will just be random odds and ends.

First of all, how did I forget to mention that the 12th was our seventeenth wedding anniversary?! We didn't do anything special except hang out at home and talk about how lucky we are. The original plan was to visit one of the many state parks we haven't seen yet, and take a picnic lunch, but the weather was supposed to be bad, and we decided not to risk it. The dire predictions of wind, hail, and flooding rain never happened, though. We may try again this coming week. As far as doing anything that costs money, we can't. The new roof we just had put on cost us thousands of dollars, so for this year at least, it will have to serve as our "anniversary gift". And that's okay. Our home has been steadily rising in value over the four years since we bought it, and anything that adds to its value is a good investment. We're on track to pay off our mortgage in another 8 years, what with the extra payments we scrimp and save to make towards the principle. Once it's paid off, we'll be in a good position to travel and spend more "fun money". Hopefully.

The dogs are super itchy right now. I'm beginning to think we're going to have to take them to the vet for allergy shots next week. I gave them both baths and dosed them with Benadryl yesterday, but poor Poppy still has red, swollen eyes. Just like home ownership, pet ownership is always costing us money!

Eyeing my sandwich the other day. Beggars, both of them!

Sweet George.

My garden is really starting to grow, now. We'll be harvesting tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers soon. The other day I picked the last of the lettuce, a gallon size Ziploc bag full. No more leafy greens will be possible until the fall.

My "marigold mulch" is blowing up! We have cheerful orange flowers all around and between the food plants. So far so good.

And my zinnias from last year have re-seeded themselves! I love these easy, cheerful flowers. 


PS: Update on my finger: it's much better now that it's been two weeks since the accident. I still put a waterproof bandage on it when I shower, but otherwise it's mostly ok. I'll have a scar, but at least it's healing cleanly. You better believe I'm super careful when I use my new knives these days!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

In other family news

On Gregg's side of the family, there's some happy news to share.

Last month, our dear niece, Melissa, graduated (with honors) from law school! She's staying in Oregon for the foreseeable future and studying to take the bar later this summer. We're incredibly proud of her!

And next month, Melissa's older brother is getting married! This is our nephew Tyler with his sweet bride-to-be, Jessica. 

We're wishing the two of them a long and happy marriage! 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

One of those days

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I'm just going to put this out there: I'm not enjoying my break very much so far. As much as I like and need solitude, day after day of sitting at home alone while Gregg's at work is really starting to bother me. I'm recognizing some early signs of depression setting in and I'm not sure what to do about it. Some of it is triggered by stuff I have no control over.

A large part of the problem is that my dad is dying. I don't say that for sympathy, it's just a plain fact. He's been taken to the hospital in an ambulance three or four times in the past month, including this afternoon. His health problems are too numerous to go into here, but he's rapidly going downhill. My mom is doing the best she can to look after him (he really wants to die at home, if possible) but the strain is wearing on her. I try to offer support where and how I can, but there's not much to be done at this point. I hate thinking about what life's going to be like when my dad's no longer around. And it's heartbreaking to watch him suffer.  I'm having a hard time with it all. 

Besides the family stress, I just feel generally dull and unhappy. I've been sleeping too much, and for the past week I've struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Mostly I lie there until around noon. Some of it is almost surely hormonal. I have all the classic signs of perimenopause and certain times of the month (like today) I'm have a hard time functioning. I suppose a chat with my doctor is probably in order. 

Nothing like facing the loss of a parent along with evidence of your own aging and physical decline, huh?

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

First week of summer break

It's the first full week of my summer break, and I'm trying to concentrate on enjoying myself. I've already done plenty of reading, napping, and hanging out in the garden, and there's still a full month left. I'm trying to soak up every bit of relaxation possible during this pause between jobs, because once I go back to work, I'm going to have a steep learning curve to get over. 

Thanks for all the concern about my finger (see last post). I'm happy to report I still have 10 of them despite my shenanigans with the knife! I never did go to the doctor. It seems to be healing okay, although it's still a pretty awful looking wound. There are no signs of infection, though, which is the main thing. I wash and rebandage it twice a day, and it's coming along better than I expected.  Typing without the use of the one finger is difficult, though. This will probably be a short post!

The little party with my girlfriends went well. We had a load of good food, and I made punch that we mixed with champagne and sipped while sitting on the back porch. There's nothing like spending time catching up with old friends. :)

The Greek pasta salad I suffered (and nearly lost a finger!) for just prior to 
mixing in feta cheese and chopped romaine lettuce. It was delicious, at least!

A very bad picture of really tasty food: ham and Swiss puff pastry roll ups, brushed with lots of butter and sprinkled with sesame seeds. 

Desserts! Chocolate eclair cake made by Martina, pound cake made by me, and strawberries from the farm down the road.

Five Fruit Celebration Punch with cheap champagne for mixing. Yum! Fun!

Fairy lights on the porch after dark.

Oh, and we got a new roof the day before the party. It looks great! The crew did good work and repaired/painted trim in addition to the roof. So we're thousands of dollars poorer now, but our house is in good shape! :) It's going to take diligent saving for the rest of this year (at least) to make up for such a big expense, but at least we're happy with it. 

So that's been my first week of summer break! I hope you all are well, and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

The finger and the party

Today I had planned to have Marla and Martina over for a little celebration. Martina has completed an internship in her journey to becoming a fully certified vet tech, and I, of course, have a new job. 

Yesterday I went shopping and got the ingredients for the food I was planning to prepare, but the only things I managed to finish were baking a pound cake from scratch and boiling some bow-tie pasta for a Greek pasta salad. When I went to start chopping veggies for the salad, I was careless and distracted, not to mention using a razor-sharp new knife....and I sliced a deep cut into the side of my left index finger. 

And oh my God, the blood! I don't think I've ever bled so much from a cut! The gash was pumping out so much blood that I started to get dizzy and nauseous. It got so bad I had to go lie down and elevate my feet to keep from passing out! I'm really glad Gregg was here. He ran and found a clean towel to wrap around my finger and hand with plenty of pressure. He got a cold wet cloth and dabbed my face and forehead with it until the danger of fainting passed.  Once the bleeding slowed down, he was all prepared to drive me to the ER for stitches. I probably should have gone, too, but once the bleeding finally stopped it was almost midnight and I just wanted to go to sleep. I guess I was worn out from all the drama. The towel my hand was wrapped in, as well as the white t-shirt I was wearing, had to be thrown away.

We had plenty of bandages and gauze, but the only tape Gregg could find was blue painter's tape. Stylish!!

A little while ago I very cautiously unwrapped the bandage from last night, and the cut looks pretty bad. Very deep. (I'll spare you the picture I took of it). But at least it's not bleeding, and I reapplied a coat of antibiotic gel to the wound before re-bandaging it. Stitches still might not be a bad idea, but I'd rather not go sit in the ER if I can help it. *

So needless to say, the girls and I won't be having our little party today. We've postponed until tomorrow, so I'll have time to (slowly, carefully) finish the food with only one good hand.

Injury aside, tomorrow will be better anyway because we're having our roof replaced today. A crew is on top of the house as I type this, hammering and nailing away. We'd been making plans to get the roof done for a while now, but only found out they were planning to come today at the last minute yesterday afternoon. Who wants to have friends around with all that noise and chaos going on? 

All in all, it's been quite the weekend so far!

*Have you ever chosen to let a bad cut heal without stitches that you maybe needed?