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mostly back to normal...

Sunday, December 30, 2012
You'll think I am terrrrrible. It was December 29th when I finally sat down and looked at all the holiday greetings that came in the mail over the past few weeks. And mostly due to being prodded and shamed into it due to a daughter who wanted to see the  current version of family up-date letters she has been reading over the years. Some had been opened and some were still sealed up. But I've read, sorted, copied return addresses and will be writing odd bits of news and such to all those faithful correspondents in the coming weeks. Using all the note paper, cards, stationary received as Christmas gifts. These came from at least three sources - so it's pretty obvious how many folks either a) expect to get correspondence from me; or B) know me well enough to be sure the cards will be put to good use.

Last Remaining Correspondent in Captivity: that's me.

I've made reference over the years to events people get 'guilt-ed' into observing as they purchase balloons, cards, candy, flowers, other remembrances; days that I call 'Hallmark Holidays'. Pretty sure these occasions/ events did even exist on the calendar thirty or more years ago. They are things that the greeting card industry or media dreamed up to persuade us to celebrate, or feel badly as neighbors, friends, co-workers, cousins, passers-by were celebrating. To acknowledge the work of Nurses, or Firefighters, or Teachers, or Grandparents, or Bosses, or Administrative Assistants, or Lunch-room Ladies, or Taxi Drivers, or Trash-truck drivers, whatever. If you don't buy a card or gift-y item and bestow it on your favorite fill-in-the-blank you will have a big Black Mark by your name throughout history.

I used to be a consistent reliable Christmas news-letter writer, but could have said back in early November that it would not be happening this year. I realized I was swamped long before everyone else started addressing and stamping envelopes to send greetings.  Though it did not happen at all this year, as we age, I notice that my list is decreasing in length, as time passes and people do too.You'll get cards and letters from me, as I continue to do my part to support the postal system. Newspaper clippings and goofy cartoons, sent with love. As faithful as I am, you'd think they would give me a volume discount on stamps.  As the price of postage goes up, and services decrease, it's pretty difficult to understand how they keep getting deeper and deeper in the red bookkeeping-wise.Thanks to all who are supporting the USPS. Keep up the good work. Let's sit back and see how much deeper they can dig their hole in the coming year....

so... how was your holiday?

Friday, December 28, 2012
Hope you had a good holiday, and time with people you enjoy. I am pretty much decided that the best part of the season is the opportunity to spend time with folks you love. And, unashamedly, getting so sappy I think that the cheezy old standby of 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' is one of my favorites. We used to hear the elders talk about how the felt like the older they got the more they felt like time just seems to fly, having years pass by in the blink of an eye. I think I'm getting 'there'....

We left home on Monday (Christmas Eve day) morning (not early by my personal standards, but still pretty early for someone who usually takes an hour to get going, complete the a.m. routine and and out the door. Stopping on the north side of Atlanta to have (our second) breakfast with oldest daughter and son-in-law who live in Marietta. Then on to Chattanooga by lunch time.

We'd been invited to spend the night, and have 'portable' Christmas, as we seemed to be the most likely to travel, and have the most time for getting out on the road. Went to church on Monday night, and then did a little riding to see holiday decorations. Where we viewed  a number of over-the-top garish displays, with Santa, Snowmen, Nativity scenes side by side packed into front yards roped together with miles of brightly blinking lights, and a light sprinkling of polar bears and penguins for good measure.These seasonal inflatable yard decorations are getting completely out of hand.

Slow starting on Christmas morning, mostly just hanging around waiting for the sister to arrive from Decatur around lunch time. Then an hour or so of unwrapping chaos ensued. Paper flying, ribbon dangling, tissue wafting, boxes crashing, gifts galore. Some pretty amusing stuff ("99 ways to tie a necktie"), some very useful stuff (hand made hand cream and sugar scrub, pocket knives, flashlights), some completely absurd stuff (red blinking reindeer nose, a day-glo orange 'boonie' hat with reflective stripe to keep me from getting flattened when walking after dark), and a bucket full of family togetherness.

I knew we were expected to go to Uncle Jay's for dinner, and more gift exchanging. I knew we would spend hours getting back to Columbus before getting to bed, since I had to work Wed. and Thurs. at my little jobette. But I also knew I definitely, positively did not want to get up from the dinner table and walk out the door to start home. And had cautioned him about this when I told him we were going to dinner with the in-laws long before we went to TN.  I somehow got bullied into leaving, actually just as we started talking about dessert choices. So found myself walking out the door as some were still eating, doing what I specifically did not want to do.... For the Last Time.

The weather was predicted to get really bad, with some winter thunderstorms, heavy rains, gusting winds. In the past year or so, I suddenly realized that I live with a guy who loves to fret about the weather, and assorted other things he has no control over. All these years, I had assumed he was super weather conscious due to his employment. But I have recently become convinced he apparently loves to watch the weather channel and worry about acts of God, assorted disasters he has no control over. We did get into a little of that south of Atlanta. But safely got home by 11:00 and into bed.

I stuffed my little box of wrapping paper, gift boxes and ribbon back up in the closet this morning, and since I did not do the first bit of seasonal decorating: it looks as if it never happened here. Pretty much what my workplace looked like when I went in on Wed. morning, as the closing crew had to take down everything that resembled 'seasonal' before they went home on Monday night. So when the store opened again on Wed., it would be back to business as usual... got your black-eye peas yet?

what a shame...

Friday, December 21, 2012
You will be so sad and disappointed. But highly amused when you get this picture firmly embedded in your brain:  I was trying to think of where I might have tucked the left over wrapping paper. You know how there is always extra when you have finished wrapping, and you put it someplace that will be easily accessible for the next time? Not up in the attic with all the other Christmas decorations, mish-mash, but someplace in a closet where you can pull it out to wrap a thing or two before you get ready to start dragging all that other paraphenalia down to frou-frou up the house for the season. 

I couldn't figure it out - and was so very much dreading the liklihood that it all up in the attic, where I Did Not want to go, as I had put a  mouse trap up there last week, and was nearly certain that I was a runner-up in the Black Death to Mice competition. I didn't want to know, didn't want to look, didn't want to have to do something about what I was sure to find. Especially did not want to have to bring the fully-loaded trap down the pull-down steps and Especially Did Not want to touch it.

I had kinda sorta peeped in the crack a couple of days ago, not really raising up the styro. box that covers the opening, Just lifting it up a crack to check on things up there in the cold, and just getting a little peek through the crack. I noticed that I could not actually see the trap, meaning it was not where I had put it last week:  another indicator that we (Lucy as prime mouser, and me as the back-up guy) were making some headway with the rodent problem. Making the anticipation  of actually getting a good look even more objectionable.

So here I go - could not have been any more laughable if I had been wearing a complete haz-mat suit.
I have my headlamp/flashnight that had an elastic band that fits around my head (and will actually flash or turn red if you press the right button), so I put that on knowing I will need plenty light just to find where ever the little thieves have relocated the trap. And I have my 'grabbers' in one hand to reach out and pick the trap up once it is located. And I have my trash can, lined with a wallyworld bag to drop it all in - even though Someone will have to remove the dearly departed from the trap and reset it so I can put it back up there. Fully dressed in my costume if any one would like to come and be a witness, fall down on the floor in great amusement, with tears streaming down your face...I should have put on some sort of hat and mask and maybe a breathing apparatus. So if you plan to come take photos, please give me time to complete my costume...???

And after all that, when I finally got up there, to have a look-see, locate the deceased uninvited houseguest, and search for the wrapping paper, I remember it is in the closet up on the top shelf - right where I put it last January...

black death to mice!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
When I walked out the door to go to work shortly before 8 o'clock this morning, there was another little gift on the doormat - and once again, I barely had time to relocate the step I was in the process of making from the laundry room into the carport. My little stalker has been at it again - with success for the third time. I know it is creepy/freaky but I am delighted to have to relocate corpses on a regular basis... just wish I had some way of knowing when it was the 'last one'.

I don't know how much progress she is making toward eliminating the problem - but thus far she has three home runs. I'm thinking I might want to put her up in the attic and see what she can do from that perspective?
I keep checking the traps that are in the living room, and hall closet, but have yet to get up the nerve to check the one up in the attic - success would be good, but the down side is that I will have to get the little mouse corpse down and out. Not sure why this is so objectionable... when I had a horse in the back yard, and a small outbreak of grain eaters robbing the 100 bag of horse feed - I had not problem with setting, emptying and replacing the trap. There was a photo some place of the side of the shed where I was keeping count of the departed with hash marks to know how many had eliminated their mouse-y little selves by getting greedy. And think there must have been at least a dozen little marks, with a slash for groups of five.

If 'Black Death to Mice' keeps up the good work, I will have to get a piece of chalk and start keeping score for her excellent record. They little rodents look so harmless when I find them on the doormat, with little grey furry bodies and white bellies - but no, I don't feel bad at all about their deceasing.

another 'last' little mouse?

When I left town on Wednesday morning last, I found another little mouse on the door mat as I stepped out the door. In the early morning dark, I nearly stepped on it, and would have been completely freaked out if it had made a squishy crunching sound when my foot landed. But I relocated the foot half way thorough the step down into the carport, and tossed the mouse out in the yard, where I expect it became a treat - though not cold enough to qualify as a Mouse Popsicle. Urp.

So I went to the Do-it-yourself Pest Control store when I got home on Friday afternoon. Bought a couple of 'build a better mousetrap' designed gizmos made of black plastic that basically do the same thing as the ones we've been seeing for years with a little wooden rectangle and wire that snap down on unsuspecting fingers and other small body parts. And a plastic box with 'bait', that theoretically the rodent would go in, eat bad stuff', and take himself off the premises to decease. We baited the two little plastic traps and put them out. But I got to thinking about the box with bait that would go outside and said: If it does what it is supposed to, and the chipmunks, mice, whatever do what they are supposed to: that means I will have deceased rodents out in the yard, woods for the Black Death feline to find and possibly eat. So I can't put the poison out where the little sneaky whiskery things can find and consume, since my stealthy kitty would then find the departed little rodents and think 'There's a snaaaack!'

Anybody with suggestions: apply within. I put one of the new-fangled traps in the attic, and noticed little nibbled places when I went up the pull down steps and lifted the styrofoam cover, so think I might have some business to take care of up there, but nothing in the hall closet thus far....

driving around in circles, part 2

A cousin in the Atlanta area had invited me to a little holiday gathering on the weekend. Guess where I went on Saturday?

Drove up to Decatur mid-day on Sat., and wandered around town a while, street-walking, getting in some exercise after all that sitting. Then we went to pick up one cousin, to go to the other. Drove across town, with me thankfully in the backseat, as I am always anxious about driving in that crazy traffic, especially dark. I had not accepted the invitation to the party with an expectations, but the only people there I knew well enough to carry on a conversation with were the ones I was related to. Mostly her co-workers and professionals she is connected to in the teaching world.

But it was a pleasant evening, even though I ate 'way much more 'stuff' than intended - and you know how all that snack-y stuff, things you can eat with one hand standing up can be: calling out to your tastebuds, beckoning you like the Sirens on the Rocks, until you find yourself crashing on the shore, compulsively putting one more little bite sized morsel in your mouth, until you say: I'm going to throw my plate away to keep myself from eating any more: knowing there are more plates available! All the food was delicious, and I think it likely everyone accidently checked their good intentions at the door. The only thing in my favor is that I had unintentionally stockpiled calories all day, and the couple of miles I walked when wandering the sidewalks of Decatur.

It was good to sit and talk with cousins, enjoy some laughs and, once again, just time with people I love, all flopped down in a heap on the couch. Spent the night in Decatur again, with a mixed assortment of domesticated animals as foot-warmers, piled up on the end of the bed in various, changing configurations. Got up early on Sunday to get back to town for church and work.

driving around in circles...

Another one of those crazy 'stay and see Georgia' tours, squoze in around working  a couple of days. Not sure about the distance, but I put over a thousand miles on my car last week.

It started with me wanting to go to south GA. to put out colorful Christmas flowers at the cemetery. The only day it would work into my schedule was Monday. Though I had promised myself several years ago that I would not attempt that trip in one day ever again, I did it. Admitting I have gotten too old to try to drive that much in one day is sad, and distressing. I have yet to figure out how sitting and listening to the radio or 'talking books' can be so tiring, though it does require some attention (especially keeping eyes open, staying awake following a night of insufficient, off-and-on sleep). So I got up early Monday and hit the road.

I had loaded my car up with tools to do some yard work, hoping to be productive - but I didn't get much done. The only accomplishment was defrosting the freezer in the kitchen refrigerator. Since I have been putting that onerous task off for at least a year, maybe it does qualify as 'job accomplished'. Called and went by to see a friend of my mom's, and went to Valdosta to see my auntie, with a bag 'o' tacos for lunch. I absolutely had to leave for home by 3:00, to get back in time to go with Paul to a dinner. And missed that deadline entirely due to devoting so much time to chunking ice out of the freezer. I'd not gotten to the cemetery: mostly the whole reason for making the trip. So had to go back and put out cheery red poinsettias before heading north. Got back to town only about forty-five minutes than planned - which, for me, could be considered barely late.

It was one of those trips where I spent more time going and coming back than I did actually being there - yes, I know: it kinda sounds counter productive to me to...

Had to work on Tuesday, and get my car unloaded, removing all the yard working equipment I did not use - just riding it around to air out? And put together some clothing and re-load to go to Decatur on Wednesday for a day of fun with my girls. I overheard someone talking several years ago about doing something really unusual on the days that were a series of the same numbers: a coworker planning a trip to Las Vegas on 10-10-10 to get married (possibly to insure he would not forget his anniversary?) I thought that sounded like a pretty neat idea: (not the getting hitched part - as I wonder why he bothered after co-habbing for years), doing something memorable on those days with the unique line up of duplicate numbers.

 On 10-10-10, we went to Rock City atop Lookout Mountain. It's really not all that remarkable: we had been years ago, probably when on a family vacation in the area, probably visiting Aquarium in Chattanooga. They didn't have much memory of that experience, so it was interesting - in spite of people who are so claustrophobic they had to weasel around to avoid narrow places like 'fat man's squeeze' where you have to inch along, side-stepping through the narrow cleft in the rocks. And it was a pretty day to be out in the world, bright sunny fall day in October.

The day of 11-11-11 last year kinda got lost in the shuffle. I think someone was on a trip due to work - possibly in Texas. So I drove up to Decatur and think we had 'take your mom to work day'? Which sounds sort of non-descript, average. Though when you factor in my opinion that any day spent with people you love is a great day, even if slouching on the couch giggling and amusing ourselves,(getting up covered in dog and cat hair all over your dark blue pants) it was good. I had proposed we should drive over to Stone Mtn, and take a walk, but our activities were much more towards the 'couch' end of the scale.

On 12-12-12,  we went to N. GA for a horse back ride. They found a place adjacent to a State Park that would provide horses to go on a trail ride, so we met in the little town nearby and went riding. The horses were pretty pokey - o.k. for the ones amongst us with little or ancient experience. And enjoyable day, clopping on leaf covered trails through the woods, seeing the world from a different perspective, in a creaky saddle on horse-back. Most of the trees were deciduous, so bare, giving a nice view of things you would not otherwise see with clear views down into valleys and across the hills. Then we had lunch at the little ubiquitous Mexican restaurant - eating far too much, and then ordering a monster dish of ice cream to share.

.After a night in a snug toasty bed in Decatur, I got up to drive to Savannah to visit a friend who was a neighbor of my parents when I was growing up. The drive through east GA was pleasant, lunch with friend and her adult, retired son was nice, and relatively congenial (for someone who feels like she is being held prisoner in the assisted living home where she lives).  Then I went south a bit, to spend the night with a friend who lives nearby. We had a good visit, with lots of news to share. I got up on Friday and drove back across the state, to get back home about noon.

But wait there's more.....

the last little mouse?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
When I left home before daylight on Monday to make a flying-low trip to south GA, I accidently avoided a little grey and white stiff (not stuffed) mouse gift that was lying on the door mat just outside the laundry room door. Accidently due the fact that I most nearly stepped upon it which would have made a highly distasteful crunching sound and caused me to be grossed-out for the rest of the long day. Narrowly avoided, and probably not tossed far enough away from the house to keep the Master Stalker Lucy from finding and consuming it... yeech.

I had hopes that the first one she left as a gift to be admired, applauded and stepped upon might solve the mice inside the insides of the house problem. But I have heard little skritching sounds in that same bathroom wall since she was hunting. And again, last night, thought that the second gift would be the end of the expeditions. But when I woke up at 5:15 this morning, I heard the little pattering sounds up in the attic. So I am sending a representative to the 'U-do-It' Pest Control store to be persuaded about the best method of  pest elimination. It would be funny/ironic if he comes home with the same stuff he takes in prescription form as a blood-thinner as the most likely way to get the rodents to evacuate before dying, maybe, or maybe not funny at all.

Lucy is a good little hunter and I am very pleased with her success - and wonder what might happen if she were to unintentionally indulge in the cure for mice, so it will definitely have to be something that goes up in the attic where she would not have access. And I hate to deprive her of this entertainment, but I think I hate sharing quarters with a rodent or twelve even more.

a case of mistaken identity???

Thursday, December 6, 2012
When I walk out the door every morning, often as the world is just waking up and sky beginning to lighten, I always look around for the moon. I can't figure how some mornings, as the dawn begins to push the darkness away, why the moon is sometimes in the east and sometimes 'setting' and headed toward the western horizon. Science, especially  including one day of chemistry, when were supposed to come back the next day having memorized the first line of the periodic chart,along with math, and that one day of French class were not made for digestion with me. Definitely not my thing , so there is a lot that went right over my head.

I have a close relation who occasionaly will call when leaving work late at night and say "I saw the moon". This odd competion started years ago when she was working at summer camp, and I was diligently, continously sending cards and notes: You know people at camp, either the counselors or the little camper-bees, love to get mail occasionaly (or daily if they have a super devoted correspondent for a mom.
I remember the card was a sweet little pastel colored one of a child sitting on the window seat, looking out the window, with curtains ruffling in the breeze, with a commentary that said something like 'the same moon that shines on you shines on me'.

I often win the competition for Who Saw the Moon First when she is at work and I am outside, so it is an ongoing game .If we were actually keeping score it would be continually 'tied'.

I had to be at work this morning at 7:00.  The sky was still dark enough that all the street lights were still on, and lights in parking lots were still brightly visible. As I was walking across the parking, shortly before seven, I looked up a saw a big round white full moon across two parking lots and two streets. And wanted to call to say "I saw the moooon" but didn't at such an inappropriate hour.Then looked in the other direction and ... saw the almost half-full, crescent moon, thought Huh? And looked back at the moon that was even with the tree line out on the four lane, only to discover, shielded by the pine trees, that the full one, just rising in the east, was actually the big round white full Burger King sign.

Fortunately there was no one around to observe me wearing the placard that said 'here's your sign'.

is it good news or bad?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Several days ago, I was at home piddling around till time to leave for work, and heard the happy patter of little feet, inside the walls. I did not get particularly alarmed, even though I immediately knew from the noise emanating from the sheet rock that it was most likely a nest of mouse-lings. I grew up in a house that periodically had traps set around in the closets and kitchen cabinets, set and ready to go 'snap'  and squeak as a little rodent being incapacitated. Permanently. And have lived in other houses the would have little sneaky uninvited squeekers think they had arrived at the entrance to paradise. So - not a big deal, just something to deal with, and dispatch.

So I told the man who enjoys being presented with a problem to solve, that does not require him getting up out of the chair to actually, personally resolve it. He directed me to the location of the trap, which I could not see. And had to get up and go out in the shop to actually retrieve it himself. Then brought it in and laid it down on the counter top - where I put food! Ick. So I picked it up with metal tongs,laid it on a paper napkin and immediately put the tongs in the dishwasher. A long unsatisfactory conversation ensued about the perfect bait, and I told him what my dad (with vast experience) found to be most effective. No cheese. Peanut butter highly recommended, along with fresh Pecans. Though he would have preferred to use bacon, we settled on readily available pecan. And of course I had to use the tongs to pick up the 'loaded' trap, fearful of turning into a mouse with neck problems.

The cat occasionally comes inside to visit, so there was some concern about placement, but it think it is hidden well enough to not pop Lucy on the nose and send her yowling. I check it every day to determine if we have had success - no luck thus far.

But when I walked out the door to go to work this morning - I found, right there on the doormat, a wee little deceased rodent. The problem with this 'gift' is we cant' know if it one the group of homesteaders or some stranger in town. The cat that had a history of being an excellent mouser, always leaving chipmunks that had been munched on, or skinks, or mice, or half a bird on the doormat, in perfect position for human to step on is now deceased, so the second in line cat, has now become the alpha cat, and taken over responsibilities for bagging lunch. I'm so thankful I did not step on the mouse and have to say: Yikes! But also concerned if the problem is solved, or they are becoming so bountiful from the comfortable life style in our walls, they can afford to push one out of the nest to sacrifice for the common good. The worst part being I don't know if that was the last of the family scurrying around in the walls, or the first - or just what happened when Lucy was out trying to rustle up some grub.

Lucy probably found her trophy I threw out, and enjoyed a fresh meat snack.Let me go check my trap baited with a pecan.....

what I did on Wednesday...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I had no idea how my name got on the mailing list, but I was offered an opportunity to be a volunteer today. So with a little rearranging, I went out into the wilds of Marion County and planted native grasses for several hours. It was not at all what I had envisioned, but it was quite educational.

I must have misread, or misunderstood the email when it first came several weeks ago. I thought they were telling me that we would be planting long-leaf pines, which I know had originally pretty much covered most of the states in the southeast: before men with dollar signs gleaming in their eyes appeared in North America. Who apparently thought the First Families who had been living here for hundreds of years were idiots for choosing to live a subsistence life style, harvesting game, planting crops for a season, then moving on. Including clear cutting forests as far as the eye can see, and then over the next hill as well.

But what the volunteers did and will be doing through next Monday was planting 'weeds'. That as you know are actually wildflowers and native grasses, just growing in places humans don't approve. There were three of us, plus the supervisor/employee of the Nature Conservancy. Out there on a cold, windy, overcast morning, planting little plugs of native grasses to provide an understory for seventy acres of the long-leaf pines that were planted back in March. I think I remember it takes about seventy years for this type pine to mature - about three times a long as the yellow and slash pine farmers plant for selling to sawmills and and as pulp wood to the mills that make cardboard and paper products. So you definitely would not plant this slow growers as a cash crop, unless you were intending to leave it to your grandchildren. And they would probably look so magnificent a hundred years after they were mature, no one would want to cut them down to make houses and furniture.

The grasses, two different kinds, were planted in rows, lined up across an acre, in between the rows of pine seedlings, that survived the summer's heat/drought. The land we were working on is owned by the Conservancy. It is in full, over 1700 acres, with about 900 that was clear cut and burned in recent years, the rest in trash pine and volunteer undergrowth. We got a full acre planted, and the Conservancy Field Service hopes to get several more in the ground with various volunteers to come in the next several days. One group being a Botany class from CSU, who will come Monday afternoon to do 'lab work' (putting the grass plugs in the ground.) The grasses were grown in south GA. by a company that goes out and harvests seeds, germinates and grows until they are big enough to sell - so I guess there are lots more native-type seedlings available than what we were planting. I hope I can come back in seventy or a hundred years and see the results!?!

It was either a very successful day or completely non-productive, depending on which way you choose to look at forestry programs, ecological balance, and environment restoration. I'm choosing having spent my time driving to get lost in the wilds of Marion County as being a vital part of restoration.

happy day after Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23, 2012
You probably know by now to expect this from me: Every day is Giving thanks Day. Even though it was pretty low-key here, it was a pleasant day. Hope yours with spent with folks you enjoy, and food that amused your taste buds. An added bonus was a beautiful clear sunshine-y day, and I had one of my most favorite ever people to get out in the fresh-air-and-sunshine to walk with me.

There is a lot of heartache in the world, and people wandering around in misery, but we all have so much to be thankful for, I am choosing Joy.

Thankful for living in America. Thankful for the Constitution, and feeling of safety when I am at home, and when I walk out the door. Thankful to know that I don't need to root around to locate my passport every time I get in my car to go someplace, that I am free to travel without concerns about mysteriously  disappearing. Gratitude for the freedoms the Constitution provides, and the people in the Armed Forces and local defenders who are willing to enforce it. Especially Thankful for Family and Friends: you know who you are, right?.

Thankful for plenty: a job to work, health to work it, income working provides... but then on the other hand: I can't decide whether to go back to Weight Watchers right now, or make it worse in the next month, and go when half the people in town show up with their New Years' resolutions in hand. I don't have any problem with getting out to walk some calories off every day, but it's pretty obvious from the way my pants are making me feel squozen around the middle that I am consuming more than I am burning. So it's obvious I will either have to exhibit some self-control, and put less in, or figure out the best way to burn more... it's all so sad, because honestly - I want to do neither.

I will go for a walk while I ponder it all....

becoming a model citizen

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I have a great suggestion for the simplest way for anyone to become the model of a well-behaved, discreet, law-abiding citizen. It's really very easy: just leave home without your driver's license. It helps to also leave any other forms of identification or ability to make a purchase behind when you travel.

I went to FL on Monday to visit friends down in the panhandle area, just west of Tallahassee. Trying to leave home by seven a.m., to make the three hour drive and hopefully arrive soon after 10:00. When making a road trip, one of the simple joys is stopping someplace along the route for a cup of convenience store cappucino. It's especially pleasant to make a run to the curb store this time of year when the machines are stocked with the 'pumpkin spice' flavor. So about an hour down the road, I stopped and got a refill in my frequently used, often recycled styro. cup, to cheer my tastebuds and sip along the way. I had a pocketfull of change so didn't need to open my wallet for folding money.

I love driving in and through south GA in the fall, seeing fields of cotton, ready for harvest. Most of the area in southwest quarter of the state is either wooded or cleared for agriculture: growing cotton, soybeans and corn. With a long-term affinity for the cultivation of cotton plants, it is guaranteed to be a plesant trip when the cotton has bloomed and matured, and we are in the season of going into the fields to pick and take to the gins. I recent years I have noticed farmers baling the cotton like hay, rolling into big cylinder shapes, and covering with plastic, leaving it in the fields until they can get it to the gin for processing. And suspect they used the same equipment they make the big rounds of hay with.

When I got to north FL, I  stopped at a convenice store for personal reasons: a result of that excellent cup of cappucino I had enjoyed. Then walked across the parking lot to the General Dollar to look at blankets. I have a co-worker who told me of her church desiring to collect blankets to give away to homeless members of our community. So I thought I would donate a few blankets to the project. But when I went to the check out and reached in my pocket: no wallet! Oh! Oh, no!

I told the cashier I would have to run out to my car and get it - but of course it wasn't there. Then I thought: maybe I dropped it in the restroom minutes earlier? But when I went back across the parking lot to ask the clerk if the person who went in as I was exiting... he said 'No.' I had to go back to the Dollar store, and apologize, asking her to void out the transaction, as I could not pay. Pretty sure she thought the whole thing was completely bogus.

I decided I must have never put it in my pocket when I changed all  my usual clutter from work pants to khakis. And called to see if it might be lying on the bed at home. Thank fullness ensued when that was confirmed.

But I still had to get back home without any proof of identity. No cash, no cards, no way to even cash a check, as everyone requires a photo ID. I crept out onto the street and eased myself back out in the highway mid-afternoon, with fingers and toes crossed, hoping to stay completely under the radar. After I got back into GA, I did see some pulled over by a GSP, with blue lights flashing. Needless to say, I did everything right: slow down, change lanes, look like the picture of innocence.

I know we all have an infinite number of things to be thankful for. I often remind myself what a blessing it is to live in the USA, where we have the freedom to travel, cross state lines, get in a vehicle and go anywhere we want (and can afford the gas to go.) There are so many places in the world where people don't have that freedom. Have to ask for permission to travel, and are constantly stopped to have their proof/papers checked before allowed to continue along the journey. I am very thankful for the benefits of being an American citizen, and all the constitution guarantees. And even more aware of the importance of putting my wallet in my pocket before I leave the house. Nothing will make you desire to be the picture of Law-Abiding like not having any identification on your person.

degrees of mortification

Monday, November 19, 2012
I should be ashamed, and you may think less of me after you read this - but sometimes the things you do/say are more effective than you ever expected. And this one of those times.

I was out later than usual for some reason, one afternoon recently. And expected my Spouse to be sitting in his recliner, snoozing in front of the tv waiting for me to come and put a meal on the table, as in: snap your fingers, or wiggle your nose, a la 'Bewtiched' style. So when I came in the door, probably around 7:00, far later than he normally expects to be called to the table, I asked from the kitchen if he had eaten. When he said that he had gotten himself some take out/fast food up the street, I asked if he brought me anything. I was quite surprised to hear that come out of my mouth - but there it was, catching both of us by surprise. His response was that when he usually calls to ask about bringing me something to eat when I am at work, I usually say ''I work in a grocery store - the place is full of food".

Then I said: Do you never think when you go someplace that has food I like to get something for me? Do you never think when you go to chic-fil-a to get me a sandwich? Do you never think about bringing home takeout for both of us to eat? Does it never occur to you when you go to the Pickle Barrel that makes the best Ruben in town: "I think I will get a sandwich to take to my wife, she likes the Ruben so well?" And several other comments along those lines. He was so thoroughly chastised that he apologized for only thinking about himself. Which, in itself, was pretty unexpected.

But the really amazing part is that he called me yesterday when I was at work, frantically making salads, to say: "Can you come out front and meet me on the sidewalk? I have something to give you."  I was completely baffled, but said "Sure" and immediately started walking to the front of the store. He was sitting there, in the tow-away zone. When I walked up to the open window, he gave me a take-out box with a delicious, hot, toasted Ruben sandwich. It was very good. I thanked  him, and dashed back in the store, to resume my frantic salad assembly. 

It's such a huge sandwich that I have to wrap half up to have for another meal, and expected to do that yesterday. But remembering I was going to be walking five miles at Callaway Gardens on my already tired feets, took it with me to eat on the way up to Harris County. It was almost as good cold as it was steaming hot. So I thanked him again this morning.

I have had a few minutes regret that I was so vociferous when I got home and he had only fed himself. But if the chastising worked well enough for him to be willing to want to feed me occasionally, I think it was worth the occasional twinge of guilt. I seem to be getting over the  mortification fairly well.

pre-holiday working and weary...

Sunday, November 18, 2012
Guessing it is a good thing to be working for four days prior to Thanksgiving. Especially when I read on the front page of the paper yesterday that the Dolly Madison plant here suddenly closed, leaving several hundred people unexpectedly unemployed a month before Christmas. If you listen to the news, or watch TV, you probably know more about it than I: the unionized workers went on strike (which I could not support for any reason other than safety) and the owners said: work or be unemployed. So they shut down/closed up. There were people in my workplace yesterday discussing the news and hearing of a 'run on Twinkies'. You can definitely have my share.

Even though I will be on the job for four days, none of the days are a full eight hours. As much as I would like to get paid for more time, I know my feets and legs can't tolerate it. And expect the shorter work day will be as much 'fun' as I can manage.Especially considering I need to squeeze in time to do some food shopping for TurkeyDay.

Plus: today is the day that Callaway Gardens is open for the Nightwalk through the Fantasy in Lights show. The only night pedestrians are allowed to stroll through the thousands of lights along the roadway decorating the Gardens for the Christmas season.The price of admission has gone up over the many years I have been going for the walk-through, with the first tickets I purchased being $6. And the most recent going for $16. Support for the March of Dimes non-profit program is featured prominently in the advertising and on the tickets, but I am pretty sure they Gardens gets a cut if for no other reason than to help defray the cost of what must be a gigantic power bill.

I have enjoyed walking the walk over the years, but just thinking about it now: walking five miles, after being on my poor tired feets for five hours, makes me cringe. So I best put it out of my mind. And try not to think about wanting to lay down and take a nap right now to rest up. I'll take shoes and socks to change after work, but still have a residual feeling of dread. My co-walker, co-hort PC told me after the Country's midnight run that she thought she had done that for the last time back in August. I am already feeling that about the Nightwalk, and it hasn't even happened yet!

more on sub. teaching...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Not only was it not bad, it was kinda amusing:

The second grade teacher, before she left the classroom to go to the IT training session had given her students a piece of Double Bubble to chew up and blow a bubble. You know how hard as a little rock the bubble gum is when you first unwrap it and put it in your  mouth? So they were all industriously chewing away when I got in the class. The instructions she had given them was to chew it long enough to get it soft enough and pliable to blow a bubble. Then they had to write out the process: so more 'sequencing'. Stop and think about the things you do inside your mouth before you can make that bubble appear on the outside...

Another of those vital skills you find so necessary to daily living that become reflexive. I rarely put a piece of gum in my mouth, but am fairly certain that before I get finished I have made bubbles and 'cracked' it any number of times. I grew up thinking I was 'poppin' my gum, but my mother-in-law referred to it as 'cracking'. There is definitely a skill set required before you can get to the point of being a successful bubble blower. And not something you were born knowing: any more than you were naturally able to tie your shoes.

Remember when you sat on the floor with your mom, right there between her knees, with her hands on your hands, talking about bunny ears and how one had to be tucked through the loop of the other, and pulled tight? Remember the first time you successfully made a bow tie out of your shoe laces? Remember getting up and doing the happy dance because you were so pleased with yourself and proud of your accomplishment? I thought when velcro came along, and all the kids sneakers were held together with the loop-and-burr material that shoe tying would become a lost art. I probably said 'tie your shoes' two dozen times today to guys who either didn't; or didn't pull the bunny ears tight enough for the laces to stay.

They are also learning to type in elementary school, because they can do things on the computer that completely baffle me. They are not experts with the keyboard, but we are raising a generation of technology whizzes. I can type, but if you want info. from me, you better call! I'll be sitting here practicing my shoe tying.

another day of sub. teaching...

It wasn't bad.

I'd agreed several weeks ago to be a replacement in a classroom today, and again in Feb. at the same location. It's probably the most desirable elementary school in the county: the one your kids have to 'test' to get into, and the only one in town every student is in the magnet program. Other schools have specialized tracks, but are also neighborhood schools, with kids who live in that zone/area attending. This one has students from all over town, but they are there because their parents want them to be in a place where they are expected to excel - from Kindergarten.

Teachers were out of their classrooms today for several hours of IT instruction, so they were all still present in the building, just being trained instead of teaching. I spent half the day in a second grade classroom, with a group of students who were well behaved, doing work that I would not have expected eight year olds to accomplish, and remarkably cooperative, a very pleasant experience. After lunch, I was sent to a class of fifth graders, who were doing stuff that completely baffled me. Posters up on the wall with examples of what they were expected to know, from early in the school years, were well beyond my comprehension. (Math: you're not surprised, of course!) Polite, well mannered, knew what to do and when to do it. If the system did not require an instructor to be on hand at all times, the fifth graders would be perfectly capable of managing their classroom for several hours without my 'adult supervision'. Plus they went from sustained reading and AR testing  to PE to computer lab and then went home, so they really didn't need me.

This is the same school where I was a sub. about a month ago, in a Kindergarten class, where the teacher had the students so well organized and on track - the five year olds could have done it without me - had there been a talking clock there to tell them the time, since that was probably all they could not do. And the kids in the second grade today was actually practicing their time-telling skills when we did a work sheet that had clock faces on it and they had to write in what time the hands were on - plus several rounds of Clock Bingo, which was pretty amusing. I guess it's all a matter of readiness.

It is interesting to see how skills build on skills and develop in complexity.  I remember all those years ago when I was in Head Start and giving kids papers that had a jumbled up series of illustrations on it. They had to color and cut their work into squares(practicing fine  motor skills) then glue them down on another sheet of paper in the proper sequence - figure out whether Billy got out of bed first, or got dressed first, or got on the school bus first, or walked out the door of his house first. Another of those things we forget we were not born knowing; requiring a bit more thinking, and a different kind of information processing than how to operate a coat hanger, since you have to do it all in your head.

Interesting to ponder...

something you probably never thought to be thankful for....

Monday, November 12, 2012
Holy cow - just when you felt like you had thought of all the reasons you have to be thankful - here's one I heard about today... that kinda came by way of the back door/unexpectedly.  I was working yesterday, plowing through the list of things that have to be prepped every day, to have plenty of fresh salads, fruit bowls and yogurt parfaits to have ready to the sales floor every morning. Trying to get as much ready as possible for Monday at 7 a.m. when the store opened and all the 'outdated' fresh products had to be pulled off the shelves.

Sort of frantically working, knowing that anything that did not get done  by Me, would not get done: the guy who was supposed to be there, prepping fruit, cutting melons, pineapple, strawberries to be ready/'ahead' with bowls of cubed and sliced fruit for today just didn't show up. No one told me why he wasn't there, or what had happened, so I thought: when he found out he was the fruit cutter, he thought of a good reason to not show up. Suddenly taken deathly ill, or car trouble, or family issues that called him out of town - anything to avoid a messy, onerous job.

But when he came in today, and I casually wondered what happened, he told me a story that reminded me to be continually thankful for things that never happened. He lives with a girl friend, who has a sixteen year old son, with an apparent chronic lack of impulse control. The sixteen year old kid took his car, without permission, and without a driver's license. Drove to Harris County to pick up a girl friend and went joy riding. Wrecked the car. They saw it leave the apartment parking lot, and assumed it had been stolen, since the mom checked and found the teenager asleep in bed (which was a ploy, so could be considered an outright lie - pillows under the blankets made to look like a person). So they called to make a police report. Then hours later, discovered the teenager not at home, and had to back off from a stolen vehicle report.

The teenager would not answer his phone, until he wrecked the car and needed help. So they were all up all night. Which explains why the fruit cutter was not at work, after about thirty hours without sleep.

I am so, so, so thankful for healthy happy adult children, who (to the best of my knowledge???) did not stray. I am thankful for their common sense, impulse control, capable self-managment and just general, all-around adult hood. I forget to be thankful that they have turned into fully functioning adults, until something like this comes along to remind me that we are blessedly past the hormonal years and they are independent and mostly normal, mature, civilized adults. Thank you, God that we all survived the teenaged years, without anyone getting strangled. Or blood and missing body parts.

If there is anything you would like to confess, I think I am ready now...

frequent employment

I find myself so regularly employed, it might be inconvenient to my life-style.

There was a time, several years ago, when the economy was so down in the gutter, I came to expect that I would only be working once a month, just enough to keep me from being dropped out of the computer. And bagging groceries at that. Over time, things got a bit better, and the department mangers began to give me a little more work. I could expect at least a day a week, and occasionally two. But by that time, apparently I had programmed my brain to believe I had plenty of fredom to do things I (and anyone with common sense) would rather do than punch the clock.

Giving your time to someone else: corporately speaking is the way we function in this society, but it's rarely by choice. I know there are people in the world who enjoy their jobs so thoroughly - it does not feel like work. And there are people who are so devoted/dedicated to what they are trained to do, they reportedly would do it even if there was not reward/remuneration involved. That's Not Me.

When I started down the path of working in the floral industry, I must have been walking backwards. I don't think I actually 'chose' it, I was floundering and just needed to become employed. Someone suggested training in basic floral skills, and 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'.  Thus, after starting in this line of work in another century, it still 'seems like'. I tell people I decided when I felt my children were old enough to stay at home for several hours in the afternoon without burning the house down (or killing each other), I applied for a part time job. And have been at it since 1997.

I must need to a good' talking to', with an occasional finger shaking in my face- as I am struggling with working several days in a row. Part of the difficulty is purely physical, how tiring it is to be on my feet five or six hours a day on the hard concrete floor - it's  exhausting. Steady employment for four days in a row is not something that happens on a regular basis - and hard to adjust to the physical demands, plus factor in my independent, free-floating life. It's nice to have all the time in the world to do things I choose, but even doing nothing has it's price. To have the funds to buy gas for traveling is really important, and to have the resources to eat on a regular basis is definitely a Basic Necessity.

So here I am, on the schedule for three days of making salads and fresh fruit yogurt parfaits. And then a day of sub. teaching on Wednesday.

election 2012, part 2

Friday, November 9, 2012
Here's the thing about my vote. I registered to vote the day I turned eighteen, taking my responsibility (and the opportunity to express my opinion, no matter how small and insignificant one vote might be) very seriously. I may have had the idea that becoming a registered voter in America was of equal importance as the day I turned sixteen and got a permit to drive - and voting was not nearly as scary as turning the key in the ignition and stepping on the accelerator.

I knew when I went to the polls that I was undecided, and considered to possibility of not voting for anyone in the presidential race - but got there, where it was time to fish or cut bait and conscience, riding on my shoulder, would not let me skip over it. The most important reason I made the effort to get to the polls was to vote for a local man who was trying to unseat a long-serving incumbent in the House. He sadly, dramatically lost. In my opinion, due to the fact that such an overwhelming number of people voted for another four years. Incumbents are always hard to unseat, no matter the office. I believe the people who voted for the incumbent president also voted party lines, and put the local Representative back for another term. He's not a bad person, but has gotten comfortable after twenty years. And probably thinks himself impervious, with the large majority he received in this election.

When I registered all those years ago, I had opportunities to vote for people who I knew were incompetent, incapable of providing good public service. I decided I would write in my dad's name instead of casting my ballot for someone who was not qualified to serve: knowing that if he were to be elected, the position would be filled by a man of integrity and character. As  the campaign process narrowed the field down to the two guys I did not want to vote for this week, I was initially delighted that some of the incompetents and clowns were eliminated, but as mud-slinging started, I was especially saddened. And occasionally morose that I did not have to option of writing in the name of a man who would be a better candidate than the choices that were printed on my ballot.

I am reconciled: my vote was not needed by the Democrat, and would not have helped the Republican. So let's just keep praying for America.... to wake up, turn around, go back to the principles in the Constitution and the moral standards of the founding fathers.

amusing or not....depends on your age?

Keeping busy this week: worked at my little jobette Sunday and Tuesday. Went to Decatur Tuesday evening, so I could get up early on Wednesday and drive to SC. I try to go about once a month to visit my pen-pal in Greenville - and this month got full so quickly the opportunity nearly got past me. Mr. Homer is my dad's Army friend who served with him in WWII. I enjoy going up and spending the day, just hanging out... if 'hanging out' is a term that can be applied to a man who is 89 years old. I think  most of what we did this past Wednesday: eating several times.

Then I got back to Decatur and was forced to eat again. After a carb.laden meal, it was definitely time to lay down in pants with a stretchy waist band. Factor in waking up about 4:30 am. due to brain that is still scrambled from the 'fall back' time change, and that was the end of being productive for the day. I have yet to get what I consider a normal night's sleep - either weary from awaking far too early and having to go to bed at 8:30. Or the other extreme of staying up to late, and feeling like I am running behind when I don't wake up before the crack of dawn.

But we did watch a comedy show I wanted to see on netflix, that surely burned off a thousand calories due to hilarity. I'd had a report that there was a story about the guy riding a little putt-putt scooter in full biker leathers(claiming that the scooter with a maximum speed of 45 m.p.h.was all his wife would allow) that was worth the price of admission, and it was amusing. But overall, this guy, part of the original blue-collar comedy tour, seems to get all his laughs from poking fun at his wife and their relationship. Probably due to being  at the age that I have no hesitation for expressing strong opinions, or possibly aging hs made me more and more conservative, but I find it tiresome and offensive to hear people, of any sort, in jest or not, constantly finding their amusement at the expense others because of gender (or color, or ethnic background or etc.)

So I guess the blue collar tour would not be the entertainment that it was some years ago: the one guy who stands there with a 'drink' in one hand and cigar in the other - that in itself enough to turn me off. As he tells off color jokes filled with poor word choices. Completely unnecessary. If you have to resort to four letter words to get attention: not at all funny. Maybe in the bathroom in grade school, but not for people who pay lots of money for tickets to be entertained.

Then there is the guy who acts like a doofus cable installer, and the guy who started it all with :'you might be a redneck if...'. Occasionally the redneck jokes are amusing, but overall, if you think about it - pretty insulting to a large segment of the population. Calling locals hicks, ignorant, lazy and dumb. I guess the 'fun' part of funny got old.

I had to work on Thursday, so I got up early and drove home that morning. Remarkably, surprisingly - I don't have anything that must get done today, so hope to put some more plants in the ground before the cold creeps in for the duration. It has apparently rained enough that the ground here is not like quarrying stone, clay soft enough to dig - but only temporarily, so I need to get on with the hole digging and planting.

election day, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I am still very disheartened about the Presidential Election. I don't think either of the options is qualified. And have considered the possibility of not voting for either, but just showing up to cast my ballot for others running, and have an opinion about changes to laws.

I'm so distressed to think that neither of the options has the integrity to manage such an overwhelming job. I know they can surround themselves with people who are experienced and have great knowledge in specific areas to get the best advice for making wise decisions. But they just don't seem to be 'presidential'.

I read the Obama book back in the summer, and that did raise my opinion of him as a man, but am concerned about the future of our nation. Romney seems to often be out to lunch.

Where are the people who have America's best interest at heart? Probably don't want to get mired in the muck of politics....

more things to be thankful for...

I know I have written at some point in the past about the little book where I keep an on-going list of things I consider blessings in my life. Occasionally the book gets misplaced, buried under the flotsam and jetsam of misc. and does not get a daily entry. But when it resurfaces and I start up again, I can always find some otherwise mundane things or people that I am thankful for on any given day.

When I was working as a replacement for the teacher's aide/para.pro in a class of four year olds yesterday, I found something unexpected that we should All be thankful for. Just another of those things that you have never stopped to consider: you were  not born knowing how to operate a clothes hanger. To watch those little people who were struggling to get the hanger inside their jackets was so amusing. And touching and sweet and made me want to go over and help, fingers itching to make it easier for them to move on to the next thing. But I knew they could and should have to opportunity to figure it out for themselves. To master that recalcitrant hanger, develop the skills to get it under control, and do it often enough that in time, they too will be able to take 'hangering' for granted.

Us, who also take literacy for granted, cannot remember the time when we could not wrangle a hanger into an article of clothing. And if we had, we were likely too short to be able to hang it on the rod in the closet that was designed for use by a fully grown adult. Although I do recall that my dad put the clothes rod in the closet of the house where I grew up down at a level that was proper height for child use. Providing me with the opportunity to learn:  responsiblity of hanging up my own clothing. And denying my small self the excuse of being height-impaired.

I remember years ago reading that you should tell them to lay the garment out on the floor, with the front open, then tell them to lay down on it, to better put it on by themselves. They would eventually get the hang of it, and be able to put their arms in the sleeves without rolling around on the carpet. The pre-K teacher told them yestereday to remember they were supposed to lay it out on the table before they tried to put the hanger into the sleeves - something you and I do so easily, without thought. I watched them attack the sweaters and jackets with the hangers - fumbling to get it in one sleeve, and have that side fall off the hanger, while they were intent on the other sleeve. Never realizing until that day, what a chore it is just to insert a hanger in a coat. But for those who have never had the experience, coupled with still developing motor skills - getting the two items: coat and hanger to mesh smoothly together is obviously a real challenge.

So - if you ever run out of things to be thankful for, there is always the ability to put your clothing on a hanger without assistance.. And... clothing to put, hangers to hang, closets to put them both in... safe comfortable houses with the closets neatly installed, safe streets and communities. Living in America. All that and more.

an educational field trip/stroll in the woods...

Sunday, November 4, 2012
Welcome to the world of Orienteering.

I had no idea what we would be doing when I signed us up for the orienteering experience at FDR State Park in Harris County. But I took my compass on a string around my neck and went to find out just exactly how it works. Which I still don't know. The map we got for the easier of several trails was so/too easy that we commented about how much amusement it would be for a troop of elementary age Girl Scouts. I could just picture them running off at top speed, dashing pell-mell along the trail ahead of their leaders, seaching for the next checkin location. It was such well marked, easy to follow path, your average nine year old would have not found it too challenging.

But for us who had no notion of what was involved, it was probably a pretty adequate introduction.There were quite a few other participants - some adults, singles and in pairs. And two yellow school buses from public schools that had ferried groups of JROTC students to try their luck at finding their way in the woods. We were on some time constraints, so did not have the opportunity to try a more difficult path, but will certainly want to give it another go in the near future.

The event was remarkably well organized, and the people who were in positions of responsibility appeared to have a good deal of experience with processing participants - having done it enough to pretty much have a good 'system' in place. From talking to one of the organizers, it seems that the group plans events every month, sometimes nearly every weekend in different locations around the state, often in state parks. And I think it was good that I was with someone who was equally inexperienced, as there is not much about me that is competitive. The idea of dashing through the woods, trying to complete the course in record time does not appeal - especially on such a beautiful fall day when just meandering along down the trail through the fall leaves was such a treat.

I'm so old school, I probably would have been even more entertained by the event if it had not been dependent on electronics: you had to rent a little thumb-drive type device that you poked into all the markers along the trail to register that you had found that particular location. And your time was recorded and printed out when you plugged your device into the lap-top at the finish line. Back in the 'olden days' you had to find the numbered marker on the trail and use a manual hole-punch type device, to poke a specific design on a card to prove you had located all the stations on your map. And think how much that would have entertained a crew of little girl scouts with braids flying, and brownie sashes flapping as they went charging down the trail.

that 'extra hour' of sleep from time change....

Let's all compare note and talk about all the interesting things we got accomplished from having an extra hour in our day! If you think you misplaced it, you need to remember it is not really a Gift, but that same hour the 'great and powerful Oz' took away from you back in the spring when we started that delightful creation known as 'daylight savings time'. Not that there is any delight in having your sleep patterns awry for two weeks: both spring and fall, as your brain struggles to compensate for silly legislation.

So... what did I do with all that spare time/change? Laid awake in bed thinking of all the things I should be doing instead of lying in bed, of course! Looking at my watch, then at the bedside clock, trying to decide which one was right: 'what time is it, really?' Now that I have been awake for hours, how to best use my time? Dig holes, of course, one of my most favorite forms of therapy - especially if you have something you can put in it!

I have lots of things in pots, some gifts, some rescues, that I need to get planted before the weather gets seriously cold. Yesterday afternoon I found myself digging and plunking things down in holes. It's been dry here, so I will have to be diligent about keeping them watered until they loose leaves and appear 'dead'. But hopefully only dormant, and still  making some roots down in that good rich store-bought dirt I tucked them  into. I put a couple of azaleas in the ground, a pot of rescued mums, half a dozen gerbera daisies that may/may not survive weeks of benign neglect, some small roses that probably won't make it, plus a mystery plant that might be a 'mallow' with a dark purple trumpet-shaped bloom. They got a good dose of time-release fertilizer in with the good, rich soil, so there is the possibility of resurrection in the spring. And I hope to get a couple of hydrangeas planted today, as well as a mini-rose put into a pot.

It's definitely fall here- I got out the blower and cleared a path in the driveway - where so many acorns have fallen, the asphalt is covered in orange splotches from being smashed with car tires. I noticed the grancy-graybeards being brilliantly yellow, now that they have gotten big enough to be noticed when they change their outfits.

Right now, I am of the opinion that the most likely success in my 'formerly known as' garden plot in the back yard will be zinnias and marigolds. I was so disheartened by the poor showing of tomatoes, that the likelihood of trying again is nearly non-existent. The fact that I was not a good 'tender' probably has a lot to do with the sparseness of the crop. Absolutely no possibility of even making the effort to plant again in the spring: until it gets to be actual Spring and I get itchy fingers, go crusing through the garden shops and see all those tempting flats of plants, hear the tomatoes calling my name... lookit it me,... over here.... look....

what-to-do, what-to-do...

Friday, November 2, 2012
Most mornings, Monday through Friday, the telephone rings about 6:07, or 6:15, with a call from the computer generated Sub-finder, looking for someone to fill in vacancies with the school system. I am quite surprised that there were no calls - and no vacancies - today. I woke up about 5:15 and got up to check the website to see if there were any jobs available. On the one, very rare day, that I don't have anything else on my calendar, and would go to a school to substitute for the day: no one wants me?

Not that I can't keep myself busy all day.  I have: things in pots that I have been watering for months and need to get put in the ground, things that need mending and have been stacking up in the laundry room for months, floor that gets dirtier every day and needs cleaning. Plus all the people I could go see and enjoy visiting, in order to avoid all the things that I should be tending to at home.

I am completely baffled by why the phone did not ring, either last night or early this morning. It usually starts in the evening, prior to the day when a teacher will be out - and will go on from 5:30 till 9:00 p.m., if you don't hit the star button to notify of non-availability and end the constant ringing.  The mornings when it does not ring in that 6:00 to 6:30 time are extremely rare... so I am curious to know why I did not scratch up a little 'day labor' job?

Halloween at the P. place...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
They have been doing a commercialized version of Trick or Treat at my workplace for years, but rarely have I been involved, due mostly to not being on the schedule for whatever day it might occur. But I went to work this afternoon at 2:00. Something I have not done since I was a Bakery Clerk at least six years ago. The level of joy to be had in going to work mid-afternoon has not increased in all those years. It was pretty odd to be showing up at that time - and I thought it was primarily to be the person present on the sales floor when my co-worker would be in the stock room getting three dozen centerpieces done for the special order this weekend.

But when I got there, I found myself appointed as the person who would hand out candy when all the little people were invited to troop through the store in costumes and say 'tricker treat', hold out their bags and get goodies. When I was given a bucket of candy to give away, I immediately ate a PeanutButter Snicker, just a little mini-size. It was so good, I thought: 'hmmm, that was so small and tasty, I believe I will have another.' And by the time I ate the third one, I was so candy-sugar miserable I was completely done with candy for the duration. I don't think I will ever need to eat another: completely cured.

There were lots of little princesses, a number of varying sizes of Spiderman, several fuzzy blue things with one eye in the middle of their foreheads I did not recognize, and one little Robin Hood. The little green thug was so cute I  questioned his mom, and she said they made the costume: bought an oversized green t-shirt and cut zig-zags around the bottom and sleeves, dyed the tights green, and made his hat out of a big square of felt. He was about three feet tall - and very funny.

I was, I am sure, overly generous with the container of candy the store supplied for me to give away, especially after convincing myself that I was allowed to go home when I emptied the bucket. So I started putting a big handful of Starburst and Skittles in every pumpkin bucket and bag that came by. I had definitely o.d.'ed on Snickers - so those were the first thing that I wanted to give away, to get out of my sight.

more on the 'punching' part...

I have been working at this job for just over fifteen years. That is pretty surprising to me too! The story most people hear is that when I decided my daughters might be old enough to spend a couple of afternoons at home alone with out burning the house down, it seemed to be time to look for a part time job. After this new grocery store was opened and I shopped there for about a month, I noticed a sign in the front window: floral clerk needed. This might sound bizarre and very strange coming from irreverent me, but my thought: 'If that sign is still in the window the next time I come in the store, it is something I am supposed to do'.

I'd been thinking, pondering, even reading library books on 'how to find the most fulfilling employment', and considering what I might want to do that would a)gratify as well as provide some b)income. I know there are a world of people out there who don't get a) and feel stuck with b). After lots of consideration, I decided the work I had done that provided the most satisfaction was in the floral business. As a longtime reader of the classified ads, I found a couple of parttime/seasonal jobs that I applied for and worked, but nothing that would be steady employment.

Then we needed groceries again, so I went back for more food, to find the sign still in the window. I filled out the application (this is so long ago the application was printed, with blanks to complete by hand - how Old School that is now!) And had a copy of my resume: also printed - seems to be so amateurish in this day of electronics! My 'test' to prove skills was to tie a bow, then produce a carnation bud vase. That was all it took to become an employee. I think when I started, the minimum pay was $5.15/hour and I got $5.50 because I was 'skilled' for the position of floral clerk. That sounds pretty pitiful - but compare it to this: I think when I got my first job ever when I was still in high school, wrapping gifts at Christmas, the minimum was $2.25/hour - and that was a Lot of  money for me to be turned loose with!

One of the things I like least about this is the necessity for twice employee work evaluations. I just had one last week, and I am still pissed. More later...


punching the clock...

After months (and probably years) of mumbling and grumbling about not being scheduled to work, it appears there might be some 'reverse' mumbling and grumbling. Like hearing about being 'reverse robbed', where totally random, completely unexpected things appear at your house and you have no idea of the origin. As in eggs mysteriously appearing in your refrigerator?) I am expected to appear at work four days this week. Not necessarily convenient - but after so much disgruntled commentary about feeling like the Red-headed Step-child, I feel compelled to take the extra hours when offered.

This weekend is when a big football event occurs here: historic rivals Albany State University and Ft. Valley State. They will play here, at Memorial Stadium, with lots of activities planned for students and alumni preceding the game on Saturday afternoon. What that event has to do with me, is the alumni, who are planning a dinner for Ft. Valley have ordered three dozen fresh cut flower table arrangements from the Floral Shoppe. My part in this is: nothing. I only have to be there in the store, a presence, on the sales floor while the centerpieces are magically being manufactured in the stock room. To mysteriously appear, completely formed, ready to be picked up on Friday morning with no more apparent effort than the wave of a wand. Or hand, or stem cutters.

To my benefit, I find that I am being scheduled to work three days a week: nice to have that extra bit of pay that will help pull the 'ends' that never meet closer together.. To my detriment, (or not) the days scheduled are not eight hours long. To my benefit: I don't think my feets and legs are able to tolerate eight hours of being upright. To my detriment: the shortened work days cause me to not be able to run up and down the road doing my usual traveling as there is not enough time to get there/anywhere and back in between times my number is in the time clock.

So... it's not all bad, but not all good with the constrictions of being at the mercy of employer - but as you know: we take the good with the bad, and do things we would prefer 'not' to have the resources to do the things we would Definitely Rather. More 'resources' means more of the Rather to enjoy, but less time to do it in... now that's a quandry....

a weekend of emmaus'ing...

Sunday, October 28, 2012
I'm discovering I am getting to old to function well on insufficient sleep. After getting up too early and staying up to late for several days - it's caught up with me. The usual quandry (after it gets dark entirely too early) is deciding whether to try to force myself to stay up and drag around for another hour or so, completely exhausted. Or go on to bed too soon, knowing that will create a problem in the wee hours of the morning, when eyelids pop open and brain won't turn off.

The workers for the Emmaus Walk were to assemble at the retreat early afternoon on Thursday, to start preparing for the Pilgrims arrival around 7:00 p.m. I'd been on the schedule to work at Publix, so it was mid-afternoon for me, with a detour by the library for reading material to fill some of those 'hurry up and wait' times. The team I was working with was responsible for frequent changes of scene in the chapel, as well as a number of communion opportunities. I think we must have 'communed' about six times over three days.

The little group I spent most of the past three days with are folks I met  a couple of years ago when I was assigned to 'worship' team. A mother and daughter, and a friend of theirs. It was a pretty enjoyable experience... listening to them telling stories about previous times as workers, people they had in common, and perodically going into the chapel to 're-set' the table for different stages of the Walk.

In addition to the gratifying experience the Pilgrims are there to experience, they are supposed to enjoy being cared for over the weekend by a host of 'non-existent' servants. The most amusing part is how we are supposed to be Invisible to the Pilgrims - I caught myself any number of times stepping over the threshold of the little room we were in - poised to walk out - and hesitating, in mid-air, remembering to check for evidence of Pilgrims on the loose before going forward. And lots of times staring down the path and making  a screeching U-turn when I would catch sight of someone who as not supposed to be seeing me. You could be standing across the way, and watch people lurking behind shrubs, half-opened doors, silently skulking in a clump of trees, peering around the corner of the building, waiting for the coast to clear, so we could go about our undercover, stealthy business. Cooking, cleaning, decorating, preparing worship events - all without being seen.  Sounds like super-heroes from comic books, huh? With a 'cloak of invisiblity', ready to vanish right before your very eyes!

Most of the worker-bees stay the weekend, in dorms away from the Pilgrims. But I knew I would not sleep well in a room full of strange people, making strange sounds all night long. So I drove up and back every day. Some nights getting home about 11:00 p.m., and setting the alarm to wake me at 5:30, to be back on duty by 7:00 the next day.  And I did sleep better than I would have in a room full of women getting up all night long banging bathroom doors (or coughing, or snorting, or snoring, or bumping and thumping) - but just not enough: so I'm going to bed.

and now I've been to Alabama...

Monday, October 22, 2012
Just so it would not feel neglected.... lately my travels have included most everything along the eastern seaboard, except Alabama. So today I drove 180 miles for a dr. appt. in Montgomery - and as I expected spent most of that time getting there and back again.

I'd been taking this Rx for years without ever feeling like it was really effective, and doubting the necessity. So I quit taking it for a couple of months back early in the year, and substituted some concoction I purchased at the natural foods store. When I went back to the Real Doctor and she did blood analysis, she said she was surprised I was still alive when she got the lab work results. That inspired me to start back on the real Rx, pretty quick like.

But still : thinking it was not really resolving the miscellaneous problems that originally caused me to begin taking this particular drug all those years ago. So I made an appt. with the closest female endocrinologist I could locate - which turned out to be halfway across Alabama. This was the third time I have made the drive.She has been tinkering with the dosage for six months, trying to figure out the lowest I can take and still have enough in my system to not fall apart, I guess?

And to tell you the truth - all those misc. symptoms I have been annoyed by, but apparently not so discomfited I would search out a specialist - are still right there/here - being annoying. But it was a pretty day, and I had my talking book to keep me company, and the interminable fundraising campaign on Public Radio to keep me annoyed whilst I drove to Montgomery and back. The gas over there is always less than GA: there was some that was $3.24 I felt compelled to buy even though I really did not need any and could only put less than three gallons in a nearly full tank. Do you hate me because I get 48 mpg? Sorry.

meandering our way out of north Florida...

Sunday, October 21, 2012
After the disappointing visit to Wakulla Springs, we headed back north, to spend the night in south GA. Part of the reason for wanting to go on a wandering road trip, was the Second Annual Brooks County Skillet Festival. Possibly the worlds' lamest idea for having a day of  dozens of craft and food booths on a courthouse square in modern times. I was pretty amusing, though I am glad that I was there only as an observer. When I went last year for the First Annual Brooks County Skillet Festival, I don't think I even broke even. Possibly making enough to cover my entry fee, but not the gas to get there and back. I'm pretty sure I am done with craft fairs. But we went, mostly/sorta saw it all - and only spent pocket change on a bag of fried pork skins. Which I could not even think about putting in my mouth. Nor would I eat fried bird feathers, or horse hide.

Another disappointment - was not seeing some art done by a local guy that was in the county historical museum. I'd received an email announcing the show, and encouraging folks to want to look, saying it would be on display until the end of the Festival. Might be true: but the building was locked, unmanned, and we could not get in the door. There were actually signs up encouraging people to want to visit the museum - but no one thought to actually provide the manpower to have the building open for all those hundreds of out-of-town guests they had been luring to town for the fun and festivities, just across the street. Crazy?

But I had two days of mostly, nearly undivided attention from one of my favorite people. Except for all that time she was texting, emailing, engrossed in the electronic device that has become an appendage, essential body part.

We went to visit the sister who was home, after over a week of incarceration in the confines of South GA Medical Center. I think she was released  on Monday, and is slowly improving, in barely perceptible increments, trying to regain strength and stamina from nearly ten days of being tethered to a bed. I know  nothing is more exhausting than doing nothing, and if you do it long enough you get to where you can't do anything, having learned some years ago that Inertia Breeds Inertia. The longer you sit, the more you need help to get up and wobble about. Hearing about some of the limitations the therapy/rehab team insisted on before releasing her, it's got to be frustrating to want to try to do little daily activities, and fearful of risking damage as a result of routine tasks. Wanting to regain strength, but being so limited in what she is allowed to do: arggghh.

Then we came back to Columbus Saturday afternoon, and that's that.

meandering our way into north FL...

We left Columbus on Friday morning and went to FL. I'd been industriously promoting a trip to Edward Ball State Park, just south of Tallahassee for weeks, trying my best to get someone to want to go with me: dangling the idea of a tourist-y little trip down the river in a glass-bottomed boat. Sadly: no such luck. We did get on the boat, but the ones that you could peer over into the hole and see stuff on the bottom was not an option, due to murky water.

I was so very annoyed - as I had actually done my own research this time, and was really looking forward to the opportunity to see all that stuff that lives underwater. The guy who sold us the tickets reported that recent rains had caused the water to be so cloudy they would not take the other boats out.  I suspect experience has proven that if they were to sell the tickets for the bottom viewing, and tourists could not see through the murky water, they would be doing a lot of explaining, to say nothing of refunding. I was really sad, and had so looked forward to peering down through the glass to see fishes, turtles, and whatever else there might be lurking in the spring fed river.

Our guide, who was extremely difficult to understand, reported that some unbeliveable quantity of water pours forth out of the spring - was it 6,000 gallons a minute? Holy Cow! Bubbling up to form the Wakulla River, and running into the Gulf of Mexico. Surprisingly the only part of that natural wonder that is protected is the part within the bounds of the park - only about two miles from the source. So anyone who wants to jump in, fish, boat, be enviornmentally incorrect, can do whatever they can get away with in the miles between the park boundary and the Gulf twenty-three miles to the south.

We saw fishing birds: pelicans, anhingas, coots, marsh hens, egrets, plenty of fishes, quite a few alligators - looking much blacker than I remember them to be. And, surprising to me, a number of manatees. I don't know if the fact that the guide said the water is almost always 70 degrees is a factor, but I did not expect to see the 'sea cows' so far north. Though I had read they like a warmer temperature, and were often found in Crystal River, just north of Tampa/St Pete area, it just did not occur to me that they would be in N. FL as well. Aren't they endangered due to mishaps with boat motors? And just being slow moving and not terribly bright?

Though we were surprised to see the manatees, what we really were wishing for is mermaids. I remember reading someplace about a theory that the early sailors in the New World possibly thought that the sea cows were mermaids. If so they had definitely, decidedly been at sea far too long. Still trying to get to Weeki-Watchee, where we Know there are Mermaids.

... and the comos were beautiful!

Monday, October 15, 2012
In all those trips up and down the state in the past week, driving to Chattanooga last Monday with the Birthday Surprise! Across the western edge of North Carolina on Friday. And coming down out of the NC mountains on Sunday to Gainesville, then back up towards TN today - the cosmos the D.O.T. planted along the right of way and medians was absolutely stunning. I think I might have to write a letter to the guys that are usually propped up on their shovels along the roads, smoking and spitting to tell them how glorious the blooming beauties are.

By this time of year, all you usually see blooming along the highways is goldenrod and other assorted wild flowers that are struggling in to survive from the blast of summer heat. But there were places along I-75 north of Atlanta, headed towards Chattanooga that the pink and magenta and white cosmos were obviously perfectly timed for gorgeous fall color. When I came back towards Atlanta this afternoon, I saw several vehicles pulled off on the apron, where passers-by had stopped to enjoy the beauty, getting out of their cars with cameras to capture the great wide swaths of bright colors.

When we crossed over from TN into NC on Friday morning, we began to notice large sections of right of way planted with lush coverings of the same hot pink, magenta and occasional white blooms of amazingly tall, remarkably healthy cosmos. I noticed the cover section of the map we picked up in Murphey had a photo of the brightly blooming plants.

And there were sections of cosmos along Highway 441 coming down out of North Carolina. Traveling through little towns in the hills of northeast Georgia, the D.O.T had provided more plantings in the medians. Long stretches of bright color, between the lanes of north bound and south bound, swaying in the breeze stirred up by passing vehicles, beautifully bouncing in the afternoon sun.

Remembering that back in 1996, when the Oplympics came to GA, the Garden Clubs were urging communities as well as state agencies to plant things that would produce gold blooms all over the state, I have to wonder who was behind the idea to blanket sections of the public highways with such eye-catching fall color... I know people like to go to the mountains to see the fall leaves, but those brilliantly colored cosmos are worth a trip!

the road trip in retro....

There were several things on my 'to-do' list when I started the trip last week. I have to confess I did not get any of them done. But it all worked out for the best, plus now there are excellent reasons to go back to NC again. We stopped in Murphey, right over the state line in North Carolina at a little visitor's center and got a map that is as wide as my car when completely unfolded. Reaching from the driver's side window clear over to the passenger side rear view mirror. Reminding me of the time our family was, for some un-remembered reason, driving the across the state the long way - it took an entire day.

Back in the summer, when we were passing through NC (the short way: south to north) I was navigating with a map, page 49 in the atlas, that was nearly twenty years old. The driver would not stop long enough for me to get an official state highway map - so we just kept going, with me thinking 'if you don't slow down for anything - you will not know what you missed by not having a road map with informative information about all the things that you are whizzing past.' But now that I have a 'real' and Official map, I can go back and see all that stuff we whizzed by in August...

I had hopes of going to the Grove Park Inn at some point and sitting out of the terrace, acting like rich folks, trying to give the appearance of being well-behaved and ordering some shamelessly decadent desserts. Like anything on the menu that would be remotely similar to 'death by chocolate' and ridiculously overpriced. But we decided to just wander around downtown and never got to the Inn - though it is always so fine to go and sit out there as the sun is going down over the golf course, mountains and pretend.

I had great plans for stopping on the road south at the Goats on the Roof - but it's such a unique tourist trap, I am sure it will be there the next time. And while I was tooling south towards Atlanta, passed the sign for Dawsonville, and remember: that is where the 'Kangaroo Refuge' is located. Which should be a legitimate reason to start planning another road trip!

And I meant to go to Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta to see the Gengis Khan exhibit, even though what you just read is all I know about it: having seen billboards along the interstate, I think it is something I don't want to miss. And those poor people who have been dragged through museums in six states should not miss it either. Fortunately Khan will hang around ATL until mid-January, so there is plenty of time to get there. There was an exhibit at the High Museum last year, with some of the terracotta soldiers from the Emperors' Army of China that was pretty impressive, so I hope whatever is traveling with Khan will be equally interesting.

At some point this morning, I unexpectedly, oddly, randomly decided that we would skip the Khan visit today, and get the TN girl on back home. For which I am profoundly thankful: her hubby had a wreck on his bike this afternoon, and she was there to rush to the rescue and get him to the ER for repair work. She reported he had stitches in his upper lip and nose, but will be ok. I don't know what happened, what kind of shape the bicycle is in, but thankful that it was not worse, and that she was there, available for his assistance.Thankfully he can take drugs, rest and get better, and as we all know, things are just that: things, so the bike can be repaired. Thankful.

three state tour...part 3

We got up Sunday morning and went to church, less than a block down the hill. R. has been the pastor of this little country church for about a year, and I suspect that the young pastor and his very energetic and amusing wife have really added a lot of liveliness to that congregation. The membership that we saw numbered about sixty, and appeared to consist of mostly older families. We were told there are four teens in the youth group, and two younger kids in the Sunday School.

We went out to lunch in a cafe in the downtown area of Canton. It's like many other small towns, with small locally-owned businesses struggling, and probably more places closing than opening. I''m convinced the only way most small town family-owned shops can survive in the age of big boxes and discount stores is having already weathered years of change. If the family has been around long enough to own their building and do not have to include rent in their expenses, they stand a better chance of breaking even in this time of struggling economy. But I know of family businesses that closed - when Walmart came into the area, and attracted other big discounters that can offer goods at prices no one can beat.

Lunch was in a cafe that opened in a building that used to be a hotel. I don't think the hotel is in business, but it looked like it was at least one hundred years old. As you would expect in a small town, on Sunday, after many go to church, it was a buzzing place. The biggest industry in the town is a large paper mill... you may have knowledge of the aroma one generally associates with such? Yep.

We had a good lunch, nice visit. And got on the road to head south. The host had a new nephew born earlier that morning, and they were headed to Raleigh to view the new person. So we took our leave and started south.My chauffeur quickly started feeling a nap coming on, so we swapped off and I drove on down to Decatur.

Sadly, not stopping just south of Clayton, on Highway 441 at the 'Goats on the Roof'. I knew it was there, but just did not take the time to veer off for this unusual tourist attraction: the name pretty much sums it up. Not that I think it is worth planning a trip specifically to take in - but if you should find yourself up there in the corner, definitely worth a look. Strange and funny, like the rest of the world generally think/expect people in GA to be...

It was amazingly time to eat again when we got to Eddie's Attic, and since we have special 'in' with the Kitchen Manager Person, we got the things we most enjoy eating: for me it is always bruschetta and for my traveling partner, it is always fried okra with Parmesan cheese.Plus a couple of fish tacos.

We'd been eating sundry variations on Latino food (if you allow the Taco Bell menu?) since we left Chattanooga, so wondering if there is any way that bruschetta could be considered Mexican? Factoring in tomatoes, cheese, onions in the topping, I think it might squeak in - which would mean we had plenty of gas all the way along on our road trip.

three state tour...parts 1 & 2

Sunday, October 14, 2012
"I've been everywhere, man..."

I left home on Thursday morning. Stopped for most of the day in Decatur, We walked the dogs, piddled around and went to the food trucks for lunch. I left ATL mid-afternoonn, got to TN about quitting time. We'd been talking about going to Asheville NC for weeks, making plans to take a hike in a forest I had learned about last fall. And thought that going when the leaves were changing would be a great time to take a walk in the woods.

I was somewhat disconcerted when I woke up Friday morning to discover it was raining - thinking 'hmmm... not so much fun walking in the woods in the Wet woods.But we got up, loaded up and headed east. Amazingly, just about the time we crossed over into NC the rain stopped, the sun came out, the sky was blue, it was a beautiful day. Kinda like when you were a kid and the vacation advertisements had you believing that as you were guaranteed nothing but sunshine as soon as you crossed over into Florida.

We'd made plans to stay with friends who live near Asheville, but i was not so sure exactly where 'near' might be. Stopped at the first visitors/info. center in NC and got a map, to discover the 'Band B'(D. had s little sign that said 'Bed and Breakfast -You Are Cooking!') we booked ourselves into was located on the west side of Asheville instead of to the east as I mistookenly believed. The friends are right off I-40, were very welcoming and provided comfy beds and good entertainment in the form of an amusing little canine. I'm pretty sure he has no idea he is a dog.

I also discovered from studying the map that the place I wanted to go for the hike had been misplaced. I was practically certain it was in a national forest to the east of Asheville - but that too, was located elsewhere. Not only 'way west of where we where, but something that we had pretty much passed in our driving earlier in the day. So ... that's another trip.

In order to fulfill my desire to take a walk in the woods, after perusing my new road map, I found Mount Mitchell State Park, which has the highest mountain in the eastern United States. So that's where  we went on Saturday morning. A long, very winding road thought some pretty impressive scenery - especially for someone who has always been in the flatlands of south GA. Got on the Blue Ridge Parkway for about an hour before taking the turn off into the State Park. It is surrounded by National Forest, which I thought most unusual. We decided, as we stopped and read markers that oddity is probably due to the State Park being designated before the National Forest was acquired and protected.

Fortunately, we did not actually have to walk any great distance up a formidable trail (remember Mt. LeConte? I certainly do!), but drove nearly to the tippy-top, and took a smooth, paved path to the highest point in North Carolina. Then wandered along a path more reminiscent of that exhausting LeConte expedition - that was blessedly only about 3/4 of a mile through thickly wooded, rocky terrain. It turned out to be another really pleasant day.

We met a friend of mine from childhood on the mountain. She has been living with her family, up in the northwest corner of NC: I had written her to tell her of plans to be nearby and we stopped at the agreed location and had lunch. Sweet to reconnect. I promised that since I now have a good NC road map I would return for a longer visit.

Came back down the mountain at a much greater speed than when we went up. Amused to watch the batteries in the Prius completely recharged from all that down-hill coasting. And spent several hours in downtown Asheville, plundering around, looking at bountiful handicrafts, trying to keep our cash in our pockets. Mostly successful, except for a pair of cute little sterling silver wire hoop earrings and some exotic chocolates that we were compelled to taste, as we are nothing of not sacrificial, all in the name of science...

The scientific research project consisted of a non-partisan panel of two fully functioning capable adults, willing to participate in determining the best combination of tastes to create the perfect chocolate 'turtle'. Pecans are superior to pistachios, and milk choc. is far better than dark in this combination with caramel adn nuts. Sadly the ones we found in Asheville do not measure up to the ones from the candy store in Ocean Springs, but we are willing to do further research when called upon. Nothing if not sacrificial, all in the name etc, etc...