Sunday, December 31, 2023


I'll never forget how I'm spending New Year's Eve 2023. For two days now my dad's blood pressure and pulse have been so low as to be unmeasurable, but he's still (just barely) breathing. The hospice nurse that came out today was surprised that he's still holding on.

I told my mom that he's determined to see the new year in. My dad is tougher than I knew. 

Dad's getting very small doses of morphine here and there, and he seems comfortable and peaceful. I'm grateful for that. He still responds a little to voices and touch. It surely won't be long now.

I'll try to be back soon, but in the meantime, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you for another year of friendship and kindness.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Hanging in there

What a difference a good sleep makes.

I haven't been sleeping well lately; no surprise I supposed given everything that's going on. Most of last night wasn't much better. In addition to stress, I've started having some pre-menstrual sleep disturbances due to (probable) perimenopause. At this point in my cycle nowadays I wake up throughout the night drenched in sweat and then I shiver because it's cold and my nightclothes and hair are damp. I have stressful dreams, too. It was that way last night, but then at sunrise I dropped back off and slept like a stone for three more hours. Now I feel almost human again.

Thanks everyone for your support on my last couple of posts. I haven't responded to each of you individually because it's just too emotionally draining, but know that I appreciate all the kindness. 

A couple of book club friends have invited me to lunch in an hour, and I'm planning to go. I need to get out of the house for a few. I'm actually looking forward to going back to work next week because sitting at home stewing over everything isn't helping me or anybody else. Of course I'll take whatever time off my mom needs for me to be with her, but except for that I'd rather be busy and try to distract myself. Right now I'm just taking one day at a time and dealing with things as they come. 

Thanks again for all the kind words, everyone.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A hard day

 I'm so glad this holiday season is almost over. It's not really my favorite time of year to begin with, and this one has been especially painful.

I finally went to see my mom and dad today, now that the danger of spreading Covid is over. At my mom's suggestion I picked up a pizza on the way there for our lunch, but neither of us felt like eating it. One of the hospice nurses had been out early this morning, and my mom wanted to talk to me about what she'd said.

The nurse says dad is now "actively dying". She thinks he may only have a few days left to live. I wasn't particularly shocked at the news, but it still felt like a dagger in my heart. The kind nurse had offered to stay until I got there, to explain things to me, but mom had told her that it wasn't necessary. They're stopping all his medications (he's almost unable to swallow at this point) save for morphine drops to put under his tongue as needed and something else to keep him from feeling anxious. It almost certainly won't be long now. 

Mom also wanted to discuss plans for after dad dies. His wish is to be cremated, and mom doesn't think she can bear to have a funeral right away. She wanted to make sure I'd be okay with that; I'm actually more than okay with it. It's a relief. I can't stand the thought of funeral homes, and embalming, and having to see a bunch of people when we're dealing with grief. And the expensive of all that would be ridiculous, too. 

The plan is to have the cremation go ahead immediately and then at some point in the future having a small gravesite service where his ashes will be interred next to my grandparents. Something very simple, with family only, and after a little time has passed. I think it's a good plan.

I went in to see dad twice today. He woke up enough to talk to me a little both times. Before I left the second time I told him I loved him. He said, "I love you too. Take care of yourself." 

That "take care of yourself" gutted me.

 I had intended to stay with my mom for a little longer, but at that point I had to leave. I can't stand to cry in front of other people, even my mother, and I felt like I was about to choke. Of course I told mom I can come back any time she needs me, but right at that moment I had to get out of there. It was a sad ride home. I'm having a harder time with all this than I expected. 

I don't know if I'll see my dad again. My mom asked me if I wanted her to call me as soon as he dies so I can dash down to see him before his body is taken away.  I told her to call me if SHE needs me, and that I'll come right away, but that I don't necessarily want to see a lifeless shell. She understood. She just wanted to make sure she could honor my wishes and I respect her for that. 

It's a hard thing, saying goodbye to a parent. Tonight I feel like a sad little girl on the inside. My heart aches.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has dawned gloriously bright, sunny, and warm. It's supposed to get up to almost 70 degrees today, a big change from last year's frigid weather. 

We're both feeling totally well and recovered from Covid. We're still spending the holiday quietly at home, though. Some good food and sweets (slightly pared down from a typical year), walks with the dogs, movies, wine, and small glasses of eggnog laced with spiced rum are on the agenda. We'll be seeing family and friends later in the week. 

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2023


My dad was just in the hospital again. He came home last night, in very bad shape. 

His doctor has decided that there's nothing further that can be done for him. They've called in hospice and last night they delivered a hospital bed to my parents' house for him. 

I spoke to dad on the phone for a minute yesterday, and the only positive thing I can say about it is that he seemed to know who I was. Dementia has set in and a conversation is pretty much impossible. 

I dare not visit until Gregg and I both test negative for Covid, probably next week. He may or may not make it that long, depending on how this latest crisis plays out. He's had ups and downs regularly over the past year, but I don't know how much bounce back he's got left in him. 

At least now my mom will have the help she desperately needs to care for him. 

And at least he can die at home, which is what he wants.

I'm not posting this looking for sympathy, but as a way to document what's happening for future reference. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The C word (both of them)

After three years of testing myself every time I so much as got a sniffle, I was shocked when that second line popped up on the Covid test Friday afternoon. I almost hadn’t bothered taking a test at all, I was so sure it would be negative. I guess I'd gotten the stupid idea that I was immune after avoiding it all this time. I'd even put off getting the latest booster, which in hindsight was a real mistake. 

Puppies hanging out with me in the quarantine room.

I've been incredibly lucky; I've had colds worse than this. Mostly I ran a low-grade fever for a couple of days and felt kind of tired, along with a mild headache that came and went. There have been pretty much no respiratory symptoms, and today I feel mostly back to normal. 

But......last night Gregg started to shiver, and I took his temperature, and sure enough, he had a fever. Damn it! We tried to stay apart and be careful, but chances are I was contagious before my symptoms started. So far this morning he feels okay, and after taking a couple of Tylenol his temperature is normal. To be safe, he's headed to the doctor to confirm whether or not he's positive (we don't have any more home tests) and to get an antiviral if he is. Hopefully his symptoms will be as mild as mine, but we're not taking any chances. 

As grateful as I am that we're not any sicker, I'm sad that Christmas is pretty much going to be canceled. I missed the work Christmas party, as you know.  Then we had to cancel a planned visit from family on Sunday. My sister-in-law, Karen, was planning to come for the day along with our nephew Tyler and his wife Jessica. This was the second time we've had to cancel on them due to illness. Gregg was sick with some random virus over Thanksgiving when they first planned to come. 

Tomorrow I'll also have to miss my book club Christmas party. I had recommended the book we read this month, so I hate that I can't go. (I also missed book club last month when Gregg had the stomach virus thing). Then this coming Saturday Martina had planned to come over for our annual holiday book exchange--obviously that's not going to happen now either. And until Gregg and I both test negative, I can't go see my parents, because my dad's health is so poor that Covid would be very dangerous for him. 

I'd planned to spend a couple of days baking cookies and treats this week, but since we can't do anything or see anyone, and since we're not feeling great, I'm not going to bother. Hopefully I'll be able to mask up and go grocery shopping in another day or two, at least, because all we have to eat here at the moment are cans of soup, Saltine crackers, ginger ale, and Gatorade, all purchased hastily by Gregg over the weekend to keep us going while I was sick. Our empty fridge and pantry don't look very festive, that's for sure. 

I guess there's always next year.

Hey ho. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Just my damn luck! (Update)

4:30 pm...So it's finally happened. I have Covid. 

Well, today was a shorter day than I expected. 

Yesterday and last night I started feeling a tickle in my throat and a mild headache. Then I woke up throughout the night with body aches. When I got to work this morning the body aches got worse. Just to be on the safe side, I had the school nurse take my temperature. I really didn't think I was running a fever, plus I'd taken Motrin earlier for the aches.

But I was running a fever, despite the Motrin.

The nurse thought I should probably head home, since fever is a sign that someone is contagious. I was so disappointed to miss the holiday party!

And it's just my luck that I'm getting sick at the start of my break.

Half day

I'm heading out soon for a half day of work, followed by our staff Christmas luncheon, and then guess what...........

It's winter break, Baby! Woo! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Double gifts

It seems I have two different Secret Santas at work. It's only supposed to be one, but I've gotten two different gifts both days so far this week. I talked to the person who organizes it all, and she can't figure out why it's happening. No one has complained about not getting anything (at first we thought it must be some mistake). The most likely explanation at this point is that I have the one regular Secret Santa,  and the other is the administrative staff person who pulled my name who has decided to leave me gifts all week instead of the one bigger gift that's expected. I have a sneaking suspicion that the admin staff who got my name (and is leaving the extra gifts) is the assistant principal, Mrs. Smith. One of the gifts had a note on it that looks a little like her handwriting. Either that, or some random member of the staff has decided to shower me with some extra love!

I've also gotten a Christmas mug with hot chocolate mix and candy, a large bottle of my favorite soft drink with a huge bag of M&Ms, and a holiday themed dish towel.

I don't know what to think about all these gifts. I suppose it still might be some mistake, but I won't know until Friday when we reveal ourselves. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Why do I do this to myself?

Ah, the holidays. Every year I promise myself I'm not going to invest much money or effort into it, and every year it turns into a major headache anyway. And I don't even have all that much fun to show for it.

I overextended myself at work. First of all, back before Thanksgiving an email came out asking the staff if we wanted to participate in Secret Santa, which would involve drawing names and then leaving small ($5 and under) gifts and treats for the person Monday through Thursday of the week before winter break. Then on Friday, you'd do one last (slightly bigger) gift. I thought, "That might be fun." So I signed up.

Then a week or so later the guidance counselor sent out an email asking for volunteers to adopt a student whose family was struggling and provide some gifts. Well, I like to be charitable at Christmas, so I told her to sign me up. I didn't realize I would have a child all to myself to provide gifts for. 

THEN, the principal sent out an email just to the office and administrative staff, asking if we wanted to draw names for a gift exchange. Everyone else said yes, so I didn't want to be the odd one out. 

So of course I signed up for that too. 

To summarize, I volunteered myself to be responsible for:
  • Buying five gifts for my "Secret Santa" person, four totaling $20 and then the fifth being "bigger". (It's a third grade teacher that I've barely ever spoken to).
  • Buying all the gifts a child is likely to get this Christmas. For privacy reasons, all I know about said child is that it's a boy in the second grade who likes "action figures and WWE wrestling". Oh, and his shoe and clothing sizes. *
  • Buying a gift for our school librarian, a nice enough lady that I know nothing about. I heard that the minimum to spend is $15 and that there's no maximum. Jesus!
I decided to bite the bullet this afternoon and go get all the gifts from Target in one fell swoop. In case I've never never mentioned it here on the blog, I HATE SHOPPING. Hate it. Online shopping has become my best friend over the last couple of years for a reason. But I did it, and I'm proud to say I got everything I'll need to fulfill all the obligations I signed up for. I spent way too much money and I had NO CLUE how any of it will be received. At least it won't be weighing on my mind anymore, though. I can stash it all in my office at work and dole it out as appropriate.

All this, and I haven't done one single thing for my family or friends yet.

*I actually don't mind spending money on the child, it was just very difficult for me to shop for him. I know nothing about buying kids' toys and clothing, especially with the scant information I had. And I wish I'd spent all the money on him, and not on bullshit trinkets for coworkers. Sigh.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Breakfast with Santa

This whole first year at my new job is turning out to be a learning experience. There are many, many special events, field trips, holiday celebrations, and fundraisers that take place in an elementary school setting. As both the school secretary and bookkeeper (especially as the bookkeeper), the learning curve has been somewhat steep, but I'm really enjoying it. Over the past couple of weeks, in addition to my regular duties, it's been preparing for our annual "Breakfast with Santa" event. It takes place on a Saturday morning, with a pancake breakfast, crafts, storytimes, and one of the teacher's husbands dressed as Santa and taking photos with the children. It's a big deal, and let me tell you that a LOT of work (and expense) goes into pulling it off. 

When I found out that it's not just limited to students at Carver, I invited Marla and little Carsen (who attends a different elementary school in the district) to come. I bought Carsen's ticket as one of her early Christmas presents, and Marla and I took her yesterday. 

I was so glad I went! Not only did Carsen have a great time, but I got to see the result of my hard work these last two weeks. (Had I not had a child to bring, I wouldn't have gone at all).  What a great turnout we had, and what fun it all was! It made the work of preparing for it all feel more worthwhile.


Pancakes just taste better with whipped cream and sprinkles. It's a scientific fact.

There were several craft stations. Here's Carsen at one of them showing off her creation.

Carsen and Marla taking silly pictures. This might be my favorite!

Mrs. Claus reads a story.

That's one of our kindergarten teachers as Mrs. Claus, and let me tell you, that woman KNOWS how to read a story to children. Even the adults in the room enjoyed it! *

One of many volunteer elves from among our staff.

Before we left, I stopped by my office to grab something and got a photo of Carsen sitting at my desk. I may get this picture framed and put it up in there!

*At one point in the story, Santa ripped his pants trying to go back up the chimney, and you could see his candy cane printed long johns underneath. Mrs. Claus said, "That's right, children! You could see Santa's drawers!" and a little girl in the audience (with perfectly dramatic timing) piped up with, "But I don't WANNA see Santa's drawers!" It brought down the house.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Sunday afternoon

This month has flown by. It started out with me feeling less than stellar, probably a mild version of the respiratory virus Gregg eventually caught. He was so sick--he ran fevers for over a week and didn't start to come around (and go back to work) until the day before Thanksgiving. He's still got a pretty bad cough, but otherwise feels better. I was pretty worried about him. Thank you for all the well wishes and concern.

Thanksgiving was okay. I cooked a fairly standard meal: turkey breast, roast potatoes and carrots, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, collard greens. For the first time in his life my husband ate collard greens and LIKED them! I consider that a major cooking victory. For 90% of the time I've known him he wouldn't have even tried a mouthful, so the fact that he ate good size helpings two days in a row was a big deal to me. Over the years he's gradually expanded the list of healthy foods he'll eat, and that makes me happy. 

It's been an uneventful break from work. I've spent a lot of time sitting around watching tv, which is unusual for me. Even reading feels like too much effort at the moment. I supposed it's just some leftover depression from being sick and then looking after a sick person. Also, it's November and there isn't much light. I'm ready to fall asleep by 7pm on these days when it gets dark so early. 

Back to work in the morning. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Notes from Thanksgiving eve

Last night I spent several hours prepping food for our two-person feast. Here are the highlights:

RIP to my almost 20 year old corkscrew. Thank you for your service, friend. 

Poppy, bored and unattended while I worked in the kitchen, found some mischief to get up to. No turkey for her! Haha.

I made deviled eggs. They're Gregg's favorite and no holiday meal would be complete without them!

I also went ahead and made my cranberry mandarin orange relish with toasted walnuts (it's better after sitting in the fridge overnight), peeled carrots, and chopped celery and onions for the dressing. I also washed and chopped two big bundles of collard greens so they'd be ready to go. 

This morning I can sip a leisurely cup of coffee or three before beginning, thanks to all the prep work I did last night. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ai yi yi

Another shit day. Gregg woke up running a fever and vomiting this morning. I went to work for a couple of hours (long enough to catch up on stuff and make bank deposits) and came home at 11:00am to take him up to Urgent Care. Even though the ER doctors had run lots of tests, including a CT scan to make sure his lung was clear of any blood clots, as far as I knew they hadn't tested for flu or strep. (They did do a Covid test, which was negative).

After waiting two hours, he finally saw a doctor and tested negative for flu, strep, and a second Covid test. They gave him a shot of Zofran to stop the nausea and a prescription for Zofran tabs that melt under the tongue. Their best guess is that he has a virus that's just going to have to run its course.

Funny story: while we were waiting to be seen (the Urgent Care was packed today, there are lots of things going around) Gregg had to go to the bathroom adjacent to the waiting area to throw up. He was clearly audible, retching and dry heaving, and a little girl went up to the desk and said, "There's a man calling for help in the bathroom!" Two nurses hurried out with a key to unlock the door. I had to rush up and tell them that it was just my husband in there vomiting! But bless that kid for being so concerned for a stranger. None of the adults sitting around the room could have cared less that there was a man in distress in the bathroom. 

Gregg still feels terrible, but at least he's not throwing up now. His sister texted me a little while ago to ask how he was doing. Here's the text exchange between us:

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

ER (updated)

I'm sitting in the ER with Gregg this morning. He's caught my cold, and he woke me up at 4am having difficulty breathing. Although he argued with me about it, I insisted on bringing him to the emergency room. Shortness of breath isn't anything to fool around with, especially for a person with only one lung.

His oxygen level is okay, thank goodness. Right now they're running some tests to make sure nothing too serious is going on. I'll update later on when we know more. 

Update: we are at home. They didn't find any blood clots (thank God!) or anything else too concerning. There is a slight issue with one side of his heart (with the electrical impulses that flow through one side) that he's seen a cardiologist for in the past and that they think he might want to follow up on again, but the doctor wasn't too worried about it. He's breathing a bit better now, so hopefully everything will be okay. I was scared.

Also, while we were waiting in the ER my mom texted me to let me know that one of my cousins OD'd and died last night. We weren't close, and he'd had drug problems for years and years, but it's still sad. He was only 55 years old. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

It's always something

It's been a rough week. I've managed to both catch a cold and pull some muscles in my lower back at the same time. How lucky can you get! I am not a happy camper!

I've taken two at-home covid tests since that's definitely going around again, but they've both been negative. I guess that's something to be grateful for. At work I've stayed holed up in my office because a terrible stomach virus has been spreading like wildfire through the school. Children are throwing up and having diarrhea left and right, and I don't need that to add to my woes! Several staff members have colds and I suppose that's how I caught mine. Schools are just crawling with germs. I've kept Lysol spray and disinfecting wipes handy and only venture outside my office when absolutely necessary.

I hope I feel better by the weekend. Tomorrow is my dear husband's birthday, and I'd like to make him a cake and a special meal, but if I'm still feeling this way then I'll have to put it off. I ordered him a lot of new clothes online last week, so he'll have gifts, at least. 

How's your week going?

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween!

Some pictures from the annual Halloween trick or treat neighborhood crawl!

The new parents with baby Georgia..

Poppy and George walked with us. They had fun too!

Little Carsen..


A Cat, a Bat, and a Witch..

Poppy hated for the night to end!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Another weekend rolls around

The full Hunter's Moon rising over our street Friday night.

October is really flying by this year. Before we know it, it's going to be the holidays and then the end of 2023. I wish it would slow down a bit.

Marla and Martina came over yesterday for one of our "girls' nights". Marla's birthday was Thursday, so I invited them early in the week, then almost canceled at the last minute. I've had some low-level depression going on, and then yesterday morning my dad had to go back to the hospital, so I wasn't sure if I felt up to company. In the end I decided to go ahead with it since I'd already purchased food and drinks, and I'm glad I did. Spending a few hours with my two best friends really boosted me up and made me feel better. As always, we laughed and laughed. It was just what I needed. 

I kept the food super simple. We had toasty ham and Swiss sliders on Hawaiian rolls covered with a buttery sauce and poppy seeds, homemade guacamole with assorted chips, one of those pre-made rings of cold shrimp with cocktail sauce, and store-bought cupcakes. In keeping with the season I had an assortment of chilled ciders to drink. 

I didn't get a picture of the ham and cheese sliders, but they were the best part. 

And Martina brought me a present! She was shopping for some new baking dishes and she saw one she thought I'd like. I was chuffed!

Isn't it pretty? And I really need new baking/casserole dishes. I told Martina that the next time they come over, I'll bake something in it to share. That was so sweet and thoughtful of her!

Today I'm on my own until early afternoon. Gregg has started going to the three nursing homes where he cleans aquariums early on Sunday mornings. There's not much traffic and things are quiet and he's able to work efficiently. Plus, he has to take my car, since all three jobs are out of town and his old truck just isn't trustworthy to drive that far. We really need to get him another car, but we'd have to scrape to afford it at the moment, so we've been putting it off. Getting a decent raise with this new job has unfortunately been somewhat eclipsed by inflation.

But anyway, I have several hours to myself this morning. It's a pretty day and I'll take the dogs for a walk whenever I finish this post. Fall color is almost at its peak and it's nice to be outside. This afternoon I'm going to make soup. Not to brag, but last week I made the most delicious batch of chicken soup ever! Gregg isn't normally much of a soup guy, but it was so good he eagerly ate it for supper three days in a row. We finished every drop! So when I was looking for a good, cheap recipe for making my customary large meal-with-leftovers Sunday supper, I asked him if he wanted soup again and he said, "Sure!" A cold front is on its way next week and temperatures will be going down almost to freezing, so soup will be just the thing.

I always serve chicken soup with grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. Yummy!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Fall Festival Fun

Last week at work was a busy one for me, because on Friday we had annual Fall Festival and school fundraiser. There's a committee of teachers and staff who make all the plans, and as the bookkeeper my role was to book (and pay) for vendors, order games, schedule (and again, pay for) things like the buses to get the West Florence high school marching band to our school for the kick off parade, and of course, receive and deposit payments for admission wristbands to the Friday night carnival and all donations to our student activity fund. It was a lot, but everything went off without a hitch and our school made more money this year than we ever have, or so I'm told. And it was all a big success!

The fun kicked off with a costume parade of the entire school around the quarter mile car line. The teachers dressed up, the office staff (including me!) dressed up, and the entire school--teachers, staff, and students--participated. We were led by the West Florence High School marching band and cheerleaders. Loads of parents and community members came out to watch and cheer us on. It was so much fun!

I'm including three brief clips of the parade here: first, the band leading everyone out the front doors of the school, and then two others I filmed after I'd completed the walk with the other office staff. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023


Our elderly neighbor, Luella, passed away suddenly back in January. She and her husband bought the house next door to us in 1971, so she lived there for over 50 years. She was a sweet lady and a good neighbor to us, and we miss her. Yesterday a lot of her family convened at the house and seemed to be cleaning things out. Boxes and small household items were loaded into cars and taken away. My best guess is that the estate is finally almost finished with the probate process, and they're taking the first steps toward selling the house. All three of Luella's children grew up there, so I imagine there's a lot of stuff to be sorted. It's been nine months since Luella died.

Nine months.

Yesterday the lovely young couple across the street brought their newborn baby girl home! Some family members (one of the new grandmas among them) decorated the porch with pink balloons and a big banner that says, "It's time to celebrate baby Georgia!" ahead of their arrival home from the hospital. They also tied a huge pink bow to the mailbox, a tradition around here that announces that there's a new baby in the house. It was all very sweet.

I got a small gift for our newest neighbor (books, my standard gift for new babies) and a card for the new mom and dad. I left everything in a bag by their front door, since I didn't want to knock and disturb them at such a special time.

The life of our neighborhood goes on.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Back to it

 Well, that was quick! I go back to work this morning. A week off really flies by, but it was a nice break. 

I was a bit too ambitious in my plans. I didn't get half of what I planned to do, done, but it was a really nice break anyway. I took lots of walks with the dogs (enjoying the first really chilly weather of the year), did some cooking and baking, read a lot, and then finished up the weekend by binge watching The Great British Bake-Off. How I love that show! And yesterday Gregg helped me give my car a very good cleaning, which it was in desperate need of. It's going to feel good to drive a shiny clean car to work this morning.

It's also great to report that I have zero dread about going back to work today. I really don't mind going back at all! Would I rather be at home for another week? Of course! But to have no anxiety about going back is wonderful. So far, this is the most stress-free job I've ever had. I continue to be thankful for it.

Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Wednesday catch up

It's another beautiful October day. I love having a week off this time of year, because the weather is as close to perfect as it's possible to be in South Carolina. Warm days, cool night, low humidity, blue skies, and leaves just barely beginning to turn. And it feels so good when summer is finally over!

I went to the farmer's market on Monday afternoon and bought a bunch of apples (mixed varieties) from the mountains. This afternoon I'll turn most of them into an apple crisp, and then any leftovers will be sliced thin, sprinkled with cinnamon, and dried in the dehydrator. Apple chips make a delicious snack that's relatively healthy. And since I'm on my first apple kick of the year, I bought a six pack of hard cider, too. A bottle of cold cider goes down nicely on the porch late in the afternoon.

Yesterday was interesting. First, I found a dead mouse in one of the traps our pest control guy had left behind the refrigerator. I'd started seeing mouse poop in some of the cabinets a couple of months ago, and I cannot live with rodents, so he had to make a special trip out to put down traps. We'd finally caught one little mouse over a week ago, and we thought that was it, but left a few traps down just in case. Then yesterday there was another one. I'm very squeamish about such things and had to use a stick to move the trap into the garbage. Gregg was at work, or I'd have made him deal with it. (I'm not too proud to play the "girl card" when it comes to bugs and rodents and dead things). Then I'd barely had time to recover from the mouse episode, when I walked outside and noticed Poppy chewing on something furry. She'd killed a squirrel!! UGH!!* So that was two dead animals I had to dispose of within an hour. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say I needed a drink and a small lie-down after all that. Ahem.


Georgie had to go to the vet today for his yearly heartworm prevention shot. He barks at other dogs, which is embarrassing, but he's super sweet to all the humans. Especially women. George loves the ladies! 

Thanks for all the comments on my shoe allergy situation. I'm currently at a bit of a loss as to how to start dealing with it all. It's hard to get information on shoe materials online, and "barrier socks" are freakin' expensive, so I may have to double up on 100% cotton socks for awhile to keep my skin well insulated while I look for good shoe alternatives. Those are going to be expensive, too. I liked Janie's comment, "No more shoes for you! Bare feet from now on!" It's been mostly bare feet this week since I'm at home, but soon enough I'll be back at work and needing to look civilized! This week is already flying by, as I knew it would.

*When Gregg got home and I told him about Poppy's squirrel, he said, "You don't know that she killed it. Maybe a hawk dropped it or something." HAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, honey, and maybe the squirrel was just scampering across the lawn and dropped dead of natural causes and then Poppy just happened to find it afterwards......Uh huh.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023


 I went back to the doctor yesterday to have the patch tests and tape removed from my back and the results read. The doctor found 7 things that I'm allergic to, two of which are commonly used in manufacturing shoes. Here's a snapshot of the information sheets I was given on the things I need to avoid:

It's the p-tert-Butylphenol Formaldehyde Resin and the Black Rubber Mix that are commonly used in shoes. Bacitracin, a topical antibiotic, was a surprise, and everything else can be found in my shampoo, detergent, deodorant, etc. It's going to be fun trying to find alternatives for everything (sarcasm) not to mention looking for shoe alternatives that don't use the resins and rubber that I react to, but at least now I have some answers. 

Saturday, September 30, 2023


After work yesterday I went to see my allergist for patch testing. Here's what my back currently looks like.

I have to wear these all weekend. I go back Monday afternoon to have the tape and patches removed so that the sites can be evaluated for allergic reactions. This means that I can't shower until then, only take small "bird baths", and if I want to wash my hair I have to do it with my head over the sink. I'm not supposed to let this area get wet.

So it's going to be a long, grubby weekend for me. Thank goodness I didn't make any plans for the first few days of my break! I'm a shower girl all the way, and I usually wash my hair every day. Oh well!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Plans for intersession

Good Tuesday afternoon, friends. How's your week going?

Mine is going sloooooow. I have next week off (it's our fall break/intersession) and the days are starting to drag just as they always do when time off is on the horizon.

I have a few plans for the week, but nothing major. I certainly can't afford to go anywhere right now (worse luck!) but I'm going to try to enjoy myself in small ways. My plans are:

  • Write several blog posts that have been rattling around in my head lately, one of which will be short book reviews of stuff I've read recently.
  • Attempt to make pomegranate jelly! Yes, my pomegranate tree is loaded with ripe fruit for the first time this year, and I don't want it to go to waste. I've counted 15 large poms on the tree ready to be picked, so I should have enough for a few jars. The recipe looks simple enough...we shall see.
  • After a years' (multiple) long hiatus, I'm going to pick up my knitting needles again and work on a project. The lovely young couple across the street are having a baby girl next month, and I'd like to knit a blanket for her. They're planning to name her Georgia. Isn't that pretty? It will be an exceedingly simple blanket, knit on large needles, since I'm so out of practice, but I think it will be a good project to begin again with. 
  • Invite Martina over with her dog, Harker, for a playdate with Poppy one afternoon. Those two dogs are close in age and love each other! They both still have lots of "puppy" in them.
  • Gregg wants to put a second coat of paint on the bathroom walls. I really don't feel like doing any more painting, but he's not going to be satified until we have a second coat on there. 
I'm sure there will also be plenty of reading, watching tv shows I don't normally have time for, etc. Also plenty of walks with the dogs. The weather is finally cooler and better for exercise, although my allergies are bad (the way they always are this time of year)  and I haven't been outdoors as much as I'd like lately. We'll see how that goes. I've been resolving to get more exercise. Maybe I'll even get my bike road-worthy again and ride it some. 

I'm grateful to have made it to fall intersession with my new job. I kept telling myself last spring (when I first found out I'd landed the job) that by October I should be fairly comfortable with everything. And it's true! I've learned a lot, and it's such a good environment that I haven't had a single bit of work stress since starting there. None. Zero. What a wonderful change from last year! 

What would you do with a week off at home?

Saturday, September 23, 2023


Wednesday night I hosted my book club's September meeting. There was a large turnout: eleven guests in all. I don't think we've ever had so many people in our house at one time! I was really nervous about it and worked really hard to prepare, giving the house a major cleaning over the course of a couple of weeks and then spending a lot of time planning and shopping. (I spent a fair amount of money, too). But in the end, it was all worth it. Everything went off without a hitch, I was proud of how the house looked, and most importantly, everyone seemed to have a good time. 

Preparing the food is my favorite part of any party, and I really had fun with it this time. I made my first ever charcuterie board! 

What I enjoyed most about this was how easy it was to make something that looks really fancy. The only cooking involved was toasting the pecans with butter and salt. I got lots of compliments on it.

Speaking of easy, I also served the classic grape jelly + Heinz chili sauce crockpot meatballs. All you have to do is throw frozen pre-cooked meatballs in a crock pot with a small jar of grape jelly and a couple of jars of chili sauce, then just stir them around a time or two as they heat up. It may sound weird, but they're delicious, and people always devour them. I also bought pre-boiled eggs at the grocery store and made a double batch of deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are another crowd-pleaser, and when you eliminate the step where you have to boil (and worse, peel) the eggs, they're quick and easy too.

I bought six bottles of wine for the party: three reds, two whites, and a rose. I wanted a good selection for people to choose from. Of course, I had plenty of bottled water and soda on hand, too. There's a lot of the wine left over. 

Karen (from The Internet's Best Karen) was the first to arrive. Since she works in the Chemistry department of our local university, she really enjoyed this month's book!

Check out George photobombing this next shot. He knew there was food nearby! :)

Once everyone arrived, Poppy was wide eyed and nervous and decidedly not having fun, so I gave her an early supper on the back porch and let her stay out there. George has been around long enough to know that company can be fun (and the source of treats) so he was a Very Good Boy. He went to each guest in turn to get petted and admired, then settled down on the rug in the middle of it all while we had our discussion. He was a perfect gentleman.

"What about Marco?" I hear you all wondering...well, he was THRILLED with all the noise and company. He stayed on my shoulder most of the time, to the delight of all the guests. He was a little clown, laughing and making little comments and generally hamming it up. Before leaving, a couple of people wanted to take pictures with him, and he was happy to oblige. 

I'm glad things went well, but I'm also glad that it's all over! The house is still pretty much spotless, which is a bonus. I plan to spend the weekend relaxing and enjoying some downtime after such a busy week!