Tuesday, February 27, 2024


This past Saturday Marla came over and spent the afternoon with me. I hadn't seen her since the week after my dad died back in early January. I've been really busy with all the changes happening around here, and then she got sick (pneumonia) and was out of commission for a couple of weeks. 

We spent hours talking, snacking, and drinking wine, and it was just exactly what I needed!

One of the snacks I served: a round of Brie topped with jalapeno jam, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked. Served with crackers and apple slices (and wine, of course). It was delicious!

Talking over all the stressful stuff that's been happening with a trusted friend made me feel so much lighter.  She's always so supportive and encouraging, plus we laugh a lot when we get together. I'm so grateful for her and her friendship! I hope I'm a good friend to her in return--I certainly try to be. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thursday morning this & that

Did I mention that I'm off work this week?

It's February intercession and the schools in our district are closed. It's nice to have these extra breaks in February and October, not connected to any holiday. This will be the last time I have a whole week off to myself, because after next week my husband will be retired.

He's looking forward to it and I'm really happy for him. The dogs and Marco are going to love it! Nothing makes them happier than to have one or both of us at home with them. Poppy has followed me everywhere this week, even to the bathroom. She sleeps curled up tight against me every night. George isn't nearly so clingy, but he likes it when we're around, too. 

Poppy has this thing she does when we get home from work: she takes a running leap across the threshold of the back door, and lands on the sofa six feet or so away. It's her way of expressing joy and excitement at seeing us again! Pretty soon she'll only be doing it for me!

Some of my tomato seeds have sprouted! Before Gregg left for work this morning, he pulled out an 3ft aquarium light fixture that I'll set up somewhere in the house for the tiny sprouts. The peppers still haven't made their debut, but they usually take longer anyway. And if all goes well, I plan to do some work in the garden this afternoon and also sow some lettuce seed. In addition to my standard lettuce Merveille des Quatre Saisons I got a free pack of lettuce seed with my Baker Creek order this year that looks really interesting: Yedikule. I'm really looking forward to fresh greens.

Here's a photo I wanted to share before I sign off. Miss Luella's tree next door is in full, magnificent bloom, and I got a close up of some of the flowers. They're so beautiful.

I spoke to one of Luella's daughters the other day, and the family is selling the house to one of her grandsons! His name is Evan and he's a lovely young man. We're so pleased that the house (and the glorious tree) will stay in the same great family! Evan and his girlfriend Stacy plan to move in next week. They're going to be wonderful neighbors!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Home improvement

The past few days have been exciting, because we hired a guy to partially remodel our screened porch! The bottom third of it is now enclosed and painted, and there's waterproof plastic "wood" on the bottom all the way around, to solve the problem of lots of moisture and pooling water at ground level rotting the old boards. He also installed a new, sturdier door with a doggy door already built in for George and Poppy. He just finished this afternoon and is currently cleaning up and getting ready to leave. He's done a good job, and we love it! It's so much better than before! We got a really good deal on the work, too, because Gregg's known the guy for a long time. There's several more projects that need doing around this old house, so we'll definitely be calling on him again!

The dogs will have to get used to a new doggie door in a new spot. They're not too sure about these changes (and have been less than thrilled with the building sounds going on outside over the last few days).

Of course, treats held on the other side helped convince them to give it a try! :)

Saturday, February 17, 2024


It was seed starting day here at Casa de Sparrow!

I'm off work next week (yay!) for February intercession, so I'll be planting lettuce (and maybe radishes) outside. Those can handle the cold weather we still have coming. Hopefully the tomato and pepper seeds I started today will be ready to plant out in mid April or shortly thereafter, which is our usual last frost date. 

Seed starting day is when I truly feel like spring is on the way. It's so exciting, waiting for the first tiny green sprouts to appear. The joy of planning and planting a garden never seems to get old for me.

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, no culture comparable to that of the garden...But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”

― Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

End of an era (more changes!)

Today my husband had a phone appointment with our local social security office. He's decided to go ahead and claim his social security retirement, effective immediately! He went off to work today prepared to give two weeks' notice, and by the end of this month he will be (mostly) retired!

He's been managing the aquarium section of the pet store for 26 years, so this is a big moment in his life. He's not quite at full retirement age yet, but his social security check will be almost exactly the same amount he makes at the store. The plan is for him to continue to service aquariums, which is his own small business. From those jobs he earns just below the maximum he's allowed to earn while receiving retirement benefits, so his income will remain exactly the same, but he'll only be working a few hours each week (and on his own schedule). Once he reaches full retirement age there won't be a limit on how much "side" income he's allowed to earn.

I'm so happy for him! He's always been such an incredibly hard worker, and he deserves to have time off while he's still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. And he's grown increasingly unhappy with the pet business. He worries so much about the animals that get sold, and of course they're sold to anyone who has the money to pay for them regardless of whether they can or will take care of them. That's just part of the job. Even selling "feeder" goldfish bothers him. So now that's not going to be part of his life anymore! And he's really looking forward to learning how to do some home improvement projects he's been thinking about and having time for fun.

So the big changes in our house continue! What a year it's turning out to be, and it's only February!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Green, growing, blooming..

I went on a bit of a "potting up" spree last Sunday. We had several bits of houseplants I'd clipped and put in vases of water to grow roots, as well as some older potted plants that needed more room. Then a friend of Gregg's (a bit of a plant collector) sent me the start of a new-to-me plant on Saturday, so on Sunday morning I went to Lowe's and bought potting soil and new pots. I also bought a bag of orchid mix because several of my orchids needed their medium refreshed. 

Here are some of my houseplants, as well as a big bouquet of flowers I bought myself last week to celebrate the day when I paid off our mortgage. I love having cut flowers in the house.

These last pictures are from my office at work. I have a pretty blooming orchid and the peace lily my coworkers gave me when dad died. My office window faces due east and plants really love the bright morning sun.

I love surrounding myself with green, growing, blooming things. Especially in the winter.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Dulce Domum

Happy February! 

Last month seemed so long and dark and dreary that I was happy to switch over the calendar page this morning. I took a personal day off work today. It's going to be a date to remember...

...because I went to the bank and paid off our mortgage this morning!!

Gregg and I are beyond thrilled. We love our modest home so much, and knowing that it now belongs to us completely is like a dream come true. Earlier Gregg texted me from work and said, "This is one of the most exciting times in my life!" and "I don't want us to ever leave there. Home." 

We're both so happy and very, very grateful. Yes, this will be a day to remember.